What come first – an ERP system (the chicken) or lean management (the egg)?

Lean management is all about eliminating any waste by identifying each step in a business process and then revising or cutting out non-value added steps. The question is whether this should be done prior to selecting an ERP system. Proponents of doing it first assume that the implementation of an ERP system would be merely improving the automation of the existing process and better to eliminate the waste first. However, this approach (sometimes called repaving the cow paths and extending the chicken and egg analogy) is not best practice. The implementation of an ERP system is the best opportunity to implement lean processes. As well, eliminating waste can often be done efficiently with technology so why design and implement a business process that could potentially be part of an existing ERP system? ERP systems have also evolved and do incorporate lean techniques. But ERP implementers don’t always know enough about Lean to optimize business process. You need to either make sure the implementer can implement Lean methods or find yourself a Lean consultant to help with the implementation. One of our clients recently turned to Focused Improvement Consulting to make sure that lean management is applied to the implementation process.