Curious about Rapid ERP deployment? Discover what a Quick Start is and when it’s a good idea.
In most cases, the need for a Quick Start to an ERP or CRM project is either not necessary or not advised. In some limited cases, however, a Quick Start not only provides the best approach, but also the best value.
What is a Quick Start?
Typically, ERP projects start out with an exhaustive discovery phase where the partner and consultants document the current business processes to fully understand the business requirements for a new software implementation. This often takes weeks, if not months, to perform – and yields a tremendous amount of documentation and insight into how the business operates.
It is fair to say that as much as 30% or more of the project lifecycle can be dedicated to discovery. As stated earlier, in most cases, this is a necessary process and expense.
Discovery documentation is then used to determine gaps in the current business-to-software process of the chosen ERP system. These documented gaps are broken into solution categories such as Configuration, Customization, Future Phase, or Out of Scope.
The next phase after discovery is commonly referred to as solution design where the gaps are carefully analyzed, and a solution concept is documented to manage each process gap. This stage, while not as lengthy as the discovery phase, can take several weeks or more to complete.
The result, after several months of time and hard work, is a plan to move the current business process into a newly defined software process that mitigates the change risk to the business. And, as stated earlier, this is normal and expected in most ERP projects.
When is Rapid ERP Deployment a Good Idea
In certain cases where you have a need to dramatically change your current business process or have no interest in “doing things like we always have,” a Quick Start method may be of value. This project type maps the existing software process to the business, and only makes changes to the software process through existing configuration options.
In a Quick Start project, the discovery process is significantly reduced to only capture necessary business structure and financial reporting needs. After just a few days, a systems architect can begin making ERP configurations. These configurations are reviewed by the architect, analysts, and customer team to build a solution concept, in an Agile way, which is functional as a Proof of Concept or first version of a Conference Room Pilot within a few weeks.
Not only is there a shorter discovery and solution design phase, but the development phase is also reduced because the business adapts to existing software processes. Most of the changes in a Quick Start development phase include only changes to customer- or vendor-facing documents. Given that most conventional ERP systems, including Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, allow for robust reporting, the Quick Start generally does not include many new reports.
After you’ve had time to operate the new ERP system for a period of several months, some Phase 2 items are normally considered but these requests and needs are made more wisely after Go Live and after the effect of the changes to the business process have been absorbed. An educated user community, operating in the new ERP system, is less likely to require large-scale customizations or additions weeks or months beyond Go Live.
In these cases, where the business process can adjust to the software process, it is easy to recoup significant time and cost in an ERP project. A reduction of 30-to-50 percent in project duration and labor costs is often common. Consider this: The longer your partner and his resources are working – the more the project the will cost. Reducing this time gets the implementation done sooner, for a reduced cost.
Our consultants have seen this Quick Start model work very well with customers who have, for example, been on the same (outdated) software system for more than 15 or 20 years. In these cases, the software processes are so loosely aligned to business process that a huge gain in efficiency is realized the sooner the new system can be implemented.
It is interesting to see where third party tools supplement necessary business process because the software system provides no value. Look for extreme use of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, or even paper documents to move transactions through the business and complete processes.