A Cloud ERP implementation life cycle is the process of deploying Enterprise Resource Planning software across departments —from planning through to implementation, go-live and beyond. A typical implementation cycle may take six to twelve months, although smaller systems can take 3 months to complete. However, its not just about implementing software. A successful project demands that your team is committed to change, is prepared to compromise on "ERP capability Wish lists" and importantly has prepared for these eight stages of ERP implementation.
Firstly, all Small Business ERP solutions will generally take the same amount of time to implement! Why? Certainly with the solutions we consult for this is shown to be the case and merely reflects that the features and capabilities are comparable. A lack of functionality or possible solution simplicity might in fact be a perfect fit whilst taking far less time to implement - but perhaps this becomes an interim step for the company and this we often understand, but it must be said sometimes we don't!
A question that generally pops up in the review process for an ERP implementation is "How long will it take to implement an ERP?". There is no general answer to that question and perhaps best answered when finished! However, every business is different and the implementation depends on many variables – Also in our experience, ERP implementations proceed at their own pace – the process can be outlined by way of a timeline or life cycle. Just for perspective, a small ERP implementation can take anywhere from three months to six months, with the majority of projects ranging from six-to-twelve months from Project kick-off.
Whatever the timeframe might be seen for your Cloud ERP implementation the result is that you move to a connected business with connected processes and connected people, irrespective of time and location. Processes that are now joined makes end user roles easier to deliver and efficiencies and effectiveness is for all to see.
Lets review these steps.
This phase is not counted as part of the time it takes to implement a system because this occurs before you start spending money or real physical activity. Nevertheless, the final selection of your system and negotiation of the project, this phase typically consumes anywhere from 3-to-6 months.
If you are looking at a legacy based ERP system, there is a lead time for delivery of hardware and software, installation of infrastructure components like networking facilities to make sure the system installation is supported and data collection / display devices. The installation of software could be anywhere between several days to several weeks or more. A Cloud-based ERP system may have little or no installation lead time and no software installation requirements.
Once you have all the infrastructure confirmed, data must be carefully entered and/or moved into the system’s database. This includes 'basic records' such as customers, vendors and item master files, bills of material, production and routing set-up, general ledger chart of accounts, and the like. The best approach to minimising errors is by working with your implementation team to assist the process - it is still your data however there are considerations updating related "data tables". Just before going live, open transactions are re-keyed into the new ERP system software.
This is arguably the most important part of ERP implementations. Approved Business Process (and documentation) coupled with user training should feature within the timeline during a project. These aspects consume time and effort from operational employees (actual future users of the system) who are also expected to continue their existing jobs at the same time. The duration of this phase greatly depends on the size and complexity of the ERP software being implemented (number of modules or functional areas involved, how different the new procedures will be from existing procedures, number of users etc), and how much time users can dedicate to the training and implementation each day or week.
IT resources will be heavily involved in this task, working with the users to compare and examine both basic records and transactional data to make sure that the data is exactly as it should be (and at least as close to and accurate as in the incumbent system) and test that the new ERP system software is producing the expected results. Testing and validation of the system occurs over an extended period of time as each functional area loads data and starts processing (test) transactions by the users during training and procedure development. This is more of a pilot testing situation rather than a parallel operation. Testing and validation do not add to the timeline explicitly but they must be considered and allocated time in planning the duration of the training and procedure development process.
Going live can be instantaneous (sometimes called a ‘big bang’ approach), phased in piece-by-piece, or parallel operation where users are expected to keep the old system and the new system in operation simultaneously for a specified period of time (typically one or two accounting periods). You will find a discussion of these alternative strategies here .
Most business think Implementation is complete once the new system is ‘live’ and the old system is turned off. This is not the case. Users and technical support resources must continue to validate and verify proper operation and user training should continue to enable a more extensive use of what the ERP system software has to offer and expand the benefits of the system.
ERP technology represents a continuing opportunity to improve performance.
As your company grows and changes, as markets evolve, as people come and go and work their way up through the company structure, as technology continues to offer new challenges and opportunities, so should your ERP system change as will your use of the system. Be sure to keep your user community involved and informed so that your new ERP system will continue to provide the data management support you need for continued success.
Contact our Cloud Factory team as you begin to consider your move forward and let us collaborate with your team through every step – or phase – of the way.
Cloud Factory is an ERP specialist, helping you implement ERP systems such as MYOB Advanced, SAP Business One, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Wiise, PowerPlatform and Korber K.Motion Warehouse Edge.