Cloud ERP Implementation Project Phases and Their Impact on Success
There’s an awful lot written about cloud ERP implementation these days. Perhaps that’s because over 60% of companies have already or are in the process of migrating ERP to the cloud. Many discussions hinge on steps to successful cloud ERP implementation and we’ve shared our tips on this topic, too.
But somewhere lost among the steps, lists, and checklist is a discussion of project phases and their impact on the success of cloud ERP implementation. While you may wish that migrating to cloud ERP is as easy as plugging in a computer, in fact, there are several project phases that must be completed successfully before the full software suite can be launched. Skipping any of these steps, working with someone not versed in Acumatica project management, or not doing the right kind of work in the step, can lead to poor execution of the final cloud ERP software.
In this article, we’ll share with you the main project phases of cloud ERP implementation. Then, we’ll talk about a few examples of how—when they are done correctly—they can make a positive impact on the success of the company post-launch.
7 Project Phases of Cloud ERP Implementation
There are seven phases to cloud ERP implementation. These phases include:
- Discovery and planning
- System design
- Data management and migration
- Post-launch support
Phase 1: Discovery and Planning
Once a company has chosen their cloud ERP system, the next step is the discovery and planning phase. Companies should form their project planning team, requesting participants from among all departments. This team will be responsible for collecting feedback from each department and ensuring the new system meets their needs.
The discovery phase also includes creating a list of features the new system must have. Part of the work done before selecting a vendor can be used during this phase with refinement. For example, if you have a checklist of “must have” features that led you to choose Acumatica over its competitors, you already know Acumatica can handle the “must haves.” Now, it’s up to the project team to refine the requirements further.
The ERP team should also create a plan with milestones and dates for each phase of the project. Working with their ERP reseller, the team now has a roadmap that will help guide the project to completion.
Phase 2: System Design
Here’s where the project gets into the nitty gritty details of the system itself. Taking the requirements developed from Phase 1 of the project, the team works with their reseller to design the system itself.
Every common workflow that will now be handled by the ERP should be documented and mapped out so it can be programmed into the system. It’s critical that people who are involved in each workflow help craft and design it to ensure it is accurate.
This is also the project phase in which you can begin creating training materials. By documenting the workflows, you have a great start and can document training materials, too, showing people how to accomplish the same workflows in the new system.
Phase 3: Data Management and Migration
Next, work with the data resources you already have. You may need to build a data dictionary to define key data elements and to ensure consistency in the new database. Data should be cleansed, with duplicates removed. External vendors may need to be found to run merge/purge and suppression programs on existing data files or to update mailing addresses and phone numbers.
Some duplicate data must be analyzed manually. This is unavoidable, especially when duplicates are very close. For example, JFK High School, J. Kennedy High School, and John Kennedy High School may be the same institution, but it’s not possible for a computer to analyze and decide which is the preferred address. A good data company can flag such close duplicates for manual review to prevent mistakes porting over into the new database.
When you are satisfied the data has been scrubbed, it can be migrated into the new system.
Phase 4: Testing
Now that the system workflows have been documented and created, and the data moved into the new cloud ERP system, it is time for testing. This is the software equivalent of “kicking the tires” and taking it out for a test drive, so let departments test and use all the new features.
Make sure that during the testing phase, you log any glitches or problems and talk to your software vendor about how to fix them. Note gaps, too, in the processes, if any, and take steps to close these gaps before implementation and launch.
Phase 5: Deployment
The big day is here—it’s time for deployment! The go-live date is one to celebrate. You can schedule the go-live date after configuration, data migration, and testing are complete in the new system.
Some companies ease their teams into the new cloud ERP system while others “flip the switch” and immediately ask everyone to use the new system. Be patient with yourself and with others as everyone works through the learning curve and gets used to the new system.
Phase 6: Post-Launch Support
A good cloud ERP reseller will keep in close touch post-launch to ensure you have the training and ongoing support you need. Specific training sessions should be held to ease everyone into using the new system. Decide who among each team will be the “super user” who will become the in-house expert on the new system and who can receive advanced training from the software reseller.
Phase 7: Updates
Your cloud ERP system will automatically update its software, but you should also take note of updates and enhancements to the system’s features. ERP vendors are always looking for ways to improve their software. Some have specific feedback mechanisms in place so companies can voice their needs directly or through the reseller. You never know—your feedback may influence the next great feature of the software!
Successful Projects Start With a Great ERP Reseller
Having the right ERP reseller by your side throughout all phases of cloud ERP implementation goes a long way toward the project’s success. It’s critical that your reseller takes the time to work through each phase of the project. Here are a few project stories demonstrating how a thorough approach to each phase supports a successful project launch.
American Image Signs
American Image Signs faced an unusual challenge during their ERP implementation. The company offers highly customized wayfinding signage as well as corporate awards. One order may consist of multiple smaller, customized pieces that are shipped to different locations.
To ensure Acumatica’s setup was in line with the company’s goals, a thorough discovery and planning phase had to be completed before anything else. It was imperative Mindover Software’s team understood how American Image Sign’s business worked and their needs. Testing the customized system once the work had been done was also vital. Without both steps being completed in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner, the project may not have been as successful. American Image Signs was able to improve productivity and reduce staff thanks to the new system taking over many manual tasks.
Miller Veterinary Supply
Miller Veterinary Supply, a distributor of wholesale and retail veterinary products, faced similar challenges but with the added twist of a large database of customer information that had to be handled carefully. Careful requirements gathering, understanding the relationships among the various parties in the distributor supply chain, and thorough data management ensured customer satisfaction post-implementation. Without great attention to detail through each phase of the project, the supply company would not have been ready for its exponential growth and profitable years ahead.
Are You Ready for Cloud ERP Implementation? Contact Mindover Software
If you’re ready to take the next step and improve your systems, contact Mindover Software for more information. Visit our website and view our ERP systems including Acumatica, used in the implementation success stories by our two case studies cited above. Contact us or call 512-330-3994 for an appointment.