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ERP Implementation: Choosing a Solo or Managed Expedition

When implementing ERP, weigh the pros and cons of self-implementation versus professional services.
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When it comes to implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, should you go it alone or seek professional assistance? Here, we weigh the pros and cons of using professional ERP implementation services over self-implementing for your organization.


When an organization opts for self-implementation, it means in-house resources independently take on setting up and configuring the ERP system. However, you and your colleagues have responsibilities in your day jobs, which consume about 40 or more hours every week. ERP implementation typically takes three to 18 months for seasoned professionals to complete. Unless you have an extreme excess of time available, you would likely feel like Milo running a mile with an ox on his shoulders. Recently, I spoke with a burnt out self-implementer who said, “I have been working extra hours for the last year and a half, and I am tired. Now, we have phase two work to complete.” For self-implementers, this experience tends to be the rule, not the exception.


You and your colleagues undoubtedly have a particular set of skills each of you brings to the table. That’s likely part of why your business has reached the point where you need a new ERP system. If you stayed at the level you started at, you could keep using that Excel spreadsheet or QuickBooks forever.

So, why does experience matter for ERP implementation? In a chess game, 288 billion positions are possible after each side has taken their first four moves. That’s on an 8 x 8 playing surface. In your ERP system, there are many levers that can be pulled to configure the system for ideal use. Misconfiguration can cause thousands of hours of rework and even some irreversible obstacles. Working with an experienced team can help limit that risk, allowing your team to focus on other projects.


Self-implementation is a lot like buying a boat. It’s been said that the happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day the boat is purchased and the day the boat is sold. The same is true in ERP deployment. The happiest days in a self-implementer’s work life are often when they decide to do it themselves and when they decide to engage professional services. Why?

Choosing solo ERP implementation can cost your organization three times:

  1. It burdens internal teams to design, test, and deploy the new ERP system on top of daily assignments.
  2. It can stifle your organization’s capacity to innovate across its core competencies. With your team occupied in the ERP implementation, they may be missing chances to develop the next innovation or major opportunity.
  3. Many self-implementations end regrettably in reimplementation or massive rework by a professional services team.

So, the attractiveness of the “low” cost of self-implementation acts like a lure that can pull you in until the reality of being on the hook for a partial or failed implementation sets in.

Organizational Focus

The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl several years ago. Sean Payton, the head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2021, described how the entire organization was focused on the audacious goal of defeating the Colts and winning the Super Bowl. They bought billboards outside the Colts hotel, helped their players minimize distractions of Super Bowl week, and, of course, practiced that infamous second-half onside kick.

Like the Saints, let your organization be primarily focused on winning whatever the Super Bowl is in your industry while choosing a qualified provider to help guide your ERP implementation. With that winning combination, you can implement much-needed system improvement while continuing to grow and lead in your industry.

How Forvis Mazars Can Help

Implementing an ERP system is a major undertaking, but being proactive against potential pitfalls can pay dividends. Focus on selecting the right software, phasing rollouts, cleaning data, training users, and working with an experienced ERP implementation partner.

Business Technology Solutions at Forvis Mazars has premier technology provider partnerships with Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite, and more. We provide ERP and customer relationship management platform analysis, design, implementation, upgrade, training, and support services. We can help you assess and implement a best-fit solution to meet your business needs. Connect with us today to learn more or request a personalized demo.

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