ERP Phased Implementation: The Key to Real Success

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If you are researching ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software for your business, the selection of an ERP solution and the choice of partner are crucial to success. But the job is not finished with the initial go-live phase of the implementation. The real success will become evident during phase two or more.

At Western Computer, we recommend a phased approach for several reasons. Through experience, we’ve discovered that a “big bang” approach, one in which all functionality and business requirements are implemented in one all-encompassing phase, often proves more costly in the long run.  A two- or even three-phase approach to ERP minimizes both risk and expense during the initial deployment. Aside from financial considerations, a multi- phased implementation will allow you to identify any necessary functionality and process improvements that become evident during the initial implementation and soon after the go-live.

It is important to prioritize processes and identify which are the most valuable in meeting your business requirements and which would be nice to have but perhaps are not as critical. Implementing the highest priority processes in the initial phase will allow you to get up and running quickly with your new ERP solution. This also allows for minimizing customization and custom coding that can slow down the implementation and may prove more expensive to maintain over time.

When you’re ready to tackle Phase two, you may very well discover that your priorities have changed. After initial use and seeing how the software handles, your teams may have concerns very different from the ones they expressed at the outset. This change of view is natural. The software itself will very likely alter the way your data is structured and how information flows.  Consequently, pre-implementation bottlenecks may be done away with only to show up in later stages of the process. Use will reveal unanticipated efficiencies and opportunities for improvement. By waiting until users are comfortable with the initial change-over, you can make better-informed decisions about next steps.

We see this frequently with our Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers, who are concerned about streamlining order entry processes. The typical order entry screen in Dynamics NAV may include many more fields—and take longer to complete—than they’re used to. But it quickly becomes apparent that capturing and validating this data early in the process drives downstream efficiencies across functions as diverse as packing and shipping to auditing and financial close.

Mobility is another example of functionality we would suggest delaying until a later phase. We would recommend allowing your users to become comfortable with the new processes for purchasing or expense reporting and then fine tune according to their needs and suggestions before applying the solution to their mobile devices.

Our phased approach is based on a model of ongoing improvement, where smaller changes yield big results over time. By applying this approach to your ERP deployment, you can avoid the financial and time overruns that threaten so many IT projects and position your organization to benefit from your technology investment over the long term.  Contact us today to receive a free system audit and to discuss how our phased approach to implementation can drive real business transformation.

by Western Computer

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