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Applying Lean to Your Front Office with ERP

By Joseph Timmins

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

In a previous post, What is Lean Manufacturing?, we defined lean manufacturing and offered some benefits of going lean, such as:

  • Improved quality / fewer defects
  • Increased productivity / efficiency
  • Higher overall manufacturing flexibility
  • Reduced lead times
  • Increased employee morale
  • Safer work environments
  • Improved customer service

This blog is going to discuss how the right ERP system can support lean processes and keep your front office running more smoothly.

Why You Should Go Lean in Your Front OfficeBusiness-process-review.jpg

There are probably inefficiencies in your front office that you’re not aware of – consider, for example, a sales process. Lean’s mantra is “elimination of waste,” and incorrect proposals, decision delays, and unresponsive customer outreach in your sales process are all examples of waste. Ask yourself: is our sales process really adding value, or is it disguising waste and creating lost business?

If you choose the latter, this is where lean initiatives and good systems will make a difference.

Benefits of Implementing Lean in the Front Office

  • A single, centralized information environment – one source of “the truth”
  • Shorter processing times
  • Flexibility and responsiveness in processes
  • Increased employee empowerment
  • “Closed-Loop” core business process that makes people are visible, accountable, and measured from beginning to end

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Get Control of Your Processes

The right ERP software first identifies necessary versus unnecessary steps and then adjusts to maximize the necessary ones and eliminate the unnecessary ones. This includes prioritizing activities and flagging bottlenecks, leading to increased productivity, better use of resources, and increased profits – more simply put, it eliminates waste.

The Future of Lean – Automation

The right ERP software, combined with portal-based technology, will allow front-office vendors to turn their lean practices into workflows, which would allow for the automation of things like routing materials to personnel across company lines and tracking changes/alterations to manufacturing specifications in a central database. This, in turn, would lead to seamless collaboration between in-house and outsourced planners, estimators, and engineers and documents being available to the right people in or out of house. In short, it fits lean by eliminating numerous non-value-added activities.

To achieve this, the right ERP will have a business modeler that allows users to map processes and route information to the right people at the right time; such a function offers the insights you would need to alter processes for maximum efficiency, agility, and customer satisfaction.

SAP Business One and Lean Webinar

Would your front office benefit from lean business practices and ERP solutions? If so, the experts at Acuity would love to discuss your current processes and implement the solution best for your business! Contact us today for more information.

Topics: lean manufacturing, lean

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