For most companies, an ERP implementation is a critical strategic project. These efforts often have a significant financial cost associated with them and they commonly impact a number of systems, processes, and workflows within the company. ERP initiatives may also involve establishing connections to platforms in partner organizations to move information between separate entities more efficiently and accurately. Because they have such a broad reach across multiple business areas, ERP projects bring the potential to cause widespread disruption to operations if they aren’t carefully planned and well executed.
Setting the proper scope for your ERP system implementation is a key ingredient in your project’s success and missing or misjudging the elements within that scope could lead to project failure.
There are some important components that help to define an ERP initiative’s scope, and you need to be sure you address each of them as you plan your project.
What are your integration needs? Some systems within your existing infrastructure will connect to your ERP platform, either to flow data into the new solution or to pull data out to other systems for additional processing and further use. Depending on the technology you’ve chosen, you may also be gaining a centralized dashboard to view metrics and other insight across multiple other systems. It’s paramount that your project’s scope includes making all those pieces fit together and ensuring the necessary information is available for review and analysis once the project is complete.
What do your current processes and workflows look like? It’s vital that you map how things are happening today so you can be sure to capture the elements within the project’s scope that need to be replicated, improved, reworked, or removed as the ERP system is blended into your technology stack. Companies are sometimes tempted to use existing SOP documentation to map workflows, but this can contribute to serious gaps and errors. To be sure you aren’t missing variances within workflows that may occur or other issues that aren’t fully reflected in the official records, it’s important to include end users and other frontline stakeholders in your planning efforts. They’re an excellent source of information when it comes to understanding how things work today.
What are your existing and planned data sources? You need to be clear on where you’re getting information from currently and how it’s coming to you. Are you pulling it directly from another system? Are you receiving it as a push? Is data transmitted as it’s generated or is it transferred in batches? You should also identify and document where data streams originate, since some may be from within your own organization while others are likely external, such as suppliers and collaborators. The implementation of an ERP platform may enable you to take advantage of new data sources, too, so define a scope that encompasses coordinating with those partners to ensure you’re ready to receive their information and have a process in place to make use of it.
What are end users’ requirements and expectations? You can’t optimize your new ERP solution if you don’t have a thorough understanding of how end users will interact with the platform and what they’ll need once the system goes live. Integrations with other systems will likely change how they accomplish their tasks. When users execute activities, the results may look different than what everyone is accustomed to seeing in your current environment. Ensuring that end users know how they’ll be affected by these changes gives them an opportunity to identify potential conflicts or gaps. You can then include any necessary work to address these issues within the project’s scope.