Adventures of Implementing an MRP System

What does it take to implement an MRP system?

Let’s be honest, how many people actually know what an MRP system is? From what I have gathered from our experience, ‘More Reams of Paper’ seems to be appropriate. Thanks to Google and Wikipedia I have been able to get a better understanding of the term. An MRP system is a Material Requirement Planning, AKA “Manufacturing Resource Planning” system, that aids with production planning, scheduling, and inventory control. It is used to manage manufacturing processes. We are also using the program to help with order entry, quotations and accounting. These all-in-one systems are intended to meet three objectives:

  1. To ensure material is available for production and products are available for delivery to customers
  2. Maintain the lowest possible material and product levels in inventory
  3. Plan manufacturing activities, delivery schedules and purchasing activities.

Adventures of Implementing an MRP System

Less Paper, More Time…

In layman’s terms, an MRP system assists manufacturers in being more efficient when processing orders. When you go from using countless spreadsheets, reports and a project management Cloud-Based application to an all-in-one MRP system, you realize just how many extra steps you were taking.  However, the implementation process that it requires to transfer all of your files and reports into the new software makes you step back and question if this decision is really the right one! Was it really that bad having so many extra steps before? The answer to this question is yes. Regardless of how overwhelming and daunting a task it is to migrate to an all-in-one system, the original process was inefficient.

Taking the First Step

As you start the implementation process you begin to realize that the spreadsheets you are filling out don’t really make much sense. There are terms that the MRP system will recognize but you may not know if you are putting things in the right columns. You start second guessing most of what you are doing which in turn, proves to be quite stressful. We may have to re-enter most of the information at a later date because you were not sure where to enter it correctly in the first place.

The best part is the training, after all your information has been entered into the system you realize the confusion has just begun! Don’t get me wrong, we did our homework. We consulted with other companies to see how this process worked for them.  We understood it was going to be a learning process, but again an over-whelming feeling. In complete honesty whatever program you choose will be challenging in the beginning. You will learn to work through the glitches, and the moments when you feel like you are taking one step forward and four steps back.

Trust in the Process

After you make it through the initial entry of the data, you are now able to go live with your new MRP system. The question that has been weighing on your mind since the beginning of this process; “when do you go live?”.  Originally we planned to launch our new system in 2015, this turned out to be a bit too optimistic and we were forced to push it out to January of 2016. It’s almost like the feeling when you’re first learning to swim, your parents are in the pool and they keep telling you to jump in and they will catch you, except here my mom isn’t going to catch me.  I guess at the end of the day you are just going to have to trust the process and get wet!

Stay tuned as this adventure is just getting started.

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Thanks a lot for your help. Your rapid, informative correspondence was invaluable. Hopefully I won't be bothering you with any further questions, but it's good to know you're willing. (following remote technical support provided for system installed at the South Pole) Morgan HedgesPost-doctoral Research Associate
Princeton University
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