Tag Archive: erp systems

Do You Know What Is Important in Selecting the Right System?

March 21st, 2017
Selecting the right ERP system

Are you prepared to make a good match with ERP software suppliers? Start with understanding what your business needs are and whether the ERP software is a match.

ERP systems often fail to live up to their promise — even in the best of circumstances. It is a tough environment — software suppliers are consolidating, the smaller ones can disappear or get gobbled up in a moment’s notice, good resources are hard to find, and the list goes on. Yet there is no choice but to proactively address this topic to have a scalable business and to meet customer expectations as you get to a certain size and complexity. Thus, it is worth-while thinking about whether you are prepared in selecting the right system:

1. Do you fully understand your business requirements and specifically your critical success factors (from a company, industry and ERP functionality perspective)?

2. What safeguards do you have in place to avoid getting excited about non-essential bells and whistles that seem important at the time of selecting the right system but are not critical to your growth and profitability? Be honest!

3. Do you know what questions to ask to dig deeper into down-the-line impacts of functionality options? Overlook this step and it is likely you’ll be gravely disappointed later.

4. Do you have software and implementation cost estimates for what you can expect for your software tier? Would you know if your deal sounds “too good”?

Do you know the qualities to dig into to be assured that your implementation resources are best suited for success?

 

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

Serving Up an ACE in Your ERP Selection and Design 

Uncommon Common Sense Project Management

 



Technologies Transforming Supply Chains

December 20th, 2016
artificial intelligence

One of the ways to become cost competitive with lower labor cost countries is to automate. Look for all the new uses for technology in supply chains.

Modern marvels and new information technologies are transforming supply chains. Automation, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), 3D Printing, Bitcoin technology and the IoT (internet of things) are changing the way we look at supply chains. Are you thinking about any of these technologies down-the-line? Or are you thinking about the impacts of your competitors pursuing them? You should!

We partner with clients to keep them at the forefront of these information technologies. At the core, we partner with executives to help them select the optimal ERP system to support their business objectives. Certainly, automation has always been a hot topic. Recently, AI and predictive analysis have become popular as executives think about making strategic decisions. Many clients are also thinking about the strategic value of data and how they can utilize data from their extended supply chain for mutual benefit.

We remember robots being tested 25 years ago and so they are not “new” yet they are gaining in popularity. One method to become cost competitive with low labor rate countries, yet source supply closer to customers for rapid delivery, is to automate. Using robots and automated conveyor systems is commonplace in distribution and material handling. Manufacturers are also gaining steam on these topics. Are you evaluating these alternatives? At a bare minimum, my most successful clients are evaluating, testing and trialing. Similar to the outsourcing craze of the last 10 years, there is no reason to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of following the crowd; however, looking into the options is prudent.

The Internet of things is taking over in our interconnected world. Are you looking into what this could mean for your industry? And to throw a somewhat radical-sounding concept out there — how about bitcoin? There are many potential uses for this technology in supply chains today.

 

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

6 Process & Systems Trends for Success

How Challenging ERP Can Be!

 



ERP Project Success: How to Be Part of the 20%

December 1st, 2016
ERP success

Even as the value of ERP systems becomes more apparent successful implementation is still elusive. Companies that focus on people, design, and testing the limits have better results.

More and more clients are pursuing ERP implementation projects as executives realize they need better tools to support business objectives– growth, service, margins, cash and the like.

When implemented well, ERP systems can support substantial business growth without the additional investment in resources. Certainly, as the minimum wage goes up and workers’ compensation and healthcare are such significant issues, it is something many executives are thinking about! However, ERP systems can do much more – they can help collaborate with customers and suppliers. Those with the best-extended supply chains will thrive in the end, and so it makes sense to take a look at upgrading ERP.

Thus, finding a way to successfully implement an ERP system is of paramount importance, yet the statistics dictate less than stellar performance. Typically, 80%+ of ERP system implementations fail to achieve the expected results. As experts in this space, we can attest that several of these are due to unrealistic expectations without the associated resources and efforts to ensure success; however, either way, ERP success can prove elusive.

