ERP system implementations
An ERP system is an IT solution designed to integrate all business processes within a company. By creating the right environment, it assists companies in the smooth management of their business areas, such as fixed assets, sales, production, finance and accounting, or warehousing or project. The introduction of a solution that fully meets the specific management needs of a company, ensuring flexibility in implementing modifications, if necessary, may or may not prove to be an expensive investment. That is why, to be sure that the choice you made was the right one and to minimize your own expenses, invest in a proven solution.
How to select an ERP system and an implementation partner?
Let’s just start by highlighting a special feature of ERP systems, which is flexibility of customization. When it comes to meeting business requirements of your organization, users have enormous freedom of choice. They can take a comprehensive approach to implementing changes or do it gradually, conducting activities tailored to industry demands or adopted business model at the same time.
With the flexibility mentioned above, it is easy to choose the right time to start the investment. The most appropriate time is the time of company’s dynamic growth, product or service range extension, increase in the number of customers of new employees, and, often, when all these elements happen at the same time. In such a case, you may decide to change the existing tools and simple software to more complex solutions. This concerns in the first place the majority of smaller companies using systems with relatively low performance in their daily work.Such systems may bring more losses than benefits. When they are no longer sufficient, a modern investment such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central must be taken into consideration.
It is the right time to introduce MICROSOFT DYNAMICS 365 BUSINESS CENTRAL, if:
The currently used system restricts the freedom of action
This problem may occur when employees must use data stored in different programs. Retrieving and sending back information to multiple separate tools may lead to mistakes. What’s more, the diversity of systems means that users employed in one department cannot share or combine data from other departments.
Then, the problem with the system usage may occur. The system becomes overloaded as ERP administrators enter program combinations, which leads to decreased efficiency.
It may also be the case that company owners decide to start a new business and databases from both locations must be combined.
We keep striving for growth that can be actually seen
Extension of a range of products and services, increased employment, acquisition of new customers and challenging orders – these are the factors in favor of shifting away from legacy software and investing in integrated ERP systems.
We like order as it is the starting point in effective management
o manage effectively, we need access to transparent data regarding business activity and customers. A problem may occur when all gathered information is stored in several systems and accessing it is hindered. This may lead to difficulties in strategic planning.
What happens before Dynamics 365 Business Central implementation?
1. Company and industry profile
Company characteristics are the rationale for the planned project as well as a marker and reference point for software providers. They can acquire a better understanding of the specific nature of everyday business activity and implemented business processes. Company and industry profile determines the choice of the software provider and the solution functionalities.
2. Project team
ERP implementation requires ongoing management and appointing persons responsible for cooperation with solution providers. A project team, according to many experts, should consist of both – company’s employees and external entities. Employees are well familiar with their organization’s business activity but they may lack experience in project management, especially complex and costly ERP software implementations.
Smooth project execution should be mainly based on the involvement and approval of the management throughout the entire investment period – both at the preparation stage and during implementation works. It is a way to avoid delays and possible failure.
3. Looking for an ERP system and system provider
After drawing up a vision and setting up a project team, it is time to choose ERP software and solution provider. Do not rely on lists of recommended companies presented in reports available on the market as these recommendations are usually paid advertisements.
How, then, find the right ERP system? Finding the right solution may take some time. Start by searching the results online by typing the most popular phrases such as “ERP system”, “ERP software” or a specific name (e.g. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central), if you already have your favorite.
Additional solutions can be used to create a list of software solutions and implementation service providers. To estimate costs, use the ERP system calculator that is sometimes made available on companies’ websites. You can also consult an expert who will assess your company’s needs based on information regarding its business profile, number of branches of employees.
4. Implementation methodology
Managers often seem to forget how relevant choosing the right ERP implementation methodology is. With such a large investment as ERP software implementation, it is of pivotal importance to select the proper methodology. When looking for the right implementation partner, focus only on those candidates who use a proven methodology as it has direct impact on time consumption, costs and customer satisfaction. For the benefit of your own business, it’s safer to exclude companies not following this practice.
A competent co-worker should have relevant project experience supported by a proven business model. The methodology facilitates effective process implementation by offering a set of tools, principles and good practices. In implementations of ERP systems the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology, designed by Microsoft, is adopted. The methodology was developed as a result of experience gained by Microsoft consultants and partners, in compliance with effective and proven procedures adopted to optimize ERP software system investment.
Good methodology combined with the involvement of all persons concerned is connected with:
- cost reduction,
- increased implementation efficiency,
- shorter work time.
5. Partner selection
The right implementation partner is the one that is reliable, trustworthy, competent and experienced. Before making the final decision, review thoroughly websites of your potential project partners to check their existing customers, case studies and logotypes. Feel free to ask for a reference list in case prospective partners haven’t published the complete list of brands they cooperated with. If, ,during the analysis, you notice companies from the same industry, it will definitely be an asset, helping raise awareness of specific needs of customers.
You can also contact directly individual companies from the list and talk to persons responsible for project coordination. Bear in mind that it is a subjective evaluation. In case of a negative assessment, try to find out more about the causes of misunderstanding and unfavorable reviews.
