ERP Implementations and House Building – Phase 7: Walk-through
In this multi-part blog series, Alan Lyczkowski discusses the many surprising parallels that can be drawn between an ERP implementation and the process of building a house. NOTE: If you’re just joining us for the series, you can read the first installments here: Introduction, Phase 1: Analysis, Phase 2: Shopping, Phase 3: Choosing a Partner, Phase 4: Decisions, Phase 5: Planning and Preparation, and Phase 6: Moving Day Preparations.
In my previous posts regarding Building a House and an ERP Implementation I explored the shopping, analysis, decisions, and move preparations. In this post I will compare the final walk-through of a house to user testing and user training. Luckily in an ERP implementation, you will have more time for user training and testing.
Well, the house is complete, and the builder has scheduled two hours for us to go through the house to learn about the systems and test them. I equate this walk-through to performing user training and testing.
With the user testing and training phase, you have two main objectives:
- Test the system to see if you have the tools that you need.
- Train all of the users of the system to validate that they can do their jobs after go live.
In preparation for the walk-through, I got a notebook. I charged my phone so I could take pictures, got a flashlight, and a night light.
As we walked through the house, I plugged the night light into every socket to verify that each worked. I ran every faucet and looked for leaks. I flushed every toilet and ran every appliance to verify each worked.
The builder and I went through every system in the house, and I took tons of notes so I could remember how they all worked. Prior to the walk-through, I thought I knew how to maintain a hot water heater… boy, was I surprised as to what I learned.
I do regret that I could not spend a few nights at the house to really give it a thorough testing, but I would need to wait until after I owned it.
With an ERP system, you have a unique opportunity to test (and retest if needed). Like the walk-through, in this phase, you want to learn and test. The ERP term for a walk-through is called a conference room pilot (CRP). The CRP allows you to live a few days in the new house before you unpack. Invest the time in this phase to get really informed about your ERP system.
Train your users well. The better trained they are, the better your chances for a successful ERP implementation. If your users know what they will need to do on day one, this will reduce the amount of downtime that will occur with a major system change.
Prior to performing a CRP, make sure your users are comfortable with the new system. Ask how they are going to do their daily tasks, weekly tasks, etc. For many users, change is very stressful. Users will ask if they will be able to help contribute to your company’s success in the new system and worry that they cannot. They will be concerned with what will happen if they fail.
Training is a great way to help prepare for this transition.
After training, test, and re-testing and testing again, a CRP is a great way to test an ERP system. Use this tool to live “A Day in the Life” of your organization. Validate that you can process invoices to your customers and that you can get the product or services you provide to them. Verify that the system produces the financial statements based on these transactions accurately.
The CRP is also beneficial as it exposes areas where users need additional training. It also helps you gauge the stress level going through your team and how to help reduce it.
Use this time to train, reduce fear, and thoroughly test your ERP. If changes need to be made, it is better to make them before you go live. Be sure to retest to validate that the changes are beneficial.
With an ERP, you have invested a lot of money in the system. Use adequate time to perform training and testing. You can take this as a two-hour walk-through of the ERP, but that will not give you enough validation that everything will work for everybody.
In my final blog post, I will talk about Moving Day compared to Go Live Day!