ERP System Go Live During a Pandemic

Is it possible to run an ERP system during a pandemic across multiple countries? Over the past few weeks we put this to the test and the short answer is ‘yes’ this is very feasible.

Welcome to a new world, where:

  1. You don’t need to delay your ERP implementation due to restrictions on face to face meetings.
  2. ERP implementation costs can be reduced by working remotely, to reduce team relocation and travel costs.

During the last 12 months we have been engaged on a Microsoft Dynamics 365 (FinOps) implementation project for an Australian building products manufacturer. The last phase of the project was the go live for an operation in Asia. The pre-pandemic plan was to move a small team from the Australian project to Asia for the period over the go live weekend. Unfortunately this was not feasible due to the pandemic.

In addition the manufacturing operation in Asia had been shut down with all key users from the project working in isolation at home. This mean that all key users would be working remotely in the lead up to and during the go live. The Dynamics 365 business partner is also based in Australia with the consultants, developers and project managers all working from home.

Deferring the go live was not an option as the business had committed to the go live date with internal and external resources. The message from the Governance Committee was to ‘make the go live date’.

So how did the project team make this happen?

Key activities that take place in the last 6-8 weeks of an implementation were managed using Microsoft’s collaboration tools. All keys users were familiar with using Microsoft Teams with SharePoint, OneDrive, OneNote and Azure DevOps. These activities included: final user acceptance testing (UAT) workshops, end user training, data migration, go live activities and the final month end on old ERP system.

The final UAT workshops were managed via Teams with key users communicating via Teams Calls and Chat, sharing documents using OneDrive and logging issues via Azure DevOps. A daily stand up call via Teams was used for the project team to catch up and confirm high priority tasks and issues.

Access to the Dynamics 365 system was relatively easy for all key users due to it being a cloud based system and browser based. Key users were able to easily and securely access the system.

In the weeks leading up to the go live weekend the geographically scattered project team became very adept at working remotely. When the go live weekend arrived in late April the team were seasoned WFH (working from home) employees.

On the go live weekend the small team based in Australia were able to move into a large war room (still maintaining social distance) in the head office location. This room had a 360° video camera that worked with Teams. For the duration of the go live weekend a Teams call with video was established between the war room and the remote users in Asia. Whilst some tasks took a little longer than expected the go live schedule and cutover was completed in 2 days.

On Monday the 4th May the Dynamics 365 FinOps system went live in Asia. By this time manufacturing had restarted with all business processes operating. The operations and finance staff where still working off site but using the new system.

This was the first ERP go live we have executed with most of the team working remotely.

Whilst working with a team, shoulder to shoulder, during a hectic go live weekend is the best option, running the process remotely definitely does work. It might take longer and require team members to be patient with each other.

The key success factors are:

  1. Technology: Use of modern, cloud based collaboration and project management software.
  2. Resources: A committed team, adopting the use of common tools, and motivated to succeed.
  3. Leadership & know how: Management with the experience to lead the team

Contact us if you would like to discuss your next ERP implementation.