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Companies have to choose from various options including the big bang, the phased roll and the parallel implementation approaches when implementing an ERP (Brown at al, 2012). There is, however, no straight answer as to which approach is best since every company is unique in terms of need and the capacity to implement the approach.
Changing from one ERP to another is, however, not a simple decision since it holds all the potential to make-or-break the firm (Khanna and Arneja, 2012). Companies thus have to take various considerations before choosing the approach. Some of the critical factors include; the cost of implementation, the level of risk acceptable to the company and the size of the business (Khanna and Arneja, 2012).
The big bang approach of implementing ERP happens in one major action where all users move to the new system on a given switch-on date (Brown at al, 2012). The phased roll approach, on the other hand, happens over an extended period of time and in phases (Brown at al, 2012). The users are, therefore, introduced to the new system in calculated steps.
The parallel adoption, though not very popular, is more of a hybrid of the two approaches. It allows both the legacy system and the new ERP to run at the same time (Brown at al, 2012). The users are allowed to learn the new systems, while still working with the legacy system.
NIBCO’S big bang
The big bang approach is a high risk ERP implementation decision. It requires a lot of planning and well calculated fall back options (Khanna and Arneja, 2012). The successful implementation of this approach by the NIBCO Company can be tied to its good planning. Although the implementation approach is a single-event affair, its successful implementation requires enough time to plan and strategize (Khanna and Arneja, 2012).
It is notable that the implementation of the approach at NIBCO started in December 1995, two years before its switch-on date (Brown at al, 2012). The company even went ahead to set up an implementation team, also referred as the “tiger” team to lead the company through the process (Brown at al, 2012).
Apart from sufficient planning, it is also prudent for the firm to have critical minds behind the switch to the new system. It is thus important for the management to ensure that all critical departments are represented in the team tasked with leading the transition process. In the NIBCO Company, for example, the three critical sectors of technology development, change management and business coordination were appointed to comprise the lead team (Brown at al, 2012).
Approaches’ pros and cons
Despite the enormous risk involved in implementation, there are various factors that work in favor of the big bang approach. It is considerably cheaper than the phased roll approach, which takes a much longer period to implement (Khanna and Arneja, 2012). The process is also quick and since the switch on takes a single date, it is easier to prepare the users technically and emotionally.
Another advantage of the big bang approach is that training the users can be concentrated on the new systems since there is no change over training required. The challenges that may arise from the changes are also condensed over a shorter period of time and are, therefore, easy to manage and address.
The approach is, however, challenged by the fact that the difficulties are more pronounced due to the shorter implementation period (Khanna and Arneja, 2012). There is also the danger of overlooking some details due to time limitation as well as the limitations that come with inability to carry out an end-to-end system testing.
As much as the big bang approach is associated with a big risk factor, it is also endowed with the capacity to cause the company great savings in terms of time and money. The greatest secret to a successful implementation of the approach is prudent planning.
Brown, C.V., Dehayes, D.W., Hoffer, J. A., Martin, E. W. & Perkins, W.C. (2012). Managing information technology (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Khanna, K. & Arneja, G. P. (2012). Choosing an appropriate ERP implementation strategy. IOSR Journal of Engineering, vol. 2(3), pp. 478-483.