How to implement a retail ERP with minimum disruption
In a manufacturing plant or warehousing environment, the implementation of a fresh ERP platform always offers a number of opportunities for a business to go sideways. However, when a back-office ERP resources system is directly integrated with a retail front-end, the process of moving up can get even stickier than that.
Part of this challenge involves the application of physical elements in the form of storefront POS, or other affiliated hardware systems. These mechanisms tend to force a constant systems mandate to accurately identify, track, trap, store and delivery constituent data seamlessly immediately. This doesn’t mean that manufacturing ERP systems aren’t based on real-time operation; however, the retail ERP process behaves differently than other system types, given what the customer needs moment by moment; whether it’s a requirement to consolidate and tally hourly receipts, or an extension of cash/inventory management reports on a daily basis.
So, when the time comes for a retail operator to commit to a new level of administrative, financial and transactional granularity, a company must consider all of the associated parts involved, otherwise something in the business chain will be missed and process disruptions can occur. Consequently, here are a couple of ways to ensure that your checklist is accurate and useful.
Follow the RFQ
While this bit of information may appear to be obvious to many, others tend to forget this central planning tool when implementing a new ERP platform. The point of an RFQ is to establish what, and how, a system is supposed to help the customers operations. However, if you don’t bother to measure the differences between what you thought you expected versus and how it actually works you’re going to be flying blind. So, when initiating an implementation round used the RFQ as a metric tool to ensure you’re on track throughout.
Ensure that you apply enough resources to the job
This is another apparently obvious kernel of logic that seems to always end up on the short end of the stick. Many folks consider a systems purchase to be the ‘expensive part’ of any implementation; however, the real costly piece of the puzzle comes from the human resources side. Consequently, many enterprise administrators tend to shade its project costs to the downside, to say an FTE buck or two, and that’s when things begin to go south.
The truth is that if you ‘project’ five FTEs in order to meet an expected roll-out schedule, it’s likely that you’ll need at least three more FTEs at minimum to get the job done efficiently. If something goes awry in the middle of the project, you’ll need an additional 5 and then some. So, plan to resource up but never down, and you won’t have any sudden surprises that can push your implementation project off the road.
Test everything before you launch
Believe it or not many enterprises fail to test everything before they turn the lights on. Given the fact that retail ERP systems involve both hardware and software systems, its best to dry launch each component individually, plus integrating and testing the entire system end-to-end, just to ensure that everything behaves throughout. Again, as the old saying goes ‘there’s never enough money to do it right – but there’s always enough money to do it over.” So, take the time to save a buck by measuring twice before cutting.
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