12 Oct Making an ERP Implementation Project Plan: The One Step Most Companies Forget
Sometimes it is the obvious items that businesses miss when planning a project.
While most businesses develop a project plan when they start their ERP implementation, more often than not it contains large gaps that could jeopardize ERP implementation efforts.
These gaps quickly become noticeable once the process is underway, setting off alarm bells with sudden fervor. Costs start to quickly surpass budgetary outlays when business processes are suddenly discovered mid-flight. Often times, many of these business processes are lacking process controls around them, and most of them were not considered when the project scope was being determined. As it turns out, this is because the business missed one key step in their project planning: stepping back to look at all the little things that make their organization run.
Taking That Step Back to See It All
Business leaders, while having a great grasp on the inner workings of their organizations, can often be surprised by business processes thought to be long retired—or worse, were being conducted without any awareness by business leadership. When these get discovered once their ERP projects are in process, it can cause severe project delays and even failures to occur.
It is here, in the ERP implementation project planning stage, that these discoveries need to be made. It is here, with the help of a valued and experienced partner, that taking a step back to see everything down to the most minute process will be most valuable. This gives your organization more visibility into all the process controls in place and allows you to easily sort the ones that need to stay versus the processes you can easily cull.
Getting a Bird’s-Eye View of Business Process Controls
Oftentimes, a large gap in the ERP implementation project plan develops due to not having full awareness of business process controls in place. There is the potential for processes that are isolated from the view of business management; processes that will need to be uncovered and examined prior to your ERP project effort. This can happen by stepping back for that bird’s-eye, all-seeing view of what compliance and business process procedures are in place.
One common example of not stepping back we have seen centers on the satellite sites of global corporations. Many of these sites often have “rogue” processes or workflows that do not fit into the planned ERP project structure. These unconventional processes will create some significant delays if discovered too late, so it’s better to learn about any processes that may be outside of your ERP deployment scope ahead of time. Upon discovery in the planning phase, this will give your business ample time to develop a standardized and compliant business solution.
This example illustrates why it is highly beneficial to step back and assess the process controls you have in place. By seeing the entire picture of what your business needs and uses to run, the scope of your project can be adjusted to include what is needed, as well as to gain efficiencies by letting go of processes that no longer effectively serve the business.
During the process of stepping back, you must seek and encourage the active engagement of your internal business stakeholders. Their input and knowledge will provide invaluable insights into the process controls your business is currently using, leaving you better prepared to conduct a solid organizational analysis.
A Concise Organizational Analysis Solidifies ERP Project Planning
Once your process control structure is identified, this data can now be used to conduct an organizational analysis involving an experienced third party. With this, your implementation partner can identify any gaps in your business processes and technical implementation plans by looking at each of your business functions to gain better organizational perspective, allowing you to determine the best ERP solution to fit your business needs. To accomplish this, your implementation partner needs to take another step back with your business stakeholders.
It’s not enough to just engage the executive suites in an ERP implementation project plan. Engaging middle management, such as warehouse and shipping managers or sales managers, will give you a broader sense of what needs to be in your ERP project scope, as well as some of the specifics you need to fulfill the following analyses.
- Streamline business processes. Now that you have identified what processes and workflows are running your business, you can begin to streamline. In this area, it is key to align the experience of a trusted vendor with your project team during ERP implementation project planning sessions to help guide you on the path of determining which of these processes are localized vs. globalized and tailoring these processes to best suit your business needs.
- Process standardization. In addition to streamlining processes, you’ll also want to work with your implementation team to determine which processes should be standardized and which are duplicated or no longer needed. This will deepen your understanding of in-place process controls while trimming away redundant processes, leading to reduced timelines and risk factors during the implementation process.
These steps ensure that all gaps are called out and closed, any systems that currently fall outside of the ERP implementation are included, and the ERP implementation project plan includes only the modules that you will need—perhaps compressing what you thought would be a large-scale, expensive project into something smaller and more pointed towards exactly what your business requires to function efficiently and compliantly.
Zooming Out Is Crucial in Creating an Effective Plan
Every business has its own level of complexity within its process controls and organizational processes. Taking the time to step back after you have decided to engage in an ERP implementation (but before the project begins) is the one crucial and vital step in ERP project planning most often missed. When you zoom out to see everything in flight—determining your process controls while performing an analysis on your organizational processes—you can determine the modules and implementation schedule that best work for your business.
This is where an experienced ERP implementation partner like Aurum Terra can step in and guide you through. Upon engagement, we will dive into your project plan to ensure you have taken enough of a step back to see your overall business picture. We then compare your project plan against your actual business needs, making sure that your proposed ERP solution is actually the one best suited to your business and is primed for success.