Your organization is considering an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The implementation of such a system is a complex commitment that will impact every division of your business.

Careful planning and execution of clearly defined objectives and a detailed scope will greatly help to minimize obstacles and maximize success.

But plunging into an implementation without first having a complete understanding of all aspects of the project will increase the probability of encountering significant issues during and after your ERP has been implemented.

In this three-part series, we’ll dive into the key phases of an implementation project, what you need to understand about an ERP, the best practices for everything related to change management and training, and how to adapt to new business processes.

Before we jump in, let’s take a look at a few initial questions.

What is an ERP implementation and why is it beneficial for an organization?

An ERP system integrates numerous business-related functions across the entire organization and creates a single source of truth. Functions include human capital management, accounting and financial management, sales and marketing, manufacturing, warehousing, and supply chain management. By implementing ERP software, your data and business processes are easily accessible and better managed while increasing productivity and efficiency across the board and supporting and automating manual functions.

The process of implementing a system of this nature will determine success or a failure; an organization needs to commit several months to supporting the new system including training employees, so precise planning for configuration and deployment are key.

What are the Stages of an ERP Implementation?

Organizations are unique and their needs will differ, so the details of your ERP implementation plan will be designed specifically for you. But a typical project will include several phases, each with specific objectives. These phases include:

  • Initial Phase: Focus is on laying the ground work and setting clear goals that will provide a strong foundation for the future
  • Planning Phase: This is arguably the most important phase of the entire process requiring great attention to detail. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”
  • Execution and Controlling: With the most moving parts, the primary focus of this phase of the project plan is to ensure the design, configuration, and change management is controlled and executed according to the plan.
  • Closure: Your system goes live, but that doesn’t mean the project is complete—deployment includes troubleshooting, fixing issues, training, monitoring and continuous improvement support.

The Initial Phase: Let’s Get Started!

Once your preliminary research has concluded, you’ve made the business case for an ERP, and you’ve chosen an experienced ERP systems integration partner like aclaros, the work of the Initial Phase can begin and can include the following:

  • Identifying organizational challenges and issues and determine which challenges will be resolved by a new ERP system.
  • Identifying the objectives, priorities, and risks of the project with a clear understanding of the impact they will have on the organization.
  • Authorize resources to start the planning of the rollout.

Your project team will, in addition to other needs, want to know the ins-and-outs of your business (understand process inefficiencies and requirements for the ERP system), define and manage a wide-ranging list of roles (including a detailed analysis of existing workflows for users), design the project plan with target milestones, ensure the right resources are assigned, and provide project management throughout the entire process.

The important of the Initial Phase

While there is expected to be repetitive tasks across and between phases, the Initial Phase emphasizes the assembly of the project team, documentation development and identifying current issues and solutions and outlining clear concrete goals—a guide for the entire project.

Convincing the executive branch and your organization’s employees to commit to the required time, funding, and timelines can be a challenge, but its paramount to success. The Initial Phase will help to:

  • Avoid implementation delays—developing a concrete and realistic estimate for timelines and required resources.
  • Gain executive sponsorship—ensures project support to eliminate obstacles.
  • Decide on deployment of cloud or on-premise.
  • Select an ERP system that has peers within a similar industry listed as customers.
  • Choose an ERP from a credible vendor and with a position as an ERP leader in the industry.
  • Ensure time and funds are allocated for training staff and for on-going support throughout the entire project.

Also consider using a priority matrix that offsets the potential business value to the organization:

The Planning Phase: “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

The words of Benjamin Franklin are fitting and absolutely true, especially in terms of the planning stage of an ERP implementation project. When making the move to a new ERP system, experience dictates that there will be numerous foreseeable and unavoidable challenges.

Once you’ve decided on the right software, dedicating a sufficient amount of time and effort is required on planning—and doing it the right way. Although the process may be similar across ERP Implementations there will be uniqueness, since the goals you identify will be unique to your organization. Planning will help to mitigate risk by establishing a clear baseline to ensure time, scope and effort are managed properly.

What can you expect from this stage?

  • A highly detailed project plan will feedback from numerous stakeholders within your organization will help with scheduling, budgeting, and allocating resources.
  • It will establish baseline on how best to execute and manage your project.
  • Once approved, the planning stage gets the ball rolling—you’re on your way to a new, better, and more advanced ERP system.

Creating your team of qualified, efficient, and dedicated people is key to this stage—this will ensure your job is made much easier and your implementation goes as smoothly as possible across all lines of business.

Who will be included on your team?

Who is selected to be on the team will largely depend on your specific needs—given the nature of ERP implementations and the benefits and features the system will provide, the make-up of a team will vary from organization to organization depending on what functions are being implementing. Expect to include these resources:

  • Project manager: internally and externally they will run the project from start to finish.
  • A qualified implementation partner and consultants: with a lack of in-house expertise, you can’t afford not to have one. Experienced implementation consultants will bring the experience needed to drive quality and resolve issues before they arise.
  • Internal stakeholders: this may include C-suite executives and senior managers, finance, engineers, warehouse personnel, and your sales department to name a few. It is imperative that the members involved have the knowledge and authority to make decisions that align with the ERP implementation goals.

The planning stage has many more elements—requirements gathering, training staff, on-going and post go-live support, and so much more.

To help you understand and learn more about the Initial Phase and Planning Phase and how to improve your ERP implementation—to establish clarity, maximize efficiency, mitigate risk, and get the most out of your ERP—download our complete guide or drop us a line, so we can discuss your needs further.

About the Author

Irenae Jacobs