Higher education institutions, like any organisation, must keep up with current technologies to stay competitive in the market and offer the best experience to their students, faculty and other stakeholders.
What exactly can one expect when transitioning over to a new finance ERP system, for example? More importantly, what roadblocks can you anticipate to ensure the switch is as quick and seamless as possible?
Buying and implementing technology within an organisation can be an expensive undertaking and it is important to be fully aware of any hidden costs that may arise. As you establish your budget and evaluate proposals from ERP vendors, include these often-overlooked costs of ERP into your analysis:
Data Migration/Conversion - How much will transferring your data from your old system to the new system cost?
Business Disruption - How long and when will your system be down during ERP deployment, and how much will this cost the company in lost revenue and employee productivity?
Unexpected Customisation - What capabilities do you need added or tailored?
Difficulty Upgrading to New Versions
It’s no secret that technology is constantly evolving; this is apparent every time you see a “Software Update” notification on your iPhone or Windows systems. Now, imagine this same rate of change within the internal operations of your organisation. A great deal of time and money must be spent every time you migrate these processes over to a new system and, by the time you do, a newer system has already entered the market.
To avoid this frustration, a cloud-based system is crucial when choosing an ERP solution. Instead of buying and installing multiple solutions over time, a cloud-based service often includes all available updates for the same price.
Training End Users
You may implement an ERP system that is up and running, but it is worthless unless employees are comfortable using it. When a new system is deployed, often it is the IT department or senior leaders that remain excited about the switch, but the end users (who are actually making the transition) may find the system difficult to use without the proper training. Additionally, they may not understand why the organisation is changing, especially if they think the existing options work fine. Therefore, it is important to factor “ease-of-use” into your solution selection.
Taking Longer than Expected
Although it would be ideal if the ERP implementation process went exactly to plan and under budget, that is rarely what ends up happening in practice. Some of the factors that can postpone deployment include management of organisational changes, complexity of the software and number of users. A way to tackle this challenge is to develop a more realistic timeline for implementation, allowing for some wiggle room for unexpected delays.
It is common to start using your new ERP system and find that it lacks some of the functionality you are looking for. Software that fits your business and its operational needs will require much less customisation that is not as good a fit. Additionally, when developing your project plan, it is important to establish the process and approval mechanisms for reviewing and approving customisation, encouraging requests to only be approved if there is a compelling business reason to do so.
Upgrading ERP technology can be a momentous undertaking, yet one with countless benefits for your institution that can be experienced for years thereafter. An important step in your journey towards this outcome includes being as realistic as possible and anticipating any obstacles that may arise. Once you develop the right attitude and triple check your research, you can feel confident in your choice and enjoy the right technology transforming your university for the better.