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January 3, 2024 Business Services

How Long Does ERP Implementation Take?

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By Connor O'Keefe

Everyone knows they need some sort of finance or ERP solution. Not as many people could tell you the right way to implement it once you have it, though. Businesses are constantly seeking ways to streamline their operations, enhance productivity, and improve overall efficiency. ERP implementation can give you these things as an end result but it’s a slow, rigorous process that needs to be planned out to reap the full benefits.

The successful implementation of ERP software is no small feat, but with expert insight and the right tools on-hand, it’s more than manageable. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of how ERP is implemented, the key steps involved, and the crucial factors that contribute to a successful ERP implementation.

How Long Does ERP Implementation Normally Take?

ERP implementation timelines can vary widely and are influenced by factors such as the size of the organization, the complexity of processes, the chosen ERP solution, and the level of customization required. While some small to mid-sized businesses may complete the process in a few months, larger enterprises with intricate operations might require a more extended timeframe.

It’s also worth noting that the length of implementation is not always a reliable indicator of success. Even within the same organization, different modules or departments may have varying timelines. The key to a successful ERP implementation is not rushing through the process but rather ensuring that each step is given sufficient time and attention to detail. Slow and steady always wins the race.

What are the Stages of ERP Implementation?

The ERP implementation process can generally be broken up into a few phases. The length of each phase is going to vary from organization to organization, but this is the general path it will follow.

  • Planning/Blueprinting
  • System Selection
  • Configuration
  • Testing
  • Training
  • Deployment
  • Post-Launch Support

Each stage demands its share of time, and the overall duration is influenced by how efficiently these stages are executed. It’s important to note that each stage is crucial and necessary for a successful ERP implementation. Rushing or otherwise half-committing to any of these stages could lead to costly mistakes and delays in the long run.

What Are the Complications of ERP Implementation?

We’ve touched a lot on how certain roadblocks, challenges, and the like can impede your progress with ERP implementation, but we haven’t really gotten into the details. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the complications that can arise during this process and give some ways you can anticipate and overcome these difficulties.

Resistance to Change

One of the biggest challenges in any ERP implementation is resistance to change. Employees may be accustomed to their current processes and systems, and the idea of switching to something new can be intimidating. This resistance could manifest in various forms, such as lack of cooperation, slow adoption, and even active sabotage. To combat this, it’s crucial to involve employees in the decision-making process and communicate clearly the benefits of the new system for both the company and its employees.

Want to Learn More About How You Can Effectively Manage Change Within Your Organization? 

Size and Complexity of the Organization:

The size and complexity of an organization play a pivotal role in determining the duration of ERP implementation. Small to medium-sized enterprises with simpler structures may find themselves able to implement ERP solutions more swiftly than larger organizations with intricate processes, multiple departments, and global operations. Despite the size of an organization, ERP implementation requires careful planning and coordination to ensure a smooth transition. This involves identifying the key stakeholders, establishing clear communication channels, and understanding the organization’s current business processes.

Customization Requirements

The level of customization required for an ERP solution can significantly impact the implementation timeline. Off-the-shelf ERP solutions may offer quicker deployment, while organizations opting for highly tailored systems to fit unique business processes may experience a more prolonged implementation process. It is important for organizations to carefully evaluate their customization needs and weigh them against the potential impact on time and resources. It may be necessary to prioritize certain customizations and defer others until after the initial implementation is complete.

Vendor Selection and Collaboration:

The choice of ERP vendor and the level of collaboration with them can impact implementation timelines. A vendor with a proven track record and a collaborative approach can contribute to a more efficient and streamlined implementation. This is because a vendor who understands the specific needs and goals of an organization can provide tailored solutions and support throughout the implementation process.

Additionally, collaboration with the chosen vendor can also help to identify potential roadblocks or challenges early on in the implementation process. By working closely with the vendor, organizations can proactively address these issues and find solutions that fit their unique requirements.

Data Migration Challenges:

The migration of existing data to the new ERP system is a critical aspect of implementation. Challenges in data migration, such as data cleansing and mapping, can extend the overall timeline. Thorough planning and execution during this phase are essential to avoid disruptions. Collaboration with the vendor can also be beneficial in addressing any potential data migration challenges and ensuring a smooth transition to the new system.

Training and Change Management:

Adequate training for end-users and effective change management strategies are crucial for a successful ERP implementation. Organizations that invest time in preparing employees for the transition may experience a smoother process overall.  This includes providing thorough training on how to use the new system, as well as educating employees on the benefits and changes that will come with the implementation. Clear communication and support from management can also play a significant role in helping employees adapt to the new system.

Realistic Expectations and Flexibility:

It’s important for organizations to set realistic expectations regarding the duration of ERP implementation. Unforeseen challenges may arise, and flexibility in adapting to changes is key. Being open to adjustments in the project plan can contribute to a more successful outcome.

Post-Implementation Support:

The implementation process doesn’t conclude with the go-live date. Organizations should allocate time for post-implementation support and monitoring to address any issues that may arise and ensure a seamless transition to the new system. This can also help identify areas for improvement and provide opportunities for further training and development.

The Job Doesn’t Stop Once the Software Is Implemented 

The duration of an ERP implementation project is a variable influenced by a myriad of factors. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, organizations that invest time in thorough planning, collaborate effectively with vendors, and prioritize training and change management are better positioned for a successful and timely ERP implementation. Recognizing the unique needs and challenges of the organization is essential for navigating the journey towards a more efficient and digitally transformed future.

How Can I Speed Up How Long My ERP Implementation Takes?

If there’s one thing we’ve established, it’s that there’s no magic bullet for your ERP Implementation, that it’s a process that you need to work through. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any way to expedite and/or streamline the process while you work through it. Services from BrainSell like Change Management and Solution blueprinting can streamline your attempts depending on where you are in the process. After taking full stock of your unique circumstances, our experts can recommend a course of action and gameplan to make sure you have the smoothest implementation (and post-launch) as humanly possible!

We have a host of resources about ERPs and which one is right for which type of company. Check out one of our comparison guides if you need more information!

<<I Want to Learn More!>>

Need to Know More About What ERP Options Are Out There?

We have a host of resources about ERPs and which one is right for which type of company. Check out one of our comparison guides if you need more information!

<<I Want to Learn More!>>

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Author Bio

Connor O'Keefe

Connor O'Keefe joined BrainSell as the content marketing manager in 2023 but has enjoyed writing since he was old enough to spell his name. Connor's passion for creating content is rivaled only on his love for camping trips and trivia nights.

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