After months of preparation, systems customizations, file conversions and training, you’ve just implemented a new ERP, OMS, WMS or forecasting system. But the go live isn’t as problem free as you’d like it to be.
It’s not uncommon for new fulfillment software systems to have these issues:
- Productivity is lower than expected as users don’t have a lot of experience with the new system
- Training may need to be readdressed or improved
- Not all of the customizations and configuration settings were completed or implemented correctly
- Standard operating procedures have not been completed
- Integrations and required customizations still have program bugs that cause user, customer and management concerns
- All the reports and analysis expected by management are not available
- File conversions have data problems
These factors and others can happen in major fulfillment software implementations, regardless of the type of business. As we have said many times before in this column, 50% of all major systems projects are not implemented on time and within budget. We often see users require six to 12 months for new systems to be fully absorbed and to understand their full potential.
To be proactive in dealing with go-live problems, we recommend you build a post-implementation audit into your project management process and schedule.
Be prepared for some negative feedback like “I told you we were going have these problems” or “this system isn’t as good as the old system.” Being objective will help you surface the real facts about the problems, where the new system falls short, and where it’s difficult to use and costing productivity.
Solicit the input of all those involved with the project including first-line users, department managers and senior leadership, with the project manager heading up the audit. ERP and OMS systems can have hundreds of users. You’ll need to move quickly to find symptoms and figure out fixes.
Look for the big issues: Decreased productivity; inventory accuracy; negative customer service warning signs; problems with customizations, integrations and interfaces; and training and system use.
Problems with data, customizations and interfaces and program bugs will require programming assistance to analyze and fix. These are often the most difficult and take the most time.
It’s not uncommon for new fulfillment software system users to fall short on productivity levels right away. Look for individuals who are struggling in the transition. What can be done to help them adapt and improve productivity? Department managers may need advanced training classes from the vendor to fully understand the system’s capabilities.
What Additional Expenses Are Required?
One of the audit objectives should be to update project budgets. Depending on the responsibilities of the vendor for programming and conversion clean up, there can be months of additional, unplanned support costs. Often during implementation, it becomes obvious that additional equipment will be required. Will this mean added expenses for internal staff? Are there additional costs for unanticipated new software? Are there sufficient software user licenses?
Determine New Schedule and Responsibilities
Be prepared: It may take several months to fully complete the implementation and clean up the problems. Meet with senior management to estimate each task, set priorities and task completion dates. Update the project schedule and manage tasks going forward. Continue to update and communicate results with all stakeholders.
In an earlier blog we talked about how you can better determine the readiness for system go live and decrease problems.
Conducting a post implementation audit should involve all user departments and management. This is the fastest way to fully absorb the capabilities of the new system, increase productivity and get the functionality and analysis the project is supposed to deliver.
Brian Barry is President of F. Curtis Barry & Company