Selecting the software and vendor is just part of a company’s ERP implementation blueprint. Another crucial decision in preparing for system implementation is the right strategy with which to go live. There is an optimal choice, but it depends on the circumstances of the company. The three most common approaches are The Big Bang method, Phased Conversion and Parallel Adoption. All have their benefits and potential drawbacks.
The Big Bang method gets its moniker from the notion that it all happens at once in a singular event. The idea is to move all users to the new system at the same time on a selected date. It is faster than many other methods of conversion and is thus often lower in cost. However, it is more difficult to anticipate problems because a full production test cannot be done. This means complete preparation is more vital, and there is little room for error. Also, users might be less efficient than usual until they acclimate to the new system. For less complex systems, it might be worth the risk for the benefit of cost savings.
In a Phased Conversion, the aim is to conduct the change in stages, over time. In one phased plan the new modules can be introduced individually when ready. Another option is to phase in by business unit. For example, customer service first, human resources next, accounting, and so on will be moved to the new system one at a time. Conversion by location is a third phasing option, and allows larger companies to choose a location as a pilot adoption. With any phased approach, bridging between the new and legacy systems is necessary, though, as the nature of a continuous changeover can lead to complications and compatibility conflicts.
With Parallel Adoption, users can access both the new and legacy systems for a time, until the organization feels ready to retire the old system. The main advantage is minimal risk of being without a functioning system, and to have security in that knowledge while all wrinkles in the new system are smoothed. When the new system is fully ready, the old system can then be disabled. Costs of operating both systems simultaneously might be an issue with this approach, and users might be slower to voluntarily transition if they are resistant to change. The safety of this method makes it a tempting choice for many companies, though.
The top strategy is ultimately the approach that best fits the needs of the organization. Consider the size of the company, its locations, and the complexity and number of modules in the new system to implement. Finally, consider the potential costs of each approach in context with the other factors. Weighing all applicable considerations is the key.