Contemporary ERP software may offer a wide array of functions that may alleviate the entire working process. Therefore, it is not surprising that such systems are now actively used in various companies, regardless of size or branch of activity. The right software will help to correctly allocate the available resources, optimize the workflows, perform control over the expenses and many more. But taking advantage of all these opportunities becomes possible only after the process of ERP system implementation which consists of a certain number of steps and therefore requires a period of time. Below we will discuss the main phases of ERP implementation and describe the details related to each step.
Essence of ERP System Implementation
ERP system is not a consumer-facing application which requires downloading and installation for its immediate use. The implementation process is much more time and effort-consuming due to the variety of functions it supports, including financial management, human resources, warehouse management, sales and supply chain management etc, which also presupposes the involvement of different departments and constant interaction between them. That is why ERP system implementation includes such processes as planning, configuring, deploying, and each action should be taken carefully, with an eye out for the company’s capabilities and available resources.
Phase #1: Discovery & Planning
Each and every project starts from planning activities and involvement of various specialists possessing the different expertise. When you initiate the implementation of an ERP system in your business, you need to formulate the list of requirements to the system, define the functions you want it to possess and of course determine the goals you want to reach using the software. Another important step is to undertake the research of the existing off-the-shelf ERP solutions on the market, and also companies offering custom ERP software development services.
These actions are vitally important to determine the direction of the following ERP system implementation steps. One of the most important solutions which should be taken on the phase of planning – is to decide on the infrastructure your application will be based on: on-premise or cloud. If you are inclined to choose in favour of on-premise infrastructure, it’s important to keep in mind that you will have to care about all necessary hardware and further system installation. If cloud-based infrastructure seems to be a more attractive alternative, you do not have to worry about purchasing the required hardware, but it will be necessary to choose the most appropriate model that would meet all your demands.
Afterwards, you will be able to correlate the gained information with the needs of your company, and the picture will become a little bit clearer.
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Phase #2: Design
When the requirements are defined and goals determined, it’s time to get down to the UI/UX design of the future software. This step is no less important than planning. During the design phase, project and implementation teams closely interact to elaborate appropriate configurations for the new system. It is also important to involve those who will specifically use the system as they are the most aware of the business processes they work with, and therefore can provide the most valuable feedback. Teams working on the design of the software, take into account and document all the comments and suggestions given by users, and on their basis create a prototype which provides a visual representation of how the application will look like and how it will function after launch.
Phase #3: Development
When the preparatory work is finished, the development phase of ERP implementation begins. This step includes many activities, in addition to the code writing. In case the company already has a software which is actively used, it is necessary to integrate it with the new ERP system. For successful integration, it’s necessary to proceed with the list of settings and configurations so the entire system could function flawlessly as a single entity.
If the software is planned to be deployed on an on-premise server, this stage implies purchasing of the required hardware and tailoring the system for the deployment on the local server. If during the planning stage you decide that your software must be deployed on the cloud server, you need to adapt it and configure it in accordance with the chosen cloud service model.
But even here the development stage is not finished. An important thing to do is to prepare a detailed plan for data migration, which involves extracting and transferring data from other systems used by the company to a new one.
Also, as the company’s employees need to adjust to the new software, the project team’s responsibility is to create training materials to alleviate the process of further training.
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Phase #4: Testing
Testing is an obligatory phase when we speak about the adoption of the new software. This step is an inseparable part of the ERP implementation process, as owing to it the team has an opportunity to “polish” the system and make sure that it would function as initially planned, in compliance with the requirements defined at the planning stage. To ensure the reliability of the newly developed ERP system, testing may occur concomitantly with the development process. For instance, one module can be tested while another is still being developed. Such an approach helps to detect malfunctions progressively and fix them right away. During the testing phase the system gains the final approval before it goes live and users start actively utilizing it.
Phase #5: Deployment
Well, the hour has come for the ERP system to go live. This deployment phase implies the installation of the developed application on a server, local or cloud, depending on the option you have chosen. When the ERP system is being deployed, the team proceeds with all necessary settings and configurations required by the environment. During the deployment phase, the process of data migration also takes place, not to lose the essential information stored in other applications used by the company.
Phase #6: Maintenance
After the deployment work on the application is still far from the end. The next and continuous step of ERP software implementation is its further maintenance and support. It is better not to overlook the maintenance step as it helps to ensure that the developed and successfully deployed application complies with the initially set business goals and through its use the company gains the expected benefits.
As a rule, all the applications become obsolete over time, some features become outdated, some, instead need to be added. The period of maintenance implies updating the software in accordance with the feedback provided by the users throughout its operation. Another significant nuance is that your business may grow and expand, which also should be taken into account, and in this case it will be impossible to make do without appropriate configuration changes to set up the scalability accordingly.
The process of ERP system implementation can hardly be called easy and hassle-free. It can be perceived as a chain, where each link is important and can not be removed. Each step of implementation is essential and can not be skipped if you intend to reach the best possible result.
If you want to take the initial steps forward to the EPR system implementation but have no idea where to start, please contact us, our experts will assist with pleasure.