Go-Live Effective Planning and Cutover Controls Make All the Difference

Learn the end of the ERP implementation, go-live and project close. Learn the needed task to ensure a successful implementation phase.

Table of Content

    Introduction

    “Go-Live” is the final post in a series discussing how Velosio can assist your company in completing a successful ERP implementation. If you want to review the other posts in the series, or learn more about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation and how Velosio can help, look at:

    Make Velosio Your ERP Migration and Implementation Partner

    Managing the Pre-Sale Process: Ensure Your Requirements Are Clearly Defined

    Getting Started: Preparing For an ERP Implementation

    Requirements Gathering: Determining What You Need

    Fit-Gap Analysis

    Data Migration and History Loading Streamline a Challenging Process

    Data and History Load Data Quality and An Open Mind Can Improve the Process

    Accuracy and Functionality User Testing

    Functional User Training Mitigating Go-live Panic

    As the end goal of the ERP implementation, the cut-over to the new ERP and go-live processing are some of the most important tasks completed.

    Before your company is ready to go-live, be sure that:

    • The system is configured per the requirements document and the Fit/Gap analysis
    • Important functionality is tested, and performance documented
    • Data and history loading have been completed and reconciled
    • Day one reports are completed and reconciled
    • All end users are trained

    An example of an implementation process flow appears below. The process flow consists of five phases. Go-live is in the last implementation phase.

    Go-live

    Note that the Go-Live and Project Close phase includes final deployment and conversion. Each of those two sub-phases need to be successfully completed before the cut-over and go-live can proceed.

    In this context, final deployment means that all transaction cut-off processes have been set and workpapers completed. The workpapers need to be reviewed and tied back to the legacy system to ensure transaction integrity. If the data conversion and load process is completed correctly, only a week or two of data should be involved.

    Any transaction activity remaining in the legacy system not already posted into the new ERP needs to be posted prior to live processing. Transaction activity posting can be completed via a file import or through manual data entry.

    Many times, a combination of both methods is used. For example, if only a few masterfile records (e.g., vendors or customers) were set up between the time of the final data load and the cut-over, it doesn’t make much sense to build a data import file, load it and reconcile. On the other hand, legacy processed transactions are nearly always imported due to the transaction volume involved.

    As an experienced solution provider, Velosio can assist in building an effective cut-over plan and transaction cut-off procedures. For added protection in case the cut-over starts to “go off the rails” a bit, we can assist in building an effective back out process which can mitigate the effects of having to abandon the go-live and re-commence it later.

    We’ve implemented ERPs of all sizes and complexities and can work with your project team to deliver the most effective go-live plan. We can help in showing your project team how to use go-live tools such as transaction cut-off reporting and cut-over tasks sequencing. If you prefer to complete cut-over planning using internal resources, we’d be happy to review what your project team develops internally and provide suggestions on how to improve the finished product.

    Best practices

    This post discusses some best practices that can help ensure an effective go-live with minimal disruptions, during the cut-over period. Some “pitfalls” are also discussed which if not mitigated, often result in post go-live anxiety and processing errors.

    Over the course of dozens of ERP implementations, five top go-live best practices have emerged:

    • Visible executive ownership
    • Build a detailed cut-over plan
    • Address any open items
    • Build a back-out plan

    Visible executive ownership

    Visible executive ownership is the number one success driver across all ERP implementation phases. Executive ownership and buy-in are important components of the go-live process. Be sure to review the cut-over and go-live plans with executive team members.

    See if they can live with cutting off all processing for a day. If they’re not really excited about that, be sure your plan provides parallel processing support if needed. Be sure though, that if parallel processing is used, the executive team understands there is a genuine cost to this decision in complexity, time, and dollars. While it may not be too popular with the staff, do the cut-over on a weekend to mitigate these issues.

    Try to get the executive team to commit to a planned cut-over communication process. Have them agree to route any issues identified or communicated to them by their team members to the company project manager, then let the project manager research the issue and provide a resolution.

    Remember, it isn’t going to benefit anyone involved in the cut-over by having to deal with multiple sources of feedback or conflicting instructions from executive team members. This environment only results in a lot of pressure and stress which often results in rushed processing and avoidable errors.

