How HEADSTART Is a Game-Changer in ERP Deployments

When companies decide to deploy a modern, cloud ERP or CRM solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365, they want to reap the transformational benefits of the technology as soon as possible. At the same time, they hope to avoid the disruption, budget and schedule overruns, risk, and uncertainty of poorly planned deployment projects. To streamline Dynamics 365 deployments and ensure the right outcomes, Sikich has developed the HEADSTART approach. We use HEADSTART in nearly every project to our clients’ benefit, and continue refining the methodology as Dynamics 365 evolves along with organizations and industries. No matter if you’re a business leader looking to modernize your technology or a Professional Advisor helping clients find the best partner, HEADSTART could give you a critical edge with your ERP deployment.

Deploying Modular Software Systems in the Cloud Era

Modern business applications require a modern approach to delivery. Not only have applications matured in recent years, the expectations of the businesses implementing them have also evolved.

Today, we think of ERP systems as business applications or platforms. These systems incorporate not only the functionality that enables business transactions and processes, but they also connect with the newest technologies. Options such as cloud connectivity to data lakes, which extends traditional analytical reporting to artificial intelligence and machine learning, are part of what organizations look for when they want to maximize the value of their back-office systems. When data is business-critical, a company’s ability to take advantage of digital feedback loops is key to justifying investments in technology.

Another current development is a move away from monolithic applications that have to be implemented all at once. Instead, software implementers decouple major workflows so that it becomes possible to refresh aging legacy systems individually. This trend accommodates the rapid change in today’s business environments and the need for software systems to keep pace.

In the past, business applications like ERP could take years to deploy, disrupting team productivity and business operations. Their scope and deep functionality presented such a complex set of processes that it was nearly impossible to deliver the outcomes desired without turning on all capabilities. ERP systems might then last 10 to 15 years or more, their complexity escalating with add-ons, modifications, and ancillary systems, often supported by large numbers of Excel spreadsheets or disconnected databases. The costs of maintaining these legacy installations quickly ballooned. Companies also spent money to deploy new apps to address needs that ERP upgrades might have met. Over time, integrations become more difficult. Specialized or disparate systems and workarounds fostered shadow IT.

The need to Deliver Disruption-Proof Technology Quickly

Today, companies can no longer afford to wait that long to realize the value of their investment. The urgency presented by changing market conditions means that being too late to adapt can be catastrophic. They also cannot justify investing in a system that might work perfectly today but which cannot adapt to future requirements, or one that makes it easy to enter data but won’t allow strategic data analysis to drive decision-making. In a recent paper, industry analysts at Gartner noted that the 2020 pandemic highlighted the fragility of many corporate systems. Designed to be ultra efficient, many systems and processes in companies have become brittle. When disruption occurs, brittle systems tend to break.

While leading vendors of business applications have looked for ways to deliver products that address customers’ ever-changing needs, system integrators like Sikich quickly adapted to ensure that their clients could realize the promise of this new way of thinking about business applications.

A Simple Approach to Deploying Modern ERP and ERM

To streamline business application deployments and shorten clients’ time-to-benefit, Sikich has combined its industry and technology expertise with the new vision of modular, agile solutions in a comprehensive deployment approach called HEADSTART. The following principles guided the development of HEADSTART:

  • Projects that are based on agile principles and are adapted to work with pre-built software applications can reduce the risk and cost of deployments. The old way of implementing packaged software, based on a waterfall approach to project management, takes too long and does not consistently result in successful projects.
  • Starting implementation projects from a blank slate, beginning with lengthy requirements discovery and documentation, is a well-intended process that nonetheless cannot guarantee the best possible project outcomes. Such efforts result in too much focus on past practices and not nearly enough attention to how the business should operate in the future.
  • Implementation partners and system integrators must increase the speed at which they deploy systems so that clients can realize value faster. At the same time, technology partners and their clients have to expand project scopes to incorporate data analytics and insight solutions as part of the initial deliverable.
  • Clients rightly expect that the quality of the delivery services they receive should reflect their partner’s cumulative, vertical expertise and will not vary greatly with the experience of the individuals on their project team. Every client deserves the vendor’s A team, every time. Clients’ project success should not be at risk because a trusted vendor includes junior professionals in the team.

Alex Ingram, IT Director at Hamilton Company, recently utilized our Sikich HEADSTART program for the company’s ERP deployment with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management. The program was a great success, and one he highly recommends to other companies.

“When our original implementation partner for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management was unable to help us successfully complete our project, we contacted Sikich because of their ERP Rescue and Recovery offering. During that evaluation process, Sikich demonstrated a sound knowledge of our business (including configure-to-order and engineer-to-order solutions). They proposed using their HEADSTART program, supplemented by the work we had already done with our previous technology partner. Very soon, the Sikich team was ready to demonstrate ERP functionality for our business. Leaders from across our company were impressed that the preconfigured solution provided with HEADSTART did a better job of meeting our business requirements in just weeks than the previous partner had been able to deliver after more than a year. I wholeheartedly recommend considering Sikich as an implementation partner. The tools they bring to the table can be game-changing.”

Have any questions about Sikich HEADSTART for your ERP deployment or need more information? Please check out our free ebook, Achieving Successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 Deployments While Saving Time and Money. When you’re ready to team up for your D365 implementation, please contact us at any time.

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