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ERP process manufacturing software

10 ERP software choices for process manufacturing

Selecting ERP software for process manufacturing can be confusing, and different industries have different requirements. Learn about some of the leading choices for process manufacturing.

Process manufacturing is highly complex. Issues such as traceability mean that companies in process industries such as chemicals, oil and gas, and beverages use ERP software that targets the needs of recipe- and batch-focused production.

Deciding which software to choose is never an easy task, and there are a lot of contenders in the market.
Here are 10 choices of ERP for process manufacturing to help you get a sense of the landscape.

What is process manufacturing?

Process manufacturing takes raw materials or ingredients and transforms them into something entirely new. Items made via process manufacturing cannot be broken down into their original ingredients. This type of manufacturing uses formulas or recipes to produce items such as medicine, food, beverages, chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and biotech products. These industries frequently use batch manufacturing, where the production of similar item types are grouped together in a specific time frame before production of another type of item begins. As an example, a baker might create a batch of white bread before changing the recipe to produce a batch of cranberry and walnut bread.

Process manufacturing is often compared to discrete manufacturing, as the two are common methods of production that stand in direct contrast to one another. In theory, the physical goods produced by discrete manufacturing — for example, automobiles, computers, toys, and furniture — can be disassembled into its component parts. With discrete manufacturing, the finished product is an inherently distinct item.

Both discrete and process manufacturing can use batch manufacturing, but the overall process is different for each method of production.

Why use ERP software?

While ERP software can be used for both discrete and process manufacturing, each production method has its own needs.

Process manufacturing requires ERP software that can track raw materials, as well as their potency, shelf life, batch or lot number and overall quality.

Many of the items created in process manufacturing — in particular, food and beverages, chemicals, medicine, and cosmetics — are subject to strict regulations and may be subject to recall if they are deemed unsafe or improperly made, as is also the case with discrete manufacturing. Features like lot traceability, recipe and formula management, and scalability aren’t just useful tools — they’re often necessary to the production of these goods.

When it comes to ERP software choices, manufacturers have a number of options available to them. An organization’s choice depends on the industry and the goods it produces. For example, software that caters specifically to the creation of food and beverages won’t be helpful to a company producing chemicals or medicine.

There are a lot of software choices for ERP for process manufacturing, but here are 10 options from the mix.

Deacom Inc. produces ERP software designed for medium to large-sized manufacturing and distribution companies. It covers food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings. Deacom ERP can be installed on-premises or in the cloud.

The core system includes a warehouse management system, inventory management, CRM, lot traceability, direct store delivery software, forecasting, and commerce. The software includes integrated accounting and financials that are designed to provide users with real-time transactional posting. Additionally, Deacom’s software package includes installation, ongoing training, and professional support.

Deacom ERP also works for both process and mixed-mode manufacturing.

Epicor Software Corp.’s Tropos ERP is aimed at midsize manufacturing companies that produce food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and mill and metals. Tropos ERP is cloud-based and can be purchased via a subscription or on a per-user basis. Its software is accessed via the internet and is not installed on-premises.

It offers users to inventory and supplier management tools, accounting integration, CRM integration, and customizable functionality. The software also includes CRM, accounting and modules for inventory, supply chain, and quality management.

Some customization and training may be available for a fee. If required, larger companies may need Epicor Mattec or Epicor Informance EMI.

FS ERP is designed to streamline service and asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and project management with component-based, pick-and-choose functions. These can be implemented on an as-needed basis. As the business expands, new components can be added and preexisting ones can be removed.

User support is offered via phone and email.

EnterpriseOne ERP offers product lifecycle management, financial and project management, order management, CRM, supply chain planning and logistics, and business intelligence. Its manufacturing and distribution modules enable users to manage manufacturing operations by using lean or project-based manufacturing modes, and its consumer goods module allows users to manage the quality of goods, the supply chain, and transportation.

The software can be used for process, discrete and mixed-mode manufacturing.

JustFood ERP software is aimed specifically at the food and beverage industry. It runs on Microsoft’s cloud platform.

In addition to running on Microsoft’s cloud platform, JustFood is built on top of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which offers sales, purchasing, operations, accounting, and inventory management. The software also offers features designed to address food safety and compliance, quality and production, recipe development and management, and food recall and traceability. It includes lot traceability and quality audits — both necessary for food safety — as well as real-time inventory management and shipping and logistics management.

JustFood ERP can be customized and scaled as a business grows. It uses Microsoft products like Outlook, Word, Excel, SQL Server, and SharePoint.

Infor M3 is an ERP suite that can be used on-premises or in the cloud. Aimed at the chemicals, distribution, equipment, fashion, and food and beverage industries, as well as for a broad range of process and discrete industrial manufacturing industries, it is designed for medium to large national and international businesses.

Infor M3 allows users to monitor and manage manufacturing operations, supply chain activities, customer and supplier relationships, warehouse and distribution processes and financial management.

It also allows users to oversee lot and serial number traceability, equipment configurations, and product attributes such as styles, colors, sizes, and byproducts. It also manages and analyzes business operations. Infor M3 can be used for discrete, process or mixed-mode manufacturing.

Open System’s ProcessPro offers an ERP software package aimed at the food and beverage, chemical, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and cannabis industries. The software package can accommodate small to medium-sized batch process manufacturers and is designed to help them manage manufacturing, sales, inventory, quality and financial integration with scalability and options for customization. ProcessPro can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

The software is meant to provide full forward and backward lot traceability. Users are also able to automate their production schedules and maintain complicated formulas and recipes.

ProcessPro’s ERP software is meant to manage batch processing’s various needs, including full lot traceability and recipes and formula management, quality control and visibility of sales, manufacturing, and inventory.

