• Michael Intravartolo

Three Things Not to Do (And One to Do) When Planning for ERP


When planning an ERP implementation, it is important to get the schedule right – or nearly as right as possible. While every project is subject to schedule slips and glitches, you need to make sure you budget enough time for all the activities.

This is likely to produce a number that will make you swallow your gum when you add it all up. Don't be dismayed, and don't go through trying to find places you can shave time off the schedule. Implementing ERP takes time and that's simply a fact of life.

Here are three areas where you'll be tempted to trim the schedule, but shouldn't:

Skimp On Pre-Planning

In some ways the pre-planning stage is the most important part of ERP planning. Here is where you outline your project and make crucial decisions about scope and method.

Cutting corners here can doom your entire project before it ever fairly gets off the ground. Insufficient planning is one of the most common causes of ERP project failure.

Even if it doesn't kill the project, not thoroughly planning the project can lead to confusion and conflict down the road and a lot of wasted effort and expense.

Cut Testing Short For Time Reasons

Testing takes as long as it takes and adequate testing is vital for any ERP implementation.

There's a tendency to try to make up for schedule overruns by cutting short the testing phase, or worse yet, not allowing enough time for testing in the planning stage.

This is a mistake and it almost always comes back to bite you. No matter how much or how little time you schedule for testing, adequate testing takes the same amount of time and inadequate testing leads to bigger problems. Remember healthcare.gov.

Don't Allow Enough Time For Training

Training is another area which is often skimped on. Again, this is a mistake that comes back to bite you.

Make sure all your people have the training they need to do their jobs. This isn't measured just by hours in the classroom. Proficiency is more important than time served.

Trained people are the third leg of the stool that supports a successful ERP effort. You need technology, business process re-engineering and trained people to make an ERP implementation work. Because the degree of proficiency of your staff isn't as obvious during the implementation as technology and business process re-engineering, it's easy to overlook the need for sufficient training. Don't.

Do Schedule Realistically

Make sure your implementation schedule is realistic. Optimism is wonderful, but don't stake the whole project on optimistic estimates. If you do, you're going to face schedule overruns and mounting expenses. Worse, a too-tight schedule increases the temptation to skimp on important parts of the implementation to meet those optimistic deadlines.

Be especially careful to allow enough time for testing, business process reengineering, training and other non-IT parts of the project. These areas are traditionally harder to estimate and are often victims of over-optimistic scheduling.

One place to go for help on scheduling estimates is your implementation consultant or vendor. These sources have (or should have) enough experience in implementing projects to give you realistic, reasonable estimates on how long the various phases of the project will take.

Don't balk at their advice because the time frames seem long. Instead accept it as realistic and incorporate it into your proposed schedule.

It's important that the schedule for the project be realistic from the very beginning. Also understand that even the most reasonable schedule is likely to be subject to overruns. The important thing is to keep those overruns to a minimum.

Solution Sytems, Inc. has been providing ERP software solutions for more than 35 years.

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