Everything must be thoroughly tested — systems parameters, modifications, conversion programs. Testing means having the time and the involvement of the users, and then comparing test results to expected outcomes.
One of the best ways to be sure that the system is ready for implementation is to conduct a conference room pilot. This involves running all the application functions with a test copy of the system.
Run all the processes from beginning to end. Use scripted test data for every type of function. Test the interfaces to other systems. Receive and process website transactions to the business system.
Are all the warehousing functions operational? Run and print the key reports. The project team should run the conference room pilot.
This will take some planning and coordination, but it’s the best way to determine if the system has been configured correctly; if modifications are programmed and tested correctly; and how the new files, tables and databases will appear with your data. It’s also an indication of whether the system is truly ready for implementation.
As you uncover errors, problems and other surprises, go back and rerun the functionality with the corrected programs and compare the results to expected outcomes.
If you have developed your training procedures and SOPs, this is an excellent chance to see how effective they are and how they need to be fine-tuned.
Closely following these 7 steps will help you ensure a successful systems Implementation, which will pay dividends for years to come.
[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2010 and will be updated periodically]