October 3, 2012
4 Reasons Why Your ERP Won’t Solve Your Quality Problems
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a system designed to integrate and provide information to flow from one department to another in a manageable fashion. ERP systems are very common in the business world and are designed accordingly, with a focus on business metrics.
Quality data is different in nature than business data because natural variation is expected and analysis tools, such as statistical process control (SPC), are needed to better understand this variation. While it is possible to collect quality data in these systems, let’s look at several reasons why using ERP to solve your quality problems is not feasible. Let’s look at several reasons why using an SPC software to address quality issues is a better solution than ERP.
Spreadsheet for SPC
It may seem like an intuitive approach to export data from your ERP into a spreadsheet or related software for SPC, but a significant amount of time is required to setup and maintain such a system. Looking at a specific chart for a set of data would be easy enough, but suppose a customer wants a different chart type that compares different parts or processes for different specifications; you would have to start over each time. Using a system intended for quality data, you can easily perform comparative analyses with just a few clicks. Time would be well spent improving your process instead of compiling the data.
One of the most important aspects of quality assurance is to be able to identify the cause or be alerted when an issue occurs in real time. Using the aforementioned approaches, data analysis is after the fact and that could be costly if poor products are produced. This is where the investment of real-time quality software is very beneficial. With specification and control limits set, real-time alarms can trigger to alert operators or send email to the appropriate personnel. Assignable causes and corrective actions for these alarms can be documented and analyzed to prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future. Reports and analysis are readily available, no need for tenuous database queries.
Adapting to ERP
Each ERP implementation is unique, as it is designed to meet the needs of a business. The amount of resources to do this is enormous and time consuming. The tasks of adding programming to adapt ERP to your quality needs, ensuring everything is connected and installed properly, thoroughly validating the system to make sure you have all the proper logic for SPC, and finally training users in the system are daunting and costly. A system designed specifically for quality data will have the proper programming and features for data entry and analysis.
Finally, manufacturing, and the associated quality issues, is very dynamic and changes will be needed to accommodate new issues as they arise. A quality system should be able to adapt quickly to these needs, and the custom nature of ERP deployments doesn’t lend itself to rapid changes.
Most ERP implementations, and the associated after-the-fact add-ons, aren’t designed with an end user that requires feedback and/or guidance based on an entered value. This can be very frustrating to the end users who are entering data and can make training a nightmare. Real-time quality software has the means to prompt and guide the user and will simplify training. As we all know, a successful implementation is getting employees, especially those directly responsible for entering, to like using the system.
An ERP system brings many advantages to a business as it incorporates and tailors various functions or departments within an organization to a single system, but when it comes to addressing quality issues, ERP is not the right system to solve your quality problems. With the programming and logic already build in; SPC software is clearly the better choice. When it comes to collecting and analyzing the data related to the quality of your products, you need a system that was specifically designed to meet your quality needs.