What is ERP?

ERP is short for Enterprise Resource Planning.
An ERP System is a software system that provides functionality to support all the core processes within a business.
This could include: CRM, Job Costing and Estimating; Project Management; Purchasing; Stock Control; Supply Chain Management; Manufacturing; Finance; HR.
Not all ERP systems provide all of this functionality, or the same level of functionality within each area.
Some ERP systems will provide more comprehensive functionality in specific areas or have been tailored for business specific industries and the challenges they face.
This is why it is essential to firstly define your critical business requirements, and then evaluate potential ERP systems against those.

What is an independent ERP consultant?

An ERP consultant helps businesses to evaluate, select, implement an get the most from an investment in an ERP (or other IT) system.
However, not all ERP consultants are independent.
Put simply, an independent ERP consultant has no affiliation to any ERP system (or other) vendor. This has become somewhat rare in the UK due not least to the referral fees available from some ERP vendors. The opportunity to become resellers for major ERP vendors can also be quite lucrative.
When working with AHC, you can be guaranteed that we are truly independent ERP consultants. We do not receive any fees from ERP vendors for referrals.
We use our experience and knowledge of the marketplace to identify potential vendors that we feel could do a good job for you. We then provide you with a structured approach to help you identify the best ERP system and long-term partner for your business.

What is best of breed?

A “best of breed” approach describes where an organisation purchases software from different vendors to obtain the best offering for each area of the business, rather than a single offering covering all processes.
Businesses do this because, whilst there are benefits from having a single integrated solution, such a system will inevitably not offer the same level of specialist functionality in each area that a standalone solution, focused only on one area, can offer.

ERP versus best of breed – which is best?

There is not a simple answer to this. It depends on your requirements as a business.
There are significant benefits of having a single, integrated system, provided it is capable of supporting all of your requirements. There is no cost of integrating different systems, you have a single provider who is responsible for maintaining the system and data analysis should be easier if in a single database.
However, if you have very specialist requirements in a particular area, then you may be better considering a system that has more comprehensive functionality to address those needs.
Typical examples of this would be HR and Payroll. Whilst some ERP systems do provide functionality in these areas, the majority do not offer Payroll and many offer only basic HR functionality. Therefore, if you have comprehensive HR requirements (e.g. involving recruitment, learning and development, performance management etc.) you may well be better off implementing a specialist HR system offering “best of breed” functionality that integrates to your ERP or other systems.
Similarly, many ERP vendors do not offer Payroll functionality as there are plenty of specialist Payroll systems around that it is easier for them to integrate with, rather than “reinventing the wheel”

What is Change Management?

Change management is a broad term used to describe various approaches to helping to engage people at all levels within an organisation to embrace and buy-in to changes.
Implementing a new ERP system is an example of a massive change within a business that will impact the way people work. For a modern ERP system to work effectively, and justify the significant investment involved, people will need to adjust to new ways of working and potential changes to their roles.
It is human nature to fear change and therefore it is essential to consider the impact of the changes that will be required when implementing an ERP system.
Resistance to change has been regularly shown as being the most common barrier to businesses achieving a successful ERP implementation. However, many businesses take the view that their people will just adapt and embrace new ways of working.
Our view is that a formal plan is needed to evaluate the impact of a new ERP system and manage the associated change. It does not need to be overly complex, but cannot be ignored.
Effective communication is critical. It is essential that people understand the reasons for any change, the impact it may have on them, but the broader benefits it will bring to the business, BEFORE it happens.

How do I Improve Manufacturing Efficiency?

1. Measure & Quantify your processes.
2. Identify opportunities for improvement to remove waste.
3. Make the required changes
4. Manage the change
5. Measure & Quantify again – compare with step 1.

What is OEE?

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that is used to measure manufacturing productivity.
OEE is calculated considering the availability, performance and quality of your manufacturing operations.
The ultimate goal is to manufacture perfect products (100% quality, no rejects), with no downtime (100% availability) as quickly as is possible (100% performance).
By measuring these indicators of manufacturing productivity, you can identify the reasons why you are not achieving 100% performance, and use this to drive continuous improvements within your manufacturing operations.

What is MES?

MES is a Manufacturing Execution System.
Manufacturing Execution Systems are specialist software solutions that are used to measure shopfloor performance indicators (KPI’s) such as OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).
Manufacturing Execution Systems extend the core functionality of ERP systems. They often provide touch screen interfaces to provide shopfloor employees with a simple interface to view jobs, record their completion and log quality issues and machine downtime.
Manufacturing Execution Systems can also be configured take live data from machines automatically – e.g. data from sensors recording the number of units produced or the temperature the machine is operating at.
Manufacturing Execution Systems then provide analysis of productivity through live dashboards that can be used to optimise production activities and trigger preventative maintenance and improvement activities.