Here you are. You finally made the jump and decided to start your digital transformation journey. We’re proud of you! Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to manage your activities through the cloud is one of the first steps to get your company to reach new heights in terms of growth and profitability.
However, as with most things in life, there isn’t a single way to do so, and deciding which strategy to choose can be complex. In this blog, we’ll walk you through two types of ERP implementation approaches – the big bang strategy* vs the phased strategy – and weigh their pros and cons. After reading through it, you’ll hopefully have a clearer idea of what would work best for your organization.
- Strong overview of ERP implementation possibilities
- Tips and tricks to a successful ERP implementation
- What is a big bang implementation?
- What is phased implementation?
*NB: a big bang implementation strategy is NOT to be confused with our own Big Bang true and tested ERP implementation approach
Strong overview of ERP implementation possibilities
What is an ERP software implementation, and what does it entail? Let’s get familiar with its most significant stages before we dive into the type of implementation that is right for you:
This first step is crucial and will largely impact the success of the implementation. Make sure you are guided by industry experts. The consultants at Big Bang can make all the difference and lead to better decision-making and overall smoother operations.
Your implementation partners should help you map out, gather, assess and prioritize your requirements. They’ll also help plan the software’s architecture and your implementation’s timeline, scope, and budget.
This is the time to fill in the gaps found between your needs (requirements) and the system’s out-of-the-box functionalities while building a concrete roadmap for your business. At this stage, you can rely on us to develop and test customizations using an agile development methodology.
This is the stage when you’ll appoint and train superusers to help onboard the rest of their respective project teams.
At this point in the process, we want to perform user acceptance tests of all processes – basically, we want to test all customization before sharing company-wide. At this stage, think about allowing sufficient time for staff training.
The moment you’ve been working towards is here! Time to start using your new ERP application while the implementation team is on standby to correct potential bugs. We’ll analyze where improvements and automation can be made to simplify your life and grow your business.
Tips and tricks to a successful ERP implementation
Now that you’re more familiar with the key steps of an ERP implementation, let’s explore a few points to keep in mind as you embark on your journey:
- As we mentioned before, choosing a trusted implementation partner is crucial. We cannot emphasize this enough – you want to work with a partner that has extensive experience in the field, and that truly has your success at heart. Be sure to choose a partner that will bring unique value to your business priority. An excellent way to assess a consulting firm’s expertise is by looking at their case studies, product knowledge and blogs.
- Choosing the right implementation strategy is key. This is where you’ll really begin to see your partner’s tangible value. The decision should be based on your goals, time, and overall capacity.
- It’s a process. Make sure to focus on what works for your business. While an out-of-box ERP can work for some, remember that most require customizations and a tailored solution. Your chosen partner should help you recognize your needs and improve your processes.
- Go live the right way. Planning adequate time for training and onboarding can be the difference between a successful ERP implementation and a failed one. It is critical to user adoption to dedicate additional time to this phase.
Now that you’re more familiar with the main steps of an ERP implementation, it’s time to look at which strategy is right for YOU. Here’s a quick pros and cons overview, followed by a deeper dive into each strategy.
|BIG BANG STRATEGY||– No double entry leading to human error
– Immediate ROI after the go-live
– Lower consulting cost
|– Bigger risk of failure if implemented without a consultant
– Challenges in change management
– Potentially evident training gaps
|PHASED STRATEGY||– Easier regulatory compliance
– Lower risk of failure
– Better parallel testing can be done
|– Working with two systems at once
– Expensive and time-consuming (Risk of additional costs)
– Attention is sidetracked when groups are working on different systems
What is a big bang implementation?
The main characteristic of big bang implementations is that they are designed to make the switch from the current system to the new one at a single point in time, at the go-live. This often means that the pre-go-live period is long, tedious and focused on a lot of data migration. Bringing the staff up to speed and making sure they are completely comfortable with the new system is done prior to the go-live so they begin using the new system as soon as it is implemented. This is why the concept of measuring twice and cutting once is so important with a big bang approach.
This strategy is also iterative – this means that if further customization is required, once the first phase of implementation is finished, there’s always a possibility to go back and make changes until the final product is 100% satisfactory.
Pros of a big bang implementation
- The most prominent benefit, in our experience, is that your project team won’t have to work with two systems for an extended period of time. When you work with two systems at once, as it’s the case with the phased strategy, you increase the risks of human errors and double entry. On the contrary, with a big bang strategy, the idea is to move forward all at once and leave the past in the past.
- You will also see results and return on investment (ROI) much faster because by immediately starting to use the new ERP system after the go-live, you can get back to focusing on your growth quicker.
- Another added bonus is that the costs will be significantly lower as you are not leveraging two systems simultaneously.
Cons of a big bang implementation
- With this strategy, you have a more considerable risk of failure if you decide to implement it without experienced consultants. When choosing your implementation partner, select a firm that is well-versed in this method – like Big Bang.
- Change management can be challenging if your staff is particularly resistant to change – which is why it is crucial to undergo practical and thorough training before the go-live.
- Training gaps can become evident since this method is so fast-paced.
What is phased implementation?
A phased ERP implementation strategy, or phased rollout strategy, is a method in which the go-live of your new system is planned in sequences, gradually through a period of time. Because of this characteristic, it is necessary to keep working on the old system as long as the new one isn’t totally implemented.
Pros of phased implementation
- Regulatory compliance is easier to achieve, given that your staff has more time to adapt and monitor the new system at hand. That means that while the implementation process is ongoing, your consultants will have time to train the staff.
- Since each process is implemented in phases, you run a lower risk of failure if errors occur. It allows you to fix the bugs before jumping onto the following implementation phase.
- More parallel testing can be done while using both systems.
Cons of phased implementation
- In our experience, the biggest con is having to work simultaneously on two systems until the whole implementation process is complete. Creating a temporary interface wouldn’t be required if all modules were introduced at once.
- This approach is unsurprisingly more expensive and time-consuming since you need to keep two systems running for an extended period of time.
- When one group is active on the new system while others are still in the process of rolling out and being tested, this can create real frustrations and a lack of motivation in day-to-day operations. You will probably have to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) that explain how business processes will function during the interim.
Of course, life is rarely black or white, and it’s the same for ERP implementations. That’s why a hybrid of both strategies is commonly used. For example, a large-scale implementation project typically involves an ERP implementation in more than one department. In such a case, Big Bang consultants always recommend deploying the ERP system one business unit at a time (phased strategy) but using a big bang approach within each department.
While you may have noticed our preference for the big bang method – after all, we did base our company name on it! – our priority is to make sure your implementation process fits your reality. Remember that your digital transformation journey is a commitment and that you can’t expect results by doing things halfway. Be open-minded and ready to adapt to the world of possibilities cloud solutions can offer.
Leaders must be willing to invest in their company’s growth. As our CEO Gabriel Tupula said in his Forbes Business Council article: “To me, investing in growth is not a risk but a requirement.”
If you’re looking to start your digital transformation supported by expert advice, contact us today – we’ll have the solution for you.