While most organizations are racing to ERP go live, some are taking the time to reengineer their business processes. They are not concerned with implementing an ERP system as quickly as possible. Instead, they’re focused on beating the competition by designing differentiated, efficient business processes. They may lose the race to the go-live finish line, but they’ll win the race that actually matters – the race to grow their customer base and increase revenue.
Here are seven tips for improving your competitive advantage through business process reengineering:
1. Budget adequate time and resources
Business process reengineering takes time. In fact, it takes more time than the technical configuration, testing and implementation of ERP software. It probably took your organization years to adopt your current processes, so it will likely take some time to change those well-established processes. You should ensure sufficient time for defining, improving and implementing new business processes. Benchmarking against organizations of similar size and industry will help you set realistic expectations for your project.
2. Define business requirements before selecting ERP software
Organizations often find that modern ERP systems are too flexible to simply start using out of the box. Even the simplest business processes have multiple workflow options. This complexity will slow down your project if your business processes aren’t well defined before the design and build phases of your implementation. If you start your project with a clear vision of your business requirements, you will minimize the amount of time you spend with expensive technical consultants. You’ll also ensure your competitive advantage isn’t lost to standard software functionality.
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3. Improve business processes before selecting ERP software
Just as you should define business requirements before software selection, you should also improve your processes as early as possible. This is also the time to consider whether your processes align with your long-term organizational strategy. Waiting until the last minute to improve processes may leave you with no choice but to keep all your existing processes, whether or not they are optimized. Operational efficiency can differentiate you from your competitors, so now’s your chance to surpass them through process improvement.
4. Don’t treat all business processes equally
Many organizations are overwhelmed by the number of business processes they need to document, analyze and improve. They don’t realize they can start by focusing on just the processes that are competitive differentiators. These processes should drive your selection of ERP software and shouldn’t be constrained by software best practices, which may not be best practices for your unique operations. For example, your customer service may be a source of competitive advantage. If so, customer-facing processes should be a priority during business process reengineering and requirements gathering.
5. Integrate business process re-engineering with change management
Resistance to change is one of the main reasons business transformation takes longer than expected. Ensuring employees understand and accept new processes is challenging because people naturally dislike change. Before training employees, you should identify the gaps between your current and future state, so employees understand new processes in the context of their day-to-day jobs. A comprehensive change management plan includes more than training. You also need to strategically communicate with employees to ensure they accept new business processes before go live and adopt those processes for the long term.
6. Integrate analytics into business processes
Several ERP vendors offer innovative solutions that leverage business intelligence and predictive analytics. These systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to turn massive amounts of seemingly unusable data into actionable data. But what good is this data if you don’t have a plan for acting on it? When defining your future state business processes, you should include processes for analyzing and acting on data. Chances are, most of your competitors don’t have a strategy for leveraging AI nor have they implemented this innovative technology.
7. Measure results and make incremental improvements
Measuring post-implementation results helps you stay on track to realizing expected business benefits. If you’re not achieving a particular benefit, you should determine root causes and pain points. Continually measuring incremental benefits realization allows you to make corrections as needed. Misalignment between business requirements and software functionality can deter benefits realization. Lack of employee buy-in can also create a roadblock.
Why Re-engineer Your Processes?
Every organization deserves ERP software that supports their business processes. The only way to ensure you select such software is to reengineer your processes before selection.
Business process reengineering also ensures your chosen ERP software aligns with your long-term organizational goals. ERP systems are a big investment, so they should support your processes for at least the next five to ten years.
Most importantly, business process reengineering helps you beat the competition by ensuring your ERP system enables differentiated, efficient business processes.