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, 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 becoming less popular over standalone systems and cloud-based delivery, the go-live is 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 several 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 December 2023

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