What are ERP Systems and Software?

Enterprise Resource Planning systems, better known as ERP systems, consist of various and numerous business functions, which typically are packaged and sold in separate modules and connect to multiple departments and business functions in large companies, as shown in diagram. They are considered by many as the most complex business application(s) to implement in any business regardless of the industry.

ERP Modules:
ERP Benefits:
ERP Alternatives
ERP implementation

ERP Projects Fail More Often – Up to 45% or More. Why?

In WSRcg’s experience, this is because ERP systems/projects are:

  • blessed by highest level but perhaps “wishful thinking” executives and perhaps an impatient Board of Directors
  • trying to meet new/changing corporate goals,
  • impact the whole company, or major parts of it, that haven’t worked closely together, or shared information before
  • very difficult to estimate early on
  • oftentimes given a uninformed mandated Go-Live date from execs based upon some political/other necessity
  • typically larger in size than other company systems,
  • more complex in functionality and structure,
  • maintained more frequently than other systems,
  • used by different user departments and industry needs with possibly diverging different requirements over time,
  • are more flexible (allowing multiple system configurations), requiring more decision making by parties
  • riskier to customize without heavy vendor support (typically not offered), resulting in “one-off” systems and ongoing maintenance/upgrade problems,
  • are typically staffed with less trained QA specialists/reviewers in the field than at their corporate development site
  • require corrected and complete extracted, tested, and loaded of conversion data into new database schema
  • developed by ERP developers that are typically not directly available to customer staff
  • experience personnel turnover (like all companies), but with a longer time for replacements to get up to speed
  • usually are:
    • undertested,
    • go-live with undertrained, unprepared users,
    • do not produce the user documentation, good training leave-behinds, practice sandboxes, CBT, or job aids for users
    • go-live without sufficient help-desk staff, trainers, and knowledgeable department managers or superusers to answer questions/address bottlenecks.

ERP Tasks to Accomplish on a Schedule

ERP selection and implementation is so difficult because it ordinarily involves not only implementing new software, but also accomplishing the following tasks, among others, in a tight timeframe:

Requirements/RFP/Reference Checks
Clearly Spelled-Out Contracts

Remember to staff, train, reward the onsite team that will support, update and retrain the users in how to best use and get the most value of the evolving ERP system.

Don’t forget the often mistreated and maligned post-mortem. This is where the most can be learned and improved while not under the pressures of implementing the new system. Here’s also where multiple departments can learn what others need and why.

Acceptance Criteria

Develop Acceptance Criteria (with company QA input, review, signoff) for:

  • Assuring software functionality; performance; -ilities properly tested and fixed; identifying/sign-off deferred functions.
  • Executing test strategy/plans throughout SDLC in all phases and at all levels; specific criteria to promote software to next phase and test level (i.e., # and error types; # or kinds of tests not conducted with associated risks; code coverage achieved, QA findings, recs., signoff, etc.)
  • Monitoring acceptable levels of risk when decision to promote is made, i.e., avoid, mitigate, address, defer. (Note: Unlike company managers/users may accept different risk levels that may change over time. Document these decisions to recall what agreed to and why. Oftentimes comes up in lawsuits.
  • Shifting functional organization structures; Changing manager and user jobs & skills requirements; Retraining staff,
  • Acquiring, upgrading, configuring new hardware, netware, software, peripherals; Rewiring company with new computing/telecommunications networks,
  • Extract, Cleanse, Transfer, and Load (ETL) data; test & correct errors missing data
  • Interfacing with other 3rd party applications, and company systems (incl. legacy systems)
  • Altering company processes; Creating new policies, procedures, work flows and controls,
  • Changing the role and skills required of internal IT department, operations group, help-desk, and maintenance group,
  • Outsourcing all or part of the ERP system and system operations & support applications and functions off-site or in the cloud
  • Documentation of all kinds including the test plans, logs, files and signoffs for reuse.
  • As many as 10,000 tasks or more may be needed to accomplish the above, so: budget/estimate each task; staff project; control critical path, report status, risks challenges & changes to plan and budget on a timely basis. Now, get ready to manage toughest project that a PM may have ever managed.
  • Turnover automated tools & environments used to deliver the system, including the regression test suite & RTM to Maintenance and Operations Groups.