While not many business organizations are doing large ERP implementations any more, some public institutions like government agencies, colleges and school districts are getting around to upgrading their old systems.  These organizations are finding that software now comes in large integrated packages that often contain more features or functionality than they had before and perhaps don’t really need.
I drive a 15-year old mini-van and recently got around to buying a new one.  The sales person at the dealer was showing me all of the new features, some of which I would have never asked for but it was part of the package. My old car had features I never used but that car served me well and took me where I needed to go.  Once comfortable in the new car, I learned to use and appreciate some of the new features a little at a time and only use those that I need.
Like my new car, your new ERP package has features you didn’t set out to buy.  Some will prove valuable and others may not.  Some you will use right away and others best implemented once you have your core functions working.
What I have been seeing is that recent ERP customers are tempted to implement everything at once. The reasons are sound and usually based on financial concerns and wanting to shorten the pain that goes with process change.  However, in the end, what we refer to as the ‘Big Bang’ approach is generally more costly and disruptive to the organization than a phased implementation.
The first issue is time: System implementations that drag out over years are difficult to manage and difficult to work on.  Adding resources may have some impact but there is a point where you can’t speed up the process by increasing resources.  The more you try to implement at once, the longer it will take.
The next issue is people: System projects are intense and your project team will reach the point of overload and eventually burn out.  When that happens, quality will suffer, morale will drop and turnover follows.
The biggest issue is change:  Even the best organizations can only handle so much change at once.  Imagine replacing the kitchen in your house while you are living there.  For a time, your life will be a mess.  Now imagine replacing every room in your house at the same time.  People and organizations need to hold on to some stability.  While the saying is, that “Phase 2 never happens” – Phase 2 is exactly what you need to make Phase 1 successful, on time and on budget.