5 tricks to improve the speed of an ERP implementation

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ERP implementations are very time-consuming and they take preparation over long periods. The following 5 tips and tricks can help you to significantly reduce the actual duration of an ERP or SAP project.


1. Start with WHY?

  • Make sure all stakeholders involved are aligned on the reasons why the ERP system is being implemented (3 reasons to implement an ERP system).
  • First of all, this will provide you with a framework for future decision making during your implementation project.
  • On top of that, a clear vision of why you want to implement the ERP is a requirement to motivate all the stakeholders involved for the long journey ahead.

2. Reduce scope where possible

  • Reduce initial project scope and focus on key areas first.
  • Move optimizations and non-key areas to later incremental stages whenever possible.
  • Rule of thumb: Don’t involve business users for longer than 9 months on a project!

3. Do a ‘template-based’ implementation

  • Many ERP consulting firms have developed template-based packages as an alternative for re-inventing the wheel during every project. These templates come on top of the industry templates provided by the software vendor.
  • A template should contain at least the following components:
    • predefined basic configuration
    • some industry-specific features that are not included in standard ERP
    • workshop and training documentation
    • predefined files and programs for data migration

4. Implement a solid change management process

  • Rule of thumb in business IT projects: the closer you stay to standard and proven functionalities, the lower the risks, the higher the flexibility and the lower the (project/maintenance) costs.
  • There has to be a very good reason to deviate. Be aware that a lot of bespoke developments are not used in the operational setting. Changes are quite often requested because of a lack of understanding or a preference for the legacy system.
  • Are you really sure you need that custom feature or the modified process? What will be the consequences if we use standard functionalities? Why wouldn’t you start standard first and review the change request at a predefined checkpoint?
  • Document all change requests, their status and progress in a central project collaboration tool. We can recommend 9teams as a great solution to keep track of change requests as well as all other aspects of your ERP implementation, support and improvement initiatives. (Disclosure: I am the founder of 9teams)

5. Tackle high risk activities first

  • Avoid the surprise of being stuck when reaching 80% of project progress. Difficult or risky tasks are quite often moved to the end of the project. As a result, when you reach 80% of progress, it is not always apparent that 80% of the total work is still ahead.
  • If activities are being defined as ‘high impact / high uncertainty’, schedule them as early as possible in the project timeline. This gives you more options to intervene and reduces the risk and uncertainty earlier in the project. Tackling ‘high impact / high uncertainty’ tasks early in the project will reduce the risk for missed deadlines and budget overruns.
  • Start as soon as possible with ‘master data preparation’, even if there is still a lot of uncertainty about the details. Accept no excuses.
  • Critical developments with a high uncertainty factor have to be tackled first. Keep the easy and low risk developments for the end.

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