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Implementing ERP Systems Quick Implementaion Criteria

August 20, 2008

Quick ERP Implementation:

There are quite a few cases where the Quick-Slice implementation approach makes a lot of sense. See if any of these fits your situation.

1. ES software installed without process improvement.

We mentioned this one at the beginning of this chapter. Here’s the problem: what are the chances of getting the people all geared up and excited about a company-wide ERP implementation, after they’ve gone through all the agony and angst of installing the Enterprise Software system? Once again, two chances: slim and none. These folks are burned out and will probably be that way for some time.

Quick-Slice ERP can give a major boost here. Quick success on a major slice of the business can go a long way toward rekindling enthusiasm. Nothing succeeds like success. Further, Quick-Slice ERP should be low cost here because the company already has software, which as we saw, is the largest cost element in implementation.

2. Re-implementers.

The company implemented ERP or MRP II some years ago but didn’t do a good job of it. Now it wants to re-implement so it can get all the benefits of ERP. However, strong negative sentiment exists within the company; people are saying things like, “It didn’t work the first time. Why should it work now? Let’s not waste our time.”

This is typical. In a re-implementation, one of the hardest things is to break through people’s resentment and frustration, and it almost always makes for a more difficult job than a first-time implementation.

Note the similarities between this situation and the one above. In both cases, the people are frustrated and the software has been installed. If it’s older software, it might not be very good. But, as we saw in previous posts, chances are very high that it will be good enough to get the job done.

3. Quick payback/self-funding.

Top management understands and wants ERP, but wants a quick payback for any one of a number of reasons:

  • Funds are not available from corporate.

  • The current year’s budget has no provision for a major expenditure of this type.

  • The senior managers are new and want to make their mark quickly and decisively.

  • And/or the company’s approach to major improvement projects is that they be self-funding.

This last point is a somewhat radical notion, not widely practiced. However, we feel that it represents perhaps the best way to mount major improvement initiatives within a manufacturing company. Pay as you go.

4. Middle management sells up.

Operating-level people understand the need for ERP and want it desperately. Top management doesn’t see the need, nor are they interested in shelling out big bucks for what they might feel is a computer deal to order parts. They won’t take the time to learn about ERP, nor will they authorize an audit/assessment. A Proven Path implementation on a company-wide basis is just not in the cards.

The solution here could be a Proven Path implementation on a Quick-Slice basis. Quick Slice is low dollars, low risk, high return, quick results. It just might get their attention.

It did at Engelhard Industries Chemical Group in Great Britain. The project leader there, Andy Coldrick, made it happen on a Quick-Slice basis. In so doing, he and his team demonstrated to senior management the enormous power of what was then called Manufacturing Resource Planning. Once they saw it with their own eyes, they were convinced. They then proceeded to lead a company-wide implementation with Class A results.

5. Jumbo-sized company.

Companies[2] whose head count is well into the thousands typically have a more difficult time implementing ERP (or just about any other major improvement initiative, for that matter). The reason is, simply, more people—more layers in the organization, more communications interfaces, more competing initiatives underway, more opportunities for people not to get on board, more time required to make things happen, and so on.

The Quick-Slice approach dramatically reduces the size of the effort. One can “get one’s arms around” an organization of a few dozen or even a few hundred people, and things can happen quickly. Obviously, the first slice would be followed by another and another and another.

6. We’re unique; we’re different.

Let’s say the company is in a somewhat specialized industry; perhaps it makes widgets. The company thinks it may want to implement ERP, but it’s not sure. The reason: No one in the widget business has ever tried ERP. Management is reluctant to invest big bucks until they can see it working.

Quick-Slice ERP provides the opportunity to do this quickly and with very little cost.

7. Bleeding from the neck.

The company is in dire financial straits and needs help quickly: negative cash flow, red ink, rapidly eroding market share, whatever. Survival may be at issue. Although ERP may clearly be the answer, there might be too little time left for the company to take the 15 to 20 months necessary for a company-wide implementation. Quick Slice, on the other hand, gives major results in a short time.

One of the earliest documented implementations of this type occurred for exactly this reason.[i] The Quick-Slice approach saved the company.

8. Others.

There are probably other good reasons that mitigate for a Quick-Slice approach to implementation. One might be: “Why not?” Why not do it this way? It’s fast; it’s low dollars; it’s low risk; it generates big results.

Here’s what we recommend: When evaluating whether or not to do a Quick-Slice implementation, don’t ask yourselves: “Why should we do it?” Ask yourselves: “Why not?” Start from there.

Are there any reasons not to do Quick Slice? Yes, there are a few:

1. No logical slice.

This could be a company whose products, components, raw materials and manufacturing processes are highly interwoven. There may be no valid way to “slice out” a product family.

2. Unable to create flow manufacturing.

This is the process analog of the prior case. There are a few companies— job shops —with such a multiplicity of work centers and such low unit production volumes that creating cellular flow manufacturing may be next to impossible.

3. Two systems.

The company will be operating with the new ERP processes on the slice product(s) and components, and with the current system on the rest. This will continue until all of ERP has been implemented on all of the business. It can be awkward. Further, some companies and industries have stringent reporting requirements to their customers, their owners, regulatory agencies, and others; compliance may be difficult when using two different sets of business processes for an extended time.

4. Very small company.

This is the flip side of the jumbo company mentioned earlier. In a very small organization, the difference in elapsed time between company wide and Quick Slice may be very little. This could mitigate for doing it all at once.

5. Lack of urgency.

Implementing Quick Slice is intense because of the time pressures to get results quickly. If a strong sense of urgency isn’t present, Quick Slice won’t be the best way to go. More on urgency in a moment.

6. Longer (maybe) to Class A.

Using Quick Slice will, at least in theory, take longer to reach Class A ERP. Consider the following Quick-Slice implementation:

Step

Time

Implement first phase

4 months

Implement second phase

3 months

Implement third phase

3 months

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