Tag Archive: systems pragmatist

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?

 

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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:

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Forget Data Cleanup and Find a Measure to Start NOW!

January 17th, 2017

Are you mired in data cleanup and not focused on measures that can immediately help you? Stop searching for the “right” data lever and look for measures to track and improve processes.

If you have the systems to measure your ideal metric, go for it but don’t let it become an excuse! Find one that will measure progress and start immediately!

For example, in one of our clients, not only were the run rates incorrect but they were wildly different for similar items which would make planning an utter nightmare!  However, there are still ways to measure progress and plan. Find a metric that won’t change and stick to it. In this case, we used earned standard hours, and we are able to measure improvements in the metric. Of course, as data is cleaned up, we should put better metrics in place but it doesn’t have to hold up progress! And we were able to plan to the expected earned standard hours as well. All is solved to an 80/20 standpoint which is all that is needed.

This type of scenario has come up on multiple occasions – actually almost every client has some sort of situation that fits in this mold (the only question is how significant). It could be that measuring inventory levels is challenging because the system reports aren’t set up correctly. In this case, it could be that you count pallet rows or something else that is visible and easy. It could be that your system doesn’t support run rates effectively (unfortunately that was true with one client). In this case, we found a manual process to keep the load visible while storing information in the system.

What is in common in all these examples is to start immediately with what you have and find a way to make progress. It certainly doesn’t sound like rocket science but it drives results. If it was common, so many of our clients wouldn’t make significant progress once we find the “right lever” to pull, similar to these situations.

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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.

 

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Crowdsourcing Is In

November 22nd, 2016
crowdsourcing is in

Crowdsourcing is an engaging, collaborative practice that is catching on to stimulate innovation and new ideas in R&D and software design.

In asking questions about outsourcing, insourcing and near-sourcing of the executive panel at APICS Inland Empire’s Symposium, we heard several great stories. One of them was compelling about the value of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal — often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency. It is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0.

It is simply amazing as to what can be achieved with these out-of-the-box strategies. Many big name companies who can put “big bucks” behind their efforts have found that they can achieve far more with crowdsourcing than they can solely with employees alone. Certainly, cash-constrained smaller companies would have a significant challenge funding this expertise. Yet it isn’t all about cost. Innovation and new ideas emerge in these settings.

It is worth considering at least being aware of the power of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing can apply to all business and social interactions and so it can apply to almost all aspects of business — hiring, research, manufacturing, marketing, etc. Our panelists talked about how it has been used successfully in R&D and software design. Leveraging these types of collaborative practices and tools create disruption and spur innovation. It is definitely a topic to keep your eye on!

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