Tag Archive: information technology

The IT – Business Partnership

January 21st, 2014
Successful companies forge partnerships with their IT departments to create an ERP system that provides data to make good decisions and provide their customers with an exceptional experience.

Successful companies forge partnerships with their IT departments to create an ERP system that provides data to make good decisions and provide their customers with an exceptional experience.

Is IT viewed as a partner to your supply chain or manufacturing business? Or a necessary evil? Or something in-between? Successful companies go down the path of partner. After all, critical business processes (which drive profitable growth) are connected with systems – you cannot succeed with one and fail with the other. Thus, you must think about strengthening the link.

Larger companies have folks termed business analysts who understand business and help translate business needs into technical specs and systems analysts who come from the technical side and think through how to translate technology into business results. However, the vast majority of companies are considered small to mid-size businesses and might not have these positions. There’s no reason to despair…. I often times find people who are capable of performing this role for your critical business requirements. The key is to look for them. I’ve worked with a few of the BEST, and I guarantee that although often undervalued, these folks had a direct correlation to tangible business results.

Even if you have these folks identified, it might not matter if you don’t view IT as a strategic partner. You better! Your ERP system can make or break your ability to succeed (as witnessed by the resounding failures of some new system implementations we’ve all heard about in the news or from our network… and the dramatic negative customer consequences to follow).

No company can run without financials – at least not for long. Financial reporting is tied to your ERP system. I’ve seen really impressive manual systems; however, even in the best case I’ve ever seen (which also happens to be the only case I couldn’t recommend low-hanging fruit because their manual network was so extensive), the reason I was talking with this client is because they had to upgrade and better leverage the system to support growth plans and service requirements. It is no longer acceptable to not know order status at all times!

Do you consider your IT or ERP experts as strategic partners?

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The Critical Importance of Design

September 23rd, 2013
Never underestimate the importance of design when upgrading or implementing supply chain systems.

Never underestimate the importance of design when upgrading or implementing supply chain systems.

I find that supply chain design is often undervalued. We seem to blindly follow systems and business processes handed down from our information technology departments and resources, but do we take the time to think through design? Purchasing, logistics, and ERP systems are considered big-ticket items for most companies.

Why would we leave design to chance and not fully leverage our investment?

If you are upgrading or implementing a new software system, start thinking about design prior to implementing, you cannot start too soon. My best clients ask for their processes to be reviewed, documented, and improved upfront. This way, the clients are familiar with the processes, and can better sync up their system and process design to deliver results. Even more importantly, those clients typically have a much smoother implementation, less customer disruption, less cost, less confusion.

If you are not upgrading or implementing, do not despair! Anytime you make a commitment to design, you’ll gain a benefit. Start by asking your employees about what is working and not working. Listen to their feedback. Review configuration options of the software. Get familiar with the functionality and business needs. Join user communities. Ask for ideas. Develop plans for design improvement. Significant results can be achieved without significant investment.

For example, one of my clients wanted to bring inventory levels down to free up cash without affecting service levels. We reviewed the people, process, and systems. There were opportunities to re-design aspects of each – within 6 months, the re-configured and re-allocated people, process, and system was able to deliver a 30% reduction in inventory.

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