Tag Archive: objectives

ERP Selection: Why It Has Become a Strategic Priority

April 18th, 2019

In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery, over and beyond from cradle to grave, collaborative service, 24/7 accessibility and last-minute changes. Executives are realizing they must upgrade their technology infrastructure to meet and exceed these customer expectations while driving bottom line improvement.

Your ERP decision will be one of the most significant investments your company will undertake, and these projects are wrought with risk. 80% fail to achieve the expected results yet waiting “too long” can put you out of business.

Selecting an ERP System is a Strategic Priority
Because of the significant customer and bottom-line benefit and steep, unintended consequences associated with these projects, the most successful clients realize they must be a strategic priority. By no means should the decision by relegated to a technical expert or project manager. Involve your best and brightest on the team and ensure your executive team is on top of preparation, progress and the inevitable pitfalls – beginning with preparation:

  • Understand business processes: Start by understanding what occurs on a day-to-day basis. One of the top failure points is to assume that people can make the leap from current processes to what every ERP provider claims to be “best practices” on day 1 with no roadmap.
  • Gain strategic and cross-functional input – Since all systems will perform the basics well, success will boil down to what drives your strategy and supports your cross-functional and cross-organization collaboration.
  • Identify critical requirements – Countless hours wasted on typical business requirements (which all systems generally cover); instead, focus 80% of your attention on the requirements unique to your business, industry, and company. Think customer differentiation & profit drivers.
  • Prepare data and be realistic evaluating your process disciplines – No matter how well you prepare, your system will only be as good as your data and process disciplines.
  •  Dedicate appropriate resources – Be an exception. Supplement your resources, bring on appropriate expertise early on and be willing to invest in what will ensure success and mitigate your risk.

5 Critical Factors in Selecting ERP Software

As complicated as most companies seem to make it, the critical factors in software selection boil down to a select few:

  1. Your business objectives – Don’t worry about everything required in every module to run your business. Instead, take a step back and focus on what you need to meet your grow and profit plans.
  2. Cloud or not?  It depends. Dig into the details. Develop your own spreadsheets with paybacks. Consider your technical resources, adeptness with topics like cyber security and the latest technology, and your ability to navigate disruption and risk.
  3. Understand your culture – What are your cultural norms when it comes to change? Do your employees have an entrepreneurial spirit or do they require strict procedures? These answers will be integral to aligning culture and technology.
  4. Think about design upfront – Not thinking through down-the-line implications will derail the best of projects. Incorporate design and a holistic systems-view upfront.
  5. Ballpark estimates and ranges – Get a ballpark upfront, and never accept the first estimate. It’s typically too low! Worse yet, two suppliers that should be within 10% of one another can be 100% different. Ensure you are comparing apples to apples, and remember implementation, not software, is the 80-pound gorilla of ERP success.

ERP is a tough topic! Clients worry they are “too small” or it will be “too expensive”, and in the interim, the competition passes them by since having the technology that supports a superior customer experience without breaking the bank is a “must”, no matter your size or industry. With that said, we have seen clients ready to “throw out” a perfectly suitable ERP system as they think it is the system, not the process or people that is the issue when it isn’t.

If you’d like an expert to assess your situation to partner with you to achieve these types of results, contact us. 


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Eagle Eye Strategic Focus

Supply Chain Management is Evolving: How Will It Affect Your Enterprise?

What’s Ahead for Business?


The High Value of Speed

January 13th, 2016

supply chainI was meeting with a client who is in the midst of implementing an ERP system this morning, and our conversation centered around the need for speed — keeping the momentum going, not wasting time in what could seem like unnecessary meetings and conversations, etc. With that said, it is very easy to run straight into a brick wall by not fulling understanding the details behind an ERP design and implementation. Thus, the key is to go fast while monitoring key check points along the way so you aren’t racing down the wrong freeway passing everyone along the way. You’ll get to the end point early but if you end up at the wrong address, you’ll end up behind the Granny driving in the slow lane.

The reason I am writing my book, the Amazon Effect is largely due to this topic. How do we keep today’s complex supply chains moving? If you don’t have speed, you will be left in the dust!

One tip to implement this week:

The good news about speed is that it is easily understandable; however, the bad news is that going fast doesn’t help if you aren’t achieving the objectives along the way. This is an especially tricky formula for complex projects such as ERP implementations. When we’re working with the tier of software supporting mid-size, slightly more complex companies, it becomes an entirely different proposition than it is with the ERP software that supports small to medium sized, less complex businesses. More people are involved. More functionality is available. Amazing benefits can be achieved; however, it is not as simple. And it seems that we could talk for hours about what should be a seemingly routine topic. So, what can we do?

