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ERP:  From Stalled Project to Smooth Go-Live

The company was struggling with their ERP implementation.  They had restarted the project four times, and every time the project slowed and eventually stopped.  The software vendor had assured them they could go live in 6 to 9 months but so far they had not made any progress managing the implementation project internally.
The underlying problem was not unusual, although the number of restarts was high.  As with many mid-sized companies, the person put in charge of managing the implementation had managed projects before (although not ERP) and wanted the project to succeed.  The problem was that they already had a full-time job.  So, each time they were faced with the choice of something urgent in their regular job (taking care of a customer, getting product out the door, etc.) or the ERP project, the regular job would win every time, and the ERP project continued to slide.
We were called in to help restart the project and drive it to a successful go-live.  We started by reviewing the scope to ensure the results would meet the company goals.  Next step was to reset the project plan dates and resource needs and incorporate the project tasks as part of each project team member’s regular job duties.  We then kicked off the implementation project.

A key challenge was managing inventory deployed to customer sites.  Most ERP packages expect that when a company ships goods to the customer, ownership changes hands.  Not so in this case.  Additionally, the asset depreciation of the goods needed to be tracked and the company was projecting significant growth so a consistent scalable process was needed.  Some creative thinking was required.

Key Takeaways:
  • Outside project management can help drive a projec
  • Understand your processes before undertaking customization

  • Planning + Preparation + Execution = Successful Go-Live

Brainstorm to Success

We worked closely with both Accounting and Operations to develop a model for the business process.  Faced with this kind of challenge, it is natural to jump to a customization.  We wanted to avoid that path, in order to save our client money and headaches in the future when it came to upgrades.  We came up with a novel approach using best practices, but in a different order.  Rather than starting with what the software could do and try to make that fit, we first built the business process model and made sure it worked logically.  With the validated process model in hand, we had many fewer software processes to test, reducing the time it took to find a solution.  In the end, the solution we developed used only standard functionality of the software.  The process model also turned out to be valuable in explaining the new process, further reducing implementation time.
Just five months after kicking off the implementation project, it was time to go live.  The date was set, everyone trained and prepared, data converted, testing done, and the project team and software vendor ready to support the users.  The morning of go-live, everything was quiet.  It seemed too quiet; no calls from users asking for help.  We were afraid they were not using the new system but instead were still using the old system (as it was mostly Excel spreadsheets it could not really be turned off).  Still keeping the support phones staffed, we went around to the different departments to figure out why we were not getting support requests.  We very happily discovered everything was running smoothly on the new system, and we were not getting calls because they were not having problems!  Using standard functionality, preparation and training had resulted in a boring go-live – the best kind!
Results for the client was an on-time go-live that met all functional goals and came in 17% below budget.
Key takeaways:

    Outside project management can help drive a project
    Understand your processes before undertaking customization
    Planning + Preparation + Execution = Successful Go-Live

Need help with your current/upcoming ERP project?  Contact us today – (206) 876-9229 or
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