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Business Transformation

5 things to consider when planning a multi-country ERP implementation

Thursday, November 18, 2021
Mulit Site and Multi Country ERP

Organizations embarking on multi-country, multi-site ERP implementations face various challenges. If you’re looking to take your organization across borders, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can simplify your business and prepare you for an efficient and robust future. But like all IT projects, there are pitfalls and things you should consider when planning your project.

ERP software implementations allow global organizations to standardize data and business processes, so they have global visibility into all their operations. Depending on the countries you operate in, language can be a significant barrier. And localizing your ERP solution to meet regulatory requirements and local best practices is another vital element. You also need to consider whether your existing infrastructure can support your new ERP solution. And of course, let’s not forget about the potential impact company culture has on the project.

These are just some of the major factors that can impact the success of your global ERP implementation.

1. Languages and currency

So how do you manage data and transactions in local languages and currencies? Firstly, organizations need to decide how to standardize global data, so it aligns with the common business language and currency while also allowing the system to handle multiple languages and currencies. You might decide to use English as your common business language, but you shouldn’t assume that the people handling daily tasks such as warehouse transactions and order entry are comfortable with English. Remember language considerations are about more than just data. Screens and notifications as well as training materials and manuals should also be translated into local languages because learning and operating a new system in a foreign language can be extremely challenging.

2. Regulatory requirements and global compliance

Localization is not limited to languages and currencies. International organizations are constantly challenged by the need to meet local regulations in the countries they operate. That’s because regulatory requirements vary greatly from country to country. Just within Europe, VAT, taxes, and regulatory requirements can be completely different from one country to the other. In addition, there’s privacy regulations to adhere to. Some ERP solutions don’t guarantee legislative compliance when it comes to issues like Brexit and GDPR. However, some solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, are GDPR compliant and support major global, governmental, regional, and industry regulations. This makes it easy for your organization to comply with existing standards and respond to new standards and regulations as they arise.

3. Common data

Working from a common data source is an important part of an effective ERP implementation and enables organizations to share data about customers, vendors, items, prices, and more. But achieving common data greatly depends on how the organization operates. If all subsidiaries are serving different markets with different products, common data is often limited to a common Chart of Accounts allowing for consolidation of financial data. However, when the different countries and sites operate in the same markets and sell the same products, ERP solutions can bring great opportunities. For instance, you can implement common numbers for customers and suppliers in the sales and finance systems. This can bring great savings such as enhanced credit control. And oftentimes organizations can get better discounts or consolidate some purchases, and place orders through a subsidiary located close to the supplier. Furthermore, it allows you to move around surplus materials and you can quickly respond to emergency shortages.

4. Infrastructure that supports your solution

Today, ERP solutions are available both on-premise and as cloud solutions. There’s also an increase in demand for hybrid ERP solutions, especially from international organizations as this allows them to integrate several systems quickly and easily. Cloud-based ERP solutions require fast internet access and sufficient bandwidth so that all the users can quickly connect and effectively perform their tasks. However, cloud-based solutions are only as effective as the local infrastructure allows. It is therefore important to validate an organization’s legacy infrastructure before proceeding with any implementation. In some regions where speedy internet isn’t always available, it could be useful to contract a second internet provider as a backup. Check out our ERP Infrastructure Assessment to read about how Pipol can help you assess your current infrastructure so you can optimize your setup according to your ERP strategy.
Organizations also need to consider how to handle support for the new ERP solution. For instance, will there be centralized or local ERP support and help desk functions? When there’s no local support available, users can only avail of support in a foreign language or from a different time zone, and this can be cumbersome for some users.

5. Culture that supports your ERP

When you implement an ERP solution, you are fundamentally changing the way people work. Company culture can easily derail a well-designed, and well-deployed ERP project. So, when implementing a global ERP solution, it’s important to get strong buy-in from the entire organization. Leadership, along with your ERP implementation partner, should involve users in the implementation process, getting their input and guidance along the way and ensuring everyone understands and accepts the project objectives. When the solution nears launch, user training should be prioritized. This helps ensure users are comfortable with the system from the start and it helps them understand the benefits of it, both to them and the business.
Effective change management is another crucial element to ensuring the implementation process goes smoothly and that it recognizes and respects the company culture, and the cultural differences present throughout the organization.

Never underestimate human beings’ natural aversion to change, even when the results of the change may benefit them.

The ideal multi-country ERP solution

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a robust scalable solution ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers a flexible platform that helps international organizations streamline operations and reduce operational costs. This highly customizable, easy-to-use business management solution is designed to help you connect the individual parts of your organization, enabling smarter decision-making.

The latest release of Dynamics 365 Business Central is available in 46 countries/regions supporting 45 languages. It allows customers to choose the localization for their country to enable market-specific business processes that always comply with local legislation. However, to secure the successful implementation of the solution in each country, you need experts who have a solid grasp of the local regulations, language, and culture.

Multi-site EPR implementations requires expertise

By working closely with a reliable Microsoft Partner, you can determine the most efficient path forward for your organization and ensure you have the flexibility and possibility needed to respond to future changes. You simply minimize ERP project failure.

With offices in more than 85 countries and over 500 successful international Dynamics 365 deployments under our belt, Pipol has the functional competencies and global presence needed to support our customers wherever they’re located. By drawing on the expertise and dedication of our local partners, we can ensure your global ERP implementations are executed according to local industries, customs, and regulations.

Want to know more? Get in touch with Pipol today to learn more about how we can guide you through this process. And, check out our blog about other pitfalls you should be aware of when implementing a global ERP project.

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