Think outside of your own department

09/02/2018 - Luuk Busschers

ERP software supports the entire company and also aims to bring the organization as a whole to a higher level. In order to achieve this, you as a user of the ERP system must also think in the interest of the entire organization. It is not about you or your department excelling in what you do, but that you jointly perform optimally.

Why is it difficult to think outside your own department?

It is quite understandable that employees within the organization sometimes look no further than themselves or their own department:

-   We all look at how the ERP system supports our own daily operations; it’s nice if the company benefits from the software, but you also want to make your own tasks easier and do your job as well as possible.
-   You will be evaluated on how you carry out your individual tasks and how you, together with your direct colleagues, perform as a department; therefore it is normal that you look at how you can improve in that area with the use of ERP software.
-   You are the expert within the company in what you do and what your department does; you know exactly what the ERP software should facilitate for your role and for your colleagues and it is more difficult for you to assess what other departments need.

Consciously or unconsciously, for the above reasons, we do not always think in the interest of the entire organization during an ERP implementation. You may analyze processes only from your own perspective, you see less value in improvements that the system provides to colleagues from other departments, or you only pay attention to your requirements and wishes when creating documents and reports.

Why should you to think as one company?

When everyone in the organization battles for the requirements of their own department to be fulfilled by the system and ensures that the ERP software supports its own department properly, you should be fine, right? Unfortunately not. Many features that are facilitated by the ERP system extend over several departments. Think for instance about:

-   The process of selling a machine, in which the purchasing, sales, finance and sometimes service departments are involved.
-   Creating uniform outgoing documents, such as invoices, quotations and order confirmations, where all departments want to raise their voice.
-   The use of one or more reporting and business intelligence tools, which can provide benefits for many departments, but where each department will also impose different requirements.

Imagine that your company both rents and sells equipment. A customer who buys something from you at one time and hires something the next time must have the feeling that he deals with the same organization. If the rental department has completely different processes / reports than the sales department, you will not come through as one company. The departments in your organization can not be separate islands that fight for their own interests. In that case, the true potential of the ERP system will never be revealed. ERP software enables you to grow as an organization, but it only works when you operate as a single organization.

What role can management take in this?

The management of the organization can strongly influence that during the ERP implementation you operate as much as possible as one team:

-   Select project members who have the willingness and skills to think outside their own department and to decide what is best for the entire organization.
-   Facilitate a working atmosphere that encourages cooperation between departments, to listen to one another and show understanding for the other person.
-   Do not evaluate the involved project members on how they manage to get their own department automated with the ERP system, but assess the entire project team on how the ERP system brings benefits to the entire organization, generates more synergy and enhances cooperation between departments.
-   Stay involved as the managing department, ask for periodic reports from each department about the project progress and check whether these are in line with each other.

Luuk Busschers is Consultant at Dysel and helps customers to achieve their goals by using industry-specific ERP software. 

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