Any large-scale system rollout involves significant planning and preparation to ensure a smooth transition, but challenges are inevitable given the complexity of major technology deployments across a large organization. During our recent ERP system rollout, we encountered several challenges that required adaptive solutions to remedy during implementation.
The first major challenge was user training and adoption. Transitioning 10,000 employees worldwide to an entirely new system is a massive undertaking, and it was difficult to ensure all users felt sufficiently prepared to use the new system from day one in their daily workflows. To address this, we implemented a multi-pronged training approach. First, we rolled out self-paced online training modules covering the core features in the two months leading up to go-live. Next, we held in-person classroom training sessions at each major office location in the final month to allow for hands-on practice and Q&A with trainers. We designated “super users” at each office who completed advanced training to support colleagues during the first few weeks.
While training helped set users up for success, unexpected issues inevitably arose once the new ERP system went live globally. One such challenge was a higher than anticipated call volume to the central IT help desk for user login and navigation problems. To quickly resolve this, we implemented a temporary distributed help desk model. For the first two weeks post go-live, the super users spent half their time roaming their offices to be on-hand for immediate assistance, rather than returning to regular duties. This localized support was crucial in reducing wait times for help and frustration among end users.
Data migration from multiple legacy systems also posed problems. We discovered inaccurate customer records had been migrated due to faulty mapping between the old and new systems. Resolving these took additional time spent validating and correcting records which risked delaying billing, payments and fulfillment. To remedy this, managers were given transparent data quality reports and empowered our customer service teams to prioritize fixing major errors while leaving minor discrepancies to be addressed later.
Perhaps the biggest rollout challenge came from integrating the new ERP system with dozens of other business applications through custom APIs and interfaces. During testing and validation, our IT engineers uncovered stability issues, latency problems and occasional data mismatches between systems. To systematically address this, we established a ongoing integration task force with representation from each major team. They met weekly to prioritize and resolve interface issues based on business impact. They developed automated testing scripts to continuously monitor integrations for regressions moving forward.
Additional hiccups included slower than expected performance on mobile devices which impacted our field sales and service workers, as well as customized workflows not porting over correctly to the new system in some departments like manufacturing. In both cases, we assembled cross-functional process redesign teams to re-architect mobile apps and tailored workflows from the ground up to better align with the capabilities of the new platform.
While no major deployment will unfold without issues, taking a collaborative, transparent and adaptive approach helped us steadily resolve challenges as they arose. Six months since go-live, the system has now been smoothly adopted by our entire global workforce. By learning from early stumbles, we’ve established best practices and governance structures that will benefit future platform migrations and upgrades. The effort improved our technology landscape for years to come despite initial rollout speedbumps.
Thorough preparation, empowered local support teams, ongoing optimization through multidisciplinary task forces, and flexibility to redesign around platform limitations were key to addressing the diverse challenges faced during our large ERP system rollout. Continuous issue identification and prioritized resolutions kept stakeholder impact minimal as we navigated this massive technology transition.