Manufacturing businesses succeed as they arrange their operations around continuous improvement. This foundational principle, however, can be easy to lose sight of when it comes to deploying ERP solutions. When making such a crucial investment, that is exactly the time a business must resist the attitudes that can cripple an ERP project – or even the whole company.
IndustryWeek.com has published a pointed article that serves as good warning for companies preparing to deploy ERP solutions. This advice arises from the experience of Paul Henderson of QAD Acia Pacific, and it is framed as three memorable “sins” of omission. While the article is focused on manufacturing companies, the warnings ring true for any other business, from wholesale distribution to professional services.
1. Forgetting the Principle of Continuous Improvement
Minimizing defects and improving quality seems like it would be an obvious part of any manufacturing company’s ERP project. Unfortunately not all ERP vendors align themselves to Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, or any other approach for continual improvement. Instead, they seem to operate on a theory of a software big bang (or perhaps ERP ex nihilo). That is, the ERP solution must spring forth into being, fully formed and complete, at the first implementation.
This method is usually over-complicated and less-than-agile, over-budget and exhausting. And the negative results ripple out into a larger pattern. One project like this can make an organization gun-shy, unwilling to take on other software implementations until a crisis emerges. Which often requires another massive, rushed deployment, followed by another rapid depreciation of value.
Could your company get caught in this pattern? How could any company that survives on slow, progressive excellence stumble into this pitfall? One possibility might be the good intention to get the most functionality for the company’s dollar. This would be a misdirected effort to purchase as many features as possible, rather than purchasing the needed functionality plus the necessary ongoing support (aka continuous improvement).
2. Ignoring the Business that the ERP Should Support
This obstacle is related to the first. It involves letting the ERP software eclipse the processes, activities, and value that your company actually delivers. It might be understandable that an ERP vendor would be eager to make the sale, but it should also be a red flag for you.
A quality vendor will be focused on holistic success — your improved operations will be more important than a single sale. Conversations and planning must stay focused on that larger goal. And if an ERP vendor has a pattern of lapsing into tunnel vision around what the product needs, you should address it right away.
3. Assuming the Project is Complete at Go-Live
Extending from the second pitfall, this troublesome mindset can be easier for an ERP buyer to fall into. We like closure. Especially when that completion is a measuring point for our accomplishments or success. However, a solution used for something as broad and valuable as enterprise resource planning doesn’t really “stop”. So if a vendor gives you the impression that they’re going to ride off into the sunset after go-live, you’ll want to have a candid discussion about expectations.
ERP goals continue to evolve even after the ERP software is launched. This is why the closure of deploying the software may be a nice turning point, but can’t be considered the end point. The business goes on and better measures of success will be drawn from the operational improvements you see after launch. And because this long-term focus is central to success, it’s vital to begin with this end in mind. At the outset, identify some key indicators that will be benchmarks to demonstrate the value your company is getting from the new ERP solution.
Overall, a manufacturing company should be well-situated for a successful ERP project. Play to your strengths, following the continuous improvement principles that help your business succeed each day. These established practices will help you avoid the problems that can arise in a major software deployment. They can help you get the most from your ERP investment.
At aACE Software, our entire sales process is focused toward your organization’s ongoing success:
When you reach out to us, our first step is a brief phone conversation to identify whether your company is at a point to fully benefit from aACE 5. If it looks like a good match, we schedule a free demo where we can show you how a fully integrated accounting, CRM, and ERP solution works. As needed, another demo may follow, focused on diving deeper into a select few of your top priorities. If it looks like aACE can help with your business goals, the Discovery Phase becomes a time to look into the details. We examine how the customization, deployment, switch-over, and ongoing support will need to work in order to ensure your continuing growth.
To learn more about how we strive to support client operations, check out our FAQs or contact us today.
“Our specific workflows called for a flexible central platform that we could bolt on customized work-area specific tools. Implementing aACE, in the FileMaker environment, has proven to be the right solution to get us just that.” ~ Matthew Pelfrey, Director of Process and Compliance, Duggal Visual Solutions