Monday, August 19, 2013

ERP and Time Off

A friend of mine asked me last year after I commented on his vacation photos when was I going to take some time off.  I asked him “what does vacation mean?”  He kindly reminded me that in order to stay fresh you need time off.  You need to recharge your batteries.  If you wear yourself completely out, then there will be no reserve when the need arises.


Does your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system need time off?  How about the people who are in charge of keeping it running at an optimal level?  The physical systems these software solutions run on today are very reliable and the industry talks about unplanned downtime.  There is a difference between downtime and availability.  Even the best systems need to be patched, repaired, and restarted periodically.  It just helps to refresh them from time to time.  Not every day, but periodically.  Schedule the refreshes so the unplanned down time is minimized or eliminated.


If you are like me you run full out, full time, and just keep going doing the very best you can with the resources at your disposal.  I do not run marathon races, but I often wonder if that is what it is like for the runners when the get to “that point”, somewhere around 19 or 20 miles into the 26 mile race.  At that point, whenever it comes, your mind and body are just running on fumes and you are relying on your training and endurance to carry you through.


We as people need to recharge, our equipment needs periodic refreshes.  What about our software?  The instructions the equipment carries out, day-in and day-out.  Are there any variables in what we process daily?


If what we do was exactly the same every time we did it, then why do we have to be there?  Robots and automation could run the production lines and we could be on vacation all of the time.  There is a reason people are involved.  It sometimes takes a judgment call to make a decision.  Which priority order is most important?  Which customer comes first?  Which order has a higher value?  Which customer does more business with me during the year?  Can I pull from one order and fulfill another and then replace the inventory before the original order is due to ship?


The ERP software itself does not need a vacation, but it does need periodic refreshes. 


There are a few industries that change slowly, but most have to keep up with a constantly changing market, disruptions and changes in the supply chain, new customers and markets demands. 


Customer service is something that never, ever goes out of style.


Most ERP solution providers have periodic refreshes and updates.  They create new modules and enhancements.  They have user conferences.  They listen to your needs.  They create fixes and updates to address the constant changes that the evolution of your industry is going through.  Changes that you are going through right now. 


Do you recognize the changes you are in right now?


When you drive you car on new tires, you feel the road, you feel in control.  Then time passes.  You get involved in other things.  Your concentration is on other points of interest.  Then one day you realize that it took a little longer to stop, you went a little wider on that last turn.  Then it dawns on you.  You thought that everything was the same and what you found out is that your tires have worn out and they need to be replaced.


Software is not exactly like tires.  Perhaps the equipment it runs on is more similar.  But the same thing happens.  You build a new solution that handles your customers and process your work load.  Your business grows, you have more customers and suppliers that have different reporting requirements.  You add new employees.  The business adds disconnected software modules and ties them together with shoe strings and then one day – you skid out of control.


Does your ERP solution need a vacation?  How about a refresh?  How about a replacement?


I may not have realized that I needed a vacation last year, but I do now.  I know how to work hard and I am sure you do too.  Are you running your software or is your software running you?  Is your software running out of control? 


At Dolvin Consulting we are here to help you navigate the changes and find solutions to the challenges that have the greatest impact on your business operations.  Contact us today to see how we can help.


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