When an organization decides to upgrade its manufacturing software or other technology, there's a natural enthusiasm for progress that makes people eager to jump right in and get started.
That impulse affects people down the line, from the top management that signed off on the project to the front-line employees eager to try out a new tool. But it's important to make sure you're not in such a hurry to start that you skip key planning steps in your technology implementation.
Once your company spends money on a new manufacturing ERP system or other technology solution, the clock is ticking to start earning a return on investment (ROI). And certainly you can't expect to enjoy the benefits of your new manufacturing software until the system is up and running.
Even so, the planning stage of a large technology implementation is actually more important than the execution stage. Effective planning and applying change management principles keep the company;s day-to-day efforts running alongside the implementation project and help ensure that you don't lose ground on all of your other priorities.
Here are three planning tips for smoothing the transition to a new manufacturing ERP system:
1) Show your commitment: Make sure everyone in your organization understands that management as a whole is committed to the ERP implementation, from top management to the line managers. If they're not, employees are able to sense that division, and those that don't want to go along with the ERP implementation may side with the managers who aren't committed to the project.
2) Budget your personnel resources: When a company commits to implementing new manufacturing software in a short time frame, it tends to spread its employee resources too thin. At most companies, key people don't have extra time to spend on an implementation, so you need to get creative.
In the past, companies would often hire temporary staff to help with special projects, but these temps usually don't have the same commitment to your company's success. You need to rely on your most experienced people to achieve your business goals and ensure a successful technology implementation. One option to consider is to redistribute their work so these key personnel have more time to spend on the implementation.
3) Set a realistic time frame: When a company announces it's going to launch a new manufacturing ERP system in a short time frame, it sets up employees for failure. Before they even begin, employees don't see any way to finish all of the work by the deadline.
Avoid setting an unrealistic timeframe and then continuously pushing out the date. This tells the rest of your company that the timeframe is only a vague goal to shoot for, without much serious thought behind it. When setting your timeframe, look for events that are likely push the project off course, such as a busy season or major trade show your company attends.
An eagerness to get started isn't bad, and it's certainly possible to over-think simple projects. When it's channeled into a solid plan, that sort of enthusiasm and curiosity helps to energize your entire organization and bring people together to meet goals.