Upgrading your accounting software is a necessary step to growing your company – but moving to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system does not have to be a headache.
Of course, your ERP migration will take time, effort, and patience because it will require meticulous planning to meet a lengthy series of deadlines. However, the entire process will be easier if you understand all the steps in advance. You need to know the big picture to execute a successful software migration and implementation.
Here is a detailed ERP migration checklist to help you stay on track through every stage of the process:
Step 1: Determine Your Requirements
Your ERP migration is a journey. Like any journey, you need to know the Point A of where you are currently, and the Point B of where you want to end up. In Step 1 of this journey, you will work closely with your ERP implementation team to determine:
- Current roadblocks in your business procedures or workflows
- What it looks like when your procedures and processes work perfectly
- How you want your ERP system to help you run your business in the years to come
- Priorities for “Must have” changes vs. “Nice to have” changes
During this process, make sure to leverage the skills and experience of your ERP implementation team. Your organization spent a lot of time finding the right consulting partner, so it is worth it to understand their specific strategies and carefully planned approach that leverages their extensive knowledge.
At the same time, do not be afraid to speak up to make your company’s needs clear. This is your ERP migration – a good consultant will want to truly understand and meet your needs.
Step 2: Decide on Your Scope
In a perfect world, all the data from your previous ERP or accounting software would show up in your new system and its out-of-the-box functions would match your needs perfectly. However, these are not realistic expectations considering your ideal time frame, the number of moving pieces in your implementation, your company’s unique needs, and your budget.
To maximize your ROI and take advantage of new system capabilities as quickly as possible, you must make decisions. It is crucial that you consult your stakeholders in this process.
Consider the following:
- What exact data will you want to bring over by the go-live date?
- How much historical data will you want to keep, and where should it be stored?
- How much server space will your live and historical data require (on cloud or on premises)?
- How many people will need access to the data (how many licenses will you need)?
- What will the training process look like for each of those people and roles?
- Which of your business locations will be affected?
- Will you need customizations?
When planning for your ERP data migration, remember that master data and open transactions should always take precedent, while duplicated and outdated data should be tossed aside. In addition, if there is anything you want to update during your migration project, such as your Chart of Accounts, now is the time to do that.
Step 3: Build Your Timelines and Your Team
This step is when you work with your consultant to create a clear roadmap with realistic milestones. Remember that an ERP migration is a team effort that will take engagement and energy from the whole company, not just the IT department and not just the management team.
During the migration, your staff will still have to complete their daily work tasks and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. Careful timeline planning will give your employees the flexibility they need to keep delivering great service and a great product, while also keeping your implementation on track.
As you are planning with your ERP consultant, give your staff appropriate time for:
- Tasks and activities that must be completed in a specific order
- Assessing, cleaning, and (often) tossing out old data
- Frequent data backup (and recovery, if needed)
- Data migration, testing, and retesting (and retesting again)
- Communication (more on that next)
While you are planning, think about the people best suited to make this process a success. Your 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. Do not 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 is 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 is important to exercise patience and remember that you cannot move everything at once. That will lead to costly mistakes. Instead, work systematically to reach your goals.
Step 4: Craft Your Communications
One of the most often overlooked steps in an ERP migration checklist is communication. Communication helps get your entire team engaged with the migration project, which is good because having multiple viewpoints can help you avoid potential obstacles to go live.
While crafting your communications plan, make sure you:
- Introduce your ERP consulting team to everyone
- Let everyone on your team know the start date and go live date
- Explain the sheer size and complexity of your data migration project
- Clarify who will be responsible for what, and when
- Provide access to the timeline and enforce accountability
- Create a clear guide for who should step in to take over daily tasks when needed
- Provide resources that staff can use to get help when they need it
- Provide contact information for staff to bring up obstacles or concerns
- Address potential benefits that may affect people before go live
- Answer common concerns, such as “will anyone lose their job with this change?”
Though communication is an essential key to success, remember that the goal right now is to let people ask questions and bring up constructive concerns that move the implementation along. You have already decided on your ERP; staff should not be allowed to contest that decision.
It is a fact that some people are naturally resistant to or fearful of change. While these people deserve your support and encouragement, you cannot allow them to sidetrack your ERP migration project.
Step 5: Migrate Your Data
When it comes to data migration, starting early is key. Do not leave this step until the last moment – that is certain to lead to a stressful ERP migration. Remember to give yourself ample time for this stage because you will want to bring over the necessary data, while making sure that it is painstakingly accurate so that is not lost or wrongly assigned.
First, you will want 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, and so you will need to keep cleaning your data.
During this step, you can expect to:
- Map small, fixed data first, such as Tax Identification Numbers, addresses, and customer contact data
- Test your fixed data migration success
- Clearly flag any errors in data transfer
- Address errors by finding root causes, remedying, re-mapping, and retesting
- Move to more complex data transfers only after you are confident your fixed data is mapping properly
- Celebrate accomplishments by publicly recognizing hard-working staff members who are part of this time-consuming, highly attentive process
When everything is loaded into your 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. 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.
Keep in mind that ERP data migration is an iterative process. Often, when you address one error, a new error arises in a mapping process that was previously approved. You will have to retrace your steps often, with extreme attention to detail – but if you expect this and plan for it, this should not cause any undue stress or headaches.
Step 6: Train and Support Everyone
Of course, your ERP migration checklist will include training your staff and providing them with support resources they can use as refreshers or to overcome confusion with the new system. However, you may forget that a modern ERP is likely to be used by more than just your employees.
Depending on your ERP selection, consider allocating time and resources to:
- Train customers on accessing their information
- Train suppliers or vendors on providing updates in the system
- Train outsourced teams for payroll, bookkeeping, HR, inventory management, customer service, or other tasks to access information
- Train partners to interact with the system
- Perform final walkthroughs on the new system, so everyone is prepared for go live
Once everyone is trained and all your data is migrated, it is time for your go live. At that point, your consultant will switch your old system to read-only mode and set all new transactions to populate in your new system. They will also transfer ownership of the new system to you.
With all the planning, testing, and training you have already accomplished, this should be relatively mundane though your staff is likely to forget key skills they thought they knew, so make sure you have support staff on hand all day. However, before your go live, you may need to put Step 7 in place.
Step 7: Have a Back-Up Plan
Let’s face it: sometimes, life gets in the way of even the best-laid plans. If you find yourself not quite ready to launch on the go-live date, having a back-up plan in place will give you peace of mind.
As you put together your back-up plan, create contingencies to:
- Scale back your scope
- Have staff on standby for manual data entry
- Postpone your go-live date
Your back-up plan can be extremely simple… as simple as postponing your go-live date. If that is not feasible, consider phasing in your information. For example, you could prioritize the most critical areas to go live first, followed by your secondary choices.
Either way, be sure that you have a clear plan, just in case. Being prepared for everything is the best way to set yourself up for a resounding ERP migration success.
Final Step: Take a Deep Breath
It is common sense that migrating your accounting software to something new will not be an effortless process. If it did not take a lot of time and energy, you would have already done it!
While you are in the thick of your ERP migration, keep your end goal in mind. Remember that, soon, you will have a streamlined, functioning, modern ERP that is fully integrated across your entire company, and even in multiple locations. Manual data entry will finally be a thing of the past and reports will now provide you with the insight and analytics you need to make crucial short- and long-term decisions, no matter what surprises the future brings.
Contact SWK Technologies to find out how we can help you get started on your ERP implementation and take away most of the pain from moving to new software.
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