The process of choosing ERP/CRM or a different company system (HR system, production solutions etc.) isn’t an easy process. One of its most difficult parts is usually looking for answers to fundamental questions: Where and how to start? The market is saturated with suppliers, solutions, and approaches. The last newsletter (newsletter) shows how to view the process of choosing from the functionality side, what to avoid, and what to be cautious about. This time we are going to talk about what not to forget before the analysis of chosen systems from the view of project management. Maybe you are thinking it is completely obvious, but the truth is that often some important facts are being overlooked.
We prepared for you an overview of the most important areas.
Typical areas that should not be overlooked are:
Time frame is an essential question while choosing (not only) EPR solutions. Implementation of a system is not only about configuration. Implementation takes time that must be accounted for beforehand and be realistically estimated. How long will the implementation take depends on the type of system, size of your company, experiences of the implementation partner, time frame that your company can account for, and finally what implementation process are you going to choose. If you want to implement everything at once, the so-called ‘Big Bang approach’, or if you prefer implementation in phases also known as the ‘stairway approach’. The benefit of the gradual implementation is taking into account your full capacity and for example seasonal deadlines, vacation season, etc. next it is a good idea to think about an indicative plan for the implementation. Of course, it is not expected that your potential implementation partner will offer you a detailed plan that will have to be adhered to at the very beginning, but it is good to guess your time frame. Do not forget to ask about the potential problems in the implementation and the possible solutions to these problems.
At the beginning of choosing the system, it is good to include the question of who from the partners’ side will be taking part in your project. It is understood that the partner will not allocate all its resources in the beginning stages, but it is good to know at least the main contact for your project and the manager of the team for the functionality of the technical side of your project. The next question should be how your project is going to be managed. We clearly touched up on that in the preceding paragraph. There are multiple ways of choosing the methods used, whether it is the ‘Agile approach’ (known for its readiness, the ability of fast reaction and has inventive and flexible character) or the typical approach ‘Waterfall approach’ (known by a beforehand prepared detailed plan, sequential method from the analysis). And just like that do not forget to determine internal resources – who and in what capacity will be available. As the project will go along it is clear that some of your company’s resources are going to be a part of the implementation process, like people that are going to test their processes in the new system.
Implementation of a new system of application is a significant interference for the established and historical processes, data flow and established costumes in the company. That is why you should not underestimate Change Management. It is proven that a certain part of your employees will resist the changes and will not welcome it. For that reason, you should pay attention to sufficient communication and do not forget to explain what benefits the change will bring. Next it is good to find a tool for monitoring the progress of implementation or possibly define if it will be a classic Excel file, activity planner or an advanced system for extensive implementations like JIRA or ASANA.
Costs of licenses
A lot of systems are structured as module systems and the costs are set for as individual modules. This approach is more and more common and the price making will depend on it. In the process of choosing an ERP solution suppliers can divide the implementation into phases. Each phase is bound with extra costs for licenses and implementation as well. It is good to know what the potential costs relate to growth to which you can lead up to. The intervals (quarterly, annually) for payment will depend on the terms and conditions of the contract as well as dealing with the potential increase of costs. Focus also on the support provided by the licensed supplier, meaning communication, willingness to explain new functions and possibilities, sharing of materials and other presentations of new functionality’s modules, etc.
Costs of implementation
Implementation costs are own chapter, and they are different from purchasing the licenses (costs of the system by itself). Costs can differ based on the pricing strategy the partner chooses and of course the functionalities, methods of implementation, size, or difficulty. It is good to remember that during the implementation a situation can occur where the estimated implementation costs can be increasing. This situation can occur the scope or implementation plan are changed of adding new requirements or functionalities
Solution costs from third parties, potential integration with different systems
This is a topic that can significantly influence the reach of the implementation, functionality, and the price of the implementation by itself. Costs of solutions from third parties can usually have weighty added value for your processes and are easily integrated with solutions were chosen by you. Most ERP suppliers today have a network of proven suppliers of solutions that make the system more attractive and add more functionalities. There is a question if these solutions will be free or for a fee, and what are the terms and conditions. It can happen that the cost of this solution will be split between costs of licenses and the cost of implementation. Do not forget about the detailed making of technical documentation, execution of the integration, and testing. Costs of integration are often unmissable that is why it is good to investigate in more detail.
Training and support
The form of the training (online, in-person) and what will be its contents? The question of training is good to clear up at the beginning and not only in the matter of contents but also financially – is training included in the costs of implementation or is it separate? And is it just entry-level training or will its contents be updated and expanded? Contents of training will also define what the partner will be training, in what range, and to whom they will teach it. The amount of support provided during the process of implementation is usually defined in the implementation offers. Important is also the information about the accessibility of ‘post-go-live support, support from the partner in the first weeks of production.
Reference is a significant part that gives us information about what type of company is best suitable for the system and what is the experience with a specific area of business. It is possible that the references from a system supplier are different from the ones provided by the implementation partner. That is why you should focus on both – references of the implementation partner can indicate the amount of experience with different companies and types of implementations.
Choosing an ERP solution is not an easy task but it’s a good plan and clear identification of what is expected of the system can ensure a smooth running of the whole process of implementation and can reduce possible negative and unexpected results.
We believe that the last two newsletters were useful for you and showed you what to keep in mind and what not to forget during the choosing of the ERP process. Each of the newsletters was focusing on a different area for better understanding but they go together hand in hand which is why we cannot look at them as separate.
We will gladly hear your feedback and eventual experiences with choosing the ERP system. If you are currently in the process of choosing and if you are not sure – do not hesitate to contact us and we will gladly answer your questions!