Taking an ERP to the production stage
An article by Sulian Brajeul, Project Director with VISEO

Completion of ERP implementation is nowhere near its launch step! Instead, this latter step only occurs once the firm’s “normal” activity level has been attained, as regards all business lines, divisions and departments. Between these two steps, the path is a tortuous one: accompanying a new system into production. How can this path be successfully navigated?​

In this article, Sulian Brajeul, Project Director with VISEO, explains to us how to oversee an ERP as it enters production, as the key to a project.

The production launch phase, or so-called switch phase, is the moment of truth for all projects involving an ERP rollout. This transition serves as a key stage for capitalizing on all the work completed over a period of months by both the project team and field teams. A project’s success relies on the Project Director’s capacity to rally teams and schedule relevant activities.

The development of a switch plan is thought out as the project gets underway.

Plan development steps must be anticipated, and several phases are required for their execution and optimization. This plan will be built as integration tests are carried out (in conjunction with IT teams) in order to list the full set of operations required for technical implementation of the testing environment. All manual settings and inter-system connection activation will be listed given that the teams will be making these connections for the first time. This technical plan may be revised once again when setting up the professional test acceptance environment.

Success also entails involving business line teams in preparing the acceptance systems. First and foremost, this phase is critical for the business line and non-technical teams. A key point is the data recovery, which must be performed correctly in terms of both volume and quality throughout the switch phase. It is therefore essential for the business line teams involved in this effort to repeat these cycles several times in order to identify errors and determine the tools to deploy. This data recovery plan must be executed and adapted each time an environment is prepared for testing or training.

Building bridges between the project teams and business lines

In operational terms, activity shutdown and restart must also be anticipated. At the time of the switch, project teams and business line teams will actually begin working together. It is vital therefore to appropriately manage this transition phase.

We are accustomed to organizing a full-day event off-site to host an exchange with all divisions regarding the project launch schedule. The objective here is for each team to prepare its own schedule and then share and adjust it on the basis of the integration points. All communication actions aimed at third parties must also be listed as client outreach (e.g. invoice modifications, product codification) or whether an activity shutdown has been planned. This same sequence applies to all partners. It is important for this plan to be subsequently shared, and we are hereby requesting all managers to do so with their teams.

Providing detailed and accurate monitoring

Once all activities have been listed and validated, a detailed schedule focused on the switching month is to be disseminated and a manager appointed to oversee day-to-day monitoring and reminder notifications.

Success also entails introducing both technical and business line indicators. The objective here is to measure the health of the system and activity resumption. To achieve this objective, we are putting into place two types of monitoring:

Operational monitoring, in order to measure technical problems (e.g. erroneous interfaces, blocked invoices).

Monitoring tied to business line objectives: per-site sales volume, purchase volume, production volume, etc. These objectives must be communicated by Business Line Divisions prior to project startup so as to quickly identify any operational drifts or impasses potentially related to organizational problems.

Lastly, organizing the transfer to support teams

This final point consists of defining the transfer plan in conjunction with the teams assigned to oversee systems applications maintenance. Depending on how well they know the system being rolled out, these teams must possess the competencies needed to derive a solution. At the very least, we are seeking to involve them during the acceptance and training phases; however, on occasion we may work with them as of the execution phase to ensure they hold the requisite skills for handling technical aspects.

If you are looking to implement an ERP and need advice, please contact us and tell us more about your project.