These tips will help keep your manufacturing business on track now and into the future.

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When implementing an enterprise ERP system for the first time, many businesses wrongly believe that the software alone will transform their business.

Common expectations of ERP are:

  • Increased business process efficiency
  • Reduced manufacturing and production costs
  • Automation to reduce human error and increase accountability
  • Better tools for forecasting and meeting future demands

And many more…

A well-designed enterprise ERP software package will do all these things with your input. However, you need to prepare your business processes in advance of your ERP software roll-out if you are to get the best possible return on what might turn out to be a significant investment.

“ERP is about your business, not the technology.”
-Panorama Consulting – 2001 Guide to ERP Systems and Vendors

1. Get management buy-in.

Without commitment from the top, your manufacturing software project will be over before it starts. Your senior management team is responsible for defining business strategy so they also need to endorse and support the enterprise resource planning software.

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”
-Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism

2. Know what you want.

Rockford Consulting estimates that 60% of ERP software projects fail because requirements have not been defined up front, not because of the implementing partner. Without properly defining what is expected of an MRP system, and understanding that your processes will require continual optimisation, it will be impossible to properly calculate ROI and business benefits. Software designed specifically for your industry by a partner which understands your business makes this easier – not only will the system come ‘out of the box’ with the functionality you need, but it will require less customization over a lifetime of use. Working directly with the software author as your partner improves the chances of success greatly.

“The shortest distance between two points assumes you know where you’re going.”
-Robert Brault

3. Prepare your team for change.

New MRP systems require alterations to workflows and processes. Some are significant and some are subtle, but your team must be prepared. Hold awareness and training sessions to help staff understand and prepare for change in advance of your ERP system going live.

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”
-Jack Dixon

4. Don’t underestimate the effort involved.

ERP software selection and implementation is considerably harder than buying a new fridge. Again, preparation is key to making the right choices and having a successful enterprise ERP implementation.

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”
-Arnold H. Glasow

5. Keep on talking.

Every project relies on stakeholders communicating continually throughout its duration. Your ERP implementation project team needs to regularly discuss issues between themselves and the rest of the company to avoid mistakes or bad configuration choices being made. Your staff should also be free to raise concerns after project completion so that adjustments can be made to maintain or increase manufacturing efficiency.

“Communication is what project managers spend the majority of their time doing.”
-Unknown

6. Keep on changing.

A good ERP system provides a way of creating formalised business processes. A great ERP system allows running adjustments to meet your changing business processes. Take the opportunity to continually review your business; measuring metrics, identifying new efficiencies and tweaking your ERP software to match.

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli

Do you think your business is successful in continuously improving – or do you think some of your manufacturing processes are stuck in a rut? 

– Originally posted on the Sanderson Manufacturing blog