In the first four blogs of the series, I discussed the importance of documenting the many opportunities your team has identified during the business process improvement and enterprise software selection phases of your project. I covered the need to prioritize the opportunities based on their potential financial impact and difficulty to implement.
Next, I discussed the need to charter an ongoing continuous improvement team to manage the process of implementing solutions to these opportunities and some details around the makeup and operation of the team.
In the most recent blog, I covered the need for a solid set of business performance measurements and the value of aggressive stretch goals.
Let’s start by taking a couple minutes for a quick review.
Business Transformation Steps
To clarify, here are the stages we have determined so far throughout this series of blog posts.
- Step 1: Review the Opportunity Benefit Matrix that was created during the business process improvement process.
- Step 2: Form the Business Transformation Team, clearly define roles and meeting schedule.
- Step 3: Identify the Key Performance Metrics that will make up your Balanced Scorecard.
At this stage, you have identified the many opportunities for improvement that exist in your business, you have formed a team of high-performance individuals who will not be afraid to rock the boat while implementing the new processes that will take the business to entirely higher levels of performance, and you have identified the performance measures that will both drive the improvement actions and provide a solid means of measuring progress.
You are now ready to fully engage in the process of transforming your business.
Assessing the Maturity of Your Business
The first step is to assess the capabilities and maturity of your business and its processes. At Ultra, the tools we utilize are based on the Capability Maturity Model.
This model, developed in the mid-20th Century, provides a documented means of assessing the maturity of an organization as well as its detailed processes. An example follows below.
This assessment should be developed with the Steering Team and Transformation Lead Team working together in a workshop spanning several days. Organizations should be rightfully proud of their accomplishments and the fact that they are surviving, and perhaps even prospering.
But is your organization truly world-class? Are you consistently operating at Level 5 in the Capability Maturity Model and maximizing the potential of your ERP investment? Probably not.
So, you may need the assistance of an external facilitator to hold the mirror up to both teams and lead the discussion to form a true definition of the areas of the business that may be operating at a less than world-class level.
No doubt your company has a well thought out statement of values and visions. The Steering Team should look this over, ensure it’s still relevant, and make certain it is granular enough to provide guidance to everyone in the company daily.
If these vision statements fall short, then take time to rewrite them, or else it could affect the return on your ERP investment.
Review Your Manufacturing Strategy
Next, the Steering Team needs to review their strategy as a manufacturing business. Too often a company attempts to be everything to all its customers. This can cause the business to be over-extended and ineffective at attaining any of their goals. A very well-written book written on this subject is Manufacturing Strategy by John Miltenburg.
With the assessment complete and a review of the top-level strategy, the Transformation Lead Team now has the vision and strategy tools to complement the opportunities and performance metrics that have previously been developed. Now the real work of maximizing your ERP investment begins.
Allocating Tasks & Managing Your Schedule
Your team has identified dozens, and even hundreds, of opportunities, and they are all worthwhile at some level. But your organization cannot effectively work on all of them at once. Each team member, as well as the support personnel and production personnel, has a day job in addition to any project responsibilities.
To complicate matters, each function within an organization has their own set of projects to continuously improve the operation of their specific function. This reality must be considered. Think about the following.
If we’re honest with ourselves, let’s say we typically spend five hours average each day just dealing with daily tasks required to run the business. Plan to spend one hour working on tasks to improve your work space, learn new skills and support your manager’s efforts to improve the effectiveness of our team.
That leaves two hours – or maybe three – if you’re willing to throw in some overtime to work on the Business Transformation projects.
In this simple example, you can see that managing project resources can become complicated quickly. So early on, limit the number of projects that are active at any given time for any individual. All other projects are kept in backlog.
A task in a backlog status should never have people working on it. A key to success of your business transformation will depend on completing your active projects as fast as possible.
To accomplish this, break down the active projects into the tasks required to complete the project. These tasks should never take longer than 1-2 weeks. This provides a way to keep the responsible task leader and his team focused.
Review Task Statuses
The Transformation Lead team will meet every 1-2 weeks at an Action-Performance meeting to review task statuses. A well thought out list of active projects with well-defined tasks should yield completions on a regular basis at every Action-Performance meeting.
If task completion dates begin to slip, this is a sure sign that your team members are overloaded and an assessment of the number of active tasks is in order.
In addition to actively managing and participating in the active project, members of the Transformation Lead team must be the thought leaders for your business.
It’s critical that this team is well-versed in the nuance and skills of Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and managing cultural change in an organization.
Managing Project Communication for Your ERP Investment
Communication is the key to bringing the rest of the organization along for the journey. We recommend the use of a company newsletter supplemented by weekly or bi-weekly communication blasts that can be a sharing of successes or just short educational missives.
Over the course of these five blogs in the Business Transformation series I’ve attempted to share some ideas that I hope will help you in defining your own company’s Business Transformation Journey.
To learn more about maximizing ROI on your ERP project, download our in-depth white paper here.