Six Top Tips for Successful ERP Upgrades

Major ERP software upgrades are often seen as a long, arduous process.  So how can companies ensure success without disrupting users’ comfort with their current system?

Martin King-Turner, Director at The National B2B Centre, shares six of his top tips to help you steer clear of common project pitfalls.

1. Explain what a new system means to users before starting the project

If you want to doom an upgrade project, keep the users in the dark.

The one thing that always separates successful projects from the not-so-successful ones is communication with the users. Companies that explain the business case for upgrading, the benefits to the company and employees, and any changes to the way users will use the system are the most successful. Why? The software will work, the hardware will work, but it doesn’t matter unless the users buy in. If users decide the system doesn’t work, it won’t.

2. Take testing seriously

A software upgrade will affect many – and quite possibly all – parts of your ERP system.  It is essential to thoroughly understand the changes that the upgrade will bring and test every business process, even those that you believe won’t be affected. First impressions count. You should do everything possible to ensure users have a positive first experience of the upgraded system.

3. Assign a dedicated, experienced resource as the project manager

Many companies task an internal resource with the project management of the upgrade, often on a part-time basis.  This may seem like an expedient cost saving measure but often proves to be a mistake.  A dedicated project manager who is experienced in ERP upgrades will make the difference between an on-time/on-budget system and a perpetual money pit.

4. Invest in a project manager skilled in the technology aspects of ERP upgrades

Technology failures will jeopardise your upgrade just as rapidly as alienated users.  Invest in a project manager who understands the technical aspects of the upgrade. Look for someone who can communicate effectively with your managers, users, and technical support staff. The technical aspects of the project are the foundation. If the system is down or the technology does not match the business needs, no work is getting done but money is still being spent.

5. Perform a dry run of the Go Live

Use a dry run of the Go Live to find out whether everything will go as planned. This will also highlight timings for all the different Go Live tasks. When you are under pressure and have spent thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of pounds on a new system, the last thing you want is to be delayed because you missed something that could have been foreseen with a dry run.

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate

We have been working with ERP systems for over ten years and despite many changes in technology, one thing has always remained true – end users don’t like change. It causes them additional work. They would rather deal with the old system’s quirks and inefficiencies than adapt to a new system. The only way to make them happy is to provide a consistent user experience, and to do this, you must communicate, communicate, and communicate some more.

Conclusion

Software upgrades aren’t sexy but they are important.  You may lose out on valuable new functionality if you don’t upgrade. Even if you are convinced that version 3.1 didn’t offer you much benefit the longer you leave it before making the change the bigger the installation you will have on your hands.

Using the planning steps outlined above will at least reduce the chances of problems and make upgrades just that bit more palatable.

If you think that these steps could help you with your ERP or business system upgrade call me on 02476 620158 or email martin.kt@nb2bc.co.uk today.