Should you be cautious about remote ERP project delivery?

The changing global landscape has caused many businesses to seek out new ways of remote working. But can an effective ERP solution really be delivered off-site? We investigate the options, with help from James Peel, SAP Operations Manager at Thinc.

The changing climate of how we work has forced every business to think differently about how they roll out new projects and keep the momentum going on existing ones.

One aspect of this has been challenging the common belief that the implementation of a new ERP solution can only be delivered on-site and face to face.

Many providers are approaching this issue by pivoting to remote delivery. But is it an effective way to bring a new ERP system on-line?

Remote delivery—the new normal?

Despite the modern challenges faced by businesses across the globe, sectors as diverse as engineering, green energy, and marketing are still keen to move forward with planned ERP project investments.

In many cases, a traditional on-site project build is not the most convenient choice. This is leading many ERP providers to mobilise remote implementations for the majority of their clients.

Remote project implementation is not new, however. Off-site delivery of consultancy for ERP project implementations has always been available.

In fact, on some projects, remote delivery of a solution is the preferred approach thanks to multi-company, multi-site international implementations.

While it’s unlikely to be the case that off-site implementation will become the norm for everyone, many companies are beginning to explore the approach—this is due to both the current landscape and the longer-term thinking about agility and rapid growth.

Is remote delivery of an ERP solution feasible for any business, regardless of sector? We asked James Peel, SAP Operations Manager at Thinc, to explain more, and reflect upon the previous experiences of his project team when delivering consultancy services remotely.

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Can remote delivery of ERP projects be undertaken for most business sectors?

“In short, yes. There may be more challenges when an organisation is involved in handling and manufacturing products, as this can involve a greater requirement to work with local infrastructure. But, even then, delivery is still achievable with collaboration and the right partner.”

Does the undertaking of remote delivery require additional IT skills and infrastructure investment?

“No. If anything, the opposite probably applies. Providing the user has a designated username and password allocated, and access to the internet, they can contribute just as effectively to all the key project stages.”

Have you seen any ERP projects with aggressive timescales that have not been conducive to remote working?

“In my experience, good collaboration with the client and a skilled IT engineering team can help immensely in meeting time demands, even when working remotely.

“For example, we recently undertook a consultancy project in Australia. It required the new installation of an existing SAP company database to be available on a dedicated and secure UK platform within 24 hours—the definition of an aggressive timescale.

“But, by focusing on collaborative working and key targets, we were able to complete the project successfully. The whole thing was carried out 100% remotely, and allowed us to further refine our capabilities in off-site projects.

“The fact that we work with the globally established SAP Business One ERP software helped, too.”

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Are there any distinct advantages when delivering a project service remotely?

“There are several key advantages to working off-site on an implementation. To narrow it down, here are my top four:

  • project expenses for travel and accommodation for consultants is reduced
  • key operational personnel require less time away from site
  • there’s no need to book office meeting rooms for blueprinting, training, or project plan update sessions
  • online project sessions can be recorded for blueprinting and training, helping save project time and expense

What about the disadvantages linked with implementing remotely?

“While it’s not a huge disadvantage, user training is an area where adapting to a slightly different model of working is required.

“Large groups (greater than four or five) in open-session online training does not work effectively. This means that a higher number of shorter user training needs to be planned in.”

What does a go-live day look like with remote delivery?

“Aside from not having one of our specialists physically present, go-live is incredibly similar when done remotely as it is on-site.

“Clients still have the designated resource available for them to provide go-live assistance. and they would still manage the risks in the same way.

“As with on-site delivery, we will have completed all the key project milestones, such as user competence testing and system user acceptance testing, prior to go-live being approved.”

Do you see future project delivery moving to a ‘remote-only’ model?

“We will always continue to deliver projects with the most suitable approach, whether that’s on-site, remote delivery, or a hybrid of both.

“Our feasibility report alongside the project scope documentation will guide any company to the approach which is most suitable for them.”

How can remote ERP project delivery help to create an intelligent company?

“There is a historic trend in ERP project delivery whereby an over-reliance on the on-site consultant actually reduces the speed of system adoption by end-client users.

“Users that get comfortable with consultants undertaking certain tasks on their behalf and, as a result, they find it difficult to carry out these tasks independently.

“Having a remote delivery consultancy model makes users learn for themselves much earlier in the project. This increases the level of engagement and empowerment end users get from working with modern ERP software.

“Also, that feeling of empowerment and achievement is key to staff retention in most sectors—this is especially true within in-demand areas of the professional services sector.”

At Thinc, we have extensive experience in delivering 100%  remote project implementations.  Would you like to know more about remote delivery of ERP projects and the feasibility of using this approach on your upcoming project? Complete the enquiry form, and our consultancy team will get in touch.

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