“John, we are thinking about migrating our ERP system but we’re not sure about the timing. What are your other clients doing, and when do they know it’s the right time to switch?”
Pulling the trigger on an ERP migration is not something to take lightly. I’ve had a handful of clients contemplate, execute, fail and back out of ERP migrations. Typically, the migrations that go well are executed hand-in-hand with great migration leaders, as well as communication teams. The migrations that don’t succeed or end up being well over budget are typically missing at least one of those two factors, along with stakeholder buy-in. With clients deciding between everything from cloud-based solutions, to upcoming ERP support deadlines, I want to share a checklist that should help you make the best decision for your unique situation.
Is the checklist perfect? Absolutely not. Is it a tool to help guide you towards an informed decision? Absolutely yes.
Does this make sense for our company right now, or in the next 3-5 years? Migrations are costly and time-consuming. If you’re in a place where it doesn’t make sense to make the move, don’t force it.
What are we missing to make our end-to-end product life cycle easier, cheaper, more efficient? Taking the time to meet with division leaders/managers to learn about reasons for delays, gaps, and time-wasting efforts will open your eyes to what’s missing, what you need and why you need it.
How many homegrown programs/applications are you currently running? Getting your arms around that number will give you an idea of the many small hurdles you’ll need to get through. Each homegrown program/application can easily have a mind of its own and not play well with an “out-of-the box” ERP solution.
One of the biggest challenges with a migration that includes a lot of “bolt-on” programs/applications constantly added throughout the years, is that there wasn’t any documentation. Steve the IT guy for the past 25 years didn’t document anything because he was the only IT guy, so if he knew it then you were fine. Well, there’s a good chance Steve has left, retired, or forgot something over the past two decades. If you haven’t been documenting, then documenting should now become your #1 priority. We all have a “Steve” in our IT organization. Plan and document.
Size of end user community?
How many end users will be affected if we remove/change a program/application? While you’ll always get some sort of “we always did it this way” push back, it’s good to have an idea of how many people will be pushing and where it will be coming from.
ERP migration or rip and replace?
Before embarking on an ERP migration, consider stepping back to evaluate where our company is today and where we are heading. Is a simple upgrade the right path or should we re-evaluate our options? ERP vendors will provide a presentation/turn in an RFP that best explains how their tool would fit with your company. It’s worth every decision-maker’s time to attend these meetings so there isn’t any guessing.
When evaluating the cost of the migration, a decision will have to be made in terms of big bang or a phased approach. A factor for consideration is risk, managing change and the organization’s appetite for change. Is a pilot a more conservative path to consider? Running a pilot program allows you to see how the migration will occur in a controlled environment. It also allows you to absorb those upcoming hiccups with less collateral.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
What is our communication plan to our end users (both internal and external if necessary)? I’ve seen multiple migrations fail due to a lack of communication, coordination and execution. The easiest of the three to avoid is communication if you partner correctly with your team to get out the “what we’re doing, why we’re doing this and how it will make your life easier” message. Failure to cover those three areas typically leads to the least buy-in and most resistance.
What is our training plan for the new ERP programs/tools? Conducting a webinar for the organization to introduce the decision and discuss the upcoming changes. Communicate often and develop a detailed training plan so that you are not setting yourself up for failure. Training and communication go hand in hand. Webinars are helpful but remember that we are all guilty of checking emails, looking at our phones and pretty much anything else but paying attention to webinars. Consider multiple training tactics to aid in adoption and gain stakeholder buy-in. You can absolutely use a webinar, but unless you follow it up with in-person training you’re going to have a really rough first two months.
Obviously, this checklist doesn’t cover 100% of the pre-migration questions. But it gives you a starting point to truly evaluate if this is the direction you want to go. Genesis10 has partnered with clients to evaluate, create roadmaps and execute migrations across multiple industries and company sizes. We’d love to partner with you as you travel down the ever-winding road of ERP migrations and make sure you get there on time and under budget.