When implementing a new software system the most important step to ensuring a smooth start up is relating the existing business processes to the new software. It is always the best policy to change as little as possible when implementing a new system and so the objective should be to support existing business processes without changing them. Once the transition to the new system has been completed improvements to processes can be implemented gradually. Trying to change too much at once will cause problems and may result in a failed start up attempt. Likewise not planning the implementation can be equally as disastrous.
Defining the Major Processes
There are generally 3 major processes in a tire or automotive repair business. The first is the repair order processing cycle. This process can have a number of possible steps and some of them can take place multiple times during the life of a repair order. It’s important to document this process completely. List each step and indicate whether it may be repeated. The second major process is parts procurement. The way that parts are ordered should be documented and each step of the process listed. Parts can be purchased for repair orders or for stocking. The steps should be outlined completely from the point that the part is sourced and ordered through receiving to payment. The third major process is bookkeeping or accounting. The process by which the information for repair orders is fed to accounting must be documented. There also is a fourth possible process that may or may not be applicable and that’s customer relationship management. The way that customers are communicated with for these purposes should be documented.
Mapping the Processes to the New System
Once the major processes have been outlined the way that the new system will support them must be defined and documented. Creating this outline of the procedures will ensure that people know how each step of the process is supported. The process maps to the new system must then be tested and confirmed. The objective of this exercise is to become familiar with the way the new system relates to existing business processes. As stated above, existing procedures should be changed as little as possible initially but this may not be completely avoidable. When the processes have been mapped and defined the company will be as prepared as possible to switch to the new system.
Planning the Goal of Full System Implementation
Obviously a transition to a new system is undertaken because there are advantages to be realized by doing so. The initial startup should adhere to existing processes as much as possible. But the ultimate goal is to fully utilize the capabilities of the new system. Once the business has adjusted to using the new system the steps to achieve full implementation can begin. This will entail procedural changes and they should be implemented gradually. The transition from the old procedure to the new should be evaluated and the potential impact on other areas of the business should be considered. This should begin with a list of the changes that should be made to achieve full implementation, a schedule of the best order to implement them and a documented path for the changes required to accomplish each objective. In this system implementation methodology the initial stage is to map existing processes to the new system. The final result is to map processes to the capabilities of the new system.
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