ERP projects will typically go through five key phases (though system vendors might title them differently):
- Pre-Design – understanding the strategic objectives and opportunities that the implementation project is targeted with delivering, as well as the As-Is processes currently being followed
- Design – taking the knowledge gained from the previous phase, overlaying it with system functionality, in order to define the To-Be processes
- Build – working with the vendor to build the designed system, providing the necessary data and required decisions
- Pilot – testing processes and data, increasing in complexity until there is confidence that the system is ready to take live
- Deploy – training end users and cutting over data, transitioning the business onto the new system in a live environment.
Gradient understands that every client will have different support requirements depending on the type of project, the availability of resource and the strengths and weaknesses of their implementation team. Gradient has the experience and flexibility to work with you in a variety of ways to help plan, guide or control the process from full ERP project management through to project assurance and mentoring roles.
A new system requires new ways of doing things – mapping old processes onto new technology will be a costly exercise delivering no tangible benefit. Instead, it is important to explore the standard functionality built into the system you’ve just invested in.
Imagine you are starting the business from scratch – what do you need in order to deliver your product or service effectively? What data, information, functionality is required and how will this impact each step of your operation? In particular, focus on interactions between functional areas, as this is often where the challenges and hence the opportunities lie.
Knowing the processes on which modern ERP systems are built, we at Gradient can challenge your assumptions and work with you to optimise and align your processes to the system. In this way, you will see efficiency improvements and, importantly, avoid costly modifications, that ultimately compromise future upgrades.
The software you have just purchased includes a broad range of functionality. Some of this is critical to the processes you need to support from day one, whilst other aspects could be considered ‘nice to haves.’ For the initial implementation, it is important to manage the scope of what you are trying to achieve, with a plan to add in additional functionality once the core system is delivering benefit. You also need to ensure that the system is populated with accurate and relevant data, aligned to the defined processes and agreed functionality.
It is important to work with the system vendor, understanding what each stage might look like and collectively ensuring that any subsequent scope changes are controlled. In this way, both users and the wider community understand what the system will deliver and when.
Strong but impartial project management is key to achieving this, which is where Gradient can add tangible value, working both with you and the vendor.
People are critical to the success of any project but recognising the changes a new system is likely to bring means that not everyone will understand the importance of looking at their roles differently. Instead, there will be a natural reaction to cling to the old ways of doing things.
The project team need to be empowered to make decisions and to take responsibility for the defined solution, testing processes and validating data. They should be supported by business leaders, who respond promptly and appropriately to the likely need to re-define roles and responsibilities.
Gradient consultants can support you both in recognising the importance of change management as well as to work alongside the project team, developing robust test scripts and training materials.