Three Keys of Go-Live Success
Throughout my years as a developer, I have learned how to best prepare for a Dynamics NAV upgrade and go-live. I have dubbed this the three keys of go-live success: testing, training, and transitioning.
Test the system thoroughly. If you invest time testing the system before you go live, you should find issues. If testing does not produce issues, then test harder. These issues can and should be resolved before you go-live. Some of the benefits to resolving issues while in testing are:
- You will have the luxury of time to solve them correctly, without systems being shut down.
- You will not need to perform any correction of the data, which is sometimes required with some issues.
- When an issue creates bad data in your production database, it’s much more costly to resolve than in a test database where we can just replace the database.
- Some processes, such as EDI or Bank Transmissions, reach outside your organization, and can result in penalties or fines if the data received is incorrect.
Testing can be a very tedious task, but you can make it fun by challenging users. I have, in previous testing scenarios, set up a “Bug Bashing” contest. What the Bug Bashing did was challenge the users to find where the system was not working appropriately. These tasks really made the users explore every aspect of their job to ensure that the system performed as required. I have found that the investment of a few gift cards and sheets of paper have paid off in many different ways. It challenged the users to explore, to try to break the system, and really learn the system.
The power users of a system can test it thoroughly, but if they are not aware of what they are supposed to do, then the project is for naught. It is a critical task that users are trained properly on how to use the system. They must understand the ability to log into the system, the user interface, and their tasks and roles in the system. Training needs to involve the power users, as they will be available to answer any questions about your processes better that an outside consultant can. The power users will also get a flavor of the type of questions that users will present. Investing in training will reduce some major go-live stress and fears. Users who are fearful of the new system due to a lack of exposure are more likely to make mistakes. It is critical that we make the users aware of the change, give them time with the database ahead of go-live so they are comfortable with it, and investing in training will pay off in higher work efficiencies for your users.
Transition planning needs to be thorough. Some key elements that need to be included in any transition plan include:
- Preparing a checklist of the steps and/or actions that need to occur to at go-live.
- Preparing a list of all of the players who need to work on the cutover. Make sure that ways to contact these people are included in the list, and that none of those key players are on vacation when you go live. This list may include external IT services as well.
- Having a dress rehearsal that looks at the timing and events required for the transition. This mock go-live often uncovers things that can stop a go-live, like background processes that run at a certain schedule time and may shut down servers, or timeline changes.
- Contacting any outside auditors or accounting personnel to see what may be required for data verification. Identifying how you are going to obtain the data required (what reports, what parameters of reports etc.), and test running the reports in your old system and new system to determine how long this step takes.
- Identifying a method to prevent users from logging into the legacy system, or knowing which system they are logging into if they have needs from the legacy system. Nothing aggravates users more than spending a day working in their old system, only to find out that they should have been in the new system.
- Determining a go/no-go point, as well as who can make this decision. All critical business processes should be reviewed one-by-one to be sure they are working in test and ready to cut over to the new system. Make sure that the decision makers are aware of when they can make this decision and obtain sign-off.
This list is not exhaustive; there are other elements to ensure a smooth transition. Prepare to have a busy day. You may want to have a resource onsite from your project team during go-live for ease in issue resolution, or perhaps schedule your team to start earlier and expect to stay longer to have time to verify that processes are fully operational.
Your organization has invested a significant amount of money and time in getting a system ready for your users. By investing the time to test, train, and transition, you can minimize the risks…and celebrate a successful go-live day.
At ArcherPoint, we strive to make Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade and go-lives a successful event for our clients. To learn more about ArcherPoint and how we work differently, visit our website and be sure to subscribe to our blog.