Tag Archive: ERP system

When Is It Time to Upgrade?

July 5th, 2019

A Client Question
A client didn’t feel prepared to launch into an ERP system upgrade as they had just bought the business and had invested significant funds into the transition.  Yet, this client was also starting to worry about scalability and the risk associated with old technology. After all, this old technology was directly supporting their day-to-day business and customer experience. Although the CEO was reluctant, he agreed to an assessment of his ERP system and readiness.

The Answer
In their case, they needed to upgrade to modernize their technology infrastructure and gain additional functionality that is required to support their business growth and meet current standards. However, we found a way to make small key improvements to their ancient system to support enough progress to ‘buy time’ for the teams to gain an understanding of process disciplines required to support a successful upgrade. It also gave them time to educate the workforce.

During the next year, significant efforts were made to roll out process improvements and system functionality to standardize functions such as pricing and raw material ordering. About a year into the process, we “hit a wall” in terms of the ERP capabilities with critical functionality considered a “must” in supporting the business. Thus, we were prepared to make a quick selection of an ERP system and partner and eventually gained corporate alignment to pursue the upgrade to support continued growth and profitability.

Food For Thought
We are often asked to look at ERP systems that clients think they should throw out.  It turns out that that were perfectly fine and scalable, just poorly implemented.  We usually aren’t asked to look at ERP systems on their last leg where we had to make a strong case to executives to even look at the topic. And whether a new system was needed or not, the organization might not be prepared. Determining whether there is time to prepare or whether you should follow a rapid preparation route can be tricky. There are typically risks on both sides, whether you move too slow or too fast. Take time to assess what makes sense in your case. Be careful of ‘shark’ salespeople as there are tons in this field. It is quite confusing so that even well-intentioned executives and salespeople can mislead organizations. If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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

ERP Selection: Why It Has Become a Strategic Priority



Pricing & Profits: It’s Not All About Revenue

May 26th, 2019

According to CFO Magazine, Amazon’s profit doubled to a record $3.6 billion in the first quarter yet reported its lowest growth rate in quarterly revenue since 2015. In today’s Amazonian environment, subscription services such as Amazon cloud and Kindle services as well as disruptive forces such as the 3rd party seller services (clients worry about from the opposite viewpoint) are driving profitable growth for a company that once lost money continuously. Are you considering ways to ensure your pricing makes sense and delivers the results you intend?

 

It’s Not All About Revenue
Ask questions of your sales representatives, customers, marketing department, executives and competitors about pricing:

  • When is the last time you raised prices? Why are they at the level they are set?
  • Who sets your prices? Think carefully as this could lead to some interesting discussions.
  • Do you know how your prices compare to your costs? There are lots of reasons NOT to set prices this way but knowing this relationship is relevant.
  • How does your pricing stack up with the competition? Again, high or low is irrelevant but considering your strategy is key.
  • Since it has come up frequently lately, I’ll also throw in this one: Is your pricing so complex that your ERP system won’t support it? That would certainly be something to re-evaluate.

Pricing is an important topic, assuming you are interested in profitable growth. It is worth taking the time to ask a few key questions of your internal and external resources. Gather your executive team and put some focus on whether what you are doing makes sense and supports your strategy or if it is out of date. With the pace of change at an all-time high, reviewing this topic once every few years is by NO MEANS enough. If you’d like an expert to assess your situation to partner with you to achieve these types of results, contact us.

 

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

Eagle Eye Strategic Focus

Strategic Pricing

The Resilient Supply Chain: Global Trade Unrest



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?

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

Systems Pragmatist

 The Sheer Relevance & Impact of Transportation (a Billion Here, a Billion There)The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology?

 



Top Importers & Exporters… E-Commerce Impacts

June 2nd, 2017

According to the Journal of Commerce, the top importers were impacted by e-commerce and that trend is expected to continue. Imports grew by 8% last year (2.2 million TEU) whereas exports grew by 3% (just under a million TEU). The rankings are showing signs of a shakeup with the surge in e-commerce and Amazon. In 2016, Walmart rated #1, Target #2 and then Home Depot and Lowe’s as #3 and 4.

e-commerce

For example, the retail industry woes are highlighted by Sears and Walmart. Sears sales slid by almost 10% whereas Macy’s slid almost 4% and Payless filed for Chapter 11 protection (all top 100 importers) while Amazon increased 27%. Last year, e-commerce accounted for 8.1% of retail sales and it’s expected to increase by 10% by 2022. Walmart fared a bit better but spent several billions to purchase JET.com. And, Target is also testing next day deliveries. Small orders delivered rapidly is the future!

Not to leave exporters out of the mix, as a matter of interest, the top exported product is wastepaper with beef products also high on the list. 5 of the top 6 relate to paper and packaging such as Koch Industries with the holdout being an animal feed/grain exporter.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Clearly, we must pay attention to what our customers are communicating — they want small orders more frequently — with rapid deliveries. How will we accomplish this goal? We can certainly outsource the capability or, if we see it as a strategic aspect of the business going forward, perhaps we should think about how to incorporate into our strategic capabilities.

From a sales and customer perspective, start looking at e-commerce capabilities. 24/7 access is a must with the ease of doing business built into the process. You’ll need to integrate into your ERP system or find a way to work collaboratively from a process and systems perspective one way or another to maintain high service levels at reasonable efficiency levels.

From a warehousing perspective, handling e-commerce is quite opposite of handling pallets and bulk shipments. Think about them as two separate warehousing functions. There is quite a bit of automated equipment and technology that can help you automate and increase efficiency. But don’t just jump in and sink. Start researching, ask experts and build a plan. There is no time to waste!

 



Case Study in the Power of Design

February 21st, 2017
power of design

Taking a big picture view while simultaneously eyeing execution when implementing an ERP system will help companies not only achieve desired results, but do it quickly.

Situation: Our client had implemented an ERP system several years ago. As is typical when a system is implemented, they implemented the basics and then took a break to run the business. Although you start out thinking of vast improvements and how you’ll automate all sorts of processes, getting the foundation working effectively with high levels of customer service and some level of efficiency typically takes quite a lot of effort. The team is tired and needs to smooth out the day-to-day business. Understandable.

The good news is that they were set up for the future with an improved base. The bad news is that they didn’t know how to get from this new base to utilizing the improvements that would start to yield a return on investment. Their ERP partner moved on to other customers. Although they would return to work on improvements, our client wasn’t sure how to best utilize the ERP supplier’s expertise to jump to a new level of improvement. Instead, they stressed as they watched dollars fly out the window as hours passed, discussing these improvements. What could they do?

Path Forward: The key challenge is in translation between business objectives, process improvements and utilizing advanced functionality to support them. Most clients want to jump to one particular software feature (specific functionality) as the path forward that will cure all ills. In 80% of the cases, the software alone will only automate a less-than-desirable process, providing substandard results faster. Thus, the key is to find those resources in your organization or outside of your organization who can take the big picture view simultaneously with an eye to execution to figure out the best path forward, given your ideal business outcomes, your current situation (technology, process and skills-wise), technology advancements etc. Clients that pursue this path not only achieve improved results but they also achieve them rapidly.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Why ERP Success Has Little to Do With Systems

5 ERP Selection Pitfalls