8 years ago we first published a series of posts entitled “Software That Matters.” It was an ERP implementer’s point of view, culled from long experience, on why and how to purchase a business management software system. Later, we turned Software That Matters into a popular white paper that has since been viewed hundreds of times.
Now eight years later, we thought it was time for an update, to reflect lessons learned since then. (We also did a 2015 update three years ago.) Much of what we wrote then remains every bit as true today. But we decided again to carefully retrace our steps, re-edit our paper, add some comments and present it as a series of blog posts that will carry us through November, 2018. We think that’s timely, as many companies at this time of year tend to reconsider the software they use to run their business — and how they might do better.
In our series we will again try to convey what’s important, what to measure, how to buy, what works, what it costs… and the many other business considerations required of this strategic investment, in what is probably the most important (and expensive) software a company will ever buy. In other words, the Software That Matters.
Asking Why On The WayTo A Better Answer
Starting with the premise that ERP is, above all, a strategic investment, the point is to create long-term strategic business advantage by being able to deliver your company’s products or services better than your competitors.
That strategic advantage might be faster fulfillment, or orders shipped more completely, or services delivered less expensively, or perhaps a level of service or product customization competitors can’t match. In virtually all cases, it is best accomplished by creating and managing business processes that are optimized to deliver the greatest possible value to a customer at the lowest cost.
How do you do this?
Well, for one, you find ways of doing things cheaper, faster, better. That’s where the ERP edge begins.
Utilizing computers and software as a competitive edge usually starts with eliminating human redundancy, eliminating tasks that have to be done more often than necessary, making tasks easier or more foolproof, eliminating or reducing errors, and improving and streamlining your processes through automation.
In virtually every company we work with, we see redundancy and waste. It’s not the plan, it’s just the way things developed over time. This is where the power of WHY comes into play… and how
it leads to ERP.
One of the lessons we’ve learned over the years – and can never apply enough – is to ask clients Why? Why do you print that report every week? Why do you keep so much safety stock? Why does your staff spend so much time ‘following up’ on (or “expediting”) orders? Why do you have thousands of redundant bills of material? And so on…
The answers almost always lead to further Why’s as we drill down to the core, underlying issue(s) – issues that often are actually pretty far removed from the initial inquiry. More often than not, things are done the way they are because, well, we’ve always done them this way. It used to make sense.
So to close the circle: with today’s technology, with today’s newer ERP systems, with an intelligent look at your business’ processes and procedures, it is possible to identify and correct or eliminate the wasted steps, the redundant processes, the disorganized data and disconnected systems. And today, it’s possible to streamline, tighten up and tie together much of an organization’s information under one umbrella — or at least, fewer umbrellas than ever before.
That umbrella of unified and consistent information, available to all who need it, becomes the foundation for your management team’s ability to make the right decisions about the right issues and products at the right time.
And that is the essence of ERP.
In our next post, we’ll look at the key motivators behind most ERP decisions. Stay tuned…