Is your company growing? Congratulations on a job well done!
Now that you’ve built up the momentum, are the tools you and your team use every day to deliver the goods as effective as they should be to support you as you grow? Hmmm, not quite…
But, you know there’s a better way: you’re going to replace all those different types of software with an integrated system (or enterprise requirements planning (ERP) system, as the market calls it)!
So, your project is going to be a success, right? Sure thing…
When we talk to business managers about their ERP projects, we rarely see anyone who has established—from the outset—how they will determine the success of their implementation project once completed. ERP systems are complete solutions with numerous components: accounting, inventory, warehouse, manufacturing, e-commerce, etc. You will actually talk about a lot of elements and aspects during discussions with the different suppliers. Will you be able to deploy everything from the start? Maybe not!
So, before talking about anything else, close your office door and ask yourself: what are the 3 things I really want to change in my future integrated system? Just 3, not 12! For example, get my detailed sales report every day (no need to wait 2 days for the data to be compiled…), have inventory levels ready in real time when I talk to my clients (no need to go look in the warehouse…), or be able to plan my purchases so I can produce and deliver to my clients on time (and not just hope our huge Excel file is up to date…).
Got them? Perfect. Now, how many benefits or savings am I going to realize every year with this new way of doing things? Not sure? Take the time to look internally at what that lack of efficiency represents annually for your company. Just ask your colleagues: how much time do you spend on this report every week? How much time do our four warehouse guys need to take inventory every month? What extra shipping costs are related to stockouts? You’ll be surprised…
Another advantage of having established such critical success factors for your project from the outset is the fact that they will guarantee you will never lose focus during the project. Often, when you hear of a project that had a budget overrun or came in late, project management is the main problem. (Don’t forget to plan for someone to be responsible for your share of management during the project; the project is a team project and you have another role to play on it.)
In the end, 6 months after the project is over, you’ll really be able to determine whether it was a success and if you achieved the value you were looking for with your new system (for example: The time spent on taking inventory and other activities let us make the system profitable in 8 months). Above all, don’t forget to do this assessment.
Best of luck!
P.S. – The first 3 improvement objectives are not ends in themselves, but just the beginning of a process that will turn into continuous improvement. Since your company is growing over time, your management system has to grow with it. You’ll then be able to set 3 other priorities for improvement in your new system (which is now integrated, thus representing a major benefit). If you chose the right partners during the original implementation (people you’re comfortable working with), they’ll be able to give you a clear picture of the value you’ll be able to extract from future improvements, thus adding to the success that your ERP project has already had.