HOW TO PLAN AN ERP IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT FROM START TO FINISH (AND BEYOND!)

ERP implementation projects have a notoriously high failure rate.  One of the things conveniently left out of reports containing these troubling statistics is why so many implementation projects fail to deliver expected results on time or on budget.  Of course, there is an infinite number of reasons that ERP projects fail, but the truth is that poor project planning is one of the most common.

Without clarity on project structure, activities, roles, and responsibilities, projects can often suffer from confusion and resistance, making execution extremely difficult.  Lack of a clearly developed and articulated project structure may cause the team to duplicate efforts or leave key tasks unaddressed as they try to figure out where they should be and what they are specifically responsible for.  Inevitably, a poorly put together or articulated project plan will cause delays and redundancies before the project gets in gear, raising costs and jeopardizing budgets and schedules.

In order to keep the implementation team on time and on budget, your team should work with your ERP partner, meaning your consultant and/or Value Added Reseller (VAR)/implementation service provider, to establish a project plan based on clear, measurable goals and objectives.  KPIs should be translated into project milestones with a realistic timeline.  ERP implementation projects, like many projects of a similar scale, will never be wrinkle free.  With that in mind, various trial runs and testing phases should be incorporated into the project plan to anticipate any delays while also preempting future issues by fine-tuning configuration before the system goes live.

Key Considerations for ERP Project Management

  1. Hold a project kick-off meeting to set and align expectations, clarify roles and responsibilities, and allow team members to both ask and answer relevant questions. Include project leadership, as well as relevant internal and external resources to ensure visibility and engagement from the outset.
  2. Understand and leverage existing internal structures, such as communication vehicles and decision-making bodies that can assist throughout the implementation. These structures create a sense of familiarity and reduce barriers to employee engagement.
  3. Develop and enforce a clear issue and risk escalation process to capture and expedite resolution of any issues and risks throughout the project.
  4. Highlight integration points between project streams to generate discussion early on. Initial project meetings should include clarification from each stream on what they understand their project role to be, and what they see as key integration points with other streams.
  5. Revisit and reinforce roles and responsibilities regularly throughout the project lifecycle as they may shift or evolve over time.
  6. Create an ongoing ERP training plan focused on helping users to be more productive with the system. The training plan should be considered an ongoing, integrated subset of the overall ERP strategy that delivers role-based training both before and after implementation.
  7. Leave sufficient time to test all systems and data before go-live. This should include intense audit steps to make sure the system is solid before you try to run your business in it.
  8. Prepare for the unexpected because you will inevitably face unanticipated impacts along the way. Create clear feedback mechanisms so users can notify the project team of discrepancies.  Identifying and dealing with unanticipated changes and impacts efficiently and effectively is crucial to keeping the project from delays and failure.
  9. Conduct a Post Implementation Audit to measure success, determine “benefits leakage,” and identify next steps to increase ROI. Revisit future state documentation, KPIs, and expected benefits that were documented in the early stages of the project.  Identify and properly address the cause of any lack of usage of the new technology.

This post is an excerpt from our new ERP Buyer’s Guide.  Download it now and discover the Roadmap to a Successful ERP Journey!


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