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Simples steps to keep your next ERP upgrade on time and on budget

July 30, 2012

Major enterprise resource planning (ERP) software upgrades by definition affect your whole organization. The "opportunities" for system failure, lost time, missed revenue and extra cost are abundant during the process. Indeed, there are legends surrounding upgrades that spiral out of control and never get fully implemented.

Avoiding certain pitfalls can help companies function optimally during the implementation period and minimize disrupting your current environment. This is especially important for organizations that are critically reliant on their ERP software but need updates to keep their systems running at full potential.

Every company's ERP upgrade may be different, but the missteps stay the same and they can be avoided by focusing on the key action items outlined below.

• Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication with system users has always been a key differentiator between successful and not-so-successful upgrades. Fully explaining the benefits for the company and changes in the end user experience (e.g., green screen to Web client, Windows client to Web client, etc.) prior to the upgrade is critical in ensuring that the whole team supports the implementation.

End users don't like change because it causes them additional work. They would rather deal with the quirks and inefficiencies of an old system than test a new one. If the end user has a bad perception of the upgrade, it will hinder the overall effectiveness of the new system even if the software and hardware are fully functional. Communicate every way you can.

• Conduct comprehensive load-testing

Most ERP systems come pre-set to handle a typical user load, but is your user load "typical"? If you assume that your user load is typical and find out you were wrong, you will cost your company much more time, effort and resources than if youload-tested correctly before going live. Comprehensive load-testing is best carried out by load-testing software with scripts and real users. Simply testing with just scripts will not provide you with the effects seen when a user makes a mistake. If you just test with people, you won't simulate the effect of batch jobs and electronic data interchange. Even if you test with one, rather than none, you will come out ahead.

• Perform an "exact" dress rehearsal

The dress rehearsal (or mock Go Live) should be performed under the "Exact" same conditions as the real Go Live (e.g., if Go Live is on a weekend, mock Go Live needs to be on a weekend). Small problems can be isolated and easily resolved in the most accurate mock Go Live. You don't want to get ready to Go Live and find out the office air conditioning isn't on during the weekends or a scheduled maintenance task runs every Saturday at 3 p.m. Eliminating as many variables as possible will keep the team cool under pressure and insure that the tens of thousands, or sometimes millions of dollars, spent on a system upgrade will not be delayed because of a preventable issue.

• Embrace testing as your friend

Today's ERP upgrades are electronically packaged to address systemwide issues with electronic software updates (ESU). These updates can touch thousands of objects within your system and are a large leap from yesteryear's "paper fixes" that would address a specific issue or "opportunity in the software." Even if a business process was working properly prior to the change, it must be tested because the large impact on your system that ESUs cause may have disrupted its previous functionality. Only painstakingly testing all business processes will mitigate any unwanted "opportunities" from entering your production environment.

• Build in next generation user training

Utilize upgrades to bring your organization's training capabilities into the Training 2.0 world. Remote access to an on-demand Knowledge Vault of recorded tutorials detailing the most critical business processes will bring classroom training to every one of your employees no matter where they are.

This is particularly convenient during these economic times where employees are asked to wear more "hats" on the job. Creating a user-friendly Knowledge Vault will allow system users to train at their convenience, speed up their training and provide ambitious employees with an avenue to fine-tune their skills.

• Open up your business standards

Converting your current proprietary components into open business standards will guarantee speedier and more cost-effective future upgrades. Two common areas that companies tend to have proprietary components that can be easily transferred to open business standards are reports and interfaces.

• Archive on Day One

This is the easiest item to implement. Archiving prior to the upgrade will save you time and money because the table conversions will run faster. This will also speed up queries on large tables and improve the end user experience, which will be helpful in creating user buy-in.

• Address the balance between security vs. practicality

The more a system grows, the more vulnerable it becomes to security breaches. Prior to an upgrade, system security should be closely reviewed so there are no opportunities for a competitor or terminated employee to obtain confidential information. We recommend an "all doors closed" model, even though, it is not always practical. Get input from both your management team and end users to see what level of security will balance usability with safety.

• Select a project manager experienced in ERP upgrades

ERP upgrades are long, complicated projects that need meticulous attention to anticipate and resolve any issues that could affect the company's system from running properly. A down system can create catastrophic results. Therefore, it's absolutely critical, for the success of an upgrade, to appoint a highly experienced project manager.

