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Tips for Industrial Distributors Transitioning to a New ERP System

Challenging economic times are often seen by many successful businesses as the right time to implement new software that will take their business to the next level, preparing them for accelerated growth once the market stabilizes.  As a leader in industrial distribution management software, Tribute, Inc. has worked with hundreds of companies who have made the decision to transition to new ERP management software and have seen significant growth in the upswing of a recession. 

Likewise, there are many companies that are unsure about making the switch because the implementation process seems like an enormous undertaking and they may not have the time or resources to dedicate. Aligning yourself with a software provider that has a proven implementation strategy, effective training, and offers the best ERP solution for your business will make the project less daunting. One of Tribute’s implementation specialists said it best, “Don’t dread the project or the work; be excited for the outcome.”

If you are considering a change in software solutions, here are some key implementation strategies to consider:

Analyze Your Business Requirements 

The first step is making the decision that your company needs a new ERP platform.  Here are some factors to consider during the due diligence process:

  • What are the must-have requirements and features needed to help accelerate growth in your business? How does the ERP platform simplify those processes?
  • Engage stakeholders from every department to determine the list of needs/wants in a new system and consider your current business processes and whether they may need to be reengineered.
  • Ask yourself, “Does the ERP software company understand your industry and help promote continuous improvement and growth?”
  • What type of availability will you have to their resources in terms of leadership, support, and training?
  • Does the software provider have a well-outlined implementation program that does not rely solely on self-learning and video tutorials?
  • Ask about the software company’s implementation team – who would be involved and what kind of experience do they have in your industry?
  • How does the mission and values of the ERP software company align with your own? Will they serve as a strategic partner for your business, or just a software provider who is not involved in your industry?

These items are all critical components of an effective software evaluation to determine who has the best fit features for your industrial distribution business.

Build & Engage Your Team 

Once you have made your new ERP software choice, one of the most critical pieces to a successful implementation is getting buy in from the entire company and securing the right resources from the get-go. Naming a motivated project leader from your team is equally as important as the decision to purchase a new ERP system. The project leader should be able to confidently delegate assignments to the team, keep them engaged and accountable, and be able to work closely with the ERP partner’s implementation team. 

Jim Dominelli, Inside Sales & Purchasing Manager with Frank Murken Products (FMP), used his hobby of video recording and editing to create a fun video to get the FMP team excited about their current TrulinX implementation project. Dominelli said, “This has been a big project for us, essentially creating a brand-new database from what previously was 15 + years old.” The FMP team understands the dedication and teamwork involved in ERP implementation and can already see how their hard work will pay off in the long run.  Dominelli, along with project lead John Tattersall, Jr., do an excellent job of working together to keep the project flowing and keep their team motivated.

Work Together as a Team

Jay Adams, Chief Operating Officer for our customer River Bend Hose Specialty, recommends avoiding the “I can do it all” mentality. He says, “This is not a project you can do all by yourself. At least not well. ERP implementation is in addition to your team’s full-time jobs.” Adams provides these helpful recommendations:

  • Respect everyone’s time.
  • Do not focus on full team meetings. Bring together only those team members for the items that pertain to their expertise.
  • Include representation from all departments during the implementation process:
    • Accounting
    • Admin/Data Entry/Data Migration
    • IT/Hardware
    • Operations
    • Inventory Management

Think “Opportunity to Improve”

Having open lines of communication with your software implementation specialist is key to a successful ERP transition. Review those business processes that you previously identified in the evaluation process with your ERP implementation specialist to determine and learn how the software will handle those issues. The software implementation specialist should be able to provide insight on internal changes required to meet Best Practice standards.   Dominelli says they have experienced this first hand with their current implementation project. "It has been great to be able to talk out an issue with our implementation specialist and he is able to guide us to how it is done in TrulinX,  or discusses what changes may be needed to our business processes."

Jamie Schott, Implementation Manager for Tribute, Inc. says, “Now is the time to push for the changes you need to make. Is there something that is not working for your company? Is there a process that needs to be modified? Use this time to communicate with the implementation specialist, and they may be able to iron out a plan that allows for you to fix some of the broken processes you are seeing.”

Adams also added, “The biggest opportunity an ERP transition gives you is to improve your company from the shop floor to the executive suite. First ask, ‘What do I want to know? How would I do our processes if there were no obstacles?’ Then, come to the implementation project with your Utopia in mind. Do not try to match how you currently do everything. If you only try to match your current operations with a more up-to-date ERP system, you’ll miss out on the biggest opportunity for improvement and payback on your investment. The most successful companies are the ones that see ERP implementation as a part of a larger continuous improvement culture.

Stick to the Schedule 

One of the biggest issues hindering an on-time Go-Live of a new software is not sticking to the schedule. Good implementation schedules are normally broken into obtainable segments.  Regular meetings with your implementation specialist should keep the project moving if you allow your team to dedicate time each day/week to work on the project. 

Strive to meet the deadlines that are established for each step of the process. Letting too much time pass between work sessions also hinders the progress. “Momentum is lost when you have to review where you stopped last time,” Schott says. The project is a team effort, and the burden lies on both parties to achieve a timely implementation.

Onsite Learning and Training

The best ERP software implementation packages include onsite training at your facility for the team when possible. This should be included in the initial package you purchase. 

Keep in mind, though, that training does not start and end with one onsite event. Your implementation process should be structured to include tasks and training throughout the entire journey so that by the time you get to the live training, you are already somewhat versed in the areas that pertain to your position or department.  Generally, your on-site training should occur 30-60 days prior to Go-Live. Therefore, at this point, you want the cleanest data available, so your efforts can be solely focused on learning the ins and outs of your new program in preparation for the flip of the switch. 

Implementation programs that provide you with “homework” outside of your weekly meetings are critical to finding and correcting any errors that are in the data. The adage of “practice makes perfect” is one that the Tribute implementation team takes to heart. Schott says, “Practicing after training solidifies what you’ve learned. So, when you get homework, do it!”

In addition, top tier software companies typically host user group meetings and other training opportunities. We cannot stress enough how beneficial these events are and can prove to be amazing networking and learning opportunities.


About Tribute, Inc. TrulinX ERP Software

If you are in the market for a new ERP software solution, Tribute, Inc. is here to help. Tribute has been a provider of industrial distribution management software in the fluid power, motion control, industrial hose, fluid handling, pump, sealing, instrumentation, process control, and automation marketplace since 1980.

Tribute’s flagship product, TrulinX, has features to help manage inventory in complex fabrication projects. No other software system provides the level of sophistication that TrulinX does in tracking and managing assemblies, subassemblies, labor, and burden down to the component level.

We provide a superior implementation program geared to set your company up for success, as well as provide U.S.-based software support with full access to our leadership team. For information on our ERP software, contact us or visit Tribute.com.

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Tribute, Inc. is a provider of ERP business management software for distributors and system integrators in the fluid power, hose, motion control, automation, fluid handling & pump industry who provide value-added services.