17 March 2009

Agile ERP

Over at Navigate into Success, Vjekoslav Babic is looking at how an agile methodology might be applicable to ERP implementations. He's looking at it from the context of Dynamics NAV but the principles apply to Dynamics GP or other ERP software as well. I thought that I would weigh in from my blog since it would involve more people in the conversation than just leaving a comment.

His 5 basic steps that he is developing in later posts are:

  • Deploy vanilla ERP first
  • Deploy gradually
  • Focus on value, and value alone
  • Stay light with customizations
  • Integrate where ERP is not absolutely necessary
Make sure you read the lead article and the subsequent ones that flesh out these points. Now for my take.

I agree with the 5 steps. Except in unusual circumstances, it's what we recommend and what I've seen work consistently. However, I would add a few things. My knowledge of the agile methodology is somewhat limited but I think that these fit.

  • Get users involved early and often. Users will always complain that they didn't get trained or didn't get enough training. Involving users early and often for things like Customer and Vendor setup make these processes old hat when you finally go live. You want users saying thing like "Do I have to enter that again? I know how to do it cold."
  • Deploy in building blocks. Deploy say the sales module and let users test. Then deploy Purchasing and let users test. Don't hold off user testing until everything is configured.
  • Dump train the trainer. This process of training supervisory staff and letting them train end users has always been more about cost saving than effectiveness. Early and often user involvement should mitigate the need for this mechanism. Each training level you go down results in reduced effectiveness, so let the users get their hands dirty!
I'm intrigued to see how subsequent posts expand on the orginal and I may comment more as the idea progresses. Thanks for starting a great conversation Vjekoslav!