How Long Does it Take to Implement an ERP System in Small Businesses?

How Long Does it Take to Implement an ERP System in Small Businesses?

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system represents a kind of software that organizations use to manage their daily activities, for instance, risk management, project management, inventory management, customer relationship management, supply chain operations, and compliance. 

Any time an ERP is implemented it is a considerable task requiring businesses to invest significant resources and time to ensure the updated software will generate real ROI. As you might anticipate, the reply to our nominal question is not fixed. The length of time needed to implement your ERP relies on a diverse number of variables. Finding out how long it will take to complete the project is pretty tricky, but it must be done as perfectly as possible. 

Wrong estimation of the go-live date could lead to an unachievable schedule that can eventually cost your business more money and time. Putting together the whole timeframe of ERP implementation is necessary and should be done accurately.

Small businesses that implement ERP software are able to reduce operating costs by up to 20%.
-Terillium

To provide insight into this problem, this article to explains how business processes can maintain a realistic calendar for ERP implementation. 

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How Long Does it Take to Implement an ERP System?

ERP implementation planning is always complex. While implementing an ERP, companies should target to get the project completed within 5-6 months and not longer than this.

Although it's a fact that ERP implementations are a massive project to take on, prolonged implementation timelines only direct to ERP projects failing and stalling – abandoning your business in deterioration. 

As you're considering and vetting potential ERP vendors, you should ask yourself comparative questions to unearth the business needs that will be driving your decision to implement ERP. For example, you can consider things like which is better, SAP or ServiceNow? Is Oracle better than SAP for the business? Is SAP the best ERP?

It's important to understand the different integration steps and services offered by leading ERP vendors and doing a comparison of leading ERP vendors with these types of considerations top of mind will help ensure you get the best system for your business. 

What if You Don’t Have Enough Time to Implement an ERP?

Most manufacturers notice they want an ERP when they are already in dire need of it. Typically, businesses realize that they need an ERP system when their business is booming or changing in a big way, and they recognize that they cannot hold up to the top of things. 

ERP software assists companies in plenty of ways – from keeping on top of job costs, tracking inventory, making shop floor efficiencies, stimulating accounting tasks, and many more. But what it depicts when it comes to implementation is that ERP projects are attention-seeking: any system that links to so many business aspects will be tough to implement. 

The good news is, if your business is changing and expanding, your team is already struggling to maintain the things, but you know they can manage it. They are already doing everything and pushing through to help you get your projects completed and target achieved, so you know they will do the same when it’s the time to implement an enterprise resource planning system.

Honestly speaking, there will never be an ideal time to implement an ERP. You will always have excuses why not to do it. Gone are the days when ERP was just a business management software in which only exorbitant companies invested. Today, ERP has become an essential and indispensable part of the business and an ERP system must help organize daily processes, centralize operations, and promote the bottom line. 

ERP implementation is prone to challenges since it's a huge task that needs businesses to effectively use resources and take the time to ensure that the software generates an impressive ROI for the company. Still, one question is often asked by everybody who wants to implement an ERP system in their organization: how long does it take? 

The answer is; it varies! Multiple factors find out how long it will take. There are no hard and fast rules to follow the go-live date; thus, there can be an inexact schedule. It relies on your business. Knowing the time it will take to implement ERP software as complex and large as ERP differs from case to case. It can take from a couple of months to a couple of years. Implementation time depends on the number of required modules, deployment locations, available resources, and data conversion and customization. 

What is the Process of Knowing the Actual Time Estimate for ERP Implementation?

You'll want to know how well each of those elements mentioned above matches your business procedures. Every factor affects time. A company must define the dashboard capabilities and the reporting it needs and know if custom reports will be configured within the ERP system. It's also important to understand that Enterprise Resource Planning implementations happen in stages that are additive, so each phase must be done with consideration since the next will build upon it.

Implementing ERP software needs a structured methodology centered on people, strategy, and procedures. Among the several methods used, the best one will cover all the bases and permit businesses to manage unexpected factors without negative consequences. It's also essential for companies to present the precise number of users the industry has so implementation consultants or project managers can notice added complexities. This will be helpful for them to identify how many users they are going to train and complete other ad-hoc operations timely. 

The initial step to a streamlined implementation is picking out a good ERP software suitable for your particular business requirements. If the users are countless, the team is extensive, and the company is spread internationally, it may take years to complete the ERP implementation.

On the other hand, if it's a small or mid-sized business spread over one city, it might only endure from days to weeks. Your business must use an experienced partner to ensure that all user tasks are covered on time.

Every building procedure is unique, and this relies on the nature of the products you create. The machine is the workhorse of nearly every small and mid-sized manufacturing company. Still, some tasks require human resources. Specific assembly tasks of components and parts are done manually, which can be unsafe if not done carefully. When you automate such tasks, it becomes easy for companies to conform to government regulations and other employee protocols.

How Quickly Can a Company Expect to Go Live with ERP?

This question is essential to ask on the front-end of the project, but it should be to understand what they'd like to achieve through the implementation and not something beheld while validating the system. The implementation team must develop a roadmap that involves previously delineated goals, timelines, training procedures, objectives, and team responsibilities. 

The best approach is to build them from the base within your company. Consolidate and efficient communication plan into every phase of the implementation project. This includes weekly status meetings between the implementation team and project committee from the date the project starts. Both the project committee and the implementation team must come to terms with practical expectations about the project and agree upon the preferences.

The ERP features and modules you require will help determine your timelines as well. It's always best to ask your ERP vendor if the system implementation will cut down backlogs, enhance productivity yields, amend on-time deliveries, and more. It describes the implementation scope and streamlines the tasks. 

