Last time, we discussed what to look for when you begin the process of vetting an ERP provider. We discussed all of the things that the manufacturing software partner should be doing before even making a recommendation. This time, we want to discuss some of what should be expected after the "Go Live" point.
A top-notch ERP vendor will help with the training necessary to bring employees on board with the ERP software. Though the balance differs from one manufacturing company to the next, typically the best case scenario is a combination of on site training, web based training and an easy to navigate self help system. By helping bring employees through the training process, the change to the manufacturing software is managed and implemented more smoothly. It is also critical to identify the employees who will need to use the software, let them know change is coming, and communicate with them the many benefits. Many of these employees may not have been part of the initial discovery process, so communicating with them will be the key to change management.
Explain that there will be a training process that will be needed for them to succeed. Establish timelines and benchmarks to ensure that individuals are sticking to the plan and that critical processes are being followed. Give frequent updates, keeping everyone posted on the stages of the project.
On one level the implementation of ERP software is technical, but on another is it’s about educating your most important asset, your people, and achieving one hundred percent "buy in" on your manufacturing software implementation.
As with implementing any new process, the ability to adapt and adjust is important. Just because you've selected a new manufacturing software and defined new processes doesn't mean you should stop looking for ways to improve. At this point a lot of people are tempted to disband the original team and end the meetings, however this is still a critical stage. Here is when you should be deciding if your early choices are worth keeping or because of new technology are there smarter ways that things can be done. Ongoing, new technology or new company goals may also cause processes to be adjusted. Both your team and your vendor should be actively involved in continuing to recommend improvements.
We suggest hosting periodic review meetings to analyze your existing processes and how your manufacturing ERP software is helping you keep those processes efficient. It's a great idea to get your workers involved in these meetings. Specifically, focus on a department or two each time you have one of your review meetings, and give them the opportunity to have an honest discussion about ways they think you may be able to improve your process flow. Their perspective can be critical in identifying issues on the floor that would otherwise go unseen. You can then work with your ERP provider to find better ways to solve these issues using your manufacturing software.