A rapidly expanding food processing company implemented an enterprise resource planning system that left the leadership effectively blind to key metrics and processes such as inventory levels, production planning, scheduling, raw material needs, waste levels, and line performance.
The intent had been to replace the old system of metrics with the ERP system’s default metric tracking reports. The way these reports and metrics were configured, however, they contained an overwhelming amount of information that was not focused or trusted. All of this led to a sense of confusion and frustration throughout the organization. If the organization continued operating with unknown and unguided performance, they risk being blindsided by underperforming lines, missing orders, and damaged customer relationships.
More resources help but are not sustainable
Leadership started by throwing resources at the problem. They hired experts in the new system to help them make sense of it. They hired additional inventory management personnel to manually input and track some key schedule attainment metrics. This reigned in some of the worries of missing customer orders, but at a great cost and with an unsustainable method. People were putting in hours of stressful overtime due to the shear load of manual entry and tracking required just to keep up every day. Leadership tasked Stroud with creating a simplified metric tracking dashboard and steering process to relieve these issues.
Creating cross functional buy in
The first focus area was to develop cross functional ownership with finance, supply chain, and operations to build useful goals. Given the vast possibilities for what data to choose, Stroud narrowed the options down based on need and stakeholder feedback. Numerous cross functional sessions aligned leadership on the few key metrics that everyone should be seeing on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.
Ensuring data accuracy and confidence
Detailed data analysis and spot checking was conducted to ensure accuracy of the data. A first impression with accurate data is essential to start building trust in new metrics. In many cases (and as was the case this time), seeing a metric early on and knowing it isn’t accurate can give a lasting impression that the data is wrong, and not to be trusted.
In the end, Stroud helped build an automated dashboard showing trending plant performance and set up daily, weekly, and monthly steering meetings to discuss the new metrics. Focus was given to making the metrics and steering process short, efficient, and (most importantly) directly actionable.
Using the new dashboard and steering process the plant was able to focus on fire-fighting underperforming lines and was able to resource improvement teams effectively. This caused a huge jump in schedule attainment towards customer orders, saving the facility hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential missed sales. Frustration, worry, and unnecessary effort was eliminated and replaced with a structured, automated process that allowed for easy prioritization of resources. Leadership finally felt in control of the new system and could redistribute efforts back to improving cost performance and the overall bottom line.
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