Taking a 'big bang' approach
- By Heather Harreld
- May 29, 2000
Many organizations may be tempted to ease into an enterprise resource planning
solution by launching one ERP module at a time. Strategic Petroleum Reserve
officials took the "big bang" approach by going live enterprisewide.
Running the remaining legacy systems in parallel while transitioning
individual functions to ERP would have been more expensive and time-consuming
because the agency would have had to build interfaces to the older systems,
said John O'Brien, manager of information systems and technical support
"We eliminated a whole class of problems by going big bang — just dealing
with those interfaces would have been really horrible," he said.
The agency says this "big bang" approach can be riskier than a piecemeal
one, but not transitioning all the systems at once defeats the purpose of
ERP, said Brian Seagrave, former director of enterprise systems at SPR.
"You're not doing ERP, you're doing RP — resource planning," he said. "We
learned that costs twice as much because you have to interface them all,
and you don't get that much more functionality. Those organizations [that
launch individual modules] feel they cannot get their departments to cooperate.
You end up rebuilding your silo systems because you're not cooperating with
SPR was merging 12 departments into one integrated system. If it had
launched its financial system first — which overlaps all other departments — they would be separating that department's functionality instead of integrating
across the departments for more efficiency, Seagrave said.
"How radically can you re-engineer if you're not involving your departments
in the discussion?" he asked. "You have to get them to sit around the table
and identify overlaps and inefficiencies and eliminate those. If you're
keeping everyone in their groups, you're not tearing down the silos."