How long does it take to implement an ERP?

If you're thinking about implementing an ERP solution, then you'll definitely be asking yourself one of the following ...

If you're thinking about implementing an ERP solution, then you'll definitely be asking yourself one of the following questions:

  • How long does it take to implement an ERP?
  • What is the average timeline to implement an ERP system?
  • How long does it typically take to install ERP software?

As well as this, you should start to think about the factors that can increase or decrease the time it takes to implement your chosen ERP system. If you're like 99% of companies we speak to, then you'll probably want to create an effective plan for reducing your implementation timeline, which can reduce risk, speed up the time to value and give you lots of internal kudos.

What is the average ERP implementation timeline?

  • Small and medium-sized businesses typically implement within 3-9 months.
  • Large businesses typically take 6-18 months.
  • Multinational businesses can have ERP programs that last for several years.

If you've spoken to an IT or ERP consultant lately, then they probably won't answer this question without first asking you 100 questions and even then they will tell you, 'it depends'.

That is simply frustrating to us at ERP Research, but please take those estimates with a pinch of salt and read on to find out why some will approach this topic very carefully.

Factors that influence an ERP project duration

So what are the caveats to these sticks in the ground? Let's explore.

ERP Project Scope

The biggest factor in your ERP implementation timeline will be the scope of your project. If you are implementing finance and accounting, inventory, supply chain, procurement, manufacturing, sales and CRM, then your project will take longer than if you just implement procurement and finance.

Similarly, if you have multiple geographies, sales offices, manufacturing and distribution sites then it will take much longer than rolling out the system to just one country.

If you want to have quick wins, then consider reducing your scope or breaking your ERP project into more bite-sized chunks, also known as 'phased ERP implementation'. This comes with it's own set of guidelines, pros, cons, risks and costs, however.

Customization Versus Configuration

9 times out of 10, an ERP system will come with prebuilt processes that can fit the majority of business needs. The art of implementing an ERP system successfully and on time is choosing one with the highest degree of fit to your business goals and then changing your business and process to acommodate the new ERP system. 

The problem is, some organizations don't want to change their business processes to fit the new system and instead, customize it to fit them. 

There are some valid reasons for customizing an ERP system - where it provides competitive advantage for example. But oftentimes, not wanting to change is the real driver.

Not only can customizing your ERP solutions leave you with outdated processes and IT debt, it usually takes a long time too and can quickly spin your ERP project out of control.


You can get pretty much everything done faster if you put more people on the task and the same goes for ERP projects. This applies to both your internal and external resources too.

Internally, ensuring the availability of your ERP project team, super users, executives and other stakeholders is critical to delivering your new ERP system on time.

These stakeholders need to be available to make decisions, test ideas, test configuration and much more. An ERP project can't be delivered without your internal teams chipping in and getting their hands dirty. ERP projects can't be 'done' to you and can never be completely outsourced to others.

This is why it's critical to consider the timing of your ERP implementation. Does it coincide with a busy period for your business? Will Go-Live be in the middle of the holiday season? Is it at the end of your financial year? 

As well as planning your internal resources effectively, you need to manage the availability of your third-party resource timing. 

If your chosen ERP implementation partner doesn't stick to timing, then your ERP project timeline will be in trouble. 

We have often seen ERP projects being prolonged due to ERP consultants not being available, or stuck on other projects.


Integrating your ERP software with other applications can be notoriously expensive and time-consuming. We therefore recommend thinking hard about if and when it's necessary and properly quantifying the value of doing so, before embarking on the journey.

In certain circumstances, integrating your ERP with third-party systems is a no-brainer, for example if you use a third-party CRM, you'll probably want to pass sales orders, credit data and more between each system to maximize productivity, customer satisfaction and reduce errors.

On the other hand, it may not be necessary to integrate your ERP with systems that only interface irregularly and where there is no business value.

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