Enterprise resource planning (also commonly referred to as ERP) is one of the most significant weapons a business can have in its proverbial arsenal.
With a suite of integrated applications that marry diverse functions like marketing, sales, inventory management, service delivery, product planning, shipping, and payment in a single platform, an ERP can be an investment that gives you the edge over the competition.
It's important to realize, however, that businesses can't expect a good IT system to fix all of the existing issues that they're having with their logistics solutions. In many cases, viewing technology as an automatic problem solver for the types of problems you may be having can only end up creating additional problems in its own right if you're not exceedingly careful.
Your ERP Does Not Generate Miracles.
Because of the wide variety of options that an ERP has to offer, many businesses look at them as the be-all and end-all product for logistics solutions issues. But you must temper your expectations. Although your ERP does offer a staggering array of functionality, it is not a miracle machine.
The vendor and supply chain management capabilities are considerable, but not so powerful that the software can replace the human element of functions altogether.
Your ERP gives you unprecedented monitoring of your supply chain and logistics—oversight that would not have been dreamed of ten years ago— but it doesn’t mean that your system will operate in place of your logistics solutions or that it will control them in place of a human touch.
Remember: Communication is Key.
Even with your ERP automating many of your processes, it can be critical to keep a personal touch in your communication. Keeping your logistics providers informed and on the same page is one of the keys to running a successful business. Every provider that you're working with along the supply chain process will not only need to be monitored but will also need to be collaborated with to help make sure that the demand of your customers is being met by the supply of your providers.
By assuming that your ERP can "do it all," you're potentially cutting your logistics providers out of the loop in a way that will quickly prove to be detrimental to your relationship. Remember that communication requires collaboration.
Think about Your Analytic Needs.
Before you implement any kind of enterprise resource planning software, you need to know what kind of functionality you require from that type of system. Many people assume that all ERP systems are created equal and that they all have essentially identical feature sets, but that isn't necessarily the case.
If you don't know the requirements that are unique to your business, you may not find out until it's far too late that the system you've chosen just isn't built for the demands of your organization.
In this situation, you’ll find that you’ve been left with an expensive system that lacks vital functionality, reduces profitability, hampers productivity and even creates logistics problems at every step of the production process.
It All Boils Down to Support.
In order to make your ERP deployment a success, no matter your goals for the technology, it needs to be fully supported by the senior management at your organization. Only through the right level of support will all employees be able to use the integrated applications to the fullest possible potential. A lack of support will translate to logistics problems, poor or ineffective decisions, delays in business operations and more headaches.
Enterprise resource planning is an invaluable tool that is changing the way many companies conduct business. If the system is deployed improperly, or without the appropriate level of support, however, it will only stand to create more problems than it could ever be capable of solving— especially when it comes to logistics solutions.