Now that you’ve installed your ERP system, what are your plans for making certain that you can resolve any ERP problems that emerge over the long term? It would be nice if no problems ever emerged, but that is probably not a realistic plan. The answer is that formally, or informally, someone in the organization must take the lead in resolving problems and provide ERP support.
Let’s examine the informal approach first. Even though this can come across on paper as not managing at all, it has some pros that go along with the obvious cons. The informal approach is defined as no specific person or persons being assigned ERP support responsibility by a superior, but rather, when a problem arises, someone steps forward of their own volition and resolves it. Before you chalk this up to wishful thinking keep in mind the probability that someone in your organization either has, or discovers, a passion for resolving computer problems. Someone with that passion will often work on the ERP system for fun, during lunch or after hours. The big risk is that he or she is much happier resolving ERP problems than performing well in his or her primary responsibility. So ultimately, you still have to manage such a person. And be sensitive to the total work load; if the company grows, then both the primary jobs and the ERP support grow, and your informal support person starts feeling like he or she has a job and a half without adequate compensation.
The formal approach is for someone to be designated specific responsibility to provide ERP support after implementation, whether that means correcting erroneous transactions, or contacting the vendor about an apparent system bug. Obviously if you can afford a full time IT person, this assignment is a no-brainer, but what if no such position –or budget for such a position - exists? Then you have to get creative and find a way to create time for someone. In every organization, there are typically people who are either under loaded, or fully loaded with unimportant things. People will stay busy, even if they create unimportant things to do, so you have to find these tasks and eliminate them. Then, you use that time to offload important work from whoever can support your ERP system. To identify this kind of make work, pay attention to how much the organization suffers when different people are out sick or on vacation. If someone is gone all week, no one is complaining about having to cover two jobs, and nothing really adverse happens, then there are probably parts of that job that could be deferred.
Most business people recognize that ERP systems add value by accelerating administrative productivity and streamlining information flow. Most business people do not consider, however, that it takes people to keep those ERP programs running. As with any ERP decision, it is not an easy task to select an ERP support strategy.
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