5 Common Sticking Points During an Upgrade
What the heck happened?
You started off with a plan.
You spent months (or maybe years!) planning and then working to bring your vision for Lawson to life. You finally got approval from the powers that be, now that extended support is running out. Your end users were even excited about all the new features in the latest version, and couldn’t wait to get to work using them.
An Infor partner promised a turnkey solution. “It’ll be done in no time,” they promised. “We’ll take care of everything,” they said.
But then halfway through the upgrade something went wrong.
That careful plan, with all its precise deadlines and carefully made decisions is in the trash.
So what went wrong?
Last Minute Problems During Lawson Upgrades
This situation is, unfortunately, pretty common. And most of the time it comes down to a detail that was overlooked or an assumption that was made.
Landmark was already running with version 9.01, so of course it’ll be easy to just point that federation to version 10. No problem… Until there is one.
Or someone forgot to mention the hundreds of workflows set up in ProcessFlow — and your managed partner didn’t think to mention it. So the process of moving those items into Landmark wasn’t included in the budget… or the timeline.
These details may seem tiny, but all too often when they are overlooked progress grinds to a standstill. In these situations, Surety Systems can often provide a consultant who can tackle that detail, allowing your company to get the project back on track — and often even still allow you to meet your initial launch date.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Complications with Landmark
The situation mentioned above, where a client was running Landmark with version 9.01, is a true story. They had already implemented Landmark with v9.01, so when they decided to upgrade to v10 and, in parallel go live with Epic, they assumed it would be a simply matter to just point Landmark to the new version.
Not so fast. Instead, two years into the project, they found that it wasn’t as simple as pointing Landmark to their new v10 system. It wasn’t operating as expected.
Fortunately, Surety provided a Landmark Consultant who stepped in and got Landmark up and running with v10 so they could meet their go live date.
Takeaway: Don’t assume just because you’re using the latest system in one area of the platform that it can be seamlessly integrated with your new upgrade. Leave time to test it and fix any problems that arise.
Unpredictable Rates of Success Migrating from ProcessFlow
Most upgrade partners look purely at the upgrade — not at all of the other systems attached to that upgrade.
One particular sticking point that’s often overlooked is bringing processes from ProcessFlow over into IPA. Most managed services partners don’t include this in their upgrade plans unless you specifically request it; they assume you’ll be able to hand it inhouse.
But if you know ProcessFlow, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can pick up IPA quickly enough to ensure a smooth transition.
If you have a true ProcessFlow expert in house, they can probably take Infor’s one day class and pick up IPA fairly well. Many companies, however, tend to overestimate their ability to migrate those processes internally — and often once they get in and start working to convert the flows they have drastically varying rates of success.
Takeaway: Be realistic about your inhouse talent. Evaluate how much work it’s going to be to convert ProcessFlow processes into IPA, and determine whether it’s worth bringing in an expert to expedite the process and ensure knowledge transfer.
Proper Sequencing of Security During Upgrade
Security is perhaps one of the most important pieces of any ERP software and Lawson is no exception — which is why it’s critical to stay current in this arena.
That has led many companies to upgrade (or at least begin to upgrade) their platform’s security features long before working on upgrading their overall Lawson system to v10.
While this might seem like a good thing (after all, you have to upgrade security before upgrading Lawson), it can also cause problems. When you don’t tackle upgrading Lawson security and implementing Landmark security in the right order you can end up with a less than ideal system.
We often see companies that wind up with duplicate login issues, for example.
So it’s critical to take a hard look at your current security set up before diving into an upgrade. Do you have 90% of your users on one system, and 10% still using an older set up? Do you have a good understanding of what still needs to happen and in what order?
Takeaway: Make sure to ask, “Where am I terms of security?” before you start the upgrade, and check and double check that you’re implementing all the pieces in the right order to avoid issues later on.
Broken Reporting In Tandem with an Upgrade
Planning to change your database or implement LBI or IBI as part of the upgrade? Then you’ll also need to consider the impact those changes can have on your reporting.
We’ve seen a shift among our clients from using Unix with an Oracle database to implementing Windows and using SQL servers. And many clients choose to make that change over part of a larger upgrade project.
However, if you’re storing the data in a new database, you’ll need to make sure all your reporting is now sourcing data from the new system. If the reports are fairly simple, just pulling data from Lawson tables and doing calculations within Crystal reporting, that can be as easy as just pointing the system to the new database. But if you’re embedding SQL into your Crystal reports, the switch can cause problems.
That, in turn, can sometimes mean that a lot of reports need to be rewritten — and often in a very short period of time, since the database swich can often be implemented over a weekend.
And, of course, you may want to consider whether to implement LBI as part of the upgrade.
Many companies also opt to take the time to review and reduce the reports being created as part of that process too, meaning a need for even more lead time.
Takeaway: Be sure to including your reporting functionality in your testing plans if you’re changing databases or implementing LBI. And be sure to budget in a bit of extra time if you generate a lot of reports for a deeper review in an effort to reduce the time eaten up rewriting them.
Best Practices for Interface Modifications During an Upgrade
Over and over again we get one question when it comes to interface modifications and upgrade. Customers want to know: “Are we doing this right?”
That can be complicated question to answer — largely because there are several approaches you can choose to take when upgrading.
In v10 Lawson database options haven’t changed but Lawson has added new fields. So in most cases, if a system is pulling from specific places within the database, it should still work — but occasionally problems do arise, and when they do, it usually takes true expertise to diagnose and solve the issue.
However, it can be impossible to know which way your specific interface modifications will turn out until you try them. That leaves you with three options:
- Review everything in advance
- Convert the system and then fix problems as they arise
- Review critical interfaces and then fix any additional problems on the fly
Takeaway: There’s no “right” way to handle interface modifications during an upgrade; the approach will depend on your risk tolerance and how critical your interfaces are to your business. But it is still important to consider which approach makes the most sense for you and include it in your larger upgrade plan.
Fighting Scope Creep During an Upgrade
Upgrades touch many, many different parts of the larger system. And often once an upgrade is announced, new requests or ideas for increasing efficiency seem to appear out of thin air.
That makes scope creep not just possible, but extremely likely.
The best option for fighting back is to have as many of those conversations early in the process as possible — and, ultimately, to recognize that additional things are still likely to come up, and determine how you’ll handle them as they do.
But including the 5 points above in your plan can be a great start.