Whether you are implementing your first ERP system or replacing an old one, choosing the right ERP implementation phasing is important to project success. The three main ERP implementation options are Big Bang, Phased, and Parallel. Each option has merit, but the best choice is the one that fits your situation. The following questions will help you define your situation.
- How resistant to change is the team?
- Are the majority of employees able to learn quickly?
- What level of risk is reasonable?
- What is our time frame?
- Does the budget allow for higher spending on implementation?
The big bang approach refers to when all parts of the new ERP “go live” (are turned on) all at once. This is the fastest approach, because everyone must use the new system once it is live.
This approach has the shortest implementation time. Big bang is often the most affordable option because there aren’t two systems running simultaneously.
Employees need to pick the system up as quickly as possible. Reduced productivity can occur due to difficulty adjusting to the new system and learning different processes. Any issues that arise will need to be dealt with immediately, which could lead to other problems.
This ERP implementation tactic features a predefined set of steps for slowly transitioning from the old to new system. Organizations can release modules in phases, usually taking 2 to 4 weeks between releases.
Risk is substantially decreased with a phased rollout ERP implementation. Employees can learn as each new phase is implemented. This option often retains the highest amount of productivity. Fixes are also easier to make since they are typically limited to one or two modules at a time.
The phased rollout implementation requires a connection between old and new systems, which increases costs. Introducing the different phases does draw out the implementation time. This extended period of implementation can cause continuous disruptions over the course of the project. Phased rollout often takes longer than other implementation methods. People may experience implementation fatigue by being in a continuous state of change.
The parallel ERP implementation phasing strategy involves operating the new and old system at the same time. Users typically train on the new system, but work out of the old system until the switch is complete.
This is the least risky strategy. People have a lot of time to train on the new system. Those that are resistant to change do well with this method.
Parallel adoption is often the most expensive of the ERP implementation phasing strategies. Employees can become frustrated from dual data entry. Errors are made most often in this strategy from forgetting to enter information in both systems.
Making the Decision
After reading the positive and negative points of each method, you should have an idea of what might work. For some companies, there may not be much of a choice because of fixed constraints. It all comes down to your time frame, budget, resources, and comfort with risk.
Leverage Consultant Expertise
History of past success (or failure) is a good indication of what will happen in the future. An ERP consultant will be able to guide you towards the right path. Many seasoned consultants have seen all three ERP implementation phasing methods, providing a comprehensive picture. They will have insight into which option may be best for your situation, employees, and company.