ERP project: from the choice of software to deployment, how to succeed?

The implementation of ERP software is an important
step in the life of a company. Most of the decisions you will make at the start
of the project will have long-term consequences for the functioning of your


What are the real needs? Which provider to trust?
Single-tenant or multi-tenant ERP? Working with an integrator or a publisher?
How to organize the deployment and train the users so that they adhere to the


In this article we give you the keys to answer these
questions as well as our advice for successfully setting up your ERP.


1. Take stock, ask the right questions internally

Analyzing your needs well before the ERP project will
save you time and money. Where to start ? By asking the right questions and
making a diagnosis. Like an attentive doctor at the bedside of your IT system,
you must question your approach before getting to the heart of the matter.


Here are some concrete questions to ask yourself
internally to define the first outlines of your ERP project:


  • Do we need an ERP and, if so, why?
  • What is the real challenge of an ERP for our company
  • What IT and business issues does it address?
  • What are the short-term goals of this project? And in
    three years? And in five years?
  • What are the competitors doing?
  • Without ERP, what other options are available?


2. Audit your IT system and define specifications

Carrying out an audit means being able to formalize a
real need and validate certain hypotheses. This step consists of analyzing the
operation of the existing IT system (data flows, storage locations, applications
and operating systems, uses, etc.) to ensure that the ERP will have a positive
impact on the company.


The two main dimensions to consider are:


  • The business and organizational objectives of the
    company: productivity gains, automation and digitization of certain functions,
    cost reduction, reorganization, etc.
  • The needs of the different departments of the company:
    identify the people concerned by the implementation of the ERP; know the tools
    they use on a daily basis; know how they carry out their missions today;
    identify their blocking points…

These questions will allow you to build a team, then
write the specifications of the ideal ERP. It will be used to plan the
deployment of the ERP and to budget it.


3. Choose your ERP solution

Then comes the time of choice. This phase is crucial,
because it will lead to determining which service provider will accompany you
over the next few years. An ERP is indeed an investment in time and money that
must be profitable in the long term. To make your decision, screen the
different providers and publishers through these three questions:


  • Is this ERP adapted to my profession, my activity and
    the future developments of the company?
  • Does the publisher or integrator I choose offer
    quality support?
  • Is the ERP we are going to acquire customizable?
  • Are the specific developments required negligible?

ERP on premise or ERP SaaS?

In 95% of cases, you will therefore opt for
cloud-based business software that allows the outsourcing of the information
system, installed on the supplier’s servers rather than on your own servers.


Hosting solutions in SaaS mode have become more common
than on premises solutions (i.e. hosted internally), as they offer much more
flexibility, increased deployment speed with minimal hardware requirements and
also a real guarantee of availability of the solution (contractually


Single-tenant ERP or multi-tenant ERP?

The ERP SaaS offer then offers two models:
single-tenant or multi-tenant ERP.


Hosting in single-tenant mode is an architecture in
which each company has its own instance of the business application and its own
server. Picture a home that the owner can customize to suit their needs. A
single-tenant hosting architecture will allow the user to configure and
customize their ERP system as they see fit.


Multi-tenant ERPs use an architecture in which several
companies share the same server in the cloud to store their data. The
infrastructure is designed in such a way that the data of the different tenants
is compartmentalised, separated and secure. A good analogy is that of several
tenants occupying an apartment building. Tenants have their own accommodation
and are able to configure their living space as they wish.


On the aspects of customization and data security, the
single-tenant mode is the big winner, since you have your own server, except
that it is hosted in the cloud.


On the other hand, the multi-tenant mode offers many
other advantages that have made it successful with SMEs, start-ups and all
growing organizations whose needs are changing rapidly.


Among these advantages are:


  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • More frequent updates
  • Rapid deployment
  • Great scalability potential to support your growth

4. ERP integrator or editor: which partner to choose?

To deploy your ERP, you need a reliable partner who is
able to install the solution, but also to advise and train you in the use of
this new tool.


