8 steps to planning your ERP project schedule
You and your organization are finally going to get a new ERP system. You selected the ERP that will address the needs of the organization and you have selected the best possible ERP vendor. Now what? You need an ERP project schedule. You need to plan all the events and milestones along the path toward a successful implementation of the ERP, meeting most of the needs and wants, realizing your ROI goals, and being complete on schedule. So what are the stages that you must include in your schedule?
1. Schedule your teams
These include the steering committee as well as implementation teams. Select your project manager and leaders and players for all the teams. These will mostly be internal resources but will include outside help. This team should have representatives from across the company and include all departments. They must have time to work on the ERP project. They should be respected individuals who can make choices that others in their departments will honor. But who will you need when, and who will work on the project full-time?
2. Schedule your goals
Of course, these will be SMART. Be clear on all the expectations you plan to meet. Be clear, too, on any you do not plan to meet or if the plan might be in some future project. People at all levels have expectations and failure to meet these at the correct point in your ERP schedule might lead to the ERP project being labeled as a failure.
3. Schedule your communication points
You will communicate with top management, your implementation team, and all the future users. There probably will be different messages and different media to these groups but the messages must be consistent and well scheduled for all. You are managing people’s expectations here. Will c-level receive more ERP project updates than your shop floor users? Will these communication points be regular or on a “needs must” basis?
4. Schedule your data conversion
Every data field in your new ERP has rules on the data that you need to know. Where will the data come from? How will you load it into the ERP? Do you have IT resources to program conversions or will you use non-technical people and csv Excel files? How will the answers to these questions affect the stages of your ERP schedule? Will the source of your data dictate the scheduling of data conversion? Will resources permit the ideal ERP data schedule?
5. Schedule your system tests
Testing specific process steps within a department will find some issues and will serve as initial training for the testers. Think about when these tests will take place, will there be multiple test phases during your ERP schedule? Will these test phases align with your ERP training schedule?
6. Schedule your training
Who needs what training? Who will provide that ERP training and how? What will be needed to train people who are remote or hard to train? Will training be “just in time” to respond to project issues, or will all training be done in advance. Don’t forget remedial training that will be needed and ongoing training for new hires after implementation.
7. Go live needs an entire schedule to itself
When will it be? What must be completed before that moment and what could be deferred if needed? How long will the final data conversion take? What tests are needed at the moment to ensure business can proceed without delay?
8. Capture post-implementation knowledge
Even if you never implement another ERP system there will be valuable knowledge for other projects. Scheduling this stage of your ERP project is just as crucial as the previous stages, you must learn from this implementation quickly and efficiently.
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