Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms are amongst the largest and most comprehensive business software systems in existence, so it should not come as a surprise that these are some of the most challenging from a development perspective. The average ERP project is a complex process that can span many months and clients often find that it is a struggle to stay on time and on budget. But there are a number of strategies you can implement to ensure that your ERP project stays on track, with no unexpected and unpleasant surprises with regard to timeframe or cost.
Tip #1 – Avoid Scope Creep on Your ERP Project
Scope creep is perhaps the single most common cause of unexpected cost increases and timeframe overruns. You gradually add a new feature here, a new functionality there and before you know it, you’ve grown your project scope by 30 percent!
Scope creep can take a few forms. In some cases, it’s a matter of adding new features midstream because they were overlooked when the project’s scope of work was originally established. While it is impossible to avoid all oversights, you can minimize the chances of overlooking key features and functionalities by involving individuals from across all sectors of your organization as you establish the scope of work. If you have representatives from all divisions and departments that will be using the enterprise software system, you can get an accurate feel for what features are necessary and what functionalities may be missing. This will minimize the chances of an oversight that results in scope creep down the road.
Scope creep can also occur when the client has new ideas that come to mind midway through the development process. It is easy to get excited about an idea for a new feature within that shiny new ERP platform, with little thought to how this will impact the development cost and timeframe. For this reason, it is important that all stakeholders are cognizant of the impact on price and project schedule in cases where the ERP development project’s scope is expanded to include something new.
Tip #2 – Consider a Phase 2 on Your ERP Project
In some cases, a multiphase ERP development project is the ideal course of action. This is especially true in scenarios with an organization that needs the software by a specific date at a particular price point.
Rushing a project never brings good results. You end up with cut corners, and compromises which says nothing of the adverse impact on stress level for everyone involved. Rushing the project can also lead to cost overruns since you will likely be charged higher hourly overtime rates.
The more reasonable course of action is to implement a multiphase development project, with the first phase representing the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a version of the ERP software with all of the basic functionalities that you need to succeed. Subsequent phases focus on the development of the less essential “nice to have” features and functions.
Tip #3 – Meet Regularly to Discuss the Progress of the ERP Project
Regular check-ins are essential for keeping a development project on track. Stakeholders representing the client should meet routinely — usually on a weekly basis — with members of the design and development team to discuss the status of the project and to address any questions, concerns or obstacles that have come to light.
These regular meetings are considered a best practice because they keep the client well-informed about the development process. Individuals who are not directly involved in enterprise software development rarely have an accurate feel for how long it can take to complete various tasks. These weekly chats help to provide the client with important perspective and peace of mind since they will be reassured that their project is continually moving forward.
More importantly, these meetings keep all parties engaged and active in the software development process as a whole. Maintaining this open line of communication ensures that any challenges that do happen to arise are addressed promptly and efficiently, before a small issue becomes a significant one. This reduces the risk of seeing timeframe and cost overruns on the project.
Tip #4 – Take Your Time With the Discovery Process and SRD
With the tremendous size of an enterprise resource planning software platform, you need to get it right the first time around. Otherwise, you can expect to encounter some major time and cost overruns.
ERP development is one type of software project where you need to take the time to perform an exceedingly thorough discovery process. You must detail user journeys and how various users will be interacting with the software platform. This process will also reveal the ideal features, functionalities, and process flows, which should then be articulated in detail in a Software Requirements Document (SRD.) This is one aspect of the process that cannot be rushed. Your SRD will serve as the road map for your development project. When you take the time to perform a thorough discovery process and document your needs in detail, you minimize the chances of experiencing the oversights that are often to blame for unexpected expenses and time overruns.
A client should never rush through discovery or the process of compiling the SRD. It’s easy to get excited and impatient, but haste only leads to errors and omissions that can snowball to the size of an elephant in very short order.
Tip #5 – Automate the Software Testing Process
Whenever possible, select an ERP software development company that utilizes automation to its advantage. Automated testing of the ERP platform can reduce costs and speed up the development timeframe. The massive size of an ERP system means that testing can be time-consuming. Automated testing speeds the process dramatically, while also eliminating oversights and other forms of human error from the equation. Plus, the faster a problem is identified, the faster it can be addressed. This translates into a more rapid development process overall.
Tip #6 – Hire the Right Team
ERP platforms are very complex systems that require ERP professionals to both implement and maintain the system. This is one area you don’t want to skimp on as it directly relates to how quickly and efficiently your ERP project will be up and running. Save yourself time and money by using an ERP staffing firm to hire the best ERP professionals.
At Cox-Little, we understand the challenges that are commonly encountered during an ERP development project. Our team is equipped to help clients succeed with the right tech talent. Contact Cox-Little to discuss your enterprise software development plans.
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