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Beyond Lean

A Manager's Guide to Successful Information System Implementation

By Rosemary Presnar, MaineMEP Lead Project Manager, rosemaryp@mainemep.org

More and more software tools are reaching into the small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturing markets to help companies synchronize enterprise systems with lean-manufacturing processes. The goal - to achieve real-time communication and integration of material and information flows. Even though the initial price points of these software tools are becoming attractive, a system implementation requires much more than just buying "Lean- Enabled" software.

Implementing any new business information system or updating a current system is a drain on a company's most valuable resources…time and people, to name a few. If you are in the planning stages, or even in the middle, of enhancing your Lean Manufacturing environment by addressing your information systems needs, take a look at the following action bullets. This list will lead you towards a more efficient and successful business system implementation project.

  • Identify unique business requirements, before they become "fatal flaws"

  • Validate the selection of the candidate software solution against key business objectives

  • Balance the implementation of a totally new "integrated" system versus utilizing new technology to integrate legacy systems

  • Tie specific implementation project goals to operational business objectives

  • Chose a software solutions supplier you can "live" with

  • Balance re-engineering business processes with system functionality versus customized solutions

  • Reduce, or at least understand, risks

  • Work within company culture and set operating ground rules for the project team

  • Gain commitment from the boardroom to the lunchroom

  • Encourage functional ownership

  • Keep credit and blame in-house

  • Use consultants to "think outside the box" or expand resources for one-time needs

  • Report progress to the boardroom and the lunchroom

  • Follow a well thought out project plan, but always have a contingency plan

  • Utilize milestones and mini-projects to conquer and divide a massive undertaking

  • Understand the power of a conference room pilot, trade-offs on parallel processing, and the positive investment in testing and reporting environments

  • Understand the total cost of ownership and the learning curves of maintaining operational software

  • Keep to the training plan, but plan more training

The MEP has helped numerous SMEs navigate from initial requirements analysis, to software and vendor selection, through systems implementation. Whether you are just beginning or have become bogged down in all the details, contact the MassMEP at (508) 965-3402 to discuss assistance options.

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