ERP Management Implementation Tips Every Manufacturer Should Know (Part 5 of 5)

You’re almost there!  You’ve run the gauntlet of researching various ERP vendors, carefully selected your implementation team and personnel (part 1), conducted a workflow review (part 2) of your current system, while planning for the new system (part 3), and transferred all of your key data to populate the new and improved system (part 4).  The ERP vendor has left your facility and you now bear a heavy responsibility to ensure this implementation continues to be a success for your manufacturing company.  Fear not, if you are working with a trusted vendor, they will never truly leave your side.  Here are some key tips to remember post-implementation. Training Additional Personnel One of the goals of the initial training of key personnel is to enable them to train their subordinates and others.  The level of involvement by the AE will be determined by the team. Practice in the Test Database All personnel should engage in practice using the test database.  The need for well-regulated, scheduled and verifiable practice in the test database cannot be over-emphasized.  Simply instructing users to work with the test system as they have the opportunity will in all likelihood result in failure.  Specific periods must be set aside for specific personnel to perform specific exercises in the test database. A technique often used is to have personnel enter a portion of their day’s actual work.  Another technique is to provide users with pre-prepared exercises.  In either case, a supervisor or team member’s involvement is crucial.  They must be present to guide the user, address problems as they arise and help interpret the results.
The frequency, length of time and quality of the users’ practice time is the single most important aspect of the training process.  No other activity will have as great an effect on the success of the implementation.
There may be some problems that the supervisor or team member cannot resolve.  These instances should be referred to the AE immediately or presented to the AE when they return for a mid-course correction (please see below). A period of three to six months of practice in the test database is typical. Mid-Course Corrections In addition to the Pre-Implementation Planning Meeting, the AE should be scheduled to be on-site periodically during the test database training process.  The first visit should be between two and four weeks after the initial training to address problems and questions that will arise as users begin their practice.  Additional visits should be scheduled for the same purpose and to provide additional training as needed throughout the practice period. Additional Core Training It is doubtful that all of your ERP system’s standard capabilities can be covered in detail during the initial training.  As such, additional training in these areas should be provided during the test database practice period. Optional Module Training It is common to purchase optional modules, such as Serial Number/Lot Control, but not implement them until months after the go-live date in the live database.  It is for this reason that training in optional modules is difficult to schedule until well into the implementation. Reports and Forms Most ERP systems offer a collection of standard reports and forms. You may find the designs of the standard forms and reports adequate.  In most cases, however, some degree of report or form customization is desired.  Your ERP provider will offer training in this type of activity as well as offering the optional service of performing your desired customizations for you.  Similar training and services will likely be offered for writing new reports from scratch. Arrangements will have to be made for the purchase of pre-printed forms such as checks.  Your ERP provider probably has a relationship with a third-party forms vendor to supply documents already formatted to comply with the ERP system’s outputs. Going Live The go live date will be established by the team based on its desired time table and progress in training. The AE should be on-site to support the go-live.  Be certain to make these arrangements early enough in advance to ensure the AE’s availability. The go-live is usually scheduled for a Monday.  This provides time for any desired dynamic data such as sales orders, work orders, purchase orders, inventory quantities and GL balances to be entered. Who is Responsible? Extreme care should be taken at the outset to clearly establish which party, you or the ERP provider, is responsible for the various steps in the implementation.  One common area of confusion is the writing of custom reports and the customization of standard reports and forms.  Be certain you have a clear understanding of where your ERP provider’s responsibility ends and yours begins. Ongoing Considerations Database Administration Your ERP system’s database can be administered through the use of an independent contractor.  Most users, however, have found an on-site database administrator to be far more effective due to the immediacy of availability.  The Database Administrator is also often the resource for extracting data, writing and modifying reports and forms and importing data.  As such, this person must not only have expertise in the database itself, but also have an in-depth knowledge of the database schema. Keep in mind, too, that the database administrator will have access to tables that can contain sensitive information such as social security numbers and pay rates. Many ERP providers offer optional remote database administration services. Remember, each company’s implementation and experience will be completely unique to them.   This is especially true for those who work in the ETO (engineer-to-order) environment where custom manufacturing reigns.  Do not be afraid to ask questions of your vendor and even your peers.  Your vendor’s user group committee could serve as one of your most valuable assets throughout this process and through the life of the use of the system. We wish you the best of luck on your endeavors moving forward and appreciate you taking the time to read this blog series.  We hope this will serve as a helpful learning tool towards growth in the industry we love.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at ProfitKey with any questions, or if you wish to have a free consult and /or demonstration.
'Your Implementation' Series Written by Craig Schrotter, CPIM, Senior Applications Engineer
Edited & Posted by Jason Rourke, Director of Marketing
ProfitKey International

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