Should you ‘process reengineer’ before undertaking an ERP implementation?

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I get asked all the time – “Will implementing an ERP solve our business process issues in one magic wave of a wand?” OK, so that may not be word for word, but the point still stands – everyone wants a quick fix.

Whilst it’s unequivocal that implementing a cloud ERP will give you the best chance to optimise your business performance, my answer to that question is more often than not “not really.”

The importance of carrying out business process reengineering before implementing an ERP cannot be understated. In many instances, cloud-based software includes ‘best practice’ business processes as default, but it’s a not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and nor will it ever be.

So why do I advocate business process reengineering before you begin your ERP implementation?

THERE’S A REASON WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO

One of the major selling points of a cloud-based system is that you kiss goodbye to all those spreadsheets and process maps sprawled all over your computer’s desktop. And while yes, it is true that this sort of process organisation is inefficient and unnecessarily time consuming, at the end of the day the process works for you and gives you an advantage over your rivals, it’s just that it needs to be supercharged.

Reengineering your processes without being anchored down by pre-defined software configurations just makes sense and will ensure you are merely tuning up what works for you – not re-inventing the wheel.

ERP SYSTEMS CAN TAKE YOU DOWN MANY PATHS, MAKE SURE ONE OF THEM IS YOURS

Do you remember those ‘choose your own adventure’ books? You, as the reader, would choose your own destiny by determining your movements from a couple of different options. “If you choose to take on the dragon, go to page 43. You want to run from the haunted castle? Page 72 is for you.

Well, a cutting edge cloud based ERP system is a lot like one of those books. There are literally tens-of-thousands of configurations – and decisions – that you can, and need to, choose from when setting up your process flow in a new ERP implementation. If you don’t have a well-defined business processes before undertaking an implementation you will be flying blind, and inevitably it leads to you having to go back and change them when you figure out they don’t work. It wastes time and money.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL

As I mentioned earlier – a lot of the time pre-defined best practices aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Out of the box business processes can be ok, but ERP vendor’s don’t know your business like you or a dedicated business consultant does.

Take the time to define custom processes that give your company a point of difference. You don’t want to use a series of processes that your rivals are using, you want something better.

SEE THE FUTURE TODAY

Often improvements to business processes can be seen and felt without the ERP system being fully implemented. Reengineering processes that are not optimized prior to undertaking an ERP implementation gives employees a taste of the improvements to come down the line, without the timeframe that often comes attached to a major change.

We hear all the time that change management is a big part in moving to a new and improved system. Drip feeding employees and stakeholders with improved processes is sure to make the transition easier for all involved.

DON’T END UP AUTOMATING BAD/BROKEN PROCESSES

If you rush into an ERP implementation without first reengineering and defining good business processes, you will only achieve a faster route to failure and frustration.

Having sound business processes in place prior to undertaking an implementation will mean that your implementation will be a pain-free task, over with before you know it. It will also mean that the processes you do want to automate are the ones you automate, cutting out the bad processes before the implementation is underway.

It’s only natural for customers to want to jump right into the implementation process. It makes sense; the sooner you implement the sooner you see the benefits of the cloud. What I will guarantee is that if you take the time to get it right up front, your implementation will be smooth sailing and you’ll soon be enjoying all the great things the cloud can bring your organization, without having to reprocess mid-implementation.

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