Going Live: Lift Off or Mission Accomplished?

Take a look at most ERP Implementation Project Plans and you’ll notice that they end at go-live. For an Implementation Plan it is fine to plan the steps to get to go-live, but should that be the end?

Firstly let’s look at why you are implementing a new ERP system. Your business case should detail the business benefits that you hope to realise by implementing the system. At go-live many of the objectives may have been achieved, but most of the business benefits cannot be measured until the system stabilises and has been running for a while.

For example, a business benefit may have been defined as: Increase revenue by 35% over three years. Obviously it’s impossible to measure this at go-live. We need to measure this after a number of predefined periods.

Fenwick’s implementation projects begin with a Project Planning Workshop. One of the aims of this workshop is to define the business objectives and benefits you hope to achieve by implementing the new system. Throughout the project we continually assess how we are travelling towards helping you to achieve those objective and benefits. At go-live the objectives will have been achieved but at a later point we need to also assess if you have gained the business benefits that you were seeking.

At Fenwick we plan to have a Post Implementation Review sometime after go-live. We like to allow the system to stabilise and settle before attempting to assess how well we have achieved the objectives and whether the benefits are starting to be delivered. Typically this initial review takes place three months after go-live.

As part of the Post Implementation Review we work with you to plan the next steps, or the Second Wave. If we considered go-live to be Mission Accomplished, it is likely that you will outgrow your system and your business processes will be restricted to the way the system works. Instead you should think of the initial implementation as a reef or backbone for your future systems and processes.

If you plan a continual review and refine process, not just for your ERP system but also your business processes, you will be able to identify current bottlenecks, and develop solutions before they affect your overall efficiency. Your business may want to develop new markets, but your systems may not have developed to allow you to exploit these.

At the rate the business world is changing you can’t always plan for the future – but you can be ready for it. The more efficient and nimble your organisation becomes; the more visible information is to guide your strategy and help you to make rapid decisions, the better your chances of staying ahead in a competitive marketplace.

There is another major benefit from adopting a review and update process. The typical lifespan of an ERP system has been 5 to 7 years. It is painful and costly to go through another implementation process after such a short time. And there is no reason why you should. Microsoft is continually reviewing and updating Dynamics NAV. If we work together to continually review and keep up to date, there is no reason why your ERP system should not last for 20 years. Now there’s a concept worth considering.

Ian Thompson
Principal Consultant

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