You’ve probably got that dream of a manufacturing floor humming with optimal efficiency, inventory precisely matching demand, and production schedules flowing like clockwork.
Achieving all this is possible with the right manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software in your corner. But bearing in mind that between 60-90% of business strategic plans never take off, implementing this software in your business is no cakewalk.
In recognition of this fact, this step-by-step guide equips you with the crucial steps to conquer the challenge and unleash the transformative power of this system in your business.
Table of Contents
1. Assess organizational readiness
Start by taking a good hard look at how production planning works right now. Bringing all the key players to the table early on will illuminate potential trouble spots.
It’s also critical that your bills of materials, inventory data, production schedules, etc., are in decent shape. If past records are incomplete or inconsistent, planning future material requirements might be a losing battle.
Meet with team members to explain the reasons for adopting MRP and what benefits it’ll bring. Knowing upfront how it’ll make their day-to-day jobs easier can secure much more cooperation down the road.
2. Define goals and objectives
Once you’ve assessed readiness, it’s time to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish with MRP. Remember, about 50% of organizations barely even cross the halfway point in their strategic targets. So, setting the right MRP goals can significantly help you escape the matrix. Some examples include:
- Reduce raw material inventory by 20%.
- Improve production schedule accuracy from 60% to 90%.
- Cut order lead times by seven days on average.
You likely have a whole slew of operational pain points you’re hoping MRP will solve. Quantifying this wish list will help zero in on the products with the right capabilities. And you’ll have an easy way to measure success once your new system is operational.
3. Gather and organize data
McKinsey estimates that come 2025, employees will work with data in practically every facet of their work, thanks to seamless interactions between man and machine. What this means is that you need to get your data game right if you’re to seize this data-centric future.
What details go into bills of materials (BOMs)? Do you track every single component and sub-assembly for each product? Are inventory quantities accurate for all items? What lead times do you typically quote customers?
Collecting clean, consistent data on all these inputs will take considerable effort. But it’s well worth it to prevent mass confusion when it comes time for system setup. The right software should help centralize all these disparate details instead of generating more silos.
But the system is only as smart as the data fed into it. Spend time early on building a solid data foundation and the rest will fall into place much faster
4. Select the right MRP software
Out there, you’ve got great options such as MRP software for manufacturing. But before you go for them, make sure they’re the right fit for your business needs.
Start by making a list of your must-have capabilities based on your objectives. Rank by importance and separate the ‘nice to haves’ from the true necessities.
If maximizing production schedule accuracy is critical, seek out systems with robust scheduling engines that support constraint-based planning. Or maybe shaving days off order lead times is your topmost priority, then lean towards products that tightly integrate with suppliers.
Don’t forget about factors beyond functionality, too. Can the software scale as your business grows? What about integrations with your other platforms? Getting answers to these concerns can go a long way towards helping you get only the best for your business.
5. Configure the software
Once you’ve selected the lucky winner, it’s time to tailor the MRP system to match your processes, products, and data. The upfront effort spent gathering accurate BOMs, inventory figures, production parameters, etc., can make configuration a breeze.
Work closely with your software vendor to input all those details in a way that aligns with how you actually build and schedule products. Take time to define lead times, reorder points, safety stock, and other planning rules that reflect reality on your shop floor.
Testing and tweaking during this configuration stage is key before you go live. Validate that all the data migrated over accurately from legacy systems. Play around with simulated production scenarios to ensure the schedule dates and material requirements being generated make sense.
6. Develop a data migration plan
Having a rock-solid transition plan is crucial for launching your new MRP platform. You don’t want to be manually re-entering thousands of part numbers or trusting important history to spreadsheets prone to error.
Work with your IT team and software vendor to map out the exact data being moved over and how it’ll integrate with the new database schema. Proper planning goes a long way to prevent mass disruption.
Schedule plenty of testing time to confirm the data makes it over fully intact before you cut ties with the old system. And have a rollback contingency just in case any surprises pop up post-launch.
7. Train your team
Investing in comprehensive training can pay dividends by boosting your team’s capability and confidence with the new MRP system. Training should move beyond just the technical how-to of using the software.
Help connect the dots for employees on how the tool impacts their individual workflow and responsibilities. Ensure everyone understands the overarching business objectives so they use the system to support those goals.
Create user guides, cheat sheets, video tutorials, and any other resources they can reference long after formal training ends. Assign team superusers as go-to contacts for answering questions from peers. Consider incentivizing employees who proactively deepen their skills.
8. Test thoroughly
Before letting your new MRP system loose into the wild, put it through rigorous final testing to shake out any lingering bugs. Start by validating the accuracy of data migrated over from legacy platforms.
Spot-check inventory quantities, BOM configurations, and item master records. Next, run simulated production scenarios to test material requirements planning, scheduling capability, and order generation under different conditions.
Gather feedback from employees who’ll actively use the system to flag any pain points or inconsistencies with actual business processes. Address issues through further software configuration and testing until comfort levels are high all around.
Once you’ve checked all testing boxes, it’s time for the big launch. Closely monitor performance metrics in those first few weeks to ensure everything is functioning as expected. Be prepared to refine configurations and enhance training as real-world usage reveals new lessons.
And that’s it – you’ve been through the full nine yards of MRP implementation. Now, you’ve got the inside scoop on making this transition as smooth as possible. With the proper prep and a commitment to continuous improvement, you’ll quite likely get over those tricky hurdles. This implementation is just the beginning of transforming your manufacturing business for years to come.