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Maximizing an ERP’s — and a Manufacturer’s —Potential

The Challenge
A family-owned Midwest-based manufacturing company that had achieved growth by investing in both product innovation and expansion into global markets found its ability to drive improved efficiencies and operational performance hampered by its underutilized Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. 

Many organizations can relate. Even with clear goals and expectations established, the effort required to implement, fully integrate, and maximize the capabilities of an ERP system can add a significant workload on existing employees and requires sufficient resources to support those individuals.

The president of the company determined the ERP system was underutilized, and the team needed support to affect change. Further adding to the challenge, the company’s longtime controller was approaching retirement.

Our Approach
Working with the president, we established the following objectives: 

  • Assess the finance function and evaluate resources needed to timely and accurately process transactions and generate monthly financial statements, including meaningful and relevant financial information and analyses.  
  • Assess the challenges of fully utilizing the ERP system’s capabilities and identify ways to increase efficiency and provide meaningful financial and operational information.  

Working with the team, we: 

  • conducted on-site interviews with key users across the organization — individuals in production, materials management, sales, quality control, IT, and finance — to understand how they used the system.  
  • uncovered potential under- and non-utilized functionalities by homing in on instances in which users relied on offline — aka non-ERP — systems, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage essential information and processes.  
  • evaluated whether the modules, models, and add-ons deemed necessary were operational and properly configured. 

The Solution
Having identified the actions needed to drive increased utilization of the system and based on our understanding of the priorities, we organized the recommended changes into three 90-day phases — each containing a series of prioritized tasks individuals could manage alongside their ongoing responsibilities. The step-by-step phasing also enabled them to make and see visible progress, essential to sustaining team momentum and engagement.

Recognizing the importance of the team’s buy-in, our first priority was to establish a steering committee of key individuals from around the company. We established clear goals, expectations, target dates, and outlined the resources the ERP system and users required to accomplish each objective. Acting as project manager, we met with the stakeholder team every two to three weeks to provide support, eliminate any newly discovered barriers, and ensure all parties stayed on track.

The Outcome
Working collaboratively with the team, we substantially increased the users’ ability to leverage the system’s capabilities, enabling the company to disentangle itself from multiple offline systems so all parties could rely on the ERP system as a single source of truth. The changes significantly increased efficiencies in processing transactions and managing functional responsibilities while eliminating multiple manual processes and reducing opportunities for error.

At Rehmann, we’re focused on helping leaders and their people get what they need to achieve — with minimal distraction and disruption. Want to focus on your organization’s future? Lean on us to assess your systems and tailor solutions that work for the way you work. Learn more: