Are you a small to medium sized manufacturing company considering the implementation of a new ERP system? If so, you may be faced with the decision: should you run your new ERP system in parallel with the old one? In this article, we’ll delve into this question and explore the benefits and challenges associated with running ERP systems in parallel.
Now, let’s explore the question of running ERP systems in parallel and unravel the factors you should consider when making this choice. But don’t worry if you find yourself wanting more information or personalized advice—feel free to schedule a conversation with our team for further assistance.
Without further ado, let’s begin our journey into the world of ERP systems and the parallel running approach.
What Does it Mean to Run Your ERP Systems in Parallel?
First of all, there are a few implementation methods when it comes to ERP systems. Parallel adoption (or running ERP in parallel) is one of the preferred methods.
Running ERP systems in parallel means operating both the old and new ERP systems at the same time. It provides a safety net and allows for a direct comparison between the two systems. The parallel running phase ensures business continuity and facilitates the evaluation of the new system’s performance and efficiency. However, it requires careful planning, testing, and coordination to avoid prolonged coexistence.
Overall, parallel running minimizes risks, optimizes the implementation process, and leads to successful outcomes. That being said, there can be a few challenges and pitfalls to consider.
Reasons for Running in Parallel
There are a few reasons to run your ERP system in parallel. Let’s take a look at the top reasons you should do so.
Lack of Trust in the New ERP System
One of the primary reasons why companies choose to run their new and old ERP systems in parallel is to have a safety net—a fallback option—in case any issues arise with the new system. Implementing a new ERP system is a significant undertaking, and despite thorough testing, there can be concerns about its functionality and performance in real-world scenarios. By running both systems concurrently, you can ensure that if any unforeseen problems occur, you can quickly switch back to the familiar old system while addressing the issues with the new one.
However, it’s essential to note that running in parallel should not be seen as a long-term solution. It’s a temporary measure to provide reassurance during the initial stages of implementation. To mitigate potential risks, it’s crucial to thoroughly test the new ERP system before going live, ensuring that it meets your company’s specific requirements and performs as expected.
Comparing the Before and After
Another significant benefit of running ERP systems in parallel is the ability to compare the old and new systems side by side. This allows you to identify discrepancies, improvements, and areas where the new system excels. By closely analyzing and comparing the two systems, you can gain valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the new ERP solution.
This comparison can often uncover hidden gaps or functionalities that were previously taken for granted. It provides an opportunity to fine-tune the new system, aligning it more closely with your company’s unique needs and processes. By leveraging this parallel running approach, you can ensure a smoother transition and minimize disruptions in your day-to-day operations.
The Illusion of Feeling Good
Running ERP systems in parallel also offers a psychological benefit—a sense of safety and reassurance. The idea of having a safety net in place can alleviate anxiety and build confidence among stakeholders, including management, employees, and customers. It provides a cushion during the transition period, making the shift to a new system feel less overwhelming.
However, it’s essential to strike a balance between feeling secure and trusting the expertise of your ERP implementation team. The professionals working on your project have likely gone through multiple successful implementations, and their recommendations should be given due consideration. While running in parallel can provide peace of mind, it’s crucial to trust their guidance and expertise when determining the appropriate course of action.
The Myth of the Only Way to Check the System
Contrary to popular belief, running ERP systems in full parallel is not the only method for validating the new system’s functionality and performance. There is an alternative approach that can yield effective results while minimizing the potential drawbacks of a complete parallel run—a limited parallel run.
Similar to a pilot program, a limited parallel run involves testing specific order types or processes in the new ERP system while the old system continues to handle the rest. By focusing on a select number of samples, you can efficiently evaluate the new system’s capabilities, identify any issues, and make necessary adjustments without running both systems in parallel indefinitely.
Pitfalls and Challenges of Running in Parallel
Running ERP systems in parallel can present various challenges and potential pitfalls. It’s crucial to be aware of these factors to make informed decisions and navigate the implementation process effectively. Here are some key considerations:
- Increased complexity and workload: Maintaining two separate systems simultaneously requires additional resources, including hardware, software, and personnel. Synchronizing data and ensuring consistency between the systems can be demanding and may strain your IT team.
