Solving the ERP Paradox, back to Lean
By Israel Rosales on Sep 5, 2014
In a previous post we looked at ERP Paradox in Supply Chain Management Processes and how an ERP implementation that was supposed to be a change for good and give us a competitive edge turned into a rigid corset for our business processes.
The “pace layering in enterprise systems” concept that we reviewed is without any doubt an improvement for this. It allows us to have more flexible layers over the rigid ERP backbone, But what specific actions should we perform to get back to the Lean way of life after an ERP implementation? Here are three steps to take.
1.-Make continuous improvements
To implement low cost continuous improvement we need more flexible tools than the IT ones provided by our ERP system. We need tools that allow us to:
- Gradually eliminate waste by using Lean principles to improve our processes and adapt them to the changing requirements from our customers.
- Empower front-line employees to implement improvements that are driven from the bottom up, reinforcing the continuous improvement internally to embed it as part of our company philosophy in all business areas.
- Avoid the need of a Big Bang project with huge budget and resource requirements. After a 12 months project the original requirements would have changed, requiring another round of changes.
2.-Free up valuable resources
ERP systems are black holes for data input; they demand more and more data. We don’t want our SCM experts to dedicate time for inputting data instead of thinking about how to improve or reduce waste along the processes.
Our warehouse team really adds value if they improve the warehouse processes, if they can cover more work with the same resources, or if they can reduce the lead time of our processes; not if they spend 3 hours every day in front of SAP’s blue screen. The same applies to other SCM areas like purchasing or production.
In order to reduce the amount of time they dedicate to feed the insatiable ERP system, teams need the right tools. These tools should:
- Be familiar and integrated with users’ daily business tools like Microsoft Excel
- Allow easy mass download, modification and upload from our ERP system
- Allow teams to run validations of the data while they work in Excel
- Require no software development or programming
With these tools, SCM teams will streamline data entry and processing by minimizing the manual handling of the ERP data (also eliminating the data re-entry) while providing a deeply integrated platform from data lookup, extraction and filtering to data validation and the final ERP update.
3.-Control more processes
ERP systems have really great functionalities to manage and handle complex parts of SCM processes. But they have a big Master Data maintenance drawback if we decide to implement them. Areas like transportation or packaging management are clear examples where the common ERP implementations touch only the surface of the possible ERP functionalities, because going deeper would require gargantuan amounts of Master Data maintenance.
If we have the tools to perform these Master Data tasks more quickly and easily, we can include these functionalities in the scope of our ERP implementation and better leverage our ERP investment.
How Winshuttle can help
Winshuttle provides your company with the tools to achieve these objectives. Make it part of your Lean initiative and accelerate how you:
- Make continuous improvements
- Free up valuable resources
- Control more processes
Winshuttle helps you do all of this with quicker non-programming tools that will allow you to keep the Lean way of life.
About the author
Israel has a degree in Computer Engineering from ETSII in Seville and an Executive Master Degree in SCM (Supply Chain Management) from ICIL Madrid, where he is also a part time lecturer for Lean Manufacturing. After 10 years in the SAP SCM arena, he joined Winshuttle in 2012 and is currently Enterprise Solutions Manager, specialized in Lean, SCM and Master Data. When he's not solving ERP problems, he shares his life with his wife, daughter and two dogs.
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