ERP Implementations and 6 Tips for Documenting Your Business Practices

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The decision to implement a new ERP system is a significant undertaking for any organization.  The implementation project will be a period of change and uncertainty for the organization.  However, the ERP Project will also provide a great time to really understand exactly how the company operates and identify those areas where greater efficiency can be achieved.  We are all trying to do more with less these days, and the ERP implementation project should support that goal.

Use the opportunities presented by the new ERP project to fully document and review your company’s existing business practices.  Carefully and thoroughly document those business practices, and identify any practices that are inefficient, ineffective, or out of date.  Implementing a new ERP system that utilizes the existing business practices will merely extend the old problems into the new system.

Consider the following tips when reviewing your existing business practices:

  • Thoroughly understand and document your existing business processes.  Focus on what is being done currently, and more important, try to identify why it is done that way.
  • It is critical to enlist the full support and participation from your company’s executives and senior management.  Mid-level managers and employees will benefit knowing that the company fully supports this new initiative.  Their participation is vital for the successful implementation of the new system.
  • Talk to everyone involved.  Ideally, try to get as many individuals and employees – including executives - from other departments in your company, active and engaged in the project.  You may not know what some of their issues are and their involvement will help them feel some ownership of the process and understand the decisions that are made.
  • Discuss the issues with the employees who actually run the process.  They know best what some of the problems are but they may never bring it up because they think it’s just the way it’s done.  They may have some excellent observations about the existing process, and can suggest some needed changes, but they may feel inhibited about making those suggestions, finding safety in doing what they were taught, even if they know it is wrong or inefficient.
  •  “Map” the new processes to the new ERP system, making sure that a new procedure has been identified to replace the old process where necessary.
  • Design for the “worst case scenario”.  Simply analyzing the “best case” will not be sufficient to truly test the new system.  It is vital to push the most challenging and unusual instance thru the new system, otherwise you may not be prepared for it when it occurs, and it will occur eventually.  Once your new process can handle the worst of what you can envision, the rest will be easy by comparison.


Your successful company was built on one or more significant competitive advantages.  The competitive advantage that your company enjoys is likely the result of the unique business practices developed and employed there.  With complete justification, most companies view themselves as being “unique”.  It is imperative, however, to differentiate between what is a true “competitive advantage” and the “way we’ve always done it”.  These existing business practices are frequently the result of an ‘ad hoc’ approach to conducting business, developed with little long-term planning, and often designed to overcome the limitations of the existing ERP systems.  Now is the time to ask “Am I doing this because it is truly the best way to operate the company, or has this business practice been designed to circumvent a limitation of the old system.  Completing a well-planned and structured review of these business practices will help you to understand what is truly a competitive advantage and what is a “Band-Aid” that hides the limitations and inefficiencies of the legacy system.


By TMC, your Southern California Dynamics GP Partner

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