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Implementing an ERP Software is a huge and a very cumbersome task in itself. It involves money, time and high involvement from the resource. Hence, it becomes important to be aware of all the aspects related to implementation. Usually the company goes ahead and hires an ERP consultant who is a third party consultant acting as a bridge between the ERP and the company. Otherwise, most of the times, the IT person of the company is charged with the cumbersome task of ERP Implementation.
The real test of the parties involved in the ERP Implementation comes during the Go Live period. During this times, the true capability of the ERP can be known. It is not impossible to have a smooth Go – Live process. Here is the ultimate Go – Live checklist which will help the management be ready during the whole Go – Live process.
The Ultimate Go Live Checklist
- Months Prior to Go – Live – Set your Roll – Out Strategy:
Even before you start with the implementation, the Go –Live date should be set in mind and the team should start working backwards to end up with realistic targets and dates. Sometimes the company may want to get the roll-out done all at once and sometimes, it may choose to roll-out the ERP Software either branch wise or module wise. In these cases, it is important that all the parties involved in the ERP Implementation process is aware of the same. If the roll-out is happening branch wise, it is important that the parent company is supporting the branch with ample amount of training and workload sharing.
- Days prior to Go – Live – Using test environment to the fullest:
- Hardware – While companies do use the test environment to test the ERP Software, what they additionally need to test is – hardware, network requirement, the interface compatibility where it will be deployed on. Smaller unit testing like sample reports, dashboards, and templates need to be done with all data of all sizes.
- Backup – Along with testing the data, it is important to test the whole backup system and process also. Since backups are an integral part of the company as well as the ERP Project in general. Over here, the company can get an estimate of the time and resource they need to dedicate for backups. Assigning resources, planning and scheduling resources can be done here so that the company.
- Workflow- Workflow testing is the primary testing criteria for any ERP project, but what can be defined here is the process flow and the map. In the workflow, what also needs to be decided beforehand, is the level of user rights, approval and viewing rights that needs to be assigned to all the users of the system. Deciding these during the testing phase itself, will help the company implement the same without further delay when the ERP Software has been implemented.
- Schedules – During the testing phase, it will be apparent, the amount of time that the staff will require for training. Training is an essential success factor for any ERP Project and during the testing phase, the company will get to know firsthand how the users are reacting to the new ERP Software and how much time will they take to use the software proficiently. Accordingly, the trainers and the company can schedule and plan training.
- Days prior to Go – Live – Training:
As mentioned previously, training is an important part of any ERP project. The training phase should not only focus on training, but also on smaller aspects of training like if the user ID has been created and the individual user rights have been assigned to the particular account. By the end of the training, the trainee should be well-equipped with:
- Software knowledge
- Navigation in the system
- Preparing and exporting reports that he needs to
- How to take backups
- Downtimes and what is he expected to do during one
- The process in general – approval flow, workflow, the preceding and succeeding flows, etc.
- Customer Communication – communicating with the customers during the go-live process is as crucial as the overall process itself. Since go-live ay take time, the customers should not suffer any inconvenience. This may include announcing via digital or offline mediums, newsletter blast, having a note in the signatures in all the outgoing communication about the go-live happening.
- Day prior to Go – Live – Readiness
At this point of time, we are done with major workflow checks – software and hardware, training and communication with the customers. A day or two prior the Go – Live, the company needs to check the readiness from people to machines. A last minute check of server, electricity lines, ISP connections, help desk lines, Wi-Fi speed, connectivity, etc.
Along with the systems, checking the readiness of people is equally important. Checking if the staff has their user IDs created and knows their roles before the Go – Live happens. There will not be a lot of people needed for the process overall, the major help and support is required to handle customer calls and co-ordination for online processes which will be handled offline for the time being. The management should also focus on keeping up the excitement level amongst the employees as their readiness to accept the new change is very crucial for the success of the overall process. The staff even might need to work early or late due to changes and this needs to be communicated to the staff beforehand. Conducting a last system walk through will also be beneficial.
- Post Implementation
5.1. Employees – Post Implementation, it becomes essential to primarily monitor the users. Their acceptance, ease of use and understanding of the overall product, workflow, policies and procedures should be in accordance with the company’s expectations. The management should identify any loopholes and plan for further training if necessary.
By now, all the data is uploaded in the system and the transactions are taking real-time. Ease of navigation and ease of use of the system should also be monitored and noted. If a process is taking a long time, the company should focus on finding on a work around which will shorten the cycle, if not automate it. The whole point of an ERP system is to make the work of the employees easy and not increase it.
5.2. The Application – The ERP Application is working as expected, is the core success factor for an implementation. Test environment and Go –live environment are completely different. In a live environment, the data and transaction happening cannot be predicted and hence, it becomes crucial to monitor the system in general for few days. Normally, an ERP software takes up to 10 months to generate ROI. To not further delay the process, constant monitoring, maintenance is required. This also includes backups and downtime which need to be planned as during downtime, all process are either halted or taken offline. Usually downtime is observed during non-working weekends, yet, they need to be monitored properly so that going uptime is not a pain.
5.3. Connectivity – Maintaining connectivity is essential during uptime for the ERP software to function. Uninterrupted connectivity means that all the department are connected on one platform and there is a seamless sharing of data between them. During downtime, even connectivity issues like ASP connections, redundant lines, and connected devices need to be tested and take care of.
5.4. Support – Support from the ERP Vendor needs to be finalized before finalization of the product itself. There may be times when the company may need to scale up the software in case the transactions are high or include or remove processes, to make the overall procedures seamless. In those times, support from the ERP Vendor is very crucial.
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