OP-TI-MIZE, verb (used with object), op-ti-mized, op-ti-miz-ing; to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible.

In the course of acquiring a software solution, optimization is one of the main benefits used by sales people in persuading buyers. And this is all well and good. Optimization is one of the benefits implementing an ERP system, for example, should bring to the table.


But not every piece of software optimizes every activity. To measure the way you can optimize your company’s activity, you must complete a multi-step analysis with your solution provider.


First, you need to discover your company’s pressure points. Find out where optimization is required. This step will maximize the value added by your ERP implementation.


Let’s take an example. A distribution company has issues with its sales process. Issues that lead to such problems as:

  • Orders are processed chaotically, leading to delays and mistakes in shipping;
  • The number of employees involved from the moment the order is placed to the moment of delivery is high generating difficulties in transmitting information and collaborative work;
  • Relationships with customers are negatively influenced by mistakes, sometimes leading to returned merchandise, raising costs unnecessarily.


In this example, the need to optimize is evident. Optimization takes place in three stages: planning the newly optimized process, implementing a software solution that supports the process and evaluating the impact of the implementation.


In the planning stage a new process must be designed. The new process must eliminate the old one’s inefficiencies in a systemized manner. You can hire a consultant with industry best practice knowledge to help you design the new process.  In our example, a redesigned process would have the following benefits:

  • Reuse of available information and elimination of redundant data entry;
  • Creation of a notification system that alerts employees that an order is at a point in the business flow where it requires their attention;
  • Availability of useful information in every stage of the process (available stock, financial information…);
  • Predefined rules and constraints that automatically get activated at the right time (pricelists, commercial conditions, credit limits…).


The next stage is to map out the newly designed process in the software solution. At this point, the business consultant specialized in the ERP solution will need to understand the newly developed process and provide a demonstration (proof of concept), in which the process is simulated in the ERP system. Following this demonstration the ERP system might provide alternative ways of redesigning the process. If these alternatives are better that the initial design of the process, it is highly recommended they be included in the final design.


It is now time to evaluate the differences between the old process and the new one, in terms of time and costs. Only after you complete this final step in a quantifiable manner, can you conclude whether or not the implementation of the solution will lead to a truly optimized process.


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