Select Page
Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

There’s a significant shift occurring in the job market. And our manufacturing and distribution industries will not escape the impact.

For the past few years, it has been an employer’s market and many workers were unable to find jobs. But that has changed in the last 18 months and there are growing concerns about employee retention.

In the past 5 months, over 15 million US workers have quit their jobs.

Plus, in recent surveys, 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs in the next 3-6 months. Rather than cooling down, there are projections that more attrition is coming.

There are many reasons this could be occurring. And many strategies to consider. What’s clear is that if your organization is not understanding the root issues, it will increase your employee attrition rate rather than reduce it.

Before we can answer what it takes to retain your best employees, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the situation.

Employee Attrition vs Attraction Recruit and Retain Gears

Differing Perspectives

A recent article, by McKinsey and Company, explored this topic. It noted several disconnects between organizations and employees. These disconnects are likely contributing to employee dissatisfaction.

The article highlights that organizations often focus on increasing compensation and financial perks as a first step to stop employee attrition.

But is that scratching the itch that employees are feeling? What if there is “more at work” (pun intended) than making more money? And if compensation is not the driving issue, how should your organization respond?

Let’s start with the emotional toll of the last 18 months during the pandemic. Behind it we can learn more.

Most employees have experienced rapid change. Illness, online meetings, hospitalizations, new work procedures, vaccines, deaths, politics, changing recommendations, school closings, and daily unknowns have been their daily diet. At work their relationships were frayed by new routines and rules. Constant fear contributed to few social interactions, no get-togethers and limited travel. And with it the use of masks limited our ability to communicate visually.

Employee Expectations

The result has been a change in employee’s work needs. Studies are showing that employees are looking for these benefits in their work:

  1. A sense of value from being in the organization
  2. The potential for advancement
  3. Having caring and trusting teammates
  4. Options for a more flexible work schedule
  5. Feeling more valued by their managers
  6. A sense of belonging

Shared Expectations

Both employers and employees do agree on some things. They both believe that these issues need to be addressed:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Unmanageable workloads
  3. Feeling disengaged at work
  4. Help with caring for families

Organizational Focus

This leaves us to consider whether employers are right in focusing primarily on these issues which may not be valued by employees:

  1. Creating more opportunities
  2. Accommodating more remote work
  3. Improving the health of employees
  4. Discouraging employees from looking for new jobs
  5. Taking steps to limiting poaching by competitors

Suggested Focus

The McKinsey and Company article recommends that organizations start by listening to employees and including them in discussions. This signals that employees are valued.

That doesn’t happen when management decisions are handed down without employee input. Such decisions are often seen as indicators that management is uncaring and disconnected from employees. And who wants to work in a place like this?

There are positive things that can change the tone in organizations. And they involve asking hard questions about your organization and then moving to address any problems.

  1. Is our organization sheltering toxic leaders who do not value, inspire or motivate their employees?
  2. Are the right people in the right roles in both our management and non-management ranks?
  3. How can we make our culture more collaborative and open to conversations?
  4. How do we replace transactional approaches with relational approaches that stress collaboration and value?
  5. Are our company benefits aligned with employee priorities that are top-of-mind?
  6. What career paths and development opportunities do our employees really have?
  7. How can we build community at work by encouraging better relationships?

From Ideas to Action

Each of these questions focuses on increasing the collaborated relationship across the organization. They send the message that the organization is empowered by trusted relationships and a shared future.

So, what can we say at this point?

First, it is clear is that the employee/employer relationship has changed over the past 18 months. Employees are wanting a more relational approach to their work, more connectivity and more value from their workplace.

Secondly, there are real opportunities for your organization. Those manufacturing and distribution organizations which lead with dialogue and listening will find ways to benefit from the changes.

They will retain top performers because they communicate value, a shared future and positive opportunities.

Now, what can you do to get this moving with your team?

Ask the Author

Rob Mcmillen ERP Consultant

Rob McMillen is a Senior Project Manager with EstesGroup. He has worked in the manufacturing industry for over 30 years supporting multiple implementations of new ERP systems and leading projects. Because his mom was an English teacher, he grew up with a love of writing. Combined with his working experience, he has written articles for LinkedIn and User Groups, and has published numerous blog posts. He is also a co-author of a book on technology and working collaboratively. He currently lives in the DFW area.

Manufacturing in America, Made in Colorado

Manufacturing in America, Made in Colorado

Made by Colorado Manufacturers

Like many areas in the US, the Colorado manufacturing scene has been scrambling to adjust to the ongoing movement of the pandemic and its aftershocks. Changes in demand, fluctuations in labor, and radical shifts in supply and availability have resulted in new and unexpected challenges, and manufacturers across the state have, out of necessity, worked to devise clever solutions to a shifting array of problems. 

