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Many companies replace their ERP system because they have to. Their system is no longer supported, is too slow, can’t facilitate growth etc. and these pain points grow to the point where they are unbearable so they set out to find a replacement ERP system. The replacement mind-set is often one of the most limiting factors for any ERP project.
The ambition should never be to replace a broken system.
Your business should aspire to find a solution that enables your business to operate at its best. To help you do this the business process review (BPR) phase of any ERP implementation project is crucial. It is one of the most cited critical success factors in ERP implementation projects. This is because it lays the foundation for several subsequent phases of a typical implementation project, such as system design, pilot phase, user training etc. all of which rely on clearly defined business processes.
Many businesses however underestimate the value of the BPR phase as they believe it is about mapping out current business processes in order to understand how the new ERP system should accommodate them. This myopic focus brings us back to our replacement ERP mentality and could lead to your new system replicating legacy operational efficiencies.
Yes, you need to map out your processes but reviewing them in partnership with your ERP implementation consultant is where the real value lies. Think of it as a business process redesign…. not review phase. Here your ERP partner will start by understanding your strategy then challenge your processes, impart their knowledge regarding industry best practices and ultimately suggest and work with you to implement improved business processes throughout the organisation; all supported by your new ERP system.
Worth a read: 5 Key Areas Modern ERP Can Impact Your Business
Listen to the advice of your ERP consultant and assign adequate time to the business process review as it will lay the foundation for the future success/failure of for your ERP project. It would be a grave mistake to dismiss the time your consultant has allocated to this phase and rush it simply to meet a project deadline.
It’s also extremely important to ensure your personnel are aware of the time they will need to dedicate to working with the consultant to facilitate the business process review. This should be assigned the upmost priority from day one to ensure its importance is not underestimated.
This brings us onto the topic of senior management support. As we noted earlier this is not an IT project. Your ERP project will or should be aiming to improve or redesign inefficient processes, allow for faster information based decision making, improve customer satisfaction, increase margin, reduce costs, improve quality and/or increase employee morale. These deliverables can only be delivered with mass buy-in across the organisation; driven and reinforced by every member of the senior leadership team. If employees are of the impression that any member of the management team is trivialising the importance of the ERP project (particularly the BPR) this attitude will filter down throughout the organisation.
As you map out your processes your consultant will be there to guide you as to how your processes should be optimized or indeed re-engineered to deliver maximum value for your organisation. You and your team need to be prepared to be open to hearing and taking on-board these suggestions.
You may find that many employees may be unwilling to change existing business processes. This may be because they are afraid their job may change dramatically or even become redundant. It’s the role of the leadership team to reassure employees that full training will be provided and any productivity efficiencies gained will enable employees to deploy their skills and talents on other ‘value added’ activities. Showing employees how their day to day job will in fact become more enjoyable will help dispel their fears and drive engagement.
Your ERP system should form the backbone of your company impacting stakeholders across every level of your organisation; both internally and externally. Therefore, it’s important that employees from all departments are included in the business process review. Give your consultant access to key department personnel to enable them to document all vertical and horizontal processes and indeed understand any external processes involving suppliers and customers. The aim here is to build end-to-end process workflows showing the interdependence of tasks, roles, people, departments and functions required to provide a customer with a product or service.
This level of inclusiveness will give your consultant a more thorough, holistic understanding of your organisational BIG PICTURE to enable him/her to recommend suggestions that will truly add value to your current modus operandi.
Your new system will support your business process changes but it’s your people that will make those changes happen. Therefore, in addition to the user training provided by your ERP partner we would also advise that companies run some additional internal training before the system is implemented to highlight to employees what business processes are changing, why they are changing and how their job role will be impacted. This will help your employees get the most out of the system training phase as they can fully appreciate the processes it has been configured to accommodate. It will also help the leadership team map out how they can maximise the productivity of their staff from the day the system goes live.