Getting Started: Preparing For ERP Implementation

A lot of planning and documentation goes into an ERP implementation. Learn how Velosio can make this process efficient and effective.

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    To get to this point in your ERP implementation, you’ve probably gone through a lengthy sales process, met with several different solution providers and communicated your project’s overall goals and objectives. Depending on your purchasing strategy, you may have prepared a summary level or detailed requirements document.

    Hopefully, best practices such as careful solution provider due diligence and a comprehensive review and selection process were used, and you negotiated a beneficial implementation agreement.

    If you haven’t completed these tasks or want to learn more about them, see:

    Navigating the ERP Sales Process: Successful VAR Selection

    Managing the Presale Process: Ensure Your ERP Requirements Are Clearly Defined

    A lot of planning and documentation goes into an ERP implementation. Project planning, organizing tasks, assigning resources, and setting the project ground rules all need to be finalized prior to the project start date.

    This is where an experienced implementation partner like Velosio stands out. We know how to implement an ERP, as we’ve done it thousands of times. This “hands on” experience allows us to use an implementation approach which best meets your needs.

    For example, managing an ERP implementation should vary based on the project’s size and complexity. There is a delicate balance between managing a project “to death” and providing an adequate amount of project oversight. Less experienced solution partners sometimes use a “canned” project management approach which may not be the best in achieving your goals.

    To learn more about ERP project management, see:

    Project Management: What Level is Right for Your ERP Project

    ERP implementations are controlled using a specific methodology. An example implementation methodology appears below. Note how the preparation activities are a part of the “Planning” phase.

    process flow

    Setting Realistic Timelines

    Setting realistic project timelines is important to successful implementation. Realistic schedules keep project participants focused, reduces project team anxiety, and supports effective accountability. Remember when setting project timelines, unless you hire or assign dedicated implementation resources, each project team member already has a full-time job, and in most cases will not be able to spend 100% of their time on the ERP project without sacrificing other duties.

    Sometimes, the need to set an extremely short implementation timeline is warranted (e.g., an acquisition). In this case, ensure that the implementation goals to be achieved reflect the time scheduled. Consider implementation phasing or a “layered functionality” approach to ease the process and improve implementation quality.

    At Velosio, our in-depth product knowledge and accounting expertise can play a vital role in planning functionality phasing and setting up an effective layered functionality approach, without sacrificing processing efficiency.

    Create Goals and Objectives

    Creating effective goals and objectives keeps the project team focused and supports accountability. Goals and objectives should be jointly set by the executive team and project team members, including the solution partner’s team.

    Effective goals and objectives should:

    • Align with company strategy
    • Be clearly assigned
    • Be achievable
    • Be measurable

    Be sure to keep goals and objectives consistent with the actual need to achieve them. To understand this concept, let’s use the loading of historic data as an example. A company may want to load a large volume of detailed historic data into the new ERP. I’ve seen companies wanting to load detailed data for five, seven or even ten years.

    What the company forgets to consider is that the data needs to be scrubbed, converted, tested, loaded and reconciled. All these tasks need to be completed by the project team before “Go live” and quickly become unmanageable. The company needs to weigh the value of these decisions against the actual benefits.

    Unrealistic goal setting results in budget overages and usually, the inability of the company to achieve the goal itself. Be open minded and think outside of the box.

    Align Resources, Create Teams and Assign Responsibilities

    An ERP implementation utilizes resources from many different company roles. It’s important that each resource understands their role, and that all resources are moving in the same direction. The goals and objectives discussed above play a significant role in aligning resources.

    This is where accurate project planning and resource assignments are important. Create project teams from each functional area as required, including the solution partner’s team.

    Assign goals and objectives to each team and designate an internal project manager. Remember, a project manager cannot be effective without equal levels of responsibility and authority. If you’re going to hold project team leaders accountable, supply them with the tools and authority to be effective.

