How to plan your ERP implementation?

In order, you want to plan your ERP you need to Schedule the implementation sequence realistically. Consider the availability of your leadership team, managers, and in-house experts who contribute to the effort.

Prioritize your needs so you can focus on the big wins while building a core software and technology base that can expand with your business needs.

Your detailed plan and KPIs will be tailored to fit your specific requirements. However, the following key activities are common steps in all successful implementations:

Select a software and services partner to help in implementation

Your project team is probably not very experienced in implementing ERP software so they will need help. Research and select a qualified ERP implementation consultant resource(s) with intimate knowledge of, and experience with, the ERP application you are going to install. Confirm that they understand how the new software solution supports your current and evolving business processes. Interview their references to verify this.

Your software and services partners should have staff trained in your industry and available for your locations. If you have international customers and suppliers, your partners should have the multinational business, language, and currency skills to streamline your implementation.

Finally, review the project management software that a firm uses to make sure that it is compatible with your internal planning, scheduling, and tracking system.

Detail all project tasks

Your implementation partner will help you develop a detailed task list of everything that needs to be done. This list will be extensive. Training alone, for example, includes many tasks:

  • Project team training: Your team needs to learn about the software so that they can decide how to tailor your business processes.
  • IT team training: The IT team must be educated so they understand how to optimally install and maintain the system.
  • Business user training: Everyone expected to use the software must learn how it works.
  • Ongoing training: New users will need training as they join your company, so you will need a longer-term plan in place.

The list of tasks should be divided up into phases. Time should be allocated for the conference room pilot, customizing the application, integration to other applications and data sources, infrastructure implementation, data cleansing, user acceptance, and so on.

Your implementation partner should be able to supply a detailed list of all the phases and steps required.


Calculate work hours

Carefully estimate the amount of time it takes for each and every task. Do this by understanding the task and the work involved, and then assign the number of “work hours” required. It can be a range of hours, but it needs to be accurate. Add up the work hours for each phase of the project and assign the person responsible for getting it done.

This can be a daunting task; that’s why it’s important to involve an implementation partner familiar with the software solution. If you do this step well, you’ll be able to accurately calculate your timeline, determine if you need any help outside of your current team, and limit scope creep.

Create your realistic schedule

Now that you have tabulated the work hours available and required, a manageable schedule can be created. In many cases, the first pass reveals a capacity problem when compared to the implementation timeframe that was originally presented to executives.

Here is an example calculation that illustrates the potential discrepancies:

  • Target go-live time frame = 12 months or 1 year
  • Total number of work hours available in a 12-month period = 540/week or 28,080 hours/year
  • Total number of work hours required to implement = 42,000 hours in total
  • Hours required divided by hours available per year = 1.496 years

The result? Go-live date is missed before the project begins. Here are some possible solutions:

  • Reduce the scope – even though the team has agreed that these are essential tasks
  • Extend the date to a realistic one
  • Add more internal and external resources (work hours available)
  • Break the project up into phases

This is where the executive management team will be required to make the decision. It’s just one example of why they should be involved in the software selection and implementation process.

Conduct a conference room pilot

Once the project has been kicked off, and before you go live, conduct a test run or a pilot (in a conference room) before full roll-out. This conference room pilot will ensure that you have the proper business processes in place for the current and future needs of the company. As you design your new processes, it’s important to understand the range of options available in your ERP system – and to validate your processes with the project team and stakeholders from the user community.

In this multi-week phase, your implementation partner will install pilot software that allows you to test-drive all your processes and make sure that they work as expected, with no surprises. Often, you can apply best practices to save time, particularly if you have the configuration tools to make cost-effective adjustments as you refine your operations.

Cleanse your data

It sounds simple but data cleansing is a very time-consuming activity. It’s best to start assessing your data accuracy as soon as possible because it takes a great deal of effort to complete this step correctly. During the project, business process changes will occur – so be prepared for additional data management steps during the implementation.

Keep everybody informed

On a weekly basis, a staff member should contact all of the key stakeholders so that they know the positives and “not so positives” of the implementation project progress. The worst scenario is when people are not kept up to date and are taken by surprise.

Most good project management systems have visual representations of the project’s progress.

Source: SAP insights 

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