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.

Should you restrict ERP selection to just the major vendors?

ERP, Software Selection

We don’t think so. There are many excellent products built by small companies for specific industries that are worthy of consideration. But there are risks that the vendor will not be around for the long haul. There are a number of ways to evaluate long-term viability:

  • The system is built with old technology that is getting really difficult to support by the boomers ripe for retirement.
  • There is a lack of investment in the system. Ask to see the product roadmap and recent enhancements.
  • The company is not profitable. Private companies will be reluctant to release this but it can be obtained with an NDA late in the selection process. There can be extending circumstances such as the company now offers a subscription fee rather than up-front license fees.
  • There is a lack of good people available for implementation and support. Ask for resumes and meet members of the team.
  • Customers are not so happy with support. Ask for references that can be called or visited in person.
  • The owners are nearing retirement age. Ask them directly about their plans. Systems with a good client base and using recent technology will be purchased and will very likely be maintained and enhanced by the acquiring company who should know better than to alienate new customers. However if the technology is old or not built with industry-standard tools, then who can blame the new vendor from encouraging clients to convert to one of their other systems.

There are also advantages to being a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

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Newsletter Changes

Personal

We have been sending newsletters each month for a very long time but as some of you may have noticed, we have only been sending them intermittently over the last year. The reason for the change is not writer fatigue but the perception of reader fatigue with all the emails. So in the future we will only send them out a few times a year. As well, in the past we often commented on published articles that we thought were interesting but from now on, we plan to only include original material we have published. We also often had a link to something that we considered humorous or thoughtful (click here for examples posted in the past). We are not sure whether to continue to include these links in the future but have included another one this time which can be accessed by clicking here. Please let us know what you think about our new approach. Thanks

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How to measure whether an ERP implementation is successful

ERP, Project Management

It’s not time to celebrate when the system goes live. Nor is it time to celebrate even if it’s on time or on budget. It’s only time to celebrate if the benefits in the business case have been realized. Ideally the benefits are in the form of a measurable metric or a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) such as the time it takes to process an order. However many organizations don’t identify these measures of success and even if they do, they promptly forget about them as soon as the implementation starts as they have enough on their plates to consume each day and then some.

So what do you do to keep the KPIs relevant? We recommend that the goal KPIs be embedded in the project from the start so that everyone is aware of them. Subject matter experts involved in designing and testing should be questioned whether the goal metrics are attainable at various times throughout the implementation. Steering committee meetings should include updates of whether the goal metrics are at risk of being attained. Sometimes attaining the goal KPIs puts the budget and schedule at risk. When this happens, you need to get the steering committee to consider budget and schedule variances.

 

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