In this post from our 'day in the life series', we explore the final stage of an ERP implementation, GO LIVE! This post was written by Columbus Consultant, Glenn Flaxmer.
The final stage of an ERP system implementation. Time to go-live!
The big day has finally arrived, there has been months of activity and anticipation building up to this day, it is also the most hectic and intense period in your entire ERP project, although there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk and stress this period can hold.
It’s all about planning, plan, plan and plan again, in order for a successful ERP go-live day then a well-designed implementation plan is the key to success.
Leading up to Go-live day
In the months leading up to go-live a lot of activities need to take place, these should include key activities such as listed below, each of these should be fully agreed by the business and most importantly, documented.
Definition of your business strategy
What are the business goals and metrics for the project, for example number of new customers per week, improved on-time deliveries?
Process and solution scoping, including investigating new opportunities that a new ERP system may provide
ERP systems are massive and you won’t be able to implement every function, therefore what are the processes and areas of the solution required to meet to your business strategy, such as sales order processing, advanced warehousing, production etc.
Business process verification and modelling, including existing, updated and new processes
Each process should be modelled and verified with the business, such as “How do we create new customers?”, “How do we add a new product?”, “How do we add a new sales order”, “How do we receive and put away raw material?”, output will include a list of requirements, assumptions, questions and gap analysis.
What applications require integration with ERP, how, frequency etc.?
Proof of concept sessions with your ERP solution partner
Opportunity for your ERP solution partner to execute key processes with corresponding ERP functional area to demonstrate how these could work in the customer’s environment. Often this leads to updated requirements and gap analysis.
Data cleansing and migration analysis
What data are you going to migrate from existing applications and how is this data going to be migrated, for example by using data export/import tools or manual dependent on volumes. Data drives the business and should be reviewed for accuracy and completeness, remove any redundant data.
Conference room pilot
Run through of agreed key business processes, including any modifications and using customer data.
End to end testing of your modelled processes
Each of the processes in scope should be completely tested by the project team based on the modelled process. Test cases and results should be documented.
Try to also include load testing, typically customers test using limited users and data, which is fine for initial testing, although if possible also get as close to full data set and as many number of users as possible, its common that system processes that take less than a minute during testing take 5+ minutes once live.
Key user and End user training, including User guides
Typically a ‘train the trainer’ approach is used, where key users are initially trained by either the project team or your ERP partner, these key users will then create user guides and train the end users.
Key outputs from some of these activities will include a Solution architecture with associated Functional and Integration designs.
Communication is vital, everyone involved within the project needs to be fully aware of their role and responsibilities, and as importantly consideration should be given to any customers or suppliers as to their potential role in the project.
If all the above mentioned activities have taken place you should be ready, your people are trained and the system is configured. Time for go-live!
Don’t panic! There are going to be some challenges on the day you go live. It’s just unrealistic to assume otherwise. However, how you deal with those issues can be just as important as the issues themselves. No matter what problems are thrown your way, it’s important to stay calm and deal with each problem as it arises. And remember that issues often seem more severe initially than they will after given a chance to assess them.
What you need to do…
Make sure a team is on-site to help the users for the 1st few days and possibly weeks (consider this could be outside of ‘normal’ working hours), this should include Super users, managers, technical people and experts from your implementation partner, each person within the team needs to know their role and where they will be working, although there will be a need for adaptability should any urgent issue arise, for example you could have people constantly monitoring the users at their place of work and others in a specific ‘help desk’ area or office.
Detail every single issue found. Make a list, prioritise and categorise the problems, take every problem one by one, resolving the more pressing ones first. Agree and communicate escalation procedures for any critical issue.
Constant monitoring of the users and issue list is key during the 1st few days of go-live, this is often neglected!
Post Go-live day
In my experience it’s the days after go-live day when things start to hot up, the support team will need to be on their toes!
It becomes essential to primarily monitor the users. Their acceptance, ease of use and understanding of the overall product, workflow, policies and procedures is crucial for a successful implementation, any feedback should be documented and plans made for further training if necessary.
The issue list should be reviewed together by the project team and other key staff, for example the Production Manager, at least once a day, each issue should be quickly summarised and any status & actions updated, each issue should have an owner.
What to expect
By now transactions are taking place real-time, ease of navigation and ease of the system should also be monitored, if a process is taking a long time, focus should be on finding a workaround which will shorten the cycle, or maybe even automate it.
Companies should also expect the overall worker productivity to decline on the initial go-live day and then steadily increase in the following weeks. Issues (hopefully minor) will arise, questions will come up, and some employees will not have a full, 100% understanding of the new processes within the new system; however, things will improve, the process will continue to be practised, and overall operations will become much more efficient over time.
Once things have settled down you can start to evaluate performance back to the business goals and objectives, these could be in the form of reports, Power BI Reports and Dashboards with KPI data presented to user based on real time data.
ERP to the rescue
As you will have read above there will be lots of activities, meetings, discussions and agreements throughout the course of the project, many decisions and actions would have made, these need to documented at the time in a central place that all applicable users have access to.
With Microsoft Dynamics ERP, there are in-built tools that will help you with documentation of the following, all linked within single area within Dynamics:
Definition of your business strategy and goals
- Process and solution scoping
- Business process verification and modelling (directly linking to ERP sessions)
- Requirement and task logging
- Test cases of your modelled processes
- User guides
The Columbus business-process approach and single-minded focus on select industries mitigates the inherent risks of new or replacement ERP systems, by adapting and implementing proven, Microsoft-based ERP solutions to maximise efficiency and overall business performance.
There is no replacement for experience with over 8000 ERP implementations across 45 countries and over 800 consultants, the Columbus teams have become experts at delivering complex technology projects that meet your success criteria. We have developed business processes and methodologies that mitigate the inherent risks associated with replacing or upgrading legacy ERP, and help you ready your systems for go-live day and beyond.
We apply our skills and resources to reduce your costs, provide thorough training, effectively migrate data, and help you ready your systems for go-live day and beyond. Columbus gives the fundamentals of smart project management top priority.
And rest assured Columbus will not leave you after go-live, Columbus believes in building lasting, productive relationships with our customers. Our customers are our lifeblood and we aspire to keep them forever. In ColumbusCare you will find value-added services to help you run and optimize your ERP system and the solutions that connect to it. Our global teams are dedicated to your success.