11 December 2009

The New ERP – Part 24

It is all academic

We have covered several aspects in the matter of developing a "requirements list" so far. (See prior posts.) Of course, whether you are developing your requirements list in-house or your firm is retaining as traditional Everything Replacement Project consultant to do it for you, it is entirely academic and suffers from the same bad assumptions and lack of focus.

As I am writing this, I have before me a real-life "Request for Information" (RFI) stemming from a real-life traditional Everything Replacement Project. This particular document presents 286 "requirements." Sadly, it is quite likely that the folks behind this RFI – because they are employing traditional ERP concepts and methods – have absolutely no idea which of these "requirements" reflects the small handful of things that will actually permit their organization to improve by increasing Throughput (T), reducing demand for new Investment (I), or cutting or holding the line on Operating Expenses (OE) as their firm grows. In fact, they probably "hope" – but cannot state with any certainty – that any of these requirements will actually aid the firm in growing beyond its natural trajectory as of today.

The danger of lack of focus

It is precisely this lack of focus as reflected in a 286-item "Requirements List" that drives firms to undertake an Everything Replacement Project rather than identifying and changing that very small number of things that will actually deliver results by permitting the firm to elevate or even break a constraint and, thus, to increase Throughput – or to make significant improvements in I or OE, for that matter.

The firm that unwisely elects to spend half-a-million dollars on an Everything Replacement Project when a more focused investment of some (likely, significantly) smaller amount would deliver effective and valuable improvement has wasted capital that it will never be able to reclaim.

The Everything Replacement Project approach is supported by the false underlying assumption that, if we just throw enough money and technology at our organization, our organization will somehow improve. As evidence, I quote a gentleman who once said to me the following regarding a time-consuming and costly implementation of SAP that he had ongoing in his organization: "We've spent so much money already, it's got to work." (Emphasis is his.)

This unfortunate lack of focus in a traditional Everything Replacement Project, is to be contrasted with the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit approach that we are introducing here. The New ERP encourages you and your management team to focus on "what needs to change" (by looking at the roots of your Current Reality Tree [CRT]) – that relatively small handful of things that will actually lead to measurable improvement. Then, and only then, should you take your precious cash and other resources to apply them in a focused way, knowing in advance the measurable outcomes you expect from each critical investment.

What does all this have to do with "software selection"?

While traditional Everything Replacement Project methods will have you and your organization searching for software (and, potentially, other technologies) to replace – well – "everything" based on the all too traditional "Requirements List," the focusing steps of the Extended Readiness for Profit method will direct your team to consider only those particular technologies that will actually lead to real and rapid improvement (read: return on investment). Rather than a shotgun approach – throwing time, energy, money and technology – at everything – the New ERP gives your management team the option to become sharpshooters for improvement and new profits.

The New ERP approach will

  • Conserve cash
  • Provide more targeted uses for capital
  • Avoid the waste of spending on IT projects that result in little or no real value-add to the "system" – the organization, as a whole
Going back to the example company (see early prior posts in this series), since the management team understands precisely "what needs to change" in order to improve the "system" – the organization – as a whole (namely, integrated bar code printing, integrated and automated ASN generation and transmission, and reducing or eliminating paper-based pick-pack-ship operations), they do not need to look at replacing everything. Rather, this wise team is prepared to turn to vendors and do "software selection" based on a very small domain of critical functions.

Rather than spending several hundreds of thousands of dollars on an Everything Replacement Project, our example team can set – as we previously described – a reasonable budget for the accomplishment of just the critical changes they have identified and for which they have already created measurable objectives.
[To be continued]

(c)2008, 2009 Richard D. Cushing

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