9 Insider Tips to Guarantee MRP Implementation Goes Smoothly
Making sure your MRP implementation runs smoothly is key to saving time and keeping peace of mind. Small manufacturers like the guys at “Coffee People” know that a lot of this just comes down to planning and organisation.
Change is scary.
Naturally, that means big changes are scarier - even if it’s for the greater good.
And adopting an MRP or similar system might well end up being one of the greatest changes your business goes through.
The benefits are there for the taking, but the truth is that it can also be a daunting affair.
You need to learn how the new system works, train staff, adjust long held processes...
The list goes on.
Which is why we have compiled our top tips to help you make sure your MRP implementation is a smooth, peaceful process.
That means confirming that you have chosen the right fit for your business, and then guiding you on how to get the ball rolling as seamlessly as possible.
Otherwise you might well end up making all the mistakes of those that came before you on this journey.
It’s too easy to miss crucial details at the start of your MRP implementation adventure that end up as heavy burdens down the line.
Better to make sure you get it right the first time.
1. Know Your Needs
Whether you’ve already chosen the software you want to go with or still looking, it is vital to know your reasons.
Otherwise you’re going to lose focus very quickly.
To stress this point – you need to know what your needs are, and what the problems are you’re trying to solve.
If it’s a large-scale inventory you’re struggling with, then find out if the system can handle your number of products. If its raw material inventory booking you need then check if there’s support for that before you start implementing.
An awesome place to start if you’re unsure is to look at where you’re currently using the greatest number of spreadsheets. Those are the elements you must ensure the MRP of your choice will be able to take care of.
It’s that tediousness and inefficiency that you want to get rid of, so make it the focus when finding and implementing your chosen software.
2. Free Trial = Everything
You can read about all the millions of features that a software has to offer and still not know what it’s really like until you try it out yourself.
It’s so often the case that a business buys into a sexy sales pitch and then finds that the system is much more difficult to use than expected. Or doesn’t even match their needs for that matter.
It can happen for example that an MRP software says that it tracks your stock so that you know when you are low on materials. However, it might not tell you that there is no visual cue for this, so you need to check the system manually every day to find out what you're missing.
This means your workload has not been reduced that much, and sadly you wouldn’t know until you had already bought in.
That’s why you should look for MRP that offers a free trial with demo data, so that you can play around and start imagining your business down the line.
3. Prime Your Data
One of the major speed bumps in MRP implementation is the lack of organized and accurate data.
Firstly, that means making sure that your inventory lines up with the reality of your stockroom. You can give your new system a head start by doing a thorough stock check at this time, and updating your numbers.
Secondly, you need to get your spreadsheets in order in terms of materials and products. That means having your inventory matched with their SKUs, variants, costs, categories at the ready, so that you can import your data as soon as needed.
Katana offers a data import template which makes transferring your inventory from your spreadsheets a doddle. Or if you already have a Shopify store then you can use the integration to bring your finished products over from there at the touch of a button.
Learn everything you need to know about Shopify inventory management, and take your e-commerce product-making business to the next level.
4. Do an Intergrations Checklist
Most cloud manufacturing softwares work with other online applications to give you a broader set of options for areas like accounting and online sales.
That’s why it’s important that you consider the current and future integrations of the system you’re going for. Make sure that you can for example connect to QuickBooks for accounting and that you have a Shopify inventory integration available.
But even more importantly you need to know how far the integrations go and what the limitations are.
Just because there is an integration in place doesn’t mean that you can do everything you’re imagining in your head. There could be workarounds involved and you want to know if they’re worth taking the time for.
5. Look for Expert Support
Every discipline has its guru and MRP implementation is no different.
See if there is an implementation meeting offered by the company you’re signing up to. Having a guru by your side to set things up (even if virtually) can make a huge difference in the time you save working it all out yourself.
You also want to find out if there are demo videos available to give you an idea of how the whole system works.
Here’s a demo video from Katana Smart Workshop Software to give you an idea of what to be looking for in terms of expert support.
6. Separate Testing and MRP Implementation
Don't bite off more than you can chew – that's what mother used to say.
Same goes here.
You want to know how your new system works before you go all in, right?
That’s why it’s useful to start with a testing period where you can play around and iron out the details. You could just start with one product to keep the process simple. Probably best to go with your key product if you have one, and that can serve as the centrepiece to work around.
After you’ve tested that, and the ironing has been done you can move on to implement your system to its full capacity. If you’ve already ran your tests properly, then you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by any unexpected jabs.
But even then, you want to constantly be reviewing your processes to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it. Especially in the first couple months.
7. Get Everyone in the Loop
It becomes a lot easier to make sure your MRP implementation goes to plan if you have your team to support you. Doing this alone just means you’re going to have to go back on yourself later down the line. Better to get it right on the first run, right?
MRP implementation can be a lengthy process. Depending on the complexity of your business it could be a matter of weeks, but more realistically it’s a matter of months.
Still not bad considering ERPs take an average of 6-24 months to implement.
But that’s why it’s important that everyone who’s going to be using it is kept up to date with the potential changes and training required ahead of time. This is a significant incoming change and should be treated as such.
It’s going to make the transition a lot smoother if the team is less resistant and more receptive to the change.
Give regular updates as to what stage you’re at, but even more importantly, use the opportunity for feedback. Especially from those who will be using it most frequently - like the production planner.
Your team can give insight into the nuances and details you might miss.
Remember: Team effort required.
8. Be Prepared for Change
It's very possible your processes might have to be slightly adjusted when executing MRP software.
Take this as a positive step and run with it, otherwise you’ll be fighting against the system you’re trying to implement.
That’s only going to slow things down.
It’s much better to understand the benefits and spread the love to your team.
Pro tip: There should always be someone with executive decision-making power involved so that the MRP implementation can be as effortless as possible.
9. Set Aside Sufficient Time and Resources
Failing to plan is planning to fail. So make sure you set the time aside to come up with a detailed plan and checklist of your MRP implementation process. It’ll be worth the effort.
The process of MRP implementation could be one of the biggest projects you embark on.
A common mistake is underestimating the amount of time and energy it takes to set up.
The implications are wide spanning and so there should be at least one person who is wholly responsible for the implementation.
That means taking the time to getting things right, understanding the system and swinging into action.
It can be a great idea to have an implementation plan written out, which you update every time you take a next step.
Here’s an example list of steps:
Confirm that MRP has capacity for requirements
Ready the test data
Go into testing
Ready the full data
MRP implementation with full data
Make adjustments for optimization
Review progress and whether requirements reached
All the above tips are important, but here comes the kicker – find an MRP company that supports you through the set up.
The process can be complicated and frustrating at times, so you need to work with an MRP which offers true support. That means that they answer questions honestly, understands your needs and give solutions to your problems.
Doing this alone is near impossible, or if not, then incredibly time consuming.
Katana Smart Workshop Software offers a system of support which makes the implementation as painless as possible. Expert customer success is on hand to help you whether you’ve chosen Katana already or are just interested in taking it on a trial run.
But regardless of what you decide to do, remember to gather as much resource and help you can on this journey. The alternative is to wade through on your own and make the same mistakes as those who trod this path before you.
It’s much better to spend the time on getting your MRP implementation right the first time.
That way you can guarantee yourself a system that works for you, rather than the other way around.