Implementing a new ERP system is not just an IT endeavor. It should be, by definition, a transformative experience for any healthcare organization – one that can only stay on the rails with the right people, approach, tools, support, and execution. Whether your organization deploys a cloud-based, on-premise, or hybrid solution, business and regulatory hurdles almost always turn these projects into marathon efforts.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We recently spoke with RO's ERP strategists about the potential pitfalls when implementing cloud-based solutions, such as Infor CloudSuite, and what organizations can do to improve their deployment efforts. The following seven suggestions, excerpted from that conversation, will help your next ERP project run more smoothly for your entire team.
- Build the business case first!
It may seem like a basic, fundamental step, but many organizations proceed before their executives and board have seen and understood the roadmap, costs, and the effort required for success.
Management must do more than approve the project. They must also understand and support your vision. Help them see the organization after completion. Show them the business need. Walk them through potential pain points. And absolutely personalize why this ERP implementation benefits them on a personal level (“What’s in it for me?”). A thorough business case and stakeholder buy-in can save you time, money, and frustration later on down the line.
- Choose the right implementation partner
It pays to look around, even if you’re happy with your incumbent ERP provider. The right partner understands your project as well as or better than you. They understand the business issues involved, know the products and systems, and recommend solutions appropriate for your organizational priorities and business processes. They ask the right questions and challenge the decisions you've made, professionally helping you plan a stronger path forward.
The key is to find a partner, not a solutions vendor. Insist on someone who can operate as an extension of your staff. So do your homework – well in advance. Ask around. Talk to colleagues you know and those you don’t. Engage with organizations like KLAS and CHIME to get recommendations from your peers. It’s time wisely invested.
- Insist on superior project management
According to recent studies, more than half of large-scale software implementation projects fail because they lack project management discipline. Your ERP implementation partner must have a proven track record that shows that they know how to help everyone pull in the same direction – from executives to line workers, both within your organization and within your partner’s organization.
Similar to enterprise EHR implementations, ERP projects touch many departments and require a deliberate, consistent approach and realistic deadlines. Make sure your partner understands all of the needs and drivers across the organization. As part of that process, your partner should help you work through the corporate budget and review the vision, targets, priorities, and how the project ties to a broader strategic plan with all key stakeholders.
In short, everyone involved with the project needs to understand their areas of responsibility. It’s stressful, but don’t let emotions control the process. Effective project management provides the structure to focus on the complex elements of deployment with firm but productive guidance.
- Put analytics front and center
Analytics and reporting play a central role in every successful ERP implementation. Data requires structure and interpretation to be effective, and it’s much simpler to build an analytics solution alongside the ERP deployment than attempt to force an integration later. After all, management needs data-driven insights to better operate your organization. Giving them enhanced capabilities through a smarter ERP solution helps everyone deliver the leadership your organization needs.
Combining analytics with the ERP solution may increase project scope and require additional decisions but it can save time and money down the road. The right implementation partner understands how to manage this crucial extra step, including how to foster executive support. It’s equally important that your partner can help with structural issues, such as whether to develop in-house capabilities or outsource analytics, and whether decision support operations need to be centralized or distributed across the organization.
- Set appropriate expectations and communicate status openly
As preparation for a large project begins, one of the first things people ask is, “How long is this going to take us?” Be ready to answer – early and often. Many healthcare organizations are leery of absorbing yet another big project. It's difficult, resources are challenged even beyond COVID.
Build a communication plan that accounts for parallel and dependent priorities and expectations within your organization. You may find it better to break the project up into segments to avoid pushback – and your implementation partner can assist with this decision. Describe how long it will take to complete the first segment. Meet your deadline, and the credibility you earn through timeliness and transparency will make it easier for everyone to support the next phase.
When deciding on the best implementation approach for your organization, it’s more to listen to the pros and cons of each. For example, your organization’s financial team may suggest that one time of year is better for beginning this project based on cash flow. A merger or acquisition schedule may drive key milestones. Ultimately, credibility and buy-in become much easier when people know you’ve taken their suggestions and concerns into account.
- Anticipate scope creep and deal with it aggressively
In many cases, scope creep represents planning failure. Unanticipated changes occur because executives don’t feel involved if Finance hasn’t received timely updates on costs and progress when organizational needs weren’t precisely defined, or if a committee or department head wasn’t held engaged during the planning process.
That said, every enterprise-grade software deployment has its unique unknowns. These unforeseeable plan alterations require a disciplined approach for redefining projects, tasks, timelines, and budgets. Coordination and open, transparent communications, often driven by an implementation partner experienced with these challenges, represent the best path forward so that any given alteration doesn’t introduce an ongoing cascade of moving targets and goals.
- Keep the focus on your people
It’s easy to lose sight of the human element when tackling something as major and transformative as an ERP transition. Someone championed and built the system you’re replacing. Your organization has multiple corporate and departmental cultures that directly impact how your project will be judged. Change can be frightening.
People need to be heard. Once again, your team and your implementation partner need to focus on building open and transparent communications into the project plan. Be cognizant of sacred cows and be sensitive to the concerns they raise. Patience and active listening are essential. Don’t let moving forward become an indictment of the past. Give your people solid reasons to feel positive about the transition. It’s going to be disruptive. If you lose the audience, you lose support, and your project becomes that much more difficult to deliver.
Engage ROI to Avoid Common Points of Failure
Healthcare CxOs and ERP executives are worthy of the success that a strong business case, planning, project management, and real transformation can bring. Over the past 20 years, ROI has built a tenured and credible team of Infor ERP experts, with industry recognition for our Cloudsuite planning and implementation efforts in healthcare. Our experienced employees/team members have extensive experience in ERP, Healthcare, Finance, Supply Chain Management, EDI, Human Resources, Talent Management, and Business Process Optimization. Schedule your 15-minute call with our experts to help you avoid common points of failure and join the executives who achieve success with their ERP cloud transformations.