Employees trying to complete their daily tasks in the most efficient manner possible. A positive for an organization, right?

Of course, but red flags go up when employees start implementing their own workarounds to the organization’s ERP system. What the employee sees as bright ‘tips and tricks’ to share with co-workers can actually hurt the organization in the long run.

A properly planned ERP system is designed to improve efficiency. To realize that benefit, management must be able to predict how front-line employees are interacting with the system. Combining and streamlining workstreams depends on being able to prescribe how tasks are being accomplished at every level of the organization. What an employee sees as a time saver might actually be creating waste within the organization as a whole. For example, suppose an employee discovers a way to enter two separate bits of data into a single data field. Though it saves time to the individual, there can be negative ramifications to other users and customers relying on that data.

In addition, successful organizations must be able to respond rapidly to changes in customer requirements and business conditions. With a properly implemented ERP system, global modifications of business processes can be accomplished centrally and rolled out quickly. Problems arise when, unknown to management, individual employees have created rogue workstreams by implementing small system workarounds. In such cases, management’s best laid plans for a smooth transition to a more profitable configuration can actually disrupt these rogue workstreams, creating waste until the problems are corrected.

It is vital, therefore, that an organization actively monitor how its ERP system is being used. Each manager must realize that software procedures are mapped to optimized business processes. Properly educated, these managers are more likely to keep tabs on whether their workers are following those procedures. Also, IT employees at every level must appreciate the importance of conforming to the ERP scheme. A local IT employee who isn’t properly supervised might actually be the one providing employees with a ‘quick and dirty’ workaround that gets the job done a bit easier.

When management discovers that employees are consistently looking for alternatives to an implemented procedure, it may be time to review whether software procedures mirror business processes in the most efficient manner possible. Perhaps something was missed during the business process mapping phase of ERP implementation. Or it might be the case that the change management phase of the implementation failed to achieve employee buy-in, in which case additional training may be in order.