go-live (go live)

What is go-live?

Go-live is the time at which something becomes available for use. In software development, for example, go-live is the point at which code moves from the test environment to the production environment. As a verb, go-live means to make such an event happen.

At the time of the go-live, a system is officially and formally available to users who can then initiate transactions in the new system. In enterprise circles, the term go-live is particularly associated with systems that help manage business functions such as ERP, CRM, or HCM, financial, logistics or marketing systems.

The go-live concept itself taken in isolation is straightforward -- the system truly goes live. However, a successful go-live typically depends on an array of complex factors, especially for big companies or those implementing expensive, wide-scale ERP systems, and many go-lives do not go smoothly or they suffer outright failure. This is because a go-live is arguably the most critical milestone in a technology system implementation.

The go-live of an enterprise technology project is the culmination of weeks, months and sometimes even years of groundwork, project planning, preparation, execution, monitoring and controls involving a company’s internal and external stakeholders. An unsuccessful go-live can cost companies millions of dollars and create a cascade of business problems.

Cloud and standalone ERP go-lives

Although large-scale on-premises ERP system implementation is falling out of fashion in favor of standalone systems and cloud-based delivery, the go-live becomes no less important. To avoid failure, a go-live for a smaller implementation will still need excellent project management to ensure success.

The elements required to create any successful go-live, and in turn, system implementation, include a solid business case with executive business sponsorship and leadership, in-depth change management and training, thorough testing, realistic timelines and thorough rollout plans, and plans for and attention to details such as ensuring correct data.

The specifics of a particular project will be based on a number of factors, including the size and type of system being implemented; the number of business users or customers that will be affected; and the complexity of the implementation.

This was last updated in October 2021

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