Some background before we begin
An ERP implementation is not something that manufacturing companies do all the time, which is why they typically need another company to help guide them through the process. There are a lot of moving parts in an implementation, not to mention a ton of work, plenty of risk, and a million decisions to be made!Related: ERP Implementation in the Manufacturing Industry
Visual South has been helping companies implement ERP solutions since the early 90s. While technology and lessons learned have enhanced our implementations over the years, there are also quite a few elements of our process that have not changed because they simply work. In this blog, I’ll walk you through how we help a company move from a legacy system to Infor ERP.
Signing a contract is the first step of transitioning from the evaluation process to the implementation process. Once contracts are signed and processed, you will receive several emails from Infor on a variety of subjects. We advise our customers to simply save these emails; we will meet and go through them with you to ensure you understand all the information and that the project gets off to a good start.
Once the contractual paperwork is processed, we begin the project planning phase. This phase of our Infor implementation methodology initiates with a welcome call from our service team. In this call, we schedule the next important steps—namely, the implementation planning meeting.
In this meeting, we work with your core project team and go through all of the tasks, activities, and resources required for the project. We discuss desired go-live dates, resource constraints, and begin learning more about where your legacy data resides. In the case of a cloud deployment, we are familiarizing you with how to access your environment; in the case of an on-premises deployment, we are validating your environment and scheduling the software install.
Our deliverable out of this phase is a project plan that can be used to manage the project going forward. Among many other things, the project plan outlines the next step, which is foundational training typically delivered through Infor Campus.
Core team training in Infor Campus
Infor Campus is a subscription service that offers foundational ERP training for your users. There are over 400 hours of content available via the service, consisting of both pre-recorded and live courses. Built-in tools allow you to assign courses to your employees and track progress.
We help you put together the learning plan, so our companies are aligned. The intent is for your core team to go through foundational training in Infor Campus to gain a baseline functional understanding of the ERP and its capabilities, at a very affordable cost. This foundational knowledge paves the way for a smooth and fast implementation.
Data conversion is a critical part of our Infor implementation methodology, and one of the more “long lead time” items, which is why we start almost immediately on this task. In this phase, we identify where data lives and extract it into something like Microsoft Excel. Once we export and compile the data, then we begin working with your team to scrub the data—removing duplicates or data that is no longer needed, and standardizing formats. We also go through mapping exercises to make sure that the data we convert from the old system ends up in the appropriate fields in Infor ERP.
Process development & end-user training
The process development phase of implementation is really the “meat and potatoes” of the project. This is where our consultants work with you to design business processes based on your requirements and the ERP’s capabilities. We are introducing Infor ERP as your new software tool, so it stands to reason that the work procedures based on your legacy software tools will change.
Once we have agreed upon the new procedures, your team will typically provide training to end users on how they will do their jobs when you go live. Don’t confuse this training with the Infor Campus training previously mentioned. The Infor Campus training helps users understand how the ERP works in general. This training is for how it will work at your company. Once individual people and departments have been trained, it leads us to the next phase.
At this point in the implementation, we have most of the pillars in place: We have designed processes and configured the ERP; we have scrubbed data and converted it into the ERP; we have trained end users on how they are going to do their jobs. Now, we need to run tests to prove out the work we have completed so far.
In this phase of our Infor implementation methodology, we bring everything together in a “dress rehearsal,” or what some people call a “conference room pilot.” We work with you to create scripts of business processes that you have in a typical day, and we want end users to prove to us (and themselves) that once we go live, they are able to perform their duties. In short, we want to see them run transactions in the system.
This piloting validates our work or exposes areas that need more fine tuning in the areas of user training (Does someone need more training on how to do their job?), data integrity (Is the data we converted working the way it is intended?), and system configuration (Is the system set up and behaving the way we expect it to?). In some cases, we do more than one pilot, depending on how many issues come up. The typical outcome of the piloting process is the team is confident that it will be able to function well on the new system when we go live. We have a “go/no-go” decision, and if it is “go,” we move to the cutover phase.
Related: 20 Best ERP Implementation Resources
Cutover is the last step before go live. Throughout the implementation, we are converting master data (information on customers, vendors, etc.) in the system. Cutover takes place the day before we go live and is when we convert open items like general ledger balances, inventory information, and open customer, purchase, and work orders in the new system. Once this information is in, the company is ready for the big day.
Go live is obviously when you stop using your “old” system, and start using Infor ERP as your new system of record. We have resources available in this phase to support you because issues always pop up that were not flushed out in piloting. These are typically minor issues that don’t affect the day to day. The “first” go live is operational (order entry, manufacturing, etc.). The “second” go live is the first month-end close. We work with your team to make sure the first month-end close goes smoothly.
Post go live
Once you are live, we like to say it is the beginning, not the end. This is because once you have Infor ERP in place, you have a platform for continuous improvement. During the implementation, there are always items that pop up that are “nice to have” functionalities. We put those on a list to tackle after go live, because they will make you even more efficient, and allow you to take full advantage of the investment you have made. We also have some customers that want a regular cadence of consulting help each month after go live to make sure they have a relief valve for any questions, and get off to the strongest start possible.
Companies that Visual South works with are typically manufacturing something. They are experts in their product, but they are not experts in implementing ERP. That is why they come to us. We have the team that can guide them through a successful ERP implementation, and be a valued resource for years to come.
Most companies don’t evaluate ERP on a regular basis. If you are looking for ERP and not sure where to start, how about talking to an expert who is not a sales person? Click here to learn more about Jack Shannon, and sign up for a free phone consultation to discuss your situation.