Ross ERP by Aptean is geared toward the food and beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. It enables lot control, material shelf life, bidirectional lot traceability, and recall requirements.

Ross ERP can be deployed on-premises or hosted in the cloud. In addition to traceability, it supports business processes for planning, manufacturing, procurement, inventory, customer service, shipping, costing, accounting, and financial reporting, as well as barcode scanning for receiving, inventory, manufacturing, and shipping.

The platform offers customer support via phone and email and is offered on a monthly subscription basis.

Sage Group PLC’s Business Cloud X3 ERP is a web-based, browser-agnostic ERP software suite that can be deployed on-premises or as a service in AWS. Sage X3 is designed to support the food and beverage, chemicals, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, life sciences, and whole distribution industries. It also supports distribution, discrete manufacturing industries, and services. The software caters to large global organizations.

It comes with integrated functionality for financial management, sales, customer service, distribution, inventory, manufacturing and business intelligence. Users can also customize the software with add-on tools to interact with third-party software like CRM, warehouse management systems and e-commerce.

Sage X3 is designed for organizations that have multiple companies, sites, languages, currencies, and legislations with customizable tools to extend its software capabilities and the ability to interact with third-party software. It is also responsive on mobile devices.

The platform can be used for process, discrete or mixed-mode manufacturing.

SAP Business One ERP is geared toward small to midsize companies in the food, chemical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as a number of other industries. It can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
Business One ERP includes material resource planning, pool controls, quality controls, supply chain, and sales management, advanced planning and scheduling and multiple warehouse management. Users can customize reports, export them into different formats and modify them to fit different “what if” scenarios. The software also supports multi-currency transactions and has multilingual capabilities.

Business One ERP offers a remote support platform that performs automatic system health checks, scheduled database maintenance operations, upgrades eligibility checks and automatically fixes detected issues. It can also be used for discrete manufacturing.

Source: Lindsay Moore


Data V Tech is proud to be one of the leading ERP vendors in the Asia Pacific. We have implemented Epicor ERP for many manufacturers in Vietnam and China. For direct consultation, please feel free to contact us.

Accounts Payable

Accounts Payable (AP) allows you to enter supplier invoices for purchases that you make, then create payments for the invoices you want to pay. The system can generate payments for all invoices due, those for a particular supplier, or only for specific invoices. If a supplier calls you to discuss an invoice, you will have complete information at your fingertips and that history can be kept indefinitely.

Accounts Payable allows you to update both purchase orders in Purchase Management as well as actual job costs. Adjustments are created if the purchase price does not match the invoiced price. With Accounts Payable, you will know how much you owe and when it is due.

Record and post all payables instruments easily, including supplier or vendor vouchers and invoices, debit memos, automated check runs, and manual payments.

Create standard accounts payable invoices that recur on set dates.

Record and track your future-dated payment instruments, including GL movements, and enter their values for credit. Accurately manage payment of invoice due dates and terms and conditions. control purposes. You can also change their status as you need. A final tax transaction moves the tax from accrued to due at the time of final settlement or cash movement.

Through this functionality, you print a future dated payment instrument as part of the invoice, so that you can send it to the customer to sign and return it, or include it as part of the customer statement if the customer pays on a monthly basis.

Epicor supports all of the most common business practice terms and conditions within Accounts Payable and Receivable. This feature also affords great flexibility for the definition of creative receipt and payment terms within countries where this functionality is not necessarily demanded but may offer a competitive advantage.

You can track or reuse voided or unused numbers or transactions that are not committed to a database. You are then accountable for all numbers and have no sequence gaps.

Print checks for select payments, or create manual checks.

Update jobs created in Job Management directly by material and subcontract costs entered through Accounts Payable.

Purchases may be made in any currency and goods received in any currency with support for the entry of an exchange rate at the point of payment entry.

Keep accounts payable transactions and supplier history files indefinitely.

Show online inquiries for open invoices, outstanding balances, and payment detail.

Automatically create and post general ledger entries from accounts payable transactions.

All payments are automatically available for bank statement reconciliation once posted.

View variances between planned and actual purchase price to allow cost adjustments and analysis.

Match invoice, receipt, and purchase order online.

Configure payment files for electronic submission to banks.

accounts payable

business live without ERP

Why Business Can’t Live without ERP?

Here is why business can’t live without enterprise resource planning (ERP). Defining ERP isn’t an easy task anymore. Gartner, which coined the term in 1990, defines it as “the ability to deliver an integrated suite of business applications.”

It wasn’t always this way, but as technology has evolved, so too has the ERP landscape. With the rise of postmodern ERP deployment and a shift toward third-party integration, the future of ERP as we know it hangs in the balance.

How can businesses navigate an increasingly complex and hard-to-define ERP software market? The ugly truth is that it’s complicated. But while ERP software might look different today than it did a decade ago, there are some defining characteristics that make this market unique. That’s where this article comes in.

Common ERP modules and functions

Modern ERP software encompasses a range of processes across the departmental spectrum. Here are the most common functions found in today’s ERP systems:

Also known as accounting, the financial management component records, processes, and organizes transactions within modules such as general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and fixed-asset tracking.

ERP software can automate core HR functions such as personnel tracking and benefits administration, as well as more strategic processes such as recruiting, employee evaluation, and training.

These functions support the planning and execution of supply chain transactions to optimize inventory levels and meet customer demand, from the acquisition of raw materials to production and delivery.

Using ERP’s manufacturing planning functionality helps to efficiently plan production based on materials, labor, and machinery.

Basic CRM functionality includes sales- and client-related processes such as managing contacts, leads, and cases.

Through their ERP system, businesses can manage projects independently so users can create plans, schedules, resource assignments, budgets, estimates, and more.

