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An ERP program creates a framework for controlling and coordinating the various parts that an ERP implementation usually involves. Program management creates better conditions for the ERP’s successful implementation than regular project management.

Differences between an ERP program and an ERP project

From the client’s perspective, an ERP implementation consists of several different parts, which can be defined as individual projects: from system selection to implementation, change management, rollout, and establishment of governance management. These various parts need to be controlled and followed up as individual projects and parts of a program. A successful implementation means that the program is successful, and every individual project in the program has yielded a successful result.

  • The ERP program provides a framework for managing and following up the many individual projects that constitute a typical ERP implementation
  • The ERP program has a less well-defined end date and lasts until an expected result is achieved, while the ERP project has defined the start and end dates
  • The ERP program is focused on achieving business benefits and requires continued commitment even after the ERP projects are completed. This continuous governance ensures that the organization really begins to use the new business system in the best way.
  • The ERP project is focused on delivering concrete and measurable results on time and on budget, while the ERP program is more complex and strategically oriented. The ERP program includes several projects and operational changes
  • The ERP program ensures that the organizational change work, linked to introducing the new system, is planned and implemented. ERP project management includes control of the project scope (project change management), schedule, and costs.
  • The ERP program can create structure and organization to synchronize, prioritize, and secure resources between project rollouts. Larger companies with several units often choose to roll out the department’s business platform system unit instead of starting operations on all units simultaneously. This is an excellent approach to reduce risks. But it poses a challenge as the organization has a situation where the new system is in operation and needs to be managed while the rollout is still ongoing.

The different parts of the ERP program

In our experience, creating an ERP program with at least the following different parts (or workflows) is the best way to ensure effective ERP implementation:

  • The ERP implementation project - includes designing, configuring, developing, and implementing the business system
  • Has IT - to secure the infrastructure required by the new business system
  • Integration - for changes in integrations from and to applications other than the new ERP solution
  • Migration - includes conversion, migration, and cleaning of data from existing ERP solution to new
  • Tests - acceptance tests, integration tests, performance tests are examples of different types of tests that the users need to do to ensure a successful implementation
  • Program management - includes follow-ups, cost and quality control, risk management, resource management, budget management of the various parts of the program
  • Organizational change management - identifies and manages changes in organization and working methods
  • Transformation and value retrieval - can be included in organizational change management or managed as a separate workflow. Many ERP implementations aim to enable changes and improvements in the business. Major changes may affect the business model, governance, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The benefits are achieved only after the start of operations. So, it is necessary to continue with the follow-up after the project if all the benefits are to be realized.

In the traditional implementation model of business systems, the supplier takes responsibility for running the first point above, the ERP implementation project. The other workflows described are expected to be taken care of by the client post-implementation, such as planning, estimating, staffing, and implementing. Often, several stakeholders need to participate, who may not be involved in the ERP implementation project. This in itself is why the ERP implementation has greater chances of success if it is organized around a program, except that the program has a different timeline than the ERP project.

Do you have the right conditions for your ERP implementation?

Contact us if you are interested in discussing how your specific ERP implementation should be organized and managed. We also analyze whether your business has the right conditions for successful implementation and help establish and strengthen your ERP program.

Do you want to know more? Contact me,  eva.soderlund@columbusglobal.com

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