Tag Archive: ERP

What’s Going on in the World of ERP & Business Intelligence?

July 16th, 2020

How Do ERP Systems Work?

I am excited to be featured in SelectHub’s extremely popular and recently updated article, “How Do ERP Systems Work?“. It provides a good foundation into the world of ERP and what you’d do with an ERP system. Although most clients have an ERP system of some type, by NO means do they understand how ERP systems work and the true value of an ERP system.

Perhaps we should spend more time understanding such a critical topic. After all, an ERP system upgrade will be one of the most significant projects your company will embark upon. Although the financial commitment is substantial, the resource commitment is far greater! On the other hand, if you bury your head in the sand too long, your risk will rise to unacceptable levels and your customers’ needs will not be supported.

Naturally, since the pandemic hit, many ERP projects have come to a grinding halt because the first thought is to conserve cash. However, in surveying ERP suppliers supporting clients ranging from small and medium size closely-held businesses to private equity backed companies and large complex organizations, although there has been a slowdown, there are several clients taking the opportunity to get in front of the technology curve so that they will be ready to grow rapidly and profitably as they emerge from the pandemic. They are slowing down some areas of the project while focusing efforts on the critical functionality or areas of the business that need a technology boost. For example, we are working with a client who took the opportunity to develop an IT roadmap so that they’ll be prepared to succeed post COVID-19. To think through your options further, listen to a SelectHub panel discussion on “How to Do ERP During COVID-19“. We are interested in your feedback and stories.

One area that is of common interest is business intelligence (BI) software. If clients can slice and dice data to understand customer and inventory patterns, utilize predictive analytics to better navigate COVID-19 demand changes and support future customer needs, and develop operational dashboards to manage performance and take cost out of the business, what’s not to like? In reviewing the spectrum of available options, there are a few impressive, relatively easy-to-implement tools. Clients are interested in what will deliver immediate value.

Read our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to dig into these concepts further as well as to start thinking through your technology roadmap.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Blockchain, IoT, Big Data. Will Anything Stick?

 



Going Live on a New ERP System and the Importance of People

March 16th, 2020

With a client going live on a new ERP system shortly, it is top of mind. As is ALWAYS the case, as you get close to the finish line, issues pop up and it feels like one nightmare after another. With that said, the team is doing well and we are tackling what arises.  I am confident that we’ll be successful!

Yet, going through the process certainly highlights the critical importance of people during projects of significant organizational change. All people matter in these types of significant projects – the business owner or executive, the ERP project team, sponsors, the day-to-day troops and related parties.

 

How do you respond as you are sleep deprived and maxed out? Perhaps we should all think twice about how we respond to situations and whether we let bias and the lack of sleep cloud our judgement because it certainly has an impact on people!

For example, on the positive side, the business owner we are working with is very supportive to the team. He showed up with Customer Service to key orders on the weekend and is willing to spend money on tools and technology that will make it easier for his team. He also tailors his style to the person. For example, he saved a particular type of coffee for one of the project team members because she mentioned she would like it. This type of support goes a long way to encouraging the team to carry on through the typical trials and tribulations. On the other hand, there is always a negative Nellie or stress creator.

How do we navigate these types of waters successfully? And do we realize the power of people?

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Take a step back from what you are doing and think about how you are perceived. In our experience, people do not perceive themselves the same way that others perceive them. In fact, they might think they are fine but the frown on their face, the tone of their email or their attitude carries a different story. We find that people see through non-genuine comments. For example, if you say one thing but it is clear the opposite is how you really feel, what you really feel is going to shine through. You also have to be consistent or people wonder what is going on even if you are good with them.

The opposite also holds true. There have been times when it is clear the executive was concerned about something but presented a positive, can-do attitude, and the mood shifted to a bright outlook. In this case, the executive truly believed the situation can be navigated even though he didn’t know how (at the moment), and so his belief in the future shone through. Your attitude will spread. Have you checked yours lately?

Remember the power your comments, attitude and actions have on others. Are your going to spur the team to success or hold them back? Each person makes a difference. Don’t think because you aren’t the project manager or the business owner, you don’t have an impact. You will!



Should We Listen to all the High Tech Talk?

January 22nd, 2020

Client Question
Should we pay attention to all this high tech talk? Certainly it seems like everyone and their brother is talking about artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and even the use of technologies such as virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. And this is aside from mundane topics such as ERP systems. And,  we need to function on a daily basis. We need to serve customers and deliver value to the bottom line.  And, we prefer to only get distracted when necessary.

The Answer
We have seen clients get carried away with the latest and greatest technology fads. Although it was an interesting personal education, it typically didn’t result in a return on investment. On the other hand, we have also seen clients ignoring technology that becomes vital to survival in their industry. After all, it is easy to do. When Sears used to be the Amazon of the age, no one thought they would be going out of business.

So, as usual, the answer is “it depends”. You must pay attention, learn about and invest in technology so that you can make a good decision on which to pursue and which to ignore for your go-forward business strategy. If it were easy, we would all be successful for 100 years running.  There are VERY few companies in this position. Do you have a position or a person who is dedicated or allocates part of his/her responsibilities to this role? If you don’t call it out, it will fall by the wayside. This should be similar in concept to an R&D/new product focus. Why should we focus only on new products and not new technologies?