Made in Loveland Colorado

Made at the NOCOM Manufacturing & Trades Show

The NOCOM Manufacturing and Trades Show 2021 conference, coming soon to the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland, exemplifies one such clever strategy, which is actually an old methodology that we sometimes forget we have — in-person, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart collaboration. It’s this type of energy that has not only kept the manufacturing industry afloat during the pandemic, but also allowed many of us to survive the seemingly endless virtual office hours.

At the recent P21 CONNECT conference, an in-person Epicor Prophet 21 user event, I realized how much I missed the benefits that come from being able to gather under the guise of a common association. There is a surprising amount of value that can be gained by the act of simple collaboration.

There are great benefits to sharing challenges facing one company (or an entire industry), and it often takes a community to surface the steps needed to prevail. Together, companies can work to delineate the quick and effective measures that can be taken and perform the actions required for mitigating risks. In the distribution industry, with community knowledge at the core, Prophet 21 consulting is largely revolving around supply chain issues, cybersecurity threats, and the shift from on-premise servers to cloud-based technology. 

As we’ve seen in our preparation for NOCOM 2021, the manufacturing industry is facing similar challenges: supply and demand shifts, ransomware and malware threats, and cloud availability amid outdated technology trends. 

So, what is your manufacturing strategy, and how has the pandemic changed community involvement in your business culture?  

The sharing of the intellectual property of daily problem solving is something that just didn’t translate into online forums and Zoom calls. As we stagger back into some semblance of “normal” life, we look once again to share the value of in-person business meetings and socialization.  

As we’ve faced together more than a year of volatility, we’ve learn that the solutions to problems in one industry might have applicability in another. We’ve learned that our problems may not be things that we have to bear on our own. In manufacturing and distribution, the ability to adapt quickly results in success. 

There’s an old saying that goes “you are your friends” or “you are only as good as your friends.” In enterprise resource planning (ERP) consulting, we learn from our friends, so that we can adapt and succeed in our projects. 

What can we learn from our friends as the Colorado manufacturing industry reopens?

The “Made in America” movement continues to find new applicability, as companies struggle to supply products locally, products that have been historically outsourced. The reactions are inconsistent — in some commodities, I hear of manufacturers and supply chain companies switch back to offshore supply as soon as it becomes available.  

In other cases, I discover commodities that may remain in North America after the dust has settled. Increasingly, I stumble across products that have been crafted in Colorado, products new to the state. Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is learning to make things again, and this is one adaptation that you’ll see in the NOCOM community, whether you’re still following along from your virtual office or attending the in-person event this year. 

Next week, EstesGroup will once again be returning to NOCOM in person. While we had fun at the virtual conference last year, we’re looking forward to the friend-to-friend interactions that can only be present while walking together, sharing dinner together, exchanging stories together. Providing cloud and IT services for manufacturers and distributors throughout the pandemic has taught us much about the resolve of the nation as we work with the companies as they reshape themselves to take on the needs of a reopening world.

If you are a manufacturer facing the challenges of reopening in 2021, 2022, and beyond, EstesGroup’s ERP and IT consultants would love to help you understand industry trends. Our team will be at NOCOM 2021 BOOTH 62 on September 23rd, and we’re hoping to see you there!

Are you a manufacturer struggling with cyberthreats? In celebration of NOCOM, we’ll assess the cybersecurity infrastructure of one lucky manufacturer at no cost to the company! Register to win. You don’t have to attend the show in person to win. We fully support manufacturers remotely and in person! Our coast-to-coast consultants circle out from our Loveland office, supporting Colorado manufacturing and beyond, even throughout Canada!

 

 

Total Cost or Total Loss: New Software, New Budget

Total Cost or Total Loss: New Software, New Budget

The cost of a software budget

Software selection can be a lot like car shopping. You do a few test drives. You talk to happy drivers. You ask for the price and then ask for a better deal. You begin to investigate how much this new vehicle is going to cost. One part of the software budget is easy: that it’s going to cost you something. You might already have a quote from your prospective supplier. You might have more than one quote addressing different ways to acquire your new software or ERP system. But how can you predict the total cost of ownership?

African Professional Chartered Accountant Woman Budgeting For Enterprise Software

Initial installation costs

One option for a new software or ERP system is an on-premises installation, complete with your own hardware to support the platform. In the past, this was the only option. A business would pay money at the beginning and obtain the software to install on a company-owned computer network. Ongoing costs would include financing the staff required to maintain support, manage future upgrades, and navigate bug fixes.

