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The Benefits of Documenting Your ERP System Procedures

8/10/18 10:00 AM


Floss your teeth, don't eat junk, document your procedures

My guess is the headline above didn't tell you anything you don't already know. There is a difference though between knowing and doing. You don't need me going into detail of the benefits of flossing your teeth or eating right, so I'm going to focus on the benefits of documenting your ERP system procedures. I promise you two things: This won't be a finger wag if your procedures aren't documented. Also, I will reveal an easy way to document your procedures. The third point isn't a promise, but it is a goal. I'll try to make this interesting, so keep reading.

From our viewpoint, it's important to document your procedures to prevent what we (and many) call brain drain. The more official term is human capital flight. This occurs when a person - and their knowledge - leaves either the position they were in (minor case), or they leave the company all together (major case). Their replacement is not trained fully, so they shortcut procedures or create their own. The same cycle happens when that replacement is replaced, further eroding the procedure. After many years, no one really understands the ERP system; the data is not trusted; and there is a spike in the usage of spreadsheets to manage the company. I'll bet a crisp new dollar bill that one of the reasons behind the ERP  purchase was to get rid of the spreadsheets.

So why do spreadsheet make a comeback? Because people use the tools they understand to fix problems. If the employees don't understand the ERP, they use what they understand - spreadsheets.

Documenting your procedures can not only slow down or eliminate brain drain; it could promote brain gain. If the regular process improvements are incorporated into the documented procedures, the better procedure is the starting point for the new employee. That employee could improve the procedure over time, and that gets you brain gain.

All of this makes sense to anyone I've ever talked to. Yet, most companies don't have documented procedures. It's not a real mystery why this is the case. Like a frog getting slowly boiled, procedures slowly erode and no one notices - until it's too late. That's what happens to the frog too, but by then it's really too late. The good news is you can do something about it. You can even prevent it.

The solution is an Infor product called Infor User Adoption Platform (UAP). Here's how it works. If you want to document a procedure for entering a purchase order, turn on UAP and enter a purchase order. UAP creates a video of sorts with text bubbles that walks a user through, in this case, the steps in creating a PO. You can modify the text in the bubbles to add more depth to the training. Also, you can publish a variety of content types (work instruction, quick reference, course, simulation, test script) and formats (HTML, PPT, PDF, MS Word); making it a great on-boarding solution for new employees.

If you'd like to learn more about it, let me know.

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Jack Shannon

Written by Jack Shannon

Jack is the President of Visual South and has been working with ERP since 1996 when he bought it in his role as a Plant Manager. Since 1998 he has worked for Visual South with roles in consulting, sales and executive management.