Peer Advice: Considering New ERP Systems
April 18, 2019 by
Sourcing a new ERP system can be a daunting task. On March 27, local government and school leaders who have been through the process offered their experiences, insight, and lessons learned in a lively panel discussion.
Watch the full webinar, How Governments and Schools Achieve More: ERP Client Panel, to hear how the following panelists successfully navigated implementation and upgrades, and continue to get the most out of their tech investments to achieve more every day:
- Kent Reeves, Auditor, Bosque and Hamilton Counties, TX
- Corey Beck, Director of Business Software Systems, Mead School District 354, WA
- Jill Cunningham, Database Staff Support Manager, Auburn, ME
- Kimberly Reynolds, Business Manager, Lancaster School District, PA
Tyler’s Vice President, Sales Enablement, Peter Rickett, facilitated a discussion that included biggest wins, upgrade experiences, quantifiable outcomes, and, of course, plenty of stories and advice. Here are some of the highlights.
Biggest ERP Wins
A new ERP system is a sizeable investment that involves not only technology, but organizational change. Early wins with new software are important for staff buy-in and adoption of the full range of a system’s functionalities. The panelists’ biggest wins were in cost avoidance and enhanced stability and performance. Corey Beck noted, for example, that his school district realized cost savings by cutting down on staff overtime and paper usage after moving to modern technology. Particularly in payroll, HR, and accounts payable, new efficiencies cut the need for overtime. Storing reports electronically eliminated both paper and storage costs.
Kent Reeves concurred on efficiencies gained in moving to electronic processes in payroll and purchasing. He also noted a new confidence in his county’s data after implementing a new system. “One of the biggest gains we’ve had is the confidence in our data that’s produced through the system,” Reeves said. “We can drill down in the tables into the data to look at what we have without jumping from screen to screen.”
Surely everyone who explores new ERP solutions hopes that a new system will improve day-to-day life. Kimberly Reynolds saw her operations improve in time savings and streamlined workflow. With 22 buildings and more than 1,500 staff, Reynolds’ district used to spend significant time just filing papers. With integrated content management software, quick scanning is the new norm. Automated workflow for purchasing enables her to approve her queue in just minutes. Reynolds also noted the impact of new insight. “We can now look at data in new ways,” she said. “We can analyze different years’ financials, add detail, and look at previous budget years to create payroll and benefit projections.”
For Reeves, an obvious daily difference was, “our phones quit ringing all day long!” His staff, particularly payroll, finished their duties sometimes days earlier and were freed up to do more. Paperless timesheets and employee self service cut down on errors. Newly transparent financial data also eliminated calls from commissioners, who can now “access their own data and answer all those questions we get on a fairly regular basis,” Reeves said, such as budget status and items charged.
Jill Cunningham spoke of a shift in IT work from figuring out how technology will work to focus on using technology to tackle business problems. “We focus more on things that need to get done in the software versus worrying about the actual servers running,” she noted, of Auburn’s move to the cloud.
All panelists offered valuable advice throughout the discussion:
- Reynolds urged peers in the field to create a detailed needs assessment with clear implementation goals. She also suggested extra help. “We underestimated the hands-on time it would take for a customized conversion,” she noted. “Consider bringing in a temp or some extra help so you can be freed up to be more involved in testing and setup.”
- For Cunningham, training is key. “Keep up on your training, and send staff to Connect,” Cunningham said. “It’s a huge tool to keep up with upgrades and to make sure staff knows how to use the technology and make it more efficient.”
- Beck noted the benefits of learning from your peers. He reached out to two other districts that had already implemented the software he chose and created relationships with them to benefit from their tips. He suggested continuing to network after implementation to learn how staff in similar organizations use the product and make it productive.
- Understanding what data is important before a transition was Reeves’ final point. Knowing you don’t have to move everything over is a great chance to start fresh with clean, useful data.