ERP IMPLEMENTATION Project Management
In order to achieve another successful implementation, Enterprise Resource Consulting employs the strategy which follows. Every client’s business is different, however, and the process is customized for each client so that we not only realize a successful implementation, but that we do it in the shortest possible time, and the least possible investment.
Preparation of the Organization
We will discuss these questions, and make sure each has been addressed in the best way possible.
Why are you implementing a new ERP application? The most important business reasons for implementing a new application should be identified. The Core Team leaders must understand the motives.
Has an evaluation and/or analysis of various ERP applications been conducted?
Have stumbling blocks to beginning an implementation project been discussed and identified?
What are the final expectations of an implementation project? Functionality, technology, performance
How long do you expect the implementation project to take? Has sufficient time been allocated to the project during the implementation? Team leaders should be in agreement that the timeframe will be met. ERC will employ a sophisticated estimation tool to arrive at the expected timeframe.
Has a budget been drafted or approved for the project?
What does that budget cover?
Are people ready for the change? Recognize that change will be an issue for people. There are three phases of change – ending the old ways, an intermediate “neutral” zone, then creating the new beginning. People’s readiness to change happens at different speeds. “Innovators” and “Early Adopters” will be the quickest to adapt to change, then there is an “early” and “late” majority, and there will always be “skeptics” who are slow to change. Understanding the reasons behind resistance to change is the key to a smooth transition so these reasons can be addressed in a positive and structured way. Awareness, buy-in and ownership mark the changes in attitude as people take on responsibility and become committed to the success of the project.
Gathering of the needed resources
Project Management Consultant (Enterprise Resource Consulting) – ERC will be your project management consultant. We will create, manage, and publish the project schedule, task list, and other communications. It is also very important that we create formal documentation of processes unique to the organization, including step-by-step instructions showing how they will be accomplished with the new software.
Implementation Core Team – The Core Team should consist of a cross functional group that understands your business, the project goals and knows the history of the organization.
Systems – Determine what systems and procedures are required to support the new application. What interfaces are required to other applications?
Business Processes – Verify that current processes are documented. These will be the baseline to determine how well the new application meets your business requirements and how the new application will impact current processes.
Identification of Project Team Members
Scope Management – The scope of the project should be defined before it begins (for example, will Bills Of Materials be changed as part of the implementation, will new modules be implemented, what data will be converted, etc.)
Communication – ERC will coordinate communication between client team members, ERP vendor personnel, network support personnel, and third party vendors, to ensure that all parties know what is expected of them and when tasks and assignments are due.
Risk Management – If the scope of the project changes, determine the associated risk to the timeline or budget. This must be clearly communicated to upper management.
Business Process Impact Analysis – Determine how business processes will change with the new application. Some tasks may no longer be required, or workflows may be altered. Some of the people may be concerned for their jobs, and this must be addressed and handled diplomatically.
Process Ownership – The Core Team should take ownership of their functional areas. Ownership includes communication, coordination with subject matter experts, and using their insights to identify how new functionality or processes will affect other departments and business processes.
Project Team Methods for Success
Functional Overview Training – This is the initial, guided tour through the application for the Core Team. It facilitates activities including learning about the new application, system conventions, identifying/documenting high-level gaps, identifying and documenting business process changes, and more.
Formal Training for “Super Users” – During this phase, each functional area receives formal training. It normally includes “Super Users” who are part of the implementation team and are subject matter experts (SME). Formal training should include hands-on workshops.
Conference Room Pilot Testing – This is one of the most significant areas of the implementation and is conducted at two levels: functional area and cross functional teams. It allows testing new functionality, identifying business process changes, proposing solutions, validating proposed business process changes, forms, and more.
Critical business processes must be tested and validated – During the conference room pilot, prototyping and adjustment toward final system must be accomplished. This includes testing, programming, bug fixing, and rework. Each item must be identified as either “must fix before live day”, or “can be fixed after live day”.
Report testing – Critical standard system reports must be tested by the Core Team. Gaps must be handled with reporting software such as Crystal Reports. At least one person must be designated as the person who will be writing reports on an ongoing basis.
Documentation – One of the most valuable tools that the implementation team can have is documentation that is customized to fit your business environment. This is accomplished by each functional team validating and documenting their business processes throughout the testing phase. Standard documentation can be incorporated into this to make comprehensive user documentation guides.
Data Migration – ‘Clean’ data is another of the more significant requirements to a successful data migration. The data migrations should be coordinated with pilot testing and user training.
User Training – This step is generally at the end of the implementation process, shortly before go-live. Training should be conducted by the implementation team and the “Super Users” using documentation created by the implementation teams. User training is best conducted after all business processes have been tested and validated, and after all customizations are in place. Training on the “conference room pilot” is always desirable.
In all the areas mentioned above, there are multiple approaches which will make them work best for a given business environment.