Manufacturing Requirements Planning 



This article presents an overview of a methodology for selecting an MRP software package. By using this methodology a company limits the exposure to surprises when the package is installed. It also insures that everyone is focused on the same final objective and is working toward a common goal. By using a methodology everyone knows the steps that they must perform and they can see the forest from the trees.

A large number of companies have selected MRP software packages and in many cases they have performed detailed studies, but when they finally implement the system they still have surprises. It has been our experience that the surprises are the cause of the failure of a project. The missing features or functions that can kill a project when a deficiency is discovered, after the contract is signed, can be salvaged if surprises are eliminated and deficiencies are identified and agreed upon up front. In some cases the user and vendor will work around the deficiencies and successfully implement a software package.

The way to avoid surprises is to insure that you know exactly what your requirements are and to what degree the MRP package meets those requirements. The way to insure that this happens is to follow a methodology, a path, that will insure that the requirements are defined in detail and that each member of the team knows how the package meets the requirements. The methodology must be simple and must keep you on the path.

The methodology we are recommending is a simple five-step path that is very logical and if followed will ensure successful implementation of either a package or a custom-designed system.

Choosing the Team

The first step on the path is Choosing the Team. These are the people who will be responsible for the actual selection of the MRP package. Included in the team should be a "Corporate Sponsor" who is a top management person under whose authority the project is run and who is funding the project. The team should include a data processing person and a member of each department that the system will affect. If the MRP system is to be installed into multiple plants, members should represent each of the plants. These members are ultimately responsible for the package selection. They will be assisted by other personnel as needed including when defining the requirements of the system.

Also, as a part of this step, preliminary cost justification is performed to confirm that we should continue on the path.

Setting the Goal

will be aiming at. It is only by having a good requirements document that we will know if the software selected will hit the target. The requirements must be defined very specifically. Only by being very specific can we identify the right MRP software package and avoid surprises during implementation. In order to make the comparison between requirements and software easier, the requirements should be put in bullet format. Each bullet item should be rated on how important it is to the company. The rating can be done as follows:

4: needed to run the business

3: can use but

2: like to have

1: nice to have but may use if the package has the feature

0: not needed

We include a rating of zero to document the fact that we reviewed the requirement and felt that we had no need for the feature or function.

To be Continued


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