Why on Earth Do I Need an ERP System?

Why on Earth Do I Need an ERP System?

My boss once said to me that nobody wakes up in the morning and cries “I’m going to implement an ERP system!” 

It’s a fair point.  Apart from a few business process masochists that I’ve met over the years, few people out there really go out of their way to implement an enterprise system.  Enterprise systems are costly and they drain a lot of time and energy from key resources within a company.  They can be generally…painful to implement.  And yet I’ve seen so many companies make the move to enterprise systemand benefit greatly from the transition, in spite of the challenges.  This raises a question that I’ve had more than a few prospects ask me: “Why on earth do I need an ERP system?

Pundits have long noted that the “E” in “ERP” is the most important of the three letters.  The value ian ERP system comes iits applicability to the entire enterprise and not just to a few selective functions within the organization.  And while ERP has been around now for many decades, there continues to be ample opportunity for better enterprise-level integration among companies.  Quite often, the “why” of ERP comes in a quick analysis of a Company’s current-state application architecture. 

With many of the customers that I’ve helped migrate to Epicor’s ERP platform, I’ve observed a current state application map to include one or more of the following:

  • The utilization of stand-alone financial modules such as QuickBooks for financial management.  Such systems are good for counting waves, but not for making them.
  • The use of manufacturing oriented work order systems for managing the shop floor.  Job Shop-oriented systems can be effective in defining product structures and working them through the shop-floor, but are less effective in managing the selling and shipping of manufactured products anin comparing the resultant revenues to costs.
  • 1980s-era ERP systems, with one or more bolt-ons for managing product configuration and/or the shop floor.  First-generation ERP systems are generally solid when it comes to inventory management, and basic order-to-cash cycles, but are limited in many areas, and are a burden to maintain.
  • Paper-based systems for inventory management & time card entry—some customers are still pounding the paper when it comes to basic warehouse and shop floor transactions.
  • Varieties of macro-enhanced spreadsheets for doing one of many things.  Spreadsheets are a great gap-filling tool, but their limitations quickly become apparent as multi-user capabilities and large data requirements become a necessity.

Based on the above, iis no surprise that companies come to us looking to implement Epicor because their current state is a drafty quilt of poorly-stitched and poorly-patched legacy applications, homegrown boondoggles, and siloed modules.  Customers come to us believing that there must be a better answer, anin most cases there is.  The problem is, most companies took a lifetime to grow into their patchy ponchos.  At certain early stages in their relative existence, most companies can get away with the above scattershot array of systemand pseudo-systems.  But these same systems become hindrances as the company looks to scale up, expand its offerings, ramp up its output, or better integrate with customers, suppliers or best-of-breed applications.  As these challenges become clear, the “why” of ERP begins to take shape.

Our work as Epicor partners quite often has to do with explaining the “why” of ERP.  My own “why” came to me many years ago.  At the time, I was still a customer and still quite naive regarding the ERP space.  Working on a process-improvement project with my company’s Vice President of IT, I asked him point blank whether our recent ERP implementation had been a success.  “Yes!” he replied, emphatically.  “Why?” I responded.  I was a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at the time and was practicing my “5-Whys” methodology.  I only needed one of them, for his answer changed the way I’ve seen enterprise systems ever since.  By implementing an ERP system, we were laying the foundation for everything that was to come.  In our case it was configurability—we were an engineer-to-order company, living ian increasingly configure-to-order market, anneeded to make moves toward configurability before our old methodologies priced us out of that market.  By implementing an ERP system, we set in place the building blocks for product configurability, and our subsequent initiatives took these building blocks and reshaped the way the company did business.  Fifteen years anan ERP system later, my old company is still successfully competing iits target markets, proffering configured products, andoing so profitably.

Now every company owns its own specific point in time, and faces its own set of unique challenges, as it tries to grow and thrive in changing markets.  I’ve seen a lot of good reasons for moving away from a patchwork of solutions to a more integrated and comprehensive system.  My own story may resonate with some, or there may be other stories that better answer the question as to why a company might make the move to an enterprise system.  This is all to say that there are a lot of reasons for implementing an ERP system.  And everyone here at the Estes Group would love to hear your story.  Anif you don’t think you have a reason for implementing ERP, we’d love to talk to you about that as well.

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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