Exactly how does “acceleration” happen? The most important component of acceleration is the re-use of existing and proven processes in legacy systems, as opposed to inveterate reinvention of the wheel.
Speedy, streamlined ERP for the mid-size enterprise? Yes, such beasts do exist! (Part 5)
Typically—naturally!-- workflows, and processes of firms within similar industries a far more alike than different. That means that pre-configured processes can be speedily implemented. For example, an “order to cash” process flow that has been found bulletproof for 1 through 99 consumer packaged goods firms will probably be a perfect fit for Firm 100. Another example: How much will sales order entry differ for a firm that sells machine parts from a firm that sells bicycle parts?
Re-usability requires a client‘s willingness to accept standardized business processes rather than thinking some advantage accrues by bending the software to adapt to custom processes. The more a client accepts this notion, the faster the implementation. Reusability results in huge reductions in business process design and software customization, items that can eat more than half the total budget and schedule. It promotes a higher level of re-usability of scripts, templates, set-up tools, reports, and user documentation.
Another incredibly important trend has been the rise of very specific industry-focused solutions, a product of the thousands of ERP implementations and the capture of best practices within each.
There are five key benefits companies can expect from accelerated implementation methodologies:
- Reduced time and cost
- Less disruption to the client’s existing operations
- Reduced probability of over-engineering
- Go-live much more quickly.
Let’s explore each in more detail, starting with time and cost savings, the traditional gauges of implementation success. An accelerated implementation is first and foremost intended to reduce time to implementation and, as a result, time-to-benefit. In both instances, that should also mean reduced cost.
The scope of cost reduction is not simply a matter of total hours spent but also a matter of the client’s relationship with the system consultant. There are extreme examples of this relationship. At one extreme, the client “owns” the process and actively partners with the systems integrator in order to hasten the go-live stage and knowledge transfer. At the other extreme, the systems integrator completes the implementation with a minimum of client input or collaboration.
In the first scenario, client team members require accelerated knowledge transfer in order to positively contribute to the project. In the second scenario, knowledge transfer to the client comes at the end of the project and they are therefore less “hands on”. Obviously, few projects land at one end of the spectrum or the other, but lie somewhere in between. Very large enterprises (>$5B in annual revenues) tend to take ownership. Small organizations (<$500M) prefer to delegate the process.
In either scenario, however, expect some level of disruption of existing operations in the course of an ERP engagement. Even in instances of complete deferment to the consultant, the client staff must participate in key decision-making, especially in terms of the business processes to be adopted. All in all, however, acceleration reduces disruption, if for no other reason than that it lasts a shorter duration.
Continued in Part 6