Step 1

Framing and planning an ERP project

Whether it is an ERP migration or implementation project, the scoping phase represents a crucial step. As in any project, preparation remains the key: “the beginning is half of everything”.

      A) Define your goals

Before any ERP project, you shouldprecisely define the objectivesyou wish to achieve with this tool. This phase is one of the most important and therefore must be taken particularly seriously.

An ERP project has a strategic dimension for your business. In addition, it is a long-term investment , since companies keep their ERP for around ten years on average.

As you will see, ERP impacts many areas for service and consulting companies. 

  • Human resources management 

Human capital is one of the pillars of service and consulting companies. An efficient ERP proves to be a valuable aid for planning , skills monitoring as well as time and activity management .

  • Customer relationship management 

Interaction monitoringandinternal projectmanagementmust be implemented strategically in order to maximize team productivity and customer satisfaction.

Thus, a well-chosen ERP combined with a powerful CRM will allow you to manage contracts and opportunities in the most optimal way possible.

  • Financial management 

ERP allowsprecise resource tracking of costs and revenues. This greatly facilitates the management ofinvoicingand project accounting

     1. Choose SMART goals

Define your objectives based on the SMART methodology , i.e.

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time Bound. 

These must be quantified precisely, using very specific KPIs .

You don't know which KPIs to choose? Here are 12 financial indicators to follow for project management.

    2. Measure ROI

At the end of the project, you will needto establish a reportallowing you tomeasure the ROIof the ERP project plan. The defined objectives must therefore remain consistent with youroverall business strategy.

You can define a certain number of questions allowing you to evaluate the ROI of your ERP project: 

  • What advantages has ERP made it possible to achieve from an operational point of view? For example: process automation, error reduction, etc. 
  • What savings result? 
  • How has ERP improved data accuracy and reliability? 
  • How does this impact decision making?
  • What competitive advantages has ERP brought? For example: better customer satisfaction, reduced response times, reduced project assignment time, etc.

B) Clarify what exists 

Starting an ERP migration or implementation project involves auditing your existing system.

This step will first allow you to take stock of the current situation of your business.

Carefully map: 

  • Your communication flows
  • The process
  • The types of data that circulate
  • Software used 

Once the inventory has been completed, you will be better able to identify the elements that you wish to keep subsequently. 

     1. Identify data in circulation and to be retained

Consider this step like spring cleaning. You will see more clearly the data that circulates within your company as well as those that must be kept.

     2. Ensure growth

Although this audit stage can be long and tedious, it is extremely important for the success of your ERP project and for the growth of your business . Imagining growing a service and consulting company without good management of its customer base and its resource planning would be illusory.

     3. Involve the teams

Our advice: involve your teams from this stage of the project. You will thus be able to initiate change management and you will have a solid base of information thanks to a precise field vision.


      C) Determine your budget 

Keep in mind that an ERP project represents a heavy investment , both human and financial.

  • Tool cost 

First of all, theprice of the softwareis significant. In addition, it may requirethe installation of infrastructure, especially if you choose an on-premises version (vs cloud).

With each solution, maintenance costs are to be expected. 

  • Mobilization of teams

The teams mobilized throughout the duration of the project will also generate heavy expenses. If you do not have the human resources available internally, collaboration with a specialized service provider is strongly recommended. Even in this case, however, teams must be defined in order to guarantee project management which will ensure consistency between the implementation and the defined objectives.

Therefore, precisely assessing the budget that you are ready to invest constitutes an important part of the framing phase.

Indeed, this decision will directly impact the choice of the tool, the service provider but also the level of support received. Other decisions can result from this estimate, such as migrating your data yourself or commissioning your service provider depending on the scale of the task.


Framing and planning an ERP 1 project



D) Identify potential risks

As with any project, there are risks to consider. The more you anticipate , the more effective you will be in resolving problems .

     1. List potential risks

Indeed, several events and hazards can impact the project: 

  • Business Needs Assessment
  • Budget change
  • Bankruptcy of the retained software
  • Legislation changes
  • Availability of teams
  • External events 

     2. Anticipate solutions

Without being paranoid, astudy of the potential riskswill be constructive.

We recommend that you establish a list of elements that could compromise the implementation or migration of your ERP tool. Once these elements have been identified, analyze the potential consequences and anticipate solutions. Defining an action plan in advance will save you cold sweats, delays and additional costs.


      E) Designate a team 

The choice of team is an essential factor for the success of a project of this magnitude. 

