ERP & Lean: Can you “push” & “pull”?

Friday, August 19th, 2011 : 0 Comments

Photograph by Zen

Recently, we had new neighbors move in to the house across the street from us. Since I had a good view from our office window, I caught myself watching them move some of the items inside, one of which included a pretty sizable couch. They stood there for a moment and tried to figure out the best way to get the couch through the door. One moment, I would catch them both trying to push it through the door and after no success, I then watched as they went inside and tried to pull it in. The whole time, I was thinking that it would just make more sense for one of them to push and one of them to pull on either side of the couch. For some reason, watching them struggle with this moving task made my mind wander to a recent Lean myth that I had heard.

“A company that already has an ERP system will struggle to implement Lean”

When people initially started learning about Lean and how it could help their organizations, there was some confusion. Lean was all about “Pull” practices but many companies already had the traditional forecast-driven “push” scheduling methods of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) in place. Could the two co-exist or would Lean cause major changes in the current system and make Lean more of a hindrance instead of a benefit? If we understand the true purpose of both Lean and ERP, we can easily see that they can co-exist within an organization. A benefit of ERP is that it manages the flow across many aspects of an organization. (Ex: manufacturing, inventory management, engineering, accounting, finance, etc.) Lean is all about making that flow more efficient for the company and eliminating waste. So, it would make sense that if a company already utilizes ERP, Lean additions like Pull-Based Replenishment software will only leverage the current investments. Thus, proving that, while a company that already has an ERP system could initially struggle to implement Lean, in the end, they both will help the company with the flow of their inventory which will lead to more success.

Does your company currently utilize an ERP system after having concerns about trying Lean implementation techniques? Or has your company combined the two and experienced great results? Let us know what you think. Let’s discuss!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.