The right ERP can have a transformative effect on a business, but communicating how and why is not always easy. Tech professionals understand how the unique features of an ERP impact workflows in a positive way. Unfortunately, the executives above them often struggle to see how this leads to a healthier bottom line. And since an ERP is a major investment, they are understandably cautious to implement one.
If this is a hurdle you’re trying to overcome, use these strategies to build a stronger case.
There are benefits that come from implementing an ERP, but also lots of risks that come from avoiding one: Your staff is forced to spend extra time on routine administrative tasks, and there is the persistent problem of entering the wrong data. Plus, your competitors are likely using an ERP. Trying to get by without one puts you at a strategic disadvantage that only grows over time.
Highlight cost savings
Every ERP delivers a different ROI, but in almost all cases it’s substantial. The members of your upper management are obviously interested in cutting costs and maximizing revenue. An ERP increases productivity while allowing staff to work more efficiently. In dozens of ways, that leads to more profit for the company. Stress that an ERP is an investment that quickly pays for itself. For example, in one ERP case study from cloud provider Kenandy, the solution directly led to a 45 percent reduction in IT costs, a substantial win for any organization.
Demonstrate streamlined processes
Upper management may not know how cumbersome your current accounting, financing, and inventory software is. Show them how much time is wasted on repetitive tasks, and then show them how those routines would change with an ERP in place. Emphasize that this is not a drastically new way of operating. It simply eliminates the least necessary and most time-consuming aspects of your workflow.
Focus on customers
Even though customers don’t work directly with an ERP, it has a big impact on the customer experience. With an ERP you are more likely to offer fair pricing, deliver a consistent product, and meet your shipping deadlines. Customers reward that kind of consistency by placing bigger orders more often. If you have a CRM, pairing it with an ERP is more or less a necessity.
It can be hard for upper management to understand how the real-time data sharing enabled by an ERP improves the way staff approaches their responsibilities. Make the case that an ERP introduces a level of transparency that is conspicuously lacking right now. When everyone has instant access to the most relevant and accurate data, they can push projects forward to completion rather than waiting for updates to be shared. At its core, an ERP is a tool for more efficient collaboration.
Executives can be gun-shy about a major new tech initiative out of fear that the implementation process will be expensive, drawn out, and plagued by problems. Address this fear head on by describing the implementation process and how relatively quick and simple it can be. Upper management will be more willing to consider an ERP once they’re sure that the implementation will not be a major disruption.
When making your case you should have data to back up all of your assertions. However, don’t avoid stressing that an ERP provides many intangible and unpredictable benefits. Since it improves just about everything – productivity, efficiency, consistency, collaboration – it puts your staff and your company in a position to be its best.
Getting your upper management to sign off on an ERP is a big step, but even more important is getting them to buy in. If they are genuinely enthusiastic about the project and its potential, they will be a lot more likely to authorize the necessary time and resources and commit to using the ERP to its fullest. It’s your job to show them that introducing an ERP isn’t just an improvement, it’s a revolution.
Now that you have the green light, here’s how to tackle the next step: Keys To A Successful ERP Implementation.