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ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

Who says you have no culture?

Eric Kimberling and the team at Third Stage Consulting serve as thought leaders in the digital transformation community, helping customers through software selection, change management, system implementation, and the integration of technology and business. Their “Transformation Ground Control” podcast series engages the larger business and technology communities to address various topics related to business strategy and digital transformation. Recently, I was able to sit down with Eric and discuss a topic that had become quite important to me in the field of ERP implementation — ERP culture.

ERP Culture Businessman using a computer to document management for ERP. Enterprise resource planning concept.

What is ERP culture?

In our discussion, I defined “ERP Culture” as the set of attributes or characteristics of the company’s overall business culture that support or inhibit the successful implementation of an ERP system. Over the course of an hour, we covered several of these attributes and how they apply to a given implementation.

This topic formed organically enough — I had recently worked with two companies that had gone live on an ERP system within a similar timeframe. The two companies had a number of striking similarities:

  • The two companies were of similar size.
  • Both companies were privately-owned, family businesses, headquartered in the same state.
  • The firms both worked in roughly-analogous market environments, providing products of comparable complexity.
  • Both companies were coming from antiquated, 40-year-old business systems.
  • They were implementing the same ERP system and using the same system integrator.
  • The companies had similar project budgets and similar core team contributions.

The two companies had so many similarities, and yet one implementation was a ringing success and the other was a frustrating mess. In trying to perform forensics to understand just why one implementation was successful and the other a failure, I began to wonder whether the differences between the two projects were due to the significant differences in the cultural makeup of the two companies. 

Having once worked in the area of Lean Six Sigma, the idea of “Lean Culture” had been well documented — the notion that a successful implementation of Lean methodologies was highly contingent on the culture of the organization. I tend to think that the same applies to the ERP community: that the success of an ERP implementation rests heavily on the cultural foundation of the implementing organization. That said, what are the elements that comprise the company’s cultural foundation?

ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

Clarity of Focus

Successful companies are constantly separating wheat from chaff — separating key initiatives from tertiary activities. They tend to be good at taking initiatives to their successful conclusion. They are good at avoiding distractions. In the words of Jack Welsh, they “pick a direction and implement like hell.” And when and ERP project occurs, they becomes the primary focus of the organization, and other initiatives get put on hold. Unsuccessful companies tend to be distracted by shiny objects and this distractibility infects their implementation projects.

Attention to Detail

Successful companies are process-oriented — they understand the importance of specific activities and are not prone to “skipping steps.” At times they are methodical to a fault. This is especially the case when you compare them to “cowboy companies” — companies that play it “fast and loose” in their daily business lives. In the execution of an ERP system, these tendencies quickly become evident, especially when implementing ERP functionality such as labor time entry and inventory management. Successful companies take great pride in the cleanliness of the data involved in these processes. Less successful companies tend to let their data devolve into chaos. And you can never successfully implement ERP from a foundation of chaotic data. 

Preparation

Initiatives such as an ERP implementation are not unfamiliar to successful companies, as such companies tend to plan out initiatives before they do them. They understand the value of a plan and its execution. Unsuccessful companies operate like a headless chicken — lots of activity, but very little direction. The value of such a tendency is self-evident: companies that don’t plan to get to a certain point rarely get there. 

Empowerment

The term “empowerment” generally elicits eye rolls in the manufacturing community, as it sounds like something you’d hear in a mandatory diversity training seminar. If I were to give the term a more rigorous operational definition, I would describe it as the tendency to clearly define individuals’ areas of responsibility, making them accountable for clear outcomes in those areas, and providing them the resources and autonomy to achieve those outcomes. Unsuccessful companies tend to have a domineering management style, where a few “alpha dogs” fight over decisions, while the rest of the organization resembles an army of chronically depressed lemmings. A fundamental tenant of implementing Lean is the ability for teams to define the processes in their areas of responsibility. Such is the same in an ERP system, where configuration decisions can greatly impact process performance. Such a monumental task requires a team of individuals that have the responsibility, accountability, and support to see it though. 

