3rd rule of agile ERP: focus on value

image – “We need a report which groups our sales by product components.”

– “And we need it broken down by cost centers.”

– “And it must show comparison with last month, quarter and year, and with budget and forecast, with indexes and trends. In linear regression.”

– “And it must let you choose if it is by posting date or by document date. Or by shipment date. Maybe some other date as well.”

– “And it must exclude returns, and include only those re-shipments that were linked to original returns in the shown period.”

And it must be a disaster if you agree to half of these.

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2nd rule of agile ERP: deploy gradually

Eat an elephantHow do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Swallowing it all at once might be tempting as it has all the potential you need to get into the next edition of Guinness World Records. Likewise, trying it with an ERP implementation has all the potential you need to get into to the next edition of Chaos Report. One way or the other.

ERP software is huge. It contains thousands of features potentially touching every single tiniest aspect of your business. Implementing ERP is about introducing change into your company, and change can be evolutionary, or revolutionary. Your pick.

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1st rule of agile ERP: deploy vanilla ERP

image“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” That’s the very first principle of the Agile Manifesto.

The problem with ERP is that the first deliveries are all but early: they typically occur only after about twenty months.

Twenty months is a heck of a long time. And value achieved after a twenty-month implementation is often far below expectations.

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5 steps to implement ERP the Agile way

Roadside waterfall by digitaldust In my previous post I’ve (what, again?) shared some statistics about success and failure rates of software projects in general and ERP projects specifically. It seems that ERP projects fare somewhat worse than generic software projects, which I stated might have a lot to do with how requirements are handled.

Agile is an unpopular word in ERP world. We, the ERP people, love the glory and the thunder of The Waterfall. It has worked for us since forever, after all. Yes, we’ve all seen it fail every so often, but we’ve learned to learn from failure, and we know there is no better approach. Don’t we?

Frankly, I am not completely sure we do.

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Is agile ERP implementation possible?

image Agile has been gaining momentum among software development methodologies for past decade or so. Various researches and surveys consistently show that software developed under an agile approach is generally better than the software developed under waterfall approaches.

At the core of any agile approach is an assumption that whatever the requirements might be at the beginning of a project, they won’t be the same at the end of the project. The longer the project, the more truth there is in this assumption. To mitigate this situation, agile methodologies start with smaller sets of requirements, they start small and deliver functionality incrementally in a series of releases. No single release covers all requirements, but every release delivers more than the previous one.

With ERP implementations, we generally don’t subscribe to this idea. And at that, we might be wrong.

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