OK – you’ve made it! After months of evaluating various ERP systems followed by more months of implementation, your business is now up and running on your new ERP software. Now you and your team can go back to business as usual and not give your software another thought – right? As Lee Corso, sports broadcaster and football analyst for ESPN, would say, “Not so fast, my friend!”
The only way this would be correct is if the following were all true:
- You were able to take advantage of virtually 100% of the functionality the new software provided that was pertinent to your business day 1 at go-live.
- The software vendor never produced any software updates and fixes that provided any business value.
- Your personnel grasped and retained 100% of the possible knowledge through the implementation and training process.
- Absolutely nothing ever changed in your business – there were never any new personnel or resources that moved into new positions, and your business and industry as a whole never changed.
Since these statements are never true, even after initial go-live with your new software, there is an ongoing need to evolve business strategy and tactics to gain and keep a compelling competitive advantage in one’s industry, to improve business processes to gain business efficiencies, and train and retrain personnel.
Project goals are established and baseline metrics are documented as part of the business’ justification to move forward with the software evaluation and implementation projects. Some 3-6 months after initial go-live with the new system, the current business metrics should be compared with the baseline metrics to gauge progress made to date. Ideally, all of the targeted business metrics will have been met; however, it may be that there are areas where these objectives have not been achieved.
Whether or not the initial targets have been met, the business should perform an ROI Workshop to determine what can be done to drive additional return on investment from the new business software. An ROI Workshop would typically produce 3-5 key actions where substantial additional ROI can be derived by taking further advantage of the software that has already been acquired and implemented.
Another recommendation is to establish quarterly objectives to take advantage of additional software functionality. This can provide a rolling 12+ month calendar stating what advancements will be made over time. As part of this process, businesses should evaluate new software releases produced by their software vendors to determine the value of upgrading to the latest software releases. Companies are encouraged to create a measureable business case for upgrades just as was done for the initial software implementation and to evaluate the results against those targets 3-6 months after the upgrade has been put into production.
We also highly encourage companies to establish an ongoing training schedule for their employees. This should include refresher and more in-depth functional training for personnel who have been using the software for some period of time so these resources can become more proficient in their current roles. Also, there will be a need for introductory training for personnel who move into new roles and for new hires. Establishing an ongoing training schedule along with budgeted funding is critical for a business to gain the maximum benefit from an ERP system.
Regardless of the ERP system ultimately selected and implemented, businesses are encouraged to adopt continuous improvement principles when it comes to their ERP software systems to maximize the business value derived from these systems long after the initial production go-live.