This is the first in a series of blog posts exploring 10 key steps in successfully implementing an ERP solution for small-to-medium manufacturing businesses. We hope you find them useful; don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
First Things First
The first key to unlocking success in any comprehensive business endeavor, of course, is good planning and analysis.
It’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day running of a company and not take the time to look at the “big picture” of your company’s business processes. Many times it’s only when there is a glaring problem in those makeshift systems that business owners and managers are able to rationalize the time and attention necessary to address problems in a once-streamlined system that has since evolved into a complex array of inefficiencies.
Growth and Change
Take Customer Relationship Management, for example. As the company has grown and acquired more customers and prospects, your sales staff has probably also grown. There was a point at which it was easy enough for one or two salespeople to keep track of, and follow up with, all of your customers. As your business grows and your salespeople are talking to more people, the process gets more complicated without a system in place to makes notes, track progress, and get reminders for follow-up.
With a comprehensive CRM solution--ideally linked to your other business functions--everyone is on the same page as far as customer needs, follow-up information, and who is responsible for what action. Most businesses have a need for this type of system: one that tracks relevant data and measures results for your specific industry.
When You Need Help
At Parallel Solutions, we work primarily with manufacturing and distributing firms, so we understand the specific needs of these businesses. When we work with new clients, we like to go into a company and visit the manufacturing and warehousing facilities to get a complete understanding of how your business works. Then when we have a complete picture of the needs particular to your organization, we can help you prioritize which needs are greatest to maximize ROI as quickly as possible.
There are many options when it comes to business systems management and resource planning, which is why we don’t limit ourselves to just one software solution. We can ask the right questions and know how to get the information that will help us help you find the right solution for your unique business. We will help you determine what processes need to be automated to enable your business to run smoothly, efficiently, and profitably.
By taking the time to observe your organization, and with the help of our experienced consultants, you can make most well-informed choices about your business’ needs, maximizing your software investment dollars.
To learn more about how we can help you find the perfect ERP solution for your distributing or manufacturing business, call us at (440) 498-9920 today.
Because of the myriad options out there for Enterprise Resource Planning software, we cannot stress enough that your best option depends a lot on what you need the software to do, what you are using now instead, and the direction you see the company moving in the future.
As any software provider or vendor (and common sense) will tell you, the most important research needs to be done before you start kicking tires. What are the processes that are not going as smoothly as you’d like in your workflow? Where are the bottlenecks within the company? What kinds of planning would you like to be able to do that you don’t have the time or information to do now?
A great exercise is to write down the workflow steps from start to finish in your organization, both from an internal and external (customer’s) perspective. What do you get complaints about from customers? Complaints can be a big clue that there is a snag at that point in the process that can possibly be alleviated by a more streamlined setup. Plus, you get to visualize the big picture, which your everyday outlook may not allow for. With that information in hand, you’ll be prepared to have a constructive conversation about potential solutions that will fit your needs.
Looking at the steps and bottlenecks that you identified, make a note of what tools (if any!) the company is using now.
Are there seemingly millions of Excel spreadsheets hanging around, with no connection from one to another? Is there only one key person who knows what’s going on in a key area of operations? (God forbid that person gets sick!) Do orders have to be routed and input by a human, when it would be faster to automate? Knowing where all of your data is stored and in what formats will help your software partner craft the right solution for you.
Have you patched together a workaround system that has worked “well enough” until now? Make a wish list of information you’d love to have at your fingertips (historical data, projections, organized documents and spreadsheets, etc.) and think about how a good system will potentially alleviate stress, costs, and customer issues. When you have a picture of how the company can grow and continue to improve in functionality, not only will you have a better compass from which to steer, but that information will help you find the perfect tools to make your dream a reality.
At Parallel Solutions, we want to partner with you to make sure that the road to full ERP implementation is as smooth as possible. The first step is to make sure that we work together to find the right vehicle to get you the information and processes you need to be successful. Taking some time to look at what’s not working now and how it can be better will pay off in being able to craft the right solution to the problems you actually have. We work with a variety of software providers, so we can offer the best solution for your needs, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.
Mary Jo O'Neill