Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System Dying on the Vine?

 

Hi, I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group. Now, with summer a distant memory and autumn full upon us, the winter still ahead, it’s a fitting time if you’re the leader of a manufacturing company to ask yourself whether your legacy ERP system is dying on the vine.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your company first turned on its new ERP system and went live? Everything was blooming with possibilities, and your company was in its earlier season with its ERP system.

And then the years slipped away, and now your organization finds itself struggling with its legacy system’s withering limitations. And these limitations become an inhibitor to future growth. The truth is, winter is coming for manufacturing companies living on legacy ERP systems.

But you don’t have to hang your head over it, the ERP market is blossoming with different options, such as Epicor’s Version 10, with it’s Microsoft centered stack, and rest service compatibility, it offers the perfect platform for scalable growth.

As you assess your organization and its IT infrastructure, you need to ask yourself the question, have you harvested all the benefits of your legacy ERP system? Are you tired of endless patches? Are you frustrated with the narrow field of vision that your current system affords you? Is your legacy ERP system a husk of its former self? And are you ready to put it to pasture? Are you ready to leave your legacy ERP system behind.

I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group, and I’d love to talk to you, see if could help put some spring back in your business systems. 

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

You’ve heard the term Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0; but what does that really mean for your manufacturing company? Can a company be “Smart” and use basic software like Quickbooks or do you need to have a real Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?  The short answer is: yes, your company needs an ERP system to truly adopt Smart manufacturing and be ahead (or even keep pace) with the competition.

For those still wondering what Smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are, don’t worry, the terms are newer and only recently been used in a fairly regular manner. Smart Manufacturing is, simply put, the melding of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT). Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing are really the newest phase or a new Industrial Revolution if you will hitting manufacturing on a worldwide scale.

In order to remain competitive, manufacturers must invest in inter-connectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data analytics.

Holding together various systems needed to properly track and analyze the smart manufacturing data captured, is a strong ERP system, which can marry the shop-floor data with cost breakdowns, operational information, job details, and customer information, etc. I find it interesting how many manufacturers still run homegrown systems or rely on access database, excel, etc to track production, which is clunky, prone to data corruption, and does not collect all relevant data to provide a company with true business analytics.

One of our clients used a homegrown system before deploying Epicor ERP a few years ago. They noticed immediate improvements in inventory control, accurate cost measurements for their products, and better shop floor scheduling. Now, image if the same company deployed machine learning and automation married with real-time data analytic software? The potential to outpace the competition is dramatically increased.

So to get back to the second question, no, Quickbooks or other smaller software systems will not support manufacturers focused on growth since they lack the basic shop floor data collection and analytics needed to streamline your business. Manufacturers that wish to remain competitive, and have an optimized business require an ERP system.

 

Is your company looking to move away from small accounting systems and move to a manufacturing ERP system? Or do you have an ERP system and need to work on optimizing it? We would love to talk with you about how we can work together to make your business run better.

10 Internal Questions You Absolutely Need To Ask For A Successful ERP Search

10 Internal Questions You Absolutely Need To Ask For A Successful ERP Search

Internal Planning is Key to Forming ERP Search Questions 

Let’s face it, many articles have been written about companies “Outgrowing QuickBooks” or “Signs you need an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system”. But what those articles don’t usually talk about is what you can do to prep your team internally for an ERP software system; a comprehensive sales, finance, and operations system. Planning is one of those words that tends to make people groan because they know it means more work, lots of discussions, and often seems like a stalling tactic and time waster. But ultimately, asking detailed internal ERP search questions is paramount to a successful ERP evaluation and implementation

If you ask any Military General or Combat Veteran if they would go to battle without some semblance of a plan, they would probably laugh or just walk away and say nothing in response. There is a reason that ERP implementation rooms are nicknamed “War Rooms” since heavy system testing is done and current company practices come into question.

What are some of the right internal ERP search questions to ask for planning purposes? Questions like system design, usability, industry specific functionality, cost, and implementation assistance are just some aspects to consider when looking for an ERP system. I look around on the web, and I find a lot of system questions written by software vendors, but not a lot of internal company questions to ask or considerations that need to be discussed. Having talked and worked with many, many companies over the years during their ERP searches, I wanted to give some examples of planning areas and questions for companies to prep internally.