There’s a reason these modules are commonly found in ERP software: They are the foundation upon which most successful businesses operate. By streamlining these processes in one all-encompassing system, ERP software can provide organizations with a single data source, eliminating costly bottlenecks and boosting operational efficiency. Not only is this the software’s foremost benefit—it’s the reason it exists in the first place.

Fast forward to the early 2010s, when technology evolved to allow communication between different pieces of software, giving businesses the ability to build their own ERP system with best-of-breed solutions from the vendors of their choosing. Today, virtually any piece of software with integration capabilities can become an ERP system. This flexibility helps to relieve businesses of unnecessary costs and features, which use up valuable processing power and drag down the efficiency of the system.

New developments and features in ERP systems

As much as any software type, ERP leverages new and emerging technologies to increase operational efficiency. This has paved the way for features such as:

The hallmark of postmodern ERP deployment, integration helps businesses incorporate industry-specific applications from third-party vendors into their day-to-day and tailor their system to the needs of the organization.

In the last decade or so, ERP vendors have begun offering an alternative to on-premise deployment: a cloud-based option hosted on the vendor’s servers and accessed through any approved device with internet access.

A revolutionary efficiency boost, ERP systems can automate repetitive tasks, create workflows that trigger processes, and send notifications to users or payment reminders to clients.

These developments represent an unprecedented leap forward for the ERP market. Businesses that implement the tech-driven functionality above will experience significant increases in efficiency and insight into their organizational processes. Those that do not implement them not only risk falling behind their competition—the long-term health of the organization could be at stake as well.

To compete in the 21st-century economy, the implementation of these tools is imperative. Talk to your current or prospective vendors about whether they currently leverage such technologies and how they plan to utilize them in the future.


To find out whether your company needs an ERP and how it should be, please feel free to contact us. Data V Tech is proud to be the authorized partner of Epicor (one of the best ERP providers in the world) and the leading firms to implement this solution in Asia Pacific 

cost-efficient manufacturing erp

Using Epicor ERP to achieve a cost-efficient manufacturing operation

In a Manufacturing Environment, a modern ERP system should support a wide range of planning methods. Let’s take a closer look at how technology and more specifically, an EPICOR ERP, can shape a couple of manufacturing details like the Bill of Material (BOM) and Bill of Operations (BOO).

With an Epicor manufacturing software ERP solution, BOM and BOO functionalities are built within a single functionality called Method of Manufacturing (MOM). BOO, however, is tailored slightly differently as it is defined by a different set of operations to be performed with the limited resources allocated to it. These Operations could be internal or external, with External operations marked as Sub-contracting (with a preferred supplier and estimated unit cost, while the number of days of external operation is defined at the sub-contract section).

Similarly, BOM will have different materials or sub-assembly components required to manufacture the Product. A product or assembly item may be made up of certain materials or sub-assembly items and therefore requires a multi-level BOM. Epicor has the functionalities to define different levels of BOM and to calculate the cost with roll-up options.

With an EPICOR ERP solution, the Manufacturing details can be prepared in different stages

  1. While preparing the quote
  2. Method of Manufacturing in Engineering Work Bench
  3. Directly in the Job Entry (can be marked as Template to re-use in other Job Order)

There are also two scenarios in which the manufacturing activities can take place.

  1. Engineer to Order
  2. Make to Order or Make to Stock

In the Engineer to Order scenario, the process begins by preparing a new BOM and BOO for manufacturing the product(s), wherein the Company will not have manufacturing details ready but the process will begin by defining it first.

As mentioned before, with Epicor the user can define manufacturing details at the quote level, as it is important to calculate the estimated cost by considering various cost elements like Labour Cost, Burden Cost, Material Cost, and other additional costs. This helps the salesperson to work easily on the Quote price, adding mark-up/profit to the estimated cost.

Manufacturing details are added in the Quote as shown below,

cost-efficient manufacturing erp

Reviewing the estimated cost and adding Mark-up/ Profit as shown below,

MOM defined at Engineering Work Bench is shown below,

In Make to Order/Make to Stock scenario, BOM and BOO details will be available with the necessary information to carry out the manufacturing activities.

Once a Sales Order is created for an item, a respective Job Order will be created to fulfill the Demand. A Job Order can be created using the planning method i.e. Material Requirement Planning (MRP) or by a manual method.

The created Job Order goes through a life cycle with different phases as given below,

  1. Engineering
  2. Scheduling
  3. Release
  4. Issue Materials
  5. Start Operation/ End Operation activity
  6. Job Completion
  7. Job Close

If a Job Order is created using the planning method i.e. using MRP, an un-firm Job Order will be created and MRP will fetch the available manufacturing details and load the same into the created Job Order.

If the Job Order is created manually, manufacturing details can be added directly or called from other placeholders – Quote or Engineering Work Bench.

A Job Order with manufacturing details added appears as shown below,

erp saves manufacturing costs

Once the Engineering activity is completed, the job order will undergo a scheduling process, where operations will be scheduled with the respective resources assigned.

With Epicor, a user can schedule the job operations either forward or backward, and can also set the default preferred type.

A Job Scheduling board with different operations and Resources appear as shown below,

With Epicor, we have Scheduling options like start-to-start, start-to-finish or finish-to-finish which helps the user retrieve the resources from one operation and feed it into the next operation in the timeline.

Graphical representation of Scheduling is also available with the ability to modify the schedule, based on the priority of the customer. For E.g. the scheduling option within Epicor helps the user work comfortably and alter the schedule when needed.

Once the scheduling is done, the Job Order will be marked as Released. This is an indication that the materials required to execute the job can be issued/released and the operations can begin with the released resources (man or machine). Also, labor hours can now be entered accordingly, upon the completion of operations.

