Mastering Circumstances

lemonade-e-juiceERP implementations can lead you into seemingly insurmountable circumstances.  By mastering these circumstances, you can overcome any roadblock to success.  The truth is that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

The typical expectation of the ERP client is to set a go-live date and budget to meet at all costs.  Quite appropriately, ERP implementation projects are functions of time and money.  However, objectives are not as easily encapsulated because they are a function of circumstance and capacity.

Circumstances have to be considered before you can set an achievable goal.  Configuring the software is the smallest task of the ERP implementation project.  The biggest and most important task is to educate and indoctrinate the users.  Even if the system is configured properly, it will not be a success if users don’t know how to use it, or don’t want to use it.  Implementing a barcode scanning solution in the warehouse seems like a simple enough task, but if inventory is already inaccurate, disorganized, and no formalized processes exist, you need to organize the warehouse and (more importantly) the employees before introducing a system that can be successful.

Capacity is also a critically under-appreciated aspect of implementing ERP.  Process owners and users have to learn and build confidence in the new system.  In order to do so, they need to devote time out of their daily routine to devote to this process.  However, beyond the time commitment also comes the employee’s capacity to learn and adapt.  Simply devoting time to training on the system does not guarantee comprehension or ownership.  Employee training process has to be tracked and confirmed in order to achieve true success in implementation.

Unfortunately, circumstances and capacity have a critical, yet intangible affect on the success of the project.  After planning carefully and meeting all of your milestones, you may still find that achieving the go-live date and budget are not possible.  Systems are only as valuable as the operators using them.  Your design has to adapt to the foundation the system is built on: your employees.

Given this uncertainty, the reflex reaction is to throw in the towel.  Avoid putting time and money into an uncertain investment.  Instead, I would encourage you to consider altering your expectations for success.  Perhaps you won’t be able to successfully implement a barcode scanning system in your warehouse.  But you may be able to achieve a warehouse reorganization, organized processes, and inventory accuracy without barcode scanning.  This will set the foundation for you to have success with barcode scanning further down the road.

Recognizing your circumstances and capacity are critical first steps to setting achievable objectives and operational success.

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