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.

What’s happening at 180 Systems?

Personal

Michael Burns was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment last year. The good news is that it all worked and Michael is healthy again, so much so that he recently rode a bicycle from Toronto to Niagara Falls in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Lawrence Young, B.Comp.Sc., C.Adm, CMC, I.S.P. joined 180 Systems last year. He brings over 15 years of ERP system selection experience to our team and is based in Montreal.  

Jeff Zygouras, MMPA, CPA, CA recently joined 180 Systems. Jeff was a TA (Teaching Assistance) at UofT for Michael Burns for many years for a graduate course on Management Information Systems. Before joining 180 Systems, Jeff worked in public practice and industry.

3 Comments

Are newsletters a waste of time?

Personal

Many of us get so much email that we don’t have time to read newsletters even from trusted sources. So why write a newsletter if it’s deleted by many if not most readers as soon as it is received? Over the past year, we have opted not to potentially waste our time. But we have now decided to resurrect our newsletter partly because we don’t want you to forget about us but also because it’s good for Search Engine Optimization. Another reason is that the primary writer of our newsletter is healthy again…

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How do you compare a SaaS annual fee to a one-time license fee?

ERP, Software Selection

We have found that on average the one-time (on premise) license fee is 3 times the annual fee based on our experience in evaluating RFP responses from vendors. One might think that the ratio between license and annual fee should be greater but that does not take into account the additional hosted services provided by the SaaS vendors including maintenance fees which are billed annually by on premise vendors at approximately 20% of the license fee. It’s still early days for SaaS and as competition heats up the license ratio:annual fee will increase as SaaS fees are reduced. We recommend that even if the SaaS costs are high that you don’t rule out SaaS vendors just on cost. They are willing to negotiate and there are other factors that should be considered in making a decision.

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ERP Customer Survey

ERP

From CPA Magazine and written by Michael Burns – “We have all heard horror stories about failed ERP implementations but we rarely hear about the ones that went well. Does ERP deserve the bad rap it gets?…”

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ERP Survey 2016

ERP

From CPA Magazine and written by Michael Burns – “Welcome to our annual vendor survey on enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Our survey now includes 100 systems…”

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CPA Magazine cloud survey results

Cloud Computing

April 1, 2016 from CPA Magazine – “If CPA Magazine’s first-ever cloud survey is any indication, CPAs are generally a cloud-friendly group. About 40% of you are already using the technology and the rest plan to do so within the next year or two…”

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Cloud security: fact or fiction?

Cloud Computing

June 1, 2016 from CPA Magazine – “As our cloud survey article showed, data is moving to the clouds at high speeds across all kinds of organizations. But is the data safer than it was when these organizations kept it locked away on their own premises…”

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Reduce Risk of ERP Implementation Failure: Pre-Contract Business Needs Analysis

Contract Negotiations, ERP, Software Selection

You naturally want to minimize risks and avoid cost overruns before signing a long-term contract for a new ERP system. Your prospective vendor also wants to minimize risk, but is usually not in a position to do anything other than give an implementation estimate based on lots of assumptions about scope, roles and responsibilities. These assumptions could be fairly accurate, but could also be way off, which could lead to surprises and costly change orders during the implementation.  Neither you nor the vendor want this to happen.  Wrong assumptions that lead to change orders will create frustration, friction and could lead to you being an unhappy, non-referenceable client, or even worse, one who wants to abandon the project.

Everyone would prefer to avoid this.  So we encourage you to consider a pre-contract Business Needs Analysis (“BNA”).   A BNA provides the vendor with more detailed information about your environment that it can use to firm up its understanding and provide a fixed fee for the implementation. In the absence of a BNA, this work would normally be done by the vendor during the implementation, after the contract is signed.

The more analysis done in the BNA, the lower the risk. 180 Systems’ approach to the BNA is to identify the requirements that are the most challenging and/or unique and make sure they are clearly understood by the vendors so they can figure out how to handle them in detail before the contract is finalized. Although the vendors charge for their time to complete the BNA process, it is time they would be charging during the implementation anyway, and by doing the work upfront, the risky parts of the implementation can be built into the implementation contract and therefore reduce the likelihood of surprises.

A BNA should include

  • Implementation scope linked to requirements in the RFP
  • Conceptual design with agreed upon design decisions
  • Functional specifications for any requirement requiring customization
  • Statement of Work

The vendors may resist as they would rather just close the deal or are reluctant to assign resources to a client that may not sign a long-term contract. But if the risks are high, both the vendor and the client are protected using the BNA approach.

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Prophix Interview

Business Intelligence, CPM

I recently spoke with Andy Amalfitano CPA, CA, Director of Sales Central Region for Prophix about changes at Prophix and his perception of the cloud. Prophix (http://www.prophix.com/) is one of the leading solutions for Corporate Performance Management (CPM). Prophix includes:

  • Budgeting, analysis and forecasting
  • Financial, statutory and management reporting
  • Financial consolidation
  • Profitability modeling & optimization, cash flow and revenue planning
  • Operational and strategic planning

Prophix targets organizations with revenues between $50M and $2B who want to evolve from being dependent on Excel for their key financial processes. Prophix recently announced the latest version of its CPM solution, one that will provide their customers with more choice in terms of how they implement the software. Some users will want to continue to have part or all of their financial processes on premise, while others will find it advantageous to move to the cloud. Andy pointed out that one reason customers choose an on premise solution is so that they will be able to drill down to transactional detail. Andy also noted that customers are becoming more comfortable with security in the cloud but they will have the option of an on premise solution or a blended approach, where the most sensitive data is stored locally.   

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The next big thing?

Uncategorized

180 View – We live in amazing times and in the years ahead will use technology we know nothing about now but will depend on and enjoy then. I have seen so much change in technology since my first job working on an IBM mainframe with green screens and now my cellphone is way more powerful than these mainframes that were expensive and filled a room.

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