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ERP Implementations and House Building – Phase 5: Project Planning and Preparation

Image of a man designing a house

In this multi-part blog series, Alan Lyczkowski discusses the many surprising parallels that can be drawn between an ERP implementation and the process of building a house. NOTE: If you’re just joining us for the series, you can read the first five installments here: Introduction, Phase 1: Analysis, Phase 2: Shopping, Phase 3: Choosing a Partner, and Phase 4: Decisions.

After we have determined our needs, selected the best choices and a builder that we are comfortable with, and identified what we want, we need to do some planning. In home building, there are some tasks that require other tasks to be completed first, and there are some tasks can work in parallel.

You, your builder, and a project manager will need to meet regularly to monitor the status of the project. In home building, there are critical tasks that need to be completed sequentially (dig the hole for foundation, pour the foundation, set floor decking, rough in the walls, etc.). In ERP, there some tasks that need to be executed sequentially as well (install database, create development and testing environments, set up database, etc.). In both scenarios, however, there tasks that can be accomplished in parallel: rough in the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC…develop modifications, begin initial training of non-modified areas, etc.

Regardless, you need to have a plan. Following are some of the major system areas to consider in planning your ERP implementation:

  • Database installation
  • Database setup
  • Power user training
  • Enhancement development
  • Testing
  • Data migration
  • End user training and documentation
  • Open balance and history migration
  • Go live and post-go live support

Along with system changes, you also need to prepare for process changes and possible policy changes. How do you assist users with understanding these as well as the way the software works?

When planning a project of this nature, I recommend keeping a few items in the forefront of planning sessions.

  • In a perfect world, I would be able to devote 100% of my time to building my house, but I have a job to do. When determining the investment of time by your team, keep in mind that the day-to-day operations need to continue, as well as the additional tasks of a project like this. Build this into your plan.
  • Be flexible in determining the timing of events. Some of the tasks on our house were not able to be completed on the day they were scheduled, as we experienced a Michigan winter. The other tasks, however, got accomplished.
  • Set goals and try to stick to them. Hold your team accountable when they meet their goals, as well as when they do not. Remember, everyone is working towards the same goal when taking on additional work of a project.

I was recently introduced to the “Iron Triangle.” The Iron triangle describes projects like these where there are three sides of a triangle involved with the completion of a project. They are Time, Money, and Quality. For the most part, two of these will be achievable, but all three cannot, so prepare for the one which you are not able to achieve.

I also recommend being diligent in planning to ensure that you accomplish everything you set out to do. However, be flexible enough to deal with the bumps in the road that will inevitably occur. In any case, keep in mind this adage: Failure to plan is the same as planning to fail.

Watch for Alan’s next installment, Phase 6: Walk-through.

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