WHAT IS AN ERP IMPLEMENTATION?

| May 3rd, 2021

Having ERP software deployed successfully in your business requires that you go through a process known as an implementation.  This is the process of moving you from your legacy business systems to an all-encompassing system.  At the end of the process the majority, if not all, of your business flows will be reflected in your ERP software.

For most companies, the result is a significant change in the way work was done in the past.  The Implementation Process gets you from your current state to your desired future state.

Any ERP implementation must cover these points:

  • Project Planning, including scoping, roles, timelines, and responsibilities.
  • Installation and testing of software.
  • Data migration from legacy systems.
  • Design and mapping of process flows for areas of the company affected.
  • Proper security configurations for user access.
  • Configuration of the software to support the process flows as needed.
  • Personalization of customer facing reports.
  • Training of users in the new processes.
  • Going live on the new system.
  • Monitoring and maintaining the environment going forward.

There are many ways to implement an ERP system, some effective, others not-so-much.  These run the range from do-it-yourself projects to others doing it for you as well as phased implementations to “big-bang” deployments where all features go on-line simultaneously. 

Some types of ERP implementations:

Self-implemented  $

As the name implies, this is a do-it-yourself implementation. 

Your own internal team learns the software from on-line training, user guides, and trial and error.  Then, perhaps using vendor supplied documentation on best practices, your team works out how the software should be used in your company. 

Outside consultants are available as needed but are not deeply involved.

Project management falls solely on your team.

We’ve only seen this type of implementation work where there are team members who have prior experience with the specific ERP system being deployed, and where someone in the team is a competent project manager and can keep the implementation on track.

Quick Start $$

This type of implementation has been promoted widely in recent years, especially by ERP vendors offering cloud solutions.  The promotions claim to have you up and running within a very short time, often 6 or 8 weeks. 

Training on the overall features of the software is skipped or minimalized.  Instead, emphasis is on “best-practices,” which are workflows in each area of the business that are simplified, basic, and inflexible.  The training is on the best-practice workflows and does not easily bend to unique business practices. 

A complete data conversion is not included, with the expectation that the users will enter data as they go or cut and paste master files into the new system, omitting historical transactions.  

Typically, a quick start implementation of 6 to 8 weeks only includes very basic core functions, such as accounting, some inventory, and order entry.  

Train the Trainer $$$

This is the most common form of a collaborative implementation. Your team is trained on each module of the ERP system, either on-line or with a live trainer.  After each training session, a conference room pilot is conducted with a consultant to establish how that module will be used within your company. 

This results in detailed procedures that the team then uses to train all the other users.  Thus the name, “Train the Trainer.”

Project Management is typically shared between the outside consulting firm and your internal team.

Consultant Led  $$$$

Also known as a “Proof of Concept”, in this type of Implementation the outside consultants do a much deeper dive into the workings of your company and from the data gleaned design how they believe the software should be set up for you. 

The consultants set up the software and populate data in a test environment.

Your team attends basic training on the overall system, but not detailed training on each module.

The consultant then leads a series of conference room pilots and steps your team through each functional area, showing them how they would use the software based on the consultant’s designs and getting their feedback.  The consultant’s designs are altered as needed based on the feedback of your team. 

Once the pilots are complete and your team has signed off, the consultants do a data conversion from the legacy system.

Training is then conducted for the rest of your users, using the converted data in the test environment and the consultant developed procedure documents.

After training is complete, a final conversion is done into the live environment and your company goes live on the new ERP system. 

Conclusion

There are many other factors that make up a successful implementation (click here for more information).


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