- Extended timeframe and cost: Running in parallel over an extended period can be costly, with expenses ranging from software licenses to ongoing support and maintenance. Evaluating the financial implications is essential when considering the benefits and risks.
- Potential confusion and inefficiencies: Having the option to fall back on the old system can lead to user resistance and a lack of commitment to the new system. Clear communication and comprehensive training are crucial to facilitate a seamless transition.
- Unexpected consequences and complexities: A full parallel run may result in unanticipated difficulties, such as running both systems for longer than expected or facing challenges when decommissioning the old system. Planning for contingencies is vital to address any unforeseen issues.
An example worth mentioning is a client who initially opted for a full parallel run but encountered unexpected consequences. They found themselves running both systems for a much longer duration than anticipated, facing increased complexity, and encountering difficulties in fully decommissioning the old system. This experience highlights the importance of carefully considering the potential challenges and planning for contingencies during the implementation process.
A Smarter Approach: Limited Parallel Run
To address the challenges and streamline the testing process, a smarter approach known as a limited parallel run can be employed. This method allows for targeted testing while minimizing the drawbacks associated with running both ERP systems simultaneously. Here’s how it works:
- Selecting specific order types and processes: Rather than running the entire system in parallel, focus on a subset of critical order types and processes that represent a significant portion of your business operations. By identifying key areas, you can concentrate testing efforts where they matter most.
- Designing a comprehensive test plan: Develop a well-defined test plan that outlines the specific scenarios, transactions, and data that will be used during the limited parallel run. This plan should cover a range of order types, from simple to complex, and encompass various business functions.
- Testing with real-world data: Populate the limited parallel run environment with real-world data to simulate actual operational scenarios. This step ensures that the system undergoes thorough testing and validation, allowing you to assess its performance and compatibility with existing processes.
- Gathering feedback and addressing discrepancies: Throughout the limited parallel run, encourage users to provide feedback and report any discrepancies or issues encountered. This feedback is invaluable in identifying areas that require further refinement and addressing any gaps between the new and old systems.
- Iterative improvements and adjustments: Based on the feedback received and the insights gained during the limited parallel run, make iterative improvements and adjustments to the new ERP system. This approach allows for a phased implementation, gradually replacing the old system with a more optimized and reliable solution.
By adopting a limited parallel run approach, you can achieve the following benefits:
- Reduced complexity and resource requirements: Focusing on specific order types and processes minimizes the overall workload and resource demand compared to running the entire system in parallel.
- Cost-effective testing: By targeting critical areas, you can allocate resources more efficiently, reducing the financial burden associated with a full parallel run.
- Improved user adoption and commitment: Concentrated testing allows users to become familiar with the new system while gradually transitioning away from the old one. This approach promotes user buy-in and reduces resistance to change.
- Faster implementation and time-to-value: With a targeted approach, the implementation timeline can be shortened, enabling your organization to start reaping the benefits of the new ERP system sooner.
The decision to run your new and old ERP systems in parallel is an important consideration for mid-market ERP systems, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Throughout this article, we have explored the reasons for running in parallel, the pitfalls and challenges associated with it, and a smarter approach known as a limited parallel run.
It is crucial to acknowledge the legitimate concerns that lead to the question of running in parallel. The lack of trust in the new ERP system, the desire to compare the before and after, and the illusion of feeling good all contribute to the decision-making process. However, it is essential to dispel the myth that running in parallel is the only way to validate the new system.
If you’re considering implementing a new ERP system or have further questions, we invite you to schedule a conversation with our expert team. Our knowledgeable professionals are well-versed in mid-market ERP systems, particularly Microsoft Dynamics Business Central. We’re here to provide personalized guidance, address your concerns, and assist you in making informed decisions.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and continue the conversation. Implementing a new ERP system is a significant undertaking, and our team is ready to support you every step of the way.