Enterprise software project communications, from curiosity to deployment, involves your company's best, brightest and most well paid employees. Accounting software is by no means a trifle exercise for anyone involved. Your company must see the costs before any purchase is made, during the vetting process, post selection, installation, training and implementation and finally go live cut-over success date. A study done in 2012 indicated that companies spend approximately 2-man-years on systems discovery to up to 7 years before a go-live is achieved. Let's hope we can reduce your costs and frustration.
10 Strategic Phases of an ERP Readiness Checklist
1) Budget - Your internal preapproval process to determine finance, lease, or self funding your project. Can we do this? Can we get buy in from all players? Before we go for quotes what are the first things we must do to prepare? When we forecast our cash position against expenditures before spending, do we have enough left over to go all the way?
2) Commitment - Putting the event on the calendar; scheduling makes it real. Giving yourself a start date and end date will let reality set in. Your teams on the same page, because support starts with clarifying expectations and outcomes. We can't leave any widows or orphans; preventing unmet needs. Telling the company we have the belief that the business will not survive without the product running the show.
3) Communications - Your teams can deliver timely dialog by email, voice mail, texting, project boards managing the communications necessary for project start and completion. If we design dedicated response times for decisions with focused communication protocols we will know quickly who and what to respond to. Monitoring system for messages and notifications for closure and sign offs – when something is worth doing it is worth doing well.
4) Teams - The Management team; Board of Directors, “C” level, managers, line leads coordination and information sharing is the key project success. The Production team; material control, work in process, receiving, movements, forecasting, supply chain, supplier management and purchasing need to be in continuous dialog throughout the project. Sales & Marketing team; Sales Orders, shipping, sales forecasts, demand management, fulfillment, marketing materials and customer management synergies must be responsive and flexible to deliver quality services. Finance team; Accounts Payable - Suppliers, Accounts Receivable - customers, Cash Management - banking, Dashboards for reporting, Procurement and cash management/flows telling each other the systems are working. IT Support team; Technology, infrastructure, systems, security, access, mobility, wireless, user management are the delicate balance of all those pieces of the puzzle called the Technology Stack.
5) Strategy - Your thoughtfully defined steps and results oriented objectivity will guide the company through the journey to the Go-Live date. Understanding your enterprise' current and future state modeling will help ensure things do not fall between the cracks. End results modeling and pilot room testing with the company can eliminate surprises and uncover almost all "invisible" ghosts in the closet. Clearly define your end date to make your project real so it is taken seriously. Start from the end structure you’re beginning with emphasis on success is as many steps as are necessary to completion. Dates are targets, not concrete. Patience and perseverance are sometimes in short supply.
6) Infrastructure - Your existing and planned systems and requirements need to have a full audit and inventory of each and every part down to the quality of network cables. Nothing should be considered unimportant. Consider the age, stability, reliability and supportability of each network component. Is something too old; does the manufacturer still exist; can we get support contracts; what is the cost of replacement and upgrades? Network speed and bandwidth are keys to user satisfaction, reliability and enterprise performance. Back-office software and hardware compatibility should be taken into consideration along with current operating versions, age, and operability within the planned systems. Backup and recovery planning coupled with on/off site storage, tape libraries, cloud storage, rotations and
7) Technology - Leading edge systems give the most competitive, safest, advantages available with longevity built-in. Your Internet bandwidth should be the fastest affordable speed (up and down) which means less time processing and reduction of operation cost. Business securities; anti-virus, anti-spam, intrusion and end-point protection are available from firewalls to local security policies and enterprise software. Disaster recovery planning must be tested and run periodically validated to ensure stability, recoverability and business continuity.
8) Leadership - Outcome based, results oriented positive attitudes with a can-do belief go a long way to build trust and confidence. If we think “enterprise requirements” from your project inception we will build with the best practices and expected results. Leader’s roles and responsibilities tailored to their best core assets and capabilities will help get your teams on board and hitting the ground running. Oversight and steering committees in place to ensure success and operational compliance with stated outcomes and timeliness. With a winning attitude of safety and trust; where nothing that is said is incorrect will trigger an unwanted response, will add the peace o mind to freely collaborate.
9) Insight and Wisdom – When we strive for clarity we will drive toward purposeful outcomes. This will help the company stay focused and with frequent round ups they will avoid disruptions. When bringing your best minds to problem solve try to only have “those involved in the problem at the meeting.” This will avoid unnecessary clatter and allow a focused group-think result. Trust your team means belief in the product you are deploying. If suspicion arises, it could sabotage the results. Treat the project as you would any new product roll out and your investment will pay off faster, be on time and on budget.
10) Project management - Follow through, clean up and document each event and milestone. Doing the quality checks will help keep on target while building teamwork. Closure and line item cross outs; taking line items off the chart when appropriately complete gives your team a sense of accomplishment allowing them to see the finish line. Managing and pegging events and tracking outliers simplify project management allowing clarity of project why. Group communications and follow through bridges the teams and their collective tasks gives visibility of being up to date keeps members actively involved. Getting approval and buy-off signatures for all events and milestones and check points ensures accountability and project overlap visibility.
- Preparation - When considering the take on and implementing of your ERP, it is ideal to consider why this is a good decision and what outcome is expected, particularly in terms of this specific business model and your customers. Especially consider functionality, technology and performance expectations. Outline a rough time line for the ERP implementation. Evaluation of your business' resources, drafting a budget to purchase and implement your ERP with sufficient detail to breakdown tasks and personnel required and phasing.
- Personnel and Equipment - Identify a project manager for the ERP implementation; ensure she is up to speed on the implementation project. In addition to the project manager, it is important to identify the core team members, including individuals who are aware of the business' history, needs and project goals.
- Project Team's Roles - Overseen by the project manager, the project team should determine the project's scope, what risks are involved by implementing the ERP (e.g., what if the project runs overtime or over budget), and how the ERP may affect current business processes and other departments and work with and communicate with other departments about the progress made during the implementation.
- Implementation - After the planning is completed and the ERP is purchased and installed, train the core project team in how the ERP works. Team members evaluation and recording how ERP affects business processes, what gaps are present, etc. Provide key users and subject matter experts with hands-on training for the ERP and inform them about what the project team has learned about the ERP and how it relates to the business.
Enterprise Solutions; strategy, software, technologies and the accompanying internal and consultative time and costs are not for the faint of heart.
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