Upgrading or Implementing a New ERP System – Where do you Begin?

This post will be the first in a series on the subject of upgrade / or implementing a new system.

With recent changes in technology, aging systems, and the economy, there are conflicting forces that are pulling and pushing us to upgrade or to hold off….

It’s a crazy time to be in business and in IT with these factors in play.

One issue that comes to mind first and foremost is “scope”. What I mean by that is Project Scope.

I have devoted past posts and for that matter an entire book to the subject – Purpose Driven ERP that addresses system justification, requirements and specifications, however, Project Scope is a topic that I now feel deserves more conversation.

• How big is your project?
• How broad and how deep?
• What defines the beginning and what determines the end?

If you don’t have answers to these questions – FORGET trying to get buy off and for that matter, trying to nail down the general requirements and the detailed specifications of your implementation.

You need to carefully, but simply define your project scope; this does not have to be a rocket science project – Just articulate the beginning and the end to the upgrade or the implementation.

What does the completed project look like?

While this seems simple, as it in essence is, it can be a very powerful guide in mapping your course; making decisions; where to turn when two courses of action present themselves, etc.

The depth of the project is another dimension and aspect to the scope that requires thought as well. Once you know what the beginning and the end look like, what “layers” are there to the project? Hardware, software, the cloud, virtualization… you get the idea….

We will talk about virtualization and the cloud in later posts…

Again, a scope document can be as simple as a couple of paragraphs, but very foundational when moving into discussions with other stakeholders in discussing an upgrade or new system.

Do you have a scope document? If not – Write One Now!

Hope I provided you with some food for thought… until next time…


The Seven Steps to Implementing ERP – Step 5 Process Integration

So if are implementing ERP – or any other large scale sofware system for that matter… Process integration In my opinion, is where your implementation either lives or dies…

Don’t short change yourself by skimping on the step! Or for that matter any step prior to integration…

If you are at the point where you are ready to integrate business processes with your new system, then you have completed the prerequisites…

Without these previous steps fully completed – Process integration will be impossible – so make sure that you have laid a good foundation… OK, I think I made my point…

Next lets look at the definition of ERP – A system designed to integrate business processes to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and effectiveness.

While I wrote this definition on the fly and crafted it to make a point – While there are other aspects to ERP, process integration is huge.

So huge in fact that I devoted 3 podcast episodes to it – them out at Implement ERP Fast.

I have developed a 7 step system to integrate business process into your new ERP System.
The steps are as follows:

1. Selecting Process Integration Team Members.
2. Selecting Business Processes to be Integrated.
3. Reviewing and Revising Business Policies Related to the Business Processes to be Integrated.
4. Listing Business Process Scenarios or the “flavors” of the processes to be integrated.
5. Detailing each Busienss Process flavoer to be integrated – Step by Step.
6. Testing Processes that have been Integrated.
7. Document Processes that have been Integrated.

If you follow these 7 steps, you will eliminate a lot of voodoo from an otherwise complicated phase of your project.

Take for instance Step 1 – At first, you might wonder if this really needs to be a step… Well let me tell you… Some people are not cut out to integrate business processes. You have to have what I refer to as a “systems mind”. You need to be able to “zoom in” and “zoom out” at appropriate times – focus on process in a disciplined way. If you pick the wrong guy or gal, you are going to go sideways FAST!

Next, Step 2 – What processes are you going to integrate in roll out? Most teams bite off more than they can chew and usually end up backing off as a result – give it SERIOUS THOUGHT.

Step 3 – Be real clear on what policies are going to drive process. Huh? Yeah policy – You know those guardrails that companies create to keep staff from driving off a veritable cliff in doing their jobs… For example, if you were integrating the Order Entry process, you would need to know what policies exist for “method of payment”. You take credit cards, or COD, BUT NOT open billing, So with a clear picture on this policy you won’t be developing process and setting up the system to accept 30 day terms. The beauty of this is that you can eliminate a lot of work and decrease frustration dramatically.

So that’s the first 3 steps – think through the last 4 and see what you come up with – Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

By the way…

The Software Implementation Tracker – a 400+ page guide is just about ready to launch. If you sign up on my list (above) you will qualify for a “List Only” introductory price – I will email you a special offer. Spend MORE time focusing on nuts and bolts of your implementation and LESS time “managing” your project.

Next post will will deal with Step 6 of an ERP implementation – End User Training.

Until next time – Rick – Signing off…