When a manufactured part is designed, the engineer takes into consideration the basic principles of form, fit and function. These basic principles can also apply to a manufacturing ERP software system.
Form: What will the part look like and what will be its physical characteristics. “Form” can also include the materials or components that comprise the item. If we draw the parallel to an ERP system implementation, “form” would include what modules are being implemented, how many users are affected, what business processes will be included and how many sites you will be rolling out to.
Answers to these questions begin to be uncovered during the ERP software selection process. You know what modules are needed to replace existing functionality or add required functionality that you do not have today. You also have a good idea on the number of users, number of facilities and what business processes will be touched during the conversion. Once you begin the implementation, the “form” of the ERP system will refine itself. This is similar to building a part prototype. Just like a prototype part, your ERP system’s “form” will be adjusted and changed when it goes into testing and actual use.
Fit: How a part will connect to other items that form an assembly. It also can be looked at as how it will fit with the person using the item. From a high level, ERP software “fit” is how the system functionality is a match for your business. If we get more granular, it will be how the specific software feature fits your business process and even “connects” to your customers, vendors, equipment and employees.
The definition of “fit” to other ERP system vendors is how they integrate with third party software. Fortunately, the EnterpriseIQ solution from IQMS offers a full suite of modules (for example, eCommerce/EDI, customer and vendor portals and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) offerings), so IQMS removes the integration “fit” issue from the equation.
Configuring and testing the connections to your customers, vendors and equipment is also a critical part of the ERP software’s “fit” during the implementation process. You want to make sure that all data is transacting accurately before your go live or you will be scrambling to make it work while you are live on the system.
Function: The intended purpose of the item. Simply put, what will it do? An ERP system has many functions and capabilities. During implementation, the decision is finalized as to what features and modules will be used at Phase 1 go live and what features will be brought online in subsequent phases.
A Big Bang approach may be an option, which will include the conversion of all legacy functionality to the new ERP system. Consideration must be given to the time allocation of personnel resources in order to make this approach successful. You will know when you might bite off more than you can chew or when you have additional capacity to bring online more functionality.
A hybrid implementation approach may be necessary if you are implementing your new ERP system across multiple facilities. It is typically resource constraining to go live with several facilities and all functionality simultaneously. Therefore, bringing one facility live at a time with functionality to replace the legacy system may be the best approach for your business.
After your go live, you will encounter new customer specifications that may require you to add new functionality. You will update to the latest version that will enable enhanced features. You will have personnel changes that may require supplemental training. Additionally, you may add new equipment or a manufacturing process that requires a different connection or system set up. Remember, ERP systems are just like products, you are never truly finished improving the form, fit and function.