Therefore, understanding how to give you a leg up with strategies for success can be vital. Ignore all the best practice mumbo-jumbo and focus on what will really matter:

1. It’s all about the people: As with almost every business success, ERP success is no different. It goes back to the leader – and the team. Have you assigned whoever is available to lead the project team? Or have you put thought into it? Have you freed him/her up from their regular activities or made sure he/she can dedicate the time required? Are you saving your “A” players for growing the business and your day-to-day responsibilities instead of ERP? Sound odd? Well, we come across this on a daily basis in our consulting business. How about the software supplier’s project team? Why should you be worried about them? You shouldn’t unless you are interested in success.

For example, we’ve been involved in several ERP selection projects lately and have stayed involved to ensure the process designs would support business objectives in the best way possible, and, unfortunately, we can convey countless examples of the 80% that run into issues with people. For example, in one case, the project leader was on top of things – truly much better than the average project leader for the size company, yet the project still struggled due to people issues. The software supplier ran into trouble with their project manager. You never know what can go wrong and so it’s smart to remember to keep your eye on the importance of people.

2. Focus on design: The reason we often stay involved with the design process is that this is one of the critical success factors to ensuring ERP implementation success. The quandary is that this type of role requires a broad and diverse skillset, rarely found in project managers.

The skills required include a broad, cross-functional process expertise, an understanding of database design, an understanding of down-the-line impacts of typical system transactions, an understanding of report writing/ programming and the ability to communicate effectively and bridge the gap between the technical and application resources. In our experience, we run across this type of resource 5% of the time in our clients. On the other hand, we run across this type of skillset perhaps 30% of the time with the ERP resources; however, the really bad news is that even though the capability exists 30% of the time, it is used perhaps 10% of the time. The ERP supplier does not want to dictate the design as it will be “their solution” instead of the “client’s solution”, and it is a trick to communicate effectively enough such that the client believes it is their idea or is accepting of the information.

Is it any wonder ERP projects fail miserably?

3. Focus on what could go wrong: It is often rather difficult to keep the ERP project team positive and moving forward because they are causing disruption to the day-to-day success of the business and pushing the envelope with new ideas (sometimes perceived to be threatening or ill-conceived) and process changes which might or might not be accompanied by organizational changes (another key issue with ERP success). Thus, no one wants to create more havoc by deliberately creating tension, thus, forcing practice when mistakes are made and transactions go awry is overlooked. However, this is exactly what must occur to ensure success. Deliberately try to screw up the system when testing. It is not to be a “naysayer” (which can sometimes be the perception) but it is to make sure the team knows how to back out of bad situations. It is far better to “break” the system in test than with your #1 customer!

We cannot tell you how much nonsense we’ve heard about “system XYZ” is set up to perform best practices and so the team just doesn’t want to deal with change. In 95% of the situations, this statement isn’t true. Instead, forget about all the hoopla about best practices and focus on these 3 keys to success; results will follow.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

How to Increase Teamwork to Ensure Project Success

Serving up an ACE in Your ERP Selection and Design

 



ERP Project Success: How to Be Part of The 20%

November 2nd, 2016
ERP Success

More and more clients are pursuing ERP implementation projects as executives realize they need better tools to support business objectives – growth, service, margins, cash and the like.

When implemented well, ERP systems can support substantial business growth without the additional investment in resources. Certainly, as the minimum wage goes up and workers’ compensation and healthcare are such significant issues, it is something many executives are thinking about! However, ERP systems can do much more – they can help collaborate with customers and suppliers. Those with the best-extended supply chains will thrive in the end, and so it makes sense to take a look at upgrading ERP.

Thus, finding a way to successfully implement an ERP system is of paramount importance, yet the statistics dictate less than stellar performance. Typically, 80%+ of ERP system implementations fail to achieve the expected results. As experts in this space, we can attest that several of these are due to unrealistic expectations without the associated resources and efforts to ensure success; however, either way, ERP success can prove elusive.

Therefore, understanding how to give you a leg up with strategies for success can be vital. Ignore all the best practice mumbo-jumbo and focus on what will really matter:

1. It’s all about the people: As with almost every business success, ERP success is no different. It goes back to the leader – and the team. Have you assigned whoever is available to lead the project team? Or have you put thought into it? Have you freed him/her up from their regular activities or made sure he/she can dedicate the time required? Are you saving your “A” players for growing the business and your day-to-day responsibilities instead of ERP? Sound odd? Well, we come across this on a daily basis in our consulting business. How about the software supplier’s project team? Why should you be worried about them? You shouldn’t unless you are interested in success.

