If you have recently implemented a new Order Management System (OMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management System (WMS) or any system for that matter; are you fully utilizing the new system’s capabilities? Companies spend large capital investments on the system as well as the time and implementation costs to install the new systems. We often see new system's functionality being underutilized. This is true even after being live on the new system for a year or more - for a variety of reasons. One of the best ways to assess the utilization of the functionality for a new system is to perform a post-implementation audit.
A consultant, an auditor, or a management member needs to perform the audit independently and objectively. The audit should include all functional areas of the business supported by the system, your company management, your IT department, and the system vendor. The goal is to consider all aspects of the implementation and, for example, obtain answers to questions such as:
- Is there a list of open items remaining from the implementation or data conversion?
- What problems is the company having (or still having) with the new system?
- What functions don’t you understand how to use in the new system?
- Do people need to be retrained? Training typically occurs fairly early in the implementation process. Depending on the testing and the number of personnel that participated, some individuals may need a refresher training course.
- Have you been able to see improvements in departmental areas that are supported by the new system? If not, you may not be getting the ROI that was expected.
- Does management get the reporting and analysis you expected? This can be one of the shortcomings if there is not a super-user that can utilize the different reporting options that may be available.
A post-implementation audit will assist you in obtaining answers to questions like the above so that you can confer with the vendor and your staff about how to get more out of the new system.
Having implemented OMS, ERP and WMS systems dozens of times, we have found that it often takes two to six months for the areas of the organization supported by the new system to make that cultural change to the new functionality. In the early weeks personnel are still getting acclimated to the new functionality and processes. It takes the practical experience of performing daily tasks for the users to really understand all aspects of how the system is set up and needs to be managed.
While you are performing the post-implementation audit, you will want to go back to your original objectives or feasibility study. Realistically, have you achieved, or will you achieve, the tangible dollar savings you planned for? What enhancements have been delayed to a Phase II (after the initial implementation of the system) and when is that planned for? From your experience now with the new system, are these modifications really necessary, or is there other functionality that is needed?
Once you have completed the audit, you need to circulate the results to all parties and get their concurrence that this audit is in fact a complete list and all the points are valid. Showing the list to everyone, generally often means that the list gets smaller because people will help each other answer things by saying, “Here’s how you can do that,” or “I didn’t find that to be true.”
From this point you should develop an action plan to improve, re-educate, and take full advantage of additional reporting and options that you decided to delay and determine a realistic schedule for further enhancements and reports.