Supply Chain Blog

FMCG ERP and The Beatles.......? Spreadsheets cause damage.

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 04, 2018

Some time ago I wrote about the way spreadsheets were undermining expensively assembled ERP’s in FMCG, Brewing and Pharmaceutical companies. They still are, by the way.

Not too long ago a paper on Public Debt and Austerity published by 2 eminent Harvard Professors was found to contain errors in the Excel coding. Several significant countries were excluded from the data analysis and therefore the conclusions could not be accurate.

The glitch was spotted by a student who like everyone else, believed he and not the professors must be wrong. If you can make mistakes at this level then think what may be happening in your demand planning office. A decimal point in the wrong place or a misplaced cell could lead to market place challenges in stock availability or indeed, excess.Beatles_ERP_Spreadsheets

The bug in that Public Debt spreadsheet leads me to the Beatles – what a segue! Here is what Lennon & McCartney might have written about spreadsheets and ERPs.

Yesterday, an IT man took my Excel away
Now I have to plan a different way

How I wish it was yesterday

Certainly, I’m not as comfortable as I used to be
There's a new ERP in front of me.
How yesterday came shockingly

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, spreadsheet planning was the only way
Now I need to learn a different way
I need to believe in our ERP

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, poor planning was the only way
Error riddled spreadsheets everyday
Now I don’t believe in yesterday
Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

You can catch up with the classic Beatles track by clicking here.

If you do not run an ERP that relegates spreadsheets to useful and reliable supporting tools then you are risking poor planning in your business.  If you are running an ERP you might check exactly where the data comes from, where critical calculations are really made and how secure is the information.

Image courtesy of artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Supply Chain, Forecasting & Demand Planning, ERP

How Spreadsheets Undermine Your FMCG ERP

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 11, 2018

Despite what you may wish to believe the answer is probably, yes. You have invested heavily in brand new ERP software and similarly heavily in some smart, young consultancy people to run the implementation. You will have spent some timing debating and making these choices as the change to an all encompassing and integrated ERP is a huge step and at the same time a huge risk for your company.

Suddenly the flexibility to back-date or correct entries is lost or at least there is a rigid and auditable procedure to follow in order to make any adjustments. Sudden uplifts in Sales cannot be slipped in unnoticed at month-end and neither can supply shortages or marketing tardiness with promotional activity. Everything you do in a good ERP is recorded and can be seen.

ERP System ImplementationIf your ERP really is the only software being used to run your business then a hearty well done to you. However, in a surprisingly large number of companies the all important role of change management has not received the required seniority or focus.  Staff who have been using spreadsheets for maybe 10 - 15 years (it was released in 1985!) cannot and will not stop using them just because they have been trained in a new ERP.  Spreadsheets are like a cuddly teddy at bedtime; they are familiar, comforting, not demanding and always there!

An element of your decision to implement a new ERP was probably a supplier guarantee that people productivity and data accuracy would be improved. In reality you will find staff operating a covert shadow ERP on the same old spreadsheets. Detailed planning, sales and allocation decisions are being made on spreadsheets and then manually inserted into ERPs. Commonly, decisions are taken in isolation of S&OP and lack the consistency that ERP master data brings plus the all important history development for the business baseline.

Staff efficiency and data accuracy have certainly not improved; they have worsened. The tedious “cut and paste” of data into the ERP is time consuming and fraught with error. Post ERP implementation is always a rough time for businesses  as they get to grips with a new way of working but is it any wonder some stay in a continual state of intensive care?

If you pay sufficient attention to change management you can lessen the impact. Should staff not see the medium terms benefits outweighing the short term inconvenience then they will operate the shadow ERP.  The change manager has to clearly show what the ERP brings to people first and subsequently the company – not the other way around.

Of course, one solution might be to deactivate the spread sheet program on the network until ERP discipline is second nature? Now, who is brave enough to do that?

Image courtesy of HikingArtist

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Integrated Business Planning, Supply Chain Analytics, ERP