Data Appreciation in Manufacturing

Over the past few years, many of our Excellerate team members have been focused on selecting and implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system into the business. Many companies have extensive data and order management systems installed and have spent years developing processes around those digital products. One of the major benefits of ERP systems is that they provide a wealth of data about operational performance that can quickly be queried out of large data lakes and analyzed in overly complicated Excel files.

Similar to many of you, I’ve spent a large part of my professional life analyzing bookings, shipments, bill of materials (BOMs) standard costs, routings, financials and quality data in Excel for trends and operational improvement opportunities. However, I never truly appreciated the effort that went into implementing, managing and maintaining those data management systems until I recently became involved with Excellerate’s ERP implementation effort.

Several years ago it became apparent that an ERP system was needed to manage Excellerate’s business in the most effective and efficient manner. A committee was formed, outside advisors were leveraged and after several months of research, an ERP vendor was chosen. The selection process had to be the easy part, because the implementation process has tested and pushed the Excellerate team in ways we could not have anticipated prior to beginning this journey. We had to search out and hire additional team members who have extensive experience in managing and utilizing an ERP system to run a large, complex organization. We had to document our processes and, in many cases, develop them from scratch. The team had to rationalize how to configure certain modules in the chosen program to ensure we continued to serve our customers at the highest levels. These are just a few of the challenges the team has encountered and overcome throughout this journey.

We are on track to go live with our first manufacturing site in Neenah, WI, at the beginning of August 2020. The plan is to go live with the remaining locations throughout the fourth quarter of 2020 and first quarter of 2021. I’m extremely proud of all the hard work the manufacturing system and functional area experts have put into getting us prepared for this significant milestone, and I’m thankful for the support provided throughout this process by our implementation consultants and our business technology teams. We still have a lot of tasks and training to accomplish over the next six weeks to get ready, but we have a detailed plan in place and I’m confident the team will execute appropriately.

I’m excited about the benefits the ERP system will provide to our customers and team members and look forward to being able to manage our orders and material in the most efficient and effective manner possible. I’m also thrilled about the ability to easily access more detailed data about our business. And lastly, I will never again take for granted the effort it takes to implement, manage and maintain our critical manufacturing systems.

What are some things you’ve learned while implementing ERP at your organization?