The most uncertain part of purchasing an ERP system, is the ERP implementation that follows. You already know the software fits, or solves, a business need that exists and will help your company move strategically forward. But moving from the stage of concept to reality, can be a windy path for first-timers and even for those that have gone through the process before. So how do you get to where your current system is finally in the rearview and the new one is has your employees excited about the road ahead?
Let’s take a look at 3 early stops in the ERP implementation roadmap.
Organizing the Team:
You’ve probably known all along who the key players are that would take part in rolling out the new business management system. But once the contract is signed and hard timelines start being discussed, the realization of the amount of hours and effort involved – while still doing their day jobs – may overwhelm employees. To make sure everyone stays on track and focused, you need project champions. These are the people excited for the change who genuinely recognize that coming out the other end of the ERP implementation, will be a more streamlined and efficient organization.
So, what are some things to organize?
- The right people, in the right number, with a strong leader to guide them.
- Make sure the team is made up of knowledgeable folks who have a strong grasp of the business processes and can confidently make decisions.
- Remember, this project will be their main responsibility for at least a couple months, so be prepared to backfill tasks as needed so there are no business interruptions.
This is the meeting (might be a few) that starts everything. It’s time to start herding together all the project resources and begin formal planning. Your ERP partner should have a framework and process they follow, which has served them well implementing ERP systems for other satisfied customers. They should also have a good understanding of your business at this point, but mostly from a high-level. It’s now time to really dig in with a thorough discovery process with precise documentation to follow. What should be included in that documentation?
- A realistic, informed estimate of time and costs for discovery, configuration, setup and training up through the time the the system goes "live." Remember to also budget for a post go-live review of the system and for additional training time for employees once they have a chance to use the system on a regular basis.
- A detailed definition of scope and what it specifically includes, and more important, what it does not include.
- The alignment of the company's strategic goals is understood and expectations are laid out clearly – who does what and when.
Finalize All Requirements and Scope:
After a thorough discovery process has taken place – multiple on-site visits, meeting with and sitting with department heads, reviewing the current system/processes, and completely understanding the quote-to-cash process – things can be finalized. Make sure every project team member is onboard and has signed off on the project scope, the project plan, their own responsibilities, and the functional areas to be addressed.
Here’s what you should know:
- Identify and document ALL the process requirements needed that the new system will affect.
- Selection of required software features the business will need up and running on Day 1.
- Define what, if any, "work a rounds" or software customization are needed in order to meet the agreed upon needs and requirements. This may end up including tasks that are out of the initial scope of the implementation.
- Never underestimate the 3P's - Plan, Plan, Plan.
I hope this helps put the early part of implementation process somewhat in perspective. As long as everyone is on the same page and staying true to the process laid out, there shouldn't be any major issues the crop up. Just remember that due diligence needs to be done not only on the software, but also the partner implementing it.
Thanks for reading.