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FAQ - Should you implement ERP with the BIG BANG or phased approach?

"Big Bang" relates to the cut-over process to a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system as opposed to a phased, module by module, implementation (see jargon buster). The problem with the phased approach is that as each module relies on information from other modules during the phasing in of the system there will be many incorrect messages, so we strongly recommend big bang for all the key modules (sales order processing, material planning including purchasing and factory management). Peripheral modules such as human resources, document management, maintenance and even financials (which take information from but do not generally add to the data) can be added later. If there is more than one business unit involved it is best to implement in a relatively easy but not untypical unit first then roll out the implementation to the other units.

We recommend a conference room pilot approach where computer work stations are set up in a room to represent each of the major tasks of customer service /order entry, planning, goods-in, stores and finance. A simplified data set is loaded and the company operations run through. The data is gradually increased as first the project team, then managers and finally users get more familiar with the software.

Provided the conference room pilots above have been run properly at all three stages, project team, management and users, the least risk strategy is to cut-over with a clean break from the old methods (Big Bang). The timing of the pilots is also important in relation to the rest of the project. The use of a live pilot (running the system on an isolated part of the business) increases everyone's confidence in the cut-over but, as it delays the full implementation, can be omitted if everyone is confident.

For more information you should purchase my book "Business Excellence" which describes in detail how to successfully cut-over to a new system using the Big Bank approach. The best resource to help you plan and implement an ERP implementation (or re-implementation of a system that is not delivering savings) is our ERP class "A" Implementation Toolkit - click for more details.