Hi Everyone,

Everything you do during an ERP installation revolves around these four goals:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Productivity
  3. Insight
  4. Accountability

You might think this is an overly-simplified statement, but when you read this article, you realize all the effort that goes into achieving these goals. The purpose of this post is to help the person placed in charge of finding and implementing a new ERP system (a) articulate a clear vision of the future and (b) define the daily mission to achieve this vision.

The options are many. The risks are plenty. The mission is perfectly clear. The rewards are substantial.

Let’s begin by defining and elaborating on our goals.


Accuracy relates to both the system and the people. Make sure the people know where and how to create, read, update and delete data. The system should inform them when their actions are not correct. Once the data is in the system, processes and additional entry should protect the data to produce accurate outputs. An example includes the chain of events in distribution that range from purchasing to fulfillment.

Productivity relates to the time and actions needed to accurately produce a desired result. Productivity relies on human skills and knowledge of the new system. Productivity is measured in time to produce perfect results across all scenarios. The most common measure of productivity is the time required to execute a happy path script. These scenarios briefly describe the most common actions performed and represents more than 70% of all actions performed in a system.

Insight relates to identifying critical information across the myriad of detailed transactions. Insight can be aggregated or isolated data and is extracted by either (a) aggregating high-volume data to find results that identify high-impact and low-effort changes or (b) quickly isolating the one transaction that explains how a situation came to exist. An example of aggregated insights includes producing consolidated financial reports that span 3 organizations, 8 transactional currencies, 2 entity currencies and three reporting standards. An example of isolated insights included identifying what person changed a specific datum eight months ago that caused your customer to incur $1.5M in RMA rework charges.

Accountability relates to identifying the greatest opportunities, placing the people with the right skills and knowledge with those opportunities and guaranteeing the opportunities turn into rewards. Accountability includes producing, tweaking and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs). Metric management is a living science that requires ownership at all levels. KPIs will evolve with greater velocity than any other aspect of an ERP system after go-live. An example of a KPI includes monitoring Booked Sales as a measure of Sales Productivity.

There are four phases that define most successful ERP implementations:

Implementation Phases

  1. Learn
  2. Configure
  3. Audit
  4. Launch

Learning means creating an environment where you and your team can quickly demonstrate success. You start with a demo system and enhance it with your happy path scenarios. The demo system is a sandbox for you to (a) play, (b) break, (c) rewind, and (d) do it all over again. You find someone with years of experience in successful ERP launches who can help your team stay on track and learn the most from the experience. As a result of the learning phase, you will have a system and people that can exemplify your happy path scenarios.

The heart of the learning phase are your happy path scenarios. A happy path scenario is a bulleted list of actions by your people and the system. The bullets exercise at least 70% of your processes using a specific vendor, employee, product, customer, etc..

The typical learning phase takes between 4 and 8 weeks depending on the number of happy path scenarios. The typical company has between 2 and 3 scenarios.

Examples of happy path scenarios:

  1. Distribution lifecycle – replenishment, purchasing, receiving, inspection, storage, pick, pack, shipping, invoicing, financial management.
  2. Make to stock – product and costing configuration, multi-level BOM replemenishment, semi-finished good movement, quality inspections, distribution to storage center, deep storage, pick, pack, etc …
  3. High-mix make to order – custom product configuration from template, approval, planning documentation, production queueing, packing, etc …

As a result of the learning phase, an experienced ERP implementer should be able to estimate the time and materials needed to configure the system for success.

Configuration brings your first real system to life. The print outs have your name on them. You import your customer, vendor, product, tax, GL account, user, role, price list, etc.. The laundry list is substantial. During configuration, you broaden your happy path scenarios to document the myriad of corner cases that branch out in all directions.

Configuration starts with a lengthy plan. 80% of all ERP systems are the same. You have ordering, invoicing, product management, quality management, financial reporting, etc… Do not recreate the wheel. Instead, use a well-tested and methodical process to iterate through the necessary steps.

End-user training starts on day one of configuration. There is no better way to test your knowledge of the new system than to teach others. The better your people understand the new system, the more people you have owning and solving problems.

System documentation starts on day two of configuration. You use a ticket system to calculate the velocity of new tickets, closure of existing tickets, the wave of open tickets. Your goal is to ensure you know the legitimate status of your project at any time – even after the first week!!

Configuration includes processes, system features, and data. Processes are the easiest to conceptualize. System features live in every imaginable remote corner of the ERP. Data configuration is the single greatest time sink in the implementation process. The bigger, more complex the company, the greater the time sink.

Audit ensures that all people and all processes work in all situations. During audit, you start small and you finish live.

First, you build your go-live candidate system from your current development system. Can you make a copy? Can you reliably restore from the development system to your go-live candidate. Can you strip out all the test transactions yet keep all your critical go-live data like products, price lists, etc…? Can you do this process quickly?

Second, you perform your happy path scenarios. Can each of your end-users perform this simple scenario with near perfect execution? Can your power users solve the problems when end-users mess things up? Can you defend the transaction with your trial balance, income statement, and balance sheet. Can you defend your critical balance sheet accounts like not-invoiced receipts, AP invoices, AP payments, AR invoices, AR payments against open documents? Can you do this in a multi-currency environment? Can you do this in a multi-organizational environment?

Third, you import open documents. You bring in your open orders, open invoices, open payments, and not reconciled payments. Keep in mind that payments play multiple roles. You can have an unreconciled $100 payment with an open balance of $20. Other open documents include bank-in transit balances, final bank balances, and not-invoiced receipts. Don’t worry, there is more that I have not listed.

Fourth, you introduce your corner cases. You create more complicated user tests. You create multiple environments where users can demonstrate their knowledge and others can certify its accuracy.

Fifth, you bring it all together. You try to keep your system alive. Can you keep it alive (side-by-side) with your old system for 1 hour? 4 hours? a day? At what point does it become a no-brainer to launch the new system into production?

The beauty of meticulous audit is that it prevents the 10x effect. One ounce of problem placed into product will create 10 pounds of crap to clean up. Yes, I realize that is greater than 10x, but it is a great visualization. It pays in many ways to test and prepare your people and system!

Launch – if you read and practiced the above points, you will enjoy one of the most exciting and rewarding launches of your professional career. There is no greater joy than to see a company-wide team pulling together to bring the new system to life with pride and excitement.

I hope this helps!!

About Chuck Boecking: I am an ERP educator. I believe that open source ERP have achieved mainstream capabilities, and as a result, more companies can create greater efficiency across their organization. I started using the iDempiere code base in 2003. Back then, it was called Compiere. In 2006, I started my first multi-million dollar installation. Since then, ADempiere has helped me create great success with distribution and manufacturing companies all over the world. My vision of success is to find companies that can best use open source ERP to help them achieve a single, global instance that drives a discontinuous increase in profitability. I believe that organizations win when they own their technology.

If you have questions, comments or concerns, let me know. I definitely want your feedback.

You can contact me by phone using 512.850.6068.

My email is chuck@chuboe.com.

You can complete the form on this page.

Thank you for taking the time. I look forward to speaking with you.

Chuck Boecking




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