Fears of failure are often associated with ERP projects. According to common beliefs, implementation projects getting completed on schedule and budget is next to impossible. While ERP projects are often complicated and include risks, succeeding is entirely possible and even likely when enough time and human capital are used in the planning. The partner’s openness and honesty towards the client are also key factors. An honest partner only offers solutions for which the benefits are greater than the costs.
Read more about our approach towards ERP projects from start to finish below.
Typical challenge: The specification phase refers to planning the practical realization of the ERP system. This phase is often understood too narrowly as a technical specification concentrating solely on transferring the old structures and procedures to the new system. Two problems follow from this limited view. First, a unique opportunity to change the old processes for the better without the limitations set by a system is lost. Second, transferring the old structures to the new system as they are may lead to unnecessarily complex technical solutions which often raise the costs disproportionately compared to the achievable benefits.
Solution: The goal of the specification phase is to make sure that the project concentrates on the essential issues and that limited resources are used as sensibly as possible. At Profiz, we first go deeply into understanding the client’s business and processes so that we can help the client to question and develop their existing procedures. Understanding the client’s business helps to concentrate on the essential issues in the realization of the system and complex solutions for which the costs exceed the achievable benefits are avoided.
- Making use of the unique opportunity to develop structures and processes.
- Reducing the costs of the implementation phase by avoiding too complex technical solutions.
- The client receives a mapping of their business for general use to support their development.
Typical challenge: The partner responsible for the implementation of the ERP system too often stops the problem-solving after the specification phase after which the specification document is followed to a tee. Deciding on the realization definitively already in the specification phase is not sensible as a major part of the essential details relating to the realization only become clear in the course of the project and as the client learns the logic behind the new system. Additionally, the traditional waterfall model leaves the client completely at the mercy of the supplier and isolating the client in the realization phase stops key personnel from becoming power users of the system.
Solution: In the Profiz model, the realization of the system is carried out iteratively together with the client, according to the guidelines set in the specification phase. This way we can often choose a more cost-effective execution than the one which would otherwise have been selected in the beginning of the project – after all, the client pays for achievable business benefits, not for technical solutions. We also verify the functionality of the information structures and technical solutions with a hand-picked subset of master data, which further reduces the cost of the project. The export and validation of legacy master data prior to migration often takes up a considerable amount of time, so it is not worth doing the actual migrations before the structures of master data are in order and the client understands how they operate in the new system.
- Resources are used for solutions which add as much value as possible.
- Participatory approach creates a sense of ownership in the client’s employees taking part in the project.
- Client’s participating personnel become power users of the system and the need for outside support in the future diminishes.
Development and support
Typical challenge: The development of the system often ceases after the implementation phase when the client is either left to their own devices or disabled by the supplier making the smallest changes itself. On the one hand the system does not support the business before long without continuous development. On the other hand excessive dependence on the supplier is costly or, at its worst, stops development entirely when the client is afraid to undertake small but useful changes in fear of costs.
ERP systems are complex entities because they are closely linked to the company’s whole IT infrastructure and other data systems. In problem situations, the location of the problem in the whole is not always clear. Dealing with multiple suppliers can be difficult when service providers shift responsibility between each other without solving the original issue. Development is also harder to accomplish with multiple suppliers as no one has a clear vision of nor responsibility for the whole.
Solution: The system’s development should not end with implementation because the needs of the business change over time. For us, this does not translate into our consultants invoicing the client continuously for a never ending project, but we aim to add value by helping the client to prioritize system-related development needs and teach the client how to develop the system independently. We have succeeded if the ownership of developing ERP passes on to the client and development-required system changes can be carried out by the client autonomously.
Profiz offers maintenance and development as a package solution in which we take responsibility not only for the ERP system but for the maintenance and development of the clients’s whole IT infrastructure. In problem situations, help can be reached through one phone number: the client’s job is just to report a problem, our job is to solve it. We abide by the same philosophy with IT infrastructure development as with ERP systems: we help the client to prioritise their developmental needs and use their IT budget as productively as possible. As IT infrastructure is rarely the client’s core know-how, we typically take a bigger and more independent role in carrying out the agreed upon development projects.
- Less putting out fires, more long-term development.
- IT budget used in the most value-adding way possible.
- Problem situations solved faster, cheaper and more effortlessly.