Cutover planning for any technology implementation, whether it is a clinical equipment deployment, electronic health record (EHR) implementation, or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implementation, should begin at the onset of a project. Cutover strategy is approached differently based on the scale and scope of a deployment, the number of end users affected, downtime estimates and several other variables. One of the most important considerations Impact Advisors has recommended over years of system cutovers is the level and completeness of integration between the primary system(s) involved.
ERP systems have followed closely to the representative project timelines of EHRs. Over the last 10 years, functional and technical advancements of EHRs have expanded these systems into even more complex, highly integrated, and connected software. ERP systems are following suit and growing ever more integrated with external vendors and within each vendor’s software suites or modules. This complexity necessitates more effective and complete system cutover planning. No longer can we assume that a technology or feature is affecting only a single area, department or set of end users. Thorough analysis must be performed throughout the duration of all project phases to reduce risks to the deployment, go-live and long-term support challenges of the ERP solution.
Specific to ERP planning, systematic reviews will ensure the right questions are being asked and the right individuals are aware of the change taking place. It is common to consider cutover an end-phase gate or go-live preparation activity occurring two to three weeks prior. This is a misconception that will place the project’s success at risk.
The preparation checklist below can guide any ERP technology project seeking to improve and ensure the quality and outcome of an ERP go-live.
Organizational Maturity for Information System Change
Not all organizations or their leadership may understand or have prior experience with a large ERP system cutover. Communication, awareness, and education are required to help those leaders understand the commitment to planning, preparation, and execution activities, which their resources will be assigned to, including:
- Leadership education explaining early the cutover, resource requirements, participation requirements, and setting expectations on the importance of full participation in assigned project activities.
- Agreement to the project processes that capture, categorize, and triage issues, which are reported to the most appropriate troubleshooting resource(s). Product vendor and operational business and information system departments must all be involved in this strategy, approach, and change.
- How are end-user communication, operating procedure, operational workflow, and/or training questions recorded and routed appropriately? Which business department or operational troubleshooting resource(s) should be assigned to these issue types?
- How is a technology error, processing, authentication and/or access, functionality or other system design issue recorded and routed appropriately? Which technical or information systems resource(s) should be assigned to these issue types?
Cutover Planning Preparation and Strategy
ERP cutover planning requires a strategic and inclusive method or approach beyond the technology components. Operational planning and decommission planning of old systems must be included with this activity with these questions in mind:
- What areas or systems will the product or solution integrate with? Common ERP multidepartment solution examples include payroll solutions, time and attendance, talent management solutions, and requisition/purchase order solutions.
- Which modules or processes will be closed out or retained in the legacy system? Has a contract with the legacy system vendor been agreed to early to ensure support for go-live and post-live activities?
- Legacy archiving questions are addressed up front during the project planning. What data needs to be archived for compliance or regulatory reasons? What data needs to be converted into the new system/solution? Many industry regulatory requirements will drive the scope for these activities and data retention requirements. Examples include:
The key preparation and strategic planning addressed above will help kick off any ERP implementation. Our next blog on this topic will cover key questions derived from lessons learned on ERP system cutovers. Impact Advisors offers a detailed whitepaper on the subject and should be consulted for any large-scale system cutover. Please reach out to our team if you have questions about our ERP project management or program assurance assistance.