The enterprise resource planning system (ERP) is the backbone for most organizations. They invest a lot of money in software, implementation and training costs related to their ERP systems to collect, track and report on critical business data. Once the system is in production and the organization is dependent on the results provided by the ERP system, a maintenance plan must be developed and documented to ensure the system continues to operate at its best.
Below are some general rules to keep the ERP system operating with the fewest possible issues:
1. Have a documented and verified disaster recovery plan.
What would happen after an earthquake, flood, hurricane or blizzard? What about a hard disk failure or server crash? A necessary element in any ERP implementation is a well-documented disaster recovery plan. A good disaster recovery plan will account for several types of disasters – both man-made and natural – that may affect the ERP system. Disasters cannot always be avoided, but the impact they have, such as downtime and data loss, can be minimized.
A disaster recovery plans identifies preventative and corrective measures required in the event of a disaster. It should address backups, how to store them (off-site) and how often to create them. It should identify redundant array of independent disks (RAID) levels on the server. It should detail how to recover from a disaster with a tested and verified recovery solution. A disaster recovery plan is essential to any organization and should be tested often to avoid downtime and data loss.
2. Have a documented maintenance plan.
Identify key areas of the ERP system with future expansions or roadmaps defined. You should understand your business and how it maps to the ERP system. Constantly reevaluate your requirements and what areas of the ERP system may be improved.
The plan should identify the key players for the ERP system. Who is the vendor? When does the maintenance need to be renewed? Who provides the support? Who internally is in charge of the system?
3. Keep the software up-to-date.
Software continuously evolves with additional features and improvements to existing features. Know what software versions you are using and what the latest updates are. Vendors provide service packs or version upgrades to address bugs that have been identified, add additional functionality, improve navigation or change the look and feel of the software. The updates are essential to keep the system up-to-date and supported.
Keeping your system up-to-date allows you to utilize the new features available that may significantly improve your system. How has the software changed? How has your business changed? How can you capitalize on the new features to improve the system or its efficiency? Hardware should also be evaluated and upgraded on a periodic basis to ensure they are adequate for the ERP software and keeping it running at its best.
4. The staff should be well-trained.
After implementation, training is what keeps the ERP system running smoothly with minimal user issues. Initial training is great, but ongoing training should be provided periodically. Ongoing training ensures staff is utilizing the system efficiently, is current on processes and is able to maximize the system’s new features. Ongoing training further allows the users to identify improvements to functionality and processes within the organization. Another recommendation is to have cross-functional training. This ensures that if an employee is absent or leaves the company, someone is ready to perform the duties until the employee returns or is replaced.
By developing a maintenance plan, taking steps to back up important information, keeping your software up-to-date and providing ongoing training opportunities to your staff, you can make the most out of your ERP system.