Many software acquisitions today use software as a service, or SaaS, as an option. This is commonly known as the cloud, but it is the most public of the multitudes of cloud-based solutions available to businesses. SaaS requires an agreement to pay a fee monthly for some years into the future. Software as a service usually involves low or no upfront cost since the profit for the vendor is based on long-term commitment to the software subscription. Salesforce is a common example of SaaS. Implementation costs are low to none, as the software and related data are loaded on a vendor-maintained system somewhere outside of your corporate walls. Initial costs vary for SaaS, but generally they’re the deal that opens the door for a more lucrative future for the vendor, rather than an early expenditure for the purchaser.

Project management costs

Acquiring and implementing enterprise-level software of any kind is a major project that can require several years to complete. One of the first considerations is that you’ll need someone to manage the overall project. Some companies will hire a specialist who has managed similar implementations successfully with the intention that the job will be limited to this one project. Others might choose to challenge an up-and-coming person already employed with the company to transition into a position of management of the ERP or software project. The intention here is often to develop that person’s skills and groom them for future promotions. There are other options, of course, but the bottomline is that managing your enterprise software project will cost money. Even using an already-employed person has a cost, as someone will need to be hired to perform that person’s job in the interim.

Most businesses will form a steering committee that will act as a board of directors over the project. The project manager and senior executives will fill this committee and help keep the project on track, leading to completion on a schedule that will most benefit the company.

Real costs will come from the defined implementation group. This group can be made from currently employed people, but all of them, while working on the project on a part-time or full-time basis, will need replacement personnel to fill previous roles. One or more software consultants from the software provider will have roles in this group, and all of them will cost money. Likely there will be specialist consultants required to fill roles and perform tasks when the business is in need of additional resources.

Data conversion costs

Extracting data from legacy systems and converting that data to the formats required by your new software is one of those specialist roles. Most of the cost will come early in the project, but some expenses will certainly be ongoing, as new needs and corrections are found during the testing of the new software.

The price of testing

Testing the new software to ensure all transactions and reports yield the results required actually work will be an ongoing cost throughout the project. Some tests will be completed and changes to processes or data will be made and then the test will be made again until the results are satisfactory. Set aside money and time for a testing phase. This is a critical step and should have substantial representation when you’re developing your software budget.

The savings found in training

Your users will need training so that they can work with the new software immediately. Whether you hire training specialists or develop your own training process, there will be an investment here that will result in a lot of savings and profitability for your company.

The budget for hardware and networks

Your new software has the most up-to-date technologies. Likely you will need upgrades to hardware and networks to enable those technologies. Your legacy hardware probably could use some upgrades anyway if your systems were bought years ago. To create an accurate budget for hardware and networks, add up all the incremental costs and make a time-phased list of those costs. You can now compare the costs in each time bucket against the benefits you expect in each time bucket.

Looking for help developing a software budget reflective of your company’s needs and capabilities?

Get a business process review today. Our experts can assist you with full-circle enterprise resource planning, managed ERP hosting, and managed technology. EstesGroup has helped manufacturers and distributors for more than 17 years, and we have specialists for everything from Epicor Kinetic to Prophet 21.

 

Software & Vendor Selection: Where to Look

Software & Vendor Selection: Where to Look

The Best ERP Software Begins with the Best People

At every step, from software selection to ERP implementation, people are always your best resource.

Software and Vendor Selection Team

Back-feed your software & vendor selection script with experiential feedback.

Now that the internal part of the work is done, you can start contacting people outside of your business to help with your software & vendor selection process. Before you call any vendors or developers, there is another step. Peer and expert help is a good idea, especially when considering new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Where to look for feedback and ideas

Advice from industry peers and other groups will help you understand your software application options. Cloud-based ERP education is easy to come by, but it is important to have a trusted person explain the fine print. ERP solutions are often sold in a pure SaaS (Software as a Service) deployment, and this might not be the perfect fit for your business. You might be a small business looking for your first ERP software solution, or you might be a complex manufacturing company looking for the real-time flexibility of a cloud hosted ERP system.

We all have friends from previous jobs and alumni groups that we can lean on when making big business decisions. The internet is full of advice and much of it is useful. Chase answers, seek multiple views, and engage in a business process review if you’d like an assessment of where you’re at before adding anything new to the mix. An ERP vendor will give you one perspective, and those near and dear to your internal business processes might have different opinions.

