Without a doubt, ERP implementation projects are demanding. While they might seem to mostly revolve around the software or the system, business processes and future users of the system are just as important. Keeping all three points in mind, most projects follow similar project lifecycles and phases, regardless of the industry the adopting company is in.
Typical project implementation phases
Implementation projects usually consist of the following phases: analysis and design, development, training, testing and rollout.
Typical project implementation phases
1. Analysis and Design
The main objectives of the Analysis and Design phase are to analyse the customer’s requirements and prepare a detailed system design. As a first step in this phase, system requirements and the existing business processes are evaluated and compared with a standard solution. To some extent, requirements and business processes (known as ‘fits’) are the same for all companies, while at the same time, every company also has some specific business processes (or parts of them), which require customisations (known as ‘gaps’). The process of determining which requirements can be satisfied with a standard solution and which cannot, is referred to as a fit/gap analysis. The next step is to define new and updated business processes and develop a design and architecture of the customised solution. This serves as a basis for estimating the total effort needed for development of customised features. The Analysis and Design phase is an important step of an implementation as it gives an insight into future business processes and forms a foundation for the remaining phases of the implementation project.
Once the design of the new solution is available, the Development phase can begin. Gaps that were identified in the previous phase are developed and tested. Depending on the gap, the development can be a customisation of the standard solution or integration with an external system. All custom developed functionality must be thoroughly documented in user manuals. The duration of the development phase depends heavily on the number of gaps; fewer gaps mean shorter and more predictable development.
Training is an important aspect of adopting a new system. It is essential that users get acquainted with and become comfortable using the new system. While parts of training can take place in the development phase, e.g. for standard functionality, training for customisations and training covering end-to-end business processes can only take place after development has been completed.
Before the system is rolled out, it must go through rigorous Testing. The purpose of this phase is to verify and validate the solution. There are several different methods of testing, each covering a different aspect of the system: data migration testing, integration, security, end-to-end and stress testing. This phase culminates with customer acceptance testing, which upon successful completion, indicates whether the system and customer users are ready for it to enter production.
The final stage is the Rollout phase, which is the pinnacle of the implementation project. Before the actual rollout can take place, it is imperative that the customer achieves organisational readiness to adopt the new system. Once this is achieved, data migration from the legacy system to the new system can begin. As soon as the data is fully migrated, the new system can be fully utilised. Throughout rollout, the implementing company offers support and guidance on the usage of the new system, with the aim of rapidly resolving any issues preventing smooth operations during the first few months.
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5 rules for successful
ERP implementation - how to stay on budget and on time with big ERP
Learning from our many past projects, we have been able to identify 5 key aspects which promote successful implementation. These are:
- Define business objectives early on
- Detailed analysis and design
- Limit customisations
- Handle change management with all seriousness
- Maintain customer engagement from the beginning to the end of the project
Read more about the 5 rules for successful ERP implementation in my other blog, where I expand upon these success factors and how they can be achieved with the example of implementing the Utilities and Infrastructure Management solution – an ERP solution developed for managing complex infrastructure projects in electric, power, gas and water infrastructure companies.