Why use business processes to bring harmony to your ERP project?
In the previous chapter, we talked about the importance of business objectives for your ERP strategy. Now, it’s time to take the next step: which business processes are linked to those objectives – and therefore require extra attention in your ERP project?
For example: If one of the main objectives in a production company is to reduce manual labor (and therefor labor cost), it's very important to know which business processes require high manual interaction. Only when we know which those processes are, we can take a closer look to determine where additional automation is possible.
2 in 3*
ERP projects fail or take longer than expected because of inadequate preparation.
*Sources: Gartner, Panorama Consulting, Technology Evaluation Center
There are 3 reasons why you should take the time to map your business processes before diving into the practicalities of your ERP project:
- An ERP project is the perfect time to take a critical look at your processes.
Before implementing an ERP track, it’s important to go beyond the classic features and functions list. A major investment like this is a unique opportunity to take a critical look at your way of working – and to optimize it. Take out the false notes, if you will. Processes and times change, and what was most efficient yesterday might not be today – let alone tomorrow. So why not explore some new possibilities?
- By plotting your ERP strategy on your business processes, you gain valuable insights.
Did your company grow internationally over the past years? Perhaps there were some acquisitions? There are a lot of reasons why different departments might be out of sync. Whatever the reason - an ERP project is the perfect time to harmonize them and to introduce process thinking.
By thinking in processes, you automatically start thinking cross-departmentally – or even involve third parties. You look at the bigger picture and map your end-to-end flows. When doing this, it’s important not to get bogged down into the nitty-gritty of how things run NOW, but rather how they SHOULD run. And of course, it’s equally important to determine what is required to get them to run smoothly and create added value. Because ideally, process thinking doesn’t just bring potential issues to light – it also allows new opportunities to waltz in.
- Mapping your business processes allows you to see the impact of your continuous optimization
Mapping your business processes is not just valuable in the moment, but also down the line, for future optimizations. For example: if I replace (part of) a system, what processes are affected? And how much? With a process library, you’re never dancing in the dark again.
It also makes it easier to work together with partners and your own key users: having a clear view of your processes lets you share them, discuss them, create training material and of course, select the right ERP partner.
You don’t start an ERP project to test out a new ERP product.
So why do you?
- To work and collaborate more efficiently across departments.
- To harmonize different divisions, for example after a series of acquisitions.
- To introduce a different way of working for customers and create added value.
Getting a read on your business processes
Mapping your business processes will form the framework for your entire ERP project – no small task! So where do you start? Each company has its own preferences and specifics, but this checklist should help you find your rhythm.
- Bring management and key users together and have a critical look at your way of working. Are you working in the most efficient way? Or do you need to rethink your flow? Don’t make the mistake of hanging on to your current way of working out of habit. You risk plotting your ERP solution on that unstable foundation. The tools support the process, not the other way around.
- Differentiate between key processes and supporting processes. What are the processes that allow your business to prosper and really make a difference? That’s where your focus should be. Not sure how to determine that? We have a library of industry best practices to help!
- Allocate levels of importance to your processes. Not every process is as important for your organization. Rank your processes in order of importance to have a clear guideline of where your priorities should lie.
- Don’t get bogged down into features and functions. Focus first on business processes and what they need to achieve. Only after that do the tools and technology come into play. For example: your sales process might include the requirement of processing an order within 24 hours. You should make note of that, not “I need x and y functionality in my ERP set-up” – that’s for a later stage .
False notes to watch out for when mapping your business processes
- Lead the dance, don’t follow. Make sure you stay in the lead when mapping your business processes. You’re telling the story of your organization – others can give advice, but you still have final say. Otherwise, you risk ending up with a document that’s thirteen-a-dozen.
- Watch out for generic, one-size-fits-all templates. These are often focused on general system requirements, not your company-specific key processes. However, if you really want a general template – even though we’d advise against it – here you go.
- Be guided by business impact, not an extensive wish list of your key users who shout the loudest.
- Prepare your team by bringing them together and listening to their needs. This way, you can make clear that you’re all after the same bottom line. You’ll introduce process thinking company-wide and get everyone dancing to the same tune.
May we have this dance?
Cegeka and Microsoft Dynamics 365: there’s music in that! Get in touch and let’s choreograph your ERP track together.
Two to Tango: there’s no I in ERP
To successfully start and finish an ERP project, it takes Two to Tango. Join us and our customers as we zoom in on all things ERP – from the perspective of true partnership. Featured in this first season: the full choreography of setting up your ERP strategy.