As you know, my goal isn’t to solve world peace with “one tip” to implement this week. With that perspective, what I’ve found to work is to have a clear action list, summarized in a way that makes sense with the end objectives. This provides the clarity to focus on the required tasks with speed while making sure it still “adds up”. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many projects go awry when it seems clear but the tasks don’t “add up” to the intended end result. Spend the time upfront to understand in enough clarity to make sure it will “add up” and then put it in high gear!

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…”


The Systems View

January 2nd, 2014
Interconnected dynamic business systems

Do the systems in your business work together like the interconnected dynamic systems they are?

I was collaborating on a book on the topic of increasing the value of your business with a colleague yesterday, and we both latched on to the systems thinking view.

We agreed it is “the” way to look at a business. What is a business other than a set of interconnected dynamic systems?

To give you a flavor of these systems, I thought I’d list several to spur thinking.  Stay tuned for workshops, assessment tools, and our book on increasing the value of your business.

1. Financial – Every company has financial systems.  P&Ls, balance sheets, cash flow statements, key performance metrics, and more.

2. Operational – How does your company operate?  Does it produce products?  Provide services?  Service repairs?  There are countless operational processes we could discuss.

3. People – Do you have employees?  How do you hold your employees accountable?  What reward and recognition systems do you have in place?

4. Strategy – Do you have a strategy?  If not, does that mean you are flying blind?  How does your strategy fit with your day-to-day operations?

5. Metrics – How do you track progress?  Do you know if you are improving or declining?

6. Planning – How do you translate your strategy into plans?  Do you have goals and objectives?  Is there a continuous feedback loop?

And the list goes on. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are countless more.  The key is how to put all these together successfully.

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Overloaded Project Manager? Here are 8 Simple Tips to Help!

September 26th, 2013
Successful project management needs to start with an objective, get the right team in place and aggressively anticipate and manage roadblocks.

Successful project management needs to start with an objective, get the right team in place and aggressively anticipate and manage roadblocks.

Do you sit in project meetings? Develop strategic supply chain project management plans? Report to executives or board members? Track results? I’d bet if I tracked the time of 10 supply chain managers on any day of the week, at least 8 of the 10 would have some sort of involvement in a project for at least part of the day. For most of my business consulting clients, it would be 9 out of 10.

So, as an overloaded manager, why not think about a few tips to stand out from the crowd?

1. Start with the objective: Before getting bogged down in the full details of a project, take a step back and think about the objective. Does it make sense? Does it align with the organization’s objectives? If not, why waste time? Can you clearly articulate the objective to the project team? If not, find out more. Don’t start down a path without fully understanding where you’re going or why.

2. Who do you have on your project team? There is no point in jumping into timelines and task details if you have the “wrong people on the bus.” Do you have the best project team members? If the best team members are too busy, how do their priorities stack up against the project’s objective and its importance to the company? Have you thought about who will help achieve the project objectives quickest? Most effectively? How can you best build your team?

3. Dedicate time to kicking off on the right foot: What could be a bigger waste of time than wandering around aimlessly at the beginning of a key project? Often times, it is essential to kick the project off with the “right” people, the “right” communication and with the “right” clarity. For example, I’ve been working with a key client who has been through significant organizational change. The quickest way to ensure zero results is to kick off a project amidst chaos without clearly articulating why this project will be different – and in a way that will resonate with the project team.

4. Develop critical path timelines: Don’t waste all sorts of time on complex, detailed project plans that no one can figure out how to follow or track. Instead, strive for simplicity – which tasks are key to success? What order should they go in? Is one step required before another can start? Which require critical resources? Focus exclusively on the critical path timeline, and the rest will follow.

5. Begin: Often, what should be the easiest becomes the roadblock. Find a way to begin quickly. Don’t let potential roadblocks and issues hold you up from a key project. Find a way to start to make progress. Once you’ve started, the pieces will start to fall into place as the project gains momentum.

6. Aggressively work roadblocks: As project manager, one of the keys to success is to aggressively remove roadblocks. It might not be the most pleasant task; however, it is what will make the difference between success and failure. In today’s new normal business environment, time is of the essence. No one has time to wait for results. Instead, those who are a day quicker in lead time or a few hours faster in returning key customer calls will leave the competition in the dust. You’ll stand out in the crowd by focusing attention on what the others prefer to avoid – roadblocks.

