Once you’ve selected the right cloud-based ERP system for your business, your next challenge is to get it up and running—a process that’s not as simple as it sounds. But that’s where having a good understanding of the implementation process (and its variations) comes in handy. If you start out of the gates with the right expectations, and, we’ll add, you’re working with a trusted implementation partner, your entire team is bound to have a positive and productive implementation experience.
Here are some key insights to help you and your internal ERP implementation team plan for “what’s next” after your software selection is made.
Insight: The ERP implementation process has many moving parts
Action: Get familiar with the stages of implementation
Before pressing “go” on your implementation, you should expect to work closely with your implementation partner to identify virtually every need and lay out a plan for success. In general, this consists of the following stages:
- Discovery– define the need, vision, scope of the project
- Plan – develop a strategy to complete the work and determine how progress will be measured throughout the process
- Analyze– gather the more detailed requirements needed for software development
- Build – carry out the software and design development tasks identified in the earlier stages
- Test– ensure the solution meets the requirements and is ready for full deployment
- Deploy– push the solution “live” and into production
- Ongoing support – work out any post-live support issues and prepare for project closure
It’s important to note that as your team goes through these stages, you can concurrently prepare your employees for their ERP system implementation.
Insight: Success is tied to careful planning
Action: Go in with a strategy
Generally, the software implementation process involves the following steps:
- Moving financial data to the new system
- Configuring your users and processes
- Training your users on how to use their software
A number of independent factors impacts exactly “what happens” during each step, with implementations ranging from simple to complex. A single entity with fairly straightforward needs usually plans to use the software more or less “out of the box,” making implementation relatively “fast and easy.”
On the other end of the spectrum, a business with multiple entities, various locations, multiple currencies and languages, a number of systems and processes to integrate, etc., will require software customizations and add-ons, making implementation relatively complex, perhaps rolling out in multiple phases.
Savvy project management that takes into account these myriad factors, along with a firm understanding of the flexibility of the software itself, to drive forward a process that unfolds the way your company needs it to. The goal is to maximize time, budget dollars, and other resources to get the project from point A (where you are today) to B (where you want to be) efficiently.
Without strategic directive, it’s difficult to prioritize tasks and keep all the moving parts moving towards a successful end. Take the time to consider what success looks like for your organization and figure out, along with your implementation partner, how the implementation process can support your specific goals and expectations.
Insight: There’s more than one way to do this
Action: Learn the basics of each implementation methodology
“How” implementation happens depends heavily on the software you’re implementing and the methodology you’re using to deploy it. Here’s a look at the most common methodologies:
- Agile – this iterative methodology takes a more evolutionary approach wherein design and implementation occurs in multiple two-to-four-week phases. As such, less time goes into analysis and planning and there’s more focus on ensuring changes are accommodated and requirements are met on time.
- Traditional – this customer-led approach leans on a robust planning process to establish the pace and focus of implementation. Vendors are involved in a support capacity, helping to push along all phases of planning, education, design, configuration, and go-live.
- Turnkey – this approach depends on a consultant to provide both support and leadership, which helps implementations complete in a relatively short timeframe. It’s ideal for companies lacking the staff and skillset for heavy implementation participation.
There are still other methodologies built on ERP vendor best practices. NetSuite, for example, has a SuiteSuccess approach, while Microsoft offers a SureStep methodology. Your implementation partner can help you assess which methodology will work best for your specific needs and project requirements.
Insight: Most companies can’t “go it alone”
Action: Choose an implementation partner
At MIBAR, we want you to find the right partner. They’re so critical to a successful ERP implementation, from selecting the right solution to making sure your users are comfortable and productive with their software after it’s deployed. For honest, straightforward advice about all-of-the-above, don’t hesitate to contact us and find out if we’re the right fit for your company.