by Christopher Koch

The Seven Lively Steps to an Enterprise Software Upgrade

Nov 15, 20022 mins
ERP Systems

The time spent on upgrading enterprise software varies little between small- and large-scale projects. Expect to spend a year or more from the time you begin pondering an upgrade to getting it running.

1 Get Permission Enterprise software upgrades are expensive, so they require well-thought-out business cases and a thorough examination of your options. For example, will the upgrade be so different from the previous version that you should consider going to a different vendor’s package that better fits your needs? Duration: 6 to 8 months

2 Plan Most companies wind up customizing their enterprise software to fit their business practices. Upgrades are an opportunity to strip out some of that customization and replace it with standard functionality from the vendor. But it takes time to figure out what stays and what goes?and to make sure the business won’t revolt at the changes. Duration: 6 to 7 weeks

3 Install The (relatively) easy part. Get the new hardware and networks up and running and the software loaded in all your different locations. Duration: 4 to 7 weeks

4 Test The hardest part. Enterprise software packages are highly integrated. Make a change in one place and it ripples through the rest of the system. That?combined with the fact that new enterprise releases are always buggy?makes testing a nightmare, but it’s critical to avoiding breakdowns once you go live. Duration: 5 to 9 weeks

5 Migrate the Data This is where you reconcile three different versions of the same customer record in your database and put a single correct version into the new system’s database. Time and expense depend on the rigor and quality control of the data entry processes in your company. Duration: 2 to 4 weeks (or longer depending on data quality)

6 Train Even if all the technical steps go well, an upgrade can fall apart if users don’t like the new screens they see or can’t figure out how to do their job with the new system. Even small changes to the system can mean big changes to business processes and drive users nuts. Duration: 2 to 5 weeks

7 Cut-over This is the tenuous stage when you turn on the upgrade and turn off your old system. Most CIOs time their cut-over for a weekend, preferably a long weekend, when few employees are there to see and feel the chaos. Duration: 3 to 4 days