How to Effectively Leverage Consulting with Your ERP Upgrade

How to Effectively Leverage Consulting with Your ERP Upgrade

As a consulting company specializing in ERP upgrade projects, we get asked this question a lot: How do we use you guys without breaking the bank and getting what we need? And much like the waitress when you ask what’s good to eat our response is there’s a lot of choices around that. Every company is different just like everyone has different tastes. Like most restaurants there’s always some elements that will typically work for everyone and we’ll cover those first.

  1. Project Management – This is the most overlooked yet one of the most critical pieces of any ERP upgrade or other project. External project management and trust in that is imperative to success. Remember, this is what our project managers do for a living. They’ve seen just about every situation over the years in infinite dynamics and project team cultures to know what needs to be done to get the job done efficiently and effective. This isn’t to say that you should go in with blind faith. There are bad apples out there and as the company that is shouldering the risk you should make sure you have a good fit with your PM. Interview them, get to know them a bit before you trust your most critical business system to their hands. But once you vet them, trust them. If you have questions throughout the ERP upgrade process, a good PM should be more than happy to justify the process to you in a way that you can understand. Trust doesn’t mean ignore. Always be asking, always be learning and always be watching.

Use project management to guide you through your ERP upgrade. And make sure you have a strong PM on the inside to push your organization through the steps that are needed. Someone with leverage in the business or who you will give leverage to for the duration of the project.

  1. Consulting – Yes they’re expensive, yes they’re worth it. How much consulting you need depends on your business and your project team that you have put in place. Some projects need very little while some need the lions share of the work done externally. Know yourselves and be honest with yourselves going into this and establishing your budget. If you want to get your ERP upgrade done for $25,000 then understand you will have a great deal of work on your team’s plate to accomplish that and your consulting team will be more of an advisory role vs hands on. That’s all the time and budget will allow for. That’s not saying you can’t do it for that price or less, it’s just understanding where the work will be shouldered.

If you have a lot of business processes that you feel are inefficient or are going to be changed with your ERP upgrade, then consulting will be an invaluable asset. Consultants are puzzle solvers first and foremost. They see your business problem as a big jigsaw puzzle and will stop at no end to solve it. Consultants get a great deal of satisfaction in seeing all of the pieces come together and the business users happy with the results. If you know that driver, it can help you get the most out of your ERP upgrade consulting team.

  1. SWOT – Business School 101 right here. Take the time to identify your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats around your ERP upgrade. Primarily where are your strengths and weaknesses. The simple rule here is that if you have a strength and that strength can be given the time required to play a role on the project then leverage that. Where you identify weaknesses then outsource that role or at least augment that with your ERP consulting partner. 

This varies with every business out there. No two businesses are the same with their needs and this is what makes our business so exciting. That diversity creates a dynamic work environment like no others. And with that it creates a high power team of ERP upgrade consultants that can work and adapt to nearly any need that comes our way. This is why we have specialists in each functional area around Operations, Financials and the Technology. If you need help breaking this all down our Enterprise Architects can help you get your arms around it pretty quickly as well. If you’re coming from a product that’s a few years old or if you have a lot of customizations or you just feel you’re working for your ERP system vs your ERP system working for you then we highly recommend starting with a BPR. This is a great opportunity to engage with our VP of Enterprise Architecture to see your business first hand and establish a comprehensive plan for your ERP upgrade including some identification of SWOT from that external view point. Check out more information HERE

I would also invite you to…

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Top 3 Reasons you aren’t ready to upgrade to Epicor 10.1

Top 3 Reasons you aren’t ready to upgrade to Epicor 10.1

  1. Customizations – If your organization has a multitude of customizations, integrations or modifications in place then you need to get organized around all of these with a plan that allows the time to implement them into the new environment. The magnitude of complexity goes up with each version of Epicor that you are leaping over to get to 10.1. So if you’re on Epicor 9.04, it’s not as bad as if you’re still on Vantage 8.03 and not as bad yet again as if you’re on Vantage 6.1.Catalogue your customizations in a spreadsheet. Make the business team force rank them as level 1,2 or 3.
    Level 1 – Business Critical
    Level 2 – Could work without for a period of time
    Level 3 – Functionality no longer needed or has been replaced with Out of the Box with 10.1

    Once you have everything catalogued it’s easier to build a plan of action around them. Which ones will need hands on work to function in Epicor ERP 10.1? Which ones are critical to be included in the regression test plans.