10 Internal ERP Search Questions to Get the Project Planning Started:

  1. What does my company need and want to accomplish with an ERP System?
    1. Departments that need access
    2. Financial reporting
    3. Time frame for evaluation purchase, deployment phases/locations, and full usability
  2. What are the challenges of my company’s current business software? Why is it no longer meeting the needs of my company? Look at this from a department level:
    1. Production challenges?
    2. Services challenges?
    3. Finance challenges?
    4. Executive/Owner(s) challenges?
    5. Sales & Marketing challenges?
    6. Purchasing challenges?
    7. the Warehouse(s) challenges?
    8. Research & Development challenges (if applicable)?
    9. Human Resources challenges (if required as part of an ERP search)?
  3. Is my company fully utilizing current systems in place and/or is the current software potentially sufficient with added training? (I suggest talking with an expert consultant of that software if its an ERP system to see if the current software works but isn’t being used correctly)
  4. Does my company have specific compliance or auditing conditions that are of concern? Examples: Medical CFR, Aerospace & DoD DCAA, Medical Records HIPAA, Internal export FCPA, Electronic Underwriters UL, Federal Airlines FAA, Finance SOX etc.
    1. What are the key aspects of the compliance(s) in relation to software, i.e. what data needs to be captured?
    2. What do I need an ERP to do in order for my company to meet the compliance? Reporting?
  5. Do we need a SaaS (Cloud-based) solution, On-Premise (due to data security concerns), or a Hybrid / Hosted System (which combines Cloud & On-Premise in a way)?
  6. How do we plan to care for the ERP system? Do we have IT Staff in-house to support an On-premise solution or is there an Outsourced IT Firm we can work with to help?
  7. Do we need a system that will work for 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years?
    1. How important is “scalability”?
    2. Modular system to add on functions as a company grows?
    3. Multi-company or multi-site requirements?
  8. What are the key functions we need the system to do? Look at this on a department level:
    1. What does Production need?
    2. What does Services Need?
    3. What does Finance need?
    4. What does Executive/Owner(s) need?
    5. What does Sales & Marketing need?
    6. What does Purchasing need?
    7. What does the Warehouse(s) need?
    8. What does Research & Development need (if applicable)?
    9. What does Human Resources need (if required as part of an ERP search)?
  9. What are the “nice to have” or “wanted” functions, beyond the base needed requirements?
    1. What does Production want?
    2. What does Services want?
    3. What does Finance want?
    4. What does Executive/Owner(s) want?
    5. What does Sales & Marketing want?
    6. What does Purchasing want?
    7. What does the Warehouse(s) want?
    8. What does Research & Development want (if applicable)?
    9. What does Human Resources want (if required as part of an ERP search)?
  10. What is a realistic budget and ROI for a new ERP system?
    1. Licensing budget – per month spending (cloud) or fully purchased or financed system?
    2. Implementation budget (research firms say to estimate 1 to 2 times the licensing budget for implementation costs.
    3. Software Maintenance, etc. should also be factored into a budget
    4. Hardware Systems requirement budget (especially important for On-Premise software which basically requires a data center in-house)
    5. Additional personnel / staffing requirements to support a new system
    6. What time frame do we expect to see an ROI (Return On Investment)?

 

Do you have additional questions or looking for more information? Is your company looking for an ERP system? Want to chat with the author? Contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

An Independent Look at the Epicor 10.2 User Experience

 

Epicor ERP is a powerful platform, with thousands of manufacturers using it to run their businesses. With power, often comes complexity, and that’s been the case with earlier versions of the system. There is no perfect ERP system, and the ever-changing balance between functionality and usability is a constant series of trade-offs. Epicor ERP Version 9 often required multiple servers, performance tuning was critical, it had a Progress data base layer, even when running on SQL, and the user experience was challenging. 

Epicor invested $25M in Epicor ERP Version 10, developing a completely new platform. The system was written and optimized for Microsoft .NET Framework and the Microsoft Data Platform; including Microsoft SQL Server. Users will experience a big increase in performance (over Epicor 9) and find the system easier to manage.

According to Epicor, here are the Top 5 user ERP system experience enhancements for Epicor ERP 10.

  •  Responsiveness – Performance has doubled and scalability has quadrupled across virtually all aspects of the system. ERP 10 is much more hardware efficient, which dramatically lowers hardware costs.
  • Simplicity – ERP 10 services are hosted purely using Microsoft Windows® components, including Internet Information Services (IIS) and Microsoft .NET. An all new management architecture makes deployment and migration much easier.
  • Mobility – Touch-enabled devices are now supported for a new navigation system and a re-architected Epicor Web Access (EWA) browser client.
  • Collaboration – Epicor Social Enterprise is included with ERP 10 and is a new way for ERP users to interact with each other and with ERP data.
  • Choice – ERP 10 can be deployed on premise, hosted, or access via subscription. It is also much easier to create a high-performing virtualized infrastructure.

