ERP Software Implementation

Rapid Prototyping in ERP Implementations: The Benefits & Stellar One's Process

Explore the benefits of rapid prototyping in ERP implementations and learn about Stellar One's process. Discover how this approach revolutionizes ERP systems for organizational success.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play a pivotal role in streamlining business processes, enhancing collaboration, and driving overall organizational efficiency. However, the traditional approach to ERP implementation has often been associated with challenges such as lengthy timelines, budget overruns, and a lack of user satisfaction or even adoption. In recent years, there has been a shift towards adopting rapid prototyping methodologies in ERP implementation projects. In this blog, I will explore the numerous benefits of leveraging rapid prototyping in ERP implementation and shed light on how this approach can revolutionize the way organizations implement and optimize their ERP systems. We will also detail in this blog Stellar One’s personalized approach to the rapid prototyping methodology.

 

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is an iterative development methodology that focuses on creating quick, tangible representations of the final ERP solution. It has its roots in agile project management models as an iterative methodology.

Unlike traditional waterfall models, which follow a linear critical path, rapid prototyping involves continuous cycles of feedback, refinement, and improvement.

This approach allows stakeholders to obtain hands-on experience with the ERP system early in the implementation process, fostering collaboration, and minimizing the risk of misunderstandings. It is akin to polishing a rough-cut diamond to perfection.

Traditional ERP implementation projects often face the risk of discovering issues or misalignments late in the development process, leading to costly rework. Rapid prototyping mitigates these risks by allowing early identification of potential issues. The iterative nature of prototyping ensures that adjustments can be made promptly, preventing the escalation of problems and reducing the overall project risk. While the initial perception might be that rapid prototyping could lead to increased costs due to more iterations, the opposite is often true. The early detection and resolution of issues result in fewer changes needed during later stages of development, reducing overall project costs. Additionally, the accelerated timeline for implementation can lead to cost savings through more efficient resource allocation.

User acceptance and adoption are critical success factors in the success of any ERP implementation. Rapid prototyping facilitates a user-centric approach by involving end-users early in the design and development phases. This leads to a system that not only meets the functional requirements but also aligns with the user experience expectations. Higher user satisfaction translates to smoother adoption and better utilization of the ERP system across the organization. Rapid prototyping also promotes a culture of continuous improvement throughout the ERP implementation lifecycle. With each iteration, lessons learned from user feedback and testing are incorporated, leading to an evolving and refined solution. This iterative improvement process ensures that the final ERP system is not only aligned with current requirements but also well-positioned to adapt to future challenges.

In our modern day fast-paced business landscape, organizations must be agile and responsive to changing market conditions. Rapid prototyping provides the flexibility needed to adapt the ERP system to evolving business requirements. Whether it's changes in regulations, market trends, or internal processes, the iterative nature of prototyping allows for quick adjustments, ensuring that the ERP system remains aligned with the organization's strategic goals.

As rapid prototyping encourages active involvement of end-users and stakeholders throughout the ERP implementation process, users can better understand the proposed solution and provide valuable feedback. This collaborative approach ensures that the final ERP system aligns more closely with the organization's actual needs and user expectations, ultimately leading to higher user adoption rates. At Stellar One, we have implemented a rapid prototyping strategy that involves up to six project phases; Project Initiation and Solution Design, Rapid Prototyping 1, Rapid Prototyping 2, Rapid Prototyping 3, Mock Go Live, and Go Live. In the next few paragraphs, we will take a deep dive into each of these project phases.

 

Project Initiation and Solution Design:

During this initial project phase, Stellar One’s project manager works with the member project manager to set up the project timelines and task lists, assign resources, and gather other pertinent information that is required for the project kickoff. While that is taking place, Stellar One’s solution architect and implementation consultants will be working with the member team to understand the member’s business requirements and processes. The Stellar One team will begin receiving and importing the master data and organizational structure into the members' new sandbox system. Initial system configurations will be performed based on best practices and member requirements. The members chart of accounts, customer list, vendor list, product list, user list with permissions, and other company data will be provided to the Stellar One team and uploaded to the sandbox system. Finally, designs are completed for any necessary third-party software integrations.

