Multi Channel Order Management Go Live: How early should you plan Cutover/Rollout?
During initial stages of the program, it is quite natural to start thinking about high level solution, integration architecture, project phases and execution approach for the implementation. The cutover and rollout planning end up taking backseat since implementation timeline could vary anywhere between 10 months – 24 months. The implementation team tends to believe that there is enough time to plan application cut over and rollouts. Delaying solution rollout planning can prove to be very costly due to influencing factors such as 1) Parallel running of systems for longer period 2) Business risks in big bang rollouts 3) Operations and support team training implications 4) Data migration complexities 5) Master data and transaction data implications during cutover period 5) Architecting a solution that will work during transition period 6) Minimize throwaway integrations 7) Design changes directly influenced by the rollout approach and so on.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this client dedicating almost 2 days of the workshop to discuss cutover and rollout planning! Few examples on order management cutover and rollout planning which I shared during this workshop are –
· Soft Launch – In this approach, only a small subset of multi channel end customer get access to the system. For example, internal customers (employees of the retailers) are exposed to the system for first few weeks/months and then the full launch. Even though it is subset of the customer base it would expose the large part of the order management solution and thereby reducing the risk before the full launch
· Sales Channel– Certain specific order channel and fulfillment of such channel specific orders could be considered for initial cut over. For example corporate orders (B2B) could be considered for the first release of go live. Alternatively, .com could go live first and then catalog call center. However, order changes or customer service operations for the .com orders needs to be clearly defined in this approach.
· Product line – Rollout planning can be such that certain product lines can flow through the new order management solution. New product lines are added over the rollout period. In this approach customer may receive multiple shipments when certain order lines flow through the new system.
· Geo based- Customers based on some specific geo (can be zip code, county, area, state etc) can go live in phases. This way order sourcing and fulfillment happens in new system for certain low volume geo and then slowly scale up in volume.
· Fulfillment Channel- Cutover can be also planned based on certain fulfillment channels. For example all drop ship orders can flow through the new order management during initial release. Later releases can include distribution center (on hand inventory fulfillment from DC), store fulfillment and order fulfillment based on incoming purchase orders (incoming future inventory)
The approach may differ on case to case basis and it could even be combination of above. I would always suggest clients to run “Solution Release Planning” as a separate “work-stream” in the program which closely works with the application implementation team. This way, solution development team has a constant imagination of cut over/rollout, throughout solution design and implementation.