Skip to main content

Effective MRP needs senior buy in

Over the past year I have been involved in a number of MRP projects; systems to help drive manufacturing operations. Most of these projects have involved working with businesses that have already done the hard work of specifying, selecting and installing the software. Similarly, staff have been trained – it’s all ready to go live! 

So, if a business is still operating in chaos and / or is not achieving the results needed from a system like this, well there’s a problem! But what is the issue? In my experience it is often lack of ‘buy-in’ to the project by senior members of staff.

And yes, this really does make all the difference.


If senior managers are not involved with day-to-day usage of the system, how can they hold people accountable? By being involved, I don't mean undertaking transactions in the system, i.e. raising purchase orders. I mean that they are involved with the flow of information at some level.

If your senior team aren't 'visible' on the system then you risk a decay of standards for your business. Like the empty warehouse windows that get smashed by vandals when minor repairs aren't dealt with*, a lack of management presence doesn't help good system disciplines to be maintained.
I have heard stories of senior people boasting that they don't use their computer system (because they think that either they shouldn't need to or it’s a badge of 'success'). These stories pervade the organisation and it doesn't help users get enthused.

One method to get over the issue of senior member ‘buy-in’ is to use a Sunrise meeting format. Sunrise meetings are a great way of bringing together key players in the business at the start of each working day. Priority data is pulled together and reviewed. If it isn't right then there is a need for action.

The direct use of an ERP / MRP outputs is a great way testing the quality of your system’s data, as well as helping direct business efforts. When a suite of management reports are part of this mix there is even more opportunity for your senior team to get involved. They will soon realise how well the system is working and the impact this is having.

I remember one occasion during my time in Operations Management. There had been a slow uptake in part of our ERP system. I was struggling to get interest from the teams, to help resolve this, so lobbied my boss. After part education, part exploring opportunities and part begging, I brought him round. The end result was a plan.

My boss decided to stop spoon feeding the shop floor with data and make them become self-sufficient; if they didn't use the system they wouldn't get their information. Their system would work, if only they had a reason to use it. This data then fed our Sunrise meetings and it worked beautifully. Our system became both self-sustaining and effective.

When developing your MRP system it is critical that the right senior people are participating in the right kind of ways. In my experience, the projects that have really been painful have been the ones where the senior team have resisted getting involved. Whether they thought it was beneath them, that they were too busy, or something else, all I can report on are the results. And these are bad when the senior team isn't pro-actively engaged.

Inversely, the projects that have gone (relatively) like a dream, have had the right support from the senior team. They understood the benefits of MRP, what they needed to do to create the right environment for it to work, and also how they can use the system for their own benefit.
The results, as they say, speak for themselves.

If your system isn't where it needs to be, and your senior team isn’t fully engaged, then why not try involving them with a Sunrise meeting and see whether that strategy works?


* If you haven't heard of 'Broken Window Theory' and how it affects disciplines and standards, check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory


Giles Johnston
...optimising MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Popular posts from this blog

Stop firefighting, start performing!

Another weeks passes and another example of unnecessary fire fighting demonstrated by a business I have been to help. If you have this taking place in your business, let me ask you a few questions: 1. What keeps on happening? Regain control with this practical book Can you pin down what it is that you keep having to do, to get out of trouble? If you can't, is there a pattern you can observe? 2. Do you want it to stop? Is it causing you enough of a problem that you want it to stop? If the answer is yes, keep reading, if not park it for another day. 3. Find out what is going on Do you know why you are having this issue? If you aren't sure where the issue is arising from, then take a few minutes to have a look around. When you have some idea, go to the next step. 4. Cause and effect Do you know what is truly causing the fire fighting situation? If you spend the time to get to the root cause of the situation , you have a good chance of permanently eliminating this situation. Most p

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Are your teams clear?

I have recently finished working with a team that were struggling. They were struggling to meet their production schedules. They were struggling to respond to customer enquiries on time. They were burnt out and frazzled. After some prodding and poking it became clear what their issues were. In particular, it became obvious that expectations of the team weren't clear or defined. Defining what you expect from teams is a standard management approach. The problem with most teams is that leadership describe the standards in vague terms . So, what happens if you get the standards crystal clear? You should expect to see the team produce the right outputs. They should produce the outputs at the right time. And, they should produce them in an agreed way. Be clear with your teams. Ask the question: What does good look like? If you want to get some more ideas on how to define effective standards and visions, get your copy of my book today . What does good look like? is a practical guide to h