Implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be a composite operation that affects many businesses. Enterprise implementation plans are crucial for any major project. The goal is to design and implement it in phases with clear objectives to maximize the success of businesses.
In contrast, not creating a clear project direction, structure, and scope before dividing an ERP implementation can result in significant problems later on.
WHAT IS AN ERP IMPLEMENTATION?
An ERP system merges many functions across businesses like sales, manufacturing, business, human resources and financial management to provide efficiency and increased productivity. Implementing an ERP system involves deploying, planning, and configuring it. This process is complex and typically continues for months because an ERP system automates and supports several functions.
To ensure a successful implementation, the companies need to define the requirements carefully, determine the redesign process to take advantage of the system, and configure the ERP system to support these processes and rigidly test it before positioning it to users. To navigate all these steps successfully, it needs planning and a structured and phased implementation approach.
PHASES OF AN ERP IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
Implementing ERP involves six phases, each with its own objectives. Since every company is unique, the phases may overlap at times and also differ.
Discovery and Planning
Each ERP project starts with a discovery and planning phase that includes conducting thorough research and selecting a system, creating a project team and defining the detailed requirements for the system.
During implementation, the project team takes on a wide range of tasks, including setting targets and designing the project plan. Ensure adequate resources are assigned, make product and design decisions and look upon daily project management.
In addition to the project manager, executive sponsor, and users of the ERP system, the ERP implementation projective team also consists of business partners. Senior management involvement is needed to ensure the project gets the resources it requires and provide the need to implement change in companies.
As part of the implementation process, the team hires a partner who has experience configuring and designing ERP systems. The team also includes an internal specialist who is involved in implementing the ERP system. Internal specialists such as a specimen from IT and a report writer will develop the tailored reports for users across the companies.
The team develops a detailed understanding of current issues, requirements for ERP systems and including process inefficiencies.
If the organization has developed an ERP previously, it has already defined board business issues and goals for the implementation, which includes an improved insight into operation or preparing for a faster financial close for an IPO. These are used to direct detailed analytics and include the documentation of current workflow development of the system.
The design phase of an ERP implementation plan requires a detailed understanding of existing workflows to develop a design for a new ERP system. It includes designing new and more efficient workflows for the benefit of the system. It is crucial that users be included in the design phase to gain a better understanding of existing business processes.
Gap analysis is used to identify unique curiosities and process complexities that require customization of ERP software or changes to process or workflow more closely merged with the ERP system itself. The team presents a gap to implementation partners and asks them for finding potential solutions.
In the development phase of ERP implementation, the system involves configuring and customizing the software to support the redesigning process. It also includes developing integrations with the current organization’s business applications that ERP systems can’t replace.
The organization is responsible for installing the required hardware and software if the ERP system is on-premises. The team that develops the software needs to create training materials for users to help them adapt to it. Furthermore, a data migration project has to be planned, which can be complex as data will often have to be extracted, transformed, and loaded from many different sources. They often have different formats and hold inconsistent information. The project team determines which data to transfer in the development phase and avoids the blanket transfer of historical data, which is mostly irrelevant.
Development and testing occur simultaneously. Initial testing of basic functions of the software should be followed by careful testing of all capabilities of the system, including allowing some employees to test the system for daily tasks. This phase also encloses testing of migrated data and includes end-user training.
Most vendors supply pre and post-deployment tools to initiate user training. But for vendor support, companies make good use of training material in the development phase. There is real value in resources that individually cater to businesses’ end users’ daily responsibilities.
Seeking towards the day when the system goes live. Be prepared for potential issues as there will be many moving parts and disoriented employees, despite the best efforts to prepare them for change. The project team will answer the queries that help users understand and attempt to fix the system issues.
The implementation partner has to be there to help with troubleshooting. It will take some time for users to adapt to the system and achieve estimated productivity increments. Some data can be transferred before deployment, while the current transaction should be transferred instantly before going live.
Some companies focus on deploying all modules of the ERP system simultaneously, while others aim for certain high-priority modules or processes and add others later in stages. Some companies run old systems with new ERP implementations to minimize the risk, which adds to the overall project cost and reduces user productivity.
Support and Updates
Supporting ERP implementation after the deployment phase keeps users happy and ensures that businesses achieve the benefits. The project team will still be responsible for the ERP system, but now it will focus on user feedback and make system updates accordingly. Some configuration and additional deployment will be required when new features are added, and new staff must be trained on the system.
If you have an on-premise ERP system, you’ll have to install periodic software updates and require later hardware updates. But if you’re running a cloud-based ERP system, the vendor will update the software automatically.
ERP IMPLEMENTATION SYSTEM PRACTICES
Creating an ERP implementation plan with phases doesn’t guarantee success. It’s also important to follow the ERP implementation best practices with each phase. Best practices include:
Don’t rush with the initial planning and recovery phase. This phase should develop a firm foundation for the entire project implementation by ensuring that the project is high-level and operates with a clear plan, allocated with adequate personnel and budget.
- Support and Training
Some project team members think the deployment date is the last for implementation efforts and don’t provide adequate attention afterwards. But for system users, the deployment date is the beginning that is crucial for the subsequent continuous success of the project. It’s important to allocate the required resources for technical support and provide updates.
- Plan data migration carefully
Companies make mistakes by transferring historical data to the new system, in which most of the information in the older system is unnecessary. The transition of an ERP is a chance to clean up the company’s data and create a clear plan.
It is most essential for all the implementation phases of the system. The team should make it routine to communicate with everyone in the company regularly. To communicate regarding the reasons for ERP implementation, goals and benefits, and expectations from each phase. Two-way communication is essential; the team should listen to user issues and look upon feedback before and after deployment.
The ERP implementation process seems discouraging initially, specifically factoring in the high costs associated with unsuccessful executions.
The key to a good ERP implementation plan depends on developing a system with users’ perceptions and interacting with the final system. As the software is only good as people operate and process it.
Our digital platform helps organizations overcome implementation by providing teams with an all-in-one platform that helps in speeding up software adoption by onboarding flows, on-screen guidance, and effective training.
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