Monday, June 27, 2011

Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions, Integration and Information Management.

Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions, Integration and Information Management.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can sometimes be complex.  The driving need arose out of Manufacturer’s need to integrate operations and inventory to drive efficiency.  Simply put, the left hand had an inherent need to know what the right hand is doing.  Today all enterprises need integration to be competitive.  ERP software is designed around departmental or functional (cross department) needs.

Individual modules often contain subcomponents some of which may or may not be needed by every organization.  For example a core component to any ERP system is customer relationship management (CRM).  Often thought of in terms of sales force automation.  CRM modules may include contact management, lead generation, quote and order entry, order status, sales management, pick-pack-shipment, customer service, field service, returns and warranty service. 

Manufacturing models may include material planning, facility management, labor costing, material costing, shop floor control.  Quality control/management is sometimes integrated or a separate module.  Real-time visibility of operations is the key.  You may not be able to ship on-time if you do not have enough material, equipment or labor resources.  Leveling the highs and lows of production to a predictable and manageable level drive efficiency.  This helps to reduce overtime and rush order fulfillment.

Supply chain management is another key area.  Keep your suppliers in the loop, let them know your demand and use that to ensure on time delivery and negotiate better pricing.  Suppliers have no less need to plan than you do.  Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a fundamental component as well as logistics and warehouse management.

Management and executives need dashboards that give a quick overview snapshot of key metrics.  Add to that analytics and drill down capability and the CEO/COO will have the information they need to make informed decisions to be competitive in the marketplace.

These module lists are not intended to be all inclusive.  Some ERP systems have these and more, others have just the basics.  Software tiers are set to match budget and needs.  Global organizations need more modules and the software that has the ability to integrate their operations.  The Small to Midsize Business (SMB) market has the same need for integration, but typically do not need to overkill the solution.  Their demand and budget will not support a tier one solution.  It is like using a machine gun to get rid of a fly on the wall.  Use the right tool for the job.

Why is all of this necessary?  In a word “Planning”.  The more you know, the more you need to know.  Timely relevant information is necessary for planning and decision making.  One consistent notion across time, even to a time before computerized automation, was a need for information.  Computerization of tasks just makes the collection, retrieval, and analysis more consistent.

Finding the right sized solution takes a coordinated effort.  That is where a good consultant can help navigate the many ERP solutions.  A trusted advisor relationship takes time to develop and cannot be rushed.  Perhaps you have one now, perhaps you need one.  It is a wise investment to develop a working relationship with someone you can trust.  Your business’s success depends on it. 

Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors, and specialty Retailers to identify key areas in need of improved efficiency.  Our goal is to earn your trust with honesty and integrity.  We are here to help.

Contact us by clicking here: DOLVIN

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