It's been many years since this question of compatibility between lean practices and enterprise resource planning (ERP) was rigorously discussed and brought many controversial and opposite opinions to the table. Can these two work well together, or do they have no place in each other's space? It seems like even after all this time-and discussion-the jury is still out the final verdict. The answer is not a simple "yes" or "no," but rather lies somewhere between.
Advocates of lean concepts protect a lean manufacturing organization from technological invasions, propagating the principle that "simpler is better" and believing that almost any informational system is a waste (non-value adding). On the flip side of the coin, there are thousands of ERP vendors, users, and manufacturing managers that use traditional methods based on complex data and transactional systems who won't accept any other alternative way of conducting business.
If you're in the manufacturing industry, or if you are associated with manufacturing (e.g., as a supplier or distributor), you've heard all about lean principles, lean initiatives, or lean practices. While the basic lean principles are widely known, many organizations are still struggling with the question of how to make the transformation to lean.
In our opinion, the lean concept encompasses continual improvement wherein an organization constantly strives for more efficiency, which translates into bottom line profit. Each organization must approach lean based on its own internal capability and capacity balanced with the requirements of its customers and the practical reality of dealing with and coordinating a multitude of suppliers to create a smooth supply chain. Whether this "lean" initiative includes enabling technology is entirely up to the organization.
TEC's research analysts are currently working on a Buyer's Guide on the subject of lean. This guide will provide key information to software decision makers in the manufacturing market to find a solution they can leverage to help grow their business, balance IT costs, provide more accurate and up-to-date information for decision making while increasing productivity and improving customer experience.
We would like to ask our readers their opinion on both lean and ERP and the synergy (or disconnect) between the two in order to focus our efforts on some of the key issues that are important to you.
You can can the TEC Lean Manufacturing Opinion Poll at http://blog.technologyevaluation.com/blog/2010/08/05/lean-opinion-poll-are-lean-and-erp-still-antagonists/?referer=tec_nl_en_08092010_adid_9290&tecreferer=tec_nl_en_08092010_adid_9290
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