Proactivity

By nature, successful companies are proactive — they are perpetually looking to understand how the chess game plays out. The tendency to look ahead imbues the sometimes tedious steps of an ERP project with a degree of value that is easy to neglect. Such companies tend to be quick to solicit and receive feedback. Proactive cultures also tend to be quick to have honest conversations of the state of a project, when things are not going as planned. Such candor is not a mere complaining — it is the willingness to be accountable for uncomfortable circumstances. The opposite of these tendencies is passivity. In a passive organization, individuals might have trepidation or concerns about a given issue, but lack the proactive tendencies to get ahead of these concerns and bring them to the surface

Sense of Ownership

Ownership is the flipside of empowerment. Highly-empowered employees tend to develop a strong sense of ownership. They are not looking to have things done for them — they’re looking to understand the intended outcomes of a given task and take ownership of them. These are the best kinds of team members to have on an ERP project, as they are self-motivated and are constantly looking to move the ball forward. It’s a question of push vs pull:  I’ve had project managers on projects where the team had a lack of ownership, describe the initiative as “pulling teeth” — they were perpetually having to drag the team along. This is generally an indication of ownership issues. 

Cross-Functionality

Companies vary considerably in the degree to which they encourage their employees to understand the overall company processes, outside of their individual silos. Successful companies tend to have a greater degree of cross-functionality then their unsuccessful counterparts. They recognize the value of understanding an organization from front to back.  As a result, their team members are not content to just understand their own small areas of the map — they want to know the whole thing. One of the great outcomes of an ERP project is the level of cross-functionality that it affords.

Cultural Tendencies & ERP Success

An early mentor of mine once told me that an implementation is equal parts technical and cultural, and if you neglect the cultural, you’ll never achieve the technical endpoint that you desire. My life in ERP has proven this maxim time and again. ERP projects are never easy. But if a company lacks some basic cultural tendencies to support a successful implementation, they will find themselves struggling to achieve their lofty goals.

Principles of Successful Supplier Relationship Management

Principles of Successful Supplier Relationship Management

A Shifting Landscape is Changing Supplier Relationships

The past year underscored the impact and the importance of supply chains more than ever. For manufacturers and distributors, the criticality of a robust and flexible supply chain cannot be understated. Supply chains are dynamic—shifting forces raise new concerns, and what was a given yesterday could be a curveball tomorrow. Many of these things, in the broad context of the global supply chain, are outside of our control. That said, even with the variables that come from an evolving climate such as the current day, there are still many things we can control—things that we can do to better manage our specific supply chains.

Supplier Relationship Management Supplier with engineer checking on production in factory

New Supply Chain Challenges Require Adaptive Tools and Processes

Developing tight supplier relationships is key to managing changes in lead time, delivery, prices, and products.

ERP System Management

Change and Opportunity

For many companies, managing the manageable comes through a tighter integration with suppliers. And in many cases, this is accomplished through collaboration platforms such as SourceDay. Portal-based integrations allow customers to work with their suppliers to manage purchase order requests, acknowledgements, expedite requests, exception handling, changes, and the variety of related processes and tools that come with supplier relationship management (SRM) systems. In working with our Epicor ERP and Prophet 21 customers, we’ve seen several principles embodied through the use of such platforms.

Automation

In manufacturing and distribution environments, Automation is often thought of as an improvement inefficiency. Automation in supply chains goes well beyond the simple idea of efficiency. Automation is fundamental to a portal platform like SourceDay, as it provides the bedrock for supply chain effectiveness and its related principles. For example, moving the process of acknowledging a PO from a collection of emails, text messages, and phone calls into a single point of contact builds the foundation for everything that follows: visibility, measurement, collaboration, etc.

Visibility

Fundamental to the successful execution of a supply chain is the visibility of supply and demand between customer and supplier. Changes to global supply chains cascade changes onto suppliers, and concomitantly, their customer base. Lead times, lot sizes, pricing—all can be affected, and keeping these changes organized and updated in your ERP system begins with a customer’s clear “line-of-site” to their supplier’s reality as it evolves. Good data is fundamental to the function of a business system, as it drives all the behaviors of the system, and of the related users. This can be an either-or:

  • Is your data up to date and accurate such that you are making reasonable requests to your supplier?
  • Is the data in your system sending your buyers on supply missions that are doomed to fail?

