Bottom line: The greatest gains from ERP integration begin when the most talented contributors in organizations have a chance to think more and react less. Unshackling them from their desks begins by vowing to stop swivel chair integration.
It is amazing how many organizations hold onto the old stand-by practice of having their most valued contributors, from manufacturing engineers to production planners, be the critical link between their ERP and other systems. Using the swivel chair to literally shift from one system to another, this practice often makes entire production lines dependent on just one person.
One high tech manufacturer who religiously follows the Intel roadmap and strives to be the first manufacturer out with the latest microprocessors on laptops cannot build a customized server if a key member of their manufacturing team is out of the office. Why?
Because they rely on this person to read the inbound orders, translate in their mind to the Bill of Materials to drive production systems, and then enter the production instructions. This person has been doing this for years, yet how much more effective would they be if they worked with production teams to make processes even more efficient? The company, a globally recognized brand in high technology, will never know until the end swivel-chair integration.
Take a critical look around your organization and seek out opportunities to unleash those most valuable employees who can translate orders into Bill of Materials on the fly and unleash that intelligence on more critical areas of your company. Engineering costs out of products and processes is a good place to start.
Realize that even the most advanced organizations still rely on this practice throughout their production systems and it costs millions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Concentrate on how to use integration apps in a pilot first and measure the performance over time. Instead of just letting this go on, look for ways to free up these people, whose expert-level knowledge is much too valuable to just having do order to Bill of Materials translations.
Don’t just rely on hand-built adapters that cannot scale, look for system-level integration first. This is a common mistake that most organizations make; they look to save on costs and just complete a hand-built adapter or connector between systems for $50,000 or less yet have the legacy headaches of continually keeping the system current. Look for ways to streamline systems at the field level and stay away from hand-coded adapters and connectors that may not scale over time.