One of the tools to assist manufacturing companies with business process management and creating a lean operation is a credible Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software - because it can help you achieve business goals through efficient processes.
However, according to analyst firm Gartner, a high proportion of ERP projects fail to gain ground. The root cause could be that decision-makers sometimes struggle to find a solution that offers the most appropriate ERP features for their requirements or the initial ERP requirements gathering from different departments does not reflect the whole picture.
Here are the things you should know about ERP software:
1. One size does not fit all
ERP software is as diverse as the different sectors it serves. Contrary to belief, it is not one size fits all and it is not a completely 'off the shelf' business solution for manufacturers, logistics firms or pharmaceutical companies; because every business is different, with different processes and needs. The chosen system must have the functionality that can cater to your sector and business operation needs to be effective.
If the system appears to be generic with no room for flexibility, proceed with caution. ERP software should offer you real-time business data, tied to your company’s needs and ambitions. The data it generates should assist with business decisions and be an improvement to your previous business system(s) capabilities.
2. ERP doesn't stand still
ERP is an intelligent productivity solution - the software and the support it comes with should have the capacity and capability to grow and adapt at the same pace you do.
It should be flexible, versatile and a part of your continuous improvement programme. Flexibility is what makes it such a powerful force in underpinning business processes and increasing profitability. You need to look for an ERP that is scalable, with an easy to use integrated architecture to help you manage and control your resources and processes seamlessly, from purchasing through to production management.
3. On-going support
The right ERP vendor or provider should be by your side, working with you not just on the roll-out, but also providing continuous support and advice on how to optimise business processes using the system. Keeping existing and new staff engaged is a continuous process and your ERP provider should offer consultancy when required to utilise different parts of the system, tackle different business challenges or provide further training.
4. ERP is based on realities in your workforce
Continuous training and support are crucial, but so is having ERP software that matches the requirements of the business and expectations of the workforce. As wonderful as modern technology may be hardware, software and Big Data are only valuable to manufacturers if there is buy-in from the people using the system and are part of the integration.
A new ERP implementation is about change management too. End-users need to be comfortable with the functionalities and have an understanding why the chosen ERP software will be beneficial to their role and the company.
5. Communicate with your ERP vendor or provider
A good flow of communications between the company and the vendor or provider is one of the keys to success. From the outset, companies need to develop a clear list of requirements prior to deciding which ERP vendor to go with such as, is there an urgent need for strong planning capabilities? Improved stock control and more intuitive data analysis? Or improve the production process?
After deciding on priorities and what is expected from the system clearly communicate this throughout the selection process and implementation. Keeping communication channels open and regularly review processes and business systems can be part of continuous improvement cycle.