Conducting day-to-day tasks while your small or medium-sized business implements a new ERP system is a challenge that often gets overlooked.
Clients who struggled with systems implementations say things such as, “It’s hard to do our day job and be part of the implementation team.” They feel that both they and their colleagues are unable to juggle the additional workload and education that comes with adopting a new system.
The value modern ERP can bring to your business is too significant to pass up, however, so here are a few ways to manage your time as you implement your new ERP system.
Take a Dual-track View of Your Business
As a leader, you’ll be critical to the success of a systems implementation. To ensure you don’t lose focus of the necessary tasks of your core job, formally block out time for both your implementation role and day-to-day role. Try dedicating, for example, a three-hour block each morning to focus solely on the implementation; then, after lunch, you can focus on your routine daily tasks. Don’t forget to work in some flex time for unforeseen issues, such as a coworker who needs help, computer downtime, etc.
Once you establish your schedule, be diligent about sticking to it. It’s impossible to predict emergencies, of course, but hopefully the flex time you “scheduled” will be enough in such cases. Otherwise, being unfaithful to your schedule subconsciously signals to yourself – and your colleagues – that it isn’t important, and both the system implementation and your daily job will suffer from this lack of discipline.
Create Two Sets of Goals and Agendas
If you’re going to run your business on a dual track (system implementation and day-to-day operations), you need to stress the importance of each and enable your teams to accomplish tasks related to both. Without a specific plan, you’ll leave employees floundering, wondering where, when, and how to focus their energy for the day.
To prevent this, create two plans: a system implementation plan and a normal operations plan. Each plan should include documented goals, task lists, and due dates and should apply to everyone involved in executing each plan, from the president and executive team to managers and front-line staff.
Enlist Outside Help Where Possible
Because you and your team’s time will be stretched during systems implementation, find implementation tasks that are suitable for outsourcing and engage the relevant parties to do so. For example, data conversion is a time-consuming portion of an ERP implementation, so leverage a company that specializes in data importing to remove that task from your plate. If you choose the right outsourcing partner, not only will it save you time, it will likely be done faster and with fewer errors.
Or, consider hiring temporary staff workers to handle the easier-to-manage, repetitive daily tasks to give your implementation team more time to focus on the enabling the new system.
Yes, implementing a new system can be stressful – but the benefits far outweigh the costs, so look for ways to remove stress by planning ahead. Formalizing plans to perform core job tasks as well as implementation-related tasks will minimize confusion and increase your chances of a successful ERP implementation.