    Build your teams with members from different company levels. In many instances staff level employees have a better understanding of day-to-day issues and solutions than senior personnel.

    Assigning team members improperly has a negative impact on aligning requirements to “true” company needs and often results in having to re-do completed tasks after the implementation. Including team members from all company levels also results in increased system acceptance and less criticism at the project’s end.

    Layout the Project Scope and Ground Rules

    A successful project must have a defined set of deliverables (i.e., scope). I don’t think you’ll find a partner who’ll agree to implement an ERP without some idea of the project tasks to be completed. They know that if they go down that road, they’ll end up giving back most of their profit, and maybe more, to the customer by having to complete non-billable tasks to meet customer expectations.

    For the same reason, a customer would not sign an SOW without knowing exactly what they’re getting for their ERP dollars. But to my amazement, I’ve encountered companies who invest thousands of dollars implementing an ERP solution, then just assume that all implementation tasks they have in mind are included. This is a sign of inexperience or lack of focus. ERP reporting is especially prone to this.

    Ideally, get a scope document as a pre-sale deliverable prior to signing a Service Agreement or SOW (Statement of Work). The salesperson should offer to provide a summary project plan explaining all “in scope” tasks to be completed, as well as a project budget. This is a critical project control and should not be overlooked.

    If the partner you’re considering, or already signed with, cannot provide an adequate plan as to how they are going to complete implementation tasks including a project budget, can you really expect them to complete an effective implementation? This is like trying to build a house without a blueprint. Project plans and budgets should be a “no brainer.” If they can’t provide quality scope documents, project plans and budgets, this is a major red flag. Get out as fast as you can!

    Velosio’s implementation documentation clearly lays out the project scope, budget, and addresses project ground rules such as status reporting, issue escalation and change management.

    Get and Keep Everyone on the Same Page

    Many software publishers provide their partners with a prepared implementation methodology (a sample methodology is illustrated in the introduction section above). Some partners use a modified version of the publisher’s methodology, or something they’ve developed internally.

    Regardless of the methodology used, a great deal of emphasis should be placed on the project kick-off meeting and ongoing project governance. Project planning, organization, scope, reporting and project ground rules are reviewed, modified, and agreed to in the kick-off meeting.

    Be sure to schedule a project kick off meeting with the entire project team include the solution partner’s team. Make sure someone from the company’s executive team shows up to lend a sense of importance to the meeting and the process. Don’t shortchange this, it’s important.

    Organizational Change Management

    Organizational change management (OCM) is a little discussed, but an important part of a successful ERP implementation. OCM helps the company plan for, prepare for and enable the changes which will inevitably occur in an ERP implementation.

    Velosio understands the importance of managing organizational change and applies various related processes and tools in both its project planning and implementation methodology.

    Jackie Simens, a Velosio CE Consulting Manager states that, effective OCM results in a higher ROI via a higher user adoption on day one, mitigates risk and helps to successfully meet the project’s objectives by communicating those objectives upward, sideways, and downward.

    I think she’s right on point with this.

    So Why Velosio?

    With many years of implementation experience, Velosio can get your software up and running—effectively and efficiently—as quickly as possible. Our application consultants and project managers, who are among the best in their field, are ready to help your business keep its commitments while investing in the latest technology advances. We guide your technology roadmap on a schedule that meets the demands of today’s fast-moving marketplace.

    Velosio is a team of 450 business professionals, application consultants and industry experts aligned with our clients’ best interests and dedicated to ensuring exceptional outcomes. Many of our team members are experienced accountants and project managers. Some hold CPA and/or PMP certificates. Our business professionals have come to us from other companies and have deep expert knowledge of their respective industries.

    Our team has worked with clients of all sizes over thousands of projects, allowing us to proactively spot potential issues, offer sage advice when needed, suggest best practices and drill down on issues important to your company.

    With a considerable number of successful implementations under our belt, you can be confident that we have the tools and experience you are looking for.