ERP Implementation: How to Get Started On the Right Foot

by Jeffrey Sassenscheid


Implementing an ERP can feel overwhelming, which is why many organizations delay the process to the point of hindering their own growth and efficiency. Whenever undertaking an implementation, planning is fundamental to success. All good implementations have two beginning phases: Project Initiation and Implementation Planning. Today, we’ll talk about Initiation. You might think that initiation and planning are pretty similar – but one is thinking BIG picture, making sure you have all your ducks in a row before you dive in to what is often a long, long journey.  

During that Initiation phase, all important structures for the implementation will be built. The strength of these foundations will determine the success of the ERP beyond implementation. Here’s a snapshot of what you should plan on doing during this stage of your ERP implementation: 

  • Putting together a project plan and charter – this includes various planning committees and subcommittees, made up of all your internal and third party stakeholders 
  • Understand and define your software and hardware infrastructure – and document, document, document everything (infrastructure components, design, ownership – like stated, everything)  
  • Map out your new technology key deliverables and think about what retiring your old system will look like  
  • Play/Demo Selected Software Environment Creation  
  • Decide on (and document) your planning team’s communication chain 
  • Plan for Required Technology Instances  

These activities, when applied before the planning stage of an implementation, will ensure a smooth start to what can often times be an enterprise-wide overhaul.  

After project kick-off comes a more detailed planning phase. The importance of the Implementation Planning phase cannot be understated. It involves a collaborative team approach from the entire implementation, project, and build teams to create a full scope of the day-to-day activities; identify and define job duties each employee performs; develop a lifecycle workflow; and identify cross-departmental workflows and processes. This  requires cooperation and willingness to assess the ownership of job responsibilities and tasks.   

Scenario: if you’re planning to “go-live” with a new system by April 2020, you should start your initiation phase 18 months prior, and transition into your planning phase at 14-12 months prior to “go-live.”  

Getting employees, especially key personnel, to buy into the plan – to become fully committed to it early on – is essential. There are two important facets that must be in place before the implementation process can begin: 

  1. Clearly stating the implementation is consistent with the organization’s vision and general business strategy and has broad approval from senior management 
  2. An understanding of plan costs and institutional commitment to the full funding of the implementation 

Common issues that occur during implementation initiation and planning:  

  • Lack of reinforcement of long-term goals  
  • Strategic plans treated as separate from daily operations  
  • Plans that are too cumbersome and must be reduced to realistic milestones to be made achievable  
  • Insufficient progress reporting  
  • Benchmark monitoring and identification  
  • Committees not given sufficient authority to implement the plan   
  • Team members not given sufficient time or means to implement the plan   

Implementing ERP is an undertaking requiring organizational buy-in, planning and a dedicated team to keep the implementation on track. Though there are many things to consider, with an experienced partner implementing ERP is an achievable project. 

The Implementation Planning phase is successful when the outcome plan is time-limited, designed with periodic reviews, major review with leadership teams and major reviews with user and testing teams.  

If you’d like to talk more about this, hear best practices around initiation and planning for your new ERP, or discuss any other ERP topics, I’d love to connect – you can email me at 

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