3 ERP implementation errors small manufacturers make

Small manufacturers just do not have the staff numbers or budget that some of their larger competitors might have. That doesn’t lead them to ERP implementation failure but there are some common software project mistakes that small manufacturers make.

1. Consulting all departments but ignoring disputes

Often there is one functional group leading the charge toward ERP. Someone has to be the leader in a small business but others must follow too. The finance department might feel a need for better reporting capabilities and push for ERP. But if production is working well without ERP they may not be fully on board. The “E” is for enterprise and that means all the players in the organization should be involved in project decisions. The challenge to small businesses is to mediate disputes - which are more common due to relative weight of one individual's views in a small business - during the ERP implementation planning phase.

Small manufacturers have the luxury of being able to quickly consult all the key stakeholders before an ERP implementation decision is made

Small manufacturers have the luxury of being able to quickly consult all the key stakeholders before an ERP implementation decision is made, something that may take a large enterprise months of planning to execute.

2. Re-engineering processes alongside ERP implementation

Small manufacturers have a need for ERP just like any business, but they will also need to re-engineer processes from time to time. They must keep in mind there are only so many available resources for any improvement project.

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Think carefully; process reengineering and ERP implementation are both projects that require huge resources and a great deal of effort. Does the re-engineering depend on ERP? Consider finishing the ERP implementation and defer the benefit from reengineering, or vice versa. Better to have both projects completed successfully over a longer time frame than both projects fail because of a lack of resources.

3. Overreliance on ERP consultants

The same shortage of resources can lead a small manufacturer to rely too heavily on consultants. Consultants have the required expertise. They have implemented ERP many times already for clients both large and small. Even though most smaller clients believe their ERP consultant could complete the implementation blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back, it is vitally important to stay involved in the ERP implementation throughout. It will go slower. Mistakes will be made. But the ERP implementation will have vital input from the users and management which will encourage system adoption post go-live.

Besides, the ERP consultant will be gone someday soon. They will move on to their next client. Who is left behind to maintain and continue to improve on the implemented ERP? It needs to be the small manufacturer. Small manufacturers are often very self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency should extend to ongoing ERP management.

When the time is right, small manufacturers can implement and use ERP to help meet their goals. Get the whole enterprise involved, take on only as big a project as can be successfully completed, and remember the project is yours, not your consultants.

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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

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