So you’ve looked at multiple ERP systems, selected an ERP vendor, negotiated a sweet deal, and are excited for the possibilities. Time to call in the vendor’s consultants and start the ERP implementation, right? Well, not really…
We’ve written in great detail about how important it is to treat your ERP implementation as a business initiative rather than a technical software project. However, companies often accidentally hurl themselves onto the technical implementation track by not taking the time to first define how the software will support the business before calling in the technical experts to start configuring the new ERP system. In order to keep the tail from wagging the dog, it is key that your business and organization be well defined prior to starting the system design.
Instead, successful companies first define a business blueprint for their ERP implementation. There are a number of foundational activities that need to be defined up front so your team isn’t spinning it’s wheels and your consultants aren’t racking up the hours of inefficient but billable time. Much like an architect first designs the building before calling in his general contractor, framers, electricians, and plumbers to start building, an ERP system business blueprint helps you establish that common vision and direction for the project.
Five Key Things to Focus on During Your ERP Blueprint
- Business processes and requirements. While you may have defined your company’s business processes requirements during the evaluation phase, those were probably fairly high level and certainly didn’t take into account the functionality of the chosen software since you hadn’t yet chosen one. The blueprint phase should take those processes and requirements to the next level of detail by identifying specific workflows by job and function, process improvements to be implemented (perhaps even independently of the software), and roles and responsibilities within the new business processes. These deliverables will serve as the foundation for your system design, testing scenarios, and organizational change management activities going forward.
- Organizational design and readiness. ERP systems always entail a great deal of change to most, if not all, of your employee base. Companies often use ERP software as a means to standardize business processes across locations, establish shared service functions like HR or Finance, or redefine roles and responsibilities in the new system. Time needs to be spent up front defining what the new business, operational, and organizational model will look like. In addition, the company should take a the “temperature” of employees’ readiness and openness to change and develop an organizational change management plan that addresses the realities on the people side of the equation.
- Data migration strategy. Data migration is often put off until the end of the project. After all, how hard can it be once the system is designed and tested? Actually, it can be quite difficult. Data doesn’t always map correctly, the system doesn’t always handle the volumes of data it needs to, and project decision makers aren’t always clear-headed enough at the end of a project to decide what and how much data to bring over to the new system. This activity more often than not becomes a critical path task late in the game, so it is important to plan accordingly.
- Forms and reports. Ditto to forms and reports – they too are often put off until the end of the project. This is a puzzling trend, because what good is an ERP system if you can’t input or extract the information you need to run your business? It is literally never too early to start this activity, and in fact, we often begin this activity with our clients before we have even recommended or selected an ERP software solution.
- Final cost and time estimate. You may have defined an initial time and cost estimate as part of your ERP software selection process, but it will need to be validated and refined once other business blueprint activities have been completed. By the end of the blueprint, you should have a very detailed sense of scope, times, durations, milestones, resource projections, and costs.
These are just a sample of the many activities that need to be incorporated into an ERP business blueprint prior to ERP implementation. Learn how Panorama can help by reading about our ERP Business Blueprint Services, or contact us for an ERP phone consultation.