Companies that can leverage the real-time feedback from suppliers are best equipped to make the act of acquisition a successful endeavor.

Collaboration

The value of a reciprocal relationship between customers and suppliers cannot be underestimated. Beyond the benefits already stated, visibility is fundamental to the development of a successful partnership with your suppliers. The creation of a clear communication pipeline between customers and suppliers allows for more collaborative options, including the ability to quickly adjust dates, shift demand patterns, manage pricing and course-correct, all early in the buying cycle, while options are still available.

KPIs and Metrics

Metrics are key to accountability; you cannot fix what you cannot measure. Can you quantify your suppliers on time delivery performance? Or do you need to perform an extraction from your ERP system, massage the data, such that it can be presented to the organization? Just as metrics are key to accountability, automation is key to developing consistent and timely metrics. For instance, the automation of the process of tabulating plan-vs-actual data without human intervention makes real-time visibility and measurement a reality. 

But what are the metrics you need to successfully manage your supply chain? Supplier delivery performance is an obvious choice. What about acknowledgement rates? Are your suppliers doing a good job of acknowledging your purchase orders? Can you quantify this? Supply chain researchers have found that acknowledgement rates strongly correlate with on-time delivery performance. Thus, a company can view a supplier’s acknowledgement score as a leading indicator of their ultimate delivery performance. As such, when you bring in a new supplier, you should have the tools to quickly assess how well they are acknowledging their POs, even before shipments arrive.

Putting the Pieces Together for Wholesome Supplier Relationships

As companies implement and optimize their ERP investments, the search to better fine tune and extend their systems becomes the next priority. We’ve found that the extension of the supply chain thought vendor portals such as SourceDay to be one key way that companies maximize their ERP investments and optimize their internal and external business processes.

Are you in search of the next step to your ERP implementation? Come to our most excellent session with SourceDay on “Bridging the Gap Between Epicor and Suppliers for Distribution Companies” and learn how their solution can help you with supplier relationships.

How to Update Multiple Tables in Epicor DMT

How to Update Multiple Tables in Epicor DMT

Multi-table updates for Epicor implementation and beyond

As part of Epicor ERP’s overall implementation and optimization toolset, the Data Management Tool (DMT) is a fundamental aspect of a successful implementation strategy. It gives you the ability to load, update, and even remove data. These capabilities allow you to cleanly load the setup and master file data as part of an environment build activity prior to go-live. When a user imports data, DMT keeps upload and update behaviors in check so that data migration is efficient and effective.

Multiple Table Updates Data Management Tool Epicor

Epicor DMT also enables you to load live transactional records such as sales orders and purchase orders. These are essential to a successful cutover. Better yet, DMT possesses the ability to maintain records and improve the system’s data integrity long after the system is live. This allows an Epicor admin to efficiently clean up and even optimize the master file. This benefit also applies to transactional files in the live environment.

The Epicor ERP “Part” Routine

Within this context, one especially helpful capability involves the ability not only to update multiple columns of a table but to also update multiple related table records at once. For example, DMT’s “Part” routine allows for the creation and maintenance of records existing in the “Part” table. But DMT’s “Part Combined” routine allows not only for the creation of Part records. It also provides the ability to simultaneously add and/or update related Part Site (PartPlant), Part Warehouse (PartWhse), and Part Revision (PartRev) records. One could update these records individually, but Epicor provides the ability to perform multiple row updates in a single pass.

Sometimes DMT necessitates a multi-table setup in order to load and update data

For instance, the Resource table requires that you utilize the Resource Group routine to make updates to the Resource table. Let’s assume that you are the Epicor admin for your company. What if your operations manager decides to forgo using Epicor’s finite scheduling functionality? As such, you need to run an update to uncheck the Resource.Finite flag on all active resources. Should you search for a routine in DMT to update the “Resource” table, you will discover that none are available. Only the “Resource Group” load program is available:

Epicor ERP DMT Search Resource Group
DMT Engineering Resource Group
Fortunately, you can utilize the Resource Group load program to update the Resources related to all Resource Groups. Within Epicor’s Data Management Tool, multiple table update routines utilize a specific field naming convention to differentiate the primary table from its child tables:
 
  • Primary Table: The field names are sufficient—given that the program knows the table context, the parent table (in this case, the “ResourceGroup” table).
  • Child Table: Epicor utilizes a [ChildTableName]#[ChildFieldName] convention when defining the fields for the child table to be utilized.