The material issue to the Job Order is as shown below,

epicor saves manufacturing costs

There is higher financial visibility with an integrated ERP system like Epicor, from material issues to the Job Order and labor hour entry for your manufacturing operations.

As one Operation can have one or multiple operations depending on the MOM definition, operations will be carried out by finally reporting the quantity produced and entering the labor hours.

Reported quantities will then be moved from shop floor to inventory or to another Job Order to carry out additional manufacturing activities based on the requirement.

Epicor has various functionalities to perform the movement of Finished or Semi-Finished Goods from shop floor to inventory, one shop floor to another Shop floor, etc.

Once, all required operations are completed, the Job Order will be marked as Completed, which will prevent the user from adding manufacturing details. However, the consumption of material or Labour Hours can still be entered.

Labour Hours and produced quantity in each operation are entered as below,

best cost-saving erp

If the produced parts/semi-finished goods are to be taken to stock, then the functionality “Job Receipt to Inventory” is used as shown below,

erp saves manufacturing costs

Products manufactured as per the Sales Order demand, from the Job Order can also be shipped directly from the shop floor to the customer.

Job Completion and Closing can be done as shown below,

best cost-saving erp

As a last phase in the Job management, the Job Order will be marked as Closed which will prevent the user from booking any more labor hours or issuing any further material.

When a Job Order is closed, financial aggregation for the entire Job will be automatically available.

As described above, the benefits of a comprehensive ERP software solution are endless. EPICOR ERP system solves a number of challenges and provides invaluable benefits to manufacturers seeking to reduce costs, manage growth, streamline processes and gain a competitive advantage. EPICOR ERP integrates all areas of business (materials and inventory, production, operations and sales, accounting and finance, etc.) so that every business function relies on a single database. This “information hub” delivers accurate, real-time information crucial to the manufacturing industry.

Source: Rhein Bruke

Data V Tech is the Epicor’s authorized partner and leading consulting firm implementing ERP solutions in Vietnam. Let us know your company’s size, needs, and budget by filling the form here, and we will contact you the soonest with your solution. 

wrong erp implementation

3 Steps to Take When Your ERP Implementation Goes Wrong

Clear communication around deliverables and expectations can salvage even the most frustrating ERP implementations for distributors.

In 20 years, I have witnessed more than 1,000 ERP implementations, and historically, they have had mixed results. For the past few years, I’ve conducted formal and informal surveys of companies that have recently gone live on their new ERP systems. Implementations that were challenged typically reported that their budgets are twice what they expected, and the process took twice as long. The most concerning thing I hear is that they received only 75% of the functionality they expected.

It’s safe to predict that following go-live of your new technology solution, you will feel you received less than expected.

For that reason, it’s reasonable that an approach should exist that seeks to answer the question, “What should be done when the project failed to deliver the success we anticipated?”

Rather than deciding you need to work around these frustrations, I encourage you to view the process of resolving them as the final stage in your ERP implementation. Ironing out flaws in the implementation is an important step.

You may find that your distribution company comes out even stronger on the other side.

The following steps are designed to help further enhance the project deliverables.

 

1. Review Project Documentation

Documents produced during the sales process, such as quotations, invoices, and scopes of work should be carefully evaluated for promises and expectations. Additional documents such as blueprints, special scopes of work and change orders created during the implementation should also be collected.

From these documents, assemble a simple list of expected deliverables. The internal project team should mark each line item on the list as delivered or not delivered including any pertinent notes.

This list is important because one must be able to discuss the results with a business-like demeanor and in a factual manner, not void of emotion, but certainly with appropriate degrees of passion and commitment.

Now, do something truly difficult. Consider the possibility that what you want has flaws.

One distributor discovered that a large number of change-orders had been verbally initiated by departments, most of which were automation, macros, and time-savers intended to replicate the functionality of their legacy ERP which had been customized heavily over many years. Management’s desire was to use the new system in a more out-of-the-box manner. Eliminating many of these items greatly decreased their open items list.

This bit of introspection should be thought of as a standard step in the implementation process. Working closely with an experienced consultant, who now is well aware of your business is a great benefit and will help to place focus on what’s truly important. There is no failure when you discover along the way that old processes are no longer needed. In fact, continuing the art of process review is essential in order to obtain your goals.

 

2. Meet with Representatives of the Implementation Consulting Team and Executive Sponsors

Once you’ve fine-tuned your open items list you will want to meet with your project partners.

Here’s an agenda for that meeting that will help you work together productively:

  1. Gain agreement on your assessment of the deliverables.
  2. Review the status of each line item on the open items list.
  3. Negotiate!
  4. Set a date for the next project review meeting for this committee.
  5. Recommit to your consulting agency and consultants — or not.

While I’m highly confident that the vast majority of consulting agencies and consultants would appreciate and cooperate fully with the approach above, it’s possible that the relationship is damaged to a degree beyond recovery.

In these rarest of occasions, you will need to locate and select a new agency in order to move forward.

Decide quickly to recommit to your current consulting agency or select another. This decision is imperative in order to continue making progress in any reasonable time-frame. It can be a difficult decision because, on the one hand, you have a significant investment of time, knowledge and money with your current consulting partner — but, you may have simply worn each other out.

Keep in mind, in almost every scenario it is beneficial to continue the current relationship. Bringing a new consultant or a team up to speed will require even more resources with the hope they have some sort of magic bullet.

This perspective holds true even if you have been live on your new ERP for several months. Every successful relationship whether personal or business experiences ups and downs. The best partnerships fight for success together and refuse to give up on the other side. The rise and fall together. The grass is not always greener.

