After having performed many successful Sage ERP MAS 90 and MAS 200 upgrades that came in on budget (fixed fee) over the past few months – I’ve been somewhat surprised to see and hear of many mistakes made during upgrades.
Just last week two end users emailed to ask about finding another reseller. Their MAS90 upgrade had gone “off the rails” because the consultant showed up to do a same day upgrade.
No testing, no prior review of the hardware platform for compatibility, no review of the integrated third party solution vital to their business (and not surprisingly the updated 3rd party solution was buggy as all heck).
There are a lot of ways to safeguard your business from problems during your MAS90 upgrade. At Schulz Consulting we perform a four phase upgrade on any client system – no matter how big or small.
Schulz Consulting Four Phase Upgrade
Phase #1: Install and configure the system. Ensure that all the pieces are working (no startup errors) and ready for you to test .
Phase #2: Testing. Prior to going live with a major upgrade we recommend a test conversion. Since MAS90 and MAS200 allow for parallel migrations you can copy your existing data to the upgrade while users continue working in the old version. This is the best way for you to look at how your data converts and test the integration of third party add-ons – typically either custom programming or reporting tools.
Phase #3: Go Live. After you’re satisfied that the testing is successful – it’s time to re-migrate data and go live with your upgrade. Done properly – the go live phase is merely a formality with minimal downtime. Often we’ll start to convert the data remotely the prior night so that your staff can hit the ground running during the next morning without having to wait for time consuming conversions.
Phase 4: Post Upgrade Review. About three days after going live we’ll schedule a conference call. During this call we summarize any open upgrade issues and develop a plan with you to resolve them no later than 10 days after you’ve begun using the new version of your software.
What Goes Wrong With Upgrades That Aren’t Planned Well?
Here are some mistakes users and other consultants make which derailed their upgrade progress.
Probably the biggest mistake that non-savvy users make is not to involve a consultant with the upgrade. I receive calls on an almost daily basis from IT consultants scheduled to go visit a customer the next day wanting to know if there’s “anything special” they need to do to upgrade the customer to the latest version of MAS90 or MAS200.
Sometimes these consultants get lucky and the upgrade goes off without a hitch. More often we receive an emergency call that the accounting system is down and the consultant can’t understand why such a terrible system like MAS90 doesn’t upgrade in the same manner as (pick any of the consumer systems that the consultant is more familiar with).
Often IT consultants want to implement the latest cutting edge hardware. We’re all for using current hardware – except when that hardware (or operating system) is not compatible with Sage ERP MAS90 or MAS 900 (here’s the list of MAS90 compatible hardware and operating systems and virtual environments).
Top 6 Reasons MAS90 Upgrades Fail
- Failure to test: Not running a test upgrade first is acceptable for someone upgrading a very small system from a recent version to a recent version. If your company is upgrading a 25 user system from MAS90 version 3.71 to 4.4 without a test upgrade then you’ll be greatly increasing your risk of computer downtime. Running a test upgrade helps (though does not guarantee) that pesky issues like bugs and form alignment are worked out BEFORE your staff is getting ready to send out the monthly billing.
- Not checking the supported platforms matrix. Most hardware and operating platforms work well with current versions of MAS90 and MAS200. Failure to check before making an expensive network upgrade is foolish and can result in downtime if a specific operating system isn’t yet compatible with Sage ERP MAS.
- Forgetting to upgrade third party enhancements. One of the more common problems to derail otherwise simple MAS90 upgrades is a buggy third party solution that was not tested before being installed. Often the user is forced to roll-back to the old version of MAS while the previously untested solution is sent back to the developer (who usually must take several days for additional debugging). Don’t let this happen to you. Test every bit of custom software in advance of the day which you plan to go live!
- Assuming that every feature that existing in a version of MAS90 or MAS200 which was produced 10 years ago was carried unchanged into the new version. Sage publishes a what’s new in MAS90 which shows all the changes added to the program in each level. Testing the upgrade prior to going live is the only way you’ll catch subtle changes in procedures that have been made due to the software upgrade.
- Allowing too little time for the upgrade and testing. The biggest problem that we’ve seen with users is failure to test or allocate proper time for testing. Often users delay any testing and instead feel that they’ll complete the testing during the “go live” phase. The reason that testing is called testing is that it’s done before the “go live”. Almost all of the problems we’ve seen users report with their upgrade could have been caught during a testing phase.
- Upgrading a server at the same time as the MAS90 and MAS200 upgrade occurs. Another recipe for disaster is to simultaneously upgrade an entire computer network (migrating user rights, directory permissions, etc) at the same time as the MAS90 system is upgrade. Based on experience we’ve seen these types of simultaneous upgrade cause significant delays (even though at the outset it seemed like a great idea to upgrade everything at once) because of problems with network user rights, printers, file permissions, new versions of anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall settings, IP addresses, etc. We recommend you upgrade your computer network and workstations at a time independent of when you’ll upgrade your MAS90 or MAS200 accounting software. If the upgrade must be done at the same time then allow for time to work out issues that are related to the network upgrade.
Need assistance with an existing upgrade — or perhaps one that has “gone off the rails”?
Do you recognize any of the above mistakes that may have led to issues with your last upgrade?
We’ve streamlined our upgrade process. Each of our projects is tracked in 37 Signals Basecamp project management – which enables everyone on our team (and your staff) to view each phase of the project as it occurs.
What this means is we’re able to quote a fixed price for upgrade. We don’t work hourly on upgrades — and if you have a quote in hand that shows hours at best you have an estimate where the cost could be double or triple what you expect.
Anyone who is competent with MAS90 should be able to quote you the exact price (within the given scope of services – and obviously if there are additional services requested then those are changes that incur added cost).