Implementing an ERP System: The Importance of Phasing

We often see customers who are moving to NetSuite from a very basic systems architecture (quite frequently a bunch of Excel spreadsheets) and want to change everything in one fell swoop. They talk to SaaS vendors such as NetSuite, they see what the product’s capable of, and they start thinking big. Very, very big.

Big thinking is a good thing when it comes to business management systems. You need to have an eye on the big picture at all times and a good understanding of what such an investment will do for your business in the long run.

However, when it comes to planning your initial implementation, it's important that you don’t "boil the ocean" and overwhelm your users who, until now, have been plugging away with their Excel spreadsheets and the various other hairball systems that keep the company running. It's important that you agree upon priorities and identify quick wins so that users and executive sponsors see benefit in the new system as early in the process as possible. This approach could well make the difference in whether a project's successful, or a failure.

When thinking about a phased approach to the implementation, consider the following:

  • What are the key pain points today? Where would the business benefit most from some quick and effective change?
  • Think about all of the expectations you have for the system. Then, try to categorize deliverables into multiple versions of the system over time. High-priority and high-value deliverables will naturally come first, before the "nice to haves."
  • Try to identify key requirements that have big impact but low cost of delivery. A SaaS system such as NetSuite is very effective for this, as it’s designed to solve business process issues right out of the box.
  • Involve executives and form a user group so that they may vote for features and receive clear communication as to when they can expect those features.
  • Build a roadmap of your planned releases and publish this to the organization. Support a process that allows for this roadmap to be amended based on changes to the business.
  • Think of the implementation process as an evolution. It’s a constant process of refinement and improvement.

Implementing such a phased approach is generally effective in many ways. Just like software vendors will evolve their product over many years, the same should apply to your business system. A product like NetSuite gives you the ability to “own” your implementation roadmap and take advantage of NetSuite’s powerful business operating system. There’s almost no end to the level of customizations you can make. Just don’t do them all at once!

- Dean Stockwell - VP Professional Services, Asia/Pacific

comments powered by Disqus