Upgrading your accounting software is a necessary step to growing your company – and even though it may sound difficult if you’re moving to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, it doesn’t have to be.
Yes, it will take time, effort and patience, but the entire process is easier if you have a strategic, carefully planned approach with a knowledgeable, dedicated and skillful team. Consider the attention to detail needed to execute a successful ERP migration and implementation.
Here are five key steps for to help you get started.
Determine Your Scope
In a perfect world, all the data from your previous software program would show up on the new system, but that’s not a given when you think about your time frame, the number of moving pieces and your budget.
That means you must decide which data is most important – and consulting your stakeholders in this process is a must. Consider the following:
- How many people to grant access to the data,
- Exactly which data to bring over by the go-live date,
- Which business locations will be affected if you have multiple sites and
- How much historical data you want to keep.
Master data and open transactions take precedent, while duplicated and outdated data need to be tossed aside. In addition, if there’s anything you want to change, such as your chart of accounts, now is the time to do that.
Of course, give yourself plenty of lead-time to decide all of this information, respond accordingly, and communicate the sheer size and complexity of your data migration to your team.
Build Your Team and Strategize
The ERP transition will not work without a highly dedicated and hard-working team, as well as a great strategy. This means involving your entire staff, handing out roles, delegating responsibilities and setting deadlines. Use your judgment to determine who best knows the data to oversee data migration. Don’t be afraid to bring in external talent who have good technical skills and the time to fully immerse themselves in data decisions. Let your stakeholders deal with what’s most important when it comes to your open/live and master data, while enabling your ERP vendors to decide the best techniques and strategies for your project.
It’s important to exercise patience and remember that you can’t move everything at once! That will lead to costly mistakes. Work systematically to reach your goals.
Ensure One New System of Accurate and Clean Data
When it comes to data migration, you must bring over the necessary data, but it also has to be painstakingly accurate so that isn’t lost or wrongly assigned. This requires a team of experts to manually go in and clean the files, weeding out incorrect or corrupt data, and any redundancies. Know that this is an ongoing effort; your old system will keep producing new data every day, up until the go-live date.
Test Small and Verify Your Data
You must know if your data will load correctly. Test just a small part of it at first, make sure it works, and then increase the volume as you work to meet your deadlines. This approach allows you to troubleshoot and find any errors early on – and will hopefully save you time in the stretch run, which will already be stressful enough.
Then, when everything is loaded into the new ERP system, verify that the data is correct. This starts with the data volume; if you brought over 500 records, there need to be 500 records. Then, you must assess quantity and value, so, for example, if the batch total is $15,000, the system must show $15,000. You also must verify if all data is correctly mapped to its corresponding, correct fields.
This process is time-consuming, yet vital to a successful ERP migration and implementation. You can’t have a system with incorrect data.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Let’s face it: sometimes, life gets in the way, so just in case you’re not ready to launch at the go-live date or scrambling to do so, you must have a back-up plan in place. Whether it’s scaling back your scope or having staff nearby to manual enter data, you must have a strategy – and if you can’t fix the situation in time, postpone your go-live date. The last thing you want to do is to go live when you aren’t ready; the consequences can be detrimental.
Your backup plan can be extremely simple … as simple as postponing your go-live date. If that isn’t reasonable, then consider phasing in your information. You could, for example, prioritize the most critical areas to go live, first, followed by your secondary choices. Either way, just be sure to have a plan.
Take a Deep Breath
It’s common sense migrating your accounting systems to something new isn’t easy and it is going to take most of your time and energy over an extended period of time. However, keep your end-goal in mind: a streamlined, functioning accounting system that is fully integrated across your entire company, and even in multiple locations. Manual data entry is a thing of the past and reports will now provide the insight and analytics you need to make crucial short- and long-term decisions.
Take a deep breath – and remember that carefully mapping out your plan is the most important part of all of this. Good luck!