In our prior post we touched on the first two of five tips for ensuring reduced costs and improved competitive differentiation by analyzing and then reengineering your business processes before you implement a new ERP system. We ran out of space before we could cover the final 3, as suggested by the folks at Panorama Consulting, so we’ll wrap up with those last 3 business process reengineering tips today.
The third tip is to define and quantify your potential cost savings. Start by looking at your pain points relative to your current state, and evaluate how you can map solutions to these in the new system. Look for areas of improvement such as automating your current manual processes. Look for areas of redundant data entry. (We’ve found it’s not unusual for customers to record the same data three or more times by different people in different places for different reasons.) Time spent looking for information in multiple disparate silos is one of the all-time great time-sucks with its resultant expense. Take the time to quantify the times and economic gains – if only because you’ll be astounded at the waste you’ll find and thus all the more anxious to keep your automation project moving forward.
Step four is to evaluate non-labor savings as well. How much could you reduce inventory with better visibility into your supply chain, your work-in-process or your purchasing channels? With better visibility over inventory, how much better might you project customer demand? What about accounts receivable? Is it as automated as it could be? Non-labor savings are important because most companies are not going to lay off people when they create the labor savings noted in our prior paragraph. Those tend to be soft cost savings, whereas non-labor savings fall into the hard costs category and are often more immediately tangible.
Finally, measure the results, striving for realistic, incremental improvements. It’s a process, not an event. You won’t realize the benefits if you don’t measure the results, but you’re not likely to create miracles overnight. The cost savings will come gradually, but they will come. To ensure that cost savings materialize, be sure you’ve defined the proper criteria and mapped out the expectations. Equally importantly, be sure all your users are clear on what you’re doing and the results you are expecting. You’re looking for root causes of waste, identifying means of correction, building improved processes into your software workflows, eliminating redundancy and waste… and then measuring your progress (and fine-tuning) until your see the results you’re looking for – or understand why not.
The bottom line though is very real: Implementing real process change as the natural precursor to implementing an ERP system will provide the economic justification and eventual payback for having implemented in the first place. So don’t skip the critical analytical work that will ultimately deliver the cost savings you did it all for in the first place!