Accelerating ERP/COTS Implementations

Accelerating ERP/COTS implementations have been an elusive goal of vendors, implementation partners, and customers. For five years I worked for the #2 business software maker focusing on accelerating implementations. During those five years I chased the dream and learned many lessons along the way. Following are some of the key lessons I would like to share with you.

If you did a search on accelerated or rapid implementation you would most likely find the following enablers for rapid implementations:

  • Software with built-in best practices
  • Industry preconfigurations
  • Implementation tools and templates (Needs Assessment, Fit/Gap summary)
  • Deployment (ex. SaaS, Hosted)

Notice anything missing? It’s interesting to note that these accelerators are software-focused. Not to say that the above tools/templates are not important, however, there are more important factors that can have a greater impact on accelerating implementations.


It’s a known fact that the customer needs to provide the right resources (Business, IT) with deep knowledge and experience with the existing business solution. What I see lacking is guidance to customers regarding what they need to do to prepare for a rapid implementation. If the implementation partner and software vendor is serious about accelerating implementations then they will provide customers with a preparation checklist that enables the implementation partner to “hit the ground running” with the customer. At a minimum the customer should perform the following:

  • Take all required software training BEFORE the implementation partner arrives. This activity will enable the customer to effectively and clearly communicate with the implementation partner.
  • Document your existing business processes. For effective collaboration with the implementation partner the customer needs to EDUCATE the implementation partner on their current business solution. A picture is worth a thousand words and accelerates knowledge transfer!

Implementation Partner

Consultants that are successful at accelerating implementations are an elite group. These individuals are business solution experts that are both functional and technical. They have the ability to help the customer make both software and business decisions. At a minimum the consultant should understand how the ERP/COTS software supports an ENTIRE business process (Order to Cash), not just a specific business function (Expense Reporting).

Decision Making

The ability to make decisions quickly is one of the most overlooked aspects of accelerating implementations. Decisions move implementations forward. Following are the recommended methods you can use to speed up decisions:

  • Conduct prototyping during the sales cycle to define core requirements, validate software results, and eliminate options. The more questions you can answer during the sales cycle the faster the implementation can move.
  • A rapid implementation approach requires full-time dedication from business owners. Business owners will be the key decision-makers and must be empowered to make decisions within hours, not days or weeks.
  • Need to have a clearly defined scope. This includes (a) what’s in scope, (b) what’s out of scope, (c) and who’s doing what. Just as important to scope definition is to define constraints and assumptions.

At a minimum the ERP/COTS scope statement should contain the following sections:

  • Packaged software features in scope (product scope). This also includes restrictions on software features in scope (example: only five customer types will be included in the rapid implementation).
  • Packaged software features out of scope (product scope).
  • Implementation activities and party responsible (project scope).
  • A clearly defined scope allows the project team to focus on the activities that have a direct impact on the project objective(s) while filtering out “out of scope” work.

Methodology and Approach

I have observed two areas that slow down ERP/COTS implementations: customizations and evolving requirements (even with a predefined scope). From my experience my approach has been to minimize these areas by the following:

  • Only implement the software functionality that supports the business activity the customer performs TODAY. New business activities typically result in evolving requirements because the customer has no detailed experiences or agreed-upon expectations.
  • Take a solutions-driven approach to gathering requirements. Using a traditional requirements-driven approach will result in identifying more gaps (both value and non-value-add).


Not every project or customer is a candidate for a rapid implementation. Implementation partners and software providers should conduct an assessment to determine the FIT for a rapid implementation. One thing you can bet on is that there is no such thing as a STANDARD rapid implementation. Each instance is unique and requires an experienced implementation partner that understands rapid implementations.

About Grady Brett Beaubouef
For the past twenty-five years Brett has helped customers select, implement, and manage ERP solutions across five industries. Multiple ERP pillar experience across HCM, Financials, PPM and EPM. Business process knowledge and experience Software selection experience includes evaluation of both ERP software and proposed implementation services. Brett has recently authored a book on leading ERP/COTS implementation strategies.

13 Responses to Accelerating ERP/COTS Implementations

  1. Brett,

    Good Article. I think you summarized the key considerations very well. I would also say that it is easier to do a few modules implementation in a rapid implementation rather than doing a end to end implementation.


  2. Pingback: Decisions – Not Documents – Move ERP Implementations Forward « ERP the Right Way!

  3. Pingback: Best approach for gathering ERP requirements « ERP the Right Way!

  4. Pingback: Defining Product Scope for ERP Implementations « ERP the Right Way!

  5. Pingback: Cloud ERP – New Dog, Same Fleas « ERP the Right Way!

  6. Pingback: Cloud Can Bring Out the Best of ERP « ERP the Right Way!

  7. Pingback: ERP Cloud: Finding the Right Provider « ERP the Right Way!

  8. Pingback: Building a Business-Aware Cloud Solution « ERP the Right Way!

  9. Pingback: SaaS ERP is not a push button solution | ERP the Right Way!

  10. Pingback: ERP Implementation 101 – Deployment vs Requirements Gathering | ERP the Right Way!

  11. Pingback: ERP 101: Organizational Fit Gap | ERP the Right Way!

  12. I have observed when resource plan is not done properly and SME/ critical business process owner takes leave during project crucial time (project critical path), a decision can not make on time. On top of that, user can not envision the test scenario earlier and they come up with new business scenario when UAT is being conducted and sometimes it ended up into redesign business process and Go live time delays(this is due to lack of ownership from business side)

  13. Pingback: ERP Utilization Series: Automating ERP Utilization Guidance | ERP the Right Way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: