3 Steps to Doing it Right and Getting Your Software Up and Running
“Why aren’t we using the Warehouse Management System? Every report I get is a spreadsheet!” boomed Chip, the COO of GoingNuts!, a fabulous brand of spicy nuts sold in almost every convenience store across North America. Sales were going nuts, too, spiking up 30% in the past six months and going strong.
“No one wants to use it,” said Dale, the Director of IT. “The users resist and say it’s too complex. They ignore the WMS’s out-of-the-box features for tracking inventory and warehouse operations, which don’t match the way they’ve always processed orders. The employees complain that the system is not intuitive and has too many fields to enter. So instead, they keep using spreadsheets."
“But we spent over a million dollars on that software. That was a year ago, and we need it now, more than ever, to meet on-time deliveries and to keep our fill-rates high. If we don’t stock and ship timely, we’ll lose everything we’ve gained. What’s going on?” Chip was frustrated. He mumbled to himself, “How could we have purchased the best of the best, and it still isn’t implemented?”
Alvin, the CFO, overheard the conversation and chimed in, “Yes, I keep asking for the Inventory report that I need to get to the auditors and it’s always off – I can’t get one to reconcile.”
Dale didn’t say anything, but he remembered that the CEO had wanted Chester, the Head of Sales, to manage the entire ERP implementation instead of hiring a Project Manager. Chester was the CEO’s best bud, so there was no use pointing out the many mistakes he’d made such that the WMS had not been well integrated, was not used, and did the company no good when it was now needed so badly.
Is your ERP implementation missing an entire department?
The scene at GoingNuts! is a classic case. The software had been highly recommended but didn’t seem to be the right fit once it was in place. At least, it hadn’t been well implemented to service the needs of the company. This was because the proper steps had not been taken before the software was purchased.
Here are three classic steps that help a company to ‘get it right:’
Say what you mean – Document the flow of information and highlight the functions and related reports that the company relies upon. Put this document into a Request for Proposal so that ERP suppliers can respond appropriately. If you do this, the right software has a chance of being selected. Most importantly, the Project Manager can directly address the features and functions that need to be implemented. This is not a time to hope that the software salespeople will understand through a mere oral conversation. Give them a chance to ‘get it right,’ too.
Know your Showstoppers – Since 75% of your needs will be solved by most of the commercially available ERP software, it’s important to know what is a ‘must have’ and what is a ‘nice to have.’ The ‘showstopper’ requirements are those that are unique to your business and critical to your success. These might include the ability to calculate commissions for your salespeople, track purchase orders in your unique manner, or trace food lots for potential recalls. While it’s true that hunting for the right ERP provider who can satisfy these specific needs can be time-consuming, if you don’t get your showstopper, you will be hobbled in the use of your new and expensive software.
Engage an Expert to Represent Your Best Interests – This is the most cost-effective decision you will make. ERP suppliers know how to ‘sell you.’ You don’t want to walk into a software purchase transaction without similar expertise on your side of the table. Seek out an expert who can lead you through this critical decision process and make sure that you get the full systems you need, and for a reasonable price. Importantly, the Project Manager selected will also get the systems implemented on-time and, as a bonus, will create a cohesive team from your staff who work together toward a successful implementation. Having the implementation accomplished with new features and functions running smoothly will open the door for you to focus on more sales.
If you take these three steps, you will increase the probability that your software will get implemented and you will be Up and Running!
Following a brutally honest staff meeting regarding the problems with the ERP, GoingNuts! took one step back, hired a Project Manager, and moved quickly through implementing WMS. None too soon, because sales kept rising and the company was on its way toward ‘cracking the nut’ of becoming a large and sophisticated company.
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Rubenstein / Justman Management Consultants (RJMC) assists mid-market companies to evaluate, select, and implement ERP solutions including Financials, Manufacturing, Distribution, Warehouse Management, Supply-Chain Solutions, CRM, and Data Analytics. We are skilled and experienced consultants who provide the Project Management that gets the project done. To start the dialogue, give us a call at 310-445-5300
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