I am happy to admit to a fondness for plain vanilla software implementations. To me, many software projects spend a lot of time re-inventing the wheel – when they could have simply gone to a car dealership.
There are clearly tradeoffs and delays created by software customisation, so how do you actually speed up implementations without putting your business in a straight jacket?
I have spoken to many business managers who have been burnt by poorly executed and badly delayed ERP projects. In many cases they were burnt because of delays and project overruns. The most frequent cause of these delays was the need to carry out software re-engineering to achieve basic business workflows.
Now clearly work practices will vary widely between industries. The business processes used regularly by a company selling vitamins to supermarket chains will differ to those needed by a construction firm.
We have been working with Oracle’s rapid implementation software, Oracle Business Accelerator for E-Business Suite, which assists with this issue. Oracle Business Accelerator (OBA) comprises a methodology, an automated setup tool, and a set of preconfigured business workflows. Each workflow can be thought of as a foundation which can be further modified. OBA for E-Business Suite simplifies and speeds up implementation by including 54 sophisticated business flows across financials, distribution, manufacturing, maintenance, sales, service, and projects.
For many situations, these OBA foundation pieces will be a great starting point, and get your project off to a flying start. Dataweave has handled many Oracle E-Business Suite deployments, and is one of the few organisations that is certified to use the Oracle Business Accelerators (OBA) tailored for Australia. In effect, the OBA tools and methodologies allow our clients to implement most common business processes without needing any complex software re-engineering.
This means that projects can proceed quickly, and usually means there are more resources available for change management and business process customisations. Using OBA methodologies, an ERP project which would have previously taken 6 months can be up and running within 3 months.
This obviously reduces ERP project costs and risk, as shown in this independent research by Nucleus Research.
But clearly the key to successful deployment is more than just the software. Good change management is critical to success, and avoiding delays. In my experience, building thorough project scoping documentation at the beginning can also prevent many delays further down the road.
In cases where customisations or complex integrations are needed, it might be possible to implement vanilla OBA processes to start the project off, then tailor things progressively in later stages – allowing the benefits of the project to be realised quickly.
To help our client achieve this, Dataweave focuses on helping clients carry out the change management exercise, as well as bringing rigorous project management to the table. Functionality testing and end user training are also critical parts of the move to new work flows. Tools like the Oracle User Productivity Kit can speed up and improve the effort of explaining new business processes to your end users.
Tools like Oracle’s OBA are a great help in speeding up implementation, while still offering plenty of flexibility for tailored configurations. No matter how good the technology foundation, you need to pay careful attention to testing, user training, and change management to ensure successful adoption.