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February 02, 2011

Facing the Challenges: Implement Your ERP System with the Right Steps and ERP Software Vendor

By Jaclyn Allard, TMCnet Web Editor

Cover all the bases before buying an ERP software solution in 2011. Before committing to an ERP software solution and a vendor, you must recognize the challenges that implementing an ERP system into your organization can bring. The key is to derive the most benefit and minimize the risks of project failure. The aim of ERP software is to deliver tangible business benefits: cost reduction, productivity improvement and measurable bottomline results.

As TMC’s (News - Alert) Tracey Schelmetic wrote, chances are, if you've worked for a large company at any point in your career, you've seen an enterprise software project go off the rails: as in, over-budget, over-scope, poorly chosen, poorly implemented and a giant waste of everyone's time. Whether it was a new database system, a new customer relationship management (CRM) project, a new payroll project or a new piece of contact center software, these “vampire” projects have a way of sucking the money out of a company's budget and sucking the life out of its employees' souls.

Michael Krigsman, president and CEO of Asuret, a consulting firm focused on helping companies improve the outcome of IT projects, told PC Magazine that he prefers to use the more ominous metaphor of “the Devil's Triangle” to describe the three-fold factors – customers, vendors and implementation teams – in large, problematic implementations. He also told the magazine he sees no quick and easy answer. “There is no magic bullet,” noted Krigsman. “The magic bullet is to change human nature, to make us wise and all-seeing.” So be practical and implement the following checklist before implementing an ERP system and software solution.

  1. Define the business objectives
  2. Define infrastructure
  3. Select an ERP vendor
  4. Initiate a project management framework
  5. Construct the implementation schedule
  6. Appoint the development team and support personnel
  7. Manage the implementation if a modular solution
  8. Test the ERP system
  9. Train staff to use the application
  10. Appoint maintenance personnel and ongoing support staff
  11. Conduct a systematic review

Selecting a vendor for this challenging initiative is not easy. With open source applications, businesses make a profit by generally doing away with vendor control, which becomes too costly. It is this desire to break free from vendor lock-in, which led many enterprises to switch to open source. The question is, if a vendor is aware of this can it do something differently, to make ERP more cost-effective?

Aplicor, a company specializing in Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, believes it’s possible. It must be doing something right, since it recently closed on a $1.25 million equity round. Aplicor product evolution plans to fulfill the original vision of complete front-to-back-office hosted business systems based on a subscription pricing model and implemented in a fraction of the time and cost of comparable applications. Achieving lasting success requires users to think beyond building a system which retains volumes of data and instead focus on how to actually use that information to advance customer relationships and create competitive advantage.

It is this thinking beyond the software and system that will shape the future of open source ERP software and help it gain main stream acceptance.

Jaclyn Allard is a TMCnet copy editor. She most recently worked on the production team at Juran Institute, a quality consulting firm producing its own training and marketing materials. Previously, she interned at Curbstone Press, a nonprofit publishing press in Willimantic, CT, and fulfilled the role of Editor-in-Chief for the literature and arts journal published by the University of Connecticut. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

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