Moreover, the critical stakeholders in the project must be offered an appropriate role and held answerable for it. With positive behavioral elements in the project, there's less possibility of hanging over the recommended date. Several organizations judge the capabilities of their software and train the whole team of users to know every function of it and point out if they see any gaps. With this approach and behavioral aspects of the project in place, the chance of scope creep is cut down.

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What Can You do to Make Sure of a Successful Yet Strategic ERP Implementation?

At times during implementations, the procedure gets jammed. Usually, it is because companies don't wholly understand their particular business needs and overall ERP goals. It's substantial to be fully prepared before implementation to avoid delays. Let's have a look at the steps of ERP implementation.

  1. Strategic planning – designate a team to the project, check existing business workflow, set the goals, establish a project plan.
  2. Procedure assessment – judge the software capabilities, decide manual procedures, set standard operating procedures.
  3. Data clean-up and collection – collect new data, convert data, assess all data input, and clean up data.
  4. Training and testing – try the database generated, assure performance, functional and integration pre-testing, train the workers and perform final testing.
  5. Prepare the last go-live checklist.

What is the Difference Between On-cloud or On-premise ERP Implementation?

ERP implementation planning is a burdensome process. When we speak about on-premise ERP, ERP implementation is certainly a more time-consuming process as hardware such as laptops, desktops, CPU, etc., are needed. Software vendors may take time to deliver the hardware as it might be a lengthy process.

Contrarily, cloud ERP can be an implementation from all across the world with no extra hardware procurement.

According to an Intel survey, at least 80% of enterprises are now following such a strategy and anticipate running “just about everything” in the cloud within a year.

Who has the Authority to Decide the Length of the Time?

The team involved in performing the implementation should determine the project's timeframe. Our clients sometimes have reasons for nailing the project by a decided date. For those scenarios, the implementation partner must know what work can be accomplished by that point. From there, customers and partners can determine which objectives are a preference and secondary.

The partner must also submit a case to the customer about how the project can be divided into phases. This way, the company can have a logical expectation about what it will take to complete the project they anticipated. 

An ERP implementation timeframe is also impacted by the number of customization that should be done, location, size of the business if there are numerous companies, and the acquisition of the ERP by all departments.

There are the five major things that every ERP implementation plan should have:

  1. Project deployment team
  2. Budget with cost prediction
  3. Change management
  4. Workers’ training
  5. Maintenance plan

While creating a project team, your primary target should be to delegate the workload to people responsible for their work. Four prime members of the implementation are significant as they will be supervising the implementation projects.

There are always going to be different reasons a company will undertake an ERP implementation, and having a project manager who understands those reasons and oversees and cascades the jobs to others can be key to success . Application analysts who are responsible for migrating and filtering out the data. Lastly, a quality analyst and developer who will develop customization if needed and check them out before the go-live date.

Budget with cost prediction – according to a survey conducted by Panorama research, the entire cost of ERP implementation often overflows the budget forecast by 56%.

The primary reason is that the businesses only think about the license cost. However, there are lots of expenses such as staff overtime, network upgrades, data backups, customization, procurement of hardware, and training fees that must be budgeted along with other costs.

Change Management – no two businesses are the same, and this is always reflected in the ERP characteristics that differing companies will need. Although the software gets implemented in your company, you should take time to educate and train the users to manage the transformation. Thus, it's always recommended to have an efficient organizational strategy and communication plan with projected advantages to develop an appropriate change management strategy.

Training – the implementation plan must involve a room that can be used to educate and train employees to get the maximum benefit from the software. Training is a critical, but often overlooked aspect of a successful ERP implementation, but one of the greatest advantages of ERP and an indicator of successful implementation and ROI realization is how highly adopted the system is with employees.

Maintenance plan – ERP implementation is time-taking that requires a clear maintenance plan. A well-established and planned maintenance contract permits businesses to access up-to-date functionality and technology. With a team of support specialists, your queries will always be answered. 

In the end, you should achieve cost savings of 30-60%, but this depends on the vendor's flexibility and the size of your organization, according to Panorama Consulting. 

How Long Does it Take to Implement an ERP System for Small Businesses?

Small businesses that implement ERP software achieve 100% ROI within 27 months, on average Cloud ERP lowers upfront cost (compared to traditional on-premise ERP) – as subscriptions are paid monthly, according to Terillium. 

Implementing an ERP system for small businesses generally takes 3-9 months, based on the scope of requirements. If the system requires customization, the project's timeframe will change accordingly. The type of ERP system can also impact the implementation timeframes as well.

The general flow and timeline of an ERP implementation project for a small business are as follows:

  • Requirements analysis (1 month)
    • Verify the objective, period, budget, and requirements for the system implementation.
    • After analyzing the requirements, a suitable ERP will be chosen for implementation.
  • Setting up the test environment (1.5 months)
    • Once after setting up the requirements, the software vendor will develop the system environment.
    • Fix the ERP system with the help of a test server.
  • Implementation phase (2-4 months)
    • Keep setting up and testing the ERP system.
    • If integration or add-ons with other systems must be developed, it will be done simultaneously.
  • User training (1 month)
    • Perform acceptance tests by users.
    • The vendors develop a training manual.
  • Go-live (few days)
    • Shift to the production environment of a new system.
    • Perform getting-go data migration and see where data shifted from the previous system is appropriately contemplated
  • After go-live support (1-2 weeks)
    • Software vendors offer support for one to two weeks.

Regardless of being small or large, businesses require an ERP solution to compete in today's marketplace. Once you finalize your ERP system, correct implementation is vital to get the most out of it. If implemented well, ERP can tremendously improve your business's productivity.