Congratulations! You have made the wise decision, or are in the research process of, selecting an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to help with your management system and your every day shop floor projects. Now, whether your manufacturing company falls into ‘tier 1’ or tiers 2-3, or whether you’re a large enterprise or an SMB (Small to mid-sized business), you will need to comprise a well thought out strategy to make the transition as smooth as possible. While your WNP’s (wants, needs & pains), challenges, and goals will be completely unique to you and your shop floor, there are a certain set of guidelines that everyone should adhere to.
The first step in your implementation should be the formation of an implementation team. In all likelihood, such a team has already been formed, and was instrumental in choosing your ERP software solution.
Now, the team will work with your ERP provider’s personnel throughout the implementation process. Most of the time will be spent with one or several of your provider’s applications engineers or AEs (they often work together), but there will also be interactions with your provider’s IT personnel, account managers and technical support staff.
If the team is not already so constructed, effort should be made to ensure the team is made up of representatives of all major disciplines or departments. The personnel chosen for the team, while not necessarily supervisors, should be respected by their peers, supervisors and subordinates. They should be unwavering proponents of your ERP system, and not only be able to digest and apply the training they receive, but also be able to effectively communicate that training to others.
While the CEO or similar officer is often included in the implementation team, this is not always the best practice. Depending on the personalities involved, the team members may naturally defer to the CEO, thus changing the team into a task force. In many cases it is preferable to keep the CEO in an advisory position where the team apprises the CEO of its decisions and intentions – possibly soliciting input – but is still able to implement the software as the team sees best.
Team members should be able to adapt any generic training they receive regarding the ERP software to specific applications within your organization. There should also be a willingness to challenge any standing methodology, especially when the software seems to be consistently leading away from current procedures.
There must be allowances made for the possibility of changes at the most fundamental level. Many of your company’s systems, processes, procedures and even certain terms used in your everyday communication may be out of sync with the best practices designed into your ERP software.
Finally, team members should have a clear enough understanding of your company’s processes, products and goals to allow them to be effective in assisting your provider’s AEs in helping the team to adapt the software to your environment.
Personnel at every level of the organization must have the unambiguous and unwavering perception that the implementation of the new software and any resulting procedural changes are not only supported by the highest levels of management, but are absolutely mandated.
Personnel must know they are being held accountable for the timely and successful completion of any assignments as well as the application of their training and ultimately their proper use of the software within the parameters of the company’s procedures. Without this knowledge, even though intentions will likely be in the best vein, there can be backsliding and corner cutting during periods of pressure.
PART 2 will look to discuss the review of limited work flow and installation and training.
For more information on ERP software, implementation, and what it can do for you specific challenges and goals, visit the ProfitKey website and feel free to contact our team directly.Posted by Craig Schrotter, CPIM, Senior Applications Engineer ProfitKey International