Implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can significantly increase a company’s productivity, but it is a complex undertaking that cannot be successfully completed without proper planning.
An ERP implementation plan can be viewed as a roadmap that outlines all the necessary ERP implementation phases with associated activities and timelines. This article will guide you through the key components of such a plan.
Project Initiation Phase
The very first stage of the implementation project is establishing clear goals and expectations, which should be based on the results of the feasibility study. Risks and constraints should be defined right from the outset too.
Project initiation is also the time when key stakeholders are identified and an implementation team is assembled. At this point, the company must decide whether this team should include professional implementation service providers.
Study and Analysis of the Company’s Requirements
After determining the objectives of the ERP implementation project, you need to study the current state of business processes in your company. Based on this information, you will be able to specify the technical and functional requirements for the ERP system.
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The most effective approach to this phase is a collaboration between employees of different company departments and the implementation team. All the information gathered during this phase will be used as a basis for selecting the configuration of the ERP software.
ERP Software Configuration and Customization
The way an ERP system can be configured depends on the software product. For example, for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, the configuration includes the selection of applications to add to the suite, integration with third-party systems, the number of users, their roles and permissions, as well as workflows. These parameters may be different for other software.
In addition, your implementation team may decide to customize the standard software to meet the specific needs of the organization. This process is also performed in this step.
Data Preparation and Migration
Data preparation is one of the most critical ERP implementation phases. The quality of data determines the efficiency of the ERP system’s processes, as your data records are used as input by the software algorithms. Any problems with data can disrupt the work of the best ERP software.
Properly prepared data is up-to-date and free from duplicates and redundant records. This step also requires a solid data migration strategy with effective data validation rules to ensure its accuracy and integrity.
Only after these procedures are completed and the trial data migration proves successful can an organization move on to full data migration. Once data migration is over, it is essential to perform user acceptance testing, unit testing, system testing, and integration testing to ensure that the system functions properly after data migration.
Successful implementation of an ERP system is incomplete without comprehensive employee training. End-users should receive sufficient training to become familiar with the features of the new software before it goes live. This training should be appropriate for different user roles and cover both the technical side of the software and the business processes. End users should have the opportunity to receive information on any topic that concerns them during the training.
Although training is recommended prior to the system launch, it is necessary to provide ongoing support to users after the software rollout and create an environment for continuous learning.
As mentioned earlier, the data migration phase should be completed with comprehensive testing. Testing is an essential part of ERP system maintenance, especially with cloud software that is updated regularly.
For this reason, it is important to think about an appropriate testing method when planning the ERP implementation phases. ERP systems can be tested manually, but automated testing is preferable because the amount of work required from manual testers is excessive.
In addition to the tests mentioned in the previous sections, you must also perform regression testing after any modifications to the software, as well as performance testing that evaluates the software’s ability to function properly under increased load.
Go-Live and Post-Implementation Support
A thoroughly tested system cannot go live until end users have received proper training. The official launch of your ERP system requires close monitoring, usually performed by the implementation team, which identifies any problems and provides immediate support or implements troubleshooting measures as needed.
The system already in place requires ongoing support, which may include health checks, optimizations, modifications, and fulfilling requests from the software users. Some implementation service providers offer such assistance to organizations and are ready to deal with these tasks.
Why Do You Need To Define ERP Implementation Phases?
Creating an ERP implementation plan is a time-consuming process, but it is necessary for the successful deployment of an ERP system because it provides a structured approach to the implementation process and helps align project goals with the strategic objectives of the business.
An implementation plan also ensures that sufficient resources are allocated and that adequate budget, personnel, and time are available for each step of the process. Furthermore, an implementation plan includes solutions to potential challenges and helps mitigate risks without causing significant losses, project delays, and additional costs.
It also fosters effective change management, making it easier for your employees to adjust to the new software and the changes in the company’s roles, processes, and workflows. Overall, an implementation plan is an effective tool to ensure adequate project progress and successful completion.