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When ERP system implementations were in their infancy, system integrators recommended documenting the current state processes as one of the first steps in an ERP implementation. The approach for ERP implementations has changed, yet many system integrators still advocate for documenting the current state processes. The traditional process of documenting current state processes is a tedious task, because documentation requires a considerable amount time and resources to complete. Is it worth it? Simply put, not really. It’s more useful to start where you want to go, not where you’ve been. The disadvantages of documenting the current state are high costs, poor design decisions, and often wasteful customizations.

Wasting Time and Money

A substantial amount of work goes into documenting the current state process. Interviews are conducted with each person involved in the process. The collected information is typically illustrated using Visio or another process flow program. Different symbols are used to identify different tasks. All the steps are documented, linked, and put in the proper lanes to show who is responsible for each task. Follow-up interviews are conducted to make sure everything is documented properly. Any corrections are made and reviewed again. Finally, the current state process is fully documented. The point of configuring a new ERP is to fix the problems in the current process. An analysis of current issues is needed, but writing out the details of every current step is unnecessary.

Think of implementing an ERP as designing a new house. You wouldn’t take the time to create a detailed blueprint of your current house. You already know what your house looks like and what you want differently in your new house. Likewise, it is unnecessary to document each detail of the current process before you start designing the new process for an ERP implementation. Instead of spending time and money documenting current state process, the company should focus on value-added activities.

Setting It in Stone

After spending time to fully understand the current process, the ERP project team is more aware of the details required to conduct business using the current system. The project team will typically get lost in the details and not consider better ways to conduct business during design. When the current state process is on paper, ERP project team members see it as something they can easily rationalize into the future design. Conversations are more likely to center around “we’ve always done it this way.” A benchmark of the current state has been created in their minds which every design decision will be based on, making it more difficult to get rid of old and inefficient habits.

Configuring to the Old System

When it’s time to configure the new ERP, the systems integrator will tend to fall back on the current state. Rather than coming in with a fresh set of eyes, the system integrator will configure the system around the old processes. This leads to unnecessary customizations and extensions to the implementation timeline, which is inefficient and costly. For example, a company knows they want to automate the procurement process, but they don’t know exactly how. The system integrator asks the client how they would like to automate the process and not enough information is provided. The current state documentation becomes the only information the systems integrator can rely on for configuring the new system. Then, the system implementer copies the current system functionality instead of building an optimized procurement system. Undergoing an ERP implementation should not result in patches to the old system, but rather create an ERP that’s best for the company.

When it’s time to build your new house, you start with a fresh foundation. You don’t start with the frame of your old house and try to manipulate it to resemble the blueprint of your old house. Starting with a clean slate instead of working within the confines of the current state will reduce rework and give freedom to create efficient processes.

Documenting each detail in the current process is a waste of time and money during an ERP implementation. Spending too much time on the current state creates a benchmark in the employee’s minds that makes it more difficult for system implementers to start from scratch. Instead, conduct an analysis of issues and bottlenecks in the current process to understand what improvements should be made in the new ERP system. Reallocate saved resources to design a future state enabling the organization to meet management goals.

Trenegy helps companies select and implement ERP systems to make reporting and analysis easier. Our non-traditional consulting method cuts through the ERP confusion, providing our clients with efficiency and confidence. Contact us at info@trenegy.com to find out for yourself.

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