How to Implement a New Order Management System

Implementing an order management and fulfillment solution is a team effort, which requires solid project management to identify all necessary steps that should be assigned to a timeline along with designations of responsibility.

In addition to configuring, modifying, and customizing the new system, implementation also entails data conversion of customer files, inventory files, and some key information from order records — all of which need careful planning, testing, and review (even eyeballing random samples) when completed.

You will also need to write up several dozen business use case scenarios that you and the vendor can use to see how the system handles everything.

Here’s what to consider during the testing and training phase for your new order management system:

Within a month or so of your scheduled “Go Live” date, begin to test the final system with the same test scenarios, and do “regression” testing to determine how well the new systems are integrated with your legacy applications. This is a painstaking process so don’t neglect it or give it short-shrift, especially checking how well the new system integrates with your accounting package.

Simultaneously, you should undertake training of users and managers on the new system. You may be training only a small number of your own staff who will then train everyone else and new employees hired later. This ‘training the trainers’ approach is a sound one, and is actually preferable, if it makes sense for your company.

Here’s what to consider before full implementation:

Plan your Go Live for the middle of the week so you can have a few days of final practice. Come in the next day and start using the new system for real, then have a couple of more days to firm up everyone’s confidence.

Keep your old system up and running not just as an “emergency fall-back,” but for reference purposes, at least until all back-orders generated on that system have been filled.

Finally, congratulate everyone on a job well done — and make sure everyone makes full use of the new resources they now have at their disposal. It would be a shame to waste them!

Ernie Schell is director of Marketing Systems Analysis.