When an enterprise reaches a stage of rapid growth, it faces an important milestone: overhaul its entire backend operating system to facilitate the boost to business, or risk that its current setup will crumble under the pressure of increased orders.
Usually, a shiny new operating system seems the obvious choice. By bringing all workflows and channels together into one central hub, reducing time-consuming manual processes and offering in-depth visibility across the board, the resulting boon to customer service should, in theory, have profits soaring.
But, while the focus is on the fancy new features and benefits to come, how to implement it can become an afterthought. In reality, implementation is the most crucial step to ensuring the new backend system has a long-term, positive impact on your business.
What’s Going Wrong?
From a traditional finance point-of-view though, ERP projects are proving costly. A study by my company Brightpearl, a leading retail operating system, found that on average ERP projects cost around a third more than predicted, and 36% of projects take longer than estimated to get live – with an average 200-day delay.
Something is wrong here. Whether adopting an ERP or other similar solutions like an OMS, our study found a common set of mistakes are often made. Our research highlights some typical pitfalls, including underinvesting in expert consulting assistance, not doing enough pre-purchase research to understand whether the system is fit for retail, or failing to foresee the headaches that a lack of flexibility, functionality and integrations cause. Self-guided implementation’ was named as a key reason for a backend project downfall in a quarter of cases. Other issues are organizational, like employees’ resistance to change or failing to secure buy in from leadership.
Implementing a new backend system is a huge use of resources – To ensure your investment is watertight, the essential tips below will give you the confidence and foresight to carry out a major tech installation with maximum chances of success.
1. Lay out a strategy
Research by Panorama Consulting Group (2022) found firms that take on a major backend tech project without a strategy tend to ‘implement more functionality than needed, approve non-value-added software customizations, or overlook certain process improvements necessary for achieving organizational goals’.
To avoid taking on more – or less – than your business needs, it’s vital to have a clear-cut vision for why you’re overhauling your backend technology.
Identify your primary objectives as well as your budget, timeline and who in your team will be involved, to give you a strong sense of direction for each stage. This strategy is the blueprint for the project and will remind you of your key motivations for the upgrade, so detail everything you deem essential to the future of your enterprise.
2. Prepare your team
Lack of internal buy-in can spell disaster for a big tech project, so getting your staff enthused and on board is integral to getting your new backend system off the ground.
Right from the start, communicate to your team what’s going on and why, reminding them that the new tech will transform their day-to-day tasks as well as solidify the future of the business. Get staff involved by identifying key team members who extensively know your business operationally, and assign them the roles of Project Champion and Project Manager. These staff can communicate progress to the wider team, and ensure the project is led with in-depth, first-hand knowledge.
3. Audit the technology
‘Integration issues’ is the top reason for implementation failure; and it’s for this reason that auditing the technology – both of your business and of the potential backend system provider – is an essential port of call before signing on the dotted line.
A badly executed integration between systems is a nightmare for operations. Using manual workarounds such as spreadsheets to plug gaps in data will slow down business and stunt progress – therefore it’s vital to choose a system that not only harmonizes with the unique infrastructure of your business, but naturally facilitates your vision for growth.
Ask yourself: does this new operating system promote longevity, agility and flexibility, to support my business as it scales and evolves? Will it easily extend to my most valued apps and channels, and can I swap and change them seamlessly over time?
Your new backend operating system should be progressive enough to support the future of your business; ensure it scales with you, or you risk a wasted investment.
4. Get help from the experts
Carrying out the implementation yourself is an attempt to lower costs that rarely bears fruit. Even if you are successful, there’s a strong likelihood the system will be buggy. Our study, for example, revealed that half (49%) of enterprises carrying out a DIY backend software implementation have faced major challenges post implementation of their system.
Getting the help of expert consultants is the only way to go. There are simply too many variables to a major tech project that only trained experts can handle – and you’ll appreciate the support should inevitable hurdles arise.
5. Choose a winning formula
An all-important step that negates the majority of issues? Choose an operating system that can give data-backed evidence of its implementation success.
In this ever-evolving e-commerce climate, it’s too risky to settle for unsuitable backend software that doesn’t integrate accurately and takes years to employ.
A progressive enough provider will understand the necessity of a stress-free implementation. It will seamlessly integrate with your existing tech stack as well as promote a flexible and agile approach to scaling; avoid disruption to your daily operations; and won’t shock you with hidden costs, months into the process. With the help of expert guidance as standard, it also won’t expect you to tackle problems yourself, or charge you for the trouble.
When undergoing a major technology installation, it pays exponentially to prepare in advance. In understanding that an operating system will never reach its full potential without a smooth, straight-forward implementation, and by following the key tips above, your newly supported business will head for long-term success while avoiding disastrous barriers to growth.
Brightpearl’s implementation is designed, planned, managed and configured by experienced, in-house experts – and our 97% success rate speaks for itself.
Want to know even more about why implementation projects go wrong so often? Grab your free copy of our new report: ‘Implementation Crisis: Are Most Major Tech Adoption Projects Doomed to Fail?’ now.
There’s also a smarter, safer way to undergo the implementation process. We’ve put together a 7 step framework to successful e-commerce software implementation which will ensure your software implementation is smooth and stress-free. Download a free copy of the new guide today.