ERP “Enterprise Resource Planning” has been around since fire was invented. Not quite! However; it has been around in the manufacturing industry for a very long time! The most stress that any company will ever experience outside of shipping product out the door by month or year end is upgrading or implementing a new ERP system in their company. Many companies have done it “very” well and others, it has crippled them and to some, they implemented just the bare necessities and just gave up!
My main objective is to take my experience and pass it on to you with the hope it will ease some of your pain. The best advice ever giving to me was “implement the basics” and do not get caught watching the paint dry on the bells and whistles.
We can all agree on one thing ERP it is not easy!” I have implemented my fair share and I look back and say “I am glad that is over!
Lessson 1: Stick to the basics!
Implement the 80/20 rule is the best rule to live by, 80 percent of your processes always flows one way and find a ERP solution that runs 80 percent of your business. The 20 percent will always be there and why kill yourself over the 20 percent. I worked for one company that literally spent months on the 20 percent and we beat that 20 percent into the ground and everyone was exhausted and after we implemented, we still had 20 percent of those hard case issues that no matter what we did they were not fully solved. Rule of thumb hard issues will always exist. Do not stop the train because you encounter a new issue outside of the 80percent and you consider it you a show stopper.
Lesson 2: Process map!
You need to know how your current processes run through your systems, prior to implementing a new system. It will take time and energy, however; in the end, it will bring you a better understanding what your people are doing so there are no surprises. Plus, it brings me to the next lesson!
Lesson 3: What is important to you!
By process mapping your processes you know what is important and what is not. List out what the ERP software must do for you no matter what. Remember ERP software packages are trying to be many things to many different environments. They must do your important items or the game is over! Whether it be a strong cycle count module or a strong costing process for standard, average or the dreaded FIFO costing method! You need to know the important stuff to your organization. Devil in the details!
Lesson 4: Do not rely on consulting crutches!
My number one rule is, limit the amount of time for any consulting services. Consulting companies may hate me for this after this article but it is so true. Here is how it goes: Make your people go through their process map in the new ERP software and document how they do their jobs in the software and when they get to a point where they are hung up— document their question and pass it on to their Project Manager and let the PM govern if it is consulting worthy or not. If not, you will have 25 people calling and having this expensive consultant spend time on their issues and all I hear is money, money and more money! In the end, you will have a team that knows the software very well and does not have an addiction to seek to the consultant every time they hit a road block. The old saying goes: Give me someone who makes no mistakes and I will give you someone who has accomplished nothing! Give me a person who makes many mistakes because they try and expect to fail a few times, in the end they have accomplished many things and they are experienced and know the sweetness of accomplishing something without assistance or a crutch.
Lesson 5: Pilot and Pilot some more!
From Rule 4 by having your team document their jobs in the new ERP software gives you instant work instructions! How awesome is that! Use these work instructions in a conference room pilot and for example, when the purchasing people write their work instructions, do not have them do their normal jobs in the conference room pilot have someone else on the ERP implementation team take the purchasing departments work instruction and do their job in the ERP system. This does two things it audits how good the work instructions are by having someone who does not do purchasing use the instructions and if they can do their jobs in the software then you know the work instructions are fantastic! This also gives everyone on the team exposure to their area in the ERP software.
I have used the above methods on many ERP implementations and of course there are many more methods, however; I find these basic five lessons are crucial for a successful implementation and also for other software implementations that you are going through.