A well run ERP project : methodology, the key to success

testimonial project management ERP

Testimonial, implementation of APIZ Advanced ERP Solution at Les Scouts

The implementation of a new ERP is quite a challenge for any organisation test. It is time consuming, it involves all levels of power,it interferes with daily life, and it sometimes questins established processes. However, if the project is well managed, with an efficient methodology, it not only increases the productivity of the company but it also boosts the collaboration spirit. The Federation of Belgian Scouts shares its experience of deploying an ERP using a high-performance methodology.

With more than 62,000 members and potentially 12,000 users, Les Scouts is one of the largest youth movements in the country. For 10 years, it has been using the Compiere Open Source ERP for the management of its members and activities.

Faced with the evolution of technology, the unit and section leaders, key users of the organisation, had high expectations of the management tool, in terms of mobility and ergonomics. This is why Les Scouts decided to migrate to APIZ, Audaxis' new ERP offer, which uses the Compiere Community Edition library. The objective was to give them the benefit of a brand new web interface and to optimise the user experience.

According to the IT Project Manager at the Baden-Powell Scouts Federation of Belgium, "the ERP project has strengthened the relationship with Audaxis. We can even say that it is better now than before the project. And this is mainly thanks to the methodology we applied.»

Discover the secrets of a great success as you go through the main stages of the project.

Start the ERP project in full knowledge

Every IT project begins with preparation. This stage is fundamental, it enables the roles of the various parties involved to be defined and its progress to be planned. The development of a Project Quality Plan (PQP), a real collaborative effort between the Audaxis and Scout teams, formalised this first stage of the project.

"The production of this document enabled all those involved to realise the scope of the project. It also helped us to anticipate the workload of the entire Scouts team. Afterwards, the Quality Plan was not consulted on a daily basis... but it provided a framework that the teams could rely on at any time, in the event of any difficulties or misunderstandings in the course of the project".

The PQP was a reference value and an excellent safety net. Even more so, because all the documents are part of the contractual framework.

Thanks to this plan, the youth movement's governing bodies were immediately reassured from the outset about the organisation, the respect of deadlines and the budget. They let the teams work with confidence knowing that the whole project was formalised in a very precise document, particularly detailing the responsibilities of each participant, always keeping in mind the final objective: to provide an interface adapted to its target audience, the youth workers.

In concrete terms, this plan has therefore provided a high quality preparation for the Scouts' project.

  • Definition of the role of each party, both on the Audaxis side and on the client's side

  • Description of document management processes: writing reports, requests for changes, relation to specifications, etc.

  • Clarification of the formal framework on how to exchange information between teams

  • Clarification on budgetary aspects.

"Once the meetings around the PQP were over, we said to each other: here we go, we're in. That really made the launch of the project a reality."

An ERP design that is closely monitored and validated over time

The Scouts chose APIZ mainly to benefit from its modern technologies and interface adapted to the current requirements of its users. "The challenge of the design phase of the ERP was therefore to create a management tool that could be used by non-professionals, many of them very young. It had to meet the requirements in terms of user ergonomics and current usage patterns on smartphones and tablets. In fact, the "look and feel" had to match their world, far from the classical ERP, much closer to a modern mobile application.

In terms of functionalities, Les Scouts have chosen to start, initially, with a one-to-one migration project and therefore the integration of the specifics previously developed by Audaxis in the community version of Compiere. "We were able to continue working with an Audaxis consultant who understands our business perfectly. And in this type of project, this is an essential aspect, which saves a lot of time in the realisation".

During the design workshops, the Audaxis team was particularly attentive to the needs of the organisation's key users. Their expectations were described in detail in the specification documents. These were then validated by the client. "With the implementation of Apiz, the interface of all the screens of the management software was modified. This specification validation phase was extremely important because it ensured that the Audaxis teams had a good understanding of the requirements and therefore a correct rendering during the development of the screens".

Tools for good project management

From the design phase, the Project Board Meetings have become an indispensable tool. Every week, these meetings bring together the project managers and the Audaxis Project Management Officer (PMO) to follow up on deliverables and short-term tasks. "The objective is to ensure that certain tasks are not left to slip from week to week. Here, we are on points of detail but which, if they accumulate, can impact the overall project schedule".

The PMO controls the team's workload and ensures that the methodology is respected. What impact do possible delays have on the overall project progress? Is the budget respected? Are there any recurring difficulties? All these points are dealt with by the PMO and, if necessary, referred to the Project Steering Committee . The latter brings together the respective Project Managers, the Project Director, but also the account manager and the operational management of the two organisations. These regular meetings are particularly useful for ensuring a sound strategic management of the project.

The Audaxis Project Director is responsible for managing change and making recommendations for the successful completion of the project. "The Project Director coordinated regularly with the PC to ensure that the project remained on track with the project objectives".

Acceptance phase, the assurance of a successful project

While many elements have been validated throughout the design process, the acceptance phase of the project is a crucial moment. "I wasn't aware that this phase was so important in terms of investment by our teams. Fortunately, Audaxis helped us organise our tests. We divided the tests into test groups and set up a methodology to make sure we covered all the elements, with a constant view on progress."

This is when we test the quality of the project and the suitability of the solution to the client's needs. This is also where deadline problems crystallise. "The Copil meetings made it possible to regularly update everyone with the same level of information about the project. Seeing where we are, identifying delays, monitoring the acceptance phases... In fact, it allowed us to know if we were on time and gave us quality indicators. These meetings really contributed to the success of the project".

During the Steering Committees, the teams identified the problems but also the successes. All the elements are recorded in the meeting reports, which, in the event of any subsequent difficulties, provide a reference.

ERP go live under control

Once the acceptance is complete, the steering committee makes the decision to move on into production, assessing the associated risks and setting up the necessary support. In the case of the Scouts, Audaxis proceeded with a "blank" start and during the actual production launch, Audaxis developers joined the functional consultants to increase reactivity. "This made it possible to understand each other more quickly and to accelerate the resolution of the difficulties inherent in a production start-up".

Think about the future, in continuity

After the initial objectives of the APIZ project had been achieved, Les Scouts decided not to stop there and to extend the scope of the ERP application.

"We decided to continue, as Audaxis generally recommends, in project mode, in a somewhat lighter approach of course, but using the same tools as during the migration to APIZ. For example, the continuity of Steering Committees is a very important tool. It allows us to maintain a helicopter view of everything concerning our management solution".

APIZ's new technologies will soon enable the Scouts to offer new services to their members and collaborators, such as, for example, the automated management of training registrations (pre-qualifications and payments) or the dematerialisation of accounting documents.