ERP Implementation Guide for SMEs

How to Prepare Your Organization for a Successful ERP Implementation

Congratulations – you’ve selected a new ERP system for your company! Now you’re ready to dive into implementation. Your ERP partner should have a proven process to guide you through the coming months. Our intent here is to give you a roadmap for what’s to come and help you prepare your organization for the upcoming change. Managing the change internally is often one of the biggest obstacles – and one of the top reasons why ERP projects fail to deliver results. We want to help you avoid that – it takes some forethought and planning, but the result is well worth the effort!

How to Make Your ERP Implementation a Success

There’s a lot that could go wrong in an ERP implementation, but if you plan ahead, your chances of a successful ERP implementation increase significantly. Based on our years of experience, here are our top five tips to ensure a smooth ERP implementation. 


Put your people first.

Change is hard. Work with your team to get them on board and ease the transition. 


Plan for the project.

Make the project a priority across the organization and create time for the work. 


Align with business strategy.

Keep your objectives top of mind throughout implementation to deliver ROI. 


Focus on business process and continuous improvement.

Use this as an opportunity to embrace new and better ways to perform processes. 


Work closely with your ERP partner throughout the project.

Leverage your partner’s knowledge and expertise as much as possible. 

Need help with your upcoming ERP implementation?

Create a Realistic Implementation Plan

ERP Implementation Timeline

You’ll work closely with your ERP partner to create an implementation plan based on the scope of work, including any customization or integrations. They should provide you with a complete project plan outlining stages, key milestones and responsibilities so you have a clear vision of the next few months. The details might differ based on your partner’s process, but here’s what you can generally expect to see in your ERP implementation plan: 

  1. Process analysis and design: Your partner will do a deep dive on requirements and processes as the basis for the system design.

  2. Software installation and configuration: Your partner will handle the installation and initial setup of your system, including your hosting environment if you chose a cloud ERP solution.

  3. Data migration: Your team will clean your existing data before handing it off to your partner to import into your new ERP system.

  4. Business process implementation: Your partner will begin configuring the system to handle your business processes.

  5. Training and user acceptance testing: You’ll work through your processes in a test environment to ensure the system is working properly and train your users.

  6. System go-live: You officially flip the switch on your ERP system!

  7. Post-implementation review and support: Immediately following go-live, you’ll continue with training efforts and work out any kinks in your processes before moving into maintenance mode.

Prepare for Your ERP Go-Live

Clean Your Data Before Migration

Companies tend to underestimate the effort involved to properly clean and validate their data before importing it into their new system. It might seem like a good place to save time but resist the urge. If you’re hoping your new ERP system will give you better visibility into performance and business health, you need quality data first. As the saying goes…garbage in, garbage out. Here are a few tips to help you properly clean your ERP data before migration: 

  • Develop a strategy. Treat this stage like a mini-project with timelines, responsibilities, and deadlines.
  • Think carefully about what data you move. Not every piece of data needs to come into your new system. Think about what’s truly necessary and valuable moving forward.
  • Assume your data needs heavy cleaning. As you’re reviewing your data, look for completeness, consistency, accuracy and duplication.
  • Assign the right resources. The people working with the data regularly are best equipped to analyze it and correct errors.
  • Prioritize data migration. Start early and allocate plenty of time to get the work done.
  • Define data standards. Identify inconsistencies in type or format of your data. Set standards that you’ll enforce moving forward.
  • Test thoroughly. Take the time to review every field to ensure the data is imported in the proper format, without errors.

Ease the Transition for Your People with Proper ERP Change Management

Implementing an ERP system affects every part of your organization – and virtually every individual. Some will be accepting of the change and eager to see the benefits. Others will resist. Managing change effectively is the key to increasing user adoption and truly seeing the value of your investment. 

  • Identify and create a plan to manage the individuals that are most resistant to the change. You may need to work one-on-one with these individuals to uncover what’s driving their resistance.
  • Enable your team by tailoring their training on the new system based on their roles, learning styles and skill sets.
  • Help your team understand why you’re implementing a new system. Focus on how the ERP solution will address the challenges you’re facing with your current systems.
  • Communicate frequently and openly. Don’t leave your communication to chance – make a plan and stick to it.

Maximize Your ERP System After Implementation

An ERP go-live event is exciting and stressful all at the same timeIf you’re feeling fatigued after working on the implementation, take some time to decompress. It’s good to have a clear head before you dive into the next phase of the project. Post-implementation is something that many companies don’t think about up-front. But your post-implementation activities are just as important as everything leading up to go-live. 


Conduct a post-implementation review.

About 3–4 months after your go-live, do a review with your ERP partner. Talk about what went well, what was challenging and what still needs to be addressed. 


Document your processes.

Create clear and complete documentation to prevent people from backsliding into old habits and help your team learn the new processes. 


Create an ongoing training plan.

Schedule refresher sessions to reinforce new processes. Work with your partner for training on new features and functionality. 


Align with your ERP partner.

Set a regular check-in with your ERP partner – monthly, quarterly or whatever timeframe works for you. Designate one or two key people in your company to manage the partner relationship moving forward. 


Develop a continuous improvement plan.

As your business grows and changes, your ERP system should change with it. A continuous improvement process will help you manage future enhancements to your system and maximize your return. 

Measure the Return on Your ERP Investment

As with any significant investment, you’ll want to understand the ROI of your ERP system. Many of the companies we work with find it challenging to get a hard and fast number, because they didn’t have concrete measurements of their ‘before’ state. But it’s still possible to measure the value of your new system. Look back to your objectives for the ERP project as a starting point. Use those measurements or KPIs as your yardstick and see where you’re at now. Your ERP system gives you better visibility and reporting capabilities, so start tracking the stats that matter to you and see how they change over time! 

Embed Continuous Improvement in Your Company's Culture

You’ve focused the last several months on transforming the business with your new ERP system. Carry that continuous improvement mindset forward to maximize your investment and drive growth. If you don’t have one already, create a continuous improvement committee to manage process change requests. The focus of your committee should be process, not systems. But as the backbone of your business, many of the improvements will likely involve process changes or enhancements to your ERP system.


Proactively manage ongoing process improvement initiatives.

Dedicate resources to managing improvement activities. 


Make process improvement a priority in the organization.

Adapt your system to match the changing needs of your business. 


Manage the maintenance costs of your ERP system.

Prioritize, schedule and budget for system upgrades and functionality enhancements. 

SME Guide to a Pain-free ERP Implementation

Learn how to effectively manage the transition to ERP for your people.

Download Now
resource cover page