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ERP Implementation Life Cycle

ERP lifecycle is in which highlights the different stages in implementation of An ERP. The process of ERP implementation is referred to as “ERP Implementation Life Cycle”. There are different stages of the ERP implementation that are as give below:

1.    Adoption decision,
2.    Acquisition,
3.    Implementation,
4.    Use and maintenance,
5.    Evolution and Retirement phases

Let us brief all the phases of ERP Life Cycle from the following paragraphs.

Block Diagram of Phases
of ERP Life Cycle

1.    Adoption Decision

Once the company has decided to go for the ERP system, the search for the package must start as there are hundreds of packages it is always better to do a through and detailed evaluation of a small number of packages, than doing analysis of dozens of packages. This stage will be useful in eliminating those packages that are not suitable for the business process.

This stage is considered an important phases of the ERP implementation, as the package that one selects will decide the success or failure of the package that one selects will decide the success or failure of the project. Implementation of an ERP involves huge investments and it is not easy to switch between different packages, so the right thing is ‘do it right the first time’. Once the packages to be evaluated are identified, the company needs to develop selection criteria that permit the evaluation of all the available packages on the same scale.

2.    Acquisition

This is the phase that designs the implementation process. It is in this phase that the details of how to go about the implementation are decided. Time schedules deadlines, etc for the project are arrived at. The plan is developed, roles are identified and responsibilities are assigned. it will also decide when to begin the project, how to do it and it completion. A committee by the team leaders of each implementation group usually does such a planning.

This is considered the most crucial phase for the success of ERP implementation. This is the process through which the companies create a complete model of where they are now, and in which direction will they opt in the future. It has been estimated that even the best packages will only meet 80% of the company’s requirements. The remaining 20% presents problematic issues for the company’s reengineering.

It is in this phase that human factors are taken into consideration. While every implementation is going to involve a significant change in number  of employees and their job responsibilities, as the process becomes more automated and efficient, it is best to treat ERP as an investment as well as cost cutting measure.

Training is also an important phase in the implementation, which takes place along with the process of implementation. This is the phase where the company trains its employees to implement and later, run the system. Thus, it is vital for the company to choose the right employee who has the right attitude-people who are willing to change, learn new things and are not afraid of technology and a good functional knowledge.

3.    Implementation

This is the main functional area of ERP implementation. There is a bit of mystique around the customization process and for good reason: the Holy Grail of ERP implementation is synchronizing existing company practices with the package. In order to do so, business processes have to be understood and mapped in such a way that the arrived-at solutions match up with the overall goals of the company. But, companies cannot just shut down their operations while the mapping processes take place. Hence the prototype-a simulation of the actual business processes of the company will be used. The prototype allows for through testing of the “to be” model in a controlled environment. As the ERP consultants configure and test the prototype, they attempt to solve any logistical problems inherent in the BPR before the actual go-live implementation.

This is the phase where one tries to break the system. One has reached a point where the company is testing the real case scenarios. The system is configured and now you must come up with extreme cases like system overloads, multiple users logging on at the same time, users entering invalid data, hackers trying to access restricted areas and so on. This phase is performed to find the weak link so that it can be rectified before its implementation.

4.    Use and Maintenance

This is the phase where ERP is made available to the entire organization. On the technical side the work is almost complete: data conversion is done, databases are up and running and on the functional side, the prototype is fully configured and tested and ready to go operational. The system is officially proclaimed operational even thorough the implementation team must have been testing it and running it successfully for some time. But once the system is ‘live’ the old system is removed and the new system is used for doing business.

This is the phase where the actual users of the system will be given training on how to use the system. This phase starts much before the system goes live. The employees who are going to use the new system are identified. Their current skills are noted and they are divided into groups bases on the current skill levels. Then each group is given traning ont eh new system. This training is very important as the success of the ERP system is in the hands of the end-user. So, these training sessions should give the participants an overall view of the systems and how each person’s actions affect the entire system.

5.    Evaluation and Retirement Phase

Once the implementation is over, the vendor and the hired consultants will go. To reap the fruit of the implementation it is very important that the system has wide acceptance. There should be enough employees who are trained to handle problems those crops up time to time. The systems must be updated with the change in technology. The post implementation will need a different set of roles and skills than those with less integrated kind of systems. At a minimum, everyone who uses these systems needs to be trained on how they work, how they relate to business process and how a transaction ripples through the entire company whenever they press a key.

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