How to avoid ERP implementation failure in manufacturing

18 August, 2017
How to avoid ERP implementation failure in manufacturing

Why and when do manufacturing companies adopt new ERP systems? In our experience, not all of them always take the time to consider all the goals and reasons for this effort.

Many businesses move forward when decision-makers feel that the urgency to do so is critical. Until that time, IT and business groups make the best of the technology resources that are already present as long as they can, patching and customizing software tools as long as they can.

Be honest when your legacy system is no longer working for you

Legacy systems in place for many years may no longer be performing well and might not integrate with other technologies, but they are likely well-known and often passively supported through an organizational preference for the status quo.

Technology managers and users easily fall into the habit of creating work-arounds, accepting a certain level of inefficiency, and overlooking the cumulative effect that the limited productivity of people and business activities can have.

It often takes increasing customer dissatisfaction, dramatic process failures, or quickly mounting costs before an organization decides to commit the resources to review vendors and their solutions. Thus, when the time comes to implement the new ERP solution, many stakeholders feel that the company is already way behind: The deployment should have happened a long time ago.

The emphasis falls on implementing the technology quickly, fitting current practices to it, and rolling it out to users as soon as possible. This approach to ERP implementation is very risky.

Don’t rush into your project, it won’t bring you any benefits

For many manufacturers, a lack of a clear ERP strategy combined with haste often means that not all business stakeholders receive due consideration. In addition, many companies tend to cut corners when it is time to familiarize employees with the new software tools, even when they have performed an otherwise sound implementation. These two factors combine to ill effect.

The importance of user adoption

Employees gain a new set of tools that may not be easier to work with than what they are used to, only different. Especially workers outside of the back office—for example, sales, manufacturing, or distribution—may avoid adopting the new ERP system and continue much as they have done in the past.

Without proving to business stakeholders and technology users that their needs have been met in the new solution, and without providing relevant, practical training, user acceptance may never get beyond a low threshold. Poor user adoption, on the other hand, can have a snowball effect, prompting more people to disregard the new software tools.

Could you really face starting another ERP project?

It is not unusual that ERP projects not driven by a well-articulated strategy never quite reach completion, and that companies do not experience a worthwhile return on their large investment. A year or more into the process, the IT group and technology providers may still be pursuing the implementation, introducing customizations, and tweaking capabilities. Eventually, new owners or a change in leadership may prompt a change in direction, mandate a new technology, or drop the entire effort. Companies may even start over with another ERP provider without taking the time to define their strategy.

Make every activity strategic and set the right priorities

The key is in setting the right priorities and in properly aligning your business goals, processes, resources, and technology systems. That means business process management (BPM) takes a central role in your ERP project.

Business process management

BPM can help you minimize the risk of ERP manufacturing implementations by avoiding the traps we mentioned. What’s more, it can simplify and accelerate your deployment. In the enterprise realm, BPM has been a business management discipline for many years.

Often associated with academic research and such disciplines as lean or Six Sigma, all BPM approaches have in common that they consider business processes as strategic assets of an organization. Therefore, processes have to be documented, understood, and managed.

Manufacturing companies can make immediate and sustained improvements in organizational effectiveness by leveraging their business processes to bridge the gap between strategy and execution.

How Columbus use Business Process Management

Columbus RapidValue for Manufacturing, is designed to restore the focus on the strategic advantage of ERP implementations.

Understanding and documenting companies’ business processes and identifying ways to make them better are critical early steps in your ERP project. Incorporating business goals and processes into ERP, value driven BPM can show its value as soon as a new implementation or major upgrade of an ERP system begins.

As companies newly implement or upgrade their solution, they can take advantage of value-driven BPM and Columbus RapidValue for Manufacturing to transform business processes for greater productivity and ensure ERP success by fully aligning their strategy, processes, resources, and technology systems.

An ERP deployment is a major milestone in the life of an organization. When done well, it can position a company for long-term viability, increased competitiveness, and sustained growth. More powerful and productive than any other approach, value-driven BPM helps you realize high value, low-risk ERP deployments or upgrades.

If you’d like to learn more about Columbus RapidValue BPM suite, you can watch a short demo here.


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