MLG, in conjunction with the Institute of Operations Management, recently held a breakfast briefing to explore the way forward in difficult times:

Can we improve Supply Chain performance without spending money

Can we improve performance using the existing tools?

Can we apply the ideas of Lean to the use of ERP?

Most manufacturing and distribution companies’ planning and control methodology is now based around Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, sometimes called Supply Chain systems. However, the use of these packages often leaves much to be desired. How well is your company’s planning and control system understood and used? What is the overall level of customer service achieved by the business and what is the system’s contribution to this? How can you achieve ‘step change’ improvement? How will you manage your way through the upturn in demand accompanying the economy’s emergence from recession?

Buy and implement a new system, perhaps? That would certainly be the recommendation from the package suppliers, of course, but this fails to take account of some key considerations:

  • Buying and implementing a new ERP system is expensive and maybe unrealistic – not just the cost of the software but also of the project to introduce it. As well as external support on the package, the exercise is very demanding on internal resources.
  • The success rate of ERP is not as high as the ERP community may have us believe. Success is often claimed, but not all such “successes” really bring about improved performance.
  • Even where the new system leads to better practices and measurable steps forward, these improvements can take quite some time to be realised.

So, what is the alternative?

Making The Most of Existing Supply Chain / ERP Systems

Improvements in business performance are achieved through improved business processes rather than system change. In fact, changing the system but retaining existing processes will bring marginal, if any, improvement. As the oft-quoted adage warns, “if we keep on doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep on getting what we’ve always got”. The reverse is also true – when improving processes, the existing systems are very unlikely to prevent such improvements delivering genuine business benefit.

Formal presentations were delivered by Robin and Ian and started by covering ERP success rates and best practice before moving on to discuss performance measures and KPIs. They then went on to consider the reasons for ERP success / failure which then led into developing an understanding of the problems that companies have to fix in order that ERP can positively contribute to successful business performance. The remainder of the presentation then focussed on how this could be achieved and explored in particular, how the lessons of Lean can be applied in businesses to effect these changes and bring about “making the most of what we’ve got”.

As ever with briefings of this nature, we found that the presentations acted as the catalyst for some excellent debate between all present and led us to share experiences and develop more detailed ideas and strategies for bringing about business improvement without the cost incurred in changing computer systems.

Missed us?

Perhaps you were unable to attend the event but would like to understand a little more about what was discussed? if so simply contact us and / or download the presentation now!