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About ERP Systems

ERP & LEAN

Michael Roman - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

By Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

Proponents of LEAN processes often seem at competitive odds with those who support the use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. While we at Manufacturing Practices, Inc. (MPI), favor the use of ERP systems by our clients, we also recommend complementary LEAN processes to effect discreet process improvements where needed.

LEAN processes improvements differ dramatically from ERP system deployments. Lower level management personnel and frontline supervisors typically conceive and execute LEAN projects.  LEAN processes most often focus on small scale, tactical process improvement to eliminate various forms of waste from that process. More than just a process, an ERP system acts as an important management decision support system that holistically integrates key corporate functions. This integration helps reduce internal communication barriers, enhance cross-functional management awareness, and speed the management decision-time cycle process to provide a competitive advantage.

The assorted benefits of incorporating LEAN processes within an ERP system deployment prove important, but empowering employees to support needed change and pursue continuous improvements to productivity are priceless. We see ERP as the “Go To” System when making decisions about resources (labor, cash, materials) necessary to run the organization.  We depend on ERP to determine which monetary investments will deliver the biggest bang for the buck.  ERP also helps us understand which markets need a focused sales campaign and where to position inventory for better customer service.

One cannot simply describe ERP systems as a process methodology. In effect, ERP systems connect the strategic vision and business planning of the corporate executive team to the execution of the planned production processes and to the control systems on the factory floor. 

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