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Estimating your ERP implementation timeline

We are planning a major enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation initiative. Our ERP vendor has one idea of how long it should take -- but I'm trying to create a more realistic estimate. What factors should I look at in order to develop an accurate ERP implementation timeline for this project?

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Most ERP vendors estimate six to nine months for a "technical" implementation. Their plans usually consist of: installation support, data migration, technical training and go-live support. A more realistic time frame for a successful ERP implementation is 12 to 18 months.

When I analyze ERP implementation plans, I look for these elements:

Project initiation

  • ERP team structure definition
  • Communication planning
  • Risk management
  • Governance and control


  • Data migration
  • Training strategy
  • Risk mitigation
  • Business simulation
  • Gap analysis
  • Process testing


  • Cutover strategy
  • Verification
  • Transition planning
  • Go/No-go decision
  • Communication
  • SOX/Regulatory compliance verification (where applicable)
  • Legacy data archive and system de-commissioning

These are just a few of the tasks that should be in a comprehensive ERP implementation plan; however, they are key elements, and if I don't see them, it would raise a red flag.


This was first published in November 2008

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