N.B.: This article is written from the perspective of a consultant managing an ERP project for an end customer.
Whether you’re implementing your first ERP software or replacing a legacy system, it is a disruptive and demanding endeavor. As they say nothing good comes easy!
It is the responsibility of the Project Manager, alongside with the core team, to make it as seamless as possible.
Set aside all the “common” mis-steps a project can experience, such as incomplete requirements, poor planning, unclear test plan, etc., I’d love to share with you some gems I learned along the way, the mistakes I made so you don’t have to!
Underestimate the Implication of the Finance and Accounting Team
Apart from the standard finance and accounting processes, all operations of an organization bridge into finance. The finance team is also responsible for verifying the General Ledger impact of any posted transaction regardless of the process area it belongs to.
TIP: In my experience, the department’s workload can be calculated, at a very high level, by summing 30-40% of the entire project estimated time to the efforts planned for finance and accounting in the project plan.
Overlook Document Printouts
Each organization has its own collection of external and internal documents. Some of them (especially client facing ones such as estimates) can have complex and intricate designs. Others are tailored to a very specific process (such as documentation accompanying a shipment).
TIP: As early as possible, identify the list (and get a copy) of all printed documents; determine those that will be created in the new ERP (all transactions can be added to the list by default). The technical team can evaluate the effort for personalizing those in the new system.
Under Evaluate Effort for Data Migration
Data migration is one of the most complex aspects of any ERP implementation. Although it is the responsibility of each department to clean, validate and reconcile its data, the process is often too complex. Missing information, errors in the legacy platform or dissimilarity between legacy and new systems may cause confusion followed by procrastination.
TIP: Create the data migration templates (with the bare minimum mandatory information) at the very beginning of the project and evolve those templates as the system is configured. Process is easier when each template has an owner who is accountable for its upkeep and correctness.
Plan Go-Live Midway Through the Project
In an ERP Implementation, as in any other project, one starts with the end goal in mind. It happens often, however, that planning the deployment and its essential activities doesn’t start until the last hundred meters.
TIP: The Go-live activities may run smoother if their planning begins right after the project kick-off meeting. The go-live plan can include a list of project deliverables, end user training plan, data migration strategy and list of customizations. This essential document should be updated in the first days of the project and evolve as the project matures.
Build Detailed Test Plan for Users
The UAT is the single most reliable way to assess the users’ familiarity with the new system. Depending on the project configuration it can either be the core team or end users performing the tests.
TIP: Rather than building detailed, step by step test procedures for the users, let them create the documentation for performing the user acceptance tests. It may also be used later for training new users.
Your ERP Implementation Project is different from mine. You might be a client or a consultant delivering a client’s project. Your platform and operational processes are unique. Despite the differences in every implementation project, the challenges encountered in any organization are often similar and I hope some of the approaches I adopted will help you, too.
For more than 15 years, Era Consulting Group has been supporting hundreds of companies in their ERP implementations. Much more than a simple supplier, Era act as a business partner and advise and support companies in their search for efficiency. Do not hesitate to contact me for more information.
Xenia Le Dinh, Project Manager at Era Consulting Group