how-to-implement-a-business-management-systemFor the last couple of months we have been discussing the best way to implement a business management system. With so many variables, we thought it would be helpful to break it up into manageable steps, and provide the details you need for success.

If you haven’t read the first 7 parts of this series, you can access them through the links below.

Today is our final post in this series, here we will cover the Go-Live Conversion, as well as Follow Up and Reinforcement for ongoing effectiveness.

Go-Live Conversion

The big day has finally arrived!  You are ready to put all your hard work, training and money to work.  If you have done your homework to this point, this day will be exciting, but anticlimactic.  In the panic of the day, everyone will feel that they aren’t ready and have forgotten all that they have learned.  Of course, it isn’t so.  Just be prepared.  Have support staff on hand ready to help anyone who needs it.  Having the “Experts” there minimizes the anxiety and helps catch any problems that sneak through the testing process.

New issues may show up, but most likely today will run smoothly.  But before anyone enters any transactions, make sure you have validated any converted data.  You will find it extremely difficult to reconcile transactions if the starting values are wrong.  You checked all these things during your testing, so you should have a list put together.  Your list might look like this for your ERP software implementation:

  • Accounts Receivables – equals old system
    • Total balances
    • Aged properly
    • Customers balance
    • Balance equals General Ledger
  • Accounts Payables – equals old system
    • Total balances
    • Aged properly
    • Vendors balance
    • Balance equals General Ledger
  • Inventory count & value – equals old system
    • Locations setup properly
    • Inventory value method(s) set properly
    • Counts valid for each location
    • Bins, lots & serial numbers correct with proper expiry dates
    • Weights, volumes and other information correct
    • Inventory item cost is correct for each location
    • Balance equals General Ledger
  • General Ledger balances – equals old system
    • Balance Sheet is correct for various periods and years, including current
    • P&L is correct for various periods and years, including current
  • Customers – converted properly
    • Open Invoices
    • Open Credits
    • Balances
    • Credit Terms
    • Categories
    • GL Accounts
  • Vendors – converted properly
    • Open Invoices
    • Open Credits
    • Balances
    • Credit Terms
    • Categories
    • GL Accounts
  • Open Purchase Orders – converted
    • Correct quantity & cost
    • Credit Terms
    • Delivery dates
    • Ship-tos
  • Open Sales Orders – converted
    • Correct quantity & cost
    • Credit Terms
    • Delivery dates
    • Ship-tos
  • Manufacturing
    • Bills of Material   – correct quantities and versions
    • Routes – correct work centers, resources and times
    • Work Centers & Resources – correct costs & setup
    • Shop Calendar converted or setup
    • Data Collection terminals or handhelds setup
  • Warehouse
    • Locations setup
    • Bin mapping is correct
    • Bin rules setup
    • Bin restrictions are consistent with special storage requirements
  • CRM
    • Integration is functioning

This will not be a short list, but it is critical to making certain that your system is ready to go.  Don’t shortcut this step, or you may set yourself back by weeks if your data is incorrectly converted.  Even more critical is that your team and staff will suffer a significant blow to their morale from which you may not be able to recover.  We have taken over projects where the company got to this point and, because they didn’t follow through with their testing; the go- live failed, and they threw out their investment and went back to their old software.  Coming in behind that kind of a failure can be a real challenge.

Follow-up and Reinforcement

Now is the time to check to make sure that everything you planned is happening.  That means both technically and with your business processes.  Is your staff following the new procedures?  Have you found new issues that didn’t surface, or came about after your go-live?  Are you documenting and communicating these new processes?

There will be new challenges and problems during this stage.  Just continue the same process that got you through the pre go-live stages.  Document the issue, determine the solution, test it, modify based on the test results, test again, train your users.

Continuous Improvement – Minimize Risk, Maximize Return

Now that you are done, you can relax, right?  No, now is the time to start the clock on your new project.  You have gotten your new system installed, implemented and running.  Now you can begin to take advantage of the benefits your system can bring.  No business management system fixes all the problems or grabs all the opportunities the first time.

Not only will you have some problems and opportunities remaining, you will have some new problems and opportunities that will come about because of your new system.  That’s not bad; it means you have solved problems that held you back from accomplishing your move to the next level.  Now, your move up the ladder is causing new problems and revealing new opportunities.  Your next step is to start again at the beginning.  The difference this time is you know the process.  Keep your team together.  Their instructions this time are to monitor your processes and objectives.  As they monitor, they will be developing the list for your next project.  This may include new objectives, or it may involve problem solving.  Either way it is important that you continue your progress.  Stopping at this stage will keep you from achieving your full potential.

On the other hand, you may have already planned Phase One, Two and Three before you began the project.  Continue with Phase Two.  Don’t stop.  You have the momentum.  Keep on going to completion.

The last step to complete the project is to set an annual or bi-annual review schedule to keep the process working.  Check the idea “parking lot”.  Should you incorporate any of those ideas?  This is the perfect time to consider these ideas.  Wait a minute – you already know the drill, right?  We are back at the beginning – you are continuing your process of improvement and now you have more experience to make the process even better.

If you would like access to the last 8 blogs, in addition to a complete look at how to choose a business management system, please download our complimentary whitepaper below.