ERP implementation? Work on your processes!
The implementation of an industry-specific software solution goes hand in hand with changing the business processes used before the implementation (see my previous blog ‘Standard software? Does it exist?’). This cannot be avoided. And at the start of each implementation, everyone agrees with this! People want the changes to happen and express that feeling. Should be easy then. However, reality indicates otherwise.
Not that easy
Companies switching to a new ERP system often run on outdated systems that don’t work properly. The reasons back then for choosing the current software solution can be diverse. Probably, at the time, it was the best choice. Over the years, people have learned how to deal with the system and all issues have been tackled with customizations, changes to the processes, the adoption of strange workarounds, the use of Excel lists, and so on.
When running through all the subprocesses in detail during interviews with key users, I am surprised by the strange twists and inefficiencies I come across in many of these subprocesses.
Throughout the years, the company has created a way of how to deal with the software which might work, but which is also very ineffeccient. And this way of working with the software has become the standard over time. In many cases, one does not even realize anymore that it is indeed inefficient and devious. And that it is mainly due to the (im)possibilities of the legacy software. What about changing the processes, you would say!
However, it's not that easy. Because when I describe a much more efficient process based on my experiences, resistance arises. "Because that is not how we do things." Also, it is not that easy after all those years for the key user to look critically at the current business processes. And subsequently it's certainly not easy to be able and willing to change those processes.
Fix your processes
And yet, you should do it! Get back to the meeting room. Because a new ERP system supports the different processes, provides more and better insight into the subprocesses and, because of the integral nature, ERP provides more and better insight across departments. But first of all, you need to work on your processes.
ERP is just the tool that supports the processes. Therefore, before you implement ERP, you must have control over the process. Only then can you automate the process well.
Peter Gerhardt is Senior Lead Consultant Logistics at Dysel and helps customers achieve maximum results with business software.