Food For Thought
No two clients are alike. Some ask us this question and it is an obvious,: YES, you must invest to stay relevant and increase business value. For others, it is an emphatic, NO. Why waste resources on additional technology when we haven’t implemented or used the available systems capabilities that will move the business forward? As it seems to go in business, it is usually the best executives and CIOs who are on top of their technology road map who ask these questions. The rest won’t even invest enough to find out where they should prioritize limited funds so they don’t become the next Sears!

At a minimum, once you get to a certain size or complexity, the minimum you should do is upgrade your ERP system so that you have a modern technological backbone and can scale up quickly as needed. With that said, it is rarely enough if your goal is profitable growth.

If you’d like a technology and ERP systems assessment, please contact us. At a minimum, read our numerous articles and get started in evaluating your situation!

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Is Your ERP System Scalable?

Should I Upgrade Now or Later?

Systems Pragmatist



Have You Thought About Whether You are Maximizing the Use of Your ERP System?

December 19th, 2019

Before jumping to conclusions and pursuing a system upgrade, should we explore whether we are maximizing the use of our current system? Or, is it just not modern enough to support our growth in a scalable, profitable way?

This is often the subject of a client call. After all, no one in their right mind would want to embark on an ERP upgrade unless absolutely necessary. The issue is that the situation can be quite complex. How do we separate what’s important vs. what’s not? In this case study, a client knew they had to upgrade because their system was long out of maintenance. The only question was how compelling was the upgrade to support their customers’ requirements and an efficient operation?

The Answer
Although they clearly required an upgrade to get into the current century, the question we explored is whether they could continue to improve performance using their current system to a degree large enough to delay the upgrade until they were better prepared. Unfortunately, since they had let their current system go for ‘too long’, it was highly dependent on current technical resources, partly tailored to their business processes and customized to their needs. At first glance, that doesn’t sound bad! However, the issue was that it was by no means scalable, would require significant education on concepts so that folks started thinking instead of following the process designed into the current system and they were highly dependent on resources that could leave or “get hit by a bus”. Doesn’t that sound like something you say but it doesn’t happen? Not so> One of my clients had that exact situation occur, even though it is just a phrase for a myriad of issues that could arise.

After digging into their business requirements (current as well as a few years into the future), we found ample opportunity to further leverage already existing functionality to meet customer requirements and delay the upgrade for several months. However, that still wasn’t enough. We also had to take actions to secure at-risk critical resources to the degree feasible (since we clearly cannot plan 100% for the ‘hit by the bus’ scenario). We were successful in proactively addressing the situation so that we didn’t have to leap before we knew if we had a net. Yet, we weren’t 100% comfortable, so we also put together an aggressive plan for ERP selection to find the best fit system to meet their needs (without customizing) and equally important a best fit partner that could proactively understand and think through their education needs (which were VERY different from training needs).

Food For Thought
Although we found a solution, the CEO was on pins and needles once he realized the extent of the situation. Don’t leave your infrastructure to chance. Even though all can seem quite fine at the high level, it is important to know whether you are being held up by a solid foundation or a nice-looking pile of straw. That is before considering what you’ll need at least 18 months into the future. You will not select the best system to support your plans or you’ll skimp on implementation. Every client that cut corners overspent by 20-100% and that is before considering the impact on customer service. Do you have a scalable ERP system to support your business growth and profitability? If not, start there!

 

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Is Your ERP System Scalable?

Do You Need An ERP Upgrade?

Systems Pragmatist



Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success

November 30th, 2019

Our Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) Inland Empire Chapter is knee-deep in planning for our fall executive panel and networking symposium on the topic, “Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success“. We are finding this to be a powerful topic as executives must not only collaborate with their customers and suppliers to achieve scalable, profitable growth but they also need to collaborate with industry groups, trusted advisors, software providers (ERP experts), and other partners if they want to succeed in today’s Amazon-impacted, globally volatile, complex regulation environment.

We’d love for you to join in on the discussion and Q&A with experts in the end-to-end supply chain. We have manufacturing experts, logistics experts, technology experts and end-to-end supply chain experts on our panel to talk about trends, issues, and how they have collaborated to drive results. Our attendees include students, planners, buyers, operations and supply chain managers, finance and IT resources related to the supply chain as well as executives and the media.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
When I first started consulting over 14 years ago, collaboration was seen as a “fluffy” topic. I always found that the most powerful results came via collaboration but it wasn’t seen as important. Fast-forward 14 years, and if you aren’t collaborating, you aren’t thriving. No one can handle the level of complexity in today’s manufacturing and logistics environments alone while still servicing customers and driving profitable growth.
Of course, there is no point to collaborating for the sake of collaboration. In fact, as my consulting mentor says, if you want someone to like you, get a dog. Instead, collaboration is for turning 1+1 = 22 by taking the best of different ideas and combining into exponential success. For example, when I was VP of Operations & Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, we had to redesign products to show customers we were on the leading edge and “back” (a force in the market) while offsetting significant material price increases due to oil and gas price pressure as well as optimizing our ability to save money on freight. There was no way for one person, 1 department or even 1 company to accomplish this task without collaboration. Instead, we involved customers, material suppliers, freight carriers, packaging experts, equipment suppliers and more. In the end, we achieved the trifecta. You should even add competitors to your thought process as the most successful executives consider this option for certain situations.
Why not pick a “hot topic” and start thinking about collaboration partners where you could achieve a win-win-win? Just asking folks to think outside the box in new ways can stir some powerful energy and bottom line results. If you are interested in discussing an assessment to help find a few of these powerful ideas to prioritize, contact us. Let us know how it goes!