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 organization.


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 project?


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 today?
  • 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 registered).


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 internally.


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…