About this time of year, many businesses are about to execute the plan to undertake an ERP upgrade to be completed in the current year.
In my series of emails and blogs over the last 2 years there are a lot of tips, insights and actionable processes covering the entire ERP upgrade process – from planning and readiness to selection and vendor management. But this is a January posting, and the theme is focused around this:
There’s no time like the present to prepare – realistically – for the upcoming ERP upgrade
If you’re like many organizations, your goal is to be “live” in some fashion in your new software by next January 1st. Let’s proceed with some good old-fashioned advice to consider now – before you really get started… (this applies to anyone starting the process – even if not January)
Be realistic about your Go-live date target
Most businesses miss the mark on Go Live targets. The Go Live date is stressed by project leaders often, until at some point about 3 months prior to it, it becomes painfully obvious that the project won’t be completed on time. You need to be realistic with yourselves, regardless of management directives or best intentions.
The date is stressed by project leaders often and then-some until at some point about 3 months prior, it’s painfully obvious the project won’t be completed on time. You need to be realistic with yourselves, regardless of management directives or best intentions.
Upgrade projects can last as few as a few months – to a few years. Really. It all depends on the complexity of what you’re upgrading to, what you’re migrating from – as well as the type, quantity and quality of the data that you’re translating from old to new system(s). Other factors include you and your team’s level of experience. And the quality and availability of your staff. And, and, and…
Unless your ERP upgrade project leader and your subject matter expert (e.g.: your departmental managers) have been involved in a successful ERP upgrade in the near past, you’re likely going to underestimate when you can Go Live in your new system.
To get around this, take a stab at scheduling out these bigger tasks in your upgrade project – then come up with a realistic timeline and target for Go Live:
- Assemble the project team
- Collaboratively establish a charter
- Critically determine your functional requirements
- Document your functional requirements (please!)
- Determine which software applications make sense to look at
- Engage in meaningful demonstrations
- Seek and evaluate proposals
- Select a software product – and the implementation vendor
- Ready your organization (hint: change management is really important here)
- Figure out how you’re going to staff the project internally – and do your day jobs
- Determine the right phase of implementation – and perhaps several Go Live dates along the way
- Go through implementation (how many phases?)
Don’t look for the right software product fit for your business by signing up for a website that refers you to software companies and vendors. Trust me. You won’t win.
Obtain and confirm management’s buy in
Ensure that upper management’s commitment to the project is locked in. Dollars, people, time – all required – no exceptions.
Stick to your guns – don’t allow scope creep!
Keep a razor focus on the nature of software that you’re seeking. If you’re setting out with the goal of upgrading to an ERP solution so you can get a better handle on your supply chain activities, then accomplish that goal first – before your VP of Sales gets you to “just add a new CRM tool to the mix”.
Get your employees ready – and prepare to hire temporary staff if needed
ERP upgrades are very taxing to the staff. Backfill their positions during evaluation, requirements gathering, implementation, and beyond if you need to. Or, pace the implementation so that you can realistically complete it. You only get (hopefully) one shot at doing it right.
The actionable tasks above aren’t magic. Get ‘em done. If you need help – ask us. We’ll help you succeed.
If you’re a frequent reader of these posts, undoubtedly you know that we’re serious about making sure you get as much success from a pending ERP upgrade experience as possible. We’re not shy about being realistic, and we speak from lots of upgrade experiences with our clients.
We don’t sell software.
We’re unbiased, independent, and experienced CPA’s and Advisors uniquely positioned to guide and support you in this area.
Feel free to reach out. And, good luck this year!