Category: System Pragmatist

Do You Need An ERP Upgrade?

June 2nd, 2019

A Client Question
A client was getting a lot of complaints from her team about the ERP system used to run the business – from taking orders to ordering materials and producing product to shipping and invoicing customers and reconciling financials. She was ready to throw the computer out the window when she called to find a new system so that they could build value in the business instead of suffering endlessly.

The Answer
In their case, there was no need for a new ERP system.  This was GREAT news as this investment is often-times the most significant undertaking a company can make. When they go wrong, which is statistically over 80% of the time, they go wrong in a BIG way. Lost customers, hundreds of thousands if not millions underwater (depending on the size and scope), unhappy employees and more.

Although the situation was dire with no hope for resolution (financials that didn’t reconcile and it couldn’t be used in any meaningful way to manage production and inventory), all wasn’t lost. The system itself would work for their type of manufacturing environment although the way it was implemented wouldn’t.  As a result, we found a new partner who had significant impact.  The partner helped them navigate through the clean up of their system, upgrade to the latest version and learn how to utilize the upgraded functionality, which was key to going beyond the base to new frontiers that would increase the value of their business.

Food For Thought
This executive is one of my favorite executives.  I’ve known her since I started consulting 14 years ago. She has an extensive background and is a business valuation expert in addition to being a business leader. If she can get caught up in the ERP maze, anyone can. Take a step back and make sure your assumptions make sense. Should you reconsider how you are using your system or whether it is the right time for an upgrade? If you are interested in an ERP assessment, contact us.

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5 ERP Selection Pitfalls

April 27th, 2019

ERP

 

We get “too many” calls to help resolve problems associated with system upgrades and/or new system implementations.

How can some of these disasters be avoided upfront?

 

  1. Navigating ERP sharks – ERP software suppliers must be some of the most aggressive salespeople I’ve seen. Even when you are careful, they’ll likely focus more on the bells & whistles of their system rather than important details of key functionality needed to drive results.
  2. Standard functionality – Standard functionality is the downfall of ERP selection projects. In my experience, 20% of the time should be spent on standard functionality since core suppliers will have it. Reverse the order and spend 80% on unique functionality.
  3. Lopsided team – Although there will be some disciplines more interested than others in the selection project, if they decided for everyone, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up with a great system in that particular area with the rest left to luck.
  4. Losing track of features – Although it seems obvious while sitting in the demo, it becomes amazingly difficult to figure out which feature went with which software a few days later. Note follow-up questions and compare notes immediately following the demo.
  5. Focusing solely on functionality – Don’t get lost in functionality and forget that the software supplier will be your business partner. They will make or break your success.

 Interested in avoiding these pitfalls? Check out our ACE ERP proprietary process to avoid these pitfalls and achieve endgame results.

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What do UPS, Shamrock Foods, Amazon & a 3PL Have in Common?

March 14th, 2019

In touring multiple facilities, ranging from package shipments to cold storage food service delivery to the e-commerce behemoth to 3PL organizations, it despite the conversations that take place about labor costs and other daily concerns, the #1 concern across the board is transportation costs. The numbers support this sentiment. According to CSCMP, transportation costs are 65% of total logistics spend.

Logically, it also makes good sense. No matter your business, materials, parts sub-assemblies and/or products need to arrive at your facility. Often, especially in industries such as aerospace, the parts make multiple trips around the area (unless you are unlucky enough to require sourcing outside of your local area) for outside processing services such as anodizing and painting. Lastly, every work-in-process part or finished good must go to the next stop along the way to the customer such as a final assembly customer, your distribution center, your customer’s distribution center or the end customer. That makes for quite a lot of transportation, often involving multiple modes of transport from air freight to ocean freight to rail to trucking.

Given these alarming statistics about transportation costs, the question becomes: What can we do to proactively manage these costs as well as reduce the impact on the environment? After listening to several experts on these tours and experts from Georgia Tech, APICS (learn more about the critical importance of logistics in our APICS-IE CLTD, certified in logistics, transportation and distribution certificate program) and CSCMP SoCal (at the state of the industry event), a few ideas emerged.

  1. Collaborate with strange bedfellows:As recently published in an I’ve Been Thinking article, collaborating with strange bedfellows can achieve 1+1+1 = 25 minimally. In terms of transportation, there is no doubt maximizing the space used in your truck, container or plane is vital. Why not collaborate with another business to increase your utilization?
  2. Take the holistic or systems view: It is quite challenging to see the forest for the trees as the old slogan goes. We have all been there! I have worked with clients for extended periods of time and found myself with this same issue.  So, I have to deliberately shake it up to maintain the systems or bird’s-eye view. For example, don’t worry about saving a few pennies on a non-essential element of your transportation infrastructure when you are missing the key point that your mix of modes of operation or something like that is costing you millions.
  1. Utilize technology that focuses on the critical transportation factors: In every case (at every tour, event and in every conversation), leveraging technology where it makes sense came up. Certainly, artificial intelligence is the new craze since it has the potential to transform entire industries including logistics. However, robotics are being considered even in industries such as 3PL where they never were previously due to the nature of managing different customers and products. Of course, IoT is prevalent in the world of logistics and transportation as well as topics such as alternative fuels and automation. And what about the basics of a solid ERP system and TMS (transportation management system)? Don’t panic over the horror stories. Contact us if you want to overcome them.
  1. Be customer friendly:Interesting how often being customer friendly arises, no matter the industry or size company (small family owned to private equity backed to large complex organizations).  With rising truck rates and a shortage of drivers, if you aren’t a preferred shipper, you might just be out of luck no matter how much you spend. What does it take to be a preferred shipper? It depends on your business, carriers, locations and more. However, it starts by thinking about what is important to your carrier (not you). Are they looking for flexibility? A quick turnaround time? Fast payment? Good treatment for their drivers?

