When you hear the word ‘migration’, do you picture a herd of antelope trying to cross a river and avoid the snapping jaws of crocodiles? Like all significant journeys, ERP legacy system migration can be hazardous – but it can also open the way to unprecedented business growth, cost-savings and efficiencies.
There are many reasons why you might want to migrate away from your current ERP system. Some of the most common reasons cited by business leaders are dissatisfaction with either the implementation process, ability to adopt new technologies or performance of their legacy system. The implementation process could have involved either over- or under-customization, potentially resulting in ERP software that has failed to keep up with business evolution through an inappropriate degree of specialization.
Moving to cloud-based ERP systems similarly involves a process of migration, even when the same software will be used.
“Vendors and systems integrators have more sophisticated tools at their disposal to migrate data to cloud ERP, but the tools will only be as effective as the planning and execution surrounding their use.”
Michael Guay, research director for ERP strategy and value realization at Gartner.
1. Assess the Current Situation
The first stage in any migration process is to thoroughly assess your current ERP system and evaluate its continued ability to meet the needs of your business and your team. Only by conducting this exercise can you determine in which areas your legacy systems are falling short, and what additional functionality you will require from your new ERP system.
This investigation will inform your search for a replacement ERP system.
2. Research Your Options
It’s important to begin the search for a new ERP software package well before your current system reaches capacity. The migration process should be a smooth transition from a functioning system to a better one, not a case of disaster recovery.
Research involves understanding both your company’s current and future needs, and the abilities of the various ERP systems on the market to meet them. By making use of a clear decision matrix one will have a clear rationale for your legacy ERP system migration, and this should be communicated to all stakeholders for maximum buy-in.
3. Plan Ahead
There is no such thing as excessive planning when it comes to ERP migration. Not only do you need to align with your business goals and objectives, but you also need to minimize disruption to ongoing operations and rule out any possibility of data loss.
Determine exactly what it is you want to achieve and adopt and share a clear migration strategy.
4. Start Small
You can build confidence in your new ERP system and the migration process by beginning with less mission-critical components and data, before moving onto more complex applications and systems. This will minimize the risks of errors or data loss and maximize the learning potential of the exercise. It will also make legacy ERP system migration an easier ‘sell’. Such a staged approach will allow for continuous evaluation of progress made and will contribute to the supporting the change management plan by establishing trust in the deployment.
At each stage, be certain to back up all data and applications.
5. Get Buy-in
Getting executive-level support is crucial to the success of any ERP migration – as is winning over colleagues who may be sceptical or nervous about the process. Resistance to change can only be overcome through education, and with each application that you successfully migrate.
The human factor may prove to be your greatest migration challenge. Ensure that you dedicate adequate human resources both to the migration itself, and to ensuring that all stakeholders are on board when it comes to the reasons for the migration and the business benefits that will flow from it.