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How to Establish an Effective Enterprise Strategy

How to Establish an Effective Enterprise Strategy

An enterprise strategy (AKA corporate strategy) is a broad term used to describe a company’s “big picture” strategy. The development of this strategy deals with issues that affect a company and is typically developed at a high level in the company (i.e. the board of directors, top management team, etc.).

To develop an effective enterprise strategy, understanding what it involves, along with common obstacles you may face, is beneficial. This is especially true when you’re considering embarking on an ERP implementation. Keep reading to learn more.

2019 ERP Report

This year's report delves deep into the data to analyze what ERP industry trends mean for organizations now and in the future.

Common Obstacles Facing the Development of an Enterprise Strategy

Before diving into how to create an enterprise strategy, it’s important to know what challenges you are likely to face. Knowing what these challenges are enables you to develop an ERP project plan designed to avoid or overcome challenges with little downtime.

1. Overcoming the Uncertainty and Opposition to Change

If your corporate strategy team or ERP project team doesn’t adopt innovative strategies, they may fall behind market rivals. This typically occurs because there’s a bias that favors the way things have always been done.

Strategy is all about change, and you must have a change mindset to achieve this. You must plan to deal with the hesitation or opposition to change you may face.

Some strategies to reduce change resistance include finding, hiring, developing and rewarding strategic thinkers who embrace and exemplify the mindset of change. We help clients prepare for change by ensuring their project plans include critical organizational change management activities.

2. Not Planning to Meet Aggressive Timelines​

​An enterprise strategy team usually faces tight deadlines because of the scheduled release of board meetings or earning reports. While these have little to do with the underlying challenges of the project, they impose stressful deadlines.

The externally driven deadlines may make delivering optimal results challenging. To overcome this issue, we recommend assembling teams from several sources to deliver strategic goals that meet these deadlines. You’re only agile when you develop the ability to blend and assemble the assets needed to meet goals and deadlines.

Developing an Enterprise Strategy: What You Need to Know

While the challenges above only represent a few of the obstacles you may face, they are two of the most prevalent that enterprises must overcome. After planning for the challenges, it’s time to develop your strategy, which, for some, is a new challenge to deal with.

Here are some tips to help you along the way:

1. Determine the Goals of the Strategy

​Part of an enterprise strategy is determining short- and long-term goals for the company to meet. They can be financial goals, such as increasing company revenue by 15%, or intangible goals, such as improving company-wide morale.

By determining goals, you create a direction for everyone in the organization. After the goals are set, you can develop the strategies that can help you meet the goals. This includes what needs to be done to achieve goals and who completes them.

This planning stage provides a focused blueprint for your management team to guide the rest of the company.

2. Fuel Your Planning Process with Research​

​It’s important to use research to fuel your planning process. Gather information about the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors to create a strategy that gives you a competitive advantage.

To create an effective enterprise strategy, you need a comprehensive understanding of your industry’s state so you can find emerging opportunities. Market research is also essential. By understanding your customers, you’ll find it is easier to attract and serve them.

All consumer needs and tastes change. For example, what customers will pay for services or products changes depending on the current economic environment.

3. Strategically Allocate Resources

At the core of any enterprise strategy is resource allocation. This is when difficult decisions are made regarding where to spend money and how to use the time of staff members to achieve goals and beat the competition. It’s important to allocate your resources in areas you believe offer the best opportunities.

Make sure you regularly look for new opportunities, too. The best opportunities result from a combination of your business capabilities (what it does better than the competition), and what the most critical customer needs are. You need to ensure the services or products you offer match well with a customer’s needs.

4. Create the Right Enterprise Strategy Team

The team you assemble for the creation of your enterprise strategy is crucial. As the CEO or top-management official, it’s up to you to ensure the right people are gathered to create a strategy that helps the company achieve success.

Remember, as your company grows, business operations become more complex and may expose weaknesses in your management team. Anticipate these changes and bring in new talent while building the skills and abilities of your current team members with ongoing training and education.

While this is true for your strategy team, it also applies to all areas of your business if you want the opportunity to achieve your long- and short-term goals. For example, the right team can help you maximize ERP business benefits.

Developing an Enterprise Strategy that Works for Your Business​

The development of an enterprise strategy, regardless of your industry, is a challenging and complex process. Many business teams cannot do this without outside help due to the complexity of the process.

