Lessons Learned from Remotely Managed ERP Rollouts

The face of work has changed dramatically since March 2020. Even companies such as Flintech, which already had mature remote-working practices, have had to adapt. 

We’ve changed the way we work, leveraged collaboration tools like never before, and have learned to be flexible when calls dropped, dogs barked and a client’s kid modeled her Halloween costume. The tools we had available allowed our international team of experts to collaborate, build strong relationships, and find effective ways to cooperate across diverse cultures.

In March 2020, the first round of travel restrictions coincided with a major Microsoft Dynamics 365 deployment for our client, Molycop, a global leader in the manufacture and supply of grinding media, mining chemicals, and rail consumables. We had to abandon plans to send teams to offices in Australia and the US and went on to execute what turned out to be the first of several remotely managed end-to-end project rollouts. 

Our teams and clients interacted from their home-based offices using the video and chat capabilities on Microsoft Teams, Cisco, Webex, and similar platforms. For the deployment, we used an open bridge video conference to enable real-time collaboration and support. 

Flintech was the first Microsoft partner to implement a completely remote Microsoft Dynamics rollout. Collaboration platforms gave team members the ability to communicate in real-time from their newly established home-based offices. In 2020, end-to-end remote execution became our standard operating practice.

Below are four things that remote working brought to the forefront for Flintech staff.

1. Not all tools offer the same security and compliance

Whether you’re looking at employees working from home or remote interaction with partners, security is always a concern. For example, Microsoft Teams has rigorous security and access controls that put it head and shoulders above most other products. 

Organizations need to know what tools are being used to ensure that they meet internal security standards and any specific industry compliance requirements.

2. Working from home means rethinking communication styles

Even with onsite teams, digital transformations don’t happen without a lot of communication. Since going remote, we’ve been even more scrupulous about how we share information. We use collaboration tools to broadcast updates and for group conversations. Regular dispatches ensure everyone feels connected and informed. These tools empower people to scroll back to double-check what’s gone before without digging into their email inboxes. The chat feature has been vital to our success. It has provided us with an effective way to communicate one-on-one to get a quick update, ask a question, or leave a reminder for someone working in a different time zone.

We’ve replaced in-person meetings with face-to-face video calls. They allow us to keep an eye on group dynamics and keep everyone focused and engaged. (We’ve noticed people are less likely to multitask when they are on camera!) 

3. Business transformation meetings and group sessions are different

Before the pandemic, we held multi-day onsite discovery and business transformation meetings that included the client’s teams and our resources.  

Since going remote, we’ve used everything from virtual video calls, chat and emails to accomplish the same thing without the high costs of travel and the countless hours spent in airports and on flights. (Our teams have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time at home with their families.) 

Instead of multi-day meetings designed to make the most of our time at the client’s office, we now schedule a series of 60-90 minute video calls. This approach limits virtual-meeting fatigue and helps people cope with the distractions of working from home. We’ve also seen an unexpected increase in attendance because these shorter meetings are less disruptive than multi-day events and clients find it easier to fit them into their busy schedules.

4. Remote-work tools are imperfect

From sharing bandwidth with other family members to hammering a satellite connection you never imagined pressing into heavy-duty service, to dropping calls, working from home comes with many issues. A flexible and laidback mindset helps people cope with stress. Things are getting better; products like Microsoft Teams have added a variety of enhancements in a short space of time. 

Like many companies, Flintech has had to make adjustments. We lean more heavily on the collaboration tools we were already using.

Our teams and managed services experts have considerable experience with long-distance collaboration and remote access to tools and applications. For as long as Microsoft Dynamics has offered robust cloud services, we’ve been helping clients leverage the power of the cloud with processes that are scalable and that increase overall operational efficiency.

Future of remote ERP implementation

A substantial amount of ERP implementation gruntwork has long been done remotely, even before the pandemic made this necessary. If the pandemic showed us anything, it was that while face-to-face interactions in a particular physical location are usually more pleasant and sometimes more effective, they can usually be dispensed with. 

This is certainly the case with a 100% remote implementation of an ERP. Entirely remote implementations have their pros and cons, but if a business would prefer to do things completely remotely for any reason, that is a preference Flintech is happy to accommodate.  

Key takeaways

Organizations were able to function at close to normal levels during the height of the pandemic lockdowns because of the cloud technology and system integration that is at the heart of what Flintech offers clients.

Remote work is now here to stay and it’s not unthinkable that some future event could result in many white-collar workers having to work solely from their homes for a considerable length of time. That being the case, it’s worth learning the lessons of 2020-2021. Flintech staff believe the key takeaways are:

  • Being an early adopter can pay off in an uncertain world
  • Technology has some way to go before it’s good enough to come anywhere close to replicating real-world human interactions but it’s now certainly good enough to suffice in many circumstances.
  • While all remote working tools remain somewhat imperfect, some are more imperfect than others. For example, while Microsoft Teams provides reassuring levels of cybersecurity and privacy, other video-conferencing software was revealed to have a host of issues when subjected to the massive stress test of the pandemic lockdown. Rather than taking an ‘any port in a storm approach’, it’s best to either do plenty of research or consult with tech experts before embracing a new remote-working tool. 

Flintech is here to help

Book a free consultation with us if you need help getting the most out of your remote working platform. If that means you need to migrate your systems to the cloud, we can help with that too.