ERP going live is often seen as a major achievement and more so if it is achieved in allocated budget, time and resources. It is indeed something that organizations should feel happy about but in my view it is more of a major milestone rather than the destination. It is only after Go-Live that your real journey on extracting major benefits from ERP starts. Taking feedback from the actual users and other direct stakeholders regularly is one thing that helps in continuously improving the design of the system to get maximum out of it. I call this feedback process as post implementation audits. There are a number of methods for gathering information as part of post implementation audits including questionnaires, focus groups, informal meetings, interviews and technical diagnostics scripts.
Well, you might be surprised on how can technical diagnostics scripts helps in getting feedback about the system – but yes these are quite beneficial as these dig the system and extract answers to your questions like: How many times your organization have met on-time shipment targets or how many times your suppliers are sending the material as per their promise. These scripts, if well designed, can answer additional strategic questions like how often your finance team struggle with unmatched AP invoices or number of days you take to close period after month end or quarter end or for that matter, year end. Coming back to other methods of post implementation audits, we need to design questionnaires that can be a mixture of open ended, close ended and objective type questions and these should be targeted at not only users from within the enterprise but your customers and suppliers too. More focused questions can be directed at specific resources where there are issues with particular functionality or where more explicit information is required like performance issues. These questionnaires will help you get output on the process including functional gaps, system issues, processing gaps together with a range of statistical data that can be used to determine the success of the project. Post implementations audits will also identify why the level of success that you expected after say 6 months o going live of new system, is still not there and believe me this is the case in most of the ERP implementations. You will see facts like people still using spreadsheets or other manual recording systems due to either difficulties in using the system or they fear to shift to new system for some or other reason – All these contribute to reduced benefits from the system. You will also get to know how ready you are for introducing the next level like the business intelligence systems or customer relationship management systems and hence these can guide your future course of action as part of the overall IT strategy. In the light of above, it becomes imperative for all of us to keep auditing our ERP systems regularly to get a feeling of what’s happening and what is the direction and timeline of our IT strategy.