Implementing new ERP software is an undertaking of some magnitude. Time and time again, it has been shown that the right implementation strategy is extremely important for success. ERP systems are integrated software suites that can incorporate operations from many facets of your organisation. This means bringing accounting, inventory, manufacturing, distribution and more all together into one system.
With such a broad reach into your business, the system needs to be carefully planned. The rollout should encompass stages from the initial design and analysis right through to implementation and ongoing support.
The deployment stage is absolutely critical, and there are several tried-and-tested strategies to consider. Each offers potential risks and benefits so it is important to explore them ahead of time.
The 4 Most Popular ERP Implementation Strategies
1. Big Bang
This strategy is sometimes known as the single-step method. The basic principle is that the software is deployed in one big rollout and all users migrate to the new system simultaneously. This means that the configuration and testing of the new system will need to have been thoroughly completed. Moreover, your staff will need to have undergone full training by the date you go live.
- Only one cost as all legacy software systems are removed at the same time.
- Glitches are addressed quickly since everyone comes on board at once.
- User adoption rates will be very high.
- Get all the stress out of the way in one go.
- ROI is immediate because of the rapid deployment.
- Risk of downtime if substantial challenges arrive on launch day.
- Can cause stress and anxiety in staff, who may resist the big change.
- Lots of background work is required for success.
- You may get multiple glitches at the same time.
Big bang deployments are usually best for smaller businesses with only 1 or 2 locations and few employees. With larger organisations, there are too many variables to consider.
2. Phased Rollout
Under this method, features, components and tools are deployed gradually over weeks or months. This enables the company to focus on what works best, learning lessons to apply to subsequent phases. However, it slows the time to get the full benefits of the ERP.
Most organisations start by rolling out core functions and follow up with others one by one. Others deploy features by business unit, such as finance, then logistics, then HR and more. The third option is to phase your rollout by location, testing and perfecting the system in one place before rolling it out at the next.
- Downtime risk is minimal.
- You get plenty of time to acclimatise.
- Glitches can quickly be found and eliminated.
- You can prioritise modules that offer the greatest ROI first.
- Legacy systems can stay in place temporarily as a safety net.
- You retain access to historical data.
- You will be paying simultaneous system fees.
- It takes a long time.
- Staff will not feel so compelled to learn.
- The ROI is slower.
- IT teams will have to maintain 2 systems simultaneously.
- It can get confusing.
Phased implementation has a low risk of catastrophic failure. This means they can be a good option for larger businesses that want minimal impact on customers. If you have specific issues with current systems that need to be addressed first, this method can be ideal.
3. Parallel Adoption
With this strategy, you continue using your legacy systems alongside the new ERP for a predetermined length of time. This is the least risky approach as you can always revert to the old system if problems arise. It’s a reassuring safety net that can be appealing to many.
It makes adoption easier for some because of the gradual approach. But it can be very expensive because you will be running two systems at the same time. There are also risks like the fact that entering data into two different systems doubles the chances of errors occurring.
- The safety net of your legacy system.
- Learning is low-pressure.
- Zero risk of downtime.
- You get time to transition data.
- You also get time to refine processes as required.
- Productivity is lower as people have to work two systems at once.
- The risk of compromised data integrity is higher.
- You will be paying for two systems at once.
- Staff may be reluctant to leave their comfort zones.
- There is potential for confusion.
Parallel deployment can be useful for businesses that cannot afford any downtime. It is also a good option for companies going through mergers or acquisitions since different entities may be using different systems.
This is basically a combination of certain elements of the strategies listed above. For example, you may activate core ERP modules in a big bang approach, then deploy other modules in phases based on your preferred prioritisation method.
- Versatility to make your deployment work for you.
- It’s adaptable, so you can make changes based on budget or other considerations.
- With customisable plans, you can account for the specific risks of your industry.
- You can give yourself space and time to identify your needs.
- It requires a lot more planning.
- You may over-customise your system, which can lead to issues.
- There is a lot to consider and more risk of things going wrong.
- It can drive up big costs.
A hybrid approach can suit any business, but it often comes into its own for businesses with complex needs or those that are rapidly growing. It can also be beneficial for companies in the process of acquisition or merger, providing a little more room to adjust and control the budget.
What should be considered when choosing an ERP implementation strategy?
ERP implementation and deployment should be a joint effort with your software or implementation partner. When choosing the deployment strategy, you should consider factors like:
- Tolerance to risk.
- Size of your company.
- User preferences.
For example, a small business with a small turnover might be less risk averse than a large enterprise turning over hundreds of millions of pounds. With less to lose and the software needing a strong ROI from day one, they might choose to go all in and deploy based on the big bang approach.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to your business, your people and the goals of your ERP investment. This article provides a basic guide, but the best way to succeed is to work with a trustworthy ERP implementation partner.
As ERP experts, here is a round up of some of our more informative articles when it comes to ERP;
- 10 Signs You Might Need ERP Software
- Cloud ERP vs On-Premise ERP Comparison
- ERP Implementation – A Step by Step Guide
- Top Benefits of an ERP System
- The ERP Selection Process Explained
- Building an ERP Implementation Team
- ERP Cost Benefit Analysis
- What is an ERP Consultant?
- Top 10 Tips for a Successful ERP Project
Why choose Eventura as your ERP implementation partner?
Eventura has been providing robust business solutions to countless organisations for over two decades. We are ERP experts and can identify all of your business needs, and deliver a comprehensive ERP solution that works for you.
As Sage 200 Partners and NetSuite Solution Providers, we can help you identify which solution will fit your business needs the best. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We’re also managed IT service providers meaning we can help you identify your entire IT infrastructure requirements from day one. If you would like to speak to one of our ERP experts to discuss your options or request a free demo, you can request a free call back here.