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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems emerged because of a combination of available technology and a universal acceptance of certain manufacturing concepts. The universally accepted manufacturing concepts en­couraging adoption of an enterprise wide approach were sound planning, a time-phased view of material require­ments, bill of material explosions, and a process called gross-to-net logic. These concepts supplied a unified methodology for organizing and managing manufac­turing knowledge. With the advent of ERP systems, or­ganizations could, for the first time, easily monitor their entire production process from receipt of initial order to final customer acceptance of the product.

While technology and manufacturing concepts con­verged, no systematic methodology for implementing the ERP technology into the organization has been uni­versally accepted. Over $16 billion a year is wasted on failed implementations. Many of these failures can be linked to misguided education efforts. Companies implementing ERP systems cannot afford to waste money or time.

Since information and knowledge are rapidly replac­ing inventory and excess capacity, the manufacturing industry must quickly move to a universally accepted enterprise wide ERP implementation paradigm. The cost of implementing an ERP system is 3 to 10 times the ac­tual software purchase price. An approach that focuses on people and technology is required to implement ERP.

Fortunately, the same formulas, logic, structure, and planning strategies used in ERP systems can be applied to managing knowledge and learning within an ERP implementation. A unified methodology upon which to build an ERP implementation infrastructure is needed by today's manufacturers.


Currently, ERP systems are touted as the keys to achiev­ing a competitive advantage. "Knowledge management" is the battle cry of many ERP implementation initia­tives. However, employees must be able to make deci­sions based on all of this "managed knowledge." Too often, companies do not consider the skills required for employees to manage the knowledge available with ERP systems. ERP solutions are proposed without careful consideration of the structure of the knowledge from an employee's perspective. An employee's focus should be on performing their daily, value-added tasks, not managing knowledge.

A learning architecture upon which to base an ERP implementation provides a framework for understand­ing how the knowledge trapped within an organization can be converted into integrated decision-making and ultimately into a measurable competitive advantage. The process of managing an ERP implementation with a focus on learning and training is known as learning requirements planning (LRP).

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 12


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