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Designing your business processes (Business Process Reengineering or BPR) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation are two sides to the same coin.

The question is: which should be done first, BPR or ERP? Or, should they be done concurrently?

Redesigning your business processes through BPR ensures your business processes are optimized before your software is configured. This also ensures the software’s functionality will closely match your actual process steps. Optimizing your business processes first can improve your ERP implementation by ensuring the correct features are included and are correctly implemented while eliminating unnecessary features and functions your ERP software offers.

Going through a BPR exercise will provide a common and documented understanding of your business processes for your employees. The BPR exercise will help with the ERP implementation process and will enhance adoption of the processes that your ERP software facilitates. Going through BPR first will also ensure that you are not changing your ERP implementation plan to meet changing business process requirements.

Going through a BPR exercise will provide a common and documented understanding of your business processes for your employees.

Business Process Design

Implementing ERP software will naturally require a review and adjustment of business processes in order to correctly install and configure the software. While this type of review and adjustment process is not the same as a full BPR, it can accomplish process improvements and will do it more efficiently, cost effectively and with a lower time investment.

Going through a BPR prior to ERP implementation can identify software modifications to “make the software fit our processes.” However, modifying a tightly integrated ERP software can make software upgrades or updates to future releases more complicated and can diminish the useful like and ROI of your ERP investment.

When we consider these factors, performing BPR concurrently with ERP implementation may prove to be more cost effective and may produce a better end result.

Most currently available ERP systems incorporate process best practices for the market they serve. These ERP systems may offer processes that were not considered in the BPR exercise.

Additionally, I have seen business processes in use that no one really understands why they are in use. If these processes do not match the ERP system’s process, now is the time to reengineer them to match your software. Changing the process is much less expensive than modifying the software to match a process.

Whether you go through a BPR process first or do it in conjunction with your ERP implementation, you will probably reach the same place. However, doing BPR while implementing your ERP software may bring together more expertise and more alternatives that can yield a better result.

What’s the first step in successfully implementing an ERP system? Planning!