Today, many mid-sized Indian organizations are planning to migrate to branded software from their legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. Most of them use in-house developed or locally procured or customized software. In some of these cases, the users are comfortable using existing ERP solutions.
Migrating to branded ERP software, however, has its own advantages. Availability of talent can become an issue if you wish to stick to your in-house-developed software for long. Most globally connected companies will also face top-down pressure to adopt branded ERP. Different countries have different regulatory compliances. Adhering to the global regulatory standards (for example, requirements like information gathering and reporting) gets simpler with branded ERP software, which makes migration essential.
Migration from the current ERP software platform to a new one is not simple. It requires methodical planning and execution. These four steps will help you with successful migration of your ERP software.
1. Create redundancy for connectivity
Typically, mid-sized manufacturers undertake ERP software migration once they reach a particular level of business growth. Such manufacturers usually have a branch- and warehouse-presence at several locations. Bringing the entire network on a single ERP platform will require reliable internet connectivity.
Most warehouses in India are situated at the outskirts of the metropolitan centers that lack always-on connectivity. Your business continuity will suffer if you do not create redundancy on the connectivity front before migrating to the new ERP software platform. For the ERP software migration to fructify, it’s critical that you don’t neglect these external business locations.
2. Allocate extra hardware capacity
Most ERP vendors offer software tools for hardware sizing. These tools offer guidance about the required processing power, memory capacity, and storage resources needed in a server. However, this guidance is based on the projected number of transactions to be processed in ideal conditions. To ensure that the software works at all times, it is best to build buffers at every level. If the tool tells you that you need 80 GB memory, apportion for 120 GB.
Another thing that I believe in is to have a single vendor carry out sizing, implementation, and maintenance. A single window eliminates the room for blame games.
3. Establish a core team of business champions
A decade ago, many ERP software projects failed due to inadequate involvement of business staff. The right approach is to involve business at every step as ‘leaders’ — not just as ‘users’.
Build a core team by inducting two to three members from each business function. Assign them with a fulltime ERP implementation responsibility. These should be functional experts from departments such as production, procurement, planning, finance, accounting, R&D, and sales. These business champions shouldn’t be given any function-specific work, but be used as change agents to drive the software migration project. The core team should define key business requirements, test the new ERP solution as per these requirements, and finally train the users after project completion.
4. Set up a master data cell
Identify and enroll data champions who will form a ‘master data cell’. This cell should have a mix of domain and data experts. Domain experts will be those who understand various business processes in detail. So you may have five to six members who know the types and formats of data to be entered in master data. A product development team’s member will know how to enter a bill of material. Similarly, a person from marketing will know how to enter a customer master. Thus, different domain experts are needed to enter and maintain quality of aspects like the product master, item master, and vendor master. Data experts in the master data cell will guide function experts on to optimally use and calibrate systems to achieve as well as maintain desired data quality objectives.
While your ERP migration will be simpler after using these precautions, do not expect the software migration to result in 100% user satisfaction. The ERP in use at the moment has reached this level after accommodating several inputs over the years. It will take time for the new software platform to reach that stage. You may need a lot of patience and time to test the new software. Complete the migration by implementing the new ERP software in pockets and phases. Undertake comprehensive migration only after fixing all the major issues.
About the author: Vijay Kumar works as the chief manager - information technology at The Himalaya Drug Company, India’s leading pharmaceutical and healthcare solutions company. He is responsible for IT leadership and planning and IT strategy in addition to IT project management. Prior to joining Himalaya Drug Co., Vijay worked in Microfocus UK and International Instruments in various senior IT roles.
(As told to Nagesh M. Joshi)