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What is a Successful NetSuite ERP Implementation Plan?
So, you’ve decided on upgrading your business to a new ERP platform for simpler financial reporting and key business activities . And now you’re probably thinking – ‘hey, tough part over, right?’ Perhaps. But you should have a plan to ensure your ERP implementation is successful.
Implementing an ERP tool is a big investment and you want to be sure that you don’t run into any costly issues somewhere down the line.
Not sure if your business is ready to move up to a NetSuite ERP platform? Learn more: NetSuite For Small Businesses: Scaling Up
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How to Choose the Right NetSuite ERP Implementation Partner
Whether you’ve decided on NetSuite as your core ERP platform or not, it starts with choosing the right ERP implementation partner to help you adapt your business to the new technology. Often, the implementation phase of a new system will raise some challenges for your business. The right implementation partner should have enough experience to help you avoid or overcome any issues you’ll face.
If you’ve ever thought about implementing a NetSuite ERP platform yourself, learn more about the do’s and don'ts first.
Your ERP Implementation Guide
The first thing that you’ll discuss with your ERP implementation partner is a step-by-step strategy and a roadmap for what the implementation is going to look like. You want to know exactly what you’re getting into – the risks, the obstacles, and the outcomes – so that you know what to expect throughout the process. Obviously, there may be some surprises along the way, but having an ERP implementation guide and planning checklist will make you as prepared as possible.
1. Build a Plan
- Roadmapping: Planning initial shut-down of legacy system to transactions being recorded in the new system. This includes: Open-transaction migrations & opening balances and inventory.
- Ensure you have a strategy to validate the final import of this data.
- Availability of resources: Are stakeholders and department leads available for any required approvals? What about consultant resources? What’s the buffer in case of delays? Looking at the logistics of external support and stand-by staff for IT, etc. is important as you’ll need the back-up in case anything unexpected comes up.
2. Check Both Hardware and ERP Software
- Conference room pilot project: The purpose of your ERP platform is to foster collaboration and communication within your teams. Testing can’t be done in silos! This phase involves validating the new software for your business processes and the end-users who use it to carry out typical accounting or key business activities.
- End-to-end testing: This will give you an idea of what does and doesn’t work and lets you plan for the go-live phase.
- Stress / load testing: It’s important to have an understanding of the software’s limitations by pushing it to its breaking point. It will help you gauge capacity and measure how it will handle your demands.
- Data migration: Involves checking if the data migration process will require light touch-ups for messy data, as well as get a good grasp of the mapping.
- Equipment readiness: Ensure you have the right hardware for the go-live. What’s available, what needs to be added, etc. Even SaaS still requires some pieces of hardware!
3. NetSuite ERP Training and Support For Your Teams
- NetSuite training for end-users: This will help you gauge the extent to which your teams can operate and navigate the ERP tools. It’ll help them get used to the new software and learn some of its best practices. It’s also a great way to get them excited about the upgrade!
- Post-go-live support plan: Set up end-user support for those needing help or facing issues after the go-live. You also get access to hands-on and over the shoulder feedback for the first days to help ease the transition - as well as access to documentation and reports.
4. Is Your Business Ready for a New ERP System?
- New processes: With a new system comes new processes that could affect accounting, financial reporting and other key business activities. Ensure your team is aware of the changes and how they can best use them to their advantage.
- Internal communication: Integrated systems lead to new and improved business platforms. Make your teams aware of the changes, so they can coordinate and collaborate. Again, this whole step is about avoiding surprises among your team.
- External stakeholders: How will your new ERP system affect customers, vendors and partners? What should they know about your new system? Everyone likes positive change - but once more, it’s important to be aware of it beforehand.
Check out our Beginner’s Guide to NetSuite
5. Risk Management and Back-Up Plan
- Project risk management: Be aware of any potential risks that could derail your go-live phase. How can we minimize the risks? What is the impact? Have a back-up plan so you can mitigate difficulties.
- Risk management for your business: You need a safety net for your business in case any small detail goes wrong during the go-live. We encourage total readiness, and that means preparing for the worst case scenario - no matter how unlikely it is.
- Canceling your ERP implementation project: You always have the option to delay or cancel a go-live at the last-minute. Companies often feel pressured to meet the go-live date planned out at the beginning, but that pressure is not worth the risk if you think there are unforeseen issues that might arise (ex: shipping labels don’t print, preventing shipments).
- Go-live rollback: In case the go-live phase presents issues and can’t be done, you can ask for a time assessment of when the issue will be fixed and ask for a rollback. At this point, you can always revert to your legacy system for the time it takes to repair the issue and smooth things out.
Getting Started On Your ERP Implementation Project
Now that you know what’s needed to get started on your ERP implementation project, think about your overall readiness. Read these steps and cross-reference with them. Discuss things at length with both your implementation partner and your team.
And as you’re nearing your go-live, if you foresee an issue and you’re thinking of delaying - we recommend making a pros and cons list. Speak to management and weigh the risks and advantages. Do the benefits of going live NOW outweigh the benefits of waiting an additional few weeks to ensure complete readiness?
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