It’s been a journey. But at long last, it’s coming to an end. It may feel a bit hectic at the moment, but the finish line—your ERP go-live date—is in sight. One last hill to get over and you can officially say that your company has completed the ERP implementation marathon and has a solution able to facilitate years of growth.
The path to ERP: A recap of our outgrowing QuickBooks series.
Before getting into the final steps—training, the go-live, and the ongoing use—we invite you to read the entire series:
- Realizing that it’s time to make a change: This article explores the first steps you should take when your long-trusted QuickBooks application starts to show wear and tear, and answers how to tell that your business is ready for fully functional ERP.
- Communicating a change: If you’ve used QuickBooks for years, convincing users that it’s time for an upgrade may present challenges, but by talking with users, you can allay fears and understand what users want and need.
- Determining and documenting your needs: Getting from communication to decision requires you to know what you need. In this article, we explore how to determine where you are, outline a project strategy, and decide on what features you will use.
- Securing executive commitment: ERP is a big investment, and getting your C-suite on board for a move from an ‘incredibly affordable’ product to a much needed one could require a bit of convincing. We explore some key talking points and tactics.
- Completing an ROI and vendor analysis: An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to determine if you can afford a move, how quickly a move will pay off, and how much the investment will generate over its life.
- Finalizing your software decision and selecting an implementation partner: Getting from numbers to decision requires an innate understanding of how each product will affect employees. This article answers how to get from shortlist to selection.
- Getting through the implementation process: With the decision made, the final step in this marathon is often the hardest. In this, we explore the steps to complete an implementation and the best practices to get to where you are today.
Training your employees
Based on the scope of your project, you’ll work with your partner to develop an implementation project plan for your project team. During this phase, you’ll develop a training plan alongside the implementation plan.
As the go-live date approaches, the training process begins. Depending on the tech-savviness of your team, the preferences and learning styles, and the budget, you will have a variety of options available including but not limited to:
- On-site/face-to-face: The most customizable, hands-on, and flexible training, face-to-face is structured around the learning styles of your employees.
- Classroom: Like it sounds, in-person classroom training can work for the right people, in which a trainer can educate your employees in groups.
- ELearning: Likely the most cost-effective training method, eLearning can range from videos to learning paths or online classrooms.
- Train the trainer: A final step in which users demonstrate their knowledge by showing a trainer how to use the software.
An ERP deployment may be the most intense IT project your company ever undergoes, and at times it can be overwhelming. Be sure to allocate plenty of time for training and prepare for the associated costs.
Added to this, many ERP vendors offer free ‘open university’ programs where users can learn the basics at their own pace.
Preparing for go-live
The culmination of your ERP implementation project is when you “go live” and actually start using the system to support day-to-day operations. This is the day (or process) the product is ready for use. Data is converted, users are trained, tests are completed, and your IT team is ready for a vacation. How do you intend to get from theory to reality? With the help of your implementation partner, you will choose an option that works for your company, often one of these three:
- The Big Bang: Your employees walk out Friday and your IT team gets to work. Walk in Monday, and everything is new. This is the “big bang” go-live, and it’s perfect with the right preparation, training, and alignment.
- The phased roll out: Changeover occurs in phases over an extended period of time. Users move onto new system in a series of steps. While it avoids the risk and system shock by replacing one big bang with a series of small ones, it also creates an environment where you’re trying to work with two different systems.
- The parallel operation: Both the legacy and new system run at the same time. Users learn the new system while working on the old. While low risk, it’s also the most labor intensive—approximately twice the work. As a result, neither system will get the proper attention.
Using, maintaining, and expanding your system
With day one out of the way, you’ve done it. Users will begin to get more comfortable with the software, operate faster and more accurately, and hopefully realize that they have a few more hours each week.
If everything was done properly, you will begin to recognize value quickly. However, you can’t rest on your laurels, in today’s world of technology, new products, new techniques, and new business processes are emerging at a breakneck pace. Most vendors will introduce functionality twice per year, and if you feel something is missing, you should remain active on the boards to request functionality.
In addition, we recommend the following:
- Keep your software up to date: Internally, be sure your system remains up-to-date with new applications, new capabilities, and new “releases” that the developer will issue on a regular basis (or will be continually released in some cases) to make sure that your system continues to grow and adapt to changing needs.
- Expand when needed: As discussed in previous blogs, ERP is flexible. In fact, it’s one of the selling points and the reason we recommended you don’t need everything on day one. As your business grows, you can easily add more functionality.
- Keep employees in the know: Your system changes, but so do your people. There is a continuing need for user training and education – think of it as CPA’s CEU requirements – to enhance skills and understanding, prepare users to exploit and benefit from new functionality or new responsibilities, and continue to expand the utility and benefits from your new ERP system.
Your ERP partner: NexTec
Whether you’ve been anxiously awaiting each new installment of our implementation series or stumbled upon this article, know this: the ERP implementation process is complex and it pays to have a partner who has been there and done that.
Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work here, find your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.