Effective Development Planning for ERP Implementations
Many ERP implementations involve development as part of the project. Development in this context can mean any or all of the following:
- Development of new functionality to address a functional gap in the software
- Development of customer or supplier facing forms such as a Packing Slip, Shipper, Sales Order Acknowledgement, or Purchase Order
- Development of internal or customer facing labels
- Development of new reports, inquiries, or browses that present system data in more user-friendly ways
- Development of interfaces to and/or from the ERP to other systems
- Development of EDI Trading Partner Transactions to support Customer and/or Supplier facing EDI
At Logan Consulting, we view the forecasting, planning and management of the effort for the tasks above as critical to an implementation. Often, as the list of development tasks and requests builds, there is not an assessment of the impact to the timeline and budget of a project. This assessment needs to include not only a list of development tasks with assigned developers, due dates, and status; but also an assessment of the effort (load) versus available development resources (capacity). In our experience, we see many client Project Managers manage the development list with little to any consideration to the period of time available in the timeline for development and the actual amount of time it will take given the resources available to do the development.
A key dynamic that often plays into this planning effort is that developers are often hesitant to estimate the hours of effort for specific development tasks without an approved Functional Design Document (FDD). However, projects are seldom clean enough to allow for all functional design documents to be completed at one point in time and allow for a clean cutoff prior to the start of all development. FDD’s are often documented and approved throughout the design phase of a project, allowing some development to begin earlier in the project than others.
For projects with significant development, Logan Consulting recommends completing an early project estimate of the development work based on order of magnitude complexity and type of development task. This estimate is important to allow for project resourcing and initial planning of development effort. Although seemingly difficult due to the lack of definition on development tasks early in a project, many development tasks can be estimated without functional design document detail. For example, customer facing forms and labels can be bucketed by complexity and an experienced developer can estimate a “typical” number of development and unit testing hours based on the complexity of each one. EDI development can be estimated by an experienced EDI developer based on specific trading partner and document type. For example, a Ford Service 850 may be different than an Autozone 850, but many fundamentals the drive an estimate are common for both.
Having an initial load vs capacity development plan allows the Project Management team to plan that effort in the context of the broader project. Once each functional design document is complete, Logan Consulting recommends re-estimating each development task to allow for a tighter control and management of the development tasks.
About Logan Consulting
Logan Consulting is a leading consulting firm with strengths in strategy, project management, business process design, ERP and CRM implementation, recruitment and training. Since 1992, our business process-based delivery techniques and tools have helped our clients build a solid business process and information technology foundation to support their business. Our clients count on us for objective, unbiased analysis, recommendations and project work. To learn more and hear what our customers are saying about us, please visit our website (www.logan-consulting.com).
Logan Consulting is headquartered in Chicago, IL with global services reach.
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