Times 3 Technologies has a core philosophy of establishing long-term partnerships with its clients. This philosophy is reinforced through its structured approach to implementation projects and ensures total client involvement throughout.
This ensures the complete involvement of our client’s critical resources. In addition, Times 3 Technologies recommends the use of a project manager to work in conjunction with either a client project manager or key personnel for the duration of the project for the following reasons:
- The long-term partnership philosophy is reinforced
- Shared responsibility and accountability
- Transfer of knowledge and skills
- Ability to leverage the client project manager’s organisation specific knowledge and expertise
- Ability to leverage Times 3 Technologies Project Manager’s product, service and methodology knowledge and expertise.
In order to optimise the success of this philosophy, a phased approach is often adopted for projects. Detailed planning and project management, with a primary emphasis on deliverables and deadlines, has become core Times 3 Technologies competency.
Typically the implementation process for a Sage ERP X3 implementation will proceed as follows, however certain steps or procedures might be superseded to meet clients requirements. This structure may be viewed as a guideline to a proposed implementation.
PHASE 1 – Implementation Preparation
Implementation projects commence with the Project Definition Workshop (PDW), which is attended by members of the project team from both the client organisation and T3T Times 3 Technologies. The purpose of the PDW is to obtain executive and project team member buy-in to the project, and to agree to the scope, deliverables and timelines of the project.
The output of the PDW (which is often described as ‘Implementation Preparation’) is:
The project Initiation Document (PID):
- The scope of the project
- The roles and responsibilities of the different parties
- The deliverables of the project
- Acceptance criteria for the deliverables
- How change requests will be managed
- How risk will be managed
- High-level project plan.
The project management of the implementation will include:
- Project Definition Workshop (PDW)
- PID which is the output from the PDW
- Continual project management
- Weekly/Bi-weekly project progress meetings
- Monthly steering committee meetings (including project leader from client).
Prince 2 project management methodology will be used to govern the implementation. The Sage implementation methodology will be used to ensure that all necessary tasks are initiated and performed during the implementation according to the phases described below.
Figure 1: Sage implementation methodology
PHASE 1.1 – Installation and Software Set-up
The primary objective of this phase is to prepare the environment and install the necessary software.
This phase consists of the following four elements:
System Environment Set-up. During this process the operating system and database are installed on the server and configured in accordance with the pre‑set requirements necessary for Sage X3. This extends to all the servers / machines required to operate Sage X3. This is the responsibility of the client.
Software Installation. Following the successful installation of the environment, a Sage X3 consultant will install the necessary Sage X3 software and 3rd party essentials required for X3. The initial users will also be configured during this process, but does not extend to the entire client user base that will operate on Sage X3. These users are the process owner and super-users.
Security Set-up. All necessary security requirements are configured within the Sage X3 environment.
Training Database Installation. Due to the fact that the next phase in the project is the Key User Training and Functional Design, the training database is installed. This training database usually takes the form of the DEMOBRI folder with limited customisations required for the client. Given the fact that training will be handled off-site, the initial training will be conducted in Virtual Machines.
PHASE 2 – Key User Training and Functional Design
Upon completion of Phase 1 – Implementation Preparation and Installation, initial super-user education and functional requirements design can commence. This usually begins with Key User Training which is aimed to enable the key users to gain an understanding of the standard breadth and depth of the Sage X3 functionality. This enables them to make more informed decisions during the Functional Design due to the ‘base’ that they will be operating from.
The Key User Training is broken down into two specific areas, namely; Product Functionality and System Administration. During the Product Functionality training key users are taken through the following areas within Sage X3:
- General Accounting
- Sales & Purchase Ledger
- Manufacturing Technical Data
- Shop Floor Control
- Cost Accounting
- Production Costing
- Warehouse Operations.
Depending on the nature of the project, the Process Owner and super-users are then taught the basics within System Administration. This will cover the following areas:
- Application Administration
- Users and Security.
Given that the key users are now ‘educated’ on Sage X3, the functional design can commence. This takes the form of Workshops which are designed so that Times 3 Technologiescan obtain as much information as necessary relating to the client’s requirements. The deliverables from these workshops will be a comprehensive CONFIGURATION DOCUMENT (CFD).
It is important to understand that the completed CFD is one of the most important deliverables of the project, being used to define business processes within Sage X3. It is vital therefore that the correct people are identified to attend each workshop in order that they are fully prepared and contribute to the session effectively.
Once the CFD has been compiled, the document is approved internally and signed off prior to distribution. Once this has been done, the document is distributed in accordance with the distribution list.