    Build a detailed cut-over plan

    Building an accurate and complete cut-over plan is an important go-live task. At a minimum, the cut-over plan should include the following:

    • Cut-off of all company processes with a financial impact
    • Complete final data and history load including reconciliation
    • Identifying pre and post cut-over transactions and reconciling the transactions
    • Cut-over review and approval process

    Develop a transaction cut-off plan for the applicable departments. Examples include warehouse receiving and shipping, accounting, accounts payable, sales order processing and accounts receivable. Ensure that the cut-off workpaper instructions are clear and review them with the applicable department managers.

    Complete final history loading and reconciliation. Load and reconcile history up to the accounting period end before the cut-over. Using this approach keeps the level of cut-over reconciliation to a minimum. As a backup plan, you can load prior period history after the cut-over. Just remember though, that financial reporting will need to be re-run in the new system.

    Keep masterfile changes in the current system such as new items, vendors and customers to the minimum required during the pre-cut-over period.

    To learn more about data conversion and history loading see:

    Data Migration and History Loading Streamline a Challenging Process

    Data and History Load Data Quality and An Open Mind Can Improve the Process

    Develop a process for cut-over analysis review and approval. Additionally, be sure that your workpapers are organized and accurately prepared. Your auditors will have a keen interest in reviewing this information during the YE audit.

    A large number of Velosio’s consultants and project managers are experienced accountants. In some cases, they may hold a CPA certificate or an advanced business degree. Use our experience to build transaction cut-off workpapers and the accompanying reports. Use our accounting knowledge to help ensure that the cut-off reconciliations will satisfy your auditors.

    Address any open items

    If there are any open items related to the implementation, they should be completed prior to the cut-over. Use common sense here though. For example, some open-end user training issues are probably not as important as ensuring that system functionality, process accuracy tests and cut-off analysis have been successfully completed.

    Review any open items with the executive team. Work with them in determining the next step. If you’re uncomfortable, back off the cut-over date. No real damage is done in delaying the cut-over, except possibly incurring some additional costs. Remember though, you can only play this card a couple of times before it gets old, and the executive team becomes impatient.

    Many times, unrealistic implementation schedules are frequently set. More times than not, this practice results in short-cutting which causes already completed tasks having to be re-done. Short cuts and chaotic task completion do not support a timely implementation or cut-over. In fact, unrealistic implementation expectations rarely achieve the timelines set.

    Velosio project managers have a wealth of experience in implementing ERPs and know what it takes to get the job done. Let us assist your team in building a reasonable implementation plan. If you need us to accompany your internal team in planning meetings, we’d be happy to accommodate your request.

    Build a back-out plan

    A back-out plan is like insurance. You don’t want to ever use it, but if you need it, you’ll be happy you have it. Sometimes, a go-live approval is made and shortly thereafter, it becomes obvious that processing in the new ERP cannot continue. In this situation you need to implement a back-out plan. Implementing the back-out plan is different than delaying the cut-over and should be used as a last resort.

    Build a plan that describes how transactions processed in the new system are identified, entered into the legacy system, and then reconciled. The reconciliation processes should mimic those used in the cut-off analysis. When possible, use automated methods to load substantial amounts of data. Develop and test these methods in advance. If the data volume is relatively small, complete the process manually.

    For the first few days after the cut-over keep any masterfile changes (e.g., new items, vendors, and customers) to a minimum and try to limit the number of transactions processed. Just in case.

    A strategy other the back-out plan to consider is using parallel processing during and after the cut-over. Parallel processing essentially means entering the transactions into both the legacy system and new ERP for several days or weeks. The transactions are reviewed and reconciled daily to ensure accuracy. At the end of the parallel processing period, the legacy system is “turned off” and transactions are processed in the new ERP only.

    Finally, don’t delay the decision to implement the back-out plan. If things are not going well, pull the plug. While this decision may not sit well with the executive team, each day that you delay only makes the recovery process that much more difficult.

    So why Velosio?

    With many years of implementation experience, Velosio can get your software up and running, effectively and efficiently, as quickly as possible. Our application consultants and project managers, who are among the best in their field, are ready to help your business keep its commitments while investing in the latest technological advances.

    Velosio is a team of 450 business professionals, application consultants, developers and industry experts aligned with our clients’ best interests and dedicated to ensuring exceptional outcomes. Our team has worked with clients of all sizes over thousands of projects, allowing us to identify your ERP requirements, proactively spot potential data structure and history loading issues and suggest best practices to support a successful ERP implementation.

    With a considerable number of successful implementations under our belt, you can be confident that we have the tools and experience you are looking for.