 

3. Communicate the New Plan

For the members of the executive leadership team, the plan this process has focused on professionalism and was conducted in an atmosphere purposefully designed to not let emotions overly impact the outcomes or the ongoing relationship with the other members of the team. Still, this is your business, your future, your livelihood, and the outcomes are highly impacting on a personal as well as corporate level. Everyone deserves to know what’s going to be done to make certain a satisfactory outcome will be the result.

In some appropriate means, be that an all-hands meeting or internal social media like Yammer, or an email from the president perhaps, bring everyone on board and recruit them into the process. The best medicine for everyone is to know that leadership has their back and in working on their behalf to fulfill the promise of technology.

Too often we fail to engage when disappointment occurs and avoid the conflict required to reverse the failure. For reasons not understood, we feel that conflict is worse than failure. It should be remembered that conflict resolution does not automatically imply a confrontational style of resolution. The style mentioned above could be described as collaborative.

When customers and partners work together, they achieve success together and shatter the 75% ceiling.

Source: Carl Lewis

 

For further information about ERP implementation, please feel free to contact us. You are more than welcome at Data V Tech

erp supports software implementation

ERP in supporting software implementation

To live up to technology’s promise for the modern enterprise, ERP software must become easier to deploy with faster time to value, writes Infor’s Mayumi Hiramatsu.

Organizations have been striving to increase productivity since the days of the cotton gin, steam power, and Model T assembly lines. Today, maximizing productivity is often associated with software technology, from virtual assistants to predictive science. But, as the pace of innovation has accelerated, the practical ability to implement and monetize the exciting new technologies hasn’t always kept up. It’s time for solution providers to step up their game and take a more active role in supporting software implementation efforts.

Today’s common tactics for deploying software are flawed. In the race to out-perform competitors, enterprises have hurried into projects without careful planning. The route to go-live status has become a steep, uphill climb, riddled with delays, overwhelming amounts of data, heavily modified legacy solutions, and a hodgepodge of point solutions that don’t speak to each other. The tempting razzle-dazzle of virtual-this and networked-that has often obscured the foundational questions we should be asking: Who will deploy? What’s the impact on productivity? Where’s the payback?

Complexity wins round one

It’s not that the technology doesn’t work. It does. Monumental leaps forward in innovation have yielded heavily-hyped solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and virtual reality (VR). Although they have been around for decades, next-generation ERP solutions have now moved to the cloud and incorporated AI and advanced analytics into core functionality. Enterprise solutions today are powerful business tools that bring insight, automation and operational best practices.

Whether it’s tracking shipments for a global supply chain, anticipating market trends in retail, or improving the patient experience in healthcare, modern software is transforming the way we do business. Automation is freeing workers from the tedious, repetitive tasks — or the dangerous ones – so they can focus on the uniquely human capabilities: creative problem solving, innovation and relationships with customers.

The potential is nearly limitless. But, so are the complications. McKinsey recently published Agile in enterprise resource planning: A myth no more in which the authors address the vital need for end-to-end solutions — despite the frequent disappointing results:

“As fundamental as they are, three-fourths of ERP transformation projects fail to stay on schedule or within budget, and two-thirds have a negative return on investment.”

The Blame Game

Cynics looking for a culprit to blame can point at the technology itself and the companies that develop the science and software. There’s a lot of us in the industry. We can all share the burden of this forehead-smacking realization: Sometimes, we let our customers down. Technology has not always lived up to the potential we envisioned. CIOs struggle to reduce modifications while keeping differentiating capabilities. CFOs still worry about the reliability of data — but now there are orders of magnitude and more data volumes to consume. In manufacturing, machines still break, and customer orders still ship late, despite endless reports explaining why. And, sometimes, in healthcare, no amount of data or efficiency improvements will change whether a patient pulls through or not. Software can’t fix everything.

We wish it could. Enthusiastic about breakthrough computing concepts and cutting-edge applications, enterprises want to enact plans that will help them out-maneuver aggressive competition, overcome paper-thin margins, and thrill highly demanding customers — overnight. And, of course, boosting profits would be nice, too. So, assisted by packs of implementation consultants, change management experts, business analysts, data scientists, and workforce management teams, they set out to reinvent processes.

Then, something goes awry. Or, a series of small delays and unexpected challenges add up, combining to create a general sense of unease and worry. Projects can wear on, extending beyond the term of the original advocates and sponsors. Proof-of-concept projects for IoT applications can take years to achieve ROI. Migrating heavily modified on-premise solutions to the multi-tenant cloud can take years of untangling the essential proprietary concepts from ones that can be replaced by standard functionality. These are tough decisions for some companies

Five common challenges

The McKinsey article points to five common challenges that can send an ERP implementation off course:

  • Misaligned incentives. All of the parties may not share the same goals. Implementation consultants can benefit from complex projects that extend past the target date.
  • Poor project management. Most organizations lack experience in managing complex IT projects with multiple vendors. Many individuals are change-adverse and can (intentionally or not) impede progress.
  • Lack of business-IT integration. Multiple lines if the business must buy into the project and agree on workflows, definitions, compliance, validation — and more.
  • Missing the focus on business value. Activities and tasks tend to drive transformations, rather than value and bottom-line impact. Simplifying difficult jobs doesn’t always yield financial value.
  • Waterfall methodology. Most projects use a linear, sequential approach to the project schedule, which stretches out the timeline.

These are just some of the issues that complicate the deployment process. It’s easy to get lost in a change-order jungle, continually chasing minute issues and losing sight of the main goal. We have all seen the headlines of failed projects and frustrated enterprises that turn to the court system for resolution.

A holistic, balanced view of precautions

Deloitte also addressed risks associated with digital transformation. Cybersecurity is one of the top issues, the author wrote, and it can be one of the top reasons enterprises hesitate about a move to the cloud. Although the top cloud providers are experts in security, back-ups and encryption methods, companies still worry about possible breaches:

“An immediate step by organizations is to have robust measures around cybersecurity and the easiest approach is to perform typical information security and/or cybersecurity assessments of systems.”

