Part 3 of 3: Recognize that Your Business Perspective is Unique and Important
The procurement and implementation process for a new business management system is very similar to the home building process we described at length in our last article. If you have not read it, we’d like to encourage you to do so. The first rules in making a good choice and having a successful business management software implementation is to ‘Do Your Homework and ‘Don’t skip steps’! Knowing what you’re getting into before making the decision to change business systems is crucial to the success of the project.
This is your business management system, not someone else’s. Your business management style is unique; therefore, your business management system will be unique. Yes, the software will be the same, but the method of utilization and configuration will be personalized to meet your specific business requirements. We aren’t talking about debits and credits. We are talking about the actions that amplify and capitalize on your competitive advantage; those that make your business profitable; and that keep your customers coming back for more. Your business is not “just like the guy down the street.” (If you are, one or both of you will be out of business soon.) You must capitalize on your business strengths, exploit your competitive advantage and shore up those areas that are weak. Your business management software is a tool to help you do just that. A new business management system will either help you or hold you back.
Don’t let the excitement regarding the project cause you to cut the planning and analysis phases short. We have seen our clients’ double, triple and even quadruple sales volume without adding more administrative staff after we helped them implement a well-designed and executed business management system. On the other hand, those that rush into a new system without first doing their homework and laying the ground work often require numerous fixes after implementation should be complete because the new system does not line up properly with their business process. A significant key to productivity and profitability is leveraging your most expensive and flexible asset – your people – with your technology. Let your computer do what it does well so that your people can do what they do well.
One of our clients added a new customer who placed many small orders from several hundred locations. The new customer volume promised a good increase in sales, but entering the orders would have required at least one full-time employee. Adding the employee would have cost most of the profit from the additional sales. We helped our client devise a simple spreadsheet and a process to import it into the ERP application. The spreadsheet managed additional information that the customer required and let the customer’s managers enter their orders into the spreadsheet and email the order to our client. The import process is working so well that our client is increasing productivity by using it with other similar customers. While transaction volume has increased, they have not had to hire additional staff to do the work.
In order to get the desired end result, (a business management system that runs like a well-oiled machine) you must first identify and document your business requirements. Take some time to interview key staff members and note the processes that are crucial to maintaining ongoing efficiencies? What things make your organization unique? Alternatively, ask your employees to communicate regarding parts of your process which are unnecessarily difficult. This will better prepare you for the business system research process, ensuring that you end up with the right platform and capabilities.
While you are documenting your requirements, make sure that your business objectives are quantified. Your objectives will help you stay on course as you decide between various requirements and approaches. Your objectives will provide a framework for determining the best fit for your company. Defined objectives will also help you manage the myriad of conflicting and divergent ideas you will examine during the next several months. Finally, defined objectives will give you a standard against which you can measure the success of your project.
For a comprehensive whitepaper covering all three steps needed in preparation for a new ERP system, please download a copy of our guide below, compliments of BASM.