Life After ERP Implementation

After the initial terror of go-live passes, life settles down to an anticlimactic routine that varies between satisfaction and disappointment, depending on your experience and position in the organization. The ERP implementation team, the support developers, and the subject matter experts who participated in the original blueprint and ERP testing feel highly satisfied, because they appreciate the difficulty of a task in which you literally have to prepare for everything, or fail. The group which hoped – despite warnings to the contrary – that ERP was a panacea for all business problems is disappointed, because the same quality problems, revenue problems, cost problems, and shop floor control problems still exist. The group in between looks toward leadership cues to know what to think.

The concentration after ERP implementation go-live should be to manage systematic improvement via three primary processes: (1) The ERP implementation plan punch list – things that were expected to be complete and functioning at go-live, but for some reason were not (2) the development and enhancement project list – things that people can see would be an improvement and (3) business reports and business intelligence development – providing actionable information by utilizing ERP BI data.

Normally, the ERP implementation team will manage the implementation punch list, and continue to make progress on it, and it just needs monitored.

The development and enhancement list has more effect on attitudes and morale toward ERP than any other aspect except its actual operation. Obviously, if your ERP system is an awkward solution, with cumbersome processes, and non-intuitive transactions, then no enhancements can overcome the daily effort of just making it do something. On the other hand, if the system as implemented is fairly easy to operate, an enhancement project list will get people in the mindset that continual improvement is expected, and it will help motivate people to think about other improvements which would increase the ROI of ERP.

Prepare for Change Requests

The biggest thorn in your side going forward is likely to be continued requests to revisit decisions that were made in the interest of security or shop floor control. Breaking processes that used to be one step into two steps – for instance one transaction to request a purchase order and another transaction to approve a purchase order, when in legacy, someone could just order something – will often result in numerous requests for automation. This is dicey, because, if left to natural inclination, you can automate yourself back to the sins of your legacy system. By the same token, you do not want to burden your work team with any avoidable non-value-added work. It takes a lot of good judgment to tell the difference.

Going forward with ERP means exactly that: it is a continual process of learning how to do more and more with its capability. Many people say it takes three to five years before you really understand how to use ERP to make money. As long as you never stop trying to coax more functionality out of it, you will never stop increasing the financial return.

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Richard Barker

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Richard Barker

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