Keep your search organized

Develop a questionnaire. This will help keep the members of your team unified when they begin gathering information. The questionnaire also keeps the questions useful. For example, the question “Did you like the software?” is not a very powerful question. Instead, use questions such as, “What was the primary requirement you wanted to satisfy?” Then you might follow up with a related question like, “In what specific ways did the software satisfy that requirement?” The final value of your questionnaire is that you will be able to compare and relate responses from a variety of sources to each other. You will also be able to develop a value scale that can allow you to have an objective scale to compare the responses and their value to your business.

Talk to people 

When trying to choose ERP software, it is helpful to contact people from industry and trade groups. These will often be businesses that are similar to yours and their input can be useful in helping you make your decision. Use a little caution and avoid sharing where your next growth is expected and understand these businesses will be wary of sharing anything that might allow you to become a better competitor.

Your CPA and other resources that you have can benefit you as well when selecting software. Other clients that your CPA has might have been through a software search of their own. At this stage, you are not ready to take action yet and your CPA probably is ready and willing to act as a consultant helping in your search for a fee.

Use the internet for software & vendor selection research

The internet can provide examples of other businesses who have experience with software selection. Often you can find these businesses on the fifth page of your Google search and once you find them, even a quick phone call will frequently yield a person who directly participated in their selection and software implementation and has useful experiences to share. Many people are more than willing to help if you ask them.

Now take action

Once you have done your research, you might first decide to re-evaluate your requirement list. You might find some listed requirements to be of less value than originally considered or have found a point from one of your sources that should be added to your requirement list. Through this research, you probably learned of a software provider, previously unknown to you, that was highly recommended. You certainly learned new ways that others found that helped in their search or even helped their business operations after their implementation. You also learned of search actions others would have done differently if there were an opportunity to make their search again.

Now you can develop a list of only a few software providers or brands that likely will be beneficial to you. An internet search might list a thousand systems, which are too many to evaluate. Focus on your short list and begin contacting those few. The goods or services you offer will greatly benefit from new solution, whether you’re adding a third-party business intelligence platform or a new accounting software to your resource pool.

Remember that people are your best resources for ERP and more

Mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies are especially vulnerable right now to supply chain management issues. Make sure you have the in-house human resources it takes to ensure that warehouses managed during a pandemic are restored to pre-crisis stability. If you need help with inventory management, enterprise risk management, cloud migration, or other critical business operations, EstesGroup offers you a one-stop-shop approach to operational optimization.

Are you ready to talk to a software & vendor selection expert? Let’s begin a conversation today.

Ask an IT or ERP expert a question now.

Getting Selective with Software Selection

Getting Selective with Software Selection

Begin by gathering both business requirements & software requirements

After all that inward looking, it is time for some more inward looking. It’s now time to set a basis for communication that will help keep current and future software projects on track. It’s time to begin the process of discovering and sorting out the real requirements for your business as they relate to software acquisition.

Cloud Software Selection Process

A conversation that leads to a complete requirement list

When it feels like every possible software and technology requirement is on the table, publish the list for your entire company to review it. Let the whole business know what software is under consideration and what you hope to achieve through the new software. This could be a subject for the next company-wide get-together or a post on the company intranet. Give everyone a little time to consider the potential requirement list and ask for feedback. The guy at the shipping dock might offer an idea no one yet thought of. A remote worker might demand additional integrations in order to optimize a virtual office.

Try to separate the team members from the business processes to let your selection project entertain every product or service that could benefit both people and infrastructure. This is especially important when considering ERP systems. Every software system has its challenges, but as companies grow and enterprise resource planning increases in complexity, due diligence in the software selection process will overcome both high level and more detailed problems along the way.

Your software selection team

Always choose a selection team that represents departments from across your business. You will have some managers and directors, but also include people who will benefit from working on this project by getting to know the bosses while contributing to the cause.

Your potential requirements list is probably quite long, so take a comprehensive approach when it comes to team building. When it comes to software requirements, specification is key. When you have a talented team working together to brainstorm every potential problem and solution, you’ll likely surface a long list of needs and expectations. Likely some of the items are duplicates, or very similar. Combine those and shorten the list a little. It is not yet time to strike any ideas out yet. And avoid assumptions: take time to understand what the proposals really mean lest any good ideas become diluted beyond the original intention.

Look for requirements that probably cannot be helped by this particular software acquisition. Don’t simply strike the idea; move it to another list for future consideration. Someone thought they had a requirement to be solved, so keep it as it still needs a resolution, just not now with this particular software.

