A comprehensive guide for business owners, on how to approach the inevitable implementation project of  an integrated business software in cost effective way.
This is not your cousin and his buddies fresh out of college with a plan to build a software that your company desperately need just to stay competitive!
There is more Entreprise Resources Planning  solutions than ever before for example  SAP , Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Applications   for Big boys  (Yes here i am referring to the very big companies that can easily efforts the cost of SAP ).
But if your are small or medium business owner, you would want to take a serious look at the Open sources version of  ERP System such as   odoo ( formerly Open ERP),
Apptivo etc…
When you have finally reach the decision that you need an integrated business solution to have fresh  accurate data  and  get rid of the many confusing excel sheets you have been struggling to maintain.
How to  initiate an ERP implementation project?
As you well know, every industry as its rotten apples!  Thus the implementation project should be approached and carried out in very serious way, because it about getting the tools your business need to for its grow or even to stay competitive.
It is also an importunity to review and  optimise your business processes in alignment with your visions. Don’t do it in rush!  A hasty move can do the opposite of growing your business.
  • Be very clear about your business objectives:
you and your team need to be very clear about what you hope to achieve with the new system. Every business has objectives! not just vanity KPI you want to show your peers but real measurable goals that keeps your business on track. So make sure the vendor you end up selecting know exactly where you want to take your business.
To illustrate, Mr Nisamidis ( CEO NISBAU GMBH A lean manufacturing company in germany) says the following:
“No matter how much revenue your company is generating, As a GM, you have only succeed when you can take yourself out of the way and still enjoy the peace of mind of business being properly carried out by your team. Through well defined objectives backup with solid processes and IT system that stick the process. you can achieve that”.
  • Know your budget
Frankly , there’s also the question of cost. which is very important to small and medium businesses. As GM  you always have to balance between the legitimate to invest in the technology that will help you be competitive and the obligation the to have all budget under control including IT.
How that balance is achieved depends on your management style.
Below is 6 simple steps to take to minimise the risque for you.
  • Know your current situation through an internal but serious audit.
Take a hard look at your existing software system. if you’re struggling with many outdated excel sheets that is hard
There are preparatory work that need to done by you an your team before you call any software vendor. like your initial Inventory valuation et warehouse structure and map. 
No Business software will very useful with accurate data to run with.
Thus its very important to clean your warehouse and have clear mapped out structure for your the stock level for each stored item in your warehouse. Why is that important ? if ignore this step and start the ERP implementation project anyway. you will lose lot of time for yourself your team and the consulting company! because  the system will be running on air !
Data collections and cleaning
The next important step  is to take a fresh look at data you have been working with all these years. Let’s be honest, every company has data they will never use. this steps allow you to clean your data and only keep the one that make senses. Start getting ready to clean house …
For example partner companies that you are not working with you anymore). Make sure all legally bindings files are properly archived (invoices contracts and paiement receipts etc… .
Warehouse and Inventory
In our experience Implementing ERP for  Manufacturing companies, Believe it or not business owner are very surprised when they realise that their warehouse is a mess! because it has always been like that. they didn’t really have to to have clear cut inventory system in place.  No software no matter how great it is, will  clean an arrange your warehouse for you! Its important to keep in mind that you and your team need to fix this before calling on any vendors.  Having a new ERP is exactly opportunity to do that.
So do your homework so to speak.
  • Get your team on board. 
Your team will be using a new system! that’s change and change triggers resistance more often than not. Your team will have legitimate things to say about new software.  You should listen and help make corrections when needed. At the same time you should know change mean resistance. Clear those resistance and get your team collaborating from the very beginning. That way they will take ownership of the project and assist your vendor in building the a great tool that they will actually use.
  • Choosing an ERP Solution and Vendor.

Is there an open source solution ERP  that can be customized to meet our business needs?

Look for answer: yes there are many open sources solutions including odoo ( fomerly  open ERP, Open bravedo  etc… )

How would you approach the gap Analysis?

They should be about to explain what that is hw they will do it .

Basically Every ERP system will be able to process common business processes of your industry. for exemple they will all have modules that address  Sales Accounting Procurement and MPR etc..

But your business is very specific you might think, then gap analysis will help you see the specificities and how to bridge them.

 What Implementation Methologie will they use? 

Be careful how they address this question. As general rule avoid project management with water fall methode. get yourself familar with Agile developpement lean, kanban scrum etc are better away to run project.

Because it give  you a change to see a quickly the results of small piece of the sofware working.

Where will the new system be hosted ?

Depending on the sensitivity the data security issues just keep in mind there lot of options for hosting your system.

-Cloud hosting is one of them, but you host in house too ( you have the infracstructure) Many company care about  data security they host in house.

-Physical servers with back up / restore system can be helpful as well .


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New Software implementation can be  risky. There’s nothing quite like finding that Sweet tool that allow you to run your business in autopilot.
Then free up time to actually grow your business.
It can take you a while to find it or to build it. In the meantime, keep testing, keep exploring, but keep protecting your business. Keep an open mind, but protect what truly matters.

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