You then have the choice between a publisher or an
integrator. The publisher specializes in the development of ERP. The
integrator, meanwhile, does not develop the solution, but he has a broader
knowledge of the market and the various issues you may encounter during
deployment. It is often a local actor who acts as an intermediary between the
publisher and the company.


The advantages of using an integrator:


  • High responsiveness in the event of a problem or
    hardware failure
  • On-site presence within very short deadlines for
    possible repairs
  • Lower travel costs

The major drawback is that there are risks of poor
coordination with the publisher at the time of deployment.


The advantages of using an editor:


  • Perfect knowledge of the product he has developed
  • Customer support that is often very efficient and
    responsive with direct access to developers
  • A community of users to exchange with other customers
    on use cases and issues.

The downside is the lack of responsiveness if the
publisher is geographically far from his client.


Does the best of both worlds exist? Archipelia is both
publisher and integrator of ERP solutions in SaaS mode. This positioning allows
us to be ever closer to the problems of our customers and to offer them
tailor-made integration solutions.


5. Deploy your ERP in the company

Depending on the solution chosen (internal or external
server), the deployment of your ERP will be technical, but you must also choose
a deployment strategy. Here are four of the most common.


The big bang strategy

This is an express deployment plan that one uses for
example when one knows that the old solution will soon stop working. The idea
is to deliver the entire functional scope in a single block. All the batches
are launched at the same time and the users are trained in stride.


This is the riskiest deployment method, to be used
only in the event of strong organizational constraints.


The pilot’s strategy

This deployment method consists of deploying the ERP
in a single geographical area, a single department of the company or a single
business-unit. Once everything is validated, we can deploy the ERP to another
entity and so on.


This is the most used approach, as it offers more
security and control. By proceeding by iteration, as in agile development
methods, we can improve over time and not reproduce the same mistakes.


The incremental strategy

The idea here is to reason by functional themes and
group them into different batches. The advantage is that users take the time to
discover a feature (place an order, validate an expense, etc.) before moving on
to another.


This method is often used in companies that are having
difficulty digitizing some of their functions. Additionally, you can prioritize
which bundles to deploy.


The hybrid strategy

You can of course draw inspiration from the different
methods and combine them with each other. For example, it is quite possible to
deploy a functional batch (incremental method) on one or two pilot entities,
then to duplicate it on other entities.


It is a gradual strategy that allows time to identify
and resolve any problems. But the risk is the accumulation of micro-deployments
that will waste a lot of your time.


6. Accompany change

Beyond the technical and logistical aspects, the
success of your ERP project lies above all in the attention you will pay to the
implementation of new processes and their adoption by your employees. You will
have to support this change by making it easier for everyone to get started.


Here are two tips to ensure a good grip of the tool


Implementation of key-users to facilitate the adoption
of the tool

Key-users of an ERP play an important role in the
implementation of new business software. They optimize processes, test software
and provide internal training and support. You must choose the right people in
each department, those who are committed to the cause of ERP and who can help
their colleagues use it.


A key-user generally follows a training course and
over time becomes the reference person for a specific subject related to ERP.
For example, Sylvie from the accounting department will become “Madame
Invoicing” and Didier from logistics will perhaps become “Mister Process
Automation” within the company.


Train all employees in the use of ERP

An ERP is not just a simple IT project. Some processes
will completely change and this may be stressful for many employees. This can
even constitute a brake on the adoption of the solution, however effective it
may be.


Recourse to the training of all users will make it
possible to get as many people as possible to adhere to the correct use of the
new tool. These training courses can be carried out on site or remotely using
e-learning modules or virtual classes.


We also advise you to set up a knowledge base that can
be consulted at any time in the form of video tutorials describing the most
frequent use cases and blocking points.


Training time is not wasted time. Facilitating the
adoption of a tool means allowing everyone to exploit its full potential and
improve their daily work life.


7. Archipelia, the multi-business Cloud ERP for SMEs
& ETIs

Archipelia is a publisher and integrator of ERP
solutions in SaaS mode.


We can manage most of the processes of a trading,
retail, logistics and industrial SME: commercial management, supply chain,
production, product information or PIM, B2B and B2C omnichannel commerce, CRM,
marketing , accounting…

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