The most common question about ERP implementation besides “How much?” is “How long will it take?” This is largely based on the business principle that time is money, and while this is true, the answer in this case is not as cut and dried. The reason? An ERP implementation can take from six months to two years.
The reason for this variance is simple. The time it takes to implement an ERP depends a great deal on your individual situation. Figuring out that time frame is something people like the experts at SixtySixTen are extremely good at, but even then obstacles may be encountered in the process which can cause delays.
Here are some general guidelines for you to look at when thinking about ERP implementation.
The Size of Your Company
How big is your company? The simple determination is that if your company is in one location and has a fairly limited number of employees, implementation will be faster than if you have many employees scattered in locations all around the country.
This also helps determine the type and scope of the ERP you will use. Larger, enterprise-level companies and even many small businesses use a custom ERP, one designed specifically for your company and industry. This means you need to allow time for development and testing as well.
Complexity of the System Being Installed
Another factor is the complexity of the system being installed. The more complex the system, the more moving pieces it has, the more time it will take to implement. Part of the reason is that while some parts of the ERP can be implemented more slowly, others must happen simultaneously, so it is essential that test runs have been made and processes validated before moving day.
All of these things take time, and the more complex the procedures, the more time it will take to validate and perfect them. This can mean months of testing one section of the ERP at a time, which can stretch into even longer periods if obstacles are encountered.
Expected Concurrent Users
This has to do with the size of your company, but also the industry you are involved in. Sometimes only a few employees will actually engage with the ERP on a daily basis and do so concurrently. In other instances, like a large software accounting firm, there may be hundreds of concurrent users.
Only you can help the vendor determine what this number looks like in your case, and the more concurrent users, the more complex the ERP structure will have to be. Of course, this takes time to develop, so the more concurrent users you will have, the longer you can expect ERP implementation to take.
Independent Instances Set Up
How many separate locations will need ERP implementation? The more that will need independent setup, the more complex implementation will be. This is in part due to the fact that many processes must be implemented simultaneously, which means a lot of coordination and testing.
All these things take time, and as you might imagine, the further the distance separating locations, the more challenging this can be. This is often at least a part of the argument for a cloud-based ERP rather than locally housed ones on servers. Simultaneous implementation is much faster and easier, shortening the implementation process.
This does raise security concerns though, and there are solutions. Many companies are going with more of a hybrid approach, with parts of the ERP data locally secured while other processes occur on the cloud. This blended approach can save some time in the data import process compared to a purely local implementation but can add some complexity, so time savings are often minimal.
Finally, one of the most challenging aspects of ERP implementation is data transfer. While historical data can be transferred ahead of time, things like current accounts, customer records, and other data must be transferred at the time of implementation.
The key is that this data must be prepared for transfer. Duplicates and other unnecessary data must be repaired, data formats updated, and more to ensure a smooth transition. The more data you have to import, and the more cleaning your data requires, the longer it will take.
How long will an ERP implementation take? That varies a great deal, and there are things you can do to expedite the process. Need to get a better idea on the costs of a custom ERP and how long it will take your company to implement one? Contact us here at SixtySixTen for a free consultation. We can’t wait to talk with you about your business and how we can help you achieve better efficiency and be even more profitable.