Five Cool Tips for a Faster ERP Upgrade

If the upgrade is a move to the cloud, you’re in pretty good shape; by dint of using a cloud system, you’ve already made the single biggest move toward a faster ERP upgrade. But if you’re upgrading to a newer version of an on-premise system, things haven’t gotten much easier and they might actually be harder.

“The model is changing to cloud-based ERP in a big way, and vendors may tend to encourage or discourage upgrading as they solidify their cloud platforms”

With major ERP vendors moving to unify code between ERP and accounting/operations offerings, making older code extensible and optimizing for cloud processing, upgrading is still a moving target and will be for a few more years

Not every business can wait, though. If yours is among those that can’t wait, here’s how to speed up that ERP upgrade.

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1. Move Past Custom Code

The biggest pain point for ERP upgrades in 2018 is the question of whether to continue with customization or move toward standardized solutions.

“By far it’s making decisions about customizations and whether or not to continue with them, or alter internal processes to utilize best practices contained within the system”

If upgrade speed is an important factor, that’s a vote for retiring those customizations.

“Reduce customizations” & “Adopt industry-specific best features provided by your ERP manufacturer to implement more quickly as well as avoid challenges during your next upgrade.”

2. Automate Testing

Many businesses can underestimate the need to test the upgraded functionality before putting it into production. Good testing takes time, but it ultimately speeds up the upgrade by helping to avoid unexpected problems down the line when an upgrade goes into production.

One way to make this testing more efficient, speeding up the ERP upgrade process even more, is through testing automation.

“Automated testing is a must, as manual testing is often too time-consuming,” advises Christian Pedersen, chief product officer and senior vice president for ERP maker SAP’s S/4HANA Cloud. “Test automation helps to upgrade application quality, and saves time and cost. It has the potential to radically improve any ERP upgrade.”

3. Lean on Your Vendor and Consultants

If ever there is a time for outside expertise, it is when you’re upgrading your ERP system. This can come from your vendor or an outside consultant, both of which probably are far more experienced at the upgrade path than your internal team.

“Use your software maintenance support and ask the vendor for the preferred process”  “Be sure you know all of what is covered by software maintenance, and maximize the use of support and tools provided.”

4. Get Your Planning in Order

Every consultant and vendor will tell you the same thing: Plan the upgrade to an inch of its life before you take the plunge—or suffer the consequences of a slow upgrade.

“For upgrading an on-premise solution, proper planning is necessary for a successful implementation”

Before starting the upgrade, he says, businesses need to make themselves aware of the system requirements and check components, add-ons and business functions to ensure compatibility with the upgrade version. Planning the upgrade and scheduling the various upgrade tasks also is essential.

“Develop a project plan that’s easily communicated and updated”

5. Start with a Technical Upgrade

ERP upgrades often contain both technical improvements and upgrades to business processes as a result of the new tech.
One the one hand, pure technical upgrades are often perceived as simpler and lower cost, but they are viewed as a burden to the business. So there’s a pressure to roll out functional or strategic enhancements including innovations in the upgrade to increase value.

The problem is that these strategic enhancements increase upgrade complexity and time for testing. So a smart way to speed up an upgrade is to start with the easier technical upgrade, then schedule the strategic enhancements for later. Resist the urge to do both at once.

“Don’t upgrade and do a business process improvement at the same time” “This will take much longer for certain.”

So if you can wait for your vendor’s migration to the cloud, do it. If you can jump straight to a cloud solution, that’s also a viable option.

In those cases when you neither can wait nor upgrade to the cloud, however, minimize customization, automate your testing, get those plans in order, start with a technical upgrade, and get help. All five of those elements will speed up the upgrade process significantly.