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Think You’re Ready For an ERP Implementation? 8 Tips to Avoid Failure

An ERP system implementation is a sizable undertaking with lots of moving parts. Risks can exist in all aspects of the project including planning, scoping, change management, data migration, testing and training to name a few. Minimizing risk will help to prevent your project from failing. Documenting the known risks at each phase and within each task can help you minimize them. A contingency plan for any significant tasks can also help your team deal with unexpected issues and minimize risk.

The Implementation Team

Your ERP implementation can fail if the project isn’t planned, executed, or managed properly so selecting the Implementation Team members is one of your most important decisions. An Implementation Team usually consists of members of your staff and of the implementation partner you’ve chosen. Your staff members, that are chose for the team, usually include an executive sponsor(s), your project manager and your subject-matter experts. IT staff and/or infrastructure specialists could also be on the team whether they are part of your staff or provided by a supporting vendor. Your implementation partner’s staff make up an important part of your team and should be chosen to fill the positions you aren’t able to fill from your own staff.  If you do not have a qualified Project Manager on staff it is common to rely on your partner to fill the project management roll. Not every business has staff members that are experienced in ERP implementation or knowledge of how to use a sophisticated ERP system so it’s critical to include the right members from your implementation partner to provide the expertise you’re missing. A weak team may be defeated before the end of the project. A gap or weakness in any part of your team can create risks to your project.

Ownership

An ERP implementation can fail due to a lack of ownership. This is your project, you own it and have the authority and responsibility to make the final decisions. A number of the significant tasks will be on your plate, such as deciding what data is to be migrated to your new ERP system, cleansing the data to be imported into your new ERP system, testing the system to prove it’s ready to go live and training your staff to help them feel more comfortable with your new system. Each and every member of the implementation team must be fully committed and take ownership of even the smallest of tasks to make certain they are completed correctly and on time. There will be some tasks that are split between your staff and your partner’s staff. Working together to keep these progressing smoothly is a team effort but is still, ultimately, your responsibility. Without ownership tasks can miss their deadline, be completed incorrectly or get missed completely.

Planning

A plan helps to develop the common vision for all team members. It’s required to formalize the destination, document the scope, outline the data migration steps, identify the testing and training requirements and communicate the milestones throughout the project. It should be a living document in that it is updated throughout the life span of the project and should be the main source of reference for all things project related. Without a plan your team members could find themselves working without a clear goal, without a direction and without a vision.

Scope

The Scope defines what will be done/included within your project. Listing the functional areas of the ERP system that will be implemented and what data will be migrated is paramount to your project to keep everyone focused on appropriate tasks. If it’s not documented as being ‘In Scope’ it will not be included in your project. Working on areas outside the scope pose great risks to your project’s budget and schedule.

Change Management

Changes are inevitable in a project this size so the procedure for managing the changes must be documented and understood by all team members. Implementing changes without following the proper procedures creates unnecessary risks to the project. Changes are considered to be anything outside the Scope of the project or anything that is not included in the planning document(S). As mentioned above, working on anything outside the scope of your project can jeopardize your budget and/or schedule.

Data Migration

Data to be migrated to your new ERP system must be chosen carefully, agreed upon by the relevant subject-matter expert(s) and be accessible from your current system(s). This section of the planning document must include the details of the data cleansing requirements, steps to extract the data from your current system(s) and import the data into your new system as well as the sequence for importing all of your data. It should also include a list of who will be performing each task and who will be completing the data validation. Importing the wrong or unclean data into your new system can create additional work and can disrupt the validation or testing phase if not caught early. Missing data that is critical to your day-to-day operations can severely disrupt your business at go live.

Testing

Testing is intended for your users to determine if each of the processes they will use in the new ERP system can be completed successfully. Testing should be scripted to control the testing and ensure the correct test steps are being executed. Sample data should be included in the scripts and where necessary, should already be in the system being tested. Improper or incomplete testing can leave users anxious about the go live and in the worst case, can prevent you from conducting business on your new system once you’re live.

Training

User training should be included as part of your ERP system implementation regardless of how different the new systems is. After using the same system for a period of time users will tend to use the steps they are most comfortable with, regardless of whether it is the most efficient method of completing the task. Although the concept between different ERP systems is similar the interface, logic, validation and error reporting can be very different. Users that are unfamiliar with the steps required to enter an order, complete a transaction or run a report can become frustrated and disillusioned quickly.  If your users are expected to perform their daily tasks on a new and unfamiliar system you can expect failure after go live.

Looking for a qualified team to undertake your ERP Implementation? Qixas Group is a Microsoft Gold ERP Partner that has been working with Dynamics 365, NAV and CRM customers for the past 2 decades. We devise a step-by-step plan that keeps you within the scope and on budget. We even offer a free upgrade assessment to figure out if a standard NAV Upgrade or a Qixas Fresh Start Implementation is best for your business.

 

Dave Lessard
Dave Lessard
An accomplished NAV professional with an expertise in manufacturing, distribution and payroll, Dave has over 10 years of experience in implementing ERP systems and re-engineering business processes backed by over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. Dave is a key member of our Dynamics NAV team.