This is a question that arises time and time again.
If you find yourself asking the question, it is worth considering all of the variables. The answer will probably not be what you expect it to be. Why? Because implementing ERP will take quite an amount of time, usually at least a number of months. Therefore what may appear to be the right time will only likely be a point or a period of time during the process. Therefore it is important to firstly understand how long the project will take, then schedule key aspects or milestones during the implementation period to occur at the optimal time for the business.
Many people have an objective of implementing a new system during a quiet period of business activity. While as a strategy this appears to be sensible, it is important to remember that this quiet period may also be when cashflow is at its tightest. That may not be when you want to see lots of consultancy bills! Some factors to consider:
Most businesses follow seasonal patterns. There are peaks and troughs in trade and production requirements that are to some level predictable from one year to the next. It does not make sense, for example, to go live with a new system at the busiest time of the year. It might make sense however to select the system at this time.
It is incredible how many system selection projects are put on hold “until after the holidays” – be it Summer, Christmas, Easter or whatever. The reality is, all you have to do at this point is review the options and make a decision. Whether that is done before, during or after the holiday period in question doesn’t make a difference. Do it before the holidays and the elements you have no input in (e.g. prepping hardware, vendors processing orders, scheduling consultants) can happen during your downtime.
You have a project that will take many months to deliver. In co-ordination with the vendor, map out a plan that takes account of all of the considerations – individual’s holidays, busy and quiet business periods, and cashflow cycles. Devise a dated implementation that sees you going live with the new system when it makes sense. And the all important payments schedule – when do you pay for consulting, licences, maintenance. Can this be phased over the duration of the implementation?