Responsibility for this role should be given to an individual or a team of ERP implementation experts who have a strong track record of downtime-free upgrade implementations. Their knowledge should include the hundreds of INI settings, thousands of conversions, multiple OS/network settings, protocols, load balancers and more like the back of their hand.

Upgrades don't happen that frequently but their impact on an organization are significant; make sure your upgrade is on-time and on-budget rather than a perpetual money pit. Addressing the action items we have identified will prevent the most common mistakes found in most ERP software upgrades. Most importantly, despite the extra upfront work, addressing these issues proactively will pay off dramatically throughout the whole implementation process with reduced cost, optimal system performance during the upgrade and a greater overall end user experience for years to come.

ATLANTA and INDIANAPOLIS, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When did your company last upgrade its JD Edwards software? Why should you consider upgrading? How do you ensure your upgrade happens with minimal business disruption, on time and on budget?

GSI, Inc. ( is partnering with Oracle and C&A Technology to host a series of workshops focused on discussing the importance of upgrading and what companies can expect when they upgrade to the latest edition of JD Edwards' EnterpriseOne and JD Edwards' World software.

The series of one day, free classroom-based workshops will be held in major cities across the U.S. beginning in Indianapolis on August 2. They will provide a comprehensive "day in the life" depiction of what an Oracle customer goes through when upgrading to the latest JD Edwards release, covering each aspect of the value proposition, planning and execution of the upgrade. The workshops are an extension of Oracle's "Upgrade to the 9s in 100 days or Less" campaign.

During the workshops, GSI's expert consultants will discuss:

  • Building a business case
  • Working with custom code
  • Data management and migration
  • On-premise hardware and cloud considerations
  • Testing
  • Training and best practices
  • Project team organization
  • Go-live activities

For more details about the workshops, including workshop dates, locations and registration details, please visit:

GSI Expands Service Team and Opens First International Office in Canada in Response to Continuing Growth

ATLANTA and EDMONTON, Canada, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to a stronger than expected first half year, Atlanta-based GSI, Inc. ( has opened its first international office in Canada and announced a broadening of its U.S.-based services and consulting teams.

The new Canadian office is based in Edmonton, Alberta and is led by Marcus Jarrett, principal solution architect. Mr. Jarrett has more than 10 years of experience in the IT industry. He was the CNC team lead at Flint Energy Services and worked as a senior systems analyst at North American Construction Group and as a systems specialist at PCL Construction. The Canadian office will support GSI's clients in Canada as well as organizations in the U.S.

"Despite an unsettled domestic economy, GSI's business has grown strongly in 2012 on top of the banner year we enjoyed in 2011," said Kevin Herrig, president and CEO, GSI, Inc.  "Increasing requests for support in Canada, and our booming domestic business, have allowed us to expand our international presence and to further invest in our team by hiring some of the strongest JD Edwards software specialists in the market."

Recent additions to the GSI team include:

- a vice president of delivery who will manage the company's largest accounts and help to ensure the delivery of consistent quality service for all customers;

-two principal support consultants;

-two additional client managers committed to making sure clients obtain the value they have come to depend on GSI for; and

-one principal field consultant who will interact with clients on site in their facilities.

 GSI, Inc. Launches "Upgrade to the 9's in 100 Days or Less" at COLLABORATE 12

At COLLABORATE 12, GSI, Inc., an Oracle Gold partner specializing in upgrades, rolled out its new proposition for users upgrading to Oracle JD Edwards current releases. The upgrade program applies to a variety of software releases dating back to 2000 and will enable users to continue to receive ongoing support and regain compliance while taking advantage of the latest features and enhancements built into the 9.x software. Once a project is engaged, GSI's new program seeks "100% satisfaction guaranteed" and the completion of the upgrade within 100 days.

At the Las Vegas conference, 5 Minute Briefing had the opportunity to spend some time with Kevin R. Herrig, GSI president and CEO, and Shawn F. Scanlon, GSI executive vice president, touching base with the often under-reported JD Edwards user market. JD Edwards is a long-time, stalwart ERP system for mid-sized organizations which Herrig defined as typically featuring revenue in the $30 million to $500 million range.  JD Edwards World is built specifically for the IBM iSeries server platform while JD Edwards EnterpriseOne delivers a wide choice of underlying databases, operating systems and hardware for running the system.

