If you’ve just gone live with your new ERP system, congratulations! At Columbus, we’ve helped companies reach that milestone many hundreds of times. It’s always different, and it never gets old.
At the end of almost every ERP project, people may feel that the main effort is over. The project team, executive stakeholders, and business groups involved want to get back to work.
Don’t let ERP fade away. Organizational gravity is powerful. It can drag the best efforts and advanced technology back to business as usual. Without a continuing effort, you may see some increased efficiencies and improved productivity – but not for long.
Go-live is the beginning of the next stage in the life of the business and its ERP system. Whatever your transformational or productivity goals for ERP are, you now need to sharpen the focus on them, or everyday routines will take over. How do you best keep the go-live momentum going to make sure ERP pays off? Here are five important considerations.
During the ERP implementation, you kept the hopeful users appraised of what to expect, when. Now, you need to reinforce what the company’s goals are for ERP, and how everybody can work together to accomplish them. That means you translate any efficiency and productivity KPIs or other metrics so people can make sense of them in terms of their jobs. If your ERP objectives are more transformational and long-term, it’s time for a refresh with realistic timelines, or people will lose interest in them. In addition, you need to communicate now what capabilities are still being planned and when they will become available.
By the middle of the first day live on the new ERP system, some users will be happily working with it, others are looking for ways to get around it, and some have refused to touch it. You need to make sure that as many people as possible perform their jobs in the ERP environment, or it will quickly become obsolete. You provide realistic, roles-based training before go-live, and give employees an easy way to make requests and report any issues they might find. Get creative! If you can highlight people’s accomplishments and creativity in using the new ERP solution – such as a newsletter article or blog post that explains how much faster a certain team performs a routine task or how much better marketing campaign tracking and therefore also spending have become – that tends to go over very well.
Even after the smoothest implementations, the first 90 days need your close attention. For better or worse, they set the precedent for the next few years. You need to have resources in place to make sure all the users are comfortable with the new solution, quickly resolve any process or technical issues, troubleshoot data migrations and integrations, and more. Some companies keep the project team in place, maybe with some changes, to oversee ERP in the first 90 days, or they enlist the continued support of the consultants who assisted with the implementation.
At go-live, you probably facilitate the important business processes for all or most user groups. If you planned your implementation well, you didn’t attempt to do everything all at once, because that can sink a project. Without disadvantaging the users, there needs to be something to look forward to as you continue evolving the ERP environment – a useful integration, new mobile capabilities, even better reporting, or whatever keeps your users involved. Again, a user feedback loop to ERP stakeholders can be invaluable in choosing the priorities for phase two.
At go-live, you need to have your master data management plan defined and ready to go. Without master data management, the quality of your ERP data will over time deteriorate and interfere with the business returns from the solution. Eventually, data will be unreliable and inconsistent across processes, and you need to perform a major effort to clean it up. If your company grows in terms transactions, users, customer accounts, or products, effective data management is even more critical.
If you want to learn more about making sure your ERP go-live is successful, download our ebook “The Go live milestone: 3 Critical areas for ERP Success”