Deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can provide a multitude of benefits to an organization. A properly implemented ERP can integrate all of a business’ operations into a single solution. This provides a single toolset for processing product planning, manufacturing, marketing, sales, human resources, and financial information.
While the outcome can lead to optimal efficiency across the organization, instituting a new ERP solution is a complex undertaking. Not only can it be costly in regards to the monetary costs associated with the software, but it also requires a high level of internal resources. To increase the likelihood of a successful deployment, a strong process is required. Before taking on a project of this size, consider these points to help you build an implementation roadmap to guide the process.
The ERP project charter will serve as a foundation upon which your plan is built. It will include the various objectives, organizational responsibilities, and scope. You will be able to coordinate resources, including personnel, as well as analyze any risks or problems that may derail project efforts.
The project charter does not have to be completely finalized to begin. Depending on how the implementation proceeds, adjustments may be required. The purpose is to organize the key points from the beginning as it helps secure buy off from the necessary higher-ups and gets everyone on the same page.
It also helps identify key stakeholders in affected business areas. While many organizations view an ERP implementation as a purely technical issue, it will fundamentally change how many business areas manage their work. Involving personnel from all areas that will be integrated can help make sure no vital information is missed simply because it is out of the purview of the technical portion of the team.
The design phase involves the creation of the solutions framework. In some cases, this will be an off-the-shelf solution while others will be more custom. The purpose is to ensure the end product will provide the services you require, contain all needed information, and allow comparative analysis when necessary.
You will want to make sure you have collected the relevant data points and sources from within the organization’s current solutions. Determine how this data will be used in the future, and begin creating prototype systems with the ERP solution. User roles will need to be defined, and supporting documentation should be created.
Once the prototype has been created, it is time to proceed with actually creating the required features. Customization of the solution is managed here as well as the integration of existing data into the new framework. User training is created based on the new functions to help manage the transition once the solution goes live.
Before it is fully deployed, testing is completed. This ensures the solution meets the goals outlined in the project charter and that all included functions are performing as required. The configuration will be adjusted, and input may be sought from key user test-cases.
Once all data has been validated, and the functions have been thoroughly tested, the solution can go live. Training for affected employees may be completed in concurrence with the solutions release or can be provided before full implementation.
During this time, the legacy system is still operational. However, work will be performed through the ERP solution. The legacy system serves as a backup should an unanticipated flaw render certain portions unusable for a period. Even if testing is performed well, some issues may not be present until the system is in use by regular employees. Properly training employees can limit any problems caused by simple unfamiliarity, so it is often considered a critical component at this juncture.
However, it is not often recommended to run both solutions concurrently. Doing so doubles the workload of employees transitioning to the new system, and may be unnecessary. Instead, the legacy information is maintained as is, and work is performed within the new system alone.
While the majority of ERP project team members will be internal, there can be a benefit to bringing in specialists to assist with the project on a contract basis. If your team lacks experience or has specific skill gaps, hiring contingent employees can help alleviate the strain the project will inevitably cause.
Validity Solutions has the industry knowledge and expertise to help you find the ideal match for your ERP project needs. Contact Validity Solutions today and increase your odds of a successful ERP deployment.