Simple steps to keep your next ERP upgrade on time and on budget

By Shawn Scanlon, executive vice president, GSI, Network World |  Enterprise Software, ERP

Most ERP systems come pre-set to handle a typical user load, but is your user load "typical"? If you assume that your user load is typical and find out you were wrong, you will cost your company much more time, effort and resources than if you load-tested correctly before going live. Comprehensive load-testing is best carried out by load-testing software with scripts and real users. Simply testing with just scripts will not provide you with the effects seen when a user makes a mistake. If you just test with people, you won't simulate the effect of batch jobs and electronic data interchange. Even if you test with one, rather than none, you will come out ahead.

" Perform an "exact" dress rehearsal

The dress rehearsal (or mock Go Live) should be performed under the "Exact" same conditions as the real Go Live (e.g., if Go Live is on a weekend, mock Go Live needs to be on a weekend). Small problems can be isolated and easily resolved in the most accurate mock Go Live. You don't want to get ready to Go Live and find out the office air conditioning isn't on during the weekends or a scheduled maintenance task runs every Saturday at 3 p.m. Eliminating as many variables as possible will keep the team cool under pressure and insure that the tens of thousands, or sometimes millions of dollars, spent on a system upgrade will not be delayed because of a preventable issue.

" Embrace testing as your friend

Today's ERP upgrades are electronically packaged to address systemwide issues with electronic software updates (ESU). These updates can touch thousands of objects within your system and are a large leap from yesteryear's "paper fixes" that would address a specific issue or "opportunity in the software." Even if a business process was working properly prior to the change, it must be tested because the large impact on your system that ESUs cause may have disrupted its previous functionality. Only painstakingly testing all business processes will mitigate any unwanted "opportunities" from entering your production environment.

" Build in next generation user training

Utilize upgrades to bring your organization's training capabilities into the Training 2.0 world. Remote access to an on-demand Knowledge Vault of recorded tutorials detailing the most critical business processes will bring classroom training to every one of your employees no matter where they are.

This is particularly convenient during these economic times where employees are asked to wear more "hats" on the job. Creating a user-friendly Knowledge Vault will allow system users to train at their convenience, speed up their training and provide ambitious employees with an avenue to fine-tune their skills.

Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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