Deploying a new ERP system such as NetSuite is a major undertaking for a business, so choosing the right deployment strategy for your organisation will greatly increase the chances of a successful deployment.
Most common ERP deployment strategies
This strategy is also known as the “single-step method,” and involves moving all of your users to the new ERP system at the same time. To do this, you will need to have completed all of the configuration and testing of the new ERP system, as well as training in a test environment, before the go-live date.
The advantage of the “big bang” approach is that you will quickly start realising the benefits of the new ERP system, which are typically higher productivity, better insights and lower operating costs. However, once you’ve deployed the system it’s difficult to go back, so it’s absolutely critical to get things exactly right. Extensive technical and user testing is key here, as any error or glitch - even a relatively minor one - can massively impact employees, business partners and your customers. There may also be a temporary productivity drop as employees get used to the new system.
Under a phased deployment approach, the deployment of features, tools and components is done over an extended period, which may cover weeks or even months. This is a more measured approach which can reduce risk – especially when compared to the “big-bang” strategy. A phased roll-out enables the company to focus on “quick wins”- deploying the functions that deliver the most immediate benefits first - and to apply learnings from the initial deployment phases to improve the process for subsequent phases.
But there are drawbacks with a phased approach. It takes longer to realise the full benefits of the new ERP system, and your company will need to support, and pay for, two systems at the same time.
A phased roll-out is usually achived in one of three ways.
A company may opt to switch on one ERP module at a time, resolve any bugs and process issues, and then move onto another module. Most companies prioritise the core functions and then expand functionality from there.
The second approach to a phased roll-out is to deploy the ERP by business unit, so you may choose to deploy finance, then logistics, then marketing and so on, with the choice based on needs and hierarchies.
For larger organisations with several business units, a third approach is to phase the rollout by geography, testing and perfecting the system at one location before moving on to other offices, factories or facilities across the organisation.
With this deployment strategy, the company maintains its legacy systems in parallel with the new ERP for a specific length of time. This is generally considered the least risky approach because it’s possible to revert to the legacy system if you run into difficulties with the new system. Because of this safety net, some companies use this strategy for mission critical functions that absolutely must continue to operate.
A parallel adoption strategy can also be an expensive approach because it requires more staff time and resources to keep two systems running at the same time. Running parallel systems can also create issues: entering data twice, into two different systems, doubles the chance of errors.
A hybrid deployment strategy combines elements of all the other strategies already discussed. For example, a company might switch on core ERP modules using a big-bang strategy, then roll out other modules in phases to specific locations or departments.
How to choose the right ERP deployment strategy
No single ERP deployment strategy works for every company and every situation, and your choice of deployment approach will depend on a number of factors.
Size of your company
The big bang strategy often works best for small and midsize companies, where it can be easier to manage the process of transitioning the entire organisation at once because you have fewer employees and locations. Larger companies, especially those with complex organisational structures, may find this approach too risky.
Attitude to risk
If you encounter major problems when employees start using the new ERP system, what would be the impact on your business? A business that is completely reliant on systems operating 24/7 may be less inclined to take the risks associated with a big bang approach, and perhaps might choose a parallel adoption, at least for the most critical modules.
Speed of return on investment (ROI)
With a phased adoption, you may be able to roll out ERP modules that address specific business bottlenecks, and therefore generate ROI relatively quickly. Big bang, of course, completes the entire transition to ERP quickly, with the potential for even greater ROI because the organisation starts realising the benefits the benefits of the ERP almost immediately.
If the overall project cost is an overriding concern, a big-bang strategy may be appealing because it eliminates the cost of operating old and new systems at the same time.
Choosing the right implementation partner
However you decide to deploy a new ERP system, it’s essential that you have the right implementation partner with the skills and experience of implementing ERP and who will be able to advise you not only on the deployment of the system, but the initial choice, design, development, training, and ongoing support after launch.
ERP Experts is an accredited NetSuite Solutions Provider, with over 15 years’ experience of delivering successful ERP solutions to companies of all sizes operating in an array of sectors.
Contact us to find out more about our professional services and project delivery process, designed to reduce risk and increase success.