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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Basil Daniells (Africa) - Implementing ERP in Africa: What to Look Out For

Doing business in Africa can be notoriously challenging. IT infrastructure is still an issue despite improving at a rapid pace, the average skill level is relatively low compared to other regions, and there's a clear lack of transparency in the way business is conducted.

For global companies with subsidiaries or divisions in Africa it's also important to realize that businesses are not as mature in the use of technology as in Europe or the US; clarity of information is not highly valued or openly accepted; the quality of resources may not be of the same standard as in other regions, and companies often expect rigid projects with no changes along the way.

Despite these challenges, business in Africa is continually developing with the help of foreign investors, the IMF and World Bank, hence there is an increased need for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to help organizations improve transparency and productivity, as well as helping to push up the skill levels of employees. Local regulations, continuously improved on by international funding bodies, have to be met and can provide a head ache for any accounting department that don't have a modern system in place.

What are the top five things a company need to look out for when implementing ERP in Africa?

  1. The local skill levels. An ERP project team has to consist of managers or staff that truly understands their business, and can improve their skills in order to start working with advanced and modern technology.
  2. High lack of transparency. Clear communication between all project team members is even more crucial in Africa, where project scope can change tremendously throughout the process due to the client not having the experience or knowledge of using modern technology.
  3. Lack of input from the top management. An ERP project has to be strictly managed from the top with directors participating in the various phases to make sure the application is tailored to the business, not the other way around.
  4. Due to the lack of IT skills, change management can also become a big challenge. Training users may take longer than usual if they are not used to working with business applications, and their acceptance of a new system is imperative to how well it will become embedded in the organization and what benefits will be realized.
  5. Understanding the whole process of how an ERP application works and how it will be implemented in the organization. African users may not always realize that there is a distinct process they have to go through in order to implement the features they want, and this process may take some time.


Basil Daniells is senior director for Epicor in the Middle East and Africa. Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, hospitality and services industries.

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