"The partner your company chooses to work with is the most important decision you will make during an ERP implementation," argues Mike Oswalt, president, Algorithm, an IT solutions, services and support provider. "The software partner should be knowledgeable about your industry and fully understand your business" -- and work closely with you throughout the ERP implementation process.
7. Invest in training
Before you roll out your new software company-wide, or even to a couple of departments, "it is worth it to invest in a core team of users and train them on the tool, even though it may take team members away from their core job function," advises Gail Snider, Marketing Director -- Microsoft Relations, enVista, a supply chain consulting and IT services firm.
8. Focus on data and change management
"Most ERP delays today can be traced back to lack of focus on getting master and transactional data ready in time, or a lack of alignment around new business processes and its impact to the end user community," explains Brad Little, vice president, North America SAP Service Line Leader at Capgemini.
"Even if you build a perfect system, your go-live may not be successful without quality data and business users ready to embrace the new solution. Start early on both of these fronts to avoid unwelcome surprises," Little says.
9. Avoid over-customizing your ERP solution
While some customization is essential, too many organizations over-customize their software, to the point where "years later, they can't upgrade the system without losing all of this custom work," explains Dustin Wells, CEO, Headspring, which specializes in custom software development and consulting. "You can avoid this by reducing the amount of customizations made by your ERP vendor, or by having them written in a sustainable (vendor-neutral) language upfront."
10. Measure results
"Define metrics to determine how well the system delivers on your defined business objectives, then track progress and continue to measure -- even after implementation," says Erik Kaas, vice president of Product Management for software solutions provider Sage.
11. Keep your software current
"Make sure and stay up to date with the periodic software patches and releases your ERP vendor provides," says Little. "Getting out of date will make your system harder to support over time and will drive up your cost of ownership. It will also make it more difficult and expensive to upgrade to the next major release."
Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a contributor to CIO.com and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees, and partners.
Read more about applications in CIO's Applications Drilldown.