The authors go on to stress “there is always more” which can be done, but the organization must balance costs, practical applications, available technology, and potential impact. Then the question becomes “What is enough?”

Preventing a failed project, whether it is moving the ERP solution to the cloud or deploying a new IoT initiative, requires vigilant monitoring — not only of the security precautions, but also the data integrity, governance, access protocols, user-level workflows, and adherence to industry-specific best practices. Glitches and complications can pop up anywhere, causing distractions and delays. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So, the entire project may be implemented smoothly, but if one component — like reporting — fails, the entire project can suffer. Deloitte concludes:

“Just as thinking in silos is dangerous in digital transformation, so is managing risk in silos. Risk management isn’t a departmental or project-based job. It’s an all-time job, and it needs to be baked into every aspect of digital transformation for your company to experience success.”

Leadership plays a role

Forbes contributor, Daniel Newman, recently wrote about the risk inherent in digital transformation. and the preponderance of negative outcomes. “What these headlines tell me isn’t that technology isn’t working or that digital transformation isn’t worth it. It’s that companies today are rushing headlong into digital transformation without a clear idea of where things could go off course — or how to get back on track. Digital transformation needs risk management for these very reasons,” he said.

Newman suggests that the enterprise’s leadership team should take ownership of this challenge and ensure the right teams, policies, and attitudes are in place. “While digital transformation can be a miracle worker, there is no technology that serves as a fail-safe in digital transformation. Just as with any type of digital transformation your company undertakes, you need strong leadership, executive support, tech-friendly culture, data-driven decision-making, and a silo-less enterprise for digital transformation to succeed at the highest level. There is no shortcut for this, and there is no “risk management” program that can do the work for you,” he wrote.

Newman summed up the issue well, offering sound advice:

“Digital transformation needs risk management because risk management provides the structure we need to understand the points at which our digital transformation projects can go wrong. But risk management doesn’t make a project succeed. Only we — leaders in the movement with a commitment to creating a tech-driven culture — can do that for ourselves.”

Can technology help deploy technology?

Some software providers, such as Infor, are turning to technology to help improve the ease of use and speed to implement projects. Implementation accelerators, pre-populated templates, and simplified user interfaces have been tools offered to customers and channel partners for years. But, today, these types of tools are more important than ever, especially as enterprises strive to adopt advanced concepts such as AI and ML.

This was a topic that Infor CEO, Kevin Samuelson, broached recently at Inforum 2019, the company’s annual customer conference. He told a group of analysts and media:

“The practical operationalized use of AI and machine learning in the enterprise remains low because most tools are deeply technical and developer-centric. Too many of these AI tools have been designed for experimental projects and are therefore difficult to scale and repeat.”

In an attempt to resolve this situation, Infor’s Coleman AI platform provides industry-specific starter packs to accelerate the development of repeatable machine learning-based AI projects. These templates give users drag-and-drop screens to bring in data and apply appropriate algorithms, making it simpler to create practical applications for AI that can be up and running in weeks, not years. The solution is designed for use by “citizen developers” who don’t have extensive data modeling skills.

This is just one example of the kind of innovation that needs to happen so that enterprises can confidently move forward with upgrades, modernization, and deployment of new digital technologies without worrying about project complications. The technology is there. The solutions are ready and able to make impressive transformations for enterprises, which are ready to grow and modernize. Now, the industry needs to focus on implementation, too, helping deliver on the promises made to customers.

Source: Mayumi Hiramatsu

successful ERP upgrade

Follow these guidelines for a successful ERP upgrade project

Get a handle on the time and cost variables of upgrading an ERP system and stay laser-focused on value drivers, like analytics, that has the biggest impact on business strategy.

With large ERP vendors, such as Epicor moving to the next major release is a significant project. The following guidelines can help you ensure an ERP upgrade runs more smoothly.

First, identify the costs and benefits of the ERP upgrade and when they are likely to occur. Based on costs, time and value, maintain a composite value indicator like net present value, ROI or internal rate of return.

Expect the vendor to provide templates that drive the ERP upgrade project. These templates should also be available from consulting firms such as Accenture and Deloitte. Staff will be hard-pressed to provide all the required manpower, so consider hiring consultants.

Much of the ERP upgrade game is about how close the project will come to the decommission date, the date the vendor will retire the existing software. Most companies postpone the end dates of these projects for a year or two to give themselves adequate time to complete them but doing so risks going beyond the decommission date. Missing the decommission date is generally a bad idea.

Careful study is required to understand what the new ERP software contains and how it will affect the business. Major components to examine include the following:

  • new horizontal business processes (e.g., financials and human capital management);
  • new vertical business processes for industries such as consumer packaged goods and oil and gas;
  • middleware;
  • data warehousing; and
  • reporting, analytics and business intelligence (BI).

Business process modeling

Business process modeling (BPM) is an essential tool in any ERP upgrade project.

Start by using it to examine current ERP-driven business processes. In some cases, your company may have replaced the out-of-the-box code with custom code or used middleware to integrate custom code into the original code. Next, perform the same exercise with respect to the new ERP business processes. In the best case, the new processes will supersede what you have. Otherwise, you’ll have to reintegrate the custom code into the upgraded system using a combination of middleware integration and BPM.

All business processes are driven by data, so you will also have to map data from the existing ERP system to the upgraded software. Moreover, the upgraded system is likely to require new data as well.

Middleware

You are likely to integrate custom software as well as third-party software with the new ERP system. The ERP vendor will likely change the middleware it offers with the ERP upgrade. Therefore, it will take some preparation to manage the new middleware messaging you’ll need to get disparate software components to talk to each other.

