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Make it Your Type: How Prototyping Accelerates the Launch of ERP

Reading Time: 3 Minutes 09.09.2020 Currents & Trends

7 reasons for using the tried and true ERP standards

Every head of IT fears an ERP project which takes up several years. This is especially true for small and mid-sized enterprises, where the IT resources available are rather sparse. New approaches based on prototypes for end-to-end processes are able to ease companies' fears of large-scale projects. In this article, ERP provider proALPHA describes this method and explains in which cases it is particularly useful.

Time is money: Benjamin Franklin's more than 200-year-old advice addressed to young merchants still applies today. Therefore, companies and especially SMEs try to reduce the time necessary for implementing an ERP system. One possible approach to accelerating the launch of an ERP system is prototyping.

Models speed up the process
This method builds on two essential components: Firstly, a process design based on templates and end-to-end processes. Industry differences are not simply swept under the carpet here. On the contrary: Wholesale has entirely different needs than mechanical and plant engineering or high tech and electronics manufacturers. Secondly, this method works with prototypes prepared for the processes. They already have the essential parameterizations and feature a vast volume of master files and other relevant data. In addition, various forms are preconfigured. With your reference data imported into the first prototype, you can already gain hands-on experience.

This method offers many benefits:

  1. Design everything from a single source
    The entire project management is based on one comprehensive template. This ensures a uniform and consistent concept. It is not only important that an ERP solution has certain functionalities. The consultants should also have example industry and standard processes at hand. If you draw upon such a library, you ensure that no essential process is overlooked or forgotten.

  2. Use proven models
    The orientation toward "standard market processes" also offers the chance to implement the system faster and with high quality, especially where industry-specific processes are concerned. After all, the wheel does not have to be reinvented.

  3. Stand out in crucial aspects
    Furthermore, process maps based on experience are used to quickly detect the unique selling points of a company. Program customizations are hence reduced to the bare minimum. This way, the company stands out in the crucial, competitive aspects and invests in the adjustments required in these areas.

  4. Economical use of resources
    The design phase that is common in classic projects becomes obsolete thanks to the prototyping method. Highly qualified key users do not have to spend many hours with process and requirements design. This approach reduces the project duration and preserves many valuable resources.

  5. Simplify knowledge transfer
    Templates offer yet another benefit: The process and application know-how is conveyed more easily and more quickly. This also contributes to a reduced implementation period.

  6. Reduce documentation times
    Preparation and post-processing times can be significantly reduced by using comprehensive templates and a process designer. And this is not only because smaller adjustments and their effects can be immediately visualized and understood. An additional plus is that the export of the defined processes forms the basis for procedural documentation.

  7. Minimize project risks
    In order for the project to not get out of hand concerning budget and time, a statement of work must clearly define the scope of the prototype. The presentations of the consecutive prototypes then form the milestones of the project. Between presentations, the project team discusses business, partial, and subprocesses, describes them, and creates the master files relevant to the processes in the ERP system. This way, the project work and its results become more transparent and closer to reality.
Despite all its benefits, prototyping is not an all-rounder. This method is of no help in companies whose processes deviate greatly from the standard. In such companies, the ERP project's success depends on a well-founded design phase. For all other companies, the best practices and prototyping approach is worth it, especially if the prototypes are end-to-end processes: Migrating to a new ERP system as well as upgrading to a later version can be done in significantly less time.

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