Til H Med Designfasen Basico

To h... with the design phase

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Morten Boldsen

Morten Boldsen


24. August 2018

All Finance professionals are familiar with examples of ERP projects that have been significantly delayed and more costly than expected. There are several reasons for this. However, an often overlooked reason is that the project method used is neither up-to-date nor sufficiently targeted.


An ERP project is a costly venture, often based on the waterfall model, which has proven useful for this purpose. Not because it is perfect – many ERP projects fail using the model – but rather because it suits new development and ERP systems that require many adjustments. More agile project models are typically more suited for smaller projects of relatively low complexity.

The method where many fail

The waterfall model is good business. Not necessarily for you, but for the ERP vendors. They are involved throughout the process and heavily dominate most phases. The project typically starts with a preliminary analysis of your company and your systems to establish a foundation for estimating the project. This is followed by the planning phase based on the preliminary analysis. The purpose of this phase is to plan and structure the design and development phase so that everything is executed in the correct order.

The design phase often starts by listing and documenting your company's processes. On this basis, a large specification of requirements is developed. After aligning the specification of requirements, the construction phase is revisited and recalculated before the ERP vendor can begin developing adjustments. Once everything has been built, it is presented to you as the customer and then released for a major system test. Unfortunately, there is typically a long time from design to test. In addition, many errors may occur along the way. This often ends up being an expensive solution or with a project that fails.

The waterfall model places great emphasis on the design phase and then the development phase. This hasn't changed, though most of today's ERP systems are complex standard systems that can largely be configured to the needs of the company. But when the functionality is standard, why is it necessary for the ERP consultant to analyze, document, and design it?

Why you should use a model-based project method

Instead of the waterfall method, we recommend using a model-based project method. However, a prerequisite is that the ERP system is a complete package that can be configured to a standard to such an extent that you can start testing without problems. Examples could be Dynamics Business Central or Dynamics F&O. The model-based method also assumes that the preliminary analysis goes one step further, providing you with an indication of which modules and processes the ERP system should cover.

Advantages of the model-based project method

    • Faster and more agile project progression
    •  Model ownership remains within the company
    • High involvement of SME ensures support and anchoring
    • Recognition of system, processes, and data throughout the project
    • Thoroughly tested master data


Since the individual main processes become the backbone throughout the project, it is possible to plan the project quite detailed already in connection with the preliminary analysis.

Model and master data

Based on the preliminary analysis, you set up a pilot model. The pilot should be configured to use the modules and standard functionality that the preliminary analysis uncovers. In addition, your company's own master data should be used rather than generic test data from the software vendor.

Therefore, your company must provide master data. Thus, the production model is gradually shaped and creates the foundation for successful workshops.

Master data

With the model-based project method, it is a prerequisite that the company prepares master data very early in the project.

Thus, a change log should be maintained to ensure coherence between master data in the operational systems and master data in the new ERP model. When implementing a new ERP system, the company has a unique opportunity to clean up master data.

Workshops and development

Once the pilot model has been set up, you start having workshops. Here you review the functionalities, primarily concerning the company's main processes.

The Subject Matter Expert (SME), who is the employee most knowledgeable about the main process the workshop concerns, should participate.

The functionality and the most significant processes are run through in the model, and adjustments to the configuration are made "on the fly", so that the SME sees the solutions and is convinced of the functionality. This minimizes any surprises later in the process. If the functionality is missing, or if you need to change processes, you should document it at the workshop.

Immediately after the workshop, you prepare a specification of requirements for the functionality – alternatively change management for a changed process – so that you address each issue promptly. To minimize the project period, development should occur agilely alongside the series of workshops. Thus, the development becomes iterative, and you can roll out new developments continuously, which you then send for testing by your SMEs.

To ensure that the SME is well-equipped to handle the ERP system and assumes responsibility for the rollout, he/she should be involved early in the process through relevant workshops and development.

User acceptance test and training

After having completed the development, you should test the overall solution. You can do this in connection with the end-user test combined with training of the end-users. Since the overall functionality has been tested during workshops, no challenges should occur related to the individual functions.

However, adjustments are typically needed when you run the end-to-end processes with the end-users. But since the SME has participated continuously in the project, there shouldn't be any outstanding issues requiring major changes.

Morten Boldsen

Morten Boldsen


+45 40 83 62 88


How to proceed

If you would like to know more about how the model-based project method can speed up your ERP project, feel free to contact us.

Get a non-binding talk and sparring about your challenges and opportunities with your ERP system.