Now What? How To Beat The ERP Post Go-Live Blues
There’s no doubt that ERP post go-live euphoria is real thing; on the day of go-live, after months of hard work, custom development, setbacks and team meetings, you finally have an ERP system in place and ready to start working for your business. All the team wants to do is celebrate and take a deep breath away from the chaotic atmosphere of the software project. However, all the celebration means that no one is putting enough time into getting the ERP software off the ground, and the system stumbles right out of the gate. These kinds of early disappointments are common, and often come about when project teams don’t spend enough time thinking about the after part of the go-live. ERP is an expensive investment after all, and you want it to be helpful for your company for years and years, so why wouldn’t you consider those years when you’re starting out?
Yes, ERP implementations can tire the project team out, but you must beware the trap of the post go-live euphoria. Implementations can take months and involves huge swathes of an organization’s employees and time, and that kind of investment can’t end the day your ERP is installed. Of course your project team will need a post go-live breather (and a celebration of all the hard work they put into the software) but that doesn’t mean that the entire company can kick their feet up and let the ERP do all the work. The complacency could eventually bring the whole project crashing down as poorly trained employees abandon the software in droves or small, unnoticed errors blossom into fatal flaws. The smart ERP project team will have a solid plan in place for the ERP post go-live period, and how to keep that honeymoon feeling between user and software indefinitely. Read on for more on how to beat the all-too-common ERP post go-live blues!
Have a Roadmap
As previously mentioned, your ERP implementation roadmap should continue well beyond your intended go-live date. It might seem like overkill at the beginning of your project timeline—why not just set the kickoff day on the horizon and then figure it out from there? That line of thinking is a surefire way to invite failure into your ERP instance; that well known quote about ‘failure to plan’ comes to mind. The ERP post go-live phase is extremely tenuous—any small errors or mistakes will be magnified by unfamiliarity with the software. Anything can happen to bring down an ERP system, you need to plan for anything, from server space errors to fault customizations that can accumulate bad data. Of course we know that it’s impossible to truly predict every single thing that can happen, casting your safety net wide will ensure you are more likely to bounce back from difficulties and keep the project rolling.
One thing that is an absolute non-negotiable factor of your ERP implementation road map is a post go-live training plan. Training is one of the most critical building blocks of ERP instance success, and we’ll go into the why with our next point.
A good training strategy is the key to getting employees involved with the software, excited to use it, and investing in its long-term success. Needless to say, ERP training should not stop the instant your system starts running. Arguably, it is in fact most crucial during that post go-live period. Go through use cases with every end user and ensure that they know how to perform their day to day tasks in line with best practices so that your data is correct and workflows running smoothly.
You should have already identified and trained an ERP super user during the selection and implementation process; the post go-live training period is where this super user can really shine. The super user acts as the facilitator between the software and your end users. During the ERP post go-live process, they will be in the trenches to field common queries and diffuse frustration. Make sure that your super user has the time they need to properly complete their tasks as the ERP expert during this critical period and adjust their normal daily work accordingly; you don’t want to invest hundreds of training hours on a super user who has no time outside of their routine tasks to spread their knowledge!
All that time spent hyping up the ERP software by your project team and the software vendors can lead some executives and employees to believe that new system will provide a magic Band-Aid for all their problems, at no fault of your own. These sky-hopes often lead to dangerous disenchantment with the ERP. Resentment for the software will only result in poor user adoption and company negativity about the ERP, both factors that can cripple the success of the project. You need to nip these feelings in the bud.
If you have colleagues expressing disappointment or frustration in the post go-live period, don’t try and argue them down from their high expectations. Instead, redirect them to the original project goals and investigate whether a miscommunication might have happened. Point out that ERP software strengthens with longevity, more company data and solid user adoption—which can only happen if everyone invests in the software from Day One.
Finally, it’s eminently important during the ERP post go-live phase that the project team go back at review the goals that were set at the beginning of the project. Audit the initial objectives against the actual outcomes so you can measure your success. Was the go-live date the same that you projected? Were there budget problems, or issues with third party consultants? ERP projects can be huge, incredibly complex and hard to predict, so some obstacles are to be expected. However, huge diversions from the original plans could spell trouble for the future of your software, as the system may not have been aligned properly to your business processes. Mismatches between end-users, workflows and your ERP will only create trouble for you down the road, so it best to root them out as early on as possible in the ERP post go-live phase.
Finally, creating a broad look at how your project has evolved over time will also help you set appropriate goals for the future. If there’s still work to done in certain modules, or extra training is needed, you will know and can build the extra time into deadlines and budgets long-term.
Despite its name, the ERP post go-live phase shouldn’t just be treated as an afterthought. It’s a critical period of transition within your business, and should be treated with careful planning, care and involvement from the entire team—or you could risk the success of that expensive piece of software. If you’re looking for advice on how to plan for ERP post go-live, or are currently already struggling through a tough implementation, contact Datix today! We have over 18 years of ERP project experience and can jump in—at any stage—to help your project achieve true success!
Do you have any tried and true best practices that keep your ERP systems healthy even after they are sent out on their own? Share it with us in the comments below—we’d love your feedback.