Your ERP project team has crossed the finish line – you’ve gone live! All that’s left to do is support the production environment, right?
Not quite. Post go-live optimization is a phase that should be included in your ERP project plan and is often overlooked. During this phase, you should be supporting users in the production environment with training, communication and issue resolution via your support team.
This phase is essential because the first impression of a new ERP system and your IT department’s ability to support it set the tone for user adoption.
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While there is no “one size fits all” approach to post go-live optimization, we’ve compiled five tips and tricks from our experience that can maintain your momentum after go-live:
5 Tips for Post Go-live Optimization
1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Even if users are not reporting system slowness, we recommend measuring system performance anyway.
Your IT department may find performance issues before users begin to notice. Fixing these issues in a timely manner can lead to better user adoption in the long run.
In addition, early detection of performance problems allows you more time to investigate the root cause and fine tune your infrastructure. It’s better to find these issues before more transactions bog down the system and more users come online.
Another way to be proactive is to monitor interface and batch job error logs. Again, the key is to identify any issues before an end user does. For example, by monitoring error logs, you may realize that purchase orders are not being updated with delivery information before a buyer notices and opens a ticket.
During implementation, interfaces may have passed all rounds of testing, but with live data and a multitude of new users in the system, there are likely scenarios that were not tested and could be causing issues in production.
Taking proactive measures to keep the system stabilized leads to better user adoption and presents an opportunity to train your support team on what to monitor and how.
Having a strong post go-live support team is critical in optimizing your live ERP system, which leads to our next tip.
2. Assemble Your Team and Streamline Their Processes
Prior to go-live, your support team should have been ramping up to prepare for the post go-live phase. However, once the system is live, this training shouldn’t stop. We recommend arming your team with any and all available resources, such as additional training materials, sandbox environments and top-level support.
Ensure your support team has a good mix of ERP experts, business analysts, process specialists and change management champions. When you have a wide range of expertise, whatever ticket comes through the help desk can be addressed without scrambling to find the appropriate resource.
For example, you could have a security or access issue bucket where users can report an incorrect security assignment that prevents them from accessing the ERP system. These issues can then be routed to the security team without having to pass through the eyes of a business analyst.
Another example is a training bucket for when users open a ticket for a process that is working as designed but users were not properly trained on it. These can be directed to the organizational change management team who can train users on correct protocol.
Categorizing tickets is just one trick for streamlining the resolution process. Anything you can do to optimize their process will help you more quickly stabilize the ERP software.
3. Dig Into the Data
Just like monitoring error logs, keeping an eye on production data can help identify issues before they become a bigger problem.
For example, let’s say during ERP implementation you assumed that order entry clerks would create a system record for a new customer before placing an order for them. You even defined this in a business process flow and recorded this in the training documentation.
However, now that your ERP system is live, you’re starting to see several sales orders with no customer name. The assumption made during the ERP project impacted downstream processes, such as customer retention and marketing campaigns. Without customer records, these downstream processes will have no data to act upon.
Identifying and addressing data issues can optimize your ERP solution a few different ways: it can identify process changes that employees prefer over what was implemented, it can reveal which users or business groups are not properly trained, and it can help identify configuration problems that allow users to enter invalid data.
In our experience, data issues can be minimized by developing a data migration strategy early in the project. Our clients have found that this not only minimizes post go-live data issues, but it makes these issues easier to address.
4. Communicate, Reiterate, Repeat
Your change management team should ensure end users know the key dates of when to stop transacting in one system and when to start in the other. This team is also responsible for ensuring that training documentation and additional help information (such as the process of opening a support ticket) is easy to find.
Communication lets end users know they are not alone. Key messages should be repeated as needed to reach the widest audience because, when it comes to organization-wide changes, there is no such thing as over-communicating.
5. Listen for Feedback
When users call into the support desk, they likely will have some insight into how they thought the enterprise system would work versus how it was implemented. Your support team should listen to these users and capture their feedback. This feedback provides insight into how to optimize the ERP software.
Visiting with the user base can also prove enlightening. For example, in the retail industry, imagine leaving the headquarters (where the majority of the ERP project took place) and visiting the stores that are live with the new system.
You might witness an employee and customer interaction where the employee checks the inventory for an item and finds it’s not available at the current location. The customer asks if it’s available at another location, but the employee says that the system doesn’t show that information. Frustrated, the customer leaves.
It’s easy to see that inventory visibility across stores was not a top priority during implementation. However, this first-hand account has made it clear that it should be a priority moving forward.
Analyzing and acting on feedback is an important step in realizing more business benefits from your ERP system. Capturing feedback systemically and converting comments into requirements is a good first step to optimizing your new ERP system in a subsequent phase.
Have your ERP vendor and ERP consultants left you stranded after go-live? Panorama’s ERP consultants can pick up where they left off and equip your team to proactively address technical and process issues. We’ll also empower end users to report issues and identify opportunities for improvement. Contact us to learn how we can help your company realize long term ERP benefits.