Upgrades are commonly viewed with great trepidation by users fearful of the potential disruption, allocation of scarce human and economic resources to the upgrade process, and the perceived difficulty of achieving a successful, timely implementation. Over the long haul, GSI's proposition for users, according to Herrig, is that "each time the customer upgrades it should take less time than the time before."

As part of its specialization in upgrades, GSI conducts extensive presentations and workshops focused on planning ERP upgrades, defining criteria for selecting upgrade partners, shedding light on achieving "fixed bids" for the implementation work to users from upgrade partners, and looking at customization of reports to users and end user report generation from JD Edwards systems. These sessions are often conducted in concert with Oracle, with the methodology developed and presented by GSI which has honed it over many years of experience.

The newest release of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne  is version 9.1. According to a GSI corporate fact sheet, the company has assisted in over 100 OneWorld/EntepriseOne upgrades and over 40 "World-to-EnterpriseOne" migrations.

13 Common ERP Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them

Implementing an ERP system is among the most expensive, time-consuming and complicated tasks an IT department can take on. The potential for delays and unexpected expenses lurk around every corner. To help you avoid costly mistakes, asked IT executives, ERP vendors and technology consultants to provide advice on how to avoid becoming an ERP horror story.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff Tue, March 27, 2012

CIO — Costing anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, and requiring hundreds of man hours to implement, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are huge investments of money, resources and time. And while a successful ERP implementation can help your organization streamline workflow and cut costs, a poorly planned and implemented ERP rollout can severely cost organizations, in terms of lost productivity and delays.

To help ensure your ERP implementation is a success, or at least to minimize potential problems, surveyed dozens of ERP experts (IT executives, consultants and ERP vendors), asking them to describe the most common ERP-related mistakes organizations make and how to avoid or solve them. The 13 most commonly cited ERP mistakes—and their fixes—appear below.

ERP Mistake #7: Not investing in training and change management. "A lack of proper training is one of the most common reasons that ERP projects fail, and it can also result in employees resenting the new system because they don't understand it," explains Kaas. "Making sure employees have a chance to become comfortable with the new system before it goes live will do wonders for your chances at ERP success." Adds Kevin Herrig, president and CEO of GSI, an ERP software specialist with a primary focus on Oracle's JD Edwards products: "If you don't make training and frequent communication with users a top priority, you will end up owning a very expensive version of Excel."

ERP Mistake #11: Not having an active load testing environment . "You won't be able to see the true results of your changes based on a couple of test users," points out Herrig. "You must be able to simulate your user load in order to see the real-world effects of changes and avoid costly unplanned downtime."

Link to Full Article:;;taxonomyId=3009

ATLANTA, Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- GSI, Inc. (, a customer service-centric ERP software integration specialist focused on JD Edwards products, has closed the books on its best year since its founding in 2004.

The privately held company, based in Atlanta, reported gross revenue growth of 67 percent compared to 2010. The company's field revenues, comprised of traditional on-site consulting services, increased by 73 percent as it added 38 new clients in 2011. Support revenues, consisting of remote outsourcing, experienced a dramatic 90 percent growth rate partially due to the almost doubling of its current support client base.

Speaking at the company's annual sales kick-off meeting held in Orlando this past weekend, Kevin Herrig, president and CEO, GSI, Inc., said the company's strong performance across every service metric was particularly rewarding given the continuing difficult business environment.

"Our entire team did a great job of keeping its focus on our clients during 2011," said Mr. Herrig. "Our growth as a company is directly related to our mission to make every customer a client by understanding their true business needs and delivering value on a daily basis. We're so passionate about delivering value and providing our clients with superior service that we continue to be the only JD Edwards provider to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on everything we do. Our guarantee is paramount to our business because it demonstrates to our clients and business partners that they will always remain the focus of our attention."

Other achievements in 2011 included the addition of three strategic and select partnerships, the signing of its largest support deal in company history and an expansion of services to include development support, functional support, and database support for all flavors of Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server and DB2/400.