Every year, I come across a handful of companies that plan to go live with their ERP on January 1st. This seems like the perfect idea: a clean cutover enables a fresh start with a new system on day one (assuming a Jan-Dec fiscal year). You’ll be able to close a full year in a new system and take advantage of easier audits. Is this a good idea? Do you really get great benefits by making such a decision? The answer is, “It depends.” Going live on the first day of the year can be a rocky road.
First and foremost, many companies underestimate the effort it takes to prepare for a Go-Live. The weeks before going live with a new system can be the most intense: User Acceptance Testing (UAT) must be coordinated, issues need to be addressed, last-minute changes are considered, and end-users are naturally anxious about using a new system to perform their daily tasks. The stressful window of a 1/1 Go-Live that corresponds with the holidays, when many of us take time off to be with family and friends, adds to the pressure. Even if expectations are set in advance, it can be difficult for team members to focus during this time of the year.
Secondly, cutting over to a new system on January 1st is difficult. If a company is on a Jan-Dec fiscal year, this is when the year-end close begins, one of the most stressful periods for the finance department. The cutover blackout period (the interval between when all applicable business transactions are processed for the last time in the old system and when the new systems is available for use) could be much longer compared to cutting over to a new system during a “soft close.” For a successful transition, a crystal-clear data migration plan that works well with the timing of the year-end close must be defined.
Finally, end-user training is a key component in a successful Go-Live. Coordinating training sessions in conjunction with a year-end close can be challenging at best. The half or full days it takes to learn the new system pressurizes the tight deadlines many already face this time of year.
While I agree that there are benefits to moving forward with a New Year’s Go-Live, there are important considerations to evaluate before making such a decision. This does not necessarily mean that all 1/1 Go-Lives fail. With the necessary planning in place, such a transition can be great. Though I typically discourage companies from undertaking a 1/1 Go-Live, I have seen many companies stay focused and succeed. The key is strong Project Management and executive buy-in to ensure that everyone is committed to working hard through the Holiday Season and during the year-end close.
Whether you choose the important work of a transition or holiday time off with your family and friends, we at SquareWorks Consulting wish you peace and success. Happy Holidays. We look forward to an exciting New Year!
About the Author
Bernardo Enciso is Managing Director at SquareWorks Consulting. He is a passionate ERP expert with more than 10 years of experience. He has managed and/or implemented Business Applications such as NetSuite, Epicor, Concur, Workday, Deltek Vision and many others. He is based out of Boston, MA.