ERP systems are complex and require proper planning and complete support for a successful implementation. That doesn’t mean just choosing the right partner and trusted advisors (us), but also having support from management, employees and end-users. A successful ERP implementation raises productivity resulting in increased end-user and customer satisfaction.
For this article, to respect our customer’s privacy, I will use the example of Wayne Technologies, also known as WayneTech, the biggest division of Wayne Enterprises.
The project kick-off is a very important part of the project – in fact, it is the very beginning of it! At this point, a statement of work has been signed and a project team has been assembled on both the client and Big Bang side. The purpose of the kick-off is to set expectations on both sides, to have a common understanding of what we are to accomplish, in what timeframe we are aiming to complete the work by and the budget we should expect to complete the project. At this point in time, we also set expectations on various other matters: resource availabilities, communication and change management approaches and plan, invoicing, potential risks, etc.
When we met with Wayne Technologies during the sales cycle, we met with business manager Lucius Fox. But in reality, we also needed to make sure that the CEO, Bruce Wayne and Batman, and his assistant Alfred, were happy with the results. To accommodate the client, a team of four (4) Big Bang ERP team members, joined the WayneTech team in Gotham City. The kickoff meeting took no more than an hour and we covered everything from the project timeline, project team and scope of work to be delivered.
In this phase, Big Bang maps out customer expectations and needs for the solution at hand. Once this is done, requirements are set out to prepare the stage and figure out the nitty-gritty of how we are going to make it happen for you. With your project manager, you’ll also finalize your scope, timeline and budget.
We met with Wayne Technologies team to talk about their business and what they needed to fight crime in Gotham City. We sent the best of our two (2) Big Bang ERP team members to Wayne Technologies to write down all the requests the team might have for the technical/functional aspect of the solution.
Once requirements are gathered, prioritized and assessed (fit/gap), designs are done for the gaps found between your needs (requirements) and the systems out of the box functionalities. Configurations, customizations, integrations and data migration (to name a few) are written out and validated by you (the client) prior to starting the build phase. This is also where we finalize the system architecture and have a concrete roadmap to get your business to where it needs to go (current state to future state).
Once we had met with Wayne Technologies and collected a long list of all their demands, we went to the drawing board to design the best batmobiles, batarang, grappling guns, etc. We sent the designs to the team at Wayne Technologies to validate them.
During the build phase, efforts are made to sync up business processes with the ERP at hand using the roadmap elaborated in the previous phase. Working sessions are held with the client to configure and confirm that the system meets the requirements gathered during the analysis phase. In parallel, using an agile development methodology, customizations are being developed and tested. As part of our methodology, data migration happens during the working sessions. For example, if we have a working session on employees, users, and roles next week, the client will be sent import templates beforehand to pre-fill so that the data is ready to be imported after the working session is completed. This way, the data migration must only be validated (in the next phase) instead of having data migration be a discrete task within the project that happens towards the end of the project. The exception to this rule is usually the financial migration, which tends to happen as close to go-live as possible to have accurate data.
Once Wayne Technologies had validated our designs, we got to work! For example, with our awesome batarang model, we started from scratch and had regular meeting with the team to ensure that we were on the right track to complete it within spec and that it would meet their needs.
The validation phase happens right before the system goes live (during the deployment phase). User acceptance tests are performed using our standard Big Bang methodology, thus enabling a thorough testing of all processes to be used during go-live. We also use this phase to train superusers that will then onboard their respective groups. Planning adequate time for training and onboarding can be the difference between a successful ERP implementation and a failed one. It is critical to user adoption to dedicate enough time to this phase.
The batarang, batmobile and grappling guns done, it was time to ship them over to Wayne Enterprises for testing in their test facility. They put them through their paces and gave us feedback on the modifications required – which we used to revise and modify the designs and builds and give them an even better, more functional version of the great gadgets we built.
During the deployment phase, the financial data migration is completed and the cutover date is confirmed and executed upon. The users start using the ERP and the implementation team is on standby to correct any bugs that may arise during this time. The go-live and post go-live (deployment) phase are critical to user adoption as if the system does not perform adequately from the beginning the first impression of users will not be a positive one and they may shy away from using the system as intended. Providing adequate support is crucial.
This is the last piece of the puzzle to get the equipment deployed and in good order for Wayne Technologies. Working closely with the users they are trained and given what they need for their day to day operations.
Once the system is stable (post go-live), it is time to further analyze where improvements and automations can be made in order to maximize the return on investment of the ERP purchased.