  1. Processes aren’t documented – If you don’t have your critical processed documented in your ERP then how are you going to systematically test them before you launch a new version of your ERP? In addition, moving to Epicor 10.1 should have other forecasted advantages for your business. What are those new processes and how will they impact the workflow for your organization?
  2. Business Team Readiness – Just like in your original implementation the upgrade isn’t handled by just one individual. Besides, would you want to be the one guy with the weight of the business’ ERP on your shoulders if that upgrade doesn’t work out? You need your core team of business representation to establish the plan, set and perform the regression tests and ensure that they are ready for the new version. Multiple eyes on your project are always better than a single point of failure. On top of your core team making sure that you have the same level of involvement from the executive team is a must. Everyone needs to be on board with an upgrade.Granted, if you’re making a “dot” upgrade from Epicor 10 to 10.1 it should be much less invasive, there should be a lot fewer surprises and it should run smoother but this is no excuse for bypassing the fundamentals of project success.

If you take the time to organize your upgrade to Epicor ERP 10.1, you’ll be increasing your chances of success exponentially. Yes, it’s a little more ground work on the front end, but doing this work up front is a fraction of the time it will take if you skip it and get a surprise later on. I would love to continue our conversation and welcome you to…

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Ready To Upgrade?
Download our “Get Ready For Your Epicor 10.1 Upgrade” Worksheet.

Epicor 10.1 Key Features – Speculation

Epicor 10.1 Key Features – Speculation

Epicor ERP 10.1 is due out right around the corner in September according to the rumor mill.

What does this ERP upgrade mean for you and your company? Well for starters this is the release that has been put through the quality control wringer. Epicor has taken a step back and even put a new team all the way to the executive levels around this product to break the trends of quality issues around this release. The product has always been praised for the innovations to ERP and is known to be first to market with a lot of new features but it’s always been noted that this has come at a cost to quality and stability with the software. At Insights (The Epicor Users Conference) in the spring of 2015 10.1 was heavily featured and several sessions focused on the above and how they were going about fixing these issues. So many of you also heard this message and have been holding off waiting for the promise land.

 

Besides stability, what are the key Epicor 10.1 features that make it worth the wait? Again these are all speculation as we haven’t received the final 10.1 features list but these are all some things that we saw a bit of or were shown at insights and are hearing that they are planned to be in this Epicor upgrade:

  1. Planning Contracts – Finally the ability to plan for long lead time items without having to release a job or create a sales order release. The idea here is that you can create a planning contract and tie it out to a project and create individual purchasing demand against that contract and receive it in a bin that has been set aside for this contract.
  2. MRP by Part – Oh man has this one ever been a long time coming. If you’re a facility that launches all of your production or at least the vast majority by MRP and you get a hot item come in it was always a pain launching a full MRP just for that one part. Not anymore folks! You’ll be able to filter to a single part number and run MRP against just that part. Not bad for testing either.
  3. Zero Quantity BOMs – This one will be a nice addition and came from an EUG request (Yes the EUG does have development influence and here’s proof of that) that will allow for you to add zero quantity items to the BOM. So if you need items listed but don’t want them placing demand on inventory or purchasing here’s a great method for this.

There are many other Epicor 10.1 features that are planned but these seem to be the top three that get asked about in conversations. But keep an eye out for Multi-Job Scheduling and Packaging Control as well.

What are your reasons for wanting to jump on the 10.1 bandwagon? I would love to hear from you on your business needs and how you see 10.1 fulfilling them.

I invite you to…

Access Our Epicor 10 Out Of The Box Tools Video Series.

Ready To Upgrade?
Download our “Get Ready For Your Epicor 10.1 Upgrade” Worksheet.

