Assemble the Right Team
Develop a core team at the beginning that involves the right mix of employees that represent all user groups affected. This team will help define business needs and outline desired system functionalities. Include members from IT, manufacturing, supply chain, quality, procurement, finance, training etc. Factor in resource availability and outline the required level of effort for each team member. Identify a project sponsor who is invested in the project’s success. Develop a steering committee to gain executive support.
Outline the Project Scope & Timeline
Clearly identify what you need the enterprise solution to do with a well-defined User Requirements Specification (URS). Understand the problem you want to solve or new capability you want to build. The core team should have a clear understanding of priorities to avoid scope creep and stay on track. Additionally, leverage the steering committee to ensure that the scope aligns with the corporate strategy. Identify a realistic timeline to complete implementation that is accepted by end users.
Select the Right ERP Provider
Select a vendor who knows your industry and its unique requirements. The life sciences industry requires unique system design configurations such as lot and batch control, quarantine and testing, temperature restrictions, traceability etc. If you notice any gaps in your implementer’s industry knowledge, consider supplementing the implementation team with relevant additional internal or external resources. Industry knowledge makes it easier to understand business needs. Also, identify the level of support needed from the ERP vendor both pre and post go-live. Plan for hypercare to align with go-live timing.
Select a Deployment Methodology
Select an approach to fit your needs. In a phased approach, discrete capabilities are implemented in phases over time. The parallel approach or the big-bang approach is where migration from a legacy to a new ERP system takes place in one big system cutover. In a technical go-live approach, most/all system functionalities are implemented but system adoption and use by business owners is phased in over time.
Leverage Project Management Tools
Assign a Project Manager (PM) who has a good understanding of the ERP platform and business needs. Utilize tools such as project plan, RAID logs, change management logs, resource and budget tracker to communicate with the stakeholders and to maintain project timelines.
Practice Proactive Change Management
Manage any changes to the implementation timeline, budget and level of effort proactively. Have a user engagement plan and immediately communicate any changes and issues with the core team. This enables them to access the situation, impact and react appropriately. Have an escalation plan to deal with issues.
Ensure End User Preparedness & Training
Provide in-depth knowledge to end users on how to use the ERP properly prior to going live. Develop all operational documents (procedures, work instructions etc.) to outline the new business processes. Create a user training schedule and notify trainees ahead of time.