 The current version, Epicor 10.2, introduces some really exciting capabilities, including Active Home Page and Epicor Data Discovery (EDD). Here are some highlights:

  • Developed using the latest web standard, which makes the system mobile-friendly and responsive.
  • Manufacturing role-based KPIs, examples: Percentage of Jobs without Scrap or Non Conformance, Manufacturing Hours and Indirect Hours.
  • Finance and Supply Chain role-based KPIs, including: Price Variance, Open PO Count and Amount, and Negative Inventory Items/Out of Stock.
  • Customization capabilities to modify out-of-the-box KPIs or create entirely new ones based on existing or newly created BAQs.

The best way to get an in-depth look at the new Epicor 10.2 functionality is to experience it firsthand!

Join EstesGroup and Liberty Technology Advisors on Tuesday, April 10, 2:00 ET. Senior Epicor Consultants Stephen Schaefer and Bruce Shriver, and the President of Liberty Technology Advisors, Joel Schneider, will be doing a live Epicor ERP software demo and expert-panel discussion showcasing the Epicor 10.2 Home Page, Epicor Data Discovery, and the new Mobile CRM.

Watch as we live-demo the platform. Interact with our panel of experts. This is the perfect opportunity to get your questions answered by a completely neutral advisory firm, and one of the top implementations partners in the business!

We hope to see you there! 

 

EstesGroup chosen as a finalist as Best Tech Company 2016

EstesGroup chosen as a finalist as Best Tech Company 2016

EstesGroup is honored to be chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Technology Association’s “Company of the Year” award.

EstesGroup has been serving national and international clients through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation since 2004. Headquartered in Loveland, Colo., our company serves clients ranging from manufacturing, distribution, retail, financial services and professional service industries.

Rather than a cookie-cutter, one-size fits all approach, our software and business process specialists recognize that each organization needs individualized attention. We have a strong team of professionals who are trained in NetSuite, Epicor, and IQMS ERP practices. Our experts focus on your business process and what makes your core competencies unique to your organization. From there, we fit the ERP to meet the requirements of your business, making sure any changes are tested in order to prevent anything from falling through the cracks. Our clients have been extremely happy with our work, with several reporting high ROI and improved, streamlined systems. One client who utilized our ERP implementation saw a growth of over 30 million dollars in just two years, without any additional personnel.

According to the APEX Awards, the winner of the Best Company award shows “profitability from sales of its products and services, strong financial growth or return on investment for its investors and shareholders, and technical innovation and concrete examples of how it is meeting a need in the marketplace.” Companies must also show corporate responsibility by being a strong leader in the community.

Since 2001, the APEX Awards have recognized Colorado in technology excellence through nominations for Company of the Year, Startup of the Year, and Project of the year, along with a host of individual awards. Founded in 1994, the Colorado Technology Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the technology industry in Colorado.

For more information, please call 1.888.300.2340 and join our conversation on Twitter and LinkedIN.

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The 10 Principles of ERP Selection Success & How to Apply Them: Be Honest And Dependable

The 10 Principles of ERP Selection Success & How to Apply Them: Be Honest And Dependable

Goal #10 in Selecting Your The Best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System:
Be Honest and Dependable

The 10 Principles of Success

We continue to review the 10 Principles of Success and how they’re applied to ERP Selection with the 10th Goal for Success: Be Honest and Dependable!

The 10 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 selecting, 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.

My Dad has always told me, showing up each day, using common sense and being honest is 98% of what makes you successful in life.  Honesty and Dependability is the cornerstone in most things that are successful and it’s no different in selecting an ERP system.
In selecting the right ERP system for your company, you’ll come across several different individuals that can make or break the system selection process a positive experience for your company.  The individuals I’m speaking of are:

  • Independent ERP consultants
  • Software Vendor Personnel
  • Your Own Company Employees