     1. Select the most motivated profiles

Choose only people who are truly involved and motivated . The migration or implementation of an ERP project is heavy to bear as this tool is strategic for the company and its growth.

     2. Diversify profiles

Start by choosing a project manager with strong shoulders as well as a team made up of mixed profiles . Each specialty will contribute its contribution, whether it is a technical, strategic, operational or commercial profile . Make sure they are available over the next 6 to 12 months , as this is the average duration for an ERP implementation or migration project.


      F) Edit specifications 

     1. Contextualize the project 

The technical and functional specifications are a precise document which will serve as a reference throughout the project. It provides context:

  • About the company
  • Its challenges 
  • The economic context in which it operates 
  • Its competitors 
  • Its needs
  • His ambitions

When expressing needs, you can notably formulate your expectations in terms of functionalities and the level of customization required . Be careful, however, not to fall into the trap of over-personalization: this often more expensive solution can prove difficult to manage later, particularly when finding expert service providers or setting up training.

     2. Understand the benefits provided by the specifications

This document is essential to clarify your needs and communicate them as precisely as possible to the service provider.

Establishing specifications offers several advantages: 

  • Precisely divide the different phases of the project 
  • Confirm parties involved 
  • Define a precise agenda 
  • Clarify the project end date 


      G) Choose an ERP

The choice of tool must be strategic : you will use it for years and will be required to collaborate regularly with its teams.

     1. Define the selection criteria

Start by listing the criteria that are important to you. For example : 

  • Quality of customer support 
  • List of essential features
  • Specialization in an industry
  • Budget
  • Additional services 

     2. Compare the different ERPs

Once your expectations are clearly established, you can make an initial selection and proceed to the comparison phase . At this stage, it is necessary to collect opinions from current customers, to discuss with the sales teams or to try to obtain a trial version . These are all elements that will help you choose the ERP tool adapted to your needs and the ambitions of your company.

Tip: An integrated ERP solution makes it possible, for example, to group all of your data on the same platform. Here are 10 benefits of choosing an integrated solution to manage your business.

     3. Go for the feeling 

Can't decide? Base it on your feeling and the ease of communication you had during your discussions with the teams. You will be required to communicate several times a week… for months. At similar prices and features, friendly and constructive communication can help you decide between them.

To help you, here is the guide to choosing an ERP as a service company.

Framing and planning an ERP 2 project 

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2nd step

Deployment and implementation

Having reached this phase, you already have: 

  • Establish your needs
  • Define a team
  • Decided on a schedule
  • Wrote functional and technical specifications
  • Choose a tool or even a service provider 

In the deployment phase, you will ensure that everything that has been defined upstream applies. At this level, project monitoring must truly be regular and rigorous.       


      A) Set your expectations 

How do you know if your ERP project can be qualified as successful? 

To do this, you must establish a list of your expectations . The agenda defined in the framing phase gives you an initial direction. Answer the following question: who needs what and when?

This will help you define the key moments of the project on a precise timeline so that you can measure its success at the end.

Here are 3 keys to making your ERP project a success: 

  • Mastery of time
  • Cost control 
  • Transparent communication 


      B) Migrate your data

Does the project seem to be coming to an end? However, the data migration stage remains crucial. Indeed, data constitutes one of the company's greatest assets and their migration must therefore be the subject of meticulous work. Take the time to establish a precise data migration strategy : to maintain their added value, this data must be aggregated , cleaned and reliable above all.

A data migration project includes: 

  1. Planning : defining the key stages, the agenda, the teams involved
  2. Analysis : identify the data to be migrated. What data to keep? What level of history is required?
  3. The backup 
  4. Mapping : ensuring correspondence from one system to another
  5. Data validation _
  6. Data cleaning _
  7. Exception handling
  8. Documentation : detail the steps, challenges, errors , solutions


      C) Test and recipe

An ERP project remains incomplete without a careful testing and retesting phase . This should in no case be neglected.

     1. Write a recipe book

Writing a recipe book will allow two things:

  • Ensure that the needs mentioned in the scoping phase are well covered
  • Review each point to verify that everything is functional

If errors persist, they can then be corrected at this stage , before going into production.

The recipe book consists of a series of tests , organized by scenarios according to each type of user .

For example : 

Need: “As a salesperson, I would like to provide all the information about my client in a file dedicated to them”

Test: Use the functionality to create a customer file

Result: If success “OK”, if failure “KO” possibly adding details on non-functional elements. 

     2. Involve the teams

The recipe involves all of your employees , particularly the business teams who will become the end users of the solution.

