Whether you use Lawson for talent management, security, financials, or one of its many other features, it’s important that your system run like a well-oiled machine. While regular Lawson upgrades can help things moving smoothly, they can create challenges as well—a poorly upgraded system can easily become a mess for everyone involved. And when you take into account that 14 percent of IT projects fail outright, (with 31 percent of the remainder not meeting their goals, 43 percent exceeding their initial budgets, and 49 percent coming in late), it’s clear that there are plenty of potholes on the road to success.
Luckily, our experience in this arena has given us insights into a number of ways to make your next Lawson upgrade a success. Let’s start by talking about why these upgrades are important in the first place before transitioning into some Lawson upgrade tips.
Reasons for Upgrading Lawson
Let’s say you’re satisfied with your current version of Lawson. (Although, according to our 2018 Lawson Survey Results, more than a quarter of those surveyed responded they were either considering upgrading from V10 or earlier in the next 12 months or have already begun doing so.) Sure, your current version of Lawson doesn’t do everything exactly how you’d like, and yes, there are definitely ways it could be improved, but upgrades are always bigger hassles than they’re worth, right? Wrong. Here are just a few reasons why you should be looking forward to your next Lawson upgrade:
Keeps You Secure
Malware and hackers are always getting smarter, and Lawson software upgrades account for that fact, patching vulnerabilities and adding additional security features.
Aren’t Wasting Money
Upgrades add new features to your Lawson instance, and if you’re not using them (or at least, investigating them to see if they could be useful to you), you’re leaving money on the table. Even if you’re not upgrading Lawson to the latest version, a newer version than what you’re running right now might have solutions to your current problems or help you become more efficient. Although Lawson upgrades usually feature a major new component or two, just as valuable are the little tweaks that make the whole system run more smoothly.
Lawson Upgrade Tips for a Smoother Experience
Speaking of running more smoothly, here are five Lawson upgrade tips on how to prepare yourself and your business for a seamless project:
Get Organized Ahead of Time
Getting organized before you begin your upgrade—even before you begin your plan of attack for upgrading—will save you a ton of time and effort down the road. Depending on what specifically you’re planning on upgrading, you may need to review and verify the following in your current environment:
- Environment variables
- Evaluate hardware size requirements
- Server operating system version
- System specs
For example, consider needed server size. Lawson upgrades often involve moving to a new server system, and you’re going to want to size appropriately for the move. If you’re going to be scaling out, you might need to use multiple servers to scale correctly. A key thing to remember when looking at Lawson’s “standard” sizing recommendations is that they’re just that: recommendations. They’re designed for a company of 100 people whose data can all fit on one server.
You should also pay close attention to whatever licenses your company currently has. Which ones are currently being supported by your workstations, and which ones will continue to be supported after you upgrade? If those licenses will no longer be supported after you upgrade, you either need to change licenses, or you may be pleased to discover you no longer need those licenses at all, if those capabilities are handled by the upgrade.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re getting organized is the importance of creating a format for the whole process so that the next time you get ready for an upgrade, everything should proceed more quickly and easily.
Make a Plan
While it’s important to remember the old saying that “No plan survives contact with the enemy,” you still need to make a plan before upgrading Lawson to help avoid costly situations down the road. Among other things, your plan should take into account how you’re going to handle:
- Data migration
- New architecture deployment
- Production environment deployment
- Solution adoption
To help make this planning process easier, ensure you’ve enlisted the help of your company’s technical staff—especially people involved in networking, servers, and infrastructure—ahead of time, as well as the upper decision-makers, rather than calling them in when the metaphorical house is on fire. Even if your technical staff isn’t contributing a ton to the upgrade meetings, having them in the room as those conversations are going on will go miles to solving potentially difficult problems when they’re still molehills (as opposed to big scary mountains).
Speaking of the importance of having people in the room, clear communication is vital to keeping things moving along smoothly, both before the upgrade actually starts as well as during the upgrade. Before upgrading Lawson, make sure key stakeholders (including those technical people) have provided their insights into your upgrade plan. Is there anything that somebody might have missed? During the upgrade, make sure people understand what’s being worked on, when parts of the system will be unavailable, what the benefits will be once the upgrade has finished, and so forth.
You’ll also need to ensure that you provide adequate training for functional employees. Make sure your users are as informed as they can be because your Lawson upgrade can’t succeed if they don’t have all the info they need to do so.
Don’t Forget to Test Things
Upgrading your software can fix your issues, but it can also cause new problems, especially if you’re not prepared or haven’t prepared correctly. As Lawson is a Java-supported environment, load balancing is key for any upgrade to be considered a success. We’ve encountered projects where clients tested a handful of users in a single test environment and when that went well, thought they were ready for their go-live date. (Spoiler alert: they were not.)
Especially with hospital/healthcare environments as well as mobile supply chain, try to get as close as possible to organizational usage during testing to ensure the final product will be able to handle the stress of everyone hopping on at once. It’s not fun to discover load balancing or security issues during testing, but it’s miles better than doing so on your go-live date.
Another hot testing tip—Always test from the perspective of a person in the trenches, your regular basic user. One common mistake we see clients make when testing is to test as users higher up the food chain (usually because those are the people involved in the upgrade process), but when the go-live day comes around, the boots on the ground find out they don’t have everything they need to succeed, whether that’s incorrect permissions, unavailable data, or inaccessible projects, and it takes even more time and money to fix those issues after the fact.
Enlist Expert Help
Every upgrade is unique, differing based on your needs at the time, what’s currently available in terms of upgrades, what your business’ capabilities are at the moment, and a host of other factors. One way to help meet these challenges head-on is to enlist one of our experts—we have an expansive network of senior-level Lawson consultants who are well-versed in software upgrades, integration challenges, and other issues you might run into during this process.
An upgrade to something as vital to your organization as Lawson is not something to be undertaken lightly. Upgrades can be time- and resource-intensive, which is why you want them done correctly the first time. But if you’re reading this article, you’ve already taken heed of one of our Lawson upgrade tips: planning ahead! With the rest of our tips (along with our highly skilled consultants) in your corner, your next Lawson upgrade is bound to be a success.