It's springtime again and my favourite time of year, Christmas is now a distant memory and seeing the parks and road sides awash with vibrant colour is both up-lifting and motivating. It reminds me that it’s time to review the art of the possible and strive to keep my eyes open to the opportunities that the season brings.
Springtime it synonymous with the ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation and regrowth and this seasonal effect definitely produces some very similar business behaviour.
It is at this time of year that we see an increasing number of businesses re-igniting of old 'back burner' IT projects in a bid to utilise new, or re-inject old areas of the ERP System.
Areas that generally come under review during this Spring Clean include:
Timeliness of Information
Good businesses are often perceived as offering this because they provide their customers and suppliers with almost instant updates in an Amazon-esque 'keep you in the loop' style. So as soon as a sales order or purchase order is raised, the relevant documentation is sent immediately via email. In today’s automated environment it is surprising to learn that a lot of ERP system users still fail to implement this type of solution because of their reluctance to change, being somewhat happy with the 'status quo' of older batch style/end of day document printing, faxing and posting.
In the drive to reduce the time taken to perform regular transactions, such as stock taking, many businesses are choosing at this time to reassess the mobile market in terms of the solutions being offered. The encroaching year-end stock take reminds people of the previous year’s downtime and recounts, and causes uneasiness about what will be the write-on or -off figure affecting the final accounts. Some businesses also look at improving stock visibility and traceability by switching on additional warehouses, multi-bins, lot traceability and serial tracking.
Evaluating the Status Quo
Not the rock band unfortunately! When an ERP system is first implemented it is normally set up in such a way to be able to fit around the businesses processes. Despite ERP systems having plenty of scope to be changed as a business grows and develops, it is often the case that a business can change significantly and organically without actually noticing how significant the changes have been, or without a re-evaluation of the systems and their current fit to the changes in the business. This in some instances is referred to as application erosion (http://www.youtube.com/v/JhoqS78a0gE&hl=en&fs=1&).
This 'Spring Clean' is a good time for a business to look inwards and assess if the processes can be improved, adapted or removed, and also look outwards in order to assess if other competitor businesses are working in a leaner or more efficient manner.
Have you started your Spring Clean?
- Benchmark your business against others in your industry and assess what you do well and what you can improve on.
- Take time to review your internal processes that haven't changed in years and look for specific improvement areas.
- Attend industry specific conferences to improve your knowledge and networks.
- Constantly ask yourself the question: Can we do this better than our competitors? Your competition already is.
- Talk to your ERP supplier about how to get the most from your ERP solution.
- Invest in a GAP analysis to identify areas of your ERP System and processes that can be improved.
- Get involved in ERP forums and user groups, chances are someone may have already made improvements in an area you are starting to look into or haven't even considered.