The Functional Design will cover the following main areas / elements within the business:
- Review customer’s current method of operation
- Discuss X3 process or options
- Select/define the X3 procedures to support the business process
- Incorporate “Best Practices” (when applicable)
- Review Business Documents
- Establish Baseline Parameters and Tables
- Basis for Gap Analysis
- Outline Phase II or the Parking Lot
- Process Owner driven Key Scenario Test Plans.
PHASE 3 – Collaborative Pilot
The primary objective of the Collaborative Pilot is the proof of concept, as detailed in the CFD, and to gain management approval for the final implementation of the solution.
The following actions are undertaken during this phase of the Pilot:
- The initial Pilot Folder is configured and set-up
- Gathering additional information/ current data from the client by module
- Client to set up key business process scenarios
- On site set-up
- Build Sage according to CFD
- Internal testing (proof)
- Scenario testing (client acceptance)
- Complete pilot exercise
- Destructive testing exercise
- Customisation requirements as part of the CFD
- Changes as determined through pilot (change controls).
Following the completion of the Pilot, the scenario results, documented outputs, customisation requirements (costed) and results of the destructive testing exercise are presented for sign-off.
The individual steps that are followed during this phase are as follows:
- Entry of sample data
- Run test transactions
- Verify principles of operation
- Verify principles of data usage
- Identify data to migrate
- Identify data to retain (e.g. P/L open items)
- Define access to historic data
- Define Cut-off Plan.
PHASE 4 – Data Conversion
The primary objective of the Data Conversion phase is to define the data that is to be migrated, build the exports and import, and ensure the success thereof.
The following actions are undertaken during this phase of the project:
- All data that will be ‘loaded’ into Sage X3 is defined
- A balance check document will be drawn up
- A conversion strategy, which includes the process, is formalised
- Data from the legacy system is selected and exported in the agreed format
- Sage X3 import routines are modified where necessary, and any necessary intermediary files are manipulated
- The data conversion is tested through a ‘Dry-run’.
PHASE 5 – Conference Room Pilot
The primary objective of the Conference Room Pilot is to ensure that Sage X3 is correctly configured to meet the client’s needs.
During the Conference Room Pilot an iterative model is adopted whereby testing followed by system configuration changes continues on an ongoing basis. This process is typically described by the following high level actions:
- Run test transactions
- Verify accuracy of data
- Optimise and confirm pilot
- Resolve any issues discovered during pilot
- Prepare for production cut-off.
These abovementioned actions involve additional parameterisation and customisations which involve the following items:
- General Parameters
- Transactions in all areas
- Sequence numbers
- Accounting Interface
- Enquiry screens
- Price structures
- Access profiles, security
- Recurring Tasks
- Field access and defaults
- SPE actions
- Entry Points
Running in parallel with the above activities, Forms and Reports are defined and configured. This normally involves the physical document designs, report designs and any data requests that may be required to meet the business needs.
PHASE 6 – User Training and Processes
End-user training is provided using the Pilot system and sample Vodacom data incorporated in the system. This ensures that users readily accept the new system as they are presented with ‘familiar’ data and processes in a practical, hands-on environment.
Training of end-users on all the functions is done as follows:
- Either one or half-day’s training per module (determined by module complexity)
- Maximum of 6-8 delegates per training session.
This may be structured differently to meet the requirements of Vodacom. The proposed implementation budget addresses this requirement through a phased approach, incorporating the necessary training for one session per module for eight delegates as indicated. The final training plan will be finalised in the Training Plan document which will be drafted by the Process Owners.
Re-visiting the CFD where changes are required to business processes, as well as destructive testing by the users themselves, completes this phase.
Prior to the abovementioned training commencing, clients define their own operating processes. This is essential to the success of the project as this includes, amongst others, the following:
- User operational procedures
- Integration with external systems
- Exception report identification
- Common data management
- Transactional entries.
PHASE 7 – Go-Live
There are two main components included in this phase. The first is the conducting of a Readiness Review, and the second, live conversion of the data. It is possible that these two exercises can take place in parallel, depending upon the availability of resources.
The tasks undertaken in this phase are:
- Conversion/ data take-on
- Verify and sign-off
- Transfer to live database.
The Readiness Review is a thorough examination of what we have achieved, to ensure that nothing has been overlooked and that everything is ready before switching to “live” operations. The final action in this phase is the switching from the test environment to the live system.
PHASE 8 – Post Implementation Support
The objective of the final phase is to iron out any problems that the client may experience during the early part of live operation. These problems may occur due to inefficiencies in operation not exposed during the pilot phase, customisation errors or operator error due to inexperience.
The post-implementation support and refinement phase is concluded by the Project Closure Workshop and project sign-off.
The Post Implementation Support will be conducted on an ad-hoc time and materials basis.
This phased approach is designed to ensure the smooth introduction of new technologies, systems and business practices into our client organisations, and the amounts quoted represent a time and material estimate based on our past experiences.