Layamon Associates do not supply systems but we have experience in the introduction of MRP and ERP systems in the manufacturing, service and contracting arenas.
We aim to assist in the 'dialogue of the deaf' which normally precedes the selection of any new company-wide system. This problem arises because the customer usually understands how and where an IT technology can be applied to his business but cannot envisage precisely how a system would be designed to meet his requirements. On the other hand, the software provider is operating in a fiercely competitive market and has generally invested millions of pounds in developing a complex and flexible system. The software sales team is driven to make a sale and have confidence in the adaptability of their product but they do not fully understand your business.
So the limitations of the system you select often become apparent during implementation, generally accompanied by expensive rewriting of the basic software. Litigation in this area is common.
Some considerations before you select and implement a company-wide systems are:
- When replacing human-operated procedures by computer driven processes, it is usually cheaper to redesign the process to suit the software, rather than redesign the software to reproduce what the human operative previously did. Computers aren't very smart but they are very fast
- If you do have to modify the basic software, it will usually be expensive but - more importantly - you generally have to pay extra to update the modified software every time the software is updated (this is usually done free under the ongoing maintenance agreement)
- In most businesses, the introduction of a successful new system is probably going to take the implementing senior executives out of their comfort zones and it it will generally require at least 20% of their time, plus a significant commitment from the CEO. Without regular oversight and support by the board, the system is likely to fail to fulfil requirements
- Training of operatives to use the new system is often given too early and is too brief. The real skills required to operate the system are learned when the system goes live and come from fixing the inevitable 'glitches' as they arise. Operatives trained prior to implementation on simplified systems often lose confidence when they are called upon to fix problems on a live system.
Our aim would be to provide support in these areas:
- defining the system required
- writing the system specification
- selecting the best supplier
- establishing in-house implementation teams