Life as a Junior Management Consultant at ERP & Friends – Part 4
This will be my final article in this series that has been active for 2 years now. As usual I will focus on my experiences working with ERP & Friends and the projects I’ve been a part of since the last article.
- Planning your working days when you are involved in many different areas at the same time
- Conducting my first webinar alone
- Working with different tasks within a long ERP system implementation project
- Critical activities (SAT, manual data entry, go-live) in a system implementation project
Planning your days as a management consultant
It is very common that ERP management consultants at ERP & Friends work with different customers and projects at the same time. Our project occupancies as consultants rely on our performance and reputation, which is a fun and challenging way of working. To be able to maintain performance and reputation, it requires delicate daily/weekly planning to deliver quality-assured results to our customers at all times.
Imagine being deeply involved with a customer in a workshop were you are the facilitator and the goal is to verify with the project memebers that our solution (ERP pilot) is ready for go-live. Directly after the workshop, jump into another meeting with another customer and talk how to map out their best practice processes. As a consultant you must be very agile in your way of working and switch focus every other day or even hour. Coming into a week where this scenario might occur, it is important that you:
- Try to govern your meetings in a way that gives you some spare time between meetings in order to address certain topics that pop up, so they don’t stack up into a pile or get lost along the way and you forget actions that were assigned to you.
- Allocate time in your calender when you decide in advance with what customer, project and work task you will work with. This will also make you unavailable for any other meetings to be booked during that specific time of day.
- Make a checklist in Microsoft OneNote at the start of every week and/or every morning including important activities that you need to complete (weekly/daily) . By lunch time you would most probably have completed a few and you can update the checklist.
- Inform the customer and the project team well in advance about your availability so they know when they can count on you to contribute. This way you “control” your own time, even though some things might pop up in different projects that requires your attention.
For us at ERP & Friends, it is crucial for our business that our customers feel prioritized in a sense that they for example are included in how we work according to the contract and informed about our progression with our deliverables. By planning your week in a delicate way and make room for potential additional work, we are one step further into a closer and longer relationship with the customer. If you want to read more about us and who we are, please visit our website:
Conducting my first webinar
I got the task from my manager in autumn 2020 and the webinar took place on the 21th of December. The topic was “Cutting costs with data driven process intelligence”, which is in the same area as in my previous article but now in a different context – a webinar. So, coming into this webinar preparations I had a reference project to look back on, some well needed experience working with process intelligence and also an actual result of implementing this tool. This helped me alot when I started to configure the actual material. If you want to read more about the reference project that ERP & Friends conducted please see my previous article.
When working on a webinar material it is important that you are consistent in what we at ERP & Friends call storylining which we break down to:
- Make sure that the slides create a chronological reasonable “story”
- Minimize the chance that the listeners don’t loose interest or focus by condense the information per slide and use long text in the headers rather then short.
- Be somewhat critical and selective on your own slide package when reviewing your material.
When working with a webinar content its also crucial to realize who is listening and adapt the material accordingly. In this case, we use a CRM-tool that logs every person that register to each webinar (all GDPR approved)
The webinar mostly was about to encourage the listeners to use process intelligence but also answer these three main questions, amongst other things.
Identifying maximum potential for improvements:
- Is it possible to map the as-is landscape without a big effort?
- What type of data is necessary to have access to and structured for a project like this (Data driven process intelligence)?
- Why do we at ERP & Friends believe that data driven process mapping can be better than traditional process mapping?
If you want see the full webinar or others that we have held, please visit our webinar page
Working with different tasks within a long ERP system implementation project
Manual data entry
It’s common that the project team in a ERP implementation are required to do some manual data entry in order for the system to work properly. The reason why manual data entry might be needed is for example because some postings/values in the system might not have been migrated correctly from one environment to another and that the setup in a newly created company is incomplete. To use this newly created company in testing and/or education of end users , the data and setup must be complete.
So, how did we know when a company setup is complete? Well, we had some challenges along the way. To identify a complete company setup, it requires some investigation and analysis which has been done by the project team together with the team for migration and integration. For example it has been identified that using scripts to extract and import values from the master data management and values in the ERP has not been 100% correct which they need to be, has forced the project team to take action. The first time we added cost categories to approximately 400 divisions/sections split into two company, linked resources to those sections and added revenue and cost elements. The second time we had to make sure that the consultant cost of approximately 250 individuals were correct. We adjusted overhead, base and full cost of these people. If we hadn’t made these adjustments, the project managers who use the ERP on daily bases to budget and follow-up on their projects, would have had wrong costs on their employees.
In total I have spent over 30 hours effective hands on work with manual data entry and my project colleagues allocated to the task, roughly the same. So it is a huge task to be done, especially before a go-live and also when new companies has to be created.
Going into a so called system acceptance (SAT) test were you test the end to end flow before a ERP go-live, requires delicate planning. Our SAT were a bit special since we had to do it remotely with project members sitting in different countries and time zones, which really added an edge on a very critical activitiy in an ERP implementation.
So planning, setting up test cases and allocate responsibilities within the SAT to the team members were even more crucial than it might have been if we would have had a “normal” SAT. From a managerial perspective it was important to set a baseline for what to achive with the SAT, which we set to:
- Ensure that migration to the test environment is intact and complete
- Create as many test cases (flow testing) as we can before the actual SAT
- All newely developed functionality should be in place in the system for testing
To track the progress of test cases we used Microsoft AzureDevOps which is very similar to Jira a quality management system where you can track items, prioritize and govern different initiatives. Below you can see a snapshot of the tool and how we are progressing.
Unfortunately, completing an SAT was a bit more time consuming than we first planned for so we had to extend the time line with a few weeks but looking back at this period, I must say that the project team made a huge effort to pull through to complete the SAT by any means possible.
Based on the results from the SAT and approval from the steering group we finally were able to progress into go-live and cut over period. This meant that we had green light for going live with the pilot that we had prepared for approximately 2 years. Rewinding a bit before going into some go-live and cut over related activities. It is important to look back to the baseline that we had with the pilot in order to secure a successful go-live. This baseline or the actual mission critical was actually determined when initializing the project. This has been the backbone to all who might wonder what our priorities with the pilot of the ERP are during the implementation of the pilot.
- Be able to invoice 95% of all invoices to the customers the first month
- Salary payments to employees must work
- Bookkeeping is correct
Reflection 1: What happens after a go-live? Some might think that after a go-live you can relax and that you are “done” with the implementation. It is what comes after a ERP-implementation that in many ways can be very critical. A summary of some questions you need to take action on and/or have under your radar are:
- How are the end-user support organisation (that you have setup before go-live) doing?
- How many support errands are flowing in/out and are active, solved, parked etc?
- Have you identified any critical bugs and do you need to have an emergency release in order to fix it?
- Closing the first month by making sure that 1. Time reporting has been done by all the employees that are covered in the pilot and 2. The outbound flow of invoicies to your customers are working
Reflection 2: Working a long time with people you have never met in real life have been a very interesting experience. In spring this year, I met some project colleagues that I have been working with for over a year for the first time and I can’t stress the fact on how important it is to actually meet people in real life in order to get to know the person.
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