A few tips from Panorama Consulting are worth considering before a company attempts to convert to a new business system, which we thought we’d reprise for readers today. They’re culled from the original post here.
To position yourself for success they suggest…
- Validate the scope and timing of your project. This is the basic stuff: Make sure you’ve scoped out the right modules, the right number of users and the right types of users (for example, ‘full users’ can be costly while shop-floor users are usually purchased for considerably less). Ask questions to see what add-ins might have been used (report writers, 3rd party aps, etc.) during the demo you saw. Be sure you purchase the right licensing type, and know what maintenance costs will be each year for the whole implementation going forward. Remember too, you don’t have to buy all the software upfront. (We often tell users to buy just what they need initially, which saves short-term purchase dollars, and saves on unneeded (for now) maintenance costs.)
- Source your internal and external implementation project resources. While a vendor may be anxious to get started (and make a sale), be sure you have your ducks in a row; that is, be sure you have the right team in place, including business analysts, knowledgeable managers, IT, shop floor, etc. Roles and responsibilities need to be assigned early on, and project leaders at both client and vendor teams need to be clearly delineated.
- Build a complete project strategy and plan. Beyond what your consultants or vendor can do for you, project implementation requires careful planning and attention to a lot of details. Be clear about every step of your processes and workflows, or it will trip you up during implementation when you can least afford it. With your provider, draw a map of all key workflows so that together you can determine how they’ll fit, both software-wise and process-wise, into your new system.
- Begin key implementation critical path activities. Delays related to people and processes will derail an ERP project far more often than technical IT or software issues. Where will the data come from (transfer or key-in)?… Who will be trained, and when, where?… Who do you turn to with workflow questions during implementation?… Who approves changes? Consider these sorts of critical questions before you start down the road of full-on implementation.
- Define your project charter. Have you set out clear project and structure ‘governance?’ A project charter that includes plans, roles, responsible managers and stakeholders ensures that when the inevitable questions do arise, a clear chart of responsibility will make answering those questions clearer and better defined. And be honest: companies only go through these kinds of projects every ten years or so – so don’t expect to be experts. By all means, work with your provider to help answer some of these questions and to provide templates or examples from their prior implementation experiences. Your provider should be able to provide a lot more than just selection expertise. They should also understand about business, project strategy and the dos and don’ts of successful implementations. So don’t be afraid to ask them.