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A successful ERP implementation is a significant effort – impacting thousands of users across every department in a healthcare system. Such an undertaking should not be taken lightly and these key steps to success can help an organization succeed.

Success will require a strong team, leadership support, a targeted scope, a realistic budget, change management, and training. Overlooking any of these areas can result in failure. ERPs are vital to the success of each organization, but they become even more important in healthcare where the lives of patients can be impacted by how the business is run.

Here are seven tips for a successful ERP implementation:

  1. Focused, Strong Team – Every member of the team makes a difference – and a strong team, focused on the project is a key factor of the success of any ERP project.  The right team members know your business, are creative problem solvers and are not afraid of a challenge. Team members must be dedicated to the project, not trying to do two jobs at once. They should be empowered to make decisions and take timely action. Choosing the right team is the right way to start a successful launch.
  2. Leadership Support – Your team will need strong support from leadership for a successful ERP implementation. That doesn’t mean just someone to hold them accountable, but also someone who can make timely decisions and knock down barriers to progress.  Executive support should be about getting the team what they need when they need it.  It must include leaders in positions that command respect and authority, but also those leaders must make themselves available to meet with the team often and take the time to understand how they can help.
  3. Scope Management – Scope management is not just about preventing scope from growing – but also preventing it from shrinking.  Projects under pressure to meet dates often have to make sacrifices in scope – and those that make too many sacrifices are destined to disappoint.  Scope changes should be clear to all concerned, understanding the impact and ensuring that it is well communicated to prevent misunderstandings.
  4. Budget Management – Creating a realistic budget is an important step in the process of a successful ERP implementation – but complicated as there are many potential impacts that must be considered.  Take the time to create a highly detailed budget, researching all potential costs and implications.  Interfaces, hardware, software, labor, outside consulting, and other factors must all be considered.   In addition, sufficient contingency must be included – as every project has unexpected (and often costly) surprises.
  5. Identify issues early – Risk management is all about the early identification of issues.  If you wait too long – it will be too late.  Transparency is important – project managers should never be concerned about raising potential risks and executive sponsors should encourage, rather than discourage, these early predictions of potential challenges.  Through discussion and action, these risks can be managed well before they derail project activities.
  6. Manage change – Software implementations, and a successful ERP implementation, will change the way that people do their jobs, and in many cases automates tasks that may create the perception, or the reality, that their jobs may be at risk.  Even when that is not the case, we naturally are skeptical of change.  Change Management is all about guiding people through the stages of change smoothly moving them from fear and anticipation to acceptance and support.  Your team should include an experienced risk manager who guides the organization through the process as a leader and communicator.
  7. Create and sustain a strong training program – Strong training removes the drama from go-lives and increases the confidence of staff in the new system.  Training should be highly organized, delivered by staff with teaching experience, and include hands-on exercises to allow the staff to gain comfort with the new process, acting as a dress rehearsal for Go-Live.  However, training does not end at go-live.  Training programs must be sustained for new employees.  In addition, advanced “tips” focused training should be delivered to staff on a regular basis through special training classes, “lunch and learns,” and other events designed to turn them into experts.  With a great training program, you will improve your Go-Live’s success and extend your software’s life.

Focusing on these key success factors is a great way to start down the path of a successful ERP implementation. Openly discuss these concepts in your steering committees and team meetings and factor them into your implementation planning.

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Brian Rosenberg

ERP Strategist

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