By: Mike D'Arcy Director, New Business Development

A SMARTer Way to Implement an ERP Solution

For many years the methodology for implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Solution has been based on tailoring the solution to meet the unique needs of an organization. There are variations to the methodology such as ‘Big Bang’ (all modules at once) or ‘Phased Approach’, which are simply how much of the system you want to Go-Live with at any time. The core concept has been that each organization is unique enough to warrant a personalized configuration. For instance, reports need to be built or modified to meet a very specific need, or the Chart of Accounts has to be created from scratch. This is a very time consuming and expensive way to deploy an ERP solution. There is another way. Many are choosing to work with an ERP solution provider that specializes in their industry. Providers that work with clients that are similar in size and complexity are able to leverage their industry best practices to deploy solutions using a Template Driven approach.

The template approach is based on a pre-configured system with fewer customization options and out-of-the-box reports tailored to a specific industry. The concept of template-based ERP implementations isn’t new; SAP ALL-IN-ONE has been in the market for over a decade. That said, their offering has experienced limited success. So why will it work better now? The main change in the industry is the vertical focus of ERP providers. To be successful in implementing ERP solutions you need to know your customer. More and more ERP solution providers are specializing in specific industries and becoming not only ERP experts, but industry experts that bring industry best practices to the partnership. 

An implementation methodology that is based on a template model is easy to deploy, gets you up and running faster, has a reduced impact on your business and comes at a significantly reduced cost. The concept is easy; many of the set up parameters come pre-configured to meet the needs of your organization. There may be minor changes based on your unique requirements, but for the most part, if your ERP provider understands your industry and has worked with other organizations similar in size and complexity, the variation in the configuration should be minor. The necessary reports will be available out-of-the-box, which is possible because the complexities of reporting are based on the many set-up variations that may already exist. The focus is then on data transfer, data cleansing and training. 

By eliminating many of the conversations that are typically required to make configuration decisions (such as General Ledger Chart of Accounts structure and numbering, payroll pay code set up, federal and provincial tax code set up, etc.) and all the time to review and modify constituent-facing reports (Tax Bills, Arrears Letters, Utility Bills) and internal financial statements (Operating Statement, Balance Sheet, Trial Balance, FIR), the implementation becomes much quicker. It is also much less expensive because the conversations that were required to determine configuration parameters cost money. With those issues out of the way, you now have more time to focus on training and data accuracy - the two most important aspects of an ERP implementation. 

Ensuring your people are adequately trained and ready to use the new system leads to greater adoption and better productivity. The implementation timelines are condensed (less time on the configuration), meaning the training and System Go-Live are closer together. This ensures the knowledge will be used immediately after the training. The shorter timelines also mean that the amount of time the organization spends on the implementation (while also doing their full time jobs) is shorter, reducing the strain that an ERP implementation has on staff. Applying a template-based implementation model will allow you to get up and running faster, ensure your mission critical data is accurate and your overall cost of ownership is minimized. Win / Win!

In our vertical market; Canadian Local Government organizations with populations from 1,000 to 200,000, the template approach brings many additional benefits. The municipal market is very collaborative and we find that when our clients have similar configurations, they are in a better position to share knowledge that can be applied to a neighboring community’s system. They are also able to share things like reports and even resources. This lends itself very well to the shared services concept that many municipalities are trying to deploy as a means of reducing costs with ever tightening budgets.  

You can find out more about how Diamond Municipal Solutions is applying this SMARTer way to implement an ERP solution here.