For example, should you click the “Required” fields button for the “Resource Group” load, you will discover that to update the “Resource” table, you will need a number of key Resource Group fields but also the “Resource#ResourceID” and the “Resource#ResourceDescription” fields:

multiple table updates in Epicor DMT resource group required fields

This is also evident when using the “Template Builder…” functionality to create a load template. 

Given the above scenario, I opted to include the “Resource#Finite” field when creating the load template:

DMT Resource Group Template Builder
To perform the ResourceGroup-Resource parent-child table update to the finite-scheduling field that I had intended, I now have a load template with the following fields, named as follows:
 
  • Company
  • Plant
  • JCDept
  • ResourceGrpID
  • Description
  • Resource#ResourceID
  • Resource#Description
  • Resource#Finite

As is the convention with Epicor’s Data Management Tool loads, I entered my data into a spreadsheet:

DMT Resource Group Template

Finally, by loading the spreadsheet file into DMT, I can now perform the necessary update. The file, as defined below, loads without error:

Multiple Table Updates in Epicor DMT Resource Group Finite Update

Epicor’s Data Management Tool is replete with capabilities.

However, these features that are not always well documented or communicated. But with a little foreign key fiddling and a few Epicor consulting friends, DMT can be of great assistance to your Epicor ERP implementation.

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

In March 2020, before the shutdown, I traveled to a few customers and had an opportunity to talk supply chain with some of their commodity managers. Given the centrality of China-based supply chain sourcing, I wondered if pending restrictions on material movement between countries and potential productivity downturns overseas would affect these clients. At the time, the impact was uncertain—many of these companies had placed forward-buys on key commodities, such that they expected to have a bit of a buffer to ride out the ensuing uncertainty. Strategic supplier relationship management proved to be the ideal way to weather 2020 supply chain challenges.

Epicor Supply Chain Management

How do supply chains keep up with demands?

During the subsequent months, strange things abounded. On the home front, demand patterns changed drastically, trimming back the need for auxiliaries and tertiaries, leaving much of the stockpiled inventory pushed to a corner, waiting for needs to level off and go back to their old ways. In other markets and verticals, demand for certain products and services had gone through the roof, and companies struggled to realign their supply chains to support the fulfillment of surging demand.

 

This resulted in a great deal of wheeling and dealing, including searches for alternate suppliers. Local companies took on the manufacturing of components that had long been outsourced. These activities are ongoing for everyone balancing new supplier relationship management trends.

 

As situations continue to evolve, folks immersed in the supply chain community continue to try and understand just what can be learned from this strange turn of events. One point of interest has to do with the actual dynamics of demand. Strangely enough, it was not the downturn in supply that created the many supply chain challenges, but rather, it was the spiking nature of demand. Product and service demand did not decrease uniformly. Rather, it scraped bottom in certain product categories, markets and verticals, and sky-rocketed in specific niches.

As a supply chain manager, predicting such strange peaks and valleys would be a fool’s errand. Rather, the successes in Epicor SRM that I’ve encountered have had more to do with the ability to rapidly react to challenges than to anticipate them. This ability to react is normally due to a few key capabilities:

  • The ability to develop a broad supplier base. This means locating multiple potential sources of supply, in the event that one source of supply goes dark.
  • The ability to leverage alternate parts and methods to manufacture high-demand finished goods, in the event that primary components become unavailable.
  • A highly capable supplier relationship management toolset that can closely monitor and maintain incoming supply, as to ensure that incoming supply will meet the company’s needs and provide maximum reaction time, in the event that supply will not make it in on time.

SourceDay can assist in this final capability, which is the ability to organize supply in order to ensure that Epicor customers can support the shifting and shifty demand patterns of their own customer base.

Has 2020 changed your supplier relationship management strategy?

See how companies like yours respond to supply chain disruptions.

