3 Essential Tips for Maximizing Productivity After Go-Live
If you are in the middle of an ERP implementation you certainly hope there is life after that process, both on the business and personal side. This post will address the business side – I’ll leave it to the reader to consider the personal side. Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I have worked on over 100 implementations of ERP systems. At its best, the process is intense, time-consuming, educational, frustrating, daunting and rewarding, often all at the same time. What happens after the system is live varies greatly. The best outcome for the company is that the project team gets a breather once the dust settles after go-live, then evolves into a steering committee that ensures the system gets used as they intended.
More often, the users settle into a routine, knowing enough about the application to get their work done and not much more. The focus is on getting quickly up to speed on the new application and then getting their work done, which often includes getting caught up. The project team returns to their regular jobs full time along with helping users to settle in with the new system.
What often gets overlooked in this process is that ERP systems are designed to provide up-to-date information to decision-makers at all levels in the organization. During conversion to the new system and getting new users up to speed the focus is on the transactional part of the system – making sure that transactions are properly recorded in a timely manner. Here are three ideas to avoid this problem and help make your new ERP system more productive for your company.
Convert the Project Team to an ERP Steering Committee
Your project team should have an in-depth understanding of the ERP system and its capabilities beyond the functionality that was implemented. This group is uniquely qualified to help guide the continuous improvement in the use of the system with the objective of helping the company take advantage of the applicable parts of the system. Therefore, have the team meet regularly, say monthly, to hear frustrations and address issues from users, consider the implementation of more advanced features, fine tune the system and so on.
Review How Users Interact with the System
I have been called into too many companies where the President of the company calls the President of the software company and says something like: “either you fix this system or else”. Once I had a look at how the system was being used it was usually apparent that user turnover or lack of training was contributing lack of awareness of some features or work being done outside the system, usually in Access or Excel.
To prevent this and to make better use of your system, have a member of the project team take a critical look at how users are interacting with the system and compare it to how the project team initially designed the system to be used.
In the manufacturing world, the concept of Lean has become very popular. Part of that process is that the team in a work center stops work for a few hours to a day and analyzes the processes to see if they could be done more efficiently. Then, they implement those changes.
Many companies who have implemented Lean concepts refer to this process as a “Kaizen” event, using the Japanese term. That same approach could also be utilized by a subset of the steering committee in conjunction with the users to highlight inefficiencies and identify better techniques or process changes to drive improvements.
Focus on Providing Information not Data
ERP systems usually do a good job at managing transactions and some of the better systems have strong reporting and analytical tools. The steering committee in conjunction with the executive team should work together on identifying the key information that executives and managers need to drive the business forward. Then, the committee should ensure that all decision-makers get the information they need in a timely manner. Ideally the committee, including the IT group, has the capability and tools to build and deliver the information to the decision-makers. If not, consider using an outside resource.
By recognizing that ERP systems need ongoing attention and work to maintain, companies can ensure that they are getting the most out of the system after it has been implemented, and ensure that the system has a long productive life.
For more information on the ERP Implementation process, read through this past series.