How Long Does ERP System Implementation Take?
An ERP system can save you time and money, increase efficiency, and help you grow your business; but achieving those results requires some effort, as well as a thorough ERP system implementation project plan.
What does a typical ERP implementation timeline look like? As a rule of thumb, the timeline for ERP implementation can range from a few months to a year, or occasionally even longer. It varies a great deal, though, depending on the size and complexity of your company, the level of customization and integration you need, your choice of cloud-based versus on-premise ERP, and more.
What is the timeline for ERP implementation?
Your ERP implementation timeline should start with a clear set of objectives and a thorough ERP selection process. Get to know the products that best fit your company and industry, and choose a software implementation partner with a positive reputation and proven track record working with companies like yours.
For companies with relatively simple business processes, fewer users, and strong management commitment to the initiative, the timeline for ERP implementation may be as little as two or three months. Organizations that have multiple legal entities, complex business processes, or which lack the necessary internal resources to move forward aggressively may require six to twelve months. In cases where custom programming is required, or where data migration is especially complex, it can take even longer.
Here are some key factors that impact your ERP implementation timeline:
Company size: As a general rule, larger companies tend to have more complex business processes and more users. That requires a longer time frame for defining ERP system requirements and more time to train users. Larger businesses are more likely to have multiple locations and/or legal entities, which introduces even more complexity.
Business processes: Even many small companies may have complicated business processes or unique requirements that can lead to a longer timeline for ERP implementation.
A sound ERP system selection process: If you choose ERP software that isn’t quite the right fit, it can force you down the path of customizations or workarounds. Avoid that by defining your business objectives clearly upfront. Talk to peers in your industry to find out what has worked well for them.
Management commitment: When management is committed to a successful ERP implementation plan, they’ll allocate the necessary staff and budget to get the job done, and they’ll ensure adequate cross-functional collaboration.
Project management skills: It’s helpful to have someone with project management experience on your staff to keep things on track, manage risks and dependencies, and monitor the budget. A good ERP implementation partner can also help with project management.
Cloud-based versus on-premise: On-premise ERP implementations tend to take longer than cloud-based ERP, because the former usually requires that new hardware be specified, ordered, installed, and configured. If you choose a cloud-based system, you can shorten your ERP implementation timeline considerably.
Data migration complexity: If you’re bringing information over from a single legacy ERP system, you’ll need to cleanse and transform that data. The more information you choose to migrate, the more time it will take. If you’re currently running multiple legacy ERP systems (for different subsidiaries, for example), then data migration might take considerably longer.
The right implementation partner: A good partner can make all the difference, by working with you to put together an ERP implementation plan that incorporates your goals and objectives, a realistic budget, a roadmap, and other project management essentials. The best ERP implementation partners will take the time to understand your company, your personnel, and any constraints that may affect your ERP implementation timeline.
What is the ERP implementation process?
No matter the timeline for your ERP implementation process, there is a common 8-step framework for any well-thought-out ERP system implementation project plan:
Define the Scope: The first ERP implementation step is to define the scope and key objectives of the project.
Select the best ERP system for your company: Your ERP implementation plan starts with defining clear goals. Talk to your peers, look for proof-points in your industry, and ask a lot of questions.
Map out your business processes: Work with stakeholders throughout your organization to understand how they perform their jobs today, and consider how those business processes might need to change to be more efficient. Work with your ERP implementation partner to map your business processes to your ERP software.
Configure your ERP system: Determine the system settings for your new ERP software, add users, and modify report layouts if needed.
Test and revise: Enlist key users from each department to try out the new software and provide feedback.
Train your users: Show your users how they’ll use the new ERP system. Have them work with a training environment that mirrors the system configuration that you will eventually use when you go live with your new ERP system.
Migrate your data: Shortly before you go live, perform a final data migration from your legacy ERP system.
Go live, assess, and improve: You’ve concluded your ERP implementation project, but there’s more work to be done. Assess your performance against key objectives and plan your next steps in the process of continuous improvement.
How do you develop an ERP system implementation project plan?
You should also consider the overall approach to your ERP system implementation that will work best for you. Do you prefer a single, “big bang” cutover to your new system, or would a phased approach feel safer? The former may lead to a shorter ERP implementation timeline, but it involves a higher commitment of resources up front, and it introduces greater risk.
Determine your organization’s appetite for change, assess your human resources capacity, and discuss your options with the ERP experts. If you take the time to develop a clear and thorough ERP system implementation project plan, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of a successful result.
Start your plan today
There are plenty of resources available to support you as you develop your ERP implementation plan. Here are just a few:
- 10 Key Features of the Best ERP For Small Business
- The 4 ERP Implementation Types to Choose From
- How Cloud ERP Increases Agility and Resilience for Manufacturers
- The 9 Most Common ERP Implementation Challenges
When you’re ready to take the next steps, Synergy’s ERP experts are ready to sit down with you and your team, understand your business, and help you plan your ERP system implementation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.