Preparing the success for a pending ERP implementation is the first step you can take to be successful throughout the whole process. There is rarely a “perfect” ERP implementation, but careful planning and understanding the steps of an implementation increases the chances of a successful implementation that fits your budget and timeline.

Implementing an ERP solution consists of stakeholders working together to a common goal of business success, working with vendors through each phase of implementation with tasks and checklists to complete. These undertakings may be intimidating, but the checklist below can help you avoid delays.

What are the steps in ERP implementations?

No ERP implementation is the same, however, they follow similar strategies and phases to get organizations through post-purchase to using a new solution. Each segment has its own set of steps they follow to transition the purchase of the solution to be used as a business tool for continued success.

Steps in an ERP implementation roll up into larger segments of engage, drive, enable and convert. Granted, the individual implementation challenges and stages for your implementation plan and checklist will vary depending upon the ERP platform you choose, but it helps to think of the steps as falling into these buckets.

Engage

Engaging with teams is the first step in an implementation strategy. This is where the ERP project teams consisting of project managers, engineers, and management are established, kick-off calls are set and project budgets, timelines and change management plans are finalized.

Drive

This stage consists of building actionable plans for the future deployment of the ERP solution. Customizations may be required and may need to be developed—70% of respondents need either some or significant ERP customization. This is also the time to plan for provisioning cloud-based applications or licenses and develop a training plan.

Enable

The objectives in this stage revolve around preparations for the go-live event, migrating critical data and putting the plans developed in the Drive stage into action: training, installation, and solution testing.

Convert

The final step in an ERP implementation is basically flipping the switch. Businesses complete final data migrations before the go-live date and transfer ownership of the systems to the customer.

What are the elements of a good implementation plan?

Any efficient ERP implementation plan requires a roadmap, which often comes in the form of a checklist of tasks that helps keep the project plan moving along, from pre-implementation activities like research and requirements building to final implementation phases like maintenance and support.

Both the customer and vendor need to work through the checklist elements to ensure that the ERP implementation runs smoothly and gets the organization up and running efficiently.

ERP Implementation Checklist

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Research

  • Engage with vendor and organization to start post-purchase actives.
  • Develop an ERP implementation project team post-purchase.
  • Document and examine the current condition of business processes to identify common problems and unnecessary efforts.
  • Set up kickoff calls and recurring project meetings.
  • Initiate project plan development by setting specific goals and objectives for the ERP implementation.
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Requirements

  • Finalize the project plan with the ERP project team.
  • Confirm implementation readiness with signoff of the project plan by the project team and steering committee.
  • Develop a data migration strategy to ensure that data is clean and usable for the new ERP solution.
  • Develop a backup and business continuity strategy for data.
  • Develop user enablement strategy for the training of all users and user groups.
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Installation

  • Initiate ERP installation of solution pertinent to the new business process developed through planning activities.
  • Initiate migration of preliminary static data.
  • If needed, prepare hardware and hosting infrastructure and develop plans for data flows between departments.
  • Finalize the installation of software and customizations.
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Migration

  • Review the accuracy of data being migrated, ensure that data is up to date and clean without duplicates or errors.
  • Initiate data mapping so that data can flow freely between departments and business segments for pending testing and go-live tasks.
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Testing

  • Initiate tests for all interfaces with user data to provide a clear understanding of processes.
  • Validate the acceptance of business processes to ensure all functions and user groups are running as planned.
  • Troubleshoot any unforeseen instances of errors that originate through testing of infrastructure and solution.
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Training

  • Conduct end-user training based off of training plans outlined in the change management plan.
  • Conduct customer transition meeting with the vendor after the training to encourage adoption and ownership.
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Deployment

  • Prepare for go-live event with final process walkthroughs.
  • Configure any additional components and conduct a cutover meeting for go-live.
  • Transition ownership of systems from the vendor with a go-live event.
  • Post-go-live follow up training should be conducted to ensure full user adoption of the new systems.
  • Project closeout meeting to be conducted post-go-live to pass off to post-implementation support teams.
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Support

  • Transition project to closeout with support teams and transition to the post-implementation support teams.
  • Maintain ongoing maintenance and support of software through users and user training.
  • Post-implementation steps begin with evaluating the project through KPI improvements.

How long does an ERP implementation take?

ERP deployments are major projects requiring time and resources to ensure the new platform creates success. Depending on the type or complexity of the solution, there is no set timeframe. Because an ERP system is not one-size-fits-all, implementation time frames can be as little as 30 days to more than a year to complete.

In a survey on ERP implementation, midsize companies with $100 million to $250 million in revenue had the fastest implementations at 6.6 months. Very large companies, over $25 billion in revenue, took the longest at 12.4 months. You can increase the changes of a smoother implementation by focusing on internal organizational elements like support from management, good change management programs and due diligence—companies going over their project timeline cited expansion of project scope as the main issue.

Another factor is whether you plan to implement an on-premise ERP solution or a cloud-based solution. On-premises implementations tend to take longer, as you’ll need to procure the right space and hardware for the IT infrastructure and establish a team to manage it. For cloud solutions, vendors host all hardware and your company jump begin installing and migrating data to the new solution sooner.