According to BDO, between 60% and 70% of executives pursue transformative technology projects such as ERP implementation to increase market penetration, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance the customer experience.
To short-cut benefits realization, most executives try to adopt ERP “industry best-practices” and “implementation accelerators” – processes proven to work for thousands of other similar customers. In fact, not a day goes by in our consulting practice where we don’t hear about quote-unquote ERP best-practices and accelerators.
But, can ERP best-practices and implementation accelerators truly help your business? Is the value as good as what’s promised? Before we dig in, let’s define our terms.
The Fundamentals of ERP Best-Practices Implementation Accelerators
- ERP best-practices. An ERP best-practice is one or more ERP features and configurations designed to address common business requirements, usually proven across thousands of customers and in response to industry-specific demands.
Best-practices can be generic and industry agnostic, such as a process to support three-way accounts payable invoice matching. They can also be industry specific, such as electronic batch records to support a food manufacturer’s regulatory quality reporting requirements.
- ERP implementation accelerators. An ERP implementation accelerator is a preconfigured ERP business process designed to shorten – or accelerate – an implementation project. An accelerator is often accompanied by standard documentation (blueprints, test scripts, and training guides).
Historically, vendors would sell ERP systems as blank slates. As part of implementation, project teams would have to carve their paths through the system by flipping every switch, mapping every cross-functional touchpoint, and thoroughly testing each and every business scenario.
With modern accelerators, vendors and their integration partners promise to shorten key ERP implementation project phases. Examples of ERP implementation accelerators include Infor’s 60-30-10 methodology, Best-Practices for SAP S/4Hana Cloud, Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess, and Alithya’s ChemXpress methodology for Microsoft D365 Finance and Supply Chain ERP software.
Conforming to an ERP best-practice and accelerating ERP implementation sound idyllic. But do they work in practice? The answer is nuanced.
Sometimes they do. We recently worked with a greenfield fertilizer manufacturer. As a startup, our client had neither legacy business processes nor historical data. They were able to rely on accelerators and fully implement their manufacturing ERP system in under six months. In other cases, they can have the opposite effect – making implementations longer, more expensive, and harder (you’ll have to read our companion post on Top 4 accelerator myths to learn more).
The 3 Practical Benefits of ERP Implementation Accelerators
Three areas where ERP implementation accelerators can shorten implementation schedules and reduce costs are in the mapping phase, documentation phases, and testing phases.
Benefit #1: Efficiencies on the implementation mapping phase.
Without accelerators, project teams must carve their paths through the system by building the process maps from scratch, considering every switch needing to be flipped and every data field needing entry.
Modern accelerators are system configurations that help shortcut the mapping phase. For example, an accelerator includes a template to cut a purchase order, receive inventory against that purchase order, and process the associated accounts payable transaction. If the template mostly fits a company’s future-state business processes, that company can realize major benefits by not having to architect the processes from scratch.
Benefit #2: Efficiencies on the documentation of test scripts and training guides.
For every business scenario that’s being implemented, project teams need thorough test scripts and training guides. If an accelerator is well-crafted, it should be accompanied by test scripts and training guide templates.
It’s important to understand that though the templates reduce the work, they don’t fully replace it. The project teams still have to update the documents to reflect their particular data and transactional needs.
Benefit #3: Efficiencies on testing
Well-crafted implementation accelerators have already been thoroughly vetted. This should help the project teams gain efficiencies in the various testing and piloting phases.
Of course, the implementation teams will still have to test each business scenario – including each process for which there is an accelerator – with their particular data and variations.
Conclusion: Are Implementation Accelerators a Fit for Your Business?
Whether ERP best-practices and implementation accelerators are right for your business depends on how well they’re crafted and how well they fit your future-state business process models. A word of advice: don’t blindly buy the hype without digging deeply into the specifics.
In our companion post, we break down the top-4 myths about ERP best-practices and implementation accelerators. We conclude that post by offering a few specific tips on how to do a proper vetting and assessment.