An age old question – Chicken or the egg?

Jitendra Badiani

What comes first – an ERP system (the chicken) or lean management (the egg)?

Lean management is all about waste elimination. It starts by identifying and mapping out each step in a business process followed by a critical review to eliminate any steps that do not create value for the business.

A question that often arises within an organization is whether this should be done prior to the selection of an ERP system. The argument for implementing Lean management first is that an ERP system should be an automation of existing business processes, so it makes sense to establish those processes and eliminate waste first. However, this approach (sometimes called paving the cow path) is not necessarily best practice.

The implementation of an ERP system is often the best opportunity to also implement Lean processes. Technology can also help efficiently eliminate waste, so why design and implement a business process that could potentially be part of an existing ERP system? ERP systems have evolved to incorporate Lean techniques. But ERP implementers don’t always know enough about Lean to optimize business processes.  This is why it is important to choose the right team for ERP implementation, one that includes an experienced Lean consultant that can help implement the right processes along with the new ERP.

Focused Improvement Consulting has developed a unique methodology that has been proven to help our clients develop waste-free processes before and after ERP implementation. This involves mapping out current state of processes using our cross-functional team and then apply various lean techniques to identify waste, gather required information and map out customer needs. We then utilize the RACI model (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) to each process step. This model allows us to assign ownership and drive accountability within the organization, which leads to a smoother ERP implementation. If a dispute or misalignment of responsibilities occurs, the process map and RACI model can help clear any misunderstandings.

If you wish to learn more about our methodology or explore how we can help you implement Lean processes within your organization, please get in touch at info@focusedimprovement.ca.

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