In order for your company to clearly understand whom in this group of people is honest, dependable and is ready to step to the forefront of your ERP selection process to take responsibility of its success, you need to develop a few tracking tools that provides you what I like to call the “ERP Honesty Gage Tool Kit”.
I’ll provide you some of the more important items in the “ERP Honesty Gage Tool Kit” in a moment, but I want to make sure you understand the reason why you need one in the first place to ensure your companyselects the right ERP system.
I’ve been in the ERP software space for 30 + years and I only know of a few so called Independent” ERP Consultants.  I’m not saying these consultants/consulting firms don’t provide a service, but the majority of the so called “Independent” consultants/consulting firms out there have their favorite ERP systems/vendors they continually recommend to their clients and for this they get an additional “Referral” fee from these vendors for their recommendation after they’ve charged your company for their consulting time.  This is a conflict of interest and should not be taken lightly while you’re selecting a system that will touch every area of your company.
Knowing up front how to deal with ERP Vendor Personnel when you’re reviewing their ERP systems is ultimately what will make or break you selecting the right ERP system.  The most important thing to the ERP vendor is to sell you their software system and implementation services as quickly (on their timeline, not yours) as possible.  There are several red flags you should be aware of and be able react to, to avoid these types of vendors.  I’ll point that out below.
The honesty and dependability of your own company employees, especially the company employees that are on the ERP “Selection Review” team have to be continually monitored through the selection process as well as you have to know up front if any of your these employees are biased for or against a particular system.  What are the signs?
ERP Honesty Gage Tool Kit
Independent Consultants:

  • Check there website, if they list particular ERP Software Vendor as their partners, there’s could be a conflict of interest with them helping you with your review.
  • Ask them to sign a document stating they are not associated, nor have they ever received any “Referral Fees” from any ERP software vendors for their recommendations.  If they’re hesitant to do this you probably know they aren’t “independent”.
  • Ask for references.  If the majority of references have all chosen the same ERP system, chances are they are not an “independent” consultant.
  • If the “independent” consultant wants to project manage the implementation of the ERP system once it’s selected, chances are they are not independent.  ERP implementation project management needs to be handled by a certified member of the ERP software system.
  • If the “independent” consultant recommends your company review an ERP system prior to doing a “Business Process Review” or reviewing one you’ve provided them, their “independent” status is questionable.

Software Vendor Personnel:

  • If the Software Vendor offers to do a software demonstration of their system, prior to understanding your business you are most likely are not dealing with someone that wants to know.  Ask them for demo, if they say yes without having a detailed conversation about what you do and how you do it they just want sell you a system.
  • If the Software vendor offers you a month/quarter end price special before going through the ERP sales process, they are not going to be the partner your company will want over the long haul.  (If you want to understand what the ERP Sales Process is, from a software vendor’s point of view, give us a call at EstesGroup, we’ll share it with you, as well why it’s so important to follow it).
  • Ask the ERP software vendor for references of companies they’ve sold in your industry.  If they are reluctant to do so, or they never provide you any names, chances are they have none.  This should cause you concern.
  • The software vendor should put together a demonstration script that follows your business processes.  If none is provided they are not equipped to show you how the “Best Practices” in their system can help you improve your company.
  • Because ERP systems are more complex today, it’s extremely rare for a software vendor to have one person do it all (i.e. software demonstration, infrastructure discussion, implementation overview, etc.).  Get to know the software vendors entire team that will be involved in your review of their system.  If there’ only one person, chances are the software vendor might be too small for your company to work with.

Company Employees:

  • Prior to beginning your company ERP review, the project lead should provide the “Review Team” a questionnaire asking them directly if they have any ERP system bias (i.e. for or against a particular ERP system).
  • If a “Review Team” member consistently only participates in the review of one of the systems your company is reviewing, then they may have bias.
  • If a “Review Team” member continually criticizes or speaks highly of what they’ve seen/heard of onlyone ERP system Vs the other systems being reviewed, they mostly likely have already formed an opinion on their recommendation.  Every ERP system has pros and cons and that should be kept in mind throughout the selection process.
  • The homework that is assigned by the ERP Review Leader to the Review Team Member is late or consistently not completed it might be an indication that person doesn’t want to embrace the new system.
  • Embracing change is an important part of selecting, implementing and using an ERP system.  If a critical person or group of people in your organization have not provided the ERP Review Leader with any ideas in how a new system can help them or their area function more efficiently and effectively this should be a red flag that needs to be dealt with immediately in the selection process.

If you’d like to learn more about what and how to measure the honesty and dependability of the people you’re counting on to select the right ERP system, prior to buying it, give EstesGroup a call, wecan help!  We’ve been providing this type of help to the manufacturing/distribution industry for years.

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

Simplify Technology, Improve Operations, and Gain Efficiencies…

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