Mark Allan, Senior Director Operations at DRS Technologies Canada, presented at Deltek Insight 2014 conference and shared DRS’ experience implementing Costpoint’s manufacturing solution which includes Costpoint ERP, iBASEt’s Solumina MES and Kaba’s AutoTime Labor software all tightly integrated into one commercial software offering from Deltek.
Moving To A Modern MES and ERP System
Before this project, DRS had a pretty typical legacy of a 20 year old ERP and several custom applications built to support the manufacturing shop floor including a custom paperless MES, dashboards and reports. Yet DRS, in 2013, realized that they needed to move to a modern MES and ERP system because the ongoing investment of extending a custom MES was not in their best long term interest.
Competitive MES and ERP Systems
The bar was set high for the competition among software vendors because DRS’s shop floor was happy with their custom MES (Manufacturing Execution System). DRS set out to look for a replacement for their MES and ERP systems and found the offering from Deltek with Costpoint and partner applications to be a great value since it includes best-in-class Solumina MES and AutoTime Labor systems without the need to pay extra services for custom integration work.
The implementation project started late in 2013 and the full rollout took a little over nine months to complete. The rollout included migration of the legacy data and transition plans to phase out the different custom systems.
MES and ERP Implementation Phases
DRS shared some very valuable insights and I summarize my favorite slides from their presentation below.
- The First three Months – Survival
- Rely on strong support teams of SMEs that can tackle issues immediately at the shop floor
- Document all issues through customer care or technical support
- Maintain 1-2 consultants on site to support SMEs
- Focus on “show stopper” issues
- Celebrate – pizza, donuts, etc.
- Months Four through Six – Streamlining
- Transition away from consultants
- Start to identify new found opportunities for efficiency improvements
- Prioritize improvement opportunities
- Six – Twelve Months – Fine Tuning
- Re-engage with software vendor consultants
- Re-evaluate software features that might have been overlooked in first implementation
- Leverage improved data for new reports and dashboards
- All key objectives were achieved
- Implemented the full system in less than one year
- Actual costs were within 10% of budget
- No consultants on site after four months
- System is working well as a whole
- Actively and continuously improving the system
One of Mark’s closing remarks was “We are all in this together!” as he explained that his team is working closely with their software partners to continue to improve the software product and provide even better integration. For example, in one session we discussed how it would be great to have a function to export average actuals for each operation from the labor system to a spreadsheet where they could be evaluated and easily pushed into updated time standards for work plan operations. It is truly a pleasure to work with companies that foster teamwork with their solutions suppliers.