ERP Implementation: Top 10 Critical Success Factors (Part III)

By - July 25, 2013

Part three of this blog series examines the next critical success factors: approved solution design, user/SME participation and engagement, process owner-led user training and sign-off, and documented user procedures.

Approved Solution Design.  The Solution Design sets the tone and strategic approach for the whole implementation. Early in the project, the Steering Committee and designated business unit managers are responsible for approving the Solution Design.  Other phases or work segments of the implementation – detailed design and configuration, data migration and development, system testing, deployment and mock go-live are dependent on approval of the Solutions Design, otherwise the project should not move forward.  That being said, there are certain situations where the design and development of well-known or previously identified key software enhancements can indeed forge ahead as long as they are not impacted by key business decisions identified in the Solution Design.

User and Subject Matter Expert (SME) Participation and Engagement.  The SMEs and certain designated users, known as the Power Users, know their current business processes and how their company operates better than any consultant.  They need to be involved from the very beginning in the project meetings, discussions, hands-on implementation activities with the consultants,  and decisions being made on not only the functional specifications of the system but also  the entire implementation.  Consequently, these Power Users should be designated by the company to attend training classes and e-learning courses months before the Go-Live so they can eventually train the end-users. It is through this type of engagement – from decision making to training- where Power Users will accept the system and its functionality, take ownership of the system, and transfer that attitude ultimately to the end user.

Process Owner Led User Training and Sign-off.  Education and learning of the new ERP system is instrumental in its own success.  One of the best ways for the power users/SMEs to further acclimate themselves with the new ERP system is to train their own end users on the business process flows (and modifications) that they helped develop and deploy.  Department heads/leaders, or process owners, will further improve their own skillsets and be able to properly articulate to the end users why certain decisions were made, why the business process flows differently than before, etc.  Once user training is complete, it is the process owners that are required to sign-off, validating and verifying their obligation and commitment to ensuring the end users within their respective departments have completed the necessary training to be self-sufficient when they launch on the new ERP system.  The signoff, signifying that end user training has occurred, and was successful, is important because the Executive Steering Committee should require assurance from their leads that the business is willing and able to operate the current system in a Production environment so that operations are not impacted. From the very beginning, a company should designate the Process Owner/Power User and SMEs who will not only work side by side with the consultants, but also perform homework assignments for them.  This method gives hands-on training to these users and facilitates a better understanding of how the system works.  Then through intense functional area workshops and the Train the Trainer program, the Consulting team will train the Process/Power users on how they can teach their end users how to use the system.

Documented User Procedures. Typically, the Power Users or designated business managers record how the processes work within the ERP system as they work side by side with the Consulting team and/or immerse themselves into the functionality, training materials, and system testing.  This documentation eventually will be used by the assigned business managers responsible for compiling the user manuals and technical guides which will prove essential as employees learn the system.  To further assist this process, if a Consulting partner is engaged, they can most likely provide templates as a guide on how to document these user procedures in a standard and easy to understand format.

The next blog, Part 4 the Blog Series, will discuss the final critical success factors: targeted data migration strategy, thorough system testing, and knowledge transfer.

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