The most important factor in a successful software implementation is choosing the right “players” to run the project. Using an outdated computer system for many years creates a comfort level that can result in resistance to learning the new software. Having the right team who assume “ownership” of the new system will result in a timely and successful implementation. On the other hand, when companies don’t choose the right team, it frequently results in delayed implementation and the users losing confidence in the new system.
Choosing the Right Person to be in Charge of the Implementation
A Distributor who purchased the ERP Software from the company I represent selected the same computer manager, who was also related to the president, to be in charge of implementation. The manager had been happy with his 20-year-old software and did not see a reason to replace his outdated software with the new one.
- This resulted in implementation delays and the users losing interest in the computer project as they did not practice enough on what they were trained to do by the trainers for the new ERP Software.
- Working on long term relationships, I told the president that we should assign a different person to run the project, who would be the manager’s “assistant,” and the manager himself would get extensive individual training. This helped the manager get over his fear or learning the new software, the users practiced and the company finally went live with the new ERP Software.
- Two other companies who bought the same ERP Software from the company we represent, appointed computer managers who were eager to learn the software and were assigned to head the implementation. The managers got trained as soon the project started and made sure the users practiced. It resulted in the companies going live on the scheduled date.
Defining What Modifications Are Required
- Last-minute changes requested for modification is one of the main reasons why new software implementation is delayed and also results in cost overrun. Being creatures of habit, we need the comfort level of the previous software. For this reason, very often the users will request modifications that reflect the old software without evaluating what the new software has to offer.
- The first step that should be taken when discussing software modification is reviewing what the new software has to offer and does it meet all the business requirements.
- Unnecessary modifications can be avoided by evaluating what business procedures could be changed and what must to be done prior to going live. Often after going live when the users are accustomed to the new system, many modifications are not necessary.
- After the business needs are evaluated and the necessary software modification lists are established, a priority list should be made as to what must be done before the going live date vs. it would be “nice to have.”
- The software modifications that must be done should be implemented before the going live date while the “nice to have” modifications should be reviewed again after the new system is in place.
- This will insure that the software implementation is finished on time and the estimated budget is met. A rule of thumb is that the most successful installation of new software is when the department heads and the computer department managers team up to decide what modifications are really needed and what would be a realistic time table to go live with the new system.
Users Comfort Level
The users’ knowledge and confidence level with the new software should be evaluated before going live. Just because the data conversion and the software modification are satisfactory doesn’t guarantee that it’s the right time to “go live.” The human factor is one of the main reasons for a “rocky” implementation. If the users are not proficient with the new software it will result in business disruptions.
Steps That Should be taken Before “Going Live” with the New Software
One month before going live, a company-wide test should be conducted in which all the users practice and correct their common errors in the computer system’s “test environment” and fixing their mistakes.
- If the users need assistance to fix the mistakes they created, the going “live date” should be postponed and additional training and practice should be provided.
- Business disruptions can be prevented if everyone is proficient with the new software.
Case Study of Going Live with the New ERP Software
While attending a user seminar I heard the guest speaker who is the CEO of a large Distribution Company describe his experience of going live with the ERP Software I represent.
The CEO’s opening words were: “Hearing about the Obama Care ‘going live issues’, I had a sleepless night concerned about my company going live the next morning with our new ERP Software. We ship 800 orders a day and our customers depend on us. I was relieved finding out that we didn’t have any issues because we had the training and technical team at our location. If any of the users had an issue it was immediately resolved. The technical team stayed with us until they were convinced our users didn’t have any issues. I was also pleased to learn that our Software vendor Hot Line support are all programmers and when my users call, they get an immediate response and the issue they have is resolved.”
About SMC & Dani Kaplan:
Since 1980, Dani Kaplan has worked with Manufacturers, Distributors, Food Distributors and Food Processors, as the trusted advisor helping them lower their operating costs, stream line their operation and control the inventory.
Dani can be reached via SMC – http://www.smcdata.com/contact
The article was published in Progressive Distributor Magazine