Creating an ERP Implementation Plan

ERP Implementation PlanningYour company has made the decision to update software, but where do you begin? Creating an ERP implementation plan involves many steps. Knowing what they are, and in what order to do them, is key to your project’s success.

An ERP implementation is not unlike building a house, meaning that each successive step depends on the completion of a previous one. Moving ahead too soon could cost your company time and money when trying to correct an error further down the line. It would be like deciding to change the location of a room in a new house after the walls are already built.

The Steps of an ERP Implementation Plan:

  • Establish
  • Initiate
  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Configure
  • UAT (User Acceptance Testing)
  • Training
  • Integration
  • Deployment

In addition, there are some steps that can happen concurrently during the project. These include:

  • Change Management
  • Data Migration
  • Project Management

It can be a long and complicated road to a successful ERP project. Even if you feel you have a clear understanding of ERP implementation phases, this may not guarantee that your company will go live with a new software system.

What to Know Before Creating an ERP Implementation Plan

Anyone setting up an ERP implementation project should first understand that while your implementation partner will provide a project plan, that won’t be the overall project plan. Their plan starts and ends in certain places, while your own plan starts earlier and ends later.

1. Clean Your Data

Cleaning up your data is one of the steps you may have to take before your implementation partner’s plan begins. This can include such things as organizing and preparing files to be pulled out of legacy systems. The more organized your data, the smoother the migration into the new system. Therefore, it will be to your benefit to have this done early on in the project.

2. Train the Trainers

Your implementation partner’s plan could have a single item such as “Training”. It seems simple enough, but this one step could create a long list of steps that need to be done by your team. Maybe you will need to determine who to train and whether each department should be trained separately. Depending on how many employees you have, this step might even take weeks to complete. When it comes to training, there will be only so much your partner will be able to do, the rest is up to you and your team.

3. Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings

Creating an ERP implementation plan cannot happen without a lot of meetings. These go far beyond an initial meeting with your implementation partner and a few follow-ups to check on the progress as the project goes along. You will need to have internal meetings as well. To determine just how many meetings you may need to have, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When are the Project Managers going to meet?
  • When will those PMs then meet with the implementation team?
  • When do the subject matter experts meet?
  • Who else needs updates on the project?
  • Will you need to periodically brief the sponsors?

Also, know that you can’t just set up to meet every once in a while — these meetings need to be ongoing throughout the process.

The Core Elements of an ERP Implementation Plan: Who, What and When

A successful ERP plan must include the who, what and when of the project. These are the basics, knowing who is doing each step, what those steps are and when those steps are to be done.

Perhaps the most important element of these is the “When.” Timing of an ERP implementation plan is vital for a successful go-live. Not just knowing the exact dates that steps will happen, but how long each step will take. If someone less familiar with accounting decides that the cleanup and migration of the accounting files will take a few days but really needs a week, you could find yourself behind from the very beginning of the project.

Don’t Rush the Final Steps

Running behind on a few steps is bound to happen, but you will want to keep it to a minimum by having realistic timelines set for each step. If you have a hard end date and multiple steps go late throughout the process, you could find yourself scrambling and rushing in the end.

This may not seem like an insurmountable issue, except that the final steps can be the most important. Rushing to meet a deadline at the end of the project can turn your go-live into user acceptance and training, which is a disaster waiting to happen.

Imagine if you go live and discover vital features aren’t working, or were never even created due to lack of correct information. The old system would have been shut down at that point and you could have customers not getting orders and your team working overtime trying to fix everything. Sometimes the solution is to push out the go-live date a little bit longer, allowing you the time to ensure each previous step is fully completed. But this can only be done if you have some flexibility in your end date.

Creating an ERP implementation plan can take a lot of work, but if done using our tips above, your project can end in a successful go-live.

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