If you happen to reach a company with a similar business profile as yours, explore the goals that motivated company owners to implement the new system and check whether these objectives were achieved. Results obtained by a previous customer may be an argument supporting the choice of a specific partner. Numerous ERP software providers are recognized by manufacturers for visible outcomes and quality of implementation projects. These are reliable ratings as software developers attach great importance to them.
Microsoft statuses awarded annually to best partners and membership in closed groups are examples of such distinctions. In the public perception, these are a special proof of recognition.
6. Making the decision and implementation start
After selecting the solution provider and ERP software, which is the most compatible with the company’s business profile, it is time to discuss the final costs of the license, possible modifications and the implementation process itself. However, finance shouldn’t be the main decision factor.
Implementation of a cheaper solution, in such a complex process, entails a high risk of irregularities – resulting in higher expenses due to losses. It does not exclude the possibility of negotiations, however, they should be carried out with good judgment and common sense. A high quality of service and a first-class ERP system involve costs much higher than those of a second-rate solution.
After signing the contract, it is time to take first steps towards the implementation project, in compliance with the adopted methodology.
Investement in implementation and maintenance
Installation of cloud-based ERP software entails lower implementation and maintenance costs as companies avoid costs related to the management of infrastructure and searching for new technological solutions. Cloud-based installations are extremely profitable especially for small and mid-sized businesses. When managing a large company, it is crucial to make a thorough analysis of requirements so that the choice of a cloud deployment, in the long run, proves successful.
Tailoring functionality to business needs
When it comes to expanding the functionality with new tools and solutions, there are no major differences between the cloud and the classic deployment models. Currently, most ERP software and implementation services providers offer tools that enable simple and effective integration of the system and additional solutions. In this case, the method of deploying the system is not relevant.
Check the ERP implementation cost
ERP methodology – implementation stages
Methodology is an essential element of a successful ERP implementation project, including tools, principles and good practices that were developed based on many years of experience of Microsoft experts and partners. It encompasses procedures with proven effectiveness, impacting the quality, finance and speed of implementation.
An example of methodology adopted in implementations of our business software is Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step, developed in 2007. It is the result of experience gained during implementation projects carried out in different parts of the world and it was developed by Microsoft experts as a collection of templates and tools to streamline the implementation process. The methodology is dedicated to 5 project types – Standard, Rapid, Enterprise, Agile and Upgrade – different in terms of terms of scope and complexity. However, each of them comprises the same – 6 stages: Diagnosis, Analysis, Design, Development, Deployment and Operation.
It should be noted that Diagnosis is actually a pre-implementation phase as it is aimed at identifying an ERP solution that is the most compatible with customer’s business needs.
It is the beginning of the system implementation in the company and it is of fundamental importance, as it enables users to prepare for action, set out specific tasks and project schedule. The phase is initiated with a Kick-Off meeting held by project teams for the customer and implementation partner. By taking part in special workshops, employees can prepare process models and identify all business needs in a document – A list of processes within the system – a starting point for Gap-Fit document. Gap-Fit document provides information about two types of elements – those included in the basic ERP
version and the ones that require software and additional modelling. The third and most important document developed during the Analysis phase is the Project Charter including the schedule of works, individual stages, project deliverables and budgets. The result of the stage is also the development of other documents such as Project Plan, Issue Log and Data Migration List.
In this phase, the implementation partner is working on the development of the project design based on previously defined customer’s business requirements. Then, testing environments are created to customize the software to meet specific user needs. Ultimately, the document called Solution Concept is designed. Moreover, an implementation team is set up and specification of processes for implementation of individual solutions is prepared. At the end, the Functional Test Worksheet is developed.
The objective of this stage is to develop and test software components that were specified and approved during pre-implementation works. The phase is also aimed at the development of necessary features and interfaces as well as specification of test data migration processes. The result of these activities is fully configured system. Additionally, modification codes are listed. The culmination point of this phase is performance of acceptance tests in close cooperation with key project team members on the company’s part.
During system go-live all company’s data and processes are imported into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central database. End users are trained on the new software and project teams – both on the implementation partner’s and customer’s part – carry out final tests and approve Go-Live Checklist. All data is moved to the production ERP software version. The Deployment necessitates the creation of relevant documentation such as Checklist.
After months of work, we are reaching the final line. However, it doesn’t mean that the customer is left on his own. The software provider shares his knowledge, instructs and supports the customer by giving necessary information to the company and the support team. The investment is closed with a project quality audit.
CROSS PHASE PROCESSES
Cross phase processes refer to a group of activities performed at several implementation stages. These activities run in parallel to individual phases so that each team member knows his role, the scope of responsibilities and other co-workers to cooperate with.
Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology assumes 9 cross phase processes divided into 3 categories:
Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step ensures pro-active approach to optimization and involves: review and evaluation of the infrastructure and project, review and evaluation of modifications and efficiency as well as project management and tests of the delivered solution and system upgrade. During project execution it is possible to make use of some or all these procedures.