How to Deal with Distribution ERP Go-Live
You can see the finish line ahead. There are only a few obstacles between you and successfully implementing ERP in your distribution business. You have a plan to manage every one of those obstacles so they cannot prevent your crossing the line on time and on budget. After months of planning, training and hard work this is just where you want to be. The banner over the finish line reads “ERP Go Live”.
This is not the time to get lazy and bask in your success – you haven’t earned it yet. Distribution is a fast-paced business. Your customers rely on you to have the inventory they want on hand and ready to ship whether they ordered it in advance or not. Your business is to assemble a variety of SKUs with a variety of units of measure into a shipment. If even a single line of that shipment is missed, you have missed the entire order.
Only One Thing Is Certain
You already carefully selected a distribution ERP that meets your needs. You have exhaustively tested each piece of the system and the entire system in order-to-cash scenarios. Your warehousemen, drivers, customer service and other personnel have been trained and you are comfortable they can locate and ship anything immediately. You have practiced your data conversion processes and can accurately populate inventory, stock locations, and orders needed to run the ERP and you have timed the conversion process and scheduled the work on just the right days during ERP go-live to avoid any missed deliveries. What can go wrong?
Even with a perfect go live, people will be less efficient at first. Picking rates will decline. Customer service will need a second look at the new screen before replying to questions.
The only thing certain is that something will go wrong. You want all scheduled shipments and receipts written down or known somehow with no system. Copy all your SKUs and their bin locations to a spreadsheet. Have a fail-safe plan. Ideally your customers never even know you just went through an ERP go-live event. That fail-safe plan will allow you to continue distribution with your old systems with time to implement the distribution ERP at a later date.
Even with a perfect go live, people will be less efficient at first. Picking rates will decline. Customer service will need a second look at the new screen before replying to questions. Plan on adding staff or working overtime to compensate. Have extra IT people on hand too. Some printer won’t be connected the way it should be and your customer needs a CofC with the delivery. This is no different than building up inventory ahead of a holiday. Be confident. You are prepared; your ERP go live will be behind you soon and your distribution business will be even more profitable with your new distribution ERP.
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