Great implementations of ERP software are launched from great ERP rollout strategies. Success begins with planning and planning begins with strategy. And a well-defined strategy provides the foundation for the planning of tactical details. Getting the ERP rollout strategy set well at the beginning of your implementation is crucial to determining the success of the outcome at the end of your implementation.
ERP rollout strategies include:
- Big bang rollout
- Phased rollout
- Parallel rollout
- Hybrid approach
Big bang approaches have the potential to get companies to the finish line of a fully completed implementation with less time and less cost. Though big bangs eliminate the need for temporary interfaces that phased rollout approaches may require, they can be risky because everything comes live at the same time and it is difficult to have everything tested prior to go-live. Big bangs also can expose issues after go-live that were missed or ignored during testing.
With phased rollouts, organizations can realize business benefits of their ERP software sooner. Not only are smaller rollouts easier to test thoroughly with less worry about defects that might have been missed, phases allow for the elimination of some legacy system modules sooner. Simply put, phases allow organizations more time to get everything done and minimize risk because each phase is simpler to manage.
Parallel go-lives have largely been replaced by rigorous testing prior to go-live. Parallel approaches are best done in a test mode (rather than running two production systems simultaneously). With two production systems, neither system may be right and there could be confusion as to which is the system of record. Testing of the new system against the old system with the same data is a great testing exercise to do before go-live.
Hybrid approaches can make sense for large ERP implementations across multiple business units. In a typical hybrid implementation, organizations choose to use the big bang approach for smaller business units and a phased approach elsewhere.
There is no one size fits all strategy for ERP implementation. Each company and situation is unique. The 2011 ERP Report, however, found that more than half (53-percent) of companies used a phased approach for their implementations, 35-percent used big bang, and the rest (11-percent) chose a hybrid method.
Every implementation needs to sort out the vital and essential requirements from the nice-to-have and wish-list items that are not essential and can be done later. Put the important requirements into early phases. Put the nice-to-haves into later phases or eliminate them.
Phased rollouts allow your system to evolve over time. They enable multiple rounds of planning and execution. Phases allow your system to grow and develop, allow course corrections and adjustments along the way, and are more agile and flexible. Big bangs require the universe of needed business functionality to all come alive at the same time. Big bangs run the risk of having you “bite off more than you chew.” Phased rollouts enable you to get the job done in “bite-sized pieces”.
In reality, all implementations take a phased approach sooner or later. For some, the next phase is a system upgrade done some time later after the initial big bang go-live. For others, the next phase may implement improvements to business processes that were put into production earlier.
Picking the best strategy is an important decision with many variables to consider. Consider the risks and the rewards. Engage with great consultants who have “been there and done on that” on multiple ERP implementations and who will listen and work side-by-side with you to get a great outcome.
Will you launch in multiple phases and releases or will you go for the big bang?
Working with Panorama Consulting can help you to gain the perspective to develop a great rollout strategy and get to the finish line with a great implementation overall. Check out our ERP Implementation section to learn more about our proven tactics and methodologies.
Blog post written by Greg Griffith, a business analyst at Panorama Consulting Group.