Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a large-scale computer system companies use to help improve the flow of information in their company and govern operations. Because of the major project application of ERP systems, business owners and managers will often plan for ERP integration. The integration process outlines how a company will adjust or rearrange operations to accommodate the changes to business tasks and activities. Integration is similar to change management, where companies must follow or observe a few principles to avoid significant downtimes in their business.
ERP integration should start with a consultation between the ERP manufacturer and a company’s management team. This allows everyone to get on the same page regarding the process for ERP implementation. Large organizations will need these meetings to set an integration schedule if they have multiple locations or ERP modules to set up in their company’s operations. The result of the meeting is typically a written plan for ERP integration and a list of responsibilities for each individual in the process.
Most ERP manufacturers will provide an individual or team of individuals to act as consultants for the ERP implementation process. Companies should request individuals who are knowledgeable and have the ability to make decisions on the supplier’s behalf. This can decrease the time spent on activities that do not add value to the ERP integration process. Additionally, issues relating to computer installation or software applications can be minimized by having a team of individuals on hand with a particular understanding of a company’s system.
Companies will often plan for some downtime when going through the ERP integration process. However, spending too much time on changing older computer systems to the ERP system can result in serious disruptions to the company’s operations. Business owners and managers will need to find ways to minimize this during the implementation process. Implementation is often the longest part of the integration process, giving rise to activities or processes that will shorten this portion of integration.
ERP integration will also require some type of support after completion. Companies should be sure to include the cost of this in their estimates for the ongoing operation of the ERP system. Companies may desire more personal attention for their support issues. Owners and managers can request a specific account number or client account so employees can receive immediate help when correcting an issue during or after the ERP integration process. Support may require a written contract, renewable after a certain number of years.