An estimated 70% to 90% of ERP implementation projects are judged to be less than fully successful. Many of these projects suffer from extensive delays often associated with internal politics or just scope creep. Rapid deployment ERP is a new implementation technique companies are using to increase success and fix “must resolve” problems quickly. With rapid deployment ERP companies implement interim solutions that can fulfill the “must have” requirements now while the full-featured, enterprise-wide solution is developed and implemented.
But is rapid deployment ERP for you?
There are three areas that require your consideration in the process.
- Your specific needs in terms of the system and the usage of the system.
- The vendor’s ability to address your needs in terms of functionality and the performance of a quick implementation.
- The contract agreement or legal issues governing your relationship with the vendor.
Let’s consider these in more detail.
This is the toughest question or area of consideration. You need to look at what your ideal or full-featured system is expected to accomplish and then start trimming away everything that is extraneous or non-essential. Remember your temporary system is meant to serve as an interim solution. For this system, you really only need the most basic functionality to enjoy the main benefits associated with ERP. For instance, the performance reporting aspects may be critical for operational planning, but the lot serial traceability may have little application in your line of business.
Also, you need to look at how the system is going to be used. Full-blown ERP eventually touches everyone in the enterprise; your temporary system may need to touch far fewer. This is important if your vendor is pricing and licensing by seat or by functional module. Who really needs to access or use this system and what level of use do they require?
What types of users are needed? Are they all just end-users? Do you require multiple administrative licenses? What about programmers? Will the code be modified or require maintenance?
It is desirable to have these questions answered and understood early in the selection process.
Obviously, the individual product offerings from selected vendors must meet your requirements as determined in the preceding section. If you have to have German language support, you don’t need to waste time looking at products that don’t have it.
Just as important is the vendor’s ability to handle the quick implementation. Here you should require some references related to the vendor’s implementation track record. Not all disasters make the newspapers, so take your time with this aspect of your evaluation. Talk to end-users. Don’t just listen to vendor reps or read user stories. Get a firsthand account of a real implementation.
- Did it start on time?
- How did they handle problems along the way?
- What the biggest issues with the implementation?
- Would you do business with the vendor again?
All of these sorts of questions should be explored.
Contract Agreement and Legal Issues
Flexibility is the word here. You need to be able to transition off the system quickly and without punitive fees. Your vendor must understand that their solution is not the long-range solution and their opportunity here is to facilitate your move to the ultimate ERP solution.
Another area might be usage levels. Perhaps you need 150 users at the onset, but as areas move over to the permanent system, you might need to move them off the license (and see some subsequent fee reduction).
There are several mutual advantages in this relationship that should give you and your vendor some benefits.
First, your vendor has a great opportunity to feature a showcase account in a market they had previously thought to be out of their reach. This is of great value to any company. Anything you can offer them in terms of testimonials, user stories and endorsements should be considered as having value.
To the degree possible, make this something that you can offer the vendor as consideration for some standard-contract language concessions. For instance, the standard contract may only allow full-year maintenance cycles. No one knows when your primary ERP system is going live, but it will likely not correspond to the anniversary date with your short-term contract. Consider trading five one-on-one live interviews with your vendor’s prospects in consideration of a 60-day opt-out maintenance notice.
The likelihood is that this relationship will continue longer than planned. Negotiate an agreement that is focused on short-term needs but also that can be fair over a longer term.
Rapid-deployment ERP and short-term ERP are alternatives that make sense to some users. This is not a strategy for all users or for all vendors either. But, in the right context, it is a great way to meld the future with the present, to have it both ways and to keep the enterprise from being bogged down in a paralyzing process.
This is an edited excerpt of “Rapid Deployment ERP: A New Way to Make Implementation Painless.” To view the full paper, visit our Lean Resource Center at www.cincom.com/lrc. (One-time, email-address-only registration required.)