Based on blogs by Irenae Jacobs at aclaros, United VARs Member for the USA and Canada.

United VARs is a global network of top SAP Partners who work together as one team on multi-country SAP rollouts. We have 70+ SAP Implementation Members in over 100 countries, and aclaros is one of them. Based in North America, aclaros is an SAP Platinum Partner and a leading implementation partner for SAP Business One and specialists in migrating customers to the SAP HANA platform.

aclaros has created a whitepaper detailing best practices for ERP implementations: ERP Implementation for Small and Midsize Businesses: Steps to Success. Below, we share some of their advice on the key phases of an ERP implementation project. Each ERP project is unique of course, but a typical implementation project usually includes four main phases: an initial phase, a planning phase, execution and control, and closure.

The initial phase: identifying challenges and roles

In this initial phase, you need to identify your organizational challenges and issues and determine which of

these will be resolved by a new ERP system. As part of this, your project team will want to know:

  • The ‘ins and outs’ of your business
  • Process inefficiencies and requirements for your new ERP
  • Definitions of a wide-ranging list of roles, including a detailed analysis of existing workflows for users

We recommend that you focus on creating a detailed map of the entire project. It’s important that you get clear on your objectives, priorities, the possible risks associated with the project, timelines, and funding. Having measurable, realistic estimates for timelines and required resources will help you avoid implementation delays and unexpected costs later down the line.

The planning phase: get a good team in place

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, Benjamin Franklin’s words are so true. When making the move to a new ERP system, there can challenges, but thoughtful planning will help to mitigate many of them.

In the planning phase, you need to create a highly detailed project plan that incorporates feedback from multiple stakeholders within your organization. This will help you with scheduling, budgeting, and allocating the right resources. It will also establish a baseline on how best to execute and manage your project.

Creating a team of qualified, efficient, and dedicated people will of course ensure your job is much easier and your implementation goes as smoothly as possible.

Your team will include:

  • A manager to run the project
  • A qualified ERP implementation partner with experienced consultants
  • Internal stakeholders, from C-suite executives through to day-to-day ERP system users such as engineers and warehouse personnel

The Execution Phase: communication is key

The focus in the execution phase is on making sure the deliverables from the planning phase are executed as planned. There are a lot of moving parts in this phase, so you need to pay careful attention to detail. Your main tasks will be to ensure you control the design, configuration, and change management.

In our experience, the following communication best practices can greatly increase the chances of success:

Get your corporate leaders to engage with employees — if the CEO communicates updates it shows how important the ERP implementation of an ERP system is to your organization

·Keep messages focused on the positive impacts of the business instead of the technical achievements

·Use a variety of channels to share information—email, virtual events, corporate intranet, and monthly town halls to name a few

Communicate regularly and frequently—keep stakeholders and employees informed and engaged all the way through the project

The closure phase: ensuring success after go-live

In the closure phase, you need to:

  • Close project activities
  • Confirm the scope delivery
  • Gain full ownership of the finalized product
  • Establish a continuous improvement and support plan

We also recommend that you reflect on the initial goals outlined in the first phase and identify what did and didn’t work.

Given the time and resources invested in an ERP implementation, we recommend that you continue to work with your ERP implementation partner to ensure the post go-live transition period is as smooth as possible, and that you get the most out of your investment. For ongoing ROI, we recommend this includes training initiatives for employees.


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