ERP Project Manager Diary: ERP Forecasting

Wow, I can’t believe almost a month has gone by since our project kickoff. It is amazing how much we have learned in a short amount of time.

Our issue log continues to grow. Marla and the rest of the ERP consultants tell us this is very normal and very good. Apparently, if there are few issues, its an indication that people are not being very honest. Given that criteria, we seem to be world class in honesty.

I feel good that we’ve made the ‘base unit of measure’ decision. Of course, since we chose metric, we have a new round of decisions to make. For instance, the purchasing people are pretty insistent that we cannot change our method of ordering materials from suppliers to metric, which provides ammunition to the English measure bigots, who refuse to stop reminding me daily that I will eventually regret this decision immensely. And the ERP master data team is beginning to question how to make the correct unit conversions back to English units since many of the conversions leave residual fractions. We may need a development object to get around that.

The huge topic this week is whether we are going to attempt to implement a formal ERP forecasting system at go-live or not. There are obvious pros and cons about each. On the pro side, Marla says that most successful companies do use ERP forecasting to drive raw material reservations, capacity planning, labor requirements, and revenue projections. On the con side, ERP apparently expects that you are going to execute the forecast more or less the way you put it in, which will be an absolute disaster for us. It is pretty well understood that while we fully intend to sell something next month, we rarely have any idea of what it might be. To be making decisions and commitments based on a guess that is certain to be incorrect seems like a very bad business idea; likewise, telling the executive committee that we are not going to use the system to generate forecasts seems like a very bad career idea. We’re going to have to see how it goes.

And lastly, I am getting hints and clues that the manufacturing team is faltering, primarily because the team lead seems to be in trouble. He was chosen because of his expertise in running today’s systems, but the amateur psychologists on the team say that he is so afraid of losing that reputation that he is insisting that ERP be modified to run and look exactly like what we have today. This is clearly a problem, because he is not easily replaceable; the pool of people who understand why these things work the way they do is not large. I’ll just have to work with him and see what happens.

Otherwise, the project seems to be going great!

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