One question we receive often during the system selection process is “how fast can I be live on my new system”? This is understandable – not only is it exciting to get off the system that is the bane of your existence, but there is probably some concern about getting trapped in a never-ending project that sucks the life out of everyone. This article focuses on key considerations to ensure a smooth and quick transition onto your new software.
Choice of Implementation Partner
This may sound obvious, but it is important that the implementation partner you choose not only knows the product they are installing, but also understands your business needs and processes so they can quickly and correctly configure the product. A lot of time can be wasted guessing and checking your way through the configuration – not to mention the effect on adoption of the new software within your team. It is also helpful if your partner has experience implementing the software for other companies in your industry or an industry similar to yours. They can point you toward best practices and help you quickly make decisions that will speed up the configuration.
Another thing to consider is whether your implementation partner will be able to help you convert and migrate your historical data onto your new software. In our experience this can be the single most time-consuming part of the process – and the most frustrating – if you don’t have proper support. Many implementation partners offer to configure the system and get it ready for data – but getting your historical data into a format that can be loaded, importing the data, and reconciling the data is up to you. Let’s face it – that probably isn’t your skill set – or what you need to be working on day-to-day. Our recommendation is to find a partner who can take your data from you, transform, load it, and leave you with only confirming the reconciliation. Working with a partner that has this skill set can save a significant amount of time and can give you a much better result in the end.
Amount of Historical Data to Migrate
Another consideration is how much historical data needs to be migrated in full vs. simply loading opening balances and leaving the history on your legacy system. Obviously, opening balances are easier, but then anytime you need to research history you are stuck going back to your old system. In our experience 3-5 years of history is a pretty good place to start the conversation. We have found that there are two time-consuming factors to consider:
1) how often do you want to reconcile the data back to historical financial statements or other documents – if it is simply one reconciliation at the end to make sure all the balances build up correctly you could have a lot of history with relatively little time consumed. If you need a reconciliation every month for several years it could add significant time to the process; and
2) for really old transactions that do not have a good map to the new system, is it OK to map them to a catch-all account/category just to hold the transactions or do you want to update the system with new mapping targets that will get deactivated once you go live. Obviously mapping to a catch-all is much faster and it doesn’t usually create any issues going forward – so we generally recommend this approach.
Phasing / Scope
Sometimes the time to “go live” depends on what your definition of “live” is. In some circumstances you can pretty quickly get a base configuration completed, historical transactions migrated and start transacting live in the new system (and be getting 80-90% of the ultimate benefits) in a short amount of time. And then you can circle back on realizing the remaining benefits as a phase 2, phase 3, etc. In many cases we recommend this approach because your team starts saving time and realizing the benefits of the system you are paying for – and that time saved can be applied toward implementing the remaining items which saves even more time.
Another issue we see during implementations that ends up delaying go-live relates to proper resourcing – either from the customer’s team or from the implementation partner’s team. Often the day-to-day work of the business will compete with the project for resources – and if the implementation partner can’t help supplement with their own resources to keep the project moving then the project stalls. We recommend working with an implementation partner that has the resources and knowledge to take as much off the customer’s plate as possible, which will help minimize the impact of the day-to-day business on the project. But to the extent the customer can’t delegate those tasks or decisions to the implementation partner, it is important for the project to be prioritized as much as possible.
Empowered Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Throughout the project there are a mountain of decisions that need to be made – decisions on how to configure the product, decisions on how future business processes and controls will work, decisions on how to load historical data, etc. – and it is vitally important that the customer has a SME assigned to the project who is empowered to make these decisions. In a circumstance where the SME does not feel empowered a lot of time is lost pressing pause to track down and meet with the correct people who can make decisions.
There are many factors that will decide the speed and success of your implementation project – and in our opinion who you choose as your implementation partner is the most important. If you considering an ERP implementation and would like to talk through any of the above points in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact Madken Advisors at email@example.com or call 682-348-0582 and we can schedule a free consultation.