An SMB Manufacturers’ Guide To ERP Implementation, Pt. 3: Business Review

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I discussed defining and understanding objectives. The next step is reviewing the business needs. This involves getting together with the stakeholders, business process owners and subject matter experts to gain an understanding of critical things needed to ensure operations are running smoothly.

Deep Dive into Requirements

We look at existing organization, processes and applications, the IT infrastructure those apps reside on and the underlying information and data. In all of those areas, the customer needs to be able to define and explain the various processes involved.

Here is a breakdown for each component:

  • Process: Which processes are in greatest need of improvement or redesign? Which of these need to be retained? Have all been standardized? How will processes be documented? Do we want to document these differently, or are we okay with how they're documented today? What are some of the shortcomings that need to be reconciled to meet objectives? An example might be if the customer doesn't have barcode labeling and printing, which would help them manage their inventory more accurately and efficiently. It might be improving data capture, so they achieve better visibility into their manufacturing costs.
  • Organization: How is the business currently organized? Is it organized the way we want it to be? Are there ways we'd want to do it differently in the future?  Make sure that the organization is aware of the upcoming transformation and ERP implementation. Are they aware of how that's going to impact them during and after the implementation, such as how their jobs and processes may change? Answering these questions ensures there is no element of disruptive surprise.
  • Applications: Is there a complete inventory of all business applications for each of the functional areas, and does that inventory contain all shadow applications? For example, are there Excel files in use where people are doing planning or executive reporting outside their existing systems? Are there other Access databases or software applications that IT is not aware of? It's important to understand that because, in the new system after the business transformation, information and processes managed elsewhere need to be done somehow, now is the time to get an understanding of what that is, so it can be incorporated into the overall solution.
  • Infrastructure: What are the pros and cons for the deployment options, such as on-premise or cloud-based systems? What hardware might be necessary, such as label printers, scanners and workstations? What do we have currently and what do we think we might want or need to meet our business objectives in the future?
  • Data: What data is required? What data is lacking today that if we had the data more readily available, we could make much more timely and informed decisions on running the business? What state are the master data sets in? Do they need to be redesigned and standardized?

At this point, leaders will have a much better idea of where they stand today, and what they wish to achieve.

Read on to understand how to make the work put into Executive Objective Analysis and Business Needs Evaluation to good use. Parts four and five of this series will help to shape the final three components of an ERP implementation road-mapping process.

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