In 2016, 1 company out of 3 was happy with the acquisition or renewal of an ERP.
The reasons behind the success: – Good evaluation of the project and the objectives – Ability to configure and adapt the ERP – Sufficient human and financial resources – Reliable technologies and easy to master – Flexible project management – Good users assistance…
The integration of an ERP involves several factors: the client, the solution and the integrator who can either be the editor or a partner. These factors include several parameters including the needs of the client, the system and the human factor. The latter is often overlooked despite it being an important source of failure.
We put forward here some good practices and steps to follow for choosing and integrating your ERP. This is by no means the only method of managing an ERP project.
Step 0: Defining and prioritizing your functional needs (business process, organization…) Before choosing an ERP, it is essential to formalize the processes of a company to define its functional needs. The needs must be referenced, categorized by job or activity (purchase, sale, production) and prioritized in a Specification document. This Specification helps the company to define its expectations of the ERP. It is also the first official document for the integrator enabling him to evaluate the project and determine the challenges and risks.
Step 1: Defining the technical requirements of the ERP
This step involves indentifying criteria and key points the ERP has to cover to meet your technical needs. These criteria can be defined according to 6 main criteria, corresponding to the functionalities of the system and its economic model which impacts the daily management of the company.
Functional cover: the set of features that ERP offers must cover the jobs and processes which you wish to see integrated into the management system.
Adaptability: the system must be able to adapt to various processes. This criterion is important especially if your company works with non-standard processes. It is essential to take into account the ability of the solution to evolve with your company in the future and to keep up with organizational changes.
Cost : All the costs must be examined for the short and medium term (acquisition, maintenance) and compared with your budget.
Technologies: These are the technologies upon which the system is based: database, IT structure, programming language… They must be recent to ensure their reliability and their ability to evolve over time.
User Experience/Ergonomics: if the user experience is important for your company, it will be necessary to take into account the time required to master the ERP, the usability, the possible links between different jobs … Support: Find out what the integrator or editor offers in term of training and support for users, as well as the frequency and conditions relating to updates and upgrades of the ERP.
Step 2: Researching ERP
The ERP solutions selected needs to be consistent with the Specifications. It is recommended to ask for demonstrations of the product to throw intoin order to clearly visualise how mechanisms would be integrated in the system and see the ergonomics, features and processes. It is also possible to manipulate some test databases to get an overview of the ease of use of the system. It is important to keep an open mind when experimenting with these test databases as, the systems remain highly complex and require some training to become comfortable using them. This is a first contact with the editors or integrators and the opportunity to get an idea on their knowledge of thier client business and their abilities regarding ERP integration.
Step 3: Validation of the feasibility
We advise to try retaining 2 or 3 solutions. At this point, it is important to evaluate the compatibilty of the retained solution and the skills of the integrator or editor with the company needs and resources (financial, human…) At this step, it is possible to make a choice by limiting risks forthe company. Should the solution be incompatible with the company needs, the process stops. There is no time wasted.
Step 4: Pre-quotation The goal at this stage is to have an estimate of the required budget to meet the company needs and expectations. In this quotation, costs are displayed by category or main stage : – Audit and Installation – System setup
– Users training – User Support
– Data transfer The company will be able to validate the quote if it meets with the functional needs and expectations, or, if necessary, reevaluate either the budget or the requirements.
Step 5 : Audit
Once the solution has been validated, an audit can be organized. The objective for the integrator is to analyze the processes and specificities of your organization in order to determine the required work for the ERP integration. A modelling of your processes is created in order to simulate how the system would be used by your company. Following this, a final offer based on the previous quotation will be made. This offer is the contract for the ERP integration within your company.
Step 6 : Go/ No go decision
This decision must be taken by all the actors, on the client‘s side and as well as the integrator’s. After the audit, it is possible to conclude that the retained solution does not meet with the client’s requirements. This decision must be taken according to the project feasibility from a technical, functional or human point of view.
Step 7 : Planning
The objective is to set up an efficient project team (client and integrator) and a schedule. The roles are distributed between the stakeholders:
An Internal project manager: In charge of successfully leading project. He designs processes, conducts tests and training. This person must perfectly understand the company processes. He is the key intermediary with the integrator.
Key-users by function or activity: They are the point of contact due to their job specific expertise and are in charge of:
Participating in the integration of their job into the ERP
Conducting tests relating to their job
Training end-users in tasks related to their job
A Dedicated Project manager: his role is more or less operational. He can deal with everything from advising on processes design to key-users and final-users training, including managing tests, specific developments or data transfer.
ERP Consultants: ERP consultants can be called upon to support the project. They can handle several activities:
Advising on company process design within the system
Creating of development specifications for and associated tests
Technical Developers: according to the project goals, their role can involve:
Specific developments on the system defined by the project manager or consultants.
Conducting data transfer
Regular meetings must be scheduled to ensure that the project is on track and all actors are moving forward at the same pace. Milestones can be defined in order to prioritise primary integration needs, making these parts of the ERP available as quickly as possible. An iterative process is employed to develop the other elements step by step.
Step 8 : Specifications and processes modelling
The goal of this step is to model the processes associated with the company specific activities or functions. This simulation allows the most suitable configuration of the system to be determined in order to best fit with your processes. Configurations can be made by the consultants or project manager. Adjustments or specific developments are forwarded to technical developers.
Step 9 : Development and test
Configuration of the system by the consultants or the project manager
Development of the specific adjustments by developers formalized in Step 8
Configurations and specific development testss by developers and consultants
Data transfer/conversion from your old ERP or tools to the new one
Regular communication with the company is helpful to verify the project progresses. It helps to maintain an overview of the project and to ensure that the progress is in keeping with the initial request.
Step 10 : ERP Deployment
The deployment involves the transfer of the ERP into its real environment. The configuration, developments and tests conducted are deployed into the IT infrastructure. Key-users can perform tests. Final corrections are carried out. Training can be provided to end-users. The installation is often conducted step by step, by function or activity.
This is the goal of the project and its completion. The integrator will always be present to support the users.