Will ERP Software Systems Ever Evolve?

Fast Job

 

After working decades in manufacturing I have had the pleasure to witness so many technological advancements.

  • Precision cutting and measuring by lasers.
  • Digital X-Rays
  • Robotics
  • 3D modeling creating not only solid models but also a hologram.

But what about the planning and support systems, are they keeping pace? In particular what about your ERP system? You know the software that drives the business?  Has it kept pace with the times?

Is it agile, intuitive or even user friendly? The answer is a resounding “no” from my experience.

What got me back on my soapbox was an article on Logistics Viewpoints entitled “Will Supply Chain Software Vendors Start Competing on Design?” by Adrian Gonzalez. See excerpt below.

One of the things supply chain software users like to complain about the most is the user interface (UI). This was true 15 years ago when I started as an industry analyst, and it’s true today. Simply put, many user interfaces…

  • are crammed with too many features and too much information that users don’t need or want to accomplish their tasks;
  • have non-intuitive workflows that don’t align with the way users are accustomed to working (or the way they want to work);
  • force users to open multiple windows and tabs, and click countless times, to accomplish what should be a straightforward task.

Sound familiar?

Hell yes this sounds familiar!

Why do I continually need to enter my plant number into each screen and every query!  Common sense dictates I’m looking up information regarding my plant until I input otherwise! In fact I never look up information from other plants or divisions!

Why do I need to manually enter work order and batch number when shipping product to suppliers. Aren’t the two tied together! The batch number is created and linked to work order upon work order release! The batch information should just populate when I enter work order number!

Let’s take a look at what should be a common sense workflow.

When system provides a missing part error message what is the first thing you want to know! What is this missing part of course! Why does it take another click to discover this!  Next question in the natural order of things is … Hmmm… maybe the status and whereabouts of missing part. Of course that information isn’t accessible from missing parts screens must back out and open new menu screen to access that information.

I could go on forever!

A person could literally create an Amazon buyers and sellers account from their phone buy an item resell it and track all the transactions with ease before a corporate user understands how to simply requisition a product on typical ERP system.

Do you have this problem? OK here is a test. Go to material planner and simply ask “Please print a report of what you shipped last month and what you shipped this month to date.

This should take less than five minutes with a ready-made report query. Surely the ERP gurus understood this is a foundational and universal query. Is it readily available and prints in very user friendly format?

What about these simple reports or queries.  These should take less than five minutes each to generate.

  • Ship lists – Items due to ship.
  • Purchased items status – Parts overdue or coming due.
  • Component Overview – List of parts and quantities available for a program.
  • Component Usage Reports – How many parts were consumed in the last six month versus how many are due next six months? Great for proving demonstrated capacity!
  • Inventory Reports – Why is it necessary for finance to export to excel then provide production with spreadsheet? Shouldn’t turns and dollars be readily available and calculated in real time directly from the ERP system?
  • Inventory Quality Ratio – Why hasn’t IQR caught up with ERP?

Is this information retrieved easily or is it more stumbling, fumbling and bumbling to get it.

As workers from generation X migrate to management it’s my sincere hope they don’t accept the status quo. For some reason the baby boomer generation views these systems as immovable objects (monuments) to work around rather than advance. The ability for users to easily and logically navigate the software will certainly improve the bottom line. But with most systems patched together like Frankenstein finding the bottom line is like searching for Waldo!

Final thought, if you’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a software system but still heavily rely on data massaged through an Excel spreadsheet something is amiss. Can’t wait to hear a Gen “X” manager say “Isn’t there an APP for that?”

 

 

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