ERP Go Live and the Triage Department

As a broad rule of thumb, assume that your ERP help desk will receive approximately one ticket request for every two ERP end users on the first day of go live. This is a number that should be used for initial discussion and planning purposes, and can be adjusted liberally based on how rushed/leisurely the final days of the implementation are; how integration testing goes; how many business processes still have bugs at ERP go-live, etc. The point isn’t that predicting the number of help tickets post ERP go-live is an exact science, it is that without some expectation of help ticket volume and type, how you staff an ERP help desk, and with whom, becomes an arbitrary decision.

As part of help desk documentation, it is important to have a triage process to assign priorities to help tickets. Help requests which can be fixed in five minutes should be given a top priority and fixed in five minutes. Nothing contributes to organizational panic more than not being able to resolve a supply chain master data problem for an hour because you don’t have time to get to it. After that, equally high priority needs to be assigned to problems which are currently prohibiting product from moving to the next stage of manufacturing or distribution – a broken production reporting transaction, for instance, or the inability to print a label to ship an order. It does not take very many production reporting delays or errors cascading though the new ERP system before undoing all the damage takes far more time than resolving the problem.

Keep the Machines Running

The next priority level should be any impediments from producing a valid production schedule. Without a production schedule, the machines stop, and if the machines stop, it will be said that ERP doesn’t work. In general, the largest group of complicated help tickets will come out of supply chain and order entry. It is impossible to test every possible permutation of product, quantity, and request date, and unexpected – and undesired -outcomes will occur. There will always be a logical reason for the outcome, but it may take a while to investigate and understand. Even more dicey is what to do about the problem; usually without careful testing, fixing this problem has the potential of breaking something else.

Triage continues by breaking down problems into successive layers of criticality. Most problems can be assigned on a 1 to 3 scale; although some feel better with a 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 scale. Managing ERP go-live problems is no different than managing customer service problems, or manufacturing problems, or any other business problems – some are important, and can’t wait; some are less critical and can wait, literally, forever. Intelligent application of business knowledge and judgment will ensure that the right problems get solved in the right order.

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Phil Marshall

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Phil Marshall