Watch a webinar to understand 2020 industry trends:

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain 

Presented by our partner SourceDay

On September 17th, 2020

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain

Latest Version Epicor Multi Warehouse Tips And Tricks

Latest Version Epicor Multi Warehouse Tips And Tricks

Epicor E10 Multi-Warehouse Inventory Management

 

Epicor E10 adds optimal supply chain functionality to your manufacturing business by providing comprehensive inventory management strategies, all within a single management system.  For example, the new ability to move parts between warehouses without assistance from the office allows for improved supply chain execution.  Inventory management is one of the core challenges in managing the data of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  Epicor’s version 905 ERP Inventory Management module has historically presented a number of its own unique challenges to employees in the warehouse and in the stockroom.  Epicor limits inventory transactions to the warehouses related to a given part.  In version 905, these limitations prevented inventory workers from making necessary part warehouse transactions without the assistance of an individual with access to Epicor’s part maintenance form.  Fortunately, Epicor’s latest version E10 multi-warehouse inventory management provides companies with much needed solutions.

 

The Goods on Goods in Epicor E10

 

Epicor’s latest version supplies users with many tips and tricks for inventory management.  For manufacturers, tracking everything from raw to finished goods accurately and efficiently is critical to developing strategy based on company data.  Epicor’s inventory transaction programs, such as Quantity Adjustments, Job Receipt to Inventory, and Inventory Transfer, are used to affect the inventory levels of parts in varying ways.  But these programs require the parts in question to possess a “Part Warehouse” record setup, in the part master record, to be able to transact against the warehouse in question. 

 

In the past, record setup characteristically posed challenges to inventory workers since the individuals responsible for part maintenance were required to directly modify the part master record and add the necessary Part Warehouse to allow for the necessary transactions to occur.  In the most recent versions of Epicor’s E10 solution, however, the key inventory screens now possess the “right-click” capability to add allowable warehouses to the given part records, without the need to run to a data steward to make the changes. 

 

Let’s assume you had the following part – 10001000:

The part 10001000 has a primary warehouse of “Main”:

In fact, “Main” is the only warehouse tied to this part:

Epicor limits inventory transactions to the warehouses related to a given part—in this case, since the only warehouse linked to part 10001000 is the “Main” warehouse, inventory transactions are limited to the “Main” warehouse:

A Quick Right-Click Tip for Multiple Warehouse Management

 

To resolve the warehouse limitation, Epicor provides the ability to link additional warehouses to a given part with a simple right-click.

 

For example, from the Inventory Transfer screen, right-click the Warehouse field and select Open With…Add Warehouse:

Elsewhere, from the Quantity Adjustments screen, right-click the Warehouse field and select Open With…Part Warehouse Entry:

In all cases, the above steps open a screen that allows the user to assign an existing warehouse to the part.  Selecting the additional warehouse and clicking the “OK” button is all that is required to link the new warehouse to the part:

Looking at the part maintenance screen, the new warehouse has now been added:

The user will need to right-click once more and select “Refresh List” to refresh the dropdown values:

But once accomplished, the warehouse worker can now select from the new warehouse in question:

Waring the Warehouse Wares with Epicor

 

The word “ware” comes from a twofold etymology of caution and production, and Epicor E10 helps your business ware your wares: your manufactured goods are protected by a trustworthy and proven inventory management system across the entirety of your supply chain and beyond.  Epicor’s Inventory Management module effortlessly integrates with other cost-saving features.  Epicor’s version 10 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application greatly expands on many of 905’s capabilities, simplifying multiple warehouse management for manufacturers.  The E10 version introduces many new tips and tricks for you to learn—features integrated to help your business stay profitable and competitive within the manufacturing industry.  E10’s new ability to add part warehouses at the time of creating an Epicor inventory transaction streamlines your business process and saves your team time and effort.  Epicor’s Inventory Management module works with other new E10 features to boost performance, profitability and growth, leading to dependable success at every step along the manufacturing line. 

 

Looking for more tips in navigating Epicor E10’s capabilities?  To learn more about multiple warehouse inventory management or other manufacturing management strategies, contact us.  EstesGroup is a Managed IT Services and ERP provider with comprehensive solutions for your business needs.

