About ERP Systems
In graduate school, they taught us that being smart was not always about understanding science, or even the power of science. As my major professor, Dr. Kelly Wells, would say, “Sometimes common sense is more important than science.” In the mid-1970s, when we participated at Motocross tracks in the heat and humidity of the summer in South Georgia, the weather was similar to that in Vietnam, and science was not necessary to remind me to stay hydrated. It did not take science to understand that that a product containing water, minerals, and sugar was a benefit for hydration. The label on Gatorade told that story, as did the advertising at the 7-11 stores. When Dr Wells had me purchase six bottles (one for each competition event for us both) there, we did not need to understand the science behind it; we just needed to know which end of the bottle to open to drink it. Common sense!
So instead of discussing the science behind an ERP implementation in this blog, let us instead take a look at the top three questions that will help you know if your ERP System implementation is complete. They are all common sense.
Question 1: Do KPIs measure employee performance as they deploy the ERP System on a daily basis? THINK ABOUT IT. KPIs establish performance goals. You want to know when your people are on track (doing what you need them to do in the business system). The industry calls these K ey P erformance I ndicators or KPI. At Manufacturing Practices, we like the acronym but we have adopted a second meaning: K eeping P eople I nvolved. Using these types of measurements, employees know what the management team expects from them and where they are performing against those goals. Why not measure performance by assessing KPIs in your organization? Shouldn’t your ERP System define those measures?
Question 2: Do your teams openly and freely communicate between different departments, or only through rigid, scheduled regular meetings? If they do not communicate freely and openly, the C Level teams at the organization are probably the problem. So look first at the C Level people in the organization. Do they foster teamwork or not? Departments run much like the upper management to whom they report. Where there is a spirit of open and complete cooperation, departments follow suit. Where that does not exist, chicanery and deceit often follow. Do not foster that atmosphere in your organization.
Question 3: Do your people share information by running reports from your ERP System? Do they ask for information in the form of spreadsheets from other departments? Look to see how people respond to your request for information. Do they sit at a computer and look for specific reports, or do they pick up the phone and ask someone to build a spreadsheet for the requested information? A properly implemented ERP System will have most requested information available in a report. If the report does not exist, it can be built. If it cannot be built, it is because the data does not exist in the system. More than likely, information to answer most business needs already exists in a properly implemented ERP System, and no one needs to drink Gatorade to relieve the stress of sweating out an answer to the boss’ questions.