After months of preparation, systems customizations, file conversions, training, etc., you have just implemented your new ERP, OMS, WMS or Forecasting system. The Go Live isn’t as problem free as you’d like. What next?
It’s not uncommon for new systems to have these issues:
- Productivity is lower than expected since users don’t have a lot of experience with the new system;
- Training may need to be readdressed or improved;
- Not all of the customizations and configuration settings were completed or implemented correctly;
- Standard operating procedures have not been fully developed in support of the new system;
- Integrations and required customizations still have program “bugs” that are causing user, customer and management concerns;
- All the reports and analysis expected by management are not available;
- File conversions have data problems.
All of these factors and others can be the initial outcomes from major system implementations regardless of the type of business. As we have said many times before on our blog and in talks and articles, 50% of all major systems projects are not implemented on time and within budget. In our experience, new systems require 6 to 12 months to be fully absorbed by companies and to understand their full potential.
To be proactive in dealing with Go Live problems, our recommendation is to perform a post implementation audit. Build the post implementation audit into your project management process and schedule.
As you conduct the audit, be prepared to hear some negative feedback like, “I told you we were going have these problems,” or “this system isn’t as good as the old system.” Being objective will help you surface the real facts about what the problems are, where the new system falls short, where it’s difficult to use and where productivity is not optimal.
Solicit the input of all those involved with the project including from first line users, department managers and senior management. The project manager should head up the audit. In ERPs and OMS there can be hundreds of users. You’ll need to move quickly to find out the symptoms and research what needs to be done to fix the problems.
Look for the big issues: decreased productivity; inventory accuracy problems; negative customer service warning signs; program problems with customizations, integrations and interfaces; training and systems use.
Data problems, problems with customizations and interfaces, and program bugs will require programming assistance to track down the issues and come up with the fixes. These often are the most difficult problems and take longer to fix.
It’s not uncommon for new system users to fall short of optimal productivity levels in their daily tasks with the new system. Look for individuals that are not making the transition to the system well. What can be done to help them adapt and improve productivity? Department managers may need additional advanced training classes that the software vendor offers to fully understand the system’s capabilities.
What additional expenses will be required?
One objective of the audit should be to update project budgets. Depending on the responsibilities of the vendor for programming and conversion clean up, there can be months of additional vendor support costs which were unplanned. Often during the implementation, it becomes obvious that additional equipment will be required. Will there be additional expenses for internal staff on the project? Are there additional software costs for unanticipated new software? Are there sufficient software user licenses?
Determine new schedule and responsibilities
Be prepared - it may take several months to fully complete the implementation and clean up the problems. Meet with senior management to estimate each task to be completed, set priorities and task completion dates. Update the project schedule and manage tasks forward. Continue to update and communicate results with all stakeholders.
Conducting a post implementation audit should involve all user departments and management. This is the fastest way to fully absorb the capabilities of the new system; get the increased productivity; and get the functionality and analysis that the project was expected to deliver.
In an earlier blog we talked about an improved way to determine the readiness for system Go Live and decrease problems. Click here to read How to Assess Your True Readiness for a System Go Live.
Getting help with your audit
If you lack the resources to properly conduct a post implementation systems audit, we'd be happy to help. You may get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 804.740.8743 to ask questions or get more information on an audit.