Managing Your opentaps Implementation Project

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This section provides information and guidance for business leaders, managers, and administrators who plan to implement opentaps. This is a general primer on how to implement opentaps, or indeed any similar large-scale open-source or commercial system change in your organization. Our goal is to offer you a tested and proven methodology to make your success with such implementation projects as high as possible.

Contents


Before You Start

Implementing a business management system like opentaps (or any ERP/CRM type solution) for any company is a complex project for a simple reason, it is because the operational details of your business are complex. Whether you are implementing for a small office or large multinational organization, we recommend you follow the following key steps:

  1. Understand the requirements. What does the organization actually do, and how do you want your people to do it? Who will be using the system, and what would processes will they be implementing with it?
  2. Determine the required budgets, and obtain the strong commitment of the business leadership. Establish time-lines and stages for the implementation. Hold regular checkpoint meetings and report to your leaders on progress and issues.
  3. Map out the implementation. Once you know what people need, identify how opentaps can be configured to best support those requirements. Identified what modules and features will be used.
  4. Do your pilot implementation in steps or stages involving a few key users of the selected functionality. Train these initial users and let them start to perform their jobs using the system, make any needed changes, and continue with the group until you have their satisfaction, or clearly understand any problems. Select real users who will help to deploy the system eventually. Accept all their feedback and consider the suggestions. Frequently, you will uncover new requirements during these little stages.
  5. With user feedback, make changes to the system.
  6. Do successive rounds of pilots working through all the selected stages of deployment and aiming for good user satisfaction with the system.
  7. Next, train any larger numbers of your users on the new system, with the help of your pilot test users as advocates.
  8. Move data over from existing systems.
  9. Rollout your system for production use, but keep your current methods and tools as a backup until you are very sure that the new operations are stable and have demonstrated acceptance and reliability in your own environment.


As your progress along the way, it is important to protect yourself against the risk of a failed implementation. You should try to mitigate these key reasons for failed implementations:

  1. Failure to understand the real business requirements. If you don’t know what you need to do, you probably won’t get a correct implementation.
  2. Lack of user acceptance. You can’t force people to use your system productively, but you can provide them with good reasons to want to use it well. Make sure they like using it, and keep working until they do. (Fortunately, opentaps is easy for users to adopt when their natural concerns about making changes in their jobs are overcome in a constructive and positive way.)
  3. Becoming too ambitious. When you're moving to a business management system, it can be easy to become overly ambitious and to try solving too many problems at one time. This can confuse too many people in your organization, and result in negative reactions. Sometimes a lot of pent-up demand for improvements can suddenly appear from every group in your organization. Resist the urge to solve every problem. Focus on the "low hanging fruit" first, the immediately achievable goals which would deliver significant value to your organization. Get the system up and running as soon as possible, and build confidence in it for your entire organization. Then you will have the support you need to roll out incremental enhancements over time.
  4. Lack of contingency plans. For critical business processes, devise contingency plans in case the system is not up and running in time, or if there are problems that must be resolved. Often it is wise to consider keeping the existing methods and tools to run temporarily in such a situation.

Remember:

A successful implementation will provide great benefits toward your business
performance, and your team members, who are satisfied users, will use your
system to improve their teamwork and probably your customer's satisfaction as
well. 


The Implementation Checklist

Before getting started, you need to capture some key information about how your organization currently operates. This may involve meetings or interviews with all the people who will be using opentaps. This list, while not exhaustive,can serve as a starting point to prepare for your implementation:

  1. Accounting
    1. What is your company’s inventory costing method: LIFO, FIFO, or average cost?
    2. What is your company’s accounting year end month and date?
    3. Obtain a chart of accounts for your company.
  2. Stores and Sales Policies
    1. Identify each physical and online store which sells your products if any.
    2. What types of products are sold? Physical goods? Digital downloads? Physical goods with variants? Configurable products?
    3. What categories are the products grouped into?
    4. What sales taxes are charged on your sales?
    5. Which customers are exempted from sales tax?
    6. What are the shipping rates for your stores? Are they based on flat fees, percentage of order, or live rate carrier rate estimates?
    7. What methods of payments are accepted, and what credit card processor or payment gateways are you using?
    8. Would you like to send emails to confirm orders and keep customers informed of order status?
    9. Do you offer special pricing to each customer or to groups of customers?
    10. How are inventory items reserved against orders?
    11. Do you pay sales commissions? If so, to whom? What are the commission schedules and rates?
  3. Order Processing
    1. When are orders approved and by whom?
    2. Do you accept back orders?
    3. If a customer’s payment method cannot be captured, will you still ship to customers on their account?
    4. Do you offer some customers credit?
  4. Returns
    1. Do you accept returns?
    2. Do you give refunds or store credits for customer returns?
    3. Do you refund shipping charges?
    4. Do you charge re-stocking fees on returns?
  5. Purchasing
    1. Make a list of all of your vendors, and the products you purchase from them, including the prices, minimum quantities, and vendor specific descriptive information.
    2. How is purchasing planned?
    3. Do you drop ship from your vendors?
    4. What terms do you have with your vendors?
  6. Manufacturing
    1. Define your products bill of materials (BOMs) and production steps.
    2. Define machine or fixed assets used for manufacturing.
    3. Do you use push (MRP) or pull (on demand) production planning?
  7. Warehouses
    1. Define all warehouses where your company stores inventory
    2. Do you have separate locations in your warehouse which are designated as packing versus storage areas?
    3. Do you host third party inventory?
    4. Do you transfer inventory between your warehouses?
    5. Do you have products which carry serial numbers (like a laptop) or lot numbers (like orange juice)?
    6. How are orders “picked” from the warehouse? What is the process for obtaining items which have been ordered from the warehouse?
    7. How are orders packed and prepared for shipping?
    8. How are orders scheduled for shipping?
    9. Which carriers do you use to ship outgoing orders?
  8. Customer Service
    1. What e-mail address do you use for customer service requests and e-mails?
    2. How are customer service requests received and processed?

You should also have the following information ready:

  1. List of users and their roles and authorities
  2. Payment processor credentials
  3. Shipper (UPS, FedEx, DHL) credentials
  4. Categories of products
  5. Your organization's logo

The Pilot

The pilot projects should be a series of activities where you train small groups of key users to use opentaps in their own job assignments. As you test with these groups they will provide feedback and suggestions, and the system may be configured to better accommodate their work. All changes should be recorded, and reported to the implementation team and to business leaders (at least in summary form). Your pilot team leaders may be a good forum for deciding on changes to be made, versus changes to be discarded or postponed.

We recommend that you go through your basic processes one by one during the series of pilot tests, for example, include these:


  • Setting up your users identities, passwords and security groups
  • Setting up products
  • Purchasing, including using Material Resources Planning and creating purchase orders
  • Receiving
  • Sales order entry
  • Customer service
  • Order fulfillment, including picking, packing, and shipping
  • Invoicing
  • Payments
  • Returns and refunds
  • Online store features

In summary, an implementation and deployment project that demonstrates some success quickly, makes steady progress in steps, and gains the involvement and support of key leader of the team is a project that is on the path to success.

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