Therefore, it is important to validate their needs and expectations with regard to this tool and to ensure that the ERP chosen responds to them correctly.

Finally, the recipe will also allow you to anticipate the training phase by precisely identifying concrete use cases expected by your employees.


      D) Train your employees

Changing your habits is never easy, which is why the training phase is essential to facilitate the adoption of this new tool by your teams.

  • Benefits of investing in training 

Training is crucial to enable smooth adaptation to change , and will prove beneficial on several points:

  1. Better handling of the ERP
  2. A saving of time
  3. A gain in efficiency and productivity
  4. Better employee satisfaction
  5. An improvement in profitability

By refusing to invest time and energy in the training aspect, you risk facing reluctance , slowed down processes and a certain frustration from your employees. Finally, poor use of ERP carries risks, such as a lack of data reliability or autonomy leading to dependence on your teams.

  • Key points to address when training your teams in an ERP

We therefore strongly recommend that you organize a precise training schedule to facilitate the adoption of your ERP project internally. Make sure that all teams involved receive this training and don't hesitate to evolve it based on what you observe over time.

Cover the important points: 

    • The key stages of integration and its agenda
    • How the tool works
    • The benefits provided: more precision, more reliability, more autonomy with regard to access to data, saving time, better efficiency
    • Presentation of new processes  
  • Expert support

The training stage being crucial, you could decide to be supported by a service provider: either by an agency or by an independent contractor. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the chosen ERP to also offer dedicated training consultants or connect you with partners . Their expertise and experience give them a high level of mastery as well as a good understanding of the issues involved.

Deployment and implementation 1

Step 3

Post-deployment monitoring and optimization

      A) Evaluate the success of the project 

The assessment will make it possible to evaluate the success of the ERP project and measure its ROI.

     1. Analyze the KPIs

Start by carefully reviewing the KPIs determined in the framing phase. 

You will be able to base your analysis on concrete elements . Then, compare and analyze these elements from one period to another: before/after the project or from one year to the next.

     2. Exchange with end users

If encrypted data proves essential at this stage, the feeling of your end users is also crucial. It is about the well-being and retention of your employees , and ultimately your profitability as a company. Take the time to gather their views and consider any suggestions they may have .

Answering the following questions will help you measure the impact of the project:

  • Are the objectives achieved?
  • Do the features meet the teams’ expectations? 
  • Does the deployed ERP meet all the needs expressed in the scoping phase? 
  • Do employees know how to make the most of the new tool?  
  • Was the data transferred correctly from one system to another? 
  • Was the agenda respected? The budget ? 


      B) Ensure maintenance

Keeping your ERP up to date is necessary for several reasons. 

     1. Guarantee an optimal level of security

Your company's ERP may receive personal data : about your employees, your customers, your service providers, etc. First of all, make sure that this collection complies with GDPR regulations .

Next, you must put in place as many measures as possible to prevent security breaches in your system.

It is your responsibility as a data collector to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands. This requires careful maintenance of your tools, and therefore of your ERP.

     2. Limit the number of interruptions 

Engaging in preventive maintenance measures will help avoid bugs and slowdowns . However, this type of interruption could seriously harm the productivity of your teams.

Be careful if you opt for an On-Premise solution: this infrastructure generally requires more maintenance than a Cloud version. Furthermore, it requires solid technical resources . However, it may be relevant if you have high customization needs.


      C) Develop the tool

Did you think you were done? In reality, an ERP project is never truly completed! 

  • Objectives aligned with strategy

Indeed, the needs of your business are likely to evolve , especially in a growth phase. As a result, you need to ensure that the tool remains aligned with the overall company strategy and continues to meet your needs.

  • Necessary compliance

Finally, an upgrade to your ERP may be necessary to remain compliant from a legislative perspective . Certain regulatory developments may impact your industry or your operations; it is your responsibility to bring your company and your tools into compliance.

Post-deployment monitoring and optimization 1

Final thoughts

The key to a successful ERP project? Careful preparation ! The framing phase is fundamental and allows you to review not only your objectives but also your existing ones .

An ERP project is particularly strategic for a company, especially if it is a consulting or service company, for which the handling of customer and team data remains particularly cumbersome.

Let's keep in mind that this is a very demanding project in terms of human and financial resources , over several months . An ERP project must therefore be anticipated and perfectly executed because it concerns the company as a whole. Its benefits can be quickly visible, both for your customers and your employees. However, a poorly implemented ERP project can also have serious consequences affecting the satisfaction and profitability of your business.

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