If you find the development of this strategy is too difficult for your existing team, or if you aren’t sure your efforts will provide the desired growth and success, contact us. Our ERP consultants provide new customers with a free consultation to discuss your needs and begin to develop a strategy that helps you achieve and even exceed your goals.

How to Manage Change During a Merger or Acquisition

How to Manage Change During a Merger or Acquisition

Any type of change is traumatic, but few things are scarier than a merger or acquisition. Whether you’re doing the acquiring or you’re being acquired, this process can be stressful for everyone involved.

Managing change related to a merger or acquisition is necessary for both the short- and long-term health of your organization. While mismanagement can lead to lost productivity in the short team, it can also weaken your company from within and make it vulnerable in the future.

To effectively manage change, you should focus on your most valuable resource: your employees. Here are five tips to help you prepare for the major change of a merger or acquisition:

1. Identify Skill Gaps and Overlaps

When you join forces with another organization, the first thing on employees’ minds is the status of their jobs. To avoid this panic, you should address employee concerns long before change occurs.

And long before you communicate with employees, you should spend time defining how your organization will look post-merger. This will provide visibility into skill gaps and overlaps. If you clarify the situation as quickly as possible, you’ll find it easier to manage change. Less concerned about their jobs or their future, employees will slowly turn back to the task at hand.

2. Focus on Organizational Culture

Bringing together two different organizations is going to combine two different types of organizational cultures. This could cause problems, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, culture can be one of your most effective tools in managing change – it can autocorrect for things you simply cannot control.

To avoid culture clashes, you should meet with teams throughout the organization to decide how processes will look post-merger. A strong business process reengineering methodology can help you establish a process framework prior to merging with another organization.

Focusing on culture before a merger or acquisition will make it easier for you to incorporate new employees into your organization and facilitate your transformation.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Make Communication Easy

During times of change, rumors are your worst enemy. The last thing you want is employees gossiping about what they think is going to happen post-merger. This not only takes people away from work, but it hurts workplace morale, which can have a negative impact on the health of the company.

It’s important to establish clear and open lines of communication with employees throughout the acquisition process. Consider developing an organizational change management plan and holding weekly meetings to discuss the latest news related to the merger and to answer any questions people may have. This simple step ensures everyone is on the same page and gives you the chance to dispel rumors while keeping everyone calm and working towards a common goal.

4. Establish Purpose

Many organizations use mergers and acquisitions as a growth strategy. The idea is that if you can combine highly-profitable companies in similar but different markets, then you can increase efficiency and profitability. This can be a smart strategy, but only if stakeholders are aligned.

To ensure alignment, you should communicate your strategy and explain how it aligns with your organizational vision. If acquiring a certain company gives you access to a new market, then make your intentions clear.

5. Collaborate

Organizational change can often feel as though it’s being imposed from the top, and this can lead to change resistance. It’s important to make the transformation as collaborative as you can.

Recruiting integration teams is a great way to spread the workload of change management, and it makes people feel more involved in the process. Participating in integration teams gives employees another way to stay informed about organizational changes.

While preparing for change is important, unforeseen challenges always arise. You should develop a plan but remain flexible as you navigate change. Keep these tips in mind, as they will make your merger or acquisition more successful.

About the Author: Jock Purtle is the Founder and CEO of a digital business brokerage. Prior to starting DigitalExits, he was an eCommerce entrepreneur. In his current role, he works with business owners to help them strategize growth and plan an exit, which has given him considerable experience in fields such as organizational change and corporate culture.
Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.
6 Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

6 Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to become one of the most disruptive technologies of the 21st century. It’s driving innovation across sectors as disparate as healthcare and agriculture. Supply chain management is one area where AI has many applications and benefits.

Before moving forward, here are some quick definitions:


  • AI refers to a branch of computer science that involves simulating intelligent human-like behavior in machines.
  • Machine learning is a branch of AI concerned with using statistical techniques and algorithms to facilitate computer systems in improving their performance on specific tasks using data alone, without being explicitly programmed.

Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

1. Predictive Analytics

Demand forecasting analyzes customer demand to optimize supply chain processes. Optimal inventory levels and reduced holding costs are key benefits of accurate demand forecasting.

Machine learning models are adept at predictive analytics for demand forecasting. These models can identify hidden patterns in historical demand data. For example, the models can correlate customer purchasing behavior with weather patterns.

