Companies wish to know how to successfully select and implement an ERP system—without disrupting their business or busting their budget. Many organizations pinch pennies on hard costs such as license fees, but projects tend to go over budget as a result of a lack of planning and poor user experience.
Nearly two-thirds of companies go over budget because they didn’t plan for software customizations needed to improve their users’ experience. Today’s ERP system interfaces are much slicker than the older legacy systems, but the makings of a great ERP user experience are more than just how the interface looks. User interactions with an ERP system should be intuitive and facilitate an employee’s job—and that’s likely to be achieved only through some customization of the system.
“It’s extremely rare for a company to buy an ERP system off the shelf that works for every user type in their organization. Most ERP software systems are configured during the implementation to align with a company’s processes, but according to the feedback we get, ERP systems still fall short on its user experience. This tells us that if you want to take your ERP system to the next level, and really reap the benefits, software features should be personalized to what users need and what will make their jobs easier,” remarks Denis Rousseau, senior project manager at TEC.
The costs of poor user experience are unpredictable—which can cause budgets to skyrocket. To avoid ERP budget blunders, it’s more important to budget for success—not just to save money. Before implementation starts, it’s important to have discussions with key users and to understand what their day-to-day interaction will be with the system.
Below are some tips on how to factor in the costs to improve user experience without breaking the bank:
Build in a Buffer for Customization
As Rousseau noted above, buying an ERP system off the shelf that’ll work for all key users is rare, so budgeting for customizations is a must. To determine how much buffer you’ll need, think about how unique your business processes are as compared to other companies in the same industry. Make sure key users interact with the features and functions of the basic ERP system—before you commit to implementation—to see what they can work with easily and what needs to be adjusted.
Invest in Industry-Specific Solutions
Some ERP software vendors offer a packaged industry-specific solution or sell preconfigured software templates. It’s a good idea to see if a solution for your industry is available and to ask about what industry specifics are included. Some customization might still be required, but acquiring a solution that is designed for your industry should save you a good portion of the time and money it takes to customize a generic ERP solution.
Implement Flexible User Roles
Not all users will have the same day-to-day interactions with an ERP system, so user roles need to be defined to provide access to relevant information and to group together appropriate features and functions. For example, employees in the Finance department need access to accounting records and reporting capabilities, whereas a worker on the shop floor needs access to inventory records and data entry capabilities. You can take this one step further by making user roles flexible, for an added degree of personalization and user experience. For instance, reduce the system’s main menu for operational staff so that their interface is uncluttered and the functions they need are accessible with one click; and use touch-screen devices for shop floor workers so they don’t have to fiddle with a mouse and keyboard to enter information while they are working.
Budgeting for Success
Cutting upfront costs may help control your ERP project budget in the short term, but overlooking what’s important to your business and what’s relevant to your users will end up costing you in the mid- to long-term, and may even risk your entire investment.
When setting a budget, consider your users and your business objectives. Following the above tips ensures that you budget for a long-term investment, without losing sight of the key features and functions your ERP system needs.