Faster, Cheaper ERP for the Mid-Market

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With any change comes the need for training, another tricky aspect of rapid ERP implementations (see the ERP research center on CIO.com). With all the effort involved in making ERP work quickly, training can slip through the cracks. NetRail’s Schmidt says his company got training all wrong when it first started to teach employees their new system.

"We were originally planning to do computer-based training with our users," he says. "It was about midway into the implementation?all of a sudden one day [two consultants from SAP partner Plaut Sigma] came into my office, closed the door and said, ’We need to talk.’ They said, ’Rick, they’re really not getting it as rapidly as we need them to.’"

So Schmidt changed his plans. NetRail scrapped computer-based training and organized five in-person sessions held on Friday afternoons. "We were able to put together pretty quickly some handouts that showed them what [they] needed to do," he says. "It took a little bit more personal attention than just sitting in front of your computer screen trying to learn it."

Done right, rapid ERP implementations can be successful. At Interactive Apparel, Price’s team implemented SAP’s financial, sales and distribution, materials management and warehouse management applications in nine weeks for less than $150,000. NetRail completed its implementation in nine weeks for less than $200,000. McCullough has no more worries about whether his company’s website will be able to handle its transaction volume.

Fast-track ERP isn’t as easy as its name may suggest, but when managed well it can revolutionize a business. "It has improved efficiencies throughout the business," McCullough says. "We had a little bit of jousting back and forth, but we got through it."

Tell Senior Writer Lee Pender your ERP time-warp stories at lpender@cio.com.

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