Data warehousing, reporting, and BI

An ERP upgrade project also brings data warehousing considerations.

For one thing, the ERP vendor might offer a data warehouse for storing data in the vendor’s preferred data format. It may or may not be extensible enough to include other data.

You are likely to already have a data warehouse strategy that you’ll need to revise to reflect the changes brought by the ERP upgrade. Whether you combine the new ERP’s data warehouse with your existing data warehouses will depend entirely on your BI strategy, another key factor in an ERP upgrade project.

In fact, reporting, analytics, and BI are likely to be the greatest profit drivers of the ERP upgrade and are functions that will see dramatic improvement over the previous ERP version. Moreover, they drive how companies articulate their competitive advantage.

Operational data mapping and integration

Several data-mapping tasks will be critical in the ERP upgrade, including mapping the chart of accounts to the new ERP system, staff details to the new human capital management module and product and bill of materials data to the new manufacturing system if you’re a manufacturer. You will also need to map customer and product sales to the new CRM system and assets to the new enterprise asset management system.

Impact on strategic planning

You can certainly do strategic analysis in the current ERP system, but it is likely to improve after the ERP upgrade.

Using the new BI features and the wealth of data migrated from the existing system, you can consider questions such as the following:

  • How sensitive are customers to the current pricing approach?
  • Can the company sell its current products for less without hurting margins too much?
  • Can the current product be improved or bundled with other product components?
  • How much does customer service affect the overall strategy?
  • How can the company improve how the sales and service staff face the customer?
  • What are competitors doing, and how should the company respond?

Source: Barry Wilderman, 

is upgrading erp necessary

Is Upgrading Your ERP Necessary?

Many companies have been wondering if it is necessary to invest in upgrading their enterprise resource planning -ERP – software. Our recommendation is usually, this should only happen for the upgrade is in the best interests of the users.

For companies opting to upgrade their ERP software system, there are some things the contract needs to include. Prime among these is a specific detailing of the functionality and performance of the newer model.

Furthermore, if either the vendor or integrator is reluctant or unwilling to include these warranties in the contract, it’s best to walk away from the deal. They’re signaling they know something you don’t. However, if there is a problem down the line, these written assertions will become your best argument.

Here is the crux of the issue.

Despite their largely successful track records with more mature systems, there is a legitimate question of whether the newest generation of ERP software systems is up to the task. SAP’s S4/HANA, Oracle’s ERP cloud and Microsoft’s D365 lack the track record of their predecessor systems of supporting the complex needs of many businesses and other organizations in the private and public sectors.

Until they have demonstrated their ability to seamlessly take over from a more mature ERP software system, a user is urged to upgrade needs to proceed cautiously. If a careful, internal analysis makes a business case for upgrading, then do so. Just remember to include in the contract all of the specificity in the agreement for your legacy system.

Furthermore, apart from the improvements that a necessary ERP upgrade will bring, some other points to cover include:

1 – Including all sales material as an appendix to the new contract.

2 – Detailing the specific responsibilities of the vendor, integrator and the user

3 – Drafting provisions that prevent “scope creep” without a senior person’s authorization.

4 – Removing or limiting binding arbitration clauses that may reduce your ability to recover damages from the vendor or integrator if there is a problem.

If there is an unfortunate history of ERP “train wrecks,” take steps upfront to reduce the likelihood of another one.

In nearly every aspect of running their organization, executives and senior managers are incredibly disciplined. Yet when it comes to their ERP software system, we’ve seen too many decisions made for the wrong reason. The most common seems to be viewing ERP software systems not a management solution. This is likely to result in the transformation heading straight for the rocks. It is similar to where the Sirens lured Circes and his entire crew to their demise.

Source: Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP – Marcus Harris

If you’re still unsure about the need to upgrade your ERP system, feel free to contact us and ask for direct consultation or a demo.

upgrade of ERP systems

8 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade to a Better ERP System

Few things are so daunting a prospect as a large-scale change in your ERP system. After all, the average ERP implementation project usually lasts around 6 months, some even 2 years. Likewise, the upgrade might take a few months, too. However, it is crucial and in many cases inevitable for the company’s growth. In this article, we’ll explain eight warning signs that indicate it’s time to upgrade.

Personnel is easily a company’s most significant cost. Once you factor in salary, benefits, employee development programs, the hiring process, personnel typically far outpaces anything else you spend on.

That’s what makes the right ERP system so crucial for your business. An ERP system that requires much manual processing to run on a day-to-day basis can negatively impact your employees’ productivity.

Not to mention, a plethora of manual processes also indicate a lack of scalability. So as you grow, your ERP won’t grow with you, and will instead require even more unproductive time from your people.

Reporting easily takes the cake as one of the most important functions of any ERP system. Thus, if your current ERP doesn’t enable you to quickly and efficiently view the most important metrics, it’s probably past time to upgrade.

Access to metrics is crucial to your company’s success. After all, without the right reporting, there’s no way for you to tell if your company will achieve its goals.

Few things kill a company’s growth momentum than a setback when audit time rolls around. Many smaller ERP tools or homegrown systems are unable to keep up with the ever-changing, ever increasingly-stringent requirements to maintain compliance. One slip-up here can be devastatingly expensive for your company.

Especially if your company currently or in the future would like to engage with any government contracts, you’ll need to ensure beforehand that you meet the strict compliance measures. Thus, it’s better to get the ERP upgrade out of the way now before that becomes a possibility, rather than have to miss out an opportunity down the line because you aren’t yet compliance-ready.

For the past few years, we’ve been saying that mobile is taking over. I’m here to tell you that today, mobile has taken over. Your employees are always on the go but also always have access to their smartphones. If your ERP system doesn’t have the mobile capacity, then you’re potentially missing out on hours of productivity.

