News & Views

News & Views is published monthly by 180 Systems. Our objective is to provide recent articles to our readers on business technology topics. In some cases, our blog contains a title with a hyperlink to a source article, a quote from the article and our comments. In other cases, we have provided a blog without a hyperlink for original content by 180 Systems. We encourage you to post your own comments. You can also access our blog by topic.

System selection, done right — Part 3

Software Selection

May 2012 from CAmagazine and written by Michael Burns – One of the first steps in any project is to define the roles and responsibilities of the participants as well as to estimate the amount of time needed. So now that we’ve looked at how to select a software system, let’s turn to the people side of the equation…”


BI, CPM and budgeting survey 2012

Business Intelligence, CPM

April 2012 from CAmagazine and written by Michael Burns – “Business systems used to be criticized for being data rich and information poor — for spewing out loads of data with no framework or interpretation. But judging by our new business intelligence (BI) survey, it would be hard to say that anymore. The market is now swimming in tools that will slice and dice and interpret your data however you want. The flip side is that these tools often overlap and are so powerful that they are difficult to use…”


ERP Modernization: Why It’s a Top Priority for Midsize Companies in 2012


March 2012 from Oracle – “The last great wave of ERP modernization occurred in the lead-up to Y2K, but according to industry experts, a unique set of business, economic, and technological forces are converging to make ERP modernization a top priority once again in 2012…

The panelists identified the following forces that are driving this burgeoning phenomenon.

  • Volatile economic conditions
  • Increased scrutiny by equity firms into the IT systems of pre-IPO, high-growth firms
  • Increasingly aging ERP systems that are becoming very expensive to maintain
  • Old systems ill-adapted to transformed business conditions in 2012
  • Faster to deploy, lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO), and lower-risk access to enterprise-class software…”

180 View – We agree with the article that ERP demand has picked up. However we disagree with the causes stated above. We think the primary driver is a better economy and 2012 will likely be followed with even more demand in 2013 and 2014 as the economy gets back on track. Despite the logic of retooling when things are slow, most companies are not prepared to invest in technology when they are forced to lay off their employees. However, as the economy improves, the need for better systems becomes more critical. Growth can be achieved by hiring more people to get the work done or by investing in a new system that should allow growth with the same number of employees. Another big factor is in the next article.


Brain drain: Where Cobol systems go from here

ERP, IT Strategy

March 14, 2012 from InfoWorld – “…More than 50 years after Cobol came on the scene, the language is alive and well in the world’s largest corporations, where it excels at executing large-scale batch and transaction processing operations on mainframes. The language is known for its scalability, performance and mathematical accuracy. But as the Boomer generation prepares to check out of the workforce, IT executives are taking a fresh look at their options…”

180  View – Another major reason for switching systems is the retirement of boomers who will no longer support legacy systems even if they still work well.


Microsoft Dynamics ERP on Azure: What Are the Benefits?


March 27, 2012 from The Enterprise System Spectator – “Last week I attended Microsoft’s annual Convergence conference, for users and partners of its Dynamics line of enterprise applications. The back-to-back briefings were a great opportunity to get an update on where Microsoft is going with enterprise applications.

But the big news from my perspective is that by the end of 2012, two of Microsoft’s ERP products, GP and NAV, will be available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud…”

180 View – As usual The Enterprise System Spectator is informative. Take a look at the article to learn about the benefits of the Microsoft cloud.


Microsoft: Cloud Computing To Generate 14 Million Jobs by 2015

Cloud Computing

March 5, 2012 from CIO Today – “A common misperception is cloud computing is a job eliminator, but in truth it will be a job creator — a major one,” said IDC’s John Gantz. “And job growth will occur across continents and throughout organizations of all sizes because emerging markets, small cities and small businesses have the same access to cloud benefits as large enterprises…”

180 View – The vendors of cloud computing include less resources needed as a tangible benefit in the business case for cloud computing. There will be a loss of IT jobs in many organizations that switch to cloud computing. There will also be new jobs for the cloud vendors but not nearly as many new jobs as lost ones. But cloud computing will introduce new applications and opportunities to organizations. These applications and opportunities will require more people and hopefully the projections are not pie in sky.


Larry’s Long Reach


March 14, 2012 from Forbes – “…NetSuite has found itself fashionable. Last year its revenues totaled $193 million, up 16% with operating losses of $25.6 million. Its stock has jumped 248% in the last two years. Ellison’s 50.5% stake, worth $930 million, is no longer a mere rounding error in his $27 billion net worth…

And maybe just as important, for him, NetSuite is grabbing Microsoft’s customers…

NetSuite is also making inroads at SAP…

Then there’s this wrinkle: NetSuite sometimes finds itself competing against Oracle…”

180 View – NetSuite started off as a solution for small business but it has steadily added functionality that make it an alternative for larger companies. For example, NetSuite now offers a separate module called OneWorld which provides complex organizational structures and consolidation. Is it a coincidence that JD Edwards (one of Oracle’s ERP systems) used to call their system JD Edwards OneWorld?


9 Bad KPI Habits to Change

Business Intelligence, Business Process Analysis

March 2012 from KPI Library – “Well this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a list of the bad habits I see the majority of my clients consistently practicing when it comes to choosing, creating and using performance measures or KPIs. We reap what we sow, and that’s why it can be a useful exercise to see if you do have any bad KPI habits and start developing some better ones…”

180 View – All our projects start with a discussion of CSF (Critical Success Factors – what an organizations must do well in order to be successful) and their measurements – KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). Unfortunately the KPI discussion often remains a discussion. This article should be useful for anyone thinking about KPI’s.


Rising to the Challenge

Business Process Analysis

2012 from The Institute of Management Accountants – “…The single most critical challenge facing accounting and financial professionals working in organizations is streamlining processes and improving productivity in order to reduce costs. It can be considered “table stakes” for most organizations—something key to their survival.

Other key concerns include the challenge of running a global business efficiently, implementing/upgrading information systems, and connecting the finance team with the front office.

Of the firms surveyed, 70% report improved productivity over time in their finance and accounting organizations, with half of these firms reporting significant (> 5%) increases. These are long-term gains that will generate permanent benefits to these organizations…

Over the past three years, nearly three-quarters of all firms have attempted to achieve gains in productivity through business processes improvement efforts. While some processes are generally viewed as being done efficiently, others – especially strategic activities such as planning, budgeting, forecasting, cost and profitability analysis, and providing performance scorecards and reporting—are still generally viewed as in need of improvement…”

180 View – But how do organizations make business process improvements? According to the study – “In line with the desire to improve business processes to increase productivity, mentioned above, automation of processes is perceived by two-thirds of companies as being one of the technology investments most likely to achieve this goal”.  Other methods are available to improve business processes without technology changes. For example we have seen examples of processes being followed because they have always been done that way and examples of excessive control causing extra work and delays. Business processes can also be improved by additional training, incentives, and changes to the work environment. But we would agree that technology changes are likely going to lead to the biggest improvements.


Keep Calm and Carry On


180 View – The slogan is also good advice in dealing with the implementation of a new system.