An SMB Manufacturers’ Guide to ERP Implementation, Pt. 4: Future Planning and Change Management

The implementation team is most often made up of 3 distinct types of roles: Leadership, Business Process Owners and Subject Matter Experts.

The project sponsor is typically a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or chief operational officer of a company, and they're the ones backing the project from an executive level. We typically recommend a steering committee of senior leadership is in place. That would include CEO, CFO, COO, IT director or chief information officer, or the most senior leader in each of those areas.

The business process owners are going to be the functional owners of that - whoever their plant manager is, or distribution manager, warehouse manager, controller – they're going to be the ones with more working knowledge of key processes.

Subject matter experts can be a shop person, receiving clerk, purchasing buyer, an AP or AR clerk in accounting; they're going to be the ones who actually do a lot of the work and have detailed knowledge. They should sit in and provide input throughout the implementation since they will be the ones who will actually be utilizing the new systems to complete their work in the future.

With all of these stakeholders and leaders now empowered with the needs and requirements they have, it will be time to move into the future vision portion of the road-mapping process.


Planning Ahead to Succeed

Now is the time to define the future state vision. In the first step, Tribridge works with companies to set up the overall strategies and objectives. Second are wishes and wants and needs of the business. Based on both of those, how do we pull it together with industry best practices and start to paint the picture of the future? What are the critical differentiating requirements?

We typically see a long list of things in the last step – all the things we want – but now is when we determine, which of those needs are the most critical to achieve the business strategy and objectives, then prioritize those requirements when developing the future solution.

The application portfolio also needs to be reviewed:

  • Which applications are going to be retained, replaced or added?
  • Is there priority order for each of these applications to be addressed?

If we're going to do an ERP implementation, are there ancillary systems that we do in conjunction, or perhaps there's some apps we add down the road. Perhaps there's some we replace with different functionality. So it's really about trying to picture the visions of needs from an application standpoint.

The infrastructure decision involves choosing on premise versus cloud or possibly a combination of the two. We go down the path at this stage to ensure the future is set. Some will choose a cloud solution because they don't want to deal with managing the infrastructure. Rather, they want to focus on their core business, which is manufacturing products and servicing their customers.


Change Management Demands

Now that we have a future state defined and we know where we are today, we can identify the changes that need to happen and possible constraints standing in the way. It's critical to perform a gap analysis on the ERP being considered and any supporting applications to determine gaps between business requirements and base functionality, as well as how to close those gaps.

It might be a customization, additional systems needed or a process change or work around - but we start to look at options and determine which are most viable. From the infrastructure perspective, what potential new hardware will be required to meet the future vision based on what we currently have today? From an information and data standpoint, what changes need to be made to master data? What information do we need to capture or redesign and restructure in order to meet our future vision and overall business objectives?

Then we get to the budget. We start with a high-level budget estimate and determine if it's feasible, as well as if there are any scope changes that need to be made, or whether we need additional budget in order to realize our objectives. Looking at other constraints and interdependencies, we identify potential resource constraints by the various team members and functional areas. Do we have enough resources to support this transformation in the desired timeframe? If we have gaps, what's the plan to overcome them?

The next step is to identify areas of the business that are going to experience significant change. How do we account for that and help prepare the organization for the transformation while minimizing risk and potential disruption to the business?

Now, with all of this completed, it will be time to hop into the final step - defining and completing the roadmap. 

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