Is Actual Productivity a Myth?

Since I’ve been around, businesses have poured millions and millions into implementing ERP, SCM, and CRM systems to help them match business processes, eliminate inefficiencies, increase productivity and drive change.  The buzzword changes from time to time, but it’s been the same major issues since at least 1994, most likely a lot longer. 

I would guess many businesses owe their very survival to the various changes they’ve made over the years, some large, radical improvements, as well as the small tweaks.  In a business’s conquest to thrive, many look to new ERP system as the solution to solve the typical problems businesses face. 

Many businesses are optimistic that a new ERP will resolve most of their business problems, rapidly increasing their business success, profitably, efficiently and with little negative impact on their business.  But, many don’t have this type of experience.

So, why is this?  Why has the huge radical effort of so many businesses resulted in marginal gains?  Is there a standard weakness in the approach many take? Why would a company willing to make changes not get the optimistic results they expect?  And, more importantly, can this elusive promise land be found?

My thoughts on why…One positive thing about the economic situation is that it’s forcing companies to really look at themselves and really change, before many changed without actually changing.  By defining and automating the most important business processes, businesses should work more efficient, reduce overhead, increase agility, improve insight and the list goes on.  But, the people in the business have to be open to changing their existing processes where it makes sense to get the most benefit. People move to a new ERP system and try to make it exactly like the old system.

A partner told me a long time ago.  People don’t really want what they ask for, but they think they do.  It’s a good partner who can interpret what they really need and can use.  So, is it that most businesses are missing the right focus?

The business processes covered with an ERP system is a fraction of what actually occurs, but it’s predictable and structured.  It’s relatively easy to define and improve a structured process. In the real world businesses are filled with chaos; quick decisions, ideas, problem solving, collaboration, knowledge, perceptions, obstacles, change, exceptions, etc.  The chaos results in a layer of inefficient, unproductive processes, the very problems businesses are trying to solve.  This unstructured layer changes rapidly and the problems are not usually solved solely by an ERP system. 

How do you define a process to something ever changing and varies by person? Do you think there is a way? There has to be because people are doing it today.  I believe it’s through empowering individual people and giving each person the tools for them to be efficient. To help them focus on the most valuable work.  Of course, complete process automation is still a fantasy because the chaotic parts of a business are important. Business’s need the personal element. 

Now, more than ever people and business are ready to really change how and what they do; it’s the perfect opportunity to really have an impact on business. I believe the best way to solve the most common problems, being efficiency and productivity is to focus on the unstructured processes and find ways to approach them.  These unstructured processes have a common element, communication.  The ERP system needs to talk to people.  People need to talk to the ERP system.  And people need to talk to people.  When only a few have access to ERP, it makes it difficult to have people talk to the ERP, so there’s usually a middleman doing that connection.  That’s where the power of SharePoint, Excel and Outlook come in. People can now talk to ERP through Office instead of a person.

With Dynamics GP we have the solutions available to really solve a customer’s holistic business problems and make them actually productive.  We just need to focus on the right areas and see what’s possible. I encourage you to look at what’s out there and see how you can leverage it, take advantage of it.  Also, if you have any stories, please share.

Take care and be productive,