Installation of Enterprise software


Hi, my name is Peter Gadzinski and I work for a company called MaxScheduler. We're continuing with our web series for manufacturers and printers about software challenges they face in their businesses. We want to share experiences. MaxScheduler next and scheduling software business, we've been doing it for about 15 years. We've helped companies schedule around 300 million tasks. Myself, I'm a scheduling expert and product manager. My LinkedIn profile is here:

Today chapter is about the challenges of installing enterprise software. To create a bit of context, say you're a company, you've chosen an MRP, ERP or WMS and you decided to implement it. One of the things you will be faced with is that it will take 6 months to 2 years to implement the software. This may become across as surprising to most people.

If you contrast this to installing an application on your desktop computer, you download it and install it, start using it. It shouldn't take too long. I want to peel the onion here and walk you through the steps as to why it can take a long time to implement an enterprise software product. I have a practical experience with this. I helped migrate a small manufacturer from an older MRP system to a next generation. The older MRP system was from the late '80s. The newer one was the early 2000s. It took us about 4 months to partially set up the system and we didn't implement accounting. What I want to do is walk you through the implementation steps. The first step you should go through is you need to figure out you need to choose a project team. There will be 2 main types of parties you'll be considering.

One will be an in-house person. Someone who currently works on your staff. This is a good candidate because they currently understand your systems or understand your business, how you work on a day-to-day basis and perhaps some familiarity with any current software products you have. The gap is that they have is they do not know the new system. The other major option is when you buy the ERP system, the vendor will offer consulting services. An expert consultant who really understand the purchased software. This will be available for a cost of course. They can be pretty expensive, but the good thing you've got with them though is that they really know the purchased software.

The thing though in implementing this product, what needs to end up happening at the end of the day is the people who will implement the system have to have a holistic understanding of both sides. They need to understand the software that's going to be implemented and the business itself and have the two match up together. The point I'm trying to make here is that if you incorporate both sides, learning is going to happen. The inhouse person is going to need to learn the software system you're implementing and the software consultant to some degree needs to spend time learning your business. The next step I would say is say you need to choose a product team or a project team. The next part that should be done is to some level understanding and documenting main business processes within the current business.

Just itemized these things. You can't just assume that this will be easy to understand. You want to clarify this. Get it on paper so there isn't misunderstandings. There is a good chance people do the same thing 10 different ways and you should least document it or figure out what the main way it should be. The next part is once you understand the main processes within the business itself, there should be a plan or some talk of mapping those current business processes in the enterprise software you're going to implement. This is about communication. You want to do planning upfront because you don't wanted to start inserting information, trying to use the software and then finding out 4 months down the road that there is a big configuration mistake.

One of those steps is process mapping between current business process and how it's going to work within the software. Say you get to that point. You figured out a relatively logical way that the software will be used on a day to day basis. The next part might be what I would call data migration and cleaning. You may have an older system or probably at minimum you have an accounting system. You will want to migrate some of that information. This is a great opportunity to clean the data during data migration. For example, your customer list. There's a good chance to have customers you don't talk to anymore. There's probably little value in transferring them to new system.

There's a whole bunch of opportunities to clean up the information. Make sure you start nice and fresh. The next step is these ERP systems, there's 2 types of data. One I would call meta data or configuration data. You'll need to set up, for example, details about machines in your facility, details about your people, your employees, setting up customer information. Let's say more meta things that are needed by the software to run. For example if you have an inventory system, there might be a location system and you want to map that, your physical location system to the software itself, how it manages inventory.

The next type of data is transactional data . For example, the history of accounts receivable history or accounts payable, history of jobs or at least the current set of active jobs. I would say at this point we have a system that has the meta data in it. It has some transactional data. Next thing I would say is training. Training involves, playing around with the new system, trying to put in some data, just getting familiar for what their day to day life will be like and if there's any errors or problems that will crop up during that testing phase. Say you've got past training, you got past testing, you're ready to do what I call system ramp up, this is not going to be a one day easy switch or like a light switch.

This may take some time. If you have an old system and a new system, you probably will have to run both in parallel and decide how you're going to manage that. You can't just do 100% switch because probably the new system will fall flat on its face. It may take a couple of months to go through that ramp up phase . Say you pass the ramp up phase and the thing is fully in production, you've put the old system to bed. Maybe it's on standby, but you've focused on the new software, that's great. You will reach the level of success. Still there's going to be work for ongoing support. Issues will crop up. Things will need to be fixed. The last thing is one of the biggest long terms issues in the enterprise software is reporting. Management, everyone will start wanting to see nice reports coming out of the system to give an overview of the business.

That's the end of this chapter. Thank you for your time. If you have any comments, questions, or interest in MaxScheduler or scheduling software, please reach out to us through Have a good day.

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