Identifying risks

Implementing a jewelry software (or any other ERP) is a huge undertaking and inevitably comes with a certain degree of risk.

A recent study from an independent ERP consulting organization, Panorama Consulting, revealed that 26% of the organizations reported their ERP implementation as a failure. See the full report here.

For most, the risks are manageable if they are known ahead of time. Identifying what problems may arise and addressing them early will certainly help mitigate them before they become a point of failure for your project.

Expectations vs reality

When should you start implementing the jewelry software, and how long should you expect the installation process to take?

Based on our experience, transitioning to the PIRO comes with high expectations from new clients. The typical expectations are to finish implementing the system as quickly as possible (within a few weeks), without involving any customization, and for new users to be able to start using it with minimal training.

Managers may have good reasons for wanting to move fast, but is this truly a reasonable expectation from a project that will determine how you will run your jewelry business during the next years? There is the danger that rushing the implementation process to the new system may create large and long-term problems. Therefore, it is worth spending some additional time to think about the implementation and be able to make wiser decisions.

For us, PIRO is built to be flexible and designed to correspond to our client organization’s various business processes, and thus each implementation is unique and represents a new challenge. Setting up the implementation timeline depends on a couple of factors (some which are dependent upon us, while others are not) and it is very important to consider all of these factors when deciding upon a timeline.

Implementation timeline of a jewelry software

In an ideal scenario, the implementation of PIRO software can be done within 4 months. In such a case, there is no data transfer needed from an old system, customization needs are minimal AND the communication with the client is seamless.

In most cases, the scenario is different than described above. The challenges arise when a client is planning to replace legacy systems or manual based tracking methods with more advanced capabilities. Attempting to replace legacy applications is not always seamless, and often takes more time than expected.

Another factor that affects the implementation timeline is the required customization level. Customization is not rare when implementing an ERP, - 'out of the box' offerings are often just marketing promises. As the Panorama Consulting report highlights, the ideal level of software customization is 10 to 20%. This range is associated with a software that is industry specific and requires only minimal customization.

Many of the larger ERP vendors (e.g. Navision) have a well-developed, but too general manufacturing/inventory module, and adapting to vertical industries such as the jewelry industry requires a high level of customization resulting in increased costs and extended implementation time.

Our jewelry software is more vertically-focused and provides niche features that are specifically designed for this industry. As such, customization requests have lessened in recent years, allowing us to focus working on requests to integrate PIRO with external systems (e.g. e-commerce platforms) rather than internal module customization tasks.

Overall, the PIRO implementation process used to last 4-9 months. The factors which determine the length of the implementation are as follows:

  • business size and complexity
  • responsiveness of the client
  • time needed for cleaning and transferring data from legacy systems
  • extent of customization
  • extra modules/integrations needed

Compared to Panorama Consulting’s study, where the average indicated ERP project duration was 17 months, PIRO jewelry software’s implementation process can be considered to be quite fast.

Common risks and mistakes

As mentioned earlier, identifying what problems may arise and learning from past experiences can help us mitigate the common risks and mistakes that could lead to an implementation failure. Common sources of implementation delays and frustration arise from under-estimating the resources necessary to complete the implementation of certain project phases. The most common risks are:

1. Lack of management commitment - top management’s support is essential throughout the implementation of the jewelry software. Management needs to be committed in its willingness and involvement to allocate critical resources towards the implementation phase. Management should also inform their employees, clarifying any potential doubts and explaining why the jewelry software is a necessity for the organization, thus preventing employee resistance towards the change.

2. Data conversion and migration – this occurs when an old system is being replaced with a new business software. The main issue at this stage is that the old system’s outdated data structure needs to be converted and mapped into the new system. The time needed to convert and transfer all data into a new system is often under-estimated. It is important to clarify whose responsibility will be to complete this task. By developing the PIRO Import tool (which is included in every license package), we offer an automated solution for migrating data, however this process still requires human intervention in most cases.

3. Data cleanness – old system databases are typically full with incomplete or superfluous information which we always recommend cleaning prior to importing the data into our jewelry software. Not receiving clean, clearly organized and ready-to-import data from our clients, in the past typically resulted in unexpected delays while trying to go live.

4. Customizationcustomization can become a hindering factor when unexpected customization needs arise during the implementation, thus causing unplanned delays while stepping into the next implementation phase. As long as it is included in the project plan from the beginning, customization does not typically constitute a large problem for us, as our development team can implement specific customization requirements quite fast.

5. Communication, communication and communication – last but not least, communication is the key to a successful implementation. The lack of communication constitutes a high risk, one that is good to be acknowledged. We at PIRO work in parallel with many organizations at once, and occasionally it can happen that things jam up for us too. We also understand that jewelry companies have slower and busier periods, thus there is a fluctuation in the time that can be invested in the software implementation process. This is where communication aspects come in, and we have to mutually understand that both our team and your organization is working on the same goal - despite some delays: finalizing the implementation ASAP.

Our liabilities

Our responsibility is to create a project and communication plan and to lead the project by performing the installation and customization in time. Once the infrastructure is set, an assigned project manager will begin working on the configuration and work closely with the client. In terms of customization, the project manager will be the bridge between the customer and the development team.

Clients’ liabilities

It is very important to have an experienced project manager on the client’s side who will be responsible for collecting the data and providing the information we need for the configuration. In most cases, the success of the implementation depends on the project's managers, and the project duration will correlate to how efficiently the two project managers can work together.

Concluding thoughts

As a conclusion, I would like to highlight that it is not the software itself, but the way of handling the implementation process, which leads to its success or failure. Planning the implementation is one of the key points, however completing the project in the ‘shortest possible time’ should not be a key requirement.

The project’s duration is influenced by a number of factors – some of them are vendor specific, others require more client involvement. Therefore, we cannot stress enough the importance of collaboration and communication – in one word partnering up for a successful transition.

The commitment and support offered by the client’s top management is also a critical factor in a successful jewelry software implementation, as it can influence and motivate project leaders and employees in a positive way.

 

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