In business the difference between a problem and a disaster is often how soon you notice it.
That, in turn, often depends on paying attention to what your ERP system is telling you.
Your ERP system is a fount of information on your business and what is happening to it. However that doesn’t do you much good if the information isn’t presented properly and your attention isn’t called to it. Your ERP system can do this, but only if it is set up properly.
Alarms and alerts are an important part of the process of keeping the business running smoothly, but only if they are set up correctly.
There are two major problems with alerts and alarms. The first is that they aren’t used or ignored. The second is that they bury the user in relatively unimportant messages.
Under-alarming is usually the result of not setting alarms and alerts at all or not setting the right ones when setting up the system. Alerts and alarms are an important part of managing your business and it’s important to set them so they will warn you of out-of-band conditions. Some people don’t bother to set them and as a result they aren’t informed of important deviations.
Over-alarming is the result of setting too many alerts and alarms and getting swamped by the resulting rush of messages. When this happens the effect is often the same as not setting the alarms at all because the user either ignores them or doesn’t bother to take the time to analyze what they are telling him.
In either case the solution is to set the right number of alerts and alarms on the right conditions.
Consider carefully what alarms you want to set and which ones are the right ones. Every alert and alarm should be considered carefully before choosing to set them. Only the ones that are really important should be set and the parameters should be chosen carefully.
The other major consideration in avoiding having problems escalate into disasters is getting the information in useful form. ERP is critical to this, but ERP can’t do it effectively if the organization is poorly organized.
One form of poor organization that is especially crippling is having your information split among various silos within the company. This not only makes the information hard to find and analyze, it also impedes visibility into what is actually going on.
ERP helps to break down silos by centralizing information in a single database. However not everything is necessarily put into that database and what’s left out can be vital to monitoring what is happening.
For efficient operation of the business it is important to root out these silos of information, break them down, and integrate the data into the ERP database.
Another potential problem occurs when processes aren’t standardized across the company. Again, this is something ERP is supposed to prevent, but not everyone integrates standardized processes across all business operations.
It’s important to examine your processes to make sure everyone is doing the same thing in the same way. This gives much more insight into the operation of the business and helps spot problems before they get out of hand.
Wisely used, ERP is a major aid in preventing disasters by keeping management on top of what is actually happening. That, in turn helps to spot problems before they become really serious.