Implementing a Small Business CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is among the most complex, time-consuming and expensive tasks done by a typical IT department. There is a high potential for unexpected delays, complications, and extra expenses. Many companies make costly mistakes and that is why we have compiled a list of the biggest mistakes a business can make during ERP upgrades. We will also provide advice on how you can avoid these mistakes and carry out a successful transition.

Depending on the size of your business and its CRM and ERP requirements, an upgrade could cost anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. These systems will take a significant investment of time, money, and resources. Although a successful ERP implementation will help your organization cut costs and improve efficiencies, a poorly planned ERP rollout will cost your company valuable time and resources.

Here are a few of the most common CRM and ERP implementation mistakes:

1.    Not Enough Emphasis on Planning

There is no aspect of the CRM and ERP implementation process that is more important than the initial planning. Many organizations do not start with adequate planning and then find themselves having to create solutions while the project is already in motion. Comprehensive planning is critical for a successful ERP project.

The first step in planning is evaluating your current processes and then determining how to evolve them in a way that will improve efficiency and optimize the structure of your business model. This can be done using an internal audit of your policies, procedures, and processes prior to selecting an ERP system.

2.    Not Knowing Enough About How to Properly Utilize Key Features

There are countless opportunities to complete functions faster, reach challenging business objectives, and automate standard business processes. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to get the optimal use of all the key features available in a CRM and ERP system.

Take the time to learn about the ERP system capabilities and create a master list to track the usage of each feature. Evaluate which are the most helpful features and encourage employees to use them to their maximum potential. You can include the list of features and benefits in your employee training manual to make sure everyone is using the most efficient process.

3.    Not Planning for Enough Resources or Time

Almost every company that takes on a CRM and ERP system upgrade grossly underestimates the amount of resources and time that will be required to implement the ERP System. Ensue a realistic go live date and give your team enough time to allocate to the ERP upgrade.

4.    Not Involving the Right People on the Implementation Team

A CRM and ERP implementation project is one of the largest undertakings your company will make and involving the right people is critical to its success. Many organizations make the mistake of only seeking IT and executive approval for ERP system decisions, when the people using it on a regular basis also have valuable input. Every department from manufacturing, finance, purchasing, marketing, and sales should have a chance to review the options and make suggestions. This will ensure that the program fulfills every role’s needs, so expensive upgrades and enhancements won`t need to be made after the ERP solution is rolled out.

5.    Not Investing Enough Time and Resources on Training

Every employee should have the opportunity to train and test the new system prior to it going live. A lack of adequate training is one of the biggest mistakes a business can make during a CRM and ERP upgrade. A good idea is to set up an employee feedback and help center. This will keep the lines of communication open during the development and implementation process and ensure that everyone is able to use the system effectively.

6.    Not Properly Screening Potential ERP Vendors

Doing the necessary research prior to selecting an ERP vendor will be essential to choosing the right one. Make sure to ask for ample references and to check with at least a few companies personally. Inquire about features they are able to implement and how they will handle certain challenges. You don`t want to encounter a lack of capabilities or functionality restrictions after you have invested in a particular ERP vendor`s services. Make sure they have the experience and expertise to complete the implementation process from start to finish.

7.    Not Creating a Priority System

Creating a priority system should be one of the top priorities for IT managers who are taking on an ERP upgrade. This system should not only indicate the order each task needs to be done, but a priority list of issues that will need to be resolved. This will help minimize delays and keep your team focused on the most important aspects of the implementation.

8.    Not Configuring the ERP System

If you are investing in an ERP system, it should be one that is configured to your practices and business structure.

9.    Not Putting Enough Emphasis on Accurate Data

The CRM and ERP system upgrade will only be as valuable as the data that is put into it. You can minimize the number of complications and future problems by using the right procedural parameters and accurate programming information. When you are investing that much money and time in an ERP implementation, it is important that you get the details right.

10.  Not Using an Active Load Testing Environment

You will need to be able to simulate your user load, so that you can test the effects the changes will have once the ERP upgrade is live. You won`t be able to effectively evaluate the real results of your changes based on a few test users and it could lead to costly unplanned downtime when the system is fully implemented. It is critical that you have an active load testing environment prior to implementation.

11.  Not Streamlining  ERP Use to Only the Main Areas of Your Business

Even if you choose the most advance, powerful, and flexible ERP system possible, it will not be able to absorb all business logic. Many companies try the “kitchen sink“ approach and try to implement every objective, task, and department possible. It is necessary to focus mainly on the areas that will benefit the most from the ERP upgrade.  

12.  Not Using a Qualified, Certified and Experienced Support Provider

It is important that you investigate all your ERP support options and find a support provider who can deliver the level of service and ERP experience that your business requires.

13.  Not Decommissioning Applications

Organizations should actively work on decommissioning legacy applications during the implementation process. The point of upgrading your CRM and ERP system is to reduce the amount of resources you are wasting. The end result should not be just another piece of software that will require support, hardware, maintenance, and future upgrades. Make sure that you make full use of the new ERP upgrade.

14.  Not Developing a Maintenance Strategy

Once you have implemented a CRM and ERP system upgrade, it will be essential that it is maintained. There will always be advancements in technology, improved customer support packages, and fundamental changes that should be made to ensure the system is offering its users the latest and greatest software solutions. If you do not have an effective maintenance strategy, your upgrade will become obsolete before you even know it.

All of these 14 mistakes can be avoided. Make sure to plan as much as you can in advance, learn about key features, make sure you have enough resources, the right people, a realistic time frame, and that you clearly understand your main focus and priorities. It will also be critical that you invest in training to optimize what each user is able to achieve using the new ERP system. 

Another necessity is investing the time into sourcing a qualified and capable implementation consult. An ERP expert will be able to review your current business practices, risks, goals, and then develop an effective implementation solution that encompasses everything you need. An ERP system is a long-term investment and it will make a difference if you have a vendor that fully understands your organization’s requirements. You will also want to choose an ERP vendor that emphasizes the importance of a long-term maintenance strategy.

Ensure Backup & Recovery

The last tip is to take a good look at your business and identify the critical areas that need to remain available 24/7. Your hardware and software vendors will need to be aware of these areas, so they can make sure they can provide appropriate backup and recovery options to keep the company functioning during the rollout process.

A CRM and ERP system update is inevitable at some point and once it is complete, your system will be more efficient and cost-effective. When you make the decision to begin the ERP upgrade process, read over these 14 mistakes one more time to ensure that you are ready and able to make your ERP upgrade a successful venture.