ERP process mapping during the selection

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When selecting an ERP, mapping out your existing business processes is a vital stage during your selection. Process mapping shows how your business works, and how you’d like operations to be carried out in the future.

Ensuring your processes are mapped out fully during the ERP requirements gathering stage will make sure that you find the right system with the right capabilities for your business.

First thing’s first.

What is ERP mapping?

ERP mapping shows how your business processes are performed on a step-by-step basis. This documentation will provide a process map of how you’d like tasks to be performed - although, this is not necessarily how you perform them now in your current system.

Learn how to map your company processes in our ERP Selection Masterclass - complete with exclusive downloadable and video content 

Why is process mapping ERP important?

Companies that skip this step do so at their peril. 

A quick Google search will show you reams of ERP disasters where companies implementing expensive ERP systems have failed. All ERP systems have strengths and weaknesses, and all ERP systems have gaps. ERP failure has cost companies millions of dollars.

ERP systems are often designed to appeal to a large market so they’re configurable, but that flexibility and configuration can take months - and that’s before customization and modification. Without the process mapping process, we can miss out on functionality. 

The biggest pain points on our minds are often the most recent problems we’ve faced. We are often looking for solutions to these immediate problems whilst ignoring the 90% of things that are going right. The things that are working well will be taken for granted, and we’ll expect that functionality out of the new system. Sometimes this expectation will be correct, other times - not.

What processes should we map in our ERP?

ERP is the best opportunity your business has likely had to review what you are currently doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it. Process mapping is the opportunity to see what is making a profit, saving money, and what isn’t - and if so, why isn’t it?

Our process map should look at how we would like our processes to look in the future. A process, here, is not just an action; such as raising a purchase order. It's an end-to-end series of events, including across departments such as from sales to finance in your financial closing process, such as:

  • Recognizing the need to order something,
  • Raising and approving a purchase requisition,
  • Raising the purchase order,
  • Transacting the receipt,
  • Transacting the supplier invoice, and
  • Paying the invoice.

Your process map will allow critical functionality to be identified, and these will be your non-negotiable features. These should be genuine needs, not just wants. These feature requirements will be the basis for your ERP requirements document, or your invitation to tender (ITT).

Your process map will provide the functional fields in your ITT that your new ERP system needs; this is not necessarily a list of required reports, but rather how each department works and what business processes the system needs to support. Prospective vendors should be able to provide answers to how their system can support your business objectives. 

Your ITT should be specific about what needs to be done, but not specify how it needs to be done. Many companies base their ITT upon their current systems and effectively replace like for like; whereas this is the time to make process improvements and increase efficiency.

Companies also need to ensure that the document lists all of their business processes, as mapped above, and not just the ones that are causing problems today. We can all, in writing such documents, too easily forget the things that are working fine and assume that the new system will do all that the old system did.

The rule is that nothing is there until it has been verified as being there. No functionality is there until confirmed. Nothing can be assumed or taken for granted. And, this is why your ERP process map is so important.

Our ERP Selection Masterclass covers each step to selecting an ERP from determining business needs and requirements to shortlisting and ERP contracts - sign up today.

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Megan Meade

About the author…

Megan is the Editor at ERP Focus, and spends most of her time working with our content team and editing articles. Outside of work, she spends most of her time competing with her dogs in agility.

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Megan Meade

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