Life stages or life cycles represent the stages through which a development project goes and the use of an information system. In the traditional way, the life cycle includes the steps of understanding system requirements, definition of a project scope, alternatives analysis, system design, coding, testing, data conversion and maintenance. The notion of life cycle also incorporates the idea that systems undergo successive stages of growth, evolution and decline, and at the end of this cycle, they must be replaced by other systems that meet the new demands of companies. ERP systems differ in their life cycle compared to traditional commercial packages, particularly with regard to their functional scope and integration between its various modules.
In general, the deployment process is carried out in several steps of adjustment, one for each module or group of modules, which occur simultaneously or sequentially. The adaptation to the new system includes a series of sub-steps, in which the analysis of business processes and understanding of the package occur in the same time. This adaptation allows the identification of discrepancies and hence that the decision to eliminate them happen quickly – with the use of local parameterization (this does not involve extensive negotiations between the various teams); or slower, where it is necessary to make customizations, changing or not changing the standard of the ERP system. Made the elimination of discrepancies, it is time to perform prototyping, modeling system processes and performing the tests as fully as possible, identifying the unanticipated problems, the configuration needs in other related modules, the integration problems etc.
By default, it is proposed a system implementation model in four sub-phases:
- Survey of the Current Situation (As-Is Picture);
- Definition of the Situation Wanted (To-Be Picture);
- Settings: parameterization, customization and testing;
- Start of Operations (Go-Live).
The implementation of improvements is a distinct phase of the use of step – albeit resulting therefrom. Insofar as the company begins to realize all system utilization potential, successive improvements are implemented, causing the steps of implementation and use form cycles with multiple instances. Improvements highlighted here include the implementation of new releases or new versions released by suppliers (upgrading), which can be performed with the system running or not – this will depend on the intensity or degree of continuity of the standard system.
The ERP, as an integrated management tool, is related to the organizational structure of the companies, as well as the centralization. Many companies have deployed ERP system just to “follow the herd” of deployments that occurred in the late 90s; but in many of them, there was a search character of a technology that would allow increased control over operations, and consequently, increased centralization. Thus, companies have come to see ERP as the perfect solution for those organizations dealing with lack of control, and there is thus the interest in centralization and consequent standardization.