Interested learning more about Epicor ERP and how proper Part Setup is paramount to your business? Download our Part Setup & Manufacturing Best Practices Whitepaper today.

Prophet 21 Rebate Management is Right On the Money

Prophet 21 Rebate Management is Right On the Money

Right on the Money: Epicor Prophet 21 for Rebate Management 

 

Achieving profitability through distribution management software has never been easier.  With the technology available in Epicor’s Prophet 21, automation can quickly optimize workflow across the distribution spectrum.  In the critical area of rebate management, Prophet 21 rebate management modernizes supplier administration by streamlining the process of tracking and collecting.  This, in turn, minimizes administrative costs and maximizes overall profitability for your business. 

 

Prophet 21 Leaves No Money on the Table 

 

With Mardi Gras upon us, if you were a Mississippi gambler playing your odds on one of the French Quarter’s finest felts, you’d want to maximize whatever deals were available—without showing your cards prematurely or leaving any money on the table.  In a similar shake, the key to successful rebate management lies in the ability to define a robust set of conditions based on varying supplier parameters.  This allows for automated downstream processing and transactional accuracy.  This minimizes the internal costs of administering rebates, while maximizing those available.  Prophet 21’s vendor rebates support a similar strategy of capitalizing on what’s available, leaving no money on the vendor’s proverbial felt. 

 

mardi gras retail store discount management

 

Prophet 21 Makes Payables Playable  

 

Because Prophet 21 is a highly configurable application, it can meet the needs of a variety of different vendor scenarios.  Setup for rebates begins with the overall system settings.  The System Settings form allows users to configure enhanced rebate functionality.  Under the general settings within the Account Payable business area, “Enhanced rebate functionality” can be enabled.  This sets the stage for further downstream system configuration. 

 

Financial settings are made at the company level, where default general ledger accounts for rebates and rebate allowances are defined.  Subsequent settings occur at the vendor and customer levels.  Prophet 21 rebate tracking can be enabled for individual vendors—and this allows P-21 users to differentiate between rebate-applicable and non-rebate-applicable suppliers.  Further settings at vendor level enable the user to override the rebate and the rebate allowance accounts defined at the company.  At the vendor level, rebate variance-handling settings can also be defined.  At the customer level, the default rebate location can be optionally defined.  

 

The jackpot of P-21’s automated rebate functionality resides within the Sales Pricing pages.  A number of possible rebate methods can be defined within these screens, including the following: 

 

  • The Value Method: This specifies a cost-after-rebate valuewhich is subsequently compared to the base cost at the time of invoicing to determine a rebate amount. 
  • The Multiplier Method: This allows you to specify your costs as a percentage of the primary supplier cost, with the remaining value at time of invoicing resulting in your rebate.
  • The Flat Method: This allows for a flat rebate amount to be placed against the supplier cost.

 

When automated rebate capture is not possible, you can determine manual rebates through Prophet 21’s Manual Rebate Entry screen.  For payments, P21 supports check and debit memos, which are applied with the AP module as if they were cash receipts.  Beyond automated and manual rebates, Prophet 21’s EDI solution supports outgoing rebate requests to vendors and incoming rebate payments from them.  And in the event that a rebate needs to be reversed, the Rebate Reversals screen allows you to completely reverse the original posting. 

 

Prophet 21 Means You Don’t Have to Gamble to Grow   

 

Epicor Software Corporation has a strong reputation for providing powerful functionality for the distribution industry.  With real-time tracking and optimal automation, Prophet 21 immediately boosts profitability and enables further success by bringing cloud and e-commerce technology to any distributor looking to grow or transform business.  With fast implementation at minimal investment, Prophet 21 ERP allows you to keep your purse strings tight and leave no money on the table, especially when deployed through P21 managed hosting in EstesCloud. 

 

 

Want to learn more about Prophet 21’s distribution features? Read our blog on Prophet 21 Rental Management.

 

 

Would you like to see how Prophet 21 helps businesses like yours save time & money while lowering risks and stress? Please fill out the form below to get a P21 demo, and we will contact you shortly to help make your distribution business run better with Prophet 21.