REGISTER OUR EXTENSIVE IN DEPTH EPICOR ERP 10.1 WEBINAR:

Matt Thompson

Facebook.com/estesgroup | Twitter @Estesgroup | LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/company/estesgroup

[email protected]

In Good Company: Understating Epicor’s Company Structure

In Good Company: Understating Epicor’s Company Structure

Epicor’s Company structure comprises the fundamental data elements, which underlie a customer’s configuration of Epicor’s ERP application.  Epicor’s Company structure allows customers to configure their ERP system in a manner that mirrors their business structure and strategy.  Moreover, proper Company setup ensures that the Epicor application will function as intended, allowing Epicor’s rich layers of functionality to be effectively utilized by an implementing customer.

The importance of Epicor’s Company structure cannot be understated—the setup at the company level affects every module, influencing or altering its behavior or functionality.  Thus, an implementing customer must give strong consideration to its Company setup, as to maximize its ERP investment and avoid sub-optimizing its use of the application.

To get access to Version 10 Epicor features, the setup of Companies in an Epicor database involves three phases:

  • Companies are created through the Epicor Administration Console.
  • The base information for a Company is defined through the Company Maintenance form.
  • The detailed module-specific defaults for a Company are defined through the Company Configuration form.

As part of the installation process, or shortly thereafter, Companies are created through the Epicor Admin Console.  Companies are database entities that are created through the Application Server nodes of the Admin Console.  A right click on a given application instance allows a system administrator to add a Company:

in good company EstesGroup1 Epicor

When adding a Company, the Admin Console raises a configuration window, which allows the system administrator to define the basic Company elements:

addNewCompanyEstesGroup

The elements that can be defined at this time include the following:

  • The Company ID:  This ID is a key field and cannot be changed once it is defined.
  • The Company Name: This represents the name of the company, as it will be viewed on forms and reports. This value can be later changed through the Company Maintenance form.
  • The Company Installation: This is the specific license file which will be used for this Company.  This is a required field, and the value assigned is normally the same license file that was previously imported into the Admin Console at the time of installation.
  • Country Code: If the customer is using company-specific functionality, then the Country Code can be defined.
  • Base Currency Code:  Most often, this is defined as US Dollars or “USD” for Companies whose work occurs primarily in the United States.
  • Number of Decimals:  These can be defined according to the decimal required to support cost-related, price-related and general functionality.  Quite often the defaults of 5-5-2 are sufficient for many businesses.

 

The above steps entail the mere beginnings of a Company configuration, but as a Company setup progresses, implementing customers work to become in good company with other successful Epicor 10 implementations.

The 10 Principles of ERP Implementation Success & How to Apply Them: How You Think Is Everything.

The 10 Principles of ERP Implementation Success & How to Apply Them: How You Think Is Everything.

Goal #1 in Implementing Your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System:
How You Think is Everything

We continue to review the 10 Principles of Success and how they’re applied to ERP Implementation now that your company has selected a system with starting with the 1st Principle of Success: How You Think is Everything!

The 10 ERP Principles of Success are:

1. How You Think is Everything!

  • Always be positive.
  • Think success not failure.
  • Be aware of a negative environment.

2. Decide on What Your True Goals Are!

  • Write down what your specific goals are.
  • Write down a plan/time line in how to obtain your goals.

3. Take Action!

  • Goals/Plans are nothing without action.
  • Don’t be afraid to get started – “Just Do It”, it doesn’t need to be perfect to start, nothing ever is!

4. Never Stop Learning!

  • Get on-going training so use to better your organization.

5. Persistence and Hard Work Pay-off!

  • Success is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Never give up on the goal/plan that you created in number 3 above, original or revised!

6. Learn How to Analyze the Details!

  • Get all the facts/input you can – Learn from your mistakes.

7. Focus Your Time And Money!

  • Don’t let other things and people distract you!

8. Don’t be Afraid to Innovate and Change – Be Different!

  • Following the way that it’s always been done is a sure way to achieve nothing.

9. Communicate and Deal with People Effectively!

  • Learn to understand what motivates the people you work with and what they need to be successful. No person is the organization or is indispensable.

10. Be Honest and Dependable!

  • Take Responsibility – Otherwise 1 through 9 above won’t matter.

