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Seamless ERP Process vs Jigsaw Puzzle of Spreadsheets

ERP puzzle under computer

Who likes change?  Most people would admit – Not Me!  Sorry to all you if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it believers, but sometimes improvement prevails even if things are currently running smoothly.

 Everyone has been through change, and if you are reading this blog, probably from a laptop or an iPad, you too are a survivor.  You’ve survived technological change.  And what an important change it has been.  It makes life and work faster, easier and in the long-run cheaper.  Now, change may be necessary for your company to survive…Process and Software Change!  Yes, I mean Integrated ERP Software!

 Take my old life, for example.  Product Management gathering information that is already somewhere in our system, then re-entering it into Excel so they have a hard copy to pass on to the next department to enter it into a product database, that will eventually feed into their manufacturing system.  All awhile, the forecasting team is using another system to research, compare and generate a forecast and then enters the info into another Excel spreadsheet and passes it on to the database department for them to enter the forecast. Let’s not forget the engineering department who is using another system to generate specs and product content then puts it all onto a different Excel spreadsheet and passes it off to another department to have it entered into their system.  Oh, wait! Some “higher-up” made a decision for product change (prices, color, size and forecast).  Now all the databases have to be changed AND don’t forget those Excel spreadsheets so that there’s reference to go back to.

 Oh sure, it worked; product made it to the stores.  For the most part, everyone knew their role and could follow all the system tweaks that were made on occasion.  But it was painful and wasted valuable time.

 So, you ask, how can integrated ERP software help a well-established company that is currently using multiple pieces of software to run their business?   It’s important for company owners to consider and plan for the company’s future and the growth of their business.  Understandably, this is a big undertaking.  ERP implementation requires money, transition plans and employee learning curve, but is absorbed after 1 year, (or in most cases in the first few months).  Us believers in change see the benefits to the future of the company in 1, 3 or 5 years. 

 I’m not saying that add on, stand-alone software may not work for a company; it very well may.  But the bigger question is…what are you trying to accomplish?  Will adding another piece of software to fix one (1) specific area of your business help to make the Company more efficient and profitable down the road?  If you are only interested in a bandage, this may work.

 If you are truly interested in improving data integrity and making Management’s time more productive with info at their fingertips for quicker decision making, spending the time and money now to align the company for future growth with an integrated ERP business system should at the very least, be considered.  All data captured within an ERP system can be used to monitor your business processes.   Many companies may opt for the quick fix, but in less than 2-3 years, they are adding and requesting more money to their yearly budgets to start up reviews for a new ‘integrated’ solution.  Spending the time and money sooner, rather than later, will put your business farther ahead rather than restarting reviews for software in a few short years. 

 ERP software creates a seamless path through all departmental and business processes in real time with a single entry… unlike the multiple handoffs I once had to live with on a daily basis.  In my old world, there was huge risk for human error, and believe me it happened along with unfriendly finger pointing.  That’s a major problem (double-entry) with separate systems that have to be manually linked.  And as I mentioned, a loss of real time data for management so decisions can be made before they are requested.

 Safe to say, most company mission statements include one, if not several of these objectives: to provide the best products to your customers, maintain the highest customer service, improve and create new products to meet customer needs and maintain a safe and friendly working environment for your employees.  By maintaining these high standards, you will arm your Company for growth and prosperity.  As you constantly strive to meet the demands of your customers, isn’t it just as important to remember to arm your team (employees) with software that will make their jobs more productive and efficient so they can perform the job they were hired to do?  With integrated ERP software in place…your one time entry at the quote/sales order stage follows all the way through to production – to product completion – to shipment and then triggers accounting that Invoicing needs to be processed.  No orders are left un-invoiced or lost.  Your revenue stream will increase with less errors and lost billings.

 Finally, to beat to death my initial point; those older, well established companies who are not using integrated software have employees that have been with the Company since the doors first opened.  You know…the if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it employees.  I encountered a few of those.   They become your go-to employees because they have inherent knowledge about the business and they have adapted over the years to find the best and easiest way to do their job.  They do things the way they’ve always done them (whether it is right or wrong) and they pass these traits on to new employees who eventually, through no fault of their own, fall into the same habit. 

 Following a process that probably isn’t even documented because of inherent knowledge, can and will hinder Quality Control when documentation may be a necessity with standards that must be followed and tracked. Even more troubling for a company is losing these knowledgeable folks. It becomes imperative for a business to establish standard business processes within the company and having them flow through an ERP business system where employees can review and gain the information they need from the system at any point in time. 

 When your ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’ employees are given the chance, they will see the light.  They come to realize the word change is scarier than change itself.


Barcode Software, ERP, ERP System, History of Software