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Conference Room Pilots
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Most ERP implementation plans include a conference room pilot whereby data sets are transacted through the system to give everyone confidence that the ERP system actually works. Successful conference room pilots are the basis for the go-live decision to turn the system on in the real live operational environment of the business. As the conference room pilot was a success there is a high level of confidence in turning the system on ….. only to find that there are massive problems with the system producing incorrect information, creating chaos.

So what has gone wrong? The system was tested with some real data sets that we chose for the pilot and the system worked during the pilot! The conference room pilot was conducted in a lab type setting with limited amount of carefully selected data.

Let’s go back a bit! Given the huge cost over-runs experienced in the majority of ERP implementations a conscious decision was made to take shortcuts. These shortcuts may well have been in the area of data clean-up and migration, or structure of bills of materials, or not quite getting the inventory accuracy issues sorted out.

There is no impact immediately in making the shortcut decision as no processing is taking place during the implementation stage of the project.

Now that the system is turned on the implications of these shortcuts become immediately obvious! The system is processing numbers that are incomplete, wrong or simply not there because the decision was made to clean it up later. The costs you thought you were saving by making the shortcuts has now come back to bite you and the impact on the business operations, that are now relying on the system for numbers, can be quite dramatic and cost you millions in losses and confusion.

We visit many companies that complain that the conference room pilot was a success but when the system was turned on it didn’t work. The system is actually working but the data that it is processing was not cleaned up and the

ERP system is generating correct numbers based on the data it is processing. The problem is the data is wrong!

The conference room pilot may give you confidence the system works but this does not guarantee a successful outcome if you haven’t cleaned up the data during the implementation preparation stage.

If you have this situation there is no option but to clean-up the data and this could be very disruptive and costly post-live running of the ERP system.