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About ERP Systems

Pain Points

Michael Roman - Monday, June 17, 2013

For the past few months, I have experienced a relentless excruciating pain in my hip, measuring 8.5 (on a scale of 1 to 10) on the pain level chart. My doctor identified the problem with my hip, but was mystified by the amount of pain I was experiencing. Long story short, after stepping back and looking at other issues I am facing, the medical team discovered that my hernia was impinging on nerves in the hip and leg area, however improbable that might sound. Turns out that everything in that part of the body is connected, and after minor surgery last week to repair a hernia, the pain level was reduced from 8.5 to 2.5. The reduced pain has helped me regain my better disposition, and after more surgery next week on the hip, the pain will likely be reduced to little or nothing – and I can smile again.

In past roles as an operations and supply chain manager, I became familiar with the many “pain points” on the job. The biggest headaches were missing data, lack of KPIs, the lack of a frozen production period for completing customer orders, no master production schedule, insufficient information defined for BOMS and routings, and no integrated business management tool.  As a group, we approached these problems individually within each silo of information, as if they were unrelated. Of course, we were not effective in addressing these issues because we failed to realize the interdependence of those silos of information that had little interaction with one another.

All too often, we miss the source of the pain in an organization because the pain is coming from a problem area that we have not considered. ERP systems are designed to help businesses identify problem areas, but in a business with a less than fully functional ERP system, it is difficult to locate the source of the pain. In that instance, users must address the ERP system shortcomings before the company can identify the source of the problem and repair the damage.

Our approach to problem solving at Manufacturing Practices is a simple proven method for success, and it starts with education of the top management team about the most effective use of ERP. We work with them to develop a statement of goals and an agreed-upon approach to project details, and then a statement of the problem and goals is passed on to the users, with an emphasis on education. Education is vital to the success of an ERP project, so user education begins the first week and provides everyone a clear picture of the project plans. When companies fail to properly educate the top management team and the user community, there is little chance of everyone having the same understanding of the importance of the project plan, the KPIs, the necessity of frozen planning periods, and all the rest. Without proper education, companies deploy their ERP System to quiet the loudest voice or the bully in the organization while ignoring the greater good of the organization.

Without proper education, companies miss the boat on a whole series of management reporting that can alert a company to possible failures of important components or systems that may adversely affect customer relationships. Without proper education, management may not have access to important information about supplier performance, supplier quality issues or supplier price performance.  Without proper education, missing customer delivery dates can occur, adversely affecting the customer relationship that might cost the company its future in the marketplace.

So take the steps with your ERP system that can eliminate the pain and lead to a full recovery. Use the system to help you discover those pain points and their relationships to other areas in the organization. If you do it right, you will reduce the overall pain level of your business and be able to smile again – and hopefully, all the way to the bank!

By the way, if you have read our more current blogs, you have noticed a number of LEADERSHIP articles written by Lee Ellis, a dear friend of mine who demonstrated the lessons of leadership at the Hanoi Hilton during his stay in North Vietnam. I asked him to grant me access to his blogs on leadership, which he graciously has done.  You may contact him by emailing or go to his website .

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