 

Rapid Prototyping 1:

During this phase, the Stellar One team will demonstrate the new ERP system to the member's various business process owners in a series of scheduled joint sessions or sprints. These sessions are based on specific core business processes such as Order-to-Cash, Procure-to-Pay, Inventory Control, Plan-to-Produce (Manufacturing), and Financials & Reporting. During these sprint sessions, the Stellar One team will demonstrate the out-of-the-box ERP product and will identify any gaps from the members perspective that will require any customizations. The team will execute the base test plan to ensure the process flows work as expected. The test plan will then be modified to fit any personalization necessary in preparation for Rapid Prototyping 2 and any issues identified during testing will be resolved. All of the Rapid Prototyping sessions will be recorded and made available to the member for download to be used for reference and end user training.

The goal at the end of this phase is to provide a demo quality ERP solution.

 

Rapid Prototyping 2:

This phase focuses on personalizing the new ERP system to fit the member's business requirements based on any gaps identified during Rapid Prototyping 1. During this phase, the member’s business process owners will “drive” the sprint sessions demonstrating they understand how to navigate the system to perform their respective business processes. It is imperative that during this phase, the member’s business process owners perform any “homework” necessary and to continue practicing executing their specific business processes. The updated test plan will again be executed to validate the solution and updated if any additional gaps are found. Any new issues will then be resolved in preparation for Rapid Prototyping 3.

The end goal of Rapid Prototyping 2 will be to deliver a better than demo quality ERP solution and to verify any knowledge gaps by the member's team.

 

Rapid Prototyping 3:

Rapid Prototyping 3 is all about finalizing any personalization needed as a final “polishing” of the system. As with Rapid Prototyping 2, the member’s team will drive the sprint sessions to validate that they understand system navigation and how to execute their respective business processes. End to end process testing is completed using the updated test plan and final issue resolution is done. As with the previous two project phases, all sprint sessions will be recorded and made available to the member team for training purposes.

Rapid Prototyping 3 will conclude the sprint sessions and the end result of this project phase is a completed ERP solution that is ready for “prime time” use.

 

Mock Go Live:

The Mock Go Live project phase is exactly what it sounds like: it is the dress rehearsal for going live in the new fully functional ERP system.

At the beginning of this phase, the production environment will be procured and restored with configuration settings from the sandbox environment. Master Data will then be imported into the new production environment and the Stellar One team will supply the member team with cutover templates. A financial package with the previous month-end close will be provided to the Stellar One team to begin the mock cutover. Mock Go Live will include cutting over all open payables, open receivables, open purchase orders, open sales orders, trial balances, and inventory balances. Mapping flows from any third-party integrations are also tested. During this period, the members business process owners will work to train the rest of the members end users on the new ERP system. Once the mock cutover is complete, the member team will be afforded time to validate the accuracy of the financial package and inventory detail. The Mock Go Live phase concludes with a “Go/No go” decision by the project Steering Committee. Once the decision to go live is made, the new production environment will be restored from the original back up again and prepped for Go Live.

 

Go Live:

The day has finally arrived when it’s time to officially move the member into their new fully functional ERP system!

After the production tenant has been restored again from the backup, the implementation team will follow the same steps as in Mock Go Live. The templates will be updated to reflect the latest month end close financial data. Then the cutover steps will be executed again and will include all updated open payables, open receivables, open purchase orders, open sales orders, trial balances, and inventory balances.

Usually, this final cutover process will take place over a weekend when the member team is not open for business. When the cutover is complete, the member project team will validate the data and balances. Finally, any transactions that need to be manually entered to update the delta from the last financial close out will be completed. For instance, if the month-end closeout data is submitted for the cutover on the fifth of the next month, then the delta will include any transactions dated from the first to the fifth of the current month.

At this point, the member team is officially “live” in the new system. The project now moves into a “hyper-care” phase where any support issues required by the end users will be prioritized. Project closeout activities will begin at the conclusion of the hyper-care period.  

 

Conclusion

The adoption of rapid prototyping in ERP implementation projects represents a paradigm shift towards more agile, collaborative, and user-centric methodologies. The benefits outlined in this blog include accelerated time-to-value, enhanced stakeholder collaboration, risk mitigation, flexibility, improved user satisfaction, cost-efficiency, and continuous improvement. This blog also highlights the transformative impact that rapid prototyping can have on ERP implementations and demonstrates Stellar One’s customized approach to rapid prototyping. As organizations strive to stay competitive and responsive to evolving business needs, embracing rapid prototyping in ERP implementation is a strategic move towards achieving success in the digital era.

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