Continuous Improvement With ERP: The Key to Growth

When was the last time you sought to make a great change or process overhaul within your business? What was this switch in strategy, and desire to improve, a part of? The reason is usually a significant roadblock built by ignoring growing problems until they become potentially damaging for your business: customer dissatisfaction, rundown production lines or poor employee engagement, for example.  And when change comes about in this way; in response only to serious issues, it can be a huge burden in terms of both money and time. Because you already have significant areas of waste or problems within your business, fixing those leaks is even more of a task. The solution to these demanding tasks of upgrading? Continuous improvement. Instead of huge, unscheduled projects that come up only as necessary, your business should be aiming at constant, incremental process improvement.

Continuous Process Improvement

Continuous improvement can be applied across all areas of business and all areas of your company; think of it as wide-ranging philosophy that you use to drive concrete results. Based somewhat on the Japanese concept of kaizen (meaning kai “change” and zen “good), CI relies on constant reflection on your business process, identifying areas of waste and reducing them so that your business takes constant steps forward rather than huge jumps when you come up against a rut.

Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) With ERP

The idea of continuous process improvement is certainly a lucrative one for any business; who doesn’t want their business to be improving everyday and to be proactive in preventing major setbacks? However, a successful and well-implement continuous improvement strategy is easier said than achieved. The secret—ERP software. With it’s wide-ranging and highly detailed data capabilities, ERP can greatly support continuous improvement and streamlining of quality standards and business processes; including tracking and managing of orders, shop floor activities and shipments. ERP can act like a magnifying glass into your business’ operations: creating drill-down reports on key processes. From there, you can hone in on areas of waste and work continually on reducing that excess cost.

Start With Implementation

ERP implementation is, naturally, a huge process. Approach such a project with the concepts of continuous improvement in mind; one step at a time. You don’t need to get your entire organization on-board the ERP ship at the same time. Implement and train department by department, prioritizing those users who will be most reliant on the software first. These early adopters will become ‘power-users’ who can then disseminate their knowledge and enthusiasm for the ERP throughout your company. When you leverage the principles of continuous improvement with ERP implementation, you will find that every project runs smoother and becomes effective much faster.

Improve With Analytics

The core of continuous improvement is realistic self-reflection and a consistent review of business processes with an effort to remodel and improve them as necessary. A well implemented ERP system will give you the tools you need and the wide-ranging context for that data that will allow you to connect results with their causes on your shop floor. Set performance metrics based on data so that you have concrete results that you can take action on to make those improvements. Then, one you do begin to make those small, daily improvements your ERP will be able to manage and reveal how changes in your actions influence the end result in your efficiency and product. Business process modeling isn’t just something you do once right before a software implementing—it should be a constant endeavor. How can you make improvements? Is there a production line that you can leverage your ERP towards making more efficient, or a frequent backup in your inventory during certain seasons? By linking your goals for continuous improvement with a solid business process management strategy you will find that information and capability that enterprise software provides can be the vital conduit to true continuous improvement with ERP.

A Job For Everyone

No one knows your business better than your employees. Top-level executives may think they can describe all of your operations and processes right down to the last detail, but they inevitably can’t. They just aren’t involved in the day-to-day detail of every single role within your company. That’s why its critical that you hand over the task of continuous improvement with ERP to all of your employees as well. If they are trained onto all the functionalities of your system, your employees will be more likely to notice and understand failing processes or areas that need some improvement before they become big problems on a larger scale and effect even more team members and departments. Good training and change management will employees using the system successfully—and they will be one of the most crucial foundations of continuous improvement to avoid failure with ERP software.

Wrap Up

Is your business just ‘getting by’, and only making significant change and improvements when it becomes necessary? This could be more damaging than you think. While those great bursts of improvement are monumentally satisfying, you should also be aiming to improve in some small way at every opportunity; so that over time your business incrementally becomes more efficient and powerful than ever. Instead of throwing tons of money at an unscheduled upgrade, continuous (and smaller) improvement is easier on your employees, more preventative, and easier to budget for.

To get advice on continuous improvement within business and how enterprise software can help, contact an expert at Datix today. We have over 25 years of experience in the world of ERP and have helped businesses of all shapes and sizes adhere to lean principles, reduce waste and drive revenue.

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