Prioritize software selection process outcomes

Prioritizing is the next step. Split your list into one section that truly is a requirement and another that is very nice to have but truly less than a requirement. Sort each section into your best consensus of priority. Theoretically, the required list is all number one, but there is still a good chance that less than 100% can be attained. A software selection process doesn’t always end with a new software. Keep an open mind when considering all options and how they might affect your business. Stuck on old software or technology? A growing manufacturing company will struggle without the move to an ERP software, and an ERP system will most likely benefit from a cloud hosting environment. Know your history and know your goals and choose your system and its deployment model wisely.

Communicate still more

Time now for more communication. This time upwards: meet with your executive sponsor and consider each requirement again. Be certain your sponsor agrees with your breakout of priorities and good ideas, and also with the sorting. Your sponsor might have other ideas too on how to revise some items, or they might have entirely new items for the list. Your executive sponsor must agree with the requirement list and commit to supporting your future efforts.

Communicate again with the rest of your business by sharing the current requirement list and a second list of items you hope to achieve. Let all know you will soon look for software that meets every one of the required points and as many as possible of the nice-to-have list as well. Be sure to thank everyone who helped with requirement points and with the enterprise evaluation of your requirements.

Will cloud technology change your software selection process?

Could a private cloud environment save you software headaches in the future?

Please fill out the form below to see your business in the cloud. If you don’t see a form (browser settings sometimes block these), please chat with us. We’re waiting to help you make your business run better.

How To Begin Your Software Selection

How To Begin Your Software Selection

Toward a Simple Software Selection Process

A very typical software selection process begins by clicking on “I am interested” after reading about a software product. Someone replies, and pretty soon a salesperson has you convinced their product will have you living the Life of Riley.

Is that narrative oversimplified? Maybe, but all of us have followed that process at times and possibly even with enterprise-level software products such as Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP solutions

ERP Software Selection

A simple selection process can work because there are many very good systems on the market, and they are flexible enough that good value is there for many businesses. None of us knows what we don’t know. Choosing an off-the-shelf software could lead to an 80% or even 90% satisfaction, but the 100% solution we hoped for could be beyond reach.

Software Selection First Steps: Look Inward First

Rather than taking a chance, consider yourself, your business, and your co-workers. You might have had past success at developing workarounds to resolve little shortfalls in software. The cost wasn’t too high, and the work still got done. There is nothing wrong with this approach and possibly a lot right. The workaround gave someone in your business a successful win. You did not need to pay any additional money to arrive at your satisfactory solution.

The Old ERP & the New ERP

On the other hand, you might want to replace an ERP that your business has used for many years, and although it began as off-the-shelf, you have modified and customized it over the years. Your users are comfortable with the software, and their work gets done well. That legacy system is not available now and can no longer be maintained. Do you want to get another similar system and begin again to modify and customize it?

Software in the Cloud

Today we need to consider the platform in addition to the software itself. In the past, companies bought software and installed it on in-house servers and managed the system internally. However, many ERP systems run in the cloud now. 

Cloud-ready software, like SYSPRO or Prophet 21, requires substantially less money up front and the maintenance is provided as a part of the ongoing fee. For many the total cost of ownership is much less than running a system on your own server.

But What Cloud?

There are several varieties of cloud, beyond cumulus or cirrus. A very common option is a shared system provided by the software company. The software is a single instance and each multi-tenant customer has secured storage for their own data. You set your own configurations and can personalize user interfaces. But little or no customization is available, as that single instance is shared. Integration of other systems might be possible, but automatically updating files or uploading data from another system will be tightly controlled by the software cloud managers.

A second option is single tenancy where you have your own instance of the software in the cloud and your data is similarly secured. Here your options to customize or integrate are a little more flexible, but the ongoing cost is higher.

The third option is to purchase the on-premises version of the software but install it in a cloud server. With this option, the system is yours to customize or integrate as your business needs. But the system is yours so that your business also must manage ongoing maintenance. You have many options related to the software and to the platform. 

Consider carefully how your system will work best for your needs and with your style of operating. Only after knowing your own business and its culture and style should you begin a search for your future software.

Do you need help with software selection or management? Contact us now, chat with us, or ask an expert about IT or ERP. We love to talk about ERP software. EstesGroup provides a unique value to businesses like yours: we understand your software and its underlying technology. Learn more about our EstesCloud managed services and how EstesGroup ERP & IT consultants work together to help you optimize your infrastructure so that you can focus on the work you love while we secure your foundations.

 

Download a whitepaper on cloud delivery models now

Please fill out the form below to get a free whitepaper on cloud software. We’ll also keep you in the loop of software news by sending you IT updates from our technology team. If the form doesn’t appear because of privacy settings, please chat with us & we’ll send you the whitepaper ASAP!