An organization without an ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning system would be running on so many software that do not allow interaction. Furthermore, customization could be difficult in some instances. This naturally could negatively affect the optimized functioning of the business activities.
These changed however with the implementation of the ERP software. Information constantly flows and enables one to follow client processes anytime, regardless which part of the process they are going through. Expenses and purchases are registered in a central database which allows for having close control over these tasks. Determining the best ERP implementation strategy could be tricky. It may sound simple enough, such as defining one what needs, designing, configuring, running some testing, training employees, etc. However, as anyone who has been involved with its implementation before could attest that this is not typically the scenario.
To avoid the same mistakes when defining the best implementation strategy, below are the three main things to consider.
1. Waterfall against agile software development. Typically, most consultants as well as system integrators follow the waterfall approach that entails a more formalized and sequential approach to design, build and test. On the other hand, agile requires a more iterative and less structured method for rolling out new functions. Waterfall typically works for bigger organizations and those wanting to standardize their process. Agile could work for smaller ones or more nimble companies that are not looking for a more standardized operations. It is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages, the tradeoffs and risks of every approach and decided where the implementation would fall.
2. Reengineering business processes or paving the cowpaths. Rushing into the system implementations without a deliberate focus on process reengineering could likely automate already inefficient processes or what is called the paving the cowpaths. Project managers and CIOs who are more keen on transforming and enhancing their business strategies must build the right level of effort and focus in the plans for the project, otherwise their organizations would revert naturally to the cowpaths regardless of how hard they may try. Inexperienced consultants and system integrators tend to underestimate the time and effort needed to focus on business methods that would complicate the problem further.
3. Standardization against autonomy. During the project planning stage, it’s necessary to find out if and where the company would standardize processes across the firm. Most clients embark on implementations that tend to heavily standardize across the organization. Wherever the firm may fall on the spectrum, it is vital to recognize that standardization would need more time up front in the reengineering and the requirements phase of the project. On the other hand, companies leaning towards less standardization would require more resources and time during the designing, testing and training phases.
There are other strategic considerations that should be defined as well before signing contracts and starting the application, like organizational change management and communications, data, integration, language, single system against best of breed and many others. The three considerations above are a good place to begin and must be defined further together with others as part of an effective strategy.