Define Your ERP Project with These 3 Tips

If your team is having a difficult time scoping your ERP implementation project, you aren’t the first to experience the problem. Our project management consultants have helped numerous enterprises define their ERP initiatives, and even companies with experienced internal project teams often struggle to scope these high-impact, high-risk efforts.

Your business needs to accomplish many things before you can finalize your ERP initiative’s scope:

  • Bring together a potentially large number of stakeholders
  • Address the needs of a wide variety of functional groups
  • Wrangle numerous data sources within the organization plus any that must flow to or from partners and providers on the outside
  • Coordinate internal experts alongside external resources

This combination of multiple complex factors—which sometimes compete for priority, sponsor support, available talent, and approved budget—creates an environment where simply putting a frame around everything that needs to happen can be hugely challenging.

Defining the scope can be a strenuous undertaking, but driving your ERP project to a successful completion begins with knowing the initiative’s parameters. You can’t confidently move forward into finalizing the project’s timeline or resource requirements until you establish and gain consensus on the scope.

If you’re having trouble completing that step, consider these 3 tips to help you on your way.

Review existing business processes and earmark those you need to revise. There are so many workflows powering your organization’s operations that identifying and documenting all of them can be exhausting. Unfortunately, this is where some teams get stuck. But you can’t skip this step—you need to know how many (and which) processes must be updated, expanded, replaced, or eliminated entirely. To scope your ERP project, bring together those who know the most about the likely effects on existing workflows and have them share their insight. By collaborating with individual departments and functional areas to review their processes, you can launch your project knowing nothing was overlooked and each process was properly vetted for inclusion in (or exclusion from) the project.

Flag new processes that you need to create. Just as an ERP platform implementation requires that you have good awareness of upcoming changes in existing workflows, the need to develop entirely new processes is also a key element of success. Without clarity into the scale and type of workflow creation that must occur, you’ll miss a significant portion of the project’s activity list and your scope will be an estimate at best. As you work with stakeholder groups to identify where new processes will be needed, don’t stop there—you also want to uncover how new workflows will tie in with existing processes. This enables you to build a comprehensive view of what the post-cutover environment should look like. 

Evaluate the need for system customization. There’s a good chance your business processes and operational needs don’t fit exactly into your new ERP platform’s off-the-shelf framework. Most installations require a bit of fine tuning to support each organization’s unique environment and structure. Because you’ll likely need to do some tweaking to get things just right, you can’t fully define the project’s scope without a thorough assessment of the system’s capabilities and the customizations necessary to make it fit your needs. Leverage your technology partners’ expertise to help stakeholders work through the various development efforts that should be part of the project. Support from an experienced project management consultant is also valuable in prioritizing and sequencing activities that are part of the initiative’s scope. This is important to ensure that critical path tasks don’t fall through the cracks and that core activities are completed in time for the go-live date.

PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project portfolio management.

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