As a disclaimer, these 10 Principles of Success come from Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) newspaper aimed at helping stock market investors understand what good growth stocks to invest in, based on what the current overall market conditions are.  EstesGroup believes that a company can apply these 10 Principles of Success to ERP systems; that is Implementing, implementing and using them.

How does the 9th Principle of Success apply to:

Choosing the Right ERP System for Your Business?

Principle # 10:  Be Honest and Dependable!

  • Take Responsibility – Otherwise 1 through 9 above won’t matter.

As a disclaimer, these 10 Principles of Success come from Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) newspaper aimed at helping stock market investors understand what good growth stocks to invest in, based on what the current overall market conditions are.  EstesGroup believes that a company can apply these 10 Principles of Success to ERP systems; that is selecting, implementing and using them.

How does the 1st Principle of Success apply to?
Implementing Your Business ERP System?

Principle # 1:  How You Think is Everything!

  • Always be positive.
  • Think success not failure.
  • Be aware of a negative environment.

Let’s face it implementing an ERP system isn’t fun!  There are numerous stories of ERP system implementation failures that go on for years and years as well as cost thousands and thousands of dollars over what a company has budgeted for.  Implementing an ERP system also can create a negative work environment for the employees, because people don’t like to change.
Now that we’ve exposed the primary negatives of ERP implementation, let me point out some of the positives.  Implementing an ERP system can be one of the best experiences a company can go through, because it touches every part of the organization.  It allows a business to reinvent itself, by closely examining their business processes with the help of software technology (ERP system “Best Practices”).  This will ultimately allow a business to be more efficient and effective cutting costs as well as improving revenue for growth.

Once a company has selected/purchased their ERP system they should look for help from the software vendor or a certified partner of the software vendor to implement it.  The implementation services you’ve contracted for should help your company lighten the load of having to think (on your own) of how you’re company is going to use “Best Practices” of the ERP system to improve the company operation.  The software vendor or certified partner should have clearly provided you with this information through the selection process and now be ready to show you how to accomplish this through the implementation process.

EstesGroup uses a Project Initiation Document (PID) to communicate the detail of how an Epicor ERPimplementation is going to go.  On this document it clearly spells out roles/responsibilities of the people involved, critical implementation tasks (i.e. data conversion, value stream scripts, reports, etc.), budgeted hours and the timeline with milestone checkpoints of project dates.  Having a detailed ERP ImplementationProject Plan” I believe allows the people involved in the implementation to think positively as well as thinkabout project success Vs failure right from the onset.

As the ERP implementation project evolves, trust me negative thoughts will start creeping in from the team.  It’s up to the ERP implementation Project Leader as well as the entire team to fight against this happening.  What are some of the ways you can keep thinking positively about your ERP implementation success?

  • Each weekly ERP implementation meeting, review the positive changes you all have agreed to (in the selection process) that the organization will realize when you “Go Live” on the new system.
  • Offer your help to one of the team members, if they get behind.  They will not only appreciate it, but you’ll most likely learn another area of the business, which increases your value.
  • Make your weekly ERP implementation meetings fun.  Order pizza, if you’re having your meeting at lunch; donuts or bagels if it’s a breakfast get together, change the room you meet in, etc. etc.
  • Upper management (Project Sponsor) should be involved in each ERP implementation meeting and actively participate to show their support and encouragement.
  • Upper Management (Project Sponsor) should be tasked with making all of the tough implementation decisions after receiving feedback from the implementation Project Leader and Core team members.  This then takes away the hard feelings that the implementation team members may harbor against each other as the project proceeds.
  • Have the mindset of never giving up and sticking to your “Go Live” date.

If you’d like to learn more tips and techniques in  how to make your ERP implementation a very positiveexperience, give EstesGroup a call, we can help!  We’ve been providing this type of help to themanufacturing/distribution industry for years.  How You Think Is Everything!

Pick up the phone and call 888 300 2340 and together we will:

Simplify Technology, Improve Operations, and Gain Efficiencies…

Learn From Our Experts:
Access Our Epicor 10 Out Of The Box ToolsVideo Series.

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Not ready to Implement An ERP Solution? Read our 10 Priciples of Success In ERP Selection.