For example, we’ve been involved in several ERP selection projects lately and have stayed involved to ensure the process designs would support business objectives in the best way possible, and, unfortunately, we can convey countless examples of the 80% that run into issues with people. For example, in one case, the project leader was on top of things – truly much better than the average project leader for the size company yet the project still struggled due to people issues. The software supplier ran into trouble with their project manager. You never know what can go wrong and so it’s smart to remember to keep your eye on the importance of people.

2. Focus on design: The reason we often stay involved with the design process is that this is one of the critical success factors to ensuring ERP implementation success. The quandary is that this type of role requires a broad and diverse skillset, rarely found in project managers.

The skills required include a broad, cross-functional process expertise, an understanding of database design, an understanding of down-the-line impacts of typical system transactions, an understanding of report writing/ programming and the ability to communicate effectively and bridge the gap between the technical and application resources. In our experience, we run across this type of resource 5% of the time in our clients. On the other hand, we run across this type of skillset perhaps 30% of the time with the ERP resources; however, the really bad news is that even though the capability exists 30% of the time, it is used perhaps 10% of the time. The ERP supplier does not want to dictate the design as it will be “their solution” instead of the “client’s solution”, and it is a trick to communicate effectively enough such that the client believes it is their idea or is accepting of the information.

Is it any wonder ERP projects fail miserably?

3. Focus on what could go wrong: It is often rather difficult to keep the ERP project team positive and moving forward because they are causing disruption to the day-to-day success of the business and pushing the envelope with new ideas (sometimes perceived to be threatening or ill-conceived) and process changes which might or might not be accompanied by organizational changes (another key issue with ERP success). Thus, no one wants to create more havoc by deliberately creating tension, thus, forcing practice when mistakes are made and transactions go awry is overlooked. However, this is exactly what must occur to ensure success. Deliberately try to screw up the system when testing. It is not to be a “naysayer” (which can sometimes be the perception) but it is to make sure the team knows how to back out of bad situations. It is far better to “break” the system in test than with your #1 customer!

We cannot tell you how much nonsense we’ve heard about “system XYZ” is set up to perform best practices and so the team just doesn’t want to deal with change. In 95% of the situations, this statement isn’t true. Instead, forget about all the hoopla about best practices and focus on these 3 keys to success; results will follow.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

“I’ve Been Thinking” About How Challenging ERP Can Be!

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“I’ve Been Thinking” About How Challenging ERP Can Be!

July 6th, 2016

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459I met with an good friend and former colleague last night.  I’ve made many mistakes over the years (who hasn’t?) but one thing I’ve done well is to stay in touch with TOP NOTCH people.  After all, people are the 80/20 of success.  Thus, although we haven’t worked together in 16 years, we have stayed in close touch and compared war stories along the way.  We both focus at least partly on ERP projects. I’m an expert in ERP selection and design (check out my related proprietary process ACE to learn more), and she is an expert in Oracle and ERP applications and implementation. Thus, there is always ample room for animated conversations.

We both have come to the conclusion that although ERP can provide DRAMATIC results for the right client at the right time with the right software and especially the right people, it will require hard work and there will be obstacles to overcome. Thus, it is best to be aware of this up front and plan accordingly so that you become one of the success stories. There are secrets to success; however, these secrets are not “magic weapons” – there is no avoiding focused, detailed work yet it will pay off in the end.   ACE for ERP selection and design

One tip to implement this week:

If there was ever a subject that couldn’t be impacted in a week, it is ERP. With that said, I take that as a challenge and have come up with action items:

If you are thinking about upgrading your ERP system, do your homework up front. Do not jump into the “fun part” of evaluating softwares right away.  Start with your business requirements. What do you need your system to support to be successful? Bells and whistles will not grow the business and increase your profitability; however, key functionality tailored to your needs will!

If you are in process with ERP, don’t panic!  Take a step back and make sure you have your “A” team focused on this topic as it will have a significant impact on your business – and it is best to make sure it will be positive instead of disruptive! Start with your internal team. Then, move on from there…. Do you have strong (and only the best) support team members from your software supplier, experts in process and systems etc.?  Don’t move on until this is addressed.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”