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ERP– what staffers know and you don’t.

Most business I’ve worked with had incredible talent- others…well. This talent keeps the businesses running without management being aware of how it gets done. In almost all my writing you will find the phrase “Business processes are often designed by default, not by design”. What this means is that to get the job done, somebody somewhere invented a process.

When I managed a team of BI consultants we ran into issues when transferring projects. The nature of our work called for one resource to be the project leader and use colleagues as resources. Sometimes complex projects were sold and we needed to assign a more senior resource to it. We would move the senior off his current project and assign a new lead; and that’s where we would run into some issues. Sometimes information would be missed, not because it was not there, but because the new lead had a lot of deliveries to manage on or short time and cut some corners. So I created a project hand-off. A simple spreadsheet checklist where the old and new project lead would go through the checklist and both would sign off on every critical step of the projects. The director and VP knew nothing of this- they cared about the job being done.

But that process was not efficient. At the time we used a T&M (Time and Material) tool to track time. In retrospect, it would have been better to get IT to help me setup the process in the system. Although creating the spreadsheet was faster and easier, it actually impaired our growth rather than foster it.

During an ERP implementation for a wholesale company, we had process sessions where heads of department discussed their needs and processes. When the main buyer explained her process, the CEO suddenly was shocked. He had no idea of the gymnastics she was doing to get her job done. Quickbooks did not have the information she needed so she enlisted the Warehouse team with spreadsheet and they created a manual process to make Procurement’s life easier. It involved a few spreadsheets and much manual input.  At the end of the day, she needed to keep inventory levels well stocked so she could keep her job! People invent these processes to get the job done and to keep their jobs.

If your accounting software is an entry level software (Quickbooks, Peachtree, Freshbooks, etc) I guarantee you that your business is littered with processes you know nothing about. This is bad in 2 ways: First, these processes are probably sub-par. They were created on the fly to meet an immediate need without thoughts about how this would affect the company in the future. Secondly, your business is at risk because part of your team has knowledge of processes the rest know nothing about.  This happens in any industry of any size. The web division of the largest Canadian Telecom had its share of spreadsheets and manual processes to file for SEC.

So, what’s the big deal you ask?  While these processes get the job done they are less than optimal.  Looking back at the wholesale company, we saved a huge amount of time and effort. Rather than updating and circulating spreadsheet, the inventory data was subtracted once an item was picked, automatic alerts were generated when minimum thresholds were met and performance indicators were created to evaluate suppliers.

One key benefit of automating business process is that no longer are some individuals ‘in the know’ and you, as the manager, are not. Business process automation creates an environment where processes are documented and adjusted. The other side is a much faster, agile and profitable business.

Contact us to find out how to automate business process.