Consultants can be a great source of business information. They work with multiple companies and see lots of projects go from start to completion. Drawing on this kind of background, Bob Blanchette and Steve Bieszczat have published a helpful article on the Manufacturing Business Technology website detailing the top 10 best practices for manufacturers to follow when implementing an ERP solution.
They point out how an Enterprise Resource Planning system, whether its a new solution or the evolution of your current solution, needs to revolve around the parts of your business that are growing most rapidly. This helps ensure the system will be situated to support profitable growth. That may be as you are extending a current product line, rolling out a new product, or pivoting to pursue a business model that takes advantage of new opportunities. Bob and Steve recommend viewing your ERP solution as a platform for delivering value to new and existing customers.
Describing things from that viewpoint, they recommend that any organization preparing to implement an ERP system must have an intentional focus. This includes clarity on the plan, the accountability, and the ownership. When you prepare the stage with a focused business objective, implementation expertise, and a fluent knowledge of your unique niche and other technologies, you can feel confident that your ERP deployment will be successful.
To help you prepare for an ERP implementation, Bob and Steve share these ten best practices that you can apply in your company:
- List business goals supported by metrics – These productivity numbers map out how beneficial the ERP solution can be. They're vital for helping the people in your company understand the need and the opportunity at hand.
- Describe current operations – A clear knowledge of your processes today will help you get the most value from the configuration options in the new system tomorrow.
- Stage-gate process to manage customization requests – You should plan on some customization for your new ERP solution; however, success demands that you have person clearly assigned to as a filter to separate vital adaptations from the nice-to-have changes that can be tweaked after the initial roll-out is complete.
- Leverage experienced partners – Each of the people on your team is an expert on part of your business; getting support from an expert on software deployment can pay back dividends later.
- Track communications and change management – Change always stirs up some resistance, but sharing information about what is going to happen and why it will be valuable to the company can help pave the way for a smooth transition.
- Promote power users as a resource – Identifying the people already on your team who can be a resource for others also helps integrate the new tool into the company. Maximize the benefit here with a reward or recognition program for those who are adding this additional value.
- Celebrate successes – Highlighting the good work people are doing and the progressive benefits of the new system will sustain the energy needed for the changeover.
- Plan for project evolution – Continuous improvement is the keyword here. From the stage-gate owner mentioned above, at the conclusion of the initial deployment you will likely have a list of additional functionality that can enhance your business operations further.
- Focus your operations software – To balance out Best Practice #8, be sure to keep focused on the most valuable upgrades, based on the metrics you've gathered and the new numbers your ERP system will be able to provide.
- Stay informed about new technologies – Industry 4.0, IIoT, and MES can all benefit a company, but they come with a cost of expense and complexity. Stay alert for opportunities to leverage these ongoing technology evolutions.
Bob and Steve wrap up by reiterating the idea that an ERP solution cannot be seen as a project that just ends one day. The ERP data will feed back into your processes and your refined processes will make certain data more valuable. This needs to be the long-term picture you paint for the implementation team, the executives, and the people on the shop floor. When your entire organization is on the same page of continuous improvement, you're well on your way to avoiding the pitfalls and securing the ROI that a new ERP system can bring.
With a robust yet affordable ERP solution, aACE 5 can also support your accounting and CRM needs. Beyond this vital core functionality, aACE 5 is integrated with inventory tracking, order management, production processes, and shipping/receiving. Our goal is to give you 360-degree visibility on your operations plus time-saving automation. We help companies focus on the high-value strategic aspects that lead to accelerated business velocity and growth.
"I had the pleasure of working with aACE Software in developing and implementing a customized FileMaker system for my company — a mid-size, creative services agency. We needed a strong project management system with the capability of measuring costs in real-time, which could replace our old, fragmented database system without losing any of the valuable data that was stored there. Before we even started, the aACE team spent a lot of time with our agency leaders: from IT, to project management teams, to financial services, to the company principle — making sure all agency functions would be fully supported by the new aACE system. What came out of this involved consultation was not only a great system, but also vast improvements to streamline our process." ~ Richelle Rothermich, Vice President & Managing Director, The O Group