3 Ways You Should Be Testing Your Distribution ERP

Test. Test. Then test again. And when everything seems to work, test once more. Those are always good rules to follow with any system implementation and a distribution ERP implementation is no different.

Test Inventory Management

Distributors rely on excellent inventory management. The business moves quickly and is measured on the ability to ship entire orders on time. Good distributors need to have great relationships with their customers, many of whom will order multiple orders in a day. Like most businesses, distributors can have bad days too and agile recovery plans combined with strong customer relationships can keep them in business and profitable.

Distribution ERP testing of inventory is all about transactions. Do they work? Can users complete transactions without errors? Can a substitute product be found and verified when the product a customer asks for is unavailable? Place a purchase order and receive it into inventory. Receive it cross dock to a delivery. Does the receipt show as ready to pay when an invoice arrives? Test your cycle counting. Does it identify all the parts correctly and provide a valid sample of inventory? Test other transactions too such as moves and scrap. Be sure shelf life verification systems work. Test customer orders, verify pick lists are accurate and that all deliveries are properly transferred to accounts receivable.

Test Customer Relations Management

CRM or customer relations management needs its own testing plan. Be sure it is easy to add new customers and properly categorize them. Test transactions such as logging a call or emailing a special offer. The pipeline from suspect to prospect to customer should work to perfection. Commissions for sales people should calculate in accurately and in real-time. Customers should be able to forecast future needs and that need appear as a possible demand on inventory. Customer communications of all kinds should work. Can you send an email? Can we receive an email? Can we use EDI or web services to communicate automatically. If we use a portal, does it provide the communication links to customers we want? As we stated in the introduction to this article distribution relies on strong customer communication. Fail to test your distribution ERP’s CRM module, prepare to fail.

Test Transaction Volume

Agility of all kinds is needed. SKUs should have the ability to show substitutes and any difference should be easily visible. We know the volume of transactions we expect on a normal day. What happens if we load the ERP system with ten times that volume or more? Does the system work satisfactorily or does it lag? Do we have alternate communication links if the system is offline? Can we print paper pick lists when the automatic pick system fails? Do we have off-site data and reserve systems to continue in business when a natural disaster occurs.

Testing ERP is about finding problems and probing the cause of these problems.

Test by running individual transactions and series of related ones. There should be failures. Testing ERP is about finding problems and probing the cause of these problems. Learn what to change and test again. Many of the changes will be to system configurations. Others will be to non-ERP processes and some will be to hardware or network systems. Even when a process is tested and has worked perfectly, try it again later. Some configuration change to correct a problem might have inadvertently caused another. You do not want to learn you have that new problem on go-live day.

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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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