News & Views | ERP

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.

Would you select an ERP (or any) system from a small vendor?

ERP, Software Selection

We include small vendors in our system selection projects but only when we believe that they have a good client base, are really good for a specific industry and are using recent technology. A small company can also be a successful company and there are benefits to being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. You will see lots of small/unknown companies on our ERP portal at http://www.180systems.com/portals/erp/.

But what about the concern that a small vendor will be acquired which is even more likely if the small vendor is facing financial difficulties? Is this enough to rule them out? We don’t think so because the problem may be temporary. For example they might have just rewritten their software to support multi-tenant architecture (which is a prerequisite to compete in the clouds). As a consequence, development costs have gone up and their revenues have gone down as they are recognizing revenue over a longer period of time. However even if the small vendor is ripe for acquisition, it would be a big mistake for the acquiring company to abandon the system when there are many happy clients and the system has a strong/current underling technology.

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Murphy’s Law

ERP, Software Selection

Murphy’s Law is alive and well thanks to ERP implementations. The problems that often arise can be avoided and/or the impact reduced by good planning in advance and strong project management. Here are a few ways to fight Murphy:

  1. Ensure you have the right people (your A team) on the project and enough of their time is allocated to the project. Some key operational team members will need to be backfilled on their day jobs.  Talk to people who have gone through an implementation to get a sense of the time needed.
  2. Ensure the implementation plan proposed by the vendor is adequate. Get each vendor to break out their implementation project into the major tasks and compare them for variances. You may find that one vendor may have low balled one of the tasks such as training.
  3. During contract negotiations, clearly define the scope and the link the contract to the RFP requirements.  Ensure that all requirements are thoroughly discussed and understood.
  4. If  you are taking on the responsibility of creating custom reports, ensure you have someone on the team that has the experience to develop and deliver these reports.
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ERP: Lessons From the Field

ERP, Software Selection

March 27, 2015 from CFO – “Senior finance executives share their advice on selecting and implementing enterprise resource planning systems.”…

180 View – CFO asked the executives a number of questions including about value, total cost of ownership, flexibility, how to evaluate ERP vendors and implementation advice. One piece of advice was “Invest your best people in the process.”

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Moving to a Sustainable ERP Model

ERP, Software Selection

2015 from Shea Business Solutions – “…By their nature, ERP projects are large and complex. They never go according to plan. Things always come up, plans always change, people always have different priorities. As much as possible, build this into your plan. Have some contingencies – if you can’t work on some tasks for some reason, have some other tasks that can be substituted. Build some cushion into your project plan. Most importantly, don’t be shocked when things go wrong. Things always go wrong. Take a deep breath, and move forward…”

180 View – We don’t normally include material published by a vendor but as can be seen by the above quote, Shea has provided honest and useful advice in the article rather than marketing hype.

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Cloud ERP

Cloud Computing, ERP

January 28, 2015 from InformationWeek – “Enterprise resource planning software is the ultimate legacy application. On the downside, ERP has earned a reputation for costly, time-consuming deployments and maintenance, outdated user interfaces, and general inflexibility.…”

180 View – The cloud is supposed to make ERP implementations a lot easier according to pundits and vendors alike. However the cloud is really just a different way of deploying the software and most of the tasks and risks in an implementation don’t vanish into the clouds.

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Technology investment survey

Business Case, Business Intelligence, CRM, ERP

January 1, 2015 from CPA Magazine by Michael Burns – “We all hear the bad news when a vendor is sued over a failed implementation. When this happens, we assume there are many other unhappy customers whose experiences do not get broadcast, because most companies would rather not litigate. But are there also many happy customers? And what makes a happy customer?  We have a created an online survey to determine just how successful — or unsuccessful — technology investments turn out to be…”

180 View – The survey which can be found by clicking here is for ERP, CRM and BI. Questions will include which industry, company size, system, type of system, costs of system (by license, implementation, hosting fees, maintenance and support, and internal costs), satisfaction with implementation, satisfaction with benefits and lessons learned. The goal is to determine the satisfaction of these investments and to see whether there is a correlation to industry, company size, the system or type of system. Stay tuned.

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I Survived an ERP Implementation – Top 10 Gems of Advice I Learned the Hard Way

ERP, Project Management

November 10. 2014 from LinkedIn – “…Why is it that so many ERP implementations go so wrong? In my current role I meet regularly with ERP survivors and casualties. My best but unscientific estimate is that 90-95% of them have horror stories to share…”

180 View – There is a big difference between a horror story and bumps in the road. We would agree that there always bumps in the road. What you need is someone on your team that knows how to adapt or a coach to get you through it – someone like Pat Wade from 180 Systems who has managed ERP implementations for over 20 years. Pat can be reached at pwade@180systems.com or at (416) 560-0591.

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How Production Systems are Like the NFL

Business Process Analysis, ERP, Manufacturing and Distribution

December 16, 2014 from IndustryWeek – “I sometimes find it difficult to describe what I do to friends and acquaintances who have careers outside of manufacturing and rarely give much thought to how things actually get made. To the uninitiated, if I were to say “I help manufacturers to implement continuous improvement (CI) models” or “I support companies in their production system journey,” I might as well be speaking a foreign language because, while these statements resonate with those of us who live and breathe CI every day, they don’t mean much to the rest of the world…”

180 View – We start all our projects with a kick-off meeting and there are other similarities to the NFL analogy. The article discusses the importance of “What does the business require of this operation to be successful” which we call the Critical Success Factors. We use it to identify functional requirements that will enable attainment of CSFs and also to identify the important metrics or KPIs. The article also discusses comparing metrics to the perfect or ideal standard. This is what we call the goal KPI and how we recommend determining whether a particular investment was worthwhile.

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Project Management for an ERP Implementation

ERP, Project Management

180 Systems has now launched a new practice area. The implementation of a new system is a big project and requires skilled project managers. Our clients often don’t have a lot of experience in project management especially related to implementing new systems. The vendors have project managers but their focus is project management of their own resources rather than that of our clients. It is also possible that there are conflicting views of scope between the vendor and our clients. As project manager for our clients, we will ensure that these and any other conflicts are resolved expeditiously and fairly. Our focus is strictly on project management rather than product or system management. The knowledge of the system should be acquired by the internal resources of our clients as this knowledge is vital to the ongoing support of the system.

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Top 10 Trends in Cloud ERP

Cloud Computing, ERP

May 19, 2014 from enterpriseAPPStoday – “Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software hasn’t really caught on yet. But according to a recent Gartner survey, it will soon. Here are some of the top trends shaping cloud-based ERP…”

180 View – Most of our clients are more interested in finding a solution that is a good fit, not overly difficult to implement, in their budget and supported and implemented by a company that knows their industry really well. They don’t care that much how it’s deployed. Cloud deployment does not seem less expensive than on premise deployment even when factoring in savings in infrastructure and IT resources over a five year period. Today the cloud ERP vendors are still charging a premium for their wares. And some of them just offer annual user fees rather than monthly which would be very good for seasonal businesses. It won’t be long before the prices for cloud ERP drops as each and every ERP vendor jumps on the cloud bandwagon. At that time, the cloud will blot out much of the on premise landscape for new sales especially for small and mid-sized organizations that don’t have or don’t want IT departments.

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