August to December is a common time to change an ERP system.  Perhaps it is because people are more energetic and ready for the disruption after the summer holidays.  If you are facing this in the next few months then here are a few handy tips (beyond the project plan, project manager, system requirements, scope document and other impersonal tools).

 

  1. Don’t underestimate the work involved and the  dependence of a successful implementation on your staff. It is often the case that the job of providing the implementation consultants with the data and internal processes they need falls to the busiest people in the organisation.  Senior management should take account of it and remove the load of the other tasks so that these busy people can provide the information required without additional strain.
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  2. Be aware of the relational ups and downs that will take place between your staff and the implementation consultant team.  It starts off on a high but through the implementation it can drop to worrying lows as your staff get to grips with the additional workload that they need to take on, some misplaced expectations and some shortcomings that were not clearly identified at the beginning.  It is important to ensure that the working relationship among everyone involved in the implementation is good.  Skillful management by the executive team is vital here.
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  3. Be realistic about fees. The implementation and consulting fees don’t stop the moment you go live on the new system because the system that you chose is flexible, adaptable and has many features.  Although you identified the key features that you wanted at the start of the implementation, the other features have somehow become more appealing for the business, necessary even.  So be prepared for a second phase, a third phase and possibly a fourth phase.
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  4. Include a review of the implementation fees in the weekly project review call.  It is a bit like going to the dentist, no one likes to talk about fees and we  prefer to put it off for a later discussion. But it is important to do so as it will help direct the ongoing decisions in the rest of the implementation.
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  5. Make sure that the implementation plan includes at least two months of support from the implementation team.  User training never seems to provide enough competence and skill to operate the system without help.  There could be many reasons for this but the bottom line is that it is wise be prepared for it.  Most of the training takes place after Go live. So as the saying goes “deal with it.”
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  6. On the subject of training it is common for businesses to choose the last few weeks of December for training.  There could not be a worse time. The staff are tired and are more concerned about getting their month end work done before they go off on Christmas than actively concentrating on how to use the new system.  The New Year seems far off and by the time they return after a weeks to ten days break in the cold, dark days of the end of the year, they find it difficult to remember what was covered.
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  7. Don’t choose the financial year end as the Go Live date and don’t plan on doing a parallel run.  Both put too much strain on your accounting and finance users.  A mid-year go live works well and you should even consider skipping the first month end of management accounts to give the finance team some breathing space. No-one does a parallel run anymore, it is far too time consuming.  Do lots of system walkthroughs and test the new system on its handling of the exceptional transactions.

 

Good luck with the implementation. It is a big job and one that does not come around too often so it is important that on all sides it is a successful exercise.  This is a good opportunity for those involved, probably the finance team, to set down a good example in building something lasting in the organisation.  It will have a payback that is greater than just system efficiency.