As an organization expands, so does its need for better and more advanced capabilities. At some point, every growing organization will inevitably adopt a new enterprise resource planning system in order to streamline operations and improve efficiency.
ERP is the acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning and is a major endeavor for any business organization. In addition to the significant monetary investment and maintenance it entails, there are also costs in terms of dedicated resources and time. Therefore, before initiating any ERP project within a company, it is essential to ensure that the entire organization knows and understands the strategy and reasons for the move.
The number one determinant of whether an ERP system succeeds or fails in the long term is the quality of its implementation. If done right, a company is more likely to get a better return on investment (ROI) in much less time. On the other hand, if implementation is poorly planned and executed, a company will likely waste a lot of money and time without ever fully benefiting from the many advantages an ERP system offers.
What is ERP implementation?
ERP implementation describes the process in which a company strives to unify all business functions with the help of the ERP software package. To meet specific industry requirements or unique business processes, a custom ERP solution may be required. The implementation phase also involves testing the ERP software and training employees to use the new system.
Testing data, processes and functions before launching the ERP system is essential to reduce the risk of errors after the system is deployed.
Phase 1 of ERP system implementation: Diagnostic and Analysis
This phase aims to examine all critical elements for carrying out the project as well as to define the responsibilities/activities required for project initiation and sustainability.
The main objectives of this phase of the project include:
- Creating and approving the project charter and plan
- Participating in the project kick-off meeting
- Documenting and approving functional requirements
- Project charter
- Project plan
- Risk and issue log
- Functional requirements document
- Gap analysis spreadsheet
The analysis phase begins with project kick-off meetings designed to provide stakeholders with an overview of the project's vision, scope, objectives, key performance indicators and benefits. After the project launch, the project planning team finalizes the project charter and plan.
During the analysis phase, gathering input and documenting the client’s business requirements are activities to be undertaken when implementing Microsoft Dynamics. These requirements are documented in the FRD document, which is an input to the Fit Gap workshop.
Next, the training team presents the solution and records the training requirements, while the consulting team records the data migration requirements. The technology team gathers input about the non-functional requirements, assesses the infrastructure, and provides recommendations on environment configuration.
Once the requirements are documented, they are analyzed and reviewed with the client for final approval. This forms the basis of the implementation scope.
Phase 2 of ERP system implementation: Design
This step consists of developing the design documents, finalizing the data migration design, and establishing test criteria.
The primary objective of this phase is to define how business requirements will be implemented. For upgrade projects, the objective of the design phase is to define how the technical upgrade will be implemented.
Specific objectives of the design phase include, but are not limited to:
- Setting up the project team
- Configuring the Microsoft Dynamics solution
- Documenting adjustments - configurations in the functional design document
- Specifying functional design specifications for each system modification
- Functional design specifications and mapping for integration and interfaces in the FDD, and development of the integration and interface plan
- Functional design specifications and mapping for data migration in the FDD and development of a data migration plan
- Technical design documents for gaps based on client-approved functional designs
- Project team setup
- Functional design documents
- Functional design documents for requirements identified as gaps
- Functional design documents for integration and interface requirements
- Functional design documents for data migration requirements
- Technical design documents
- Solution design document
For new implementation projects, the design phase builds on the previous analysis phase with focus on the deliverables. It ends with the completion of the solution design document, functional design document and technical design documents. Client sign-off is obtained on all design elements and final estimates, and the development phase can then begin.
Phase 3 of ERP system implementation: Development
This stage is dedicated to finalizing the configurations and setup of the standard solution, to developing and finalizing the custom code required to support the solution, and to creating the user training documentation.
The purpose of the development phase is to execute the application upgrade process. It also includes system testing to ensure that the application and data upgrade to the new version of Microsoft Dynamics has been completed successfully. Performance benchmarks are reviewed to determine the resources needed to support the new benchmarks for the upgraded data.
- Training materials
- Final business process models
- Final system configuration
- Final development of custom code
- Solution testing (process, integration, and data acceptance)
- Specification of the final production environment
- Final integration and interface code development
- Final development of the data migration code
The development phase involves ongoing project management activities to manage risks and issues, communications, change requests and updates to the project plan. In addition, the deployment plan initiated during the design phase should be updated as part of the project planning activities. At this point, training materials are completed and presented to the client for review.
Next, the consulting team completes the security role configuration and the required configurations based on the design. The infrastructure team completes and provides the client with the production environment specification document, so that the client can start the procurement process for the required hardware and software components.
Finally, the quality of all deliverables produced during this phase is verified and the client's quality requirements are met.
Phase 4 of ERP system implementation: Deployment
This phase unites all the project team’s efforts for a successful transition to the new Microsoft Dynamics solution.
- Configuring the production environment
- Migrating data to the production environment
- Performing a system user acceptance test
- Training users and finalizing user documentation
- Conducting a system go-live check and promoting the system to production
- Final user training
- User acceptance test results
- Final data migration (excluding upgrade projects)
- Final go-live checklist
- Production environment
- Production migration
The deployment phase for new Dynamics implementations involves ongoing project management activities. The operations phase includes the final activities required for closing out the project and transferring the solution as well as knowledge to the client. The deployment plan initiated during the design phase is finalized with the consulting and project teams.
The training team then finalizes the training materials and conducts training sessions for users. For corporate projects, performance testing is complete. The infrastructure and technical teams prepare the production environment for the failover tasks as part of go-live. Required configurations and adjustments can be made here.
Phase 5 of ERP system implementation: Testing
This stage defines the activities required to close out the project, provides post go-live support and ensures that the solution and knowledge are transferred to the client.
- Providing post go-live support
- Putting the transition solution into operation
- Conducting a final quality audit and closing out the project
- Project closure report
- Final delivery of all project deliverables to the client
- Documented lessons learned
The program management team prepares final invoices, lessons learned, project closure report and prepares for the official project closeout meeting. They also prepare a file with all project deliverables and their acceptance forms. These documents are reviewed with the client for final approval.
The functional and technical teams help resolve pending issues resulting from deployment. At this stage, support teams are also involved in troubleshooting to ensure a smooth transition of the solution to the client and to support.
All remaining knowledge transfer elements that were not covered in the previous phases are completed here. Once the support activities are completed, the team completes all necessary logistical activities and obtains final project approval.
Implementing an ERP system with Gestisoft
We have also come up with a list of key factors for successful ERP implementation.
This list is a result of our many years of experience in the field and serves as a reference for each project. So, take advantage of it yourself! You will surely find it to be an invaluable tool, and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have!
Our team helps Quebec companies in their digital transformation through Microsoft ERP and CRM applications. Our role is to identify the ways in which these solutions can effectively expand your business. From manufacturing to sales management, our experts will find out how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can accelerate your success.