With over 32 million small businesses competing in the US alone, you must grab every competitive edge you can find, particularly ones with a long shelf-life.

Things like product innovation or service innovation can help you snag market share, but they’re short-term advantages. Another business can clone your product or service in a hurry.

In many cases, the best long-term advantages happen inside your business with things like enterprise resource planning. If you’ve never worked with an ERP system before, you might wonder what ERP implementation looks like.

Keep reading for our quick guide to the ERP life cycle phases.

Selection and Planning

IFS ERP software

First up in the ERP implementation life cycle is selection and planning. Selection boils down to assessing your needs and finding an ERP system that meets those needs.

So, let’s say you pick IFS ERP software. Once you pick, you must set up a project team to handle the actual implementation.


The design phase of the ERP life cycle focuses on understanding current workflows. After assessing current workflows, the team can see where the software will support those workflows. Additionally, the team can look for ways to theoretically improve or optimize those workflows with the new software.

Software Development

This phase of implementation deals with the software itself. The project teams customize the software, typically with process-specific modules. It also lets them exclude module options they won’t ultimately need.


Enterprises Should Reevaluate

Testing doesn’t necessarily happen at this point. It might happen at the same time as development or after the development phase. However, it must happen prior to widespread deployment.

The team will perform some of the testing, but may also borrow from other departments to test specific functions.


As ERP systems typically touch every or nearly every process in a company, you need training for your employees. The extent of training will vary based on company size.

A small company might train everyone. In large organizations, it’s more common to train a handful of people from each department. Those employees will then train their department peers on the system.


Once the team completes the testing and training phases, they move on to deployment. This is the point at which all of the company data from the old system or systems into the ERP system.

Everyone gets access to new dashboards that should, ideally, help them execute their responsibilities more effectively.

ERP system

ERP Implementation and Your Business

ERP implementation isn’t something you decide to do on a whim. ERP systems often replace many old, standalone applications. That can create some pushback from employees.

It can also mean a massive investment in terms of time and training. Depending on business size and complexity, getting through all the stages of ERP implementation can take one to two years.

The upside is that ERP implementation can often help you discover and eliminate serious inefficiencies in your organization.

Looking for more tips on business management or business tech? Check some of the other posts over in our Business and Technology sections.

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