Best Practices for GovCons Setting Up an ERP

Best practices for ensuring a smooth implementation of your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Revolutionize how you do business.


Whether it comes to project management, overseeing financials, or business development, government contractors (GovCons) are always looking for ways to make the complex simple. One of the best ways to do that is through the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.  

The right ERP – one that is easy to use and stress-free – will increase a government contractor’s (GovCon) potential for growth, enhance its operational efficiency, and reduce the risk of compliance failure.  

But with the stakes so high, how do you ensure that you’re deploying your ERP to its full potential?  

At Unanet, we’re fortunate to serve some of the most innovative, creative minds in the GovCon arena. They shared some of the best practices they used for a smooth implementation of Unanet as their ERP.  

Follow their guidance to set your ERP up for success – no matter which provider you choose.

Start with recognizing the need for change 

For many GovCons, the march towards ERP begins with a stark acknowledgment—continuing down the path of disjointed, legacy systems no longer cuts it. Whether you're bidding on new projects or trying to streamline back-office operations, tools like QuickBooks and Excel have graduated from being merely inconvenient to impeding growth. 

The next is a tactical commitment to match your need with the right solution, one that is not only robust and scalable but purpose-built for the rigors of government contracts. 

Do your research 

Before you make the move to an ERP provider, weigh your options to find the one that works best for you. Ask your sales rep questions based on what you’ll need the solution to do. Is it purpose-built for your industry, or is it a generalized, one-size-fits-all tool?  

Determine each ERP’s capability to handle project-based accounting, its integration methodologies, and its ease of configuration to meet federal compliance standards. 

You’ll also want to anticipate your company’s growth demands. Will the ERP accommodate the volume and diversity of government contracts you plan to handle as you scale?  

Keep in mind what kind of support services each solution offers. Inquire about the available post-launch support, including implementation assistance, training resources, and ongoing system maintenance. You don’t want to invest in a solution only to find the provider leaving you hanging out to dry once it comes time to actually use it.  

Engage others who have already been in your place 

Transitioning from one tool to another doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to use the resources – and people – available to you to make it happen successfully.   

If you have other colleagues within the GovCon industry who have successfully implemented the same ERP solution in the past, speak with them. Ask them how they did it. This can offer valuable real-world evidence on how you can best integrate it. If others within your company have used the tool in other roles during their career, ask their opinions as well. Look for pain points, hurdles, and how they overcame them.  

You can find these people through local events, by asking your ERP vendor for a connection, or at a tradeshow. Everyone in this industry is pretty helpful! 

Organize and move your data  

For GovCons, project-based work demands a system with centralized processes. Having all of your data under one ERP umbrella helps keep your teams organized while also making implementation much easier. 

When it comes time to input your data into your ERP, you must have a well-defined plan to gather the data from your existing systems. Identify the people in your company who manage data and the systems they use to store it to compile a comprehensive collection of data that you’ll need to input into your new ERP.  

Customize for efficiency 

You should also understand what kind of customizations you’ll want to make to your ERP once you’ve made the switch. Customization flexibility should play into your evaluation – after all, you don’t want a static tool you can’t adapt for your specific business needs.  

Communicate with the people who will be using the ERP on a daily basis to understand how they may need to customize it going forward. Doing this before implementation will make customization much easier once the transfer occurs.  

Find the balance between speed and accuracy 

In the race toward a new ERP, speed can often be misconstrued as the most important factor. However, erring on the side of accuracy and thoroughness can pave the way for a smoother transition. This is especially true with all the of the compliance boxes that need to be checked for government contract accounting.  

Roll out your ERP system in manageable, defined phases. This cautious approach allows you to focus resources, ensure user adoption, and quickly address issues as they arise. 

View each phase of your implementation as an education. Capture lessons learned and pivot your strategy as necessary.  

Cultivate user buy-in 

An ERP’s value is only as strong as its adoption rate. The most sophisticated software isn’t helpful without a team willing to use it. 

Devise a comprehensive training regimen that caters not just to roles and responsibilities but also to the individual. Customized learning paths can expedite the mastery of the ERP's features and workflows. 

Identify internal champions who can champion adoption from within. Their endorsement demystifies the process and instills confidence in their peers. If you’re having trouble selecting the right people, start at the top of the organization. When leadership buys in and encourages usage of a new solution, it helps adoption increase throughout the organization. 

Once you’ve launched, establish a continuous feedback loop. User insights can highlight underutilized features or workflow inefficiencies, guiding your ongoing training and optimization plans. 

Follow up to ensure long-term success 

As your implementation period ends and your ERP becomes part of your regular processes, regularly evaluate your system's performance against your evolving business needs. Adopt a mindset that embraces updates and system optimizations as opportunities, not interruptions. 

Additionally, forge an ongoing partnership with your ERP provider. Their perspective on industry trends and best practices could be invaluable. They can also help keep you up to speed on new releases and updates for your ERP that can help you gain even more value out of it. 

View your ERP as a strategic lever 

The implementation of the right ERP can serve as an opportunity to redefine operational paradigms, become more efficient, and fortify your competitive edge. 

This is why at each stage, from recognition to engagement, transition to customization, and beyond, your focus shouldn’t just be on using software, but on guiding your strategic approach. For GovCons, every dime saved, every second gained, and every compliance line aced can help improve and grow your business. And a well-implemented ERP can be an invaluable tool to equip you for more and more victories.