Since transportation costs are, at minimum, 65% of your total logistics spend, it requires further thought. With the vast amount of technology options available, the best approach is to start with your foundation (your ERP system) and ensure it is stable. Once you have a scalable base, find the ‘right’ technology for your situation to maximize the value of your logistics infrastructure. However, remember the 80/20 goes back to people. What are you doing to develop strategic partnerships and to ensure you are customer friendly and a preferred shipper? Given the impact, don’t leave this to chance or make assumptions. We all like to think we are preferred but what can we do to take it an extra step further?

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What’s Ahead in Technology?

January 30th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in technology, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, “What’s Ahead in Business?” for details on the key trends impacting business:

  1. Importance of the customer experience
  2. Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  3. Volatility is the new norm
  4. The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

What’s ahead in technology lines up with these same themes. In order to achieve scalable, profitable growth, technology is an important enabler. The most relevant technology trends include:

  1. ERP Upgrades – More and more companies are realizing that their system infrastructure must keep up with business requirements and customer expectations. As tough as an ERP upgrade can be, it is one of the only ways to make the leap from manual, labor-intensive processes to providing a superior customer experience efficiently.
  2. E-commerce/ Customer Portals – Amazon. Alibaba. Customer collaboration. Need we say more?
  3. Business Intelligence & Data Analytics – We are overwhelmed by mountains of data. We are so anxious to gather data yet we don’t seem to have the appropriate information at our fingertips when we need it. That’s where data analytics comes into the picture. Beyond that, predictive analytics is gaining steam.
  4. Artificial Intelligence – Even my Mom counts on Alexa! In addition, who wouldn’t want a car that self corrects? Predicting customer patterns and behaviors is becoming more important. AI is set to transform many industries over the next several years.
  5. IoT– Smart factories. Smart homes. Connected devices and machines. According to NEWGENAPPS, 60% of global manufacturers will use analytics data tracked using connected devices to analyze and and optimize processes.
  6. Robotics & Automation – Robots may not be taking over the universe tomorrow morning, but they are working hand-in-hand with people to achieve many benefits – improve safety, increase speed and consistency, improve customer satisfaction, fill capacity shortfalls and and increase productivity.
  7. Autonomous Vehicles – Beyond self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles are used widely in manufacturing and distribution environments.

Are you thinking about which of these technologies will support your business objectives?  Or which are likely to impact your industry?  Consider technology as a key part of your strategy and plans. If you’d like an expert to evaluate which, if any, of these technologies will be relevant to your business, contact us.

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What’s Ahead for People?

January 23rd, 2019

People make a business thrive. That’s why even the most technical of companies like Google value people.  In our experience, people are the #1 asset of any organization. Hands down, we can help any organization with good people quicker and to a FAR larger degree than an organization with very few good people.

In thinking about what’s ahead for people, there are many transitions and trends to be aware of:

 

  1. Baby Boomers  – As baby boomers retire, they will be harder to replace than what appears at first glance. Typically speaking, they aren’t up-to-speed on the latest technology.  They might have old fashioned ideas but they know “what works”. Don’t be too quick to hurry the process along. Instead, value their knowledge and find a way to transition it for a win-win.
  2. The Skills Gap – It is hard not to have a skills gap when technologies change daily. Jobs are being automated and new jobs are being created with entirely new skill requirements. The world is becoming more complex and global and customers expect more for less. Are you prioritizing the retention of your top talent? Is your company attractive to top talent?
  3. Diversity– We are not believers in mandates and regulations but we have found diversity to propel success. Are you actively attracting people who do NOT think like you? That’s a tough one (after all, don’t we all prefer people who agree with us?), but it is important if you want your team and organization to thrive.
  4. Spark an Innovative Culture – With the high demands of customers, bard members and the like, solid leadership is no longer enough. Sparking innovation has become a “must” for success.
  5. Back to the Leadership Basics – There is no coincidence that every successful client has a strong leader. Whereas long-term struggling clients and contacts (as struggling leaders rarely hire consultants) have weak leaders. Being a strong leader is “hard work” and requires courage. What are you doing to build your leadership bench strength?

The core tenets of successful people do not change. The requirements and challenges we face continue to expand. Yet, the route to success is clear. We choose to see this fact with hope as it does not require rocket science to become a good leader.  We’ve seen plenty of examples of mediocre leaders who transform into exceptional leaders through mentoring, coaching and experience.

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