From design to realisation: 4 tips for a successful start of your ERP project
The design phase is the first phase in every ERP implementation. During this phase, the consultant tries to paint the clearest possible picture of the customer’s business processes. In practice, this means that the consultant queries the key users about their processes. Every consultant should do this for his or her functional subarea. Depending on the customer, these subareas include purchasing, sales, planning, warehouse and transport. Then the consultants share their findings in order to arrive at an initial integral design. When drawing up this initial design, they will try to support as many processes as possible with standard ERP. After this initial design has been discussed with the key users, a final design will be drawn up for the next project phase: the construction phase.
1: Involve the developer in the final design
It is often not possible and/or desirable to support all the business processes with standard ERP. In that case, customised products will have to be designed to achieve the desired process efficiency. As soon the initial design has been discussed and everybody is clear about the customised components, it is a good idea to involve a developer in the definitive design. After all, a developer is best qualified to say which technical solution will solve the functional problem. It is also important to have a time estimate for the programming tasks so that a realistic planning schedule can be drawn up (tip 3). Sometimes it is also advisable to involve an integration consultant in the final design so that the components can be properly harmonised.
2: Make it visual
“A picture paints a thousand words”. It is always a good idea to create a visual display of the new business process and system structure. By creating a diagram of the final design, you give people a much clearer idea of the future process. And you avoid unnecessary discussions about the process later in the project. Hang the “process flow” in the project room so that people can refer to it during any discussions. On the basis of this future process, the user organisation can start developing test scripts that they can use to test whether the system adequately supports the new business process.
3: Clearly define the scope and monitor it
In addition to the design, it is also important to clearly record the specifications of the “to-be” configuration and the RICEF (reports, interfaces, enhancements and forms). As soon as everybody is clear about the design and the specifications, you should ask the user organisation to sign them. By doing this, you make sure that everybody understands what will be delivered. And it avoids any subsequent disagreements about what was and was not originally in scope. Then it is the task of the project management to actively monitor this scope and critically test any change requests.
4: Draw up a realistic planning schedule
As soon as the final design and specifications have been signed by all the parties concerned, it is important to draw up a realistic planning schedule. The final design must also include a time estimate for the tasks to be performed. Based on these time estimates, you can then draw up a planning schedule for the construction phase. This planning schedule should not be too optimistic or pessimistic. Make it realistic and base it on the estimates that were submitted and the experience that has been built up over the years.
Take time to work out a good design with all the parties concerned. This avoids a lot of uncertainty and debate later in the project. And remember: “Good design is good business”.