This article is for business owners and managers who want to use Chassi to improve ERP system adoption and optimize their business processes.
To quickly achieve practical results, we follow the “4M Process”—a strategic process that includes mapping a key business process, measuring step-by-step performance, managing the process based on those insights, and then iterating through those steps to maximize the potential of the business. This post provides an overview of how that process works in terms of theory as well as implementation.
Mastering a business process in four steps
To begin, you’ll need to choose a process to focus on. You’ll want to choose a process that is managed, tracked, or directly tied into your ERP system (or something equivalent). Typically this will be something like order processing or fulfillment, product assembly, scheduling, or work order management.
Once you’ve selected the process you want to improve, you can use Chassi to create a map of the primary steps, or stages, of that process. For order processing, the stages might be something like “Order Entry”, “Approval”, “Picking”, “Packing”, “Shipping”, etc.
To complete this stage of the 4M process you’ll connect your ERP with Chassi so that we can start measuring the process. This is a technical effort, but essentially you or your implementation partner will add code to call the Chassi API at each point that a step begins.
You will also define the entities that are involved in the process, so that we can track them as they move through it. Going back to the order processing example, the entities might be “Orders”, as well as the employees involved with each step in the process.
With a process mapped, entities defined, and API connections in place you are ready to move on to the next stage and start getting some insight into your business.
Chassi’s measures are primarily focused on velocity, volume, and work performance. For instance, we could track the speed at which orders are entered, approved, picked, packed, and shipped to customers.
Our primary tools to create insights from ERP data are metrics like cycle time (how long things take), work-items in progress (WIP – how many items are in progress within a step or across a set of steps), and accuracy (how many orders are entered or filled correctly).
We generate several different reports using those metrics that allow you to easily identify bottlenecks in the process and areas that need improvement. Are orders getting backed up somewhere? Are they consistently backing up at the same step?
As many business owners know all too well, it’s easy to know that there are problems, but it can be very hard to tell where the problems are.
To detect trouble spots, start by generating a baseline for typical behavior within the business. With a baseline established, you can start setting alerts that will warn you about emerging issues before they turn into problems (like cancellations). Like in your car, the oil light should go on well before your engine block seizes up.
In some cases, it may make sense to create a more specific process map (a sub-process) to measure a particular step in more detail. If, say, you see that most orders are getting stuck in the picking stage, you may want to drill down and map out all the steps of your picking process to see if there’s an issue there.
In addition, this is a good time to check for technical issues with a problem step (maybe someone isn’t using the ERP correctly, or is skipping required steps?). You might also start reaching out to individual users who work in the problem area and get some feedback about their experience. Especially with new ERP systems, employee users need time and training to get accustomed to the new system.
Once the insights are coming in, you can start taking informed action to remedy the situation.
Depending on the problem, that might mean providing training or assistance with the ERP. It may also mean correcting some bad habits or incentivizing the adoption of new routines.
Or, it might mean improving the process itself. Maybe there’s a way to streamline order entry, reorganize the warehouse for faster picking, or get more efficient about employee scheduling.
Where active triggers are required, Chassi makes it very easy to react to process performance in an automated fashion. Set a cycle time limit for a problematic step and you’ll get an alert whenever your specified thresholds are reached. Alerts allow you to act in real time to resolve potential issues before they become real problems.
The last step of this process is to keep doing it. Drill deeper into more and more specific areas of the business, map out expected journeys to track real world performance, and test a variety of reactive responses to see how they affect business results (and you customers’ experience).
Chassi includes the ability to create versions for each process, allowing you to test out new processes and keep your metrics up to date with changes in your business.
By following the 4M process, you can use Chassi to continuously increase efficiency, improve customer experience, reduce costs, and increase profits.