Understanding the Phases of a Manufacturing ERP Implementation

Phases of and Manufacturing Implementation ProcessAny large, company-wide project can be daunting and a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation is no exception. But if you take a larger project and break it down into smaller elements, it becomes more manageable. IQMS‘ experienced team of Application Specialists have helped hundreds of customers triumph in their ERP implementation process. Below is a road map of sorts to the phases and associated process elements that we have found are involved with a typical ERP implementation.

ERP Implementation Phases

Phase 1: Discovery. Without a good understanding of where you are today, it will be difficult to get to where you want to go.

    • Discovery helps define your current business processes (as-is). Understanding how your business operates today will help to identify any gaps early on. These gaps can then be accommodated by changing the process or configuring the application in a different manner.
    • Understanding transactional volume ensures that the new system configuration will be able to handle the transaction volume that is required during day-to-day operations.
    • Defining project goals and metrics will help keep the project on track and provide foundation data to justify the investment.
    • Consider internal resources that will be available to the implementation project. Budgeting time for the appropriate personnel to participate in the implementation will ensure not only the project’s success, but also the continued use of the ERP system after go live.  IQMS strongly encourages its customers to take ownership of the implementation.
    • Understand your unique end market or end customer requirements because any special requirements that are established by your customers will impact the ERP implementation. Make sure you consider everything from special labeling, packaging and shipping requirements to how your customers transact business with you.
    • The defining of reporting requirements is often overlooked until the very end of the project. It is important to lay these requirements out up front, so you can set aside time to learn the reporting tools in order to modify or develop the reports that are required.

Phase 2: Prototyping.
This phase can be broken down into the following elements:
    • Define and document the to-be flows. This is how the business will operate with the new system in place. Documenting the new processes will help define your end user training materials and establish the foundation for your pilot test scripts.
    • Model the corporate structure by looking at the number of business units that you operate, work centers, employee structure, numbering schemes, etc.
    • Model the GL Structure to provide the foundation for your financial reports and data.
    • Develop your Bill of Manufacture (BOM) prototypes. ERP software such as EnterpriseIQ offers many different manufacturing types to choose from to simulate your shop floor processes, so it is best to spend time making sure your BOM builds are correct.
    • Train your core implementation team for pilot data on field definitions, set up parameters and data entry techniques.
    • Begin gathering live data (This is no small task). This is where you begin extracting data from existing systems to populate import templates and manually enter other static data.

Phase 3: Prototype Pilot.
 This phase is critical to validate the model and ensure its readiness to begin the live data build.
    • Train your core team and business process owners (BPO) on flow processing. Here you will ensure your core team and BPOs are able to process data in the system for in scope business processes (For example, order to cash and procure to pay).
    • Conducting a prototype pilot on business processes will allow you to vet out any necessary corrective actions and provide timing data to determine if the prototype is able to sustain live transactional volumes.
    • Conduct a gap review and implement corrective actions. Gaps that are surfaced during the prototype pilot can be identified and then corrective actions defined to close the gaps.
    • Begin the work instruction build now, allowing for your team to be ready for the next phase task of beginning the end user training.

Phase 4: Live Build.
Once the prototype has been vetted and corrective actions have been implemented, the live build phase can begin.
    • Load and enter the static live data that has been extracted and cleaned from your legacy system into your new ERP system. You should also be continuing to manually enter any static data that is not being loaded at this time.
    • Determine load strategy for dynamic data to make sure a plan is in place for the data load prior to go live. Dynamic data consists of items that change daily such as sales orders, purchase orders, inventory quantity, etc.
    • Refine work instructions, reports and labels. Once again, do not overlook this step. Making sure customer facing reports and labels are working properly during this phase will reduce emergency report writing during go live.
    • Begin end user training. Start to train the end users on processing data flows in the system. This can either be done with your internal trainers or your ERP software’s training specialists.

Phase 5: Live Pilot.
Ensure the end user and system are ready for go live.
    • Test end users on flow processing for the entire system. This step will identify gaps in end user training and possibly some gaps that were not present during the prototype pilot.
    • Finalize the load plan for dynamic data. You can test the dynamic data load out in your training instance.
    • Determine your physical inventory labeling strategy. Timing and personnel will make sure you have the resources available at this critical junction.
    • Print labels and customer facing reports to ensure readiness for cut over.
    • Identify and implement final corrective actions.

Phase 6: Go Live.
The go live is the culmination of all the work up until this point. Good ERP vendors will make sure personnel will be on site to assist with your go live.
    • Perform physical inventory and enter the data into your new ERP software. This can either be done with scanners (if your ERP vendor offers an advanced warehouse management module) or by manual data entry.
    • Input the dynamic data like sales orders, purchase orders, receipts not yet invoiced, etc.
    • Conduct final end user training and close any final gaps in user training.
    • Cut over to the new ERP software and stop using your legacy system!

Phase 7: Post Go-Live.
 Follow up will ensure that your first month end close is successful. You may also consider developing a plan to bring online additional functionality.
Having a definable plan of attack with actionable phases and goals can make any project run smoother. From discovery to go live, following the phases above can keep your ERP implementation on time and on budget.
For more than 25 years, IQMS has been designing and developing manufacturing ERP software for the repetitive, process and discrete industries. Today, IQMS provides a comprehensive real-time ERP software and MES solution to the automotive, medical, packaging, consumer goods and other manufacturing markets. The extended single-database enterprise software solution, EnterpriseIQ, offers a scalable system designed to grow with the client and complete business functionality, including accounting, quality control, supply chain, shop floor, CRM and eBusiness. With offices across North America, Europe and Asia, IQMS serves manufacturers around the world. For more information, please visit iqms.com.