Implementing ERP – Why all the prep work?

Implementing ERP – Why all the prep work?

12/04/17

Congratulations ! The decision has been made, the solution is worked out so let’s implement but – Why all the prep work ?  Simple answer is the undertaking of implementing an ERP system is a major project involving large amounts of resources such as people, monies and a project that is usually completed by a business every 10 years or so.  Therefore, it is important that the implementation planning takes place to ensure a smooth and effective transition into the organisation.

 

The main task pre-implementation is having a fully defined and documented process for each function that everyone understands – believe it or not in our experience many businesses and their employees do not always have fully defined and documented processes that everyone understands and follows in the course of the business operations.

 

The first step in any ERP implementation for a business is to define the scope of what is to be included in the ERP.  This will involve identifying:

  • the business areas to be affected on and by the implementation
  • the staff and resources affected by the implementation
  • business processes that will be affected
  • any new business processes that need to be considered

 

This blog outlines:

  1. how to identify the business processes
  2. how to use these effectively in the implementation.

 

The Conundrum

Using what you have to hand or create new? …….. Businesses will possibly have some form of documentation describing their business – this may be a Quality Manual, Visio flows, and/or word documents.  For any document to aid the implementation of your ERP solution to be effective it should show how a process links within the business organisation, the process itself and resources involved.  If what is to hand does not allow for this then it may be easier all round to create new to achieve how, what and who to the processes.

One identified risk after understanding the importance of defining the business process and requirements upfront but then maintain these and expectations throughout the implementation lifecycle.

ERP systems such as Epicor can be very scalable and adaptable so it is important that the software vendor has a good understanding of how the business operates, what the business does, how a business process works, as ultimately the ERP implementation and software should fit the way a business operates.

Without any defined business process, the ERP vendor faces a problem, namely ‘what questions do we need to ask?’

 

Requirements Gathering Process

One of the first steps an ERP implementation consultant from Aspera Solutions will complete is  to gather the required information about how the business operates and this will usually involve a Process Review.

The process review is the mechanism by which the business and the software vendor come together to review how the business operates and what they do.

There are three key areas to this:

  1. The business must know what they do. This may appear to be a simple statement but often employees do not always have an understanding of where they fit in the organisation’s operations and managers may have insufficient knowledge of what happens beneath them.
  2. The business has to be to express and verbalise what they need. The way someone expresses their needs and requirements will differ to the next person and this has to be considered and interpreted by the ERP vendor consultant
  3. The ERP vendor must be able to comprehend what the business wants. Staff across a business may often use acronyms or business specific terminologies that are not always clear to an outsider or they use different terminology within departments for the same thing.

Often you will hear a customer say ‘the consultant never asked us about that’ or a consultant saying ‘the customer never told me that’.  How often during an ERP implementation is a project phase delayed or moves off track because it becomes apparent that a process has not been fully understood or defined?  Or on a wider issue, a process has not been considered at all and is critical to the business operation?

So the ‘what questions do we need to ask’ becomes ‘what do we need to know?’

 

The solution?

Having a defined business process model outlining the key business areas and processes will assist in the requirements gathering process.

  1. By utilising a template process model that identifies the key business areas and processes this helps both ERP consultants and business personnel through questioning to understand key business processes.
  2. Gives a ‘picture’ of the business at a high level and the processes involved
  3. Identify the key or critical business processes for the business
  4. Provides a basis for project deliverables
  5. Identify any gaps both in business and software that may arise

 

The process model can then be used as a measurable tool throughout the implementation to ensure that processes meet the business needs.

 

The process model below can then be used to:

  1. Link ERP functions and training materials such as end user procedures to specific processes.
  2. Relates processes to a business area and roles within the business.
  3. Provides a basis to deliver training to other staff
  4. Offers an input into the creation of end user procedures on how to use the ERP software for a particular process of function
  5. Delivers an input into the construction of test scripts for later use in the ERP implementation
  6. Foundation for compliance/ auditing and process improvement
  7. A deliverable from business modelling sessions to provide an agreed scope and definition for the business and ERP vendor to utilise for the ERP implementation.

 

If you have any questions  on your ERP implementation or would like to learn about  Epicor ERP and Aspera Solutions 

Call us on +353 (0)1 461 1700 / +44 (0)845 862 0864 or Contact us 

 

 

About the Author

Steve Watson a Lead Consultant in Aspera solutions, who has many years experience as a Business Analyst, Project Manager, Consultant with the Epicor ERP product.  Working with businesses embarking on the road of implementing ERP, he has found one of the key areas that will help the success of a businesses project of implementing ERP is the prep work such as fully defined and documented processes.