Shift in Software Implementation Methodologies

BCG has begun to observe and embrace an important shift in implementation methodologies among the ERP software vendors. The change has been a result of changes in construction companies as well as in the software products themselves. The former have gotten leaner with less time and patience to devote to complex implementations and the latter have grown more complex with many more options and configuration settings to contend with.

The traditional methodology that many vendors preferred was to teach the customer all about the software capabilities and options so that in turn, the client could configure the software to perform the way they wanted. This resulted in a much more able customer that could adapt more readily as changes occurred in the company and in the product. However, this was also demanding on the implementation team, requiring time and patience. For smaller companies, this was even more difficult. Add to that the maturing products with increased features and options and you have an overwhelming situation.

Vendors have realized that it is more expedient for the vendor to set up the software based on the needs of the customer and let the customer test the software. This approach is more time efficient, though it runs a degree of risk when the vendor consultants leave and it is up to the client staff to maintain the software. There is a fine line here but one that can be managed in order to save time and frustration.

The net effect of this approach is to eliminate what is called Setup Training early on and move straight into the Design Sessions where setup decisions are made. Once complete, the vendor can provide Process Training, which is necessary for the customer to be able to test the software adequately and ultimately, train the end users.

This is not really a bad way to go. The risk of not learning the software well enough behind the scenes can be addressed after Go Live when there is less pressure and more time available to get some more advanced training. In the meantime, the company is able to Go Live quicker, with less effort, less risk and less frustration. The obvious caveat is to be sure the vendor is capable of this approach before setting off down this path.