Many organizations experience some sort of operational disruption at the time of ERP go-live. The good news is that most of these disruptions are self-inflicted and can be mitigated with risk management strategies.
As your ERP go-live date draws near, there are five telltale signs that your organization is probably ready for go-live, many of which can be effectively evaluated as part of an ERP readiness assessment and go/no-go decision:
- Users have accepted all of the new processes and functionalities of the new ERP system. If your key end users and stakeholders have not yet fully tested and signed off on the new ERP system, then they are probably not ready for the changes that are about to affect them. Just as importantly, business processes and system setups that have not yet been accepted by key end users are more likely to meet the technical requirements of the software rather than the business needs of your organization, so it is important to obtain these key sign-offs before expecting a successful cutover.
- Employees understand their new business processes. It is one thing for employees to understand how to perform transactions in a system, but another thing to fully understand how business processes will look in the new system. Further, employees also need to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities once the new ERP system goes live. If you didn’t develop and execute a change management plan, your organization is not ready for go live.
- Employees understand how to use the new system. It’s clear to most that even the best-designed ERP system is not going to be of much value if employees don’t understand how to use it. Employees must be trained on the nuances of using the system. However, the basic boilerplate training that most ERP vendors and system integrators provide is woefully inadequate. Instead, ERP training should be customized to show how the ERP system works in the context of your organization’s business processes and workflows. Your organizational change management plan should address ERP training to ensure go-live success.
- You have a solid contingency plan in place. Hopefully, you and your team have done everything humanly possible to ensure your ERP implementation is a success. No matter how well prepared you think you are, you are not prepared nearly enough if you don’t have a Plan B in place. What if the system doesn’t work on day one? What if you can’t ship product or can’t close the books? In other words, make sure you’ve mitigated risks by building a sort of “insurance policy” for your organization in the event that things don’t go as planned.
- You have adequate support in place. No matter how simple your organization is or how well you think you’ve prepared everyone, your organization and employees will rarely adapt to the new system as easily as you think they will. They will stumble along during those first few days and weeks after go-live – some more than others. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have enough on-site support to help employees through the post-go-live challenges that they will inevitably face. Make sure that your key change agents, end users and stakeholders are available to address questions and concerns as they come up.
If you’ve addressed these five things, then you have done quite a bit to minimize the risk of your ERP software go-live. You can never be 100% certain that there won’t be hiccups along the way, but your odds of operational disruption will be much lower.