Time is one of the most important elements in implementing a successful ERP system. No matter how much you budget there never seems to be enough of it.
In planning for an ERP installation how much time you allocate and how you split it up are critical factors in getting a successful discharge. A too optimistic schedule can doom a project before it starts.
Unfortunately, a realistic schedule for an ERP project can be very difficult to construct. Some parts of the project, notably requirements planning, process scheduling and testing, can be difficult to assess accurately. Since these are major parts of the project being paid any of them wrong can throw your entire schedule out of whack.
One thing that helps in planning and scheduling an ERP project is an experience. The more projects you have done, the better feel you will have for them.
This is one place where an experienced consultant can pay big dividends. You probably don’t have much experience implementing ERP projects, but your consultant should have plenty. Work closely with your consultant when you are arrangement and setting timelines for your ERP endeavor.
As a rough estimate, you can say that a SaaS ERP project will take a year to 18 months while a fully custom system developed in the house will take 2 or 3 years. Both figures depend on the amount of customization that is involved – which is another reason to avoid customization wherever possible. A SaaS project is inherently less customizable so it takes less time.
The necessities phase of the project usually takes place before the actual scheduling takes place. Here the emphasis is on completeness rather than the time it takes. It is important to get it right rather than to meet some artificial schedule.
Process analysis and development, on the other hand, needs to be planned carefully. The only thing you can be sure of in this part of the implementation is that it will take longer than it appears on the surface. Plan this effort carefully and make sure you allocate enough time for it. Remember the process analysis is in some part iterative and you may have to rework a process several times to get it right.
The other big unknown in the schedule is the testing and development phase at the end of the process. While you can more or less successfully estimate how long it will take, it will take as long as it takes and trying to speed it up is dangerous to the overall health of your implementation.
Be especially wary of trying to get back on schedule by cutting corners in the test phase. It only buys you trouble in the long run and will mess up your rollout efforts.
Of course, you can set up any schedule you like for implementing your ERP project, but that doesn’t mean all possible schedules are practical. It’s important that you start with a realistic schedule when implementing an ERP project.