Applying an ERP tailored methodology

There are no hundred different ways to structure an ERP implementation project. As a matter of fact, most of the known and applied methodologies are al based on the same basic approach.

An example of the different phases an average ERP implementation should follow, in other words the project Life Cycle or PLC, could look like this:

  1. There is always a pre-project phase where typically the business case is prepared and a formal agreement is given to start the project
  2. Secondly, there is a definition phase where the scope is clearly defined and agreed upon. The different plans, strategies and approaches are clear (e.g. high level project plan, governance model, training strategy, data migration strategy, change management approach,...)
  3. Only when this is finalized and agreed, the real project work can start with the analysis, the design and finally developing the solution.
  4. Transition to the new system is prepared and executed (testing, training, cut-over, stabilization…). Finally the project is formally closed. Try to structure your project along those phases.

A good practice is to group task and activities (work packages) that are dealing with the same topic into tracks. E.g. you could have a project management track, a change management track, a business track, a technical track, a data migration track, …… For each phase/sub-phase and track you then define the different deliverables that need to be produced.

In general there a number of ground rules that you need to follow :

  • Phases can not be skipped
  • A new phase or step can only start if the previous is finished.
  • Clearly define the conditions to determine when a phase, step or activity is finished
  • Do never forget to monitor & control scope, planning, budget AND quality of the deliverables
  • Plan – Do – Check – Act : change, adapt, modify where and when necessary

Have an experienced (external) ERP Project Manager

It may sound obvious, but you need to have a project manager with real ERP experience. Since an ERP implementation project is essentially a business project and not an IT project, assigning an IT (project) manager is not a good plan. Ideally he/she should combine business knowledge and mindset with a sufficient IT background and a deep ERP competence. The project manager must know where the typical ERP pitfalls and risks are and how to deal with them. Next to this he/she should know how deal with the other parties involved such as software vendors and system integrators.

Why external?

Most organizations do not have internal project managers available that are able to manage such a project and that have sufficient ERP experience. If this is the case, it might be a smart move to hire an external ERP project manager to do the job. Besides the ERP & PM skills, an external PM can make better, and more objective decisions. He/she is not contaminated with the company history and does not have to be worried about his/her future career. Moreover, an external ERP project manager will be more focused, this is what he/she does for a living. There are no other responsibilities, roles or activities that could require his/her attention.

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Kris Meyfroot
ERP sr. consultant

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