Business Practice Review

Written By: John Hoyt - Technology Management Concepts

from March 12, 2012

Migrating to a new Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP system is a significant project for any company but it can also be an opportunity to review your business practices.  Use this opportunity to review and document your current business practices, and identify those processes that are inefficient or outdated.  Potential areas for review and process change include:

  • How your General Ledger account format is structured
  • How you process payments to your vendors
  • How your inventory items are numbered
  • How your warehouse is organized
  • How you generate sales documents or pay commissions

Many businesses view themselves as “unique” and rightfully so.  The competitive advantage that the company benefits from may very well be the result of their unique methods of operation.  However, although most every company has some unique aspects to the way they do business, sometimes a “unique” process is only unique because “it’s the way we’ve always done it”.  Frequently, this is a result of establishing a process to overcome the limitations of their prior system and, without a thorough review of that process; the company may continue to use the same old process in subsequent systems.

As an example, a company is implementing a new system where the scope of the project included a total company improvement project and was not necessarily limited to the implementation of a new system.  The Company, working with their consulting partners, spent considerable time and effort reviewing those processes that were considered unique to the company and their industry.  The company was migrating from a custom system that had been built around the existing processes that were in place when the old system was being created.

One poorly defined and poorly supported process in the old system wasn’t specifically addressed in the new system: the selling of gas with a returnable core (container).  The project team debated the concept of this process involving one item or two (gas vs. core).  At one time, the team even considered making a case for three items.  Was it a kit?   Was it gas with a core deposit?  In the end, the team decided there were two separate sales transactions and two separate items – the sale of gas + core and the return of the core alone.  The new process was much simpler than the old process the company had been using previously, and the new process for tracking empty cores and returning them to the vendor was greatly improved.

The review process required the project team to break the process down into its various components, and then to consider all of the variations to that process.  This allowed the project team to see that the company had been using an overly-complicated procedure, based on the limitations of the old system.  Without reviewing the steps and underlying assumptions of the process, the old method would have been carried forward into the new system, just because “that’s the way we do it here”.  The discussions allowed the project team to explore the accounting considerations while developing a new business process that improved efficiency and accuracy.

Tips:

  • Ideally, get representatives – including management – from other departments in your company to be involved in these discussions and decisions.  You may not know what some of their issues are and their involvement will help them feel some ownership of the process and understand the decisions that are made.
  • Discuss problems with your clerical staff.  They know best what some of the problems are but they may never bring it up because they think it’s just the way it’s done.
  • Thoroughly document your existing business processes.  Focus on what is being done currently, and try to identify why it is done that way.
  • “Map” the existing processes to Dynamics GP to make sure you have a procedure to deal with each situation in the new system.
  • Try creating and processing a sales document in Dynamics GP with every one of the worst possible scenarios included – the most complicated inventory items, the most complicated customer, etc.
  • Support from your company management is critical for your successful implementation.

Every system is different and the more you can work with your new system, the more efficient your processes will be and you may be able to improve other segments of your business at the same time.