ERP Post Go Live: Getting Through Day One

Very few experiences in life will prepare you for the biblical phenomena of talking in tongues as well as participating in an ERP debriefing at the close of business on the first day of an ERP go live. This is when you promise yourself (again) that if there is ever a next time, you will do a better job of keeping operations management engaged in the ERP process.and make better decisions at ERP go live

The ERP implementation team is cautiously enthusiastic, and upbeat. All major business process worked as tested, the help ticket backlog – while substantial – is not disastrous, and nothing really bad appears to be happening – or getting ready to happen – to any external customers. Operations management thinks the ERP implementation team must be referring to some other project; everything they are hearing about says the ERP system isn’t working very well. Understanding the reasons for these opposing points of view is critical to understanding proactive steps you might take to reduce the perception gap post ERP go live.

The first problem to consider is the source of information. The ERP team is elbow deep in the nuts and bolts, observing transactional flow, monitoring the quantity and type of help tickets being generated, on the production floor, with customer service, and in distribution, making sure that any problems are detected and corrected as soon as possible. Operations management, on the other hand, receives their information anecdotally, and the anecdotes have two things in common: they are at least twice-removed from any factual source of information and they are usually negative, because negative is more interesting conversation. There is no attempt at statistics; the statement “everything I’m hearing is bad” is considered to be sufficient investigative effort.

The second problem is that for a few days, every problem in manufacturing will be blamed on ERP, just to see what sticks and what doesn’t. This means that operations management is also being exposed to the implication that a wildly frightening list of product problems is emerging as a result of the ERP implementation. Once again, there is usually no sanity filter for determining whether the hypotheses are logical or not; the insinuations are simply thrown over the wall to the ERP implementation team. Unfortunately, this has the effect of causing the implementation team to divert resources to disprove phantom problems post ERP go live.

ERP Gets The Blame

The last problem is that every step taken to minimize implementation risk has the same numerical outcome as poor business performance. Typically, prior to ERP go live, organizations try to make and ship product ahead of due date, as a service hedge against unforeseen problems, and as a result, there is not much to bill the first day after ERP go-live. Inventory and WIP have been reduced, and that grows back to normal levels. Converting inventory positions from legacy to ERP often uncovers inaccuracies in inventory that create financial variances. It is easier to blame these things on ERP instead of understanding fully the process decisions that created them.

The first day is not easy but how you handle it will dictate what life after ERP implementation will be like. .

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Richard Barker

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Richard Barker

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