7. Track progress: Do you know if your project is on schedule? Do you know what you can do to accelerate the pace of progress? Do you know which critical path tasks are coming up? Are the task owners ready? Find out! Publish and publicize.

8. Celebrate successes and address issues: Those who focus on the basic building blocks of success will thrive in today’s environment. Often, I find my clients are tempted to get lost in complexity. Instead, go back to the basics. If you see a task owner struggling, go talk with them immediately. Offer support. Provide constructive feedback. Hold them accountable. Bring in additional resources. Don’t wait until you have an issue. Be on top of potential issues. And, just as quickly as you address potential issues, be even faster to celebrate successes. Recognize progress. Appreciate a team member for taking action.

Delivering project results is vital to company success in today’s new normal business environment. Follow these essential tips to make sure you are one of the few to consistently deliver bottom line results.

What is a Systems Pragmatist?

August 27th, 2013
A Systems Pragmatist thinks about and incorporates design every step of the way, and stays several steps ahead of the process.

Systems Pragmatists incorporate design every step of the way, and stay several steps ahead of the process.

Would you select curtains to spice up a house with a rickety foundation? I certainly hope not! Instead, you would resolve your foundation issues before even thinking about nice-to-have’s. So why do we spend countless hours picking out curtains and discussing color choices in businesses when our foundation isn’t stable?

Based on my 20+ years of experience as both a former operations executive and as a global business consultant, I find that more than 50% of my clients prioritize curtains over the rickety foundation – at least for a while. The excitement of implementing the latest lean program or ERP system outweighs blocking and tackling in terms of excitement, career interest etc.; however, it fails miserably. On the other hand, those companies who thrive ensure they design and implement solid processes and systems before even discussing programs that will build upon the base.

Since business processes and systems can become quite complex and cost millions of dollars, it is critical to simplify the design to what’s essential to your organization and focus on the core processes and related functionality that will support your business strategy and deliver bottom line results. This is where the Systems Pragmatist skill set comes into play – in essence, it cuts through the complexity to rapidly define, design and deliver the critical processes and system functionality required to elevate business performance.

Although we could discuss countless tips and techniques for designing and improving business processes and systems, there are a few core essential tenets: 1) Understand your objective. 2) Think design. 3) Execute & integrate with the culture.

1. Understand your objective: One of the worst mistakes my clients make is when they jump to solutions (process improvements, implementing the latest programs and selecting new technologies) before they understand the objective. As cool as the latest e-commerce functionality or S&OP results, it will become a complete waste of time and money if not aligned with the company’s direction and objection.

I have found a differentiation in my clients who leverage processes and systems to a competitive advantage vs. the rest – they think about design in every element of the process. Are you thinking 4 steps ahead in the process? How will it affect your ERP system results? Have you built in flexibility? Agility? Speed? Certainly, in the new normal business environment, those who have access to critical data for rapid decision-making, who accelerate products to market and who deliver faster than the competition will win the business. Have you thought about how to design these capabilities into your processes and systems upfront?

3. Execute and integrate with culture: Last but not least, the best design in the world is useless if it’s un-implementable! Software firms use the terminology of “build” and “run” to mean design a model or process trial and then roll out and utilize effectively. These can be good reminders to make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s and that your process and system functionality work as expected.

An essential element of this phase is to integrate the business process improvements and system enhancements with the culture. Is it an after-thought or do folks think about it similarly to shipping orders (meaning it is part of their routine)? Embed the processes into the daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Consider potential roadblocks and bottlenecks upfront. Ask employees and supply chain partners for input and feedback. Test them out. Think through changes to related areas such as performance management systems.

I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard a horror story associated with a system implementation. There are countless reasons for them: Not enough training. The system didn’t do what we needed it to do. It wasn’t set up to work for the way we do business. We didn’t have enough time. It wasn’t tested thoroughly. And the list goes on. For example, I’m often times brought in by clients to help resolve system snafus that typically result in horrendous customer service issues and down-the-line negative profit impacts. 80% of time, the client feels as though the lack of training is the issue. Although it is always part of the issue, I find that it is 20% of the issue; whereas, design and integration with the daily routine is the 80/20.

Designing and implementing business process improvements and leveraging system functionality to drive business results can require an investment of time and resources. However, you’ll be left in the dust in your broken down Yugo if you don’t prioritize this critical priority. Why not get ahead of the competition by not only creating a solid foundation but also designing it as a strategic advantage to deliver a significant return on investment?

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