Manufacturing ERP selection is a complex process with many potential pitfalls. Keep your key stakeholders in the loop and you will pave the way toward the correct selection decision.
1. Senior management
Whether your manufacturing business is run by a CEO or the owner, there is little doubt that meeting their expectations is important. Take the time to truly understand what they want to achieve from the implementation of manufacturing ERP. You might be thinking of efficiency and improved profits. The owner might want to use the ERP selection and implementation as an opportunity to encourage people in the business to look for ways to improve production processes and find more effective ways to operate. Of course the owner will want the business to be efficient, and an ERP tool will certainly help your manufacturing processes, but after a good conversation, you may learn he feels engineering or shop floor staff have become stagnant in their thinking.
2. Project manager
The person in charge of your manufacturing ERP selection will keep the project moving toward completion on time and on budget. That person is obviously an important stakeholder. They could have been a buyer or a manufacturing process engineer last week but today they are your ERP project manager. Their reputation within the business as well as on line will be made – or harmed – by the result of the project.
Beyond management of the project, your manager might have accepted the job because they wanted to develop capabilities within their discipline only possible through a newly selected manufacturing ERP. Your project manager has possibly taken a significant personal risk with this role and the success of your manufacturing ERP selection could depend on your support of this individual.
3. Mobile users
Your road warriors have wished they could enter sales orders or update engineering drawings from customer and supplier sites for too long. Whatever the outcome of your manufacturing ERP selection decision, you should provide them with the mobile ERP access they wanted a long time ago.
“Manufacturing ERP selection is a complex process with many potential pitfalls. Keep your key stakeholders in the loop and you will pave the way toward the correct selection decision.”
Another set of important mobile users are your staff who would work from home if only they could connect to your ERP from remote sites. An inventory analyst does not need to be at his desk to measure changes in inventory. Your sales clerk can enter customer purchase orders while home with a cold. This small change may allow these individuals to maintain efficiency, despite pressures such as childcare or lengthy periods of travel. Without mobile access, they may miss an entire day of work. With mobile access, they might only shift that day’s work a few hours forward or backward.
Your engineers have complained about a lack of production data and ERP will help them. The textbook says an operation should take 3 minutes. Their stopwatch has observed as little as 2.5 minutes. This is not the way production efficiency should be measured. Manufacturing ERP can capture exact “job on” and “job off” times for real production runs. They can also attach their drawings to production operations and have the designed results right in front of operators on a computer screen as they work.
Your stakeholders may be different to the groups discussed above, but for most manufacturers, these individuals will be crucial for a successful manufacturing ERP selection. Talk to them all and document their requirements. When they are aligned with the project, the results always improve.
About The Author – Tom Miller
Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle.