An SMB Manufacturers’ Guide to ERP Implementation, Pt. 5: Completing the Roadmap

The solution roadmap is a document or set of documents that reflects business objectives for the implementation, critical solution criteria, critical differentiating requirements and metrics we're trying to optimize for improvement, delivery sequencing, and relative timeline - in one centralized place. Additionally, it will cover changes in the organization and how to manage them, including staffing impacts, resource adjustments, budget and any other initiatives.

In many cases, we find companies have a number of related improvement projects in-flight at the same time as the ERP implementation, and they run into constraints – team members, money or time - to support them all, making the roadmap process even more critical - the prioritization of initiatives and the governance for managing the transformation.

We need to have a fully-identified structure in place and be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who's going to be the executive project sponsor?
  • Who's going to participate on the steering committee?
  • Who's going to be the business process owners and subject matter experts? How will we bring them together to form a project team? Will they have the time to support the implementation and still support the ongoing business?
  • How will progress be communicated to both key stakeholder and the rest of the organization?

When you get into a project, things have a tendency to change as it goes. Therefore, you need an effective means for managing scope and change – identifying that upfront is critical.

This is the overall approach we recommend and facilitate for our customers as they're preparing for an ERP implementation.

Getting it Right

Our business consulting practice comes in and guides businesses through these processes. In most cases, customers don't have the expertise or understand how to facilitate key aspects of the solution road-mapping process. Some areas may be manageable but going through the process, pulling all the pieces together and creating a roadmap is not something most companies do often.

Implementing an ERP system is something a company might do once every 10 years. Their core competencies are manufacturing products and servicing their customers. Companies we work with find it critical these things are done, but they might not have the expertise to do so. This is why we do this often in front of our ERP implementations for customers, regardless of which ERP system they are planning to use.

Our business consulting teams typically do this prior to our product implementation teams engaging. Throughout the process, we will include ERP product team experts, especially when we get into the fit gap analysis and future state visioning stages. We work with the product teams to map out the business processes with the capabilities in the ERP systems and ancillary applications. It's critical we advise throughout this process in order to leverage the systems and tools they purchased and implement to deliver on the business objectives they're trying to achieve.

Mitigate Risk

There is absolutely a risk when companies try to go it alone. We work with customers to balance their ability to transform the business while they're implementing new systems to help them get from where they are today to where they want to be in the future. Part of that involves deciding whether that should happen by implementing everything at once or base functionality first, introducing additional functionality to optimize the system over time.

As always, working with a consultant is advisable for such a significant undertaking. Leveraging this type of support throughout a solution road-mapping and implementation processes, as well as after the solution is in place can vastly reduce risk and improve the overall business benefits achieved for SMB operations.

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