Growing businesses invest in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions to bring together the separate parts of the company into one integrated system. This integration of data allows business owners and managers make smart decisions and empower employees with access to data to better serve your customers. If you already invested in an ERP system, you are ahead of the game. Whether you already have an ERP system or are bearing in mind making the investment in a new ERP system, don’t leave out one essential player the ERP manager.
If you don’t have anyone in charge of managing the ERP system, you might fall prey to one big ERP mistake which sounds similar to the 1930's classic Abbot & Costello skit called "Who's On First?" You can listen to this classic comedy routine here. The point is to ask the question, "In your company who is the person in charge of managing the long & short term goals of your ERP system?" More importantly, are you set up to get the most out of your ERP investment? If your company doesn't have a CTO or CFO, your employees may expect those "big picture" management decisions to come from you. Even if you are the CFO or CTO and it is your responsibility, have you thought much of it? If you aren’t hearing complaints, then you likely aren’t even thinking about it. Here are 3 management considerations to think about regarding your ERP, even if you aren't suffering immediate pain from it.
When was the last time you reviewed your current processes for any manual or duplicated activities? I know what you're thinking, "But everything is running smoothly, why should I muck it up?" When you aren't putting out fires is the best time to put your management hat on and look for ways to improve productivity. Are you re-typing sales orders into the ERP system from a PDF of a purchase order you received in email? Are you keeping credit card information insecurely? Are you entering time once for payroll and entering it a second time for manufacturing? Are you hand writing anything which you must re-type into the system? If you nodded your head to any of these, you need to meet with your ERP Advisor to determine if there's a solution with a quick ROI. If there's a solution, but it will take several years to obtain a return, think about ways to change the process to give you even slight improvements while you wait for technology to catch up.
You’ve read the previous paragraph and taken it to heart. You’ve found several processes to improve. If you've been on your current ERP solution for over 5 years, and a meeting with the ERP advisor netted few solutions, what’s your next step? Is it time to consider changing ERP solutions? The past 10 years in software development has brought massive improvements. Remember your flip phone? Investigate whether other ERP systems have automated the manual processes or have eliminated other duplication of activity you found in your review.
Researching ERP systems, just like other integral machines of your manufacturing process, should never stop. Even if you’ve had your current ERP for less than 5 years, take advantage of occasions when you can talk to your peers or people such as me at trade shows or similar events. Ask us about specific processes you’d like improved. Once you’re connected to several different ERP advisors you’ll gain valuable intel on which company is just out for the quick sell and which company wants to develop long term business partnerships and is interested in helping you grow your company, rather than simply growing their own company.