How advanced is your tech stack? If your company is in any sort of high-tech or SaaS industry, part of the territory is a massively complicated tech stack to support all of the different functions of your business. Integrations are key for your employees to most efficiently leverage that tech stack to excel in their roles.

Having to constantly navigate between or manually send data across two different systems kindles unproductivity. If your ERP doesn’t play well with all of the other tools in your tech stack, it’s definitely time for an upgrade.

Though there may be myriads of technical, tangible factors of employee productivity, many of the elements that influence how well your personnel works are the intangibles, like morale. Don’t wait till your employees constantly complain about your current ERP and find it hard to do their job.

If someone’s motivation to work is being adversely impacted, you’ll get nowhere near 100% productivity from them. Don’t let your ERP be the root cause of a lack of morale.

Any large scale change to your organization, such as an overhaul, upgrade, or re-implementation of your ERP will require buy-in from upper management. Creating that buy-in is best done by building out a business case for the ERP upgrade.

As you build out that business case, you’ll be able to see the prospective ROI to make a well-informed decision. Take into account all of the systems and functions that you plan to upgrade.  Then compare the future state to the current state. How many hours per employee does each new or improved function save? How much is each hour worth? Will the impact of the new tool lead generation for your marketing team or conversion rates for your sales team?

Leverage the answers to all those questions while building out your business case. In the end, assess the RoI and see whether it outweighs the cost of an ERP upgrade. If it does, making the jump and committing to the improvement process is certainly a no-brainer.

The last but most tell-tale sign of an insufficient ERP system is an adverse impact on customer experience. As you well know, customers are the lifeblood of your organization. Your customer base waning means your organization’s death.

Research reveals that positive customer experience results in increased customer longevity as well as word-of-mouth marketing. A happy customer who enjoyed the experience of working with your company will also tell his/her friends about his/her positive experience. The net result of that means more dollars in your bank account.

But the opposite of that is so much truer. Customers are even more likely to share negative buying experiences than positive ones. Thus, if you’re providing a poor experience, your market will soon know about it. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you upgrade your ERP if some parts might contribute to adverse customer experience. Whether it causes a slow response time from your sales team or an overcomplicated purchasing process, it has to go.

Conclusion

If these warning signs show themselves in your organization, then it’s beyond time for you to consider upgrading your ERP. Daunting though the prospect may be, a dedicated team can help you implement your system upgrade easily and quickly.

Contact us to know more about how to upgrade your ERP.

data activities for erp

Data Activities for ERP Solution Implementation

Why Your Data Activities Need to Start Long Before You Bring on an ERP Solution Provider?

Whether you are migrating to an ERP system for the first time, or the nth time, you need to do certain data activities. Here are 5 reasons why you should put significant pre-project effort into streamlining your material and material-plant combinations.

Data quality will improve

When an organization puts a given amount of effort into their data preparation with a focus on a smaller data footprint, the relative effort per material-plant combination will increase. Thus, the overall data quality will improve.

Ongoing data maintenance will decrease

If you have a smaller data footprint, the ongoing data maintenance will continue to be smaller going forward.  Consider, for example, how every manufactured material requires a BOM for every plant.  Of course, if multiple plants routinely manufacture a material, then you should set up and maintain the material-plant combinations. All require BOMs.  If, however, you are contemplating setting up a material-plant combination because “one day we just might want to manufacture this part at another plant”, I caution against that.

I have seen far too many “maybe” scenarios never happen. The data maintenance team is saddled with the creation and ongoing maintenance of never-used data elements for the life of the ERP system.  This is a tremendous waste of valuable data maintenance resources.  They should be laser-focused on the critically important data rather than diluting their efforts with the “might never happen” scenarios.

Then you will see the “skeletons in the closet”

To properly streamline materials and material-plant combinations it is necessary to thoroughly investigate and characterize where and how you use materials.  The fact that a given material has inventory means something must be done with it either before or during migration.  If the inventory is healthy and active, then setting up the materials and migrating the inventory to the new system makes sense.  If the inventory is inactive and/or obsolete, however, then the organization must decide what to do with it.

Can the product be reworked and sold, or must it be disposed of?  Equally important is understanding how it came to be.  Was this the result of an over-make by Manufacturing? A poor forecast by Sales?  A canceled sales order?  A quality issue?  Have we found the solution to the underlying cause, or is it continuing?  Is this symptomatic of a larger underlying issue?  Understanding and addressing these sorts of questions will provide great insights into both the organization’s capabilities and mindsets.  This is often a rich source of improvement opportunities and organizations are wise to address these deficiencies early and often.

Product portfolio improvements naturally follow

In characterizing materials, it is helpful to define the specific attributes used to identify individual products.  In doing so, it is common to find that two or more materials have (mostly) the same attributes.  This implies that there are either redundant materials or that some important and distinguishing attributes are missing.  Regardless of which situation it is, just the mere process of chasing down that answer often brings about an enlightened understanding of the product portfolio and leads to questions such as “why do we have so many materials that appear to be so close in fit, form, and function?”  Addressing that question satisfactorily can take months. Thus, you should finish it before the formal ERP project kicks off.

It will reduce operational mistakes

Most ERP systems have advanced search functionality that enables users to rapidly find materials, plants, storage locations, and the like.  Unfortunately, most ERP systems don’t have a foolproof mechanism to help users discern between material-plant combinations genuinely intended for use and those set up “just in case someday we might want to use it”.  Therefore, having both flavors of choices available to users will possibly result in mistakes.  The best way to avoid these types of mistakes is simply to not even set up non-intended options in the first place.

Contact us here for the best ERP consultancy

Source: ERP news