Some companies are turning to a rather unorthodox, yet effective strategy to assure quick ROI in their ERP deployment. While the larger, tier-one ERP system is taking the years it needs to be fully implemented, quick results are achieved by temporarily using a second-tier system in smaller, quick-to-implement areas of the business.
ERP implementation projects can get big, unwieldy and way out of scope in a hurry. This usually occurs when projects are poorly planned or are started with insufficient management backing.
You have to expect some scope creep; after all you are in effect re-wiring and re-plumbing your whole organization when you implement a new ERP system. Somewhat like an episode of “This Old House,” there are always projects within projects within projects that were not foreseen during the project-planning phase.
Well managed implementation projects keep things moving, minimize the scope creep and take the resulting project delays as a matter of course. Larger, more complex implementation projects will likely encounter problems requiring more than “stay the course” resolve. Once delays begin, the second guessing begins, the grousing about expected finish dates begins and those folks most at risk begin demanding a tangible, reportable result for the effort to date.
In an ideal world, the implementation project would begin yielding results almost immediately and the overall project could run on for however much time necessary to achieve the desired project result. Think about it, once you start delivering ROI, the pressure to complete a huge project on a specific date becomes far less threatening. As more and more ROI is documented, the now arbitrary finish date becomes less and less relevant.
How do you bring this “ideal world” into the realm of reality?
Some companies are turning to a rather unorthodox, yet effective strategy to assure quick ROI by delivering valuable ERP functionality during the initial phases of the implementation project. They do this by employing what is called Rapid Deployment ERP (RDERP).
Here’s how it works.
Most of the tier-one ERP vendors are very good at delivering feature-rich ERP functionality to complex, multiple-entity organizations with complicated data and other viable requirements. Everyone knows these projects are going to be big, long and to some degree painful.
Like many complex problems or complex projects, the overall complexity is composed of multitudes of smaller, simpler, easy-to-implement projects. The real difficulties come in when these individual projects interface into a huge centralized system. This is where things bog down. The final system within a given business unit will need to do more than just provide ERP functionality. It must act in concert with the entire enterprise.
A number of second-tier ERP vendors offer robust ERP functionality with capable but generalized interfacing capabilities that facilitate quick implementation. These systems are not intended to be huge ERP systems for huge enterprises; they are intended to deliver ERP functionality to smaller, simpler organizations.
Additionally these vendors offer much quicker implementation since their expertise has been honed over many projects involving a myriad of interface requirements. Their products and processes are typically far more adaptive then those employed by the tier- one guys.
Second-tier ERP systems are far less expensive to license and implement. They will be up and running in a period of weeks versus the years required by the first-tier systems.
Some companies are licensing these second-tier solutions for temporary deployment in a few strategic areas within their enterprise. These mini-ERP systems are delivering results almost immediately. End users start seeing positive changes right away and your management starts seeing tangible improvements quickly as well.
As the big project moves through one area to another, one business unit to another, the temporary licenses are moved into new areas as well. This assures that the ROI generated by the tier-two systems will continue throughout the entire implementation cycle.
Finally, once the primary system is fully deployed, the smaller systems are removed and those licenses are cancelled.
On the surface this seems like a further complication to an already complicated process. It seems like an additional expense in an already expensive project. But, in the same sense that a loner car can keep you on the road while your car is being serviced, the RDERP system can get your enterprise-wide implementation project moving without having to wait until the end of the project to start seeing positive results right now.
Photo attribution:”This Old House Once Filled with Joy 2008” by Don O’Brien – Flickr.com