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New data on the rise in remotely supported software implementations
Looking for your opinions on the role of remote vs local software implementation.
I'm in the market for a new ERP system but am having a hard time determine just where to start. I live in a rather rural area with not many options to choose from. I've found a couple options that are more tailored to my companies needs and the pricing seems better too, but it just seems like a hassle to have to implement the software and train my staff through computer guides or instructions when someone in my area could just come in and do it for me while also being around to answer any questions.
Maybe I'm being old fashioned, but it seems like it might be difficult for communication to only be through email, phone , videoconferencing during the selection and implementation process. Is it easier than I think it is?
Can anyone shed some light for me?
Short answer is, it depends on the complexity of your business, and the quality of the implementation partner you choose. Generally, although the Build and, to a certain extent, Testing, can be outsourced (I use this term to mean "not on location"), Discovery, Blueprint, Training, and Deployment will require some onsite presence.
I specialise in SAP, and although a lot of businesses claim to only want "vanilla" implementations, there are a lot of different flavour variations in vanilla...
You will have specific business processes that will need to be captured, not only to identify the process flows, but also to eliminate unnecessary configuration. If you do go down the remote route, ensure that you know exactly what you are getting up front in the Discovery / Blueprint phase - how many hours, days, weeks of workshops and meetings, what documentation will be produced (functional specs, process visios, config and tech specs), who needs to sign it off and by when.
As this is a QA site :-) you'll need to consider your test strategy, especially the demarcation between the testing that your implementation partner is responsible for, and the testing that you will be responsible for. What testing can be performed offsite, what needs to be performed onsite (eg hardware requirements such as manufacturing equipment or point-of-sale), what test collateral needs to be provided to the testers, etc.
Training will depend on your business needs. Integrated ERP systems need specialised training, not just on the day to day job but also an awareness of how one action directly leads to documents being posted in another area. Depending on the complexity of your business this may be achievable online, it may not.
If you do go down the remote support route (training, implementation, post-go live support) ensure you know exactly what it is you're getting - how many hours support, for how many weeks, by what functional areas, to ensure your needs are covered. Ensure your Go Live criteria cover your system, data, and training readiness so that you don't cut over until you know you're ready, and that you have sufficient support to deal with Production defects (and you will have them. :-). )
Last edited by meridian_05; 06-11-2014 at 04:00 PM.
Just realized I never threw a question mark at the end of my post's title (aka I was looking for new data on remote implementation since I'm considering it)
Thanks for the detailed response meridian_05. I do agree it's a lot to go over. Training is probably what I'm the most concerned about. Nothing like making an investment only to watch the implementation process take much longer than you expected. Which makes the reason for having the vendors support all the way through.
I did a Google search for remote implementation guide/help and came across this: "What Every Business Software Buyer Should Know about Remote Implementation"
Here were the summary points at the end about best practices if you choose to go remote:
- Take advantage of online communication tools during product selection so you donít miss opportunities to fully evaluate your software options.
- Check provider references specifically for other clients who have utilized their remote implementation support.
- Work with your provider to create a detailed implementation plan.
- Verify that your provider is utilizing a remote access approach that includes encryption and two factor authentication to provide security.
- Select an internal technical contact to assist with system reboots or other tasks that may need to be undertaken from your location.
- Discuss with your provider the provisions that need to be made for ongoing support, such as version updates and future technical assistance.
So basically the article agrees with your points merdian_05, but you laid them out from a different perspective which I thank you for. Essentially I need to be cautious in selecting, take my time researching vendors and what they offer (as far as support and specialization for my companies needs), and make sure ongoing support is available (since I know I'll have questions).
I'm starting my research by Monday and am hoping to have a selection picked up by the end of the month.
Also if anyone else has any guides/FAQs/blog posts on selecting new software or just on tips for the implementation process, I'd enjoy reading them.