3 ERP Workarounds Crippling Your Business

Workarounds wrecked my warehouse! That may be an exaggeration, but the alliteration works. We all have ERP workarounds in our business processes. Sometimes they were developed to fill a need that had to be filled there and then. On other occasions they were developed by people who just didn’t understand the ERP system and how to use it. They are hard to get rid of once they have taken root. We might work around a two-step ERP process using a four-step workaround, but we’ve always done it that way.

Disparate Databases

Look for where people use spreadsheets. You will likely find ERP workarounds. It is these workarounds that will lead to poor data communication and integration. The quality technician measures wafer thickness using a sophisticated tool and copies the data to a spreadsheet. There is data going back years that might provide a clue to the engineer who wants to improve a production process but she is unaware the data exists. Our ERP systems support test plans that define what should be tested and provides a place within the ERP to store results. The system can even alert us to out of tolerance values and trends.

Spreadsheet CRM

Sales people might use spreadsheets to track leads and prospects. That is better than no system but why not use the CRM component of the ERP system? If they say it is too hard to use, maybe they just haven’t been trained. Maybe the default system is forcing them to input data irrelevant to their needs. Maybe the boss just hasn’t said to them “You MUST use the ERP”!

ERP workaround spreadsheets also are a security risk. It is very easy to take the lead list on a spreadsheet to the next employer. It can be downloaded from an ERP too but the process is a little harder and the actions are tracked within the ERP.

Whiteboard Scheduling

Whiteboards will also point to ERP workarounds. Do you have one at the receiving station to help the clerk watch for the hot delivery expected today? You could also set an alert in the ERP that is triggered when the PO receipt is scanned. Do you have one in production with a list of orders that must ship today? Just raise the priority for the job and reschedule shop production. Those orders will be the first ones on the dispatch report.

We had whiteboards in the warehouse to pre-kit orders that were incomplete. We had so many kits with 19 or the 20 needed parts waiting for the 20th one to arrive that the aisles were all blocked and we often had to rob from the pre-kit to supply another job that could be finished today.

Where are the workarounds in your business? What are you going to do about them?

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller