Beating the Clock on ERP Upgrades: Page 2

With end-of-support deadlines looming, IT managers and CIOs are planning to upgrade -- or pay the price for staying where they are. Our Datamation columnist helps you travel the road to painless upgrades.
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Finding the Right Partner

Once the decision to seek outside help for an ERP upgrade is made, it's important to pick the right partner. To help identify who that is, there are a number of things to look for:

  • Familiarity and experience with the ERP software -- Whether the upgrade is PeopleSoft, Oracle or SAP, look for a staffing firm that has a solid track record of placing consultants in projects involving that software.

  • Experience with upgrades of a similar size and scope -- ERP upgrades come in every shape and size, including migrations from one version to another; implementation of new modules; conversion from one software to another, and even complete conversions of legacy applications to web-based components.

    Make sure the staffing firm you ultimately select can show you not only consultants who are very experienced, but who also have successfully completed similar projects. That includes showing you resumes of consultants who have recent experience upgrading to the same version as youre moving to.

  • A sufficient pool of qualified IT talent from which to draw -- Whether the ERP upgrade calls for project managers, functional or technical talent or a combination of all three, make sure the firm you select has the appropriate levels of talent for your particular project and that they are able to dedicate them for the duration of the project and even longer.

    Whenever possible, request local candidates to eliminate or reduce travels costs, but realize that finding candidates with specific experience levels can require looking at regional and national candidates. Even with the additional expense of travel and per diem fees, the cost of using a staffing company instead of vendor or Big 4 implementation teams can be one-third to one-half the costs.

  • References -- Make sure the staffing firm can provide references for the consultants specific to the upgrade in question.

    In a little more than a year, most major ERP vendors will have accomplished their objective of getting their clients to the newest supported level of their product or they will be charging them significantly higher maintenance fees to continue supporting older versions. For the 40 percent of companies that are lagging behind, time is running out to start the upgrade process.

    However, whether the issue is financial, personnel or both, ERP upgrades still can be completed on time and within budget by taking the time to identify the best mix of internal and external resources.

    Steve McMahan is group president for major markets for Kforce Inc. Based in Tampa, Fla., Kforce is a full-service professional staffing firm working in more than 40 North American markets, as well as through online services.

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