We developed a manufacturing ERP systems list for organizations interested in this type of functionality:

2019 Top 10 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

Find out what ERP vendors made the Top 10 list this year!

2. Inventory Management

An important use case for AI is enhancing the computer vision capabilities of ERP systems and machines. Computer vision is a field of computer science that works on enabling computers to see, identify and process images.

Thanks to machine learning and deep learning, image classification is now becoming more feasible, meaning computer systems can now recognize and classify objects in images with a high degree of accuracy – in some cases, even outperforming humans.

In terms of supply chain management, computer vision can enable more accurate inventory management. Target, for example, trialed a system in which a robot equipped with a camera tracked inventory on store shelves. (For information on other trends and key issues in contemporary supply chain management, read this article by Bringg.)

3. Optimized Procurement Management

Chatbots have dramatically improved in recent years, and while they are often used in the context of customer service, they also have benefits in procurement management.

A good example is Chyme, which opens up conversational interfaces between human operators and sales/marketing automation solutions, such as Salesforce. A large beverage company implemented Chyme as they were experiencing inefficiencies when employees sought information on procurement queries. Employees were required to call a helpdesk and wait for operators to access several systems to give them the required information. By implementing the AI-powered procurement bot and integrating it with various ERP systems for access to real-time information, inefficiencies were markedly reduced.

Chatbots provide instant information on shipment status, stock availability, stock price and other procurement queries. This is a clear case of AI benefiting supply chain management while augmenting the roles of staff and allowing them to focus on value-added tasks instead of getting frustrated answering simple queries.

4. Automated Quality Inspections

Manual quality inspections conducted at logistics hubs are often used to inspect packages or containers for any damage during transit. The possibility to automate quality inspections has emerged with the growth of AI.

IBM Watson is an artificial intelligence system that can be used for automated analysis of defects in industrial equipment. The system uses machine learning techniques to check for damage via image recognition.

The use of AI to power automated quality inspections reduces the chances of delivering faulty goods to customers.

5. Improved Compliance

Manufacturers in certain industries are required to comply with a range of industry-specific regulations governing product quality. In industries like aerospace and healthcare, supplier quality is paramount. A component part that fails to meet industry regulations in aerospace, for example, could lead to human fatalities.

Supplier quality management is costly and time-consuming because manufacturers in heavily-regulated industries need to track and monitor thousands, or even millions, of component parts from different suppliers to ensure they meet compliance standards. Machine learning models can streamline auditing and compliance monitoring of component parts.

6. Faster, Higher-output Shipping

The autonomous vehicles industry is still in its nascent stages. However, as it begins to mature, there is enormous potential for shortening shipping times. Human truck drivers can only be on the road for a limited amount of time within a certain time period. Autonomous vehicles, powered by AI and machine learning, do not have this limit on driving time.

Closing Thoughts

The benefits of AI and machine learning in supply chain management are clear. These technologies augment the roles of skilled workers, allowing them to provide more value to their organizations.

If you’re pursuing digital transformation, Panorama’s ERP consultants can help you determine how AI can increase your organization’s operational efficiency and competitive advantage.

Written by Limor Wainstein. Limor is a technical writer and editor at Agile SEO, a boutique digital marketing agency focused on technology and SaaS markets. She has over 10 years’ experience writing technical articles and documentation for various audiences, including technical on-site content, software documentation, and dev guides. She specializes in big data analytics, computer/network security, middleware, software development and APIs.

Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.

Why Localization Should be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Why Localization Should be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Whether you are a CEO of a company, an independent content creator or a marketing executive of a large enterprise, chances are you have given some thought to digital transformation. The digital marketplace we live in today requires brands and their respective businesses to innovate their marketing strategies in order to stay relevant.

Studies have shown that 55% of startups worldwide have already adopted digital transformation as their primary business strategy. One of the more predominant factors of becoming relevant to a wider customer base is site and content localization. What localization can accomplish is to make your brand relevant to markets outside of your local area or language region.

Localization of your internet presence can enable you to approach new markets and clients as well as to establish a firm presence as an important figure in your industry. Let’s take a look at why digital transformation should take center stage in your internationalization efforts through the lens of localization.

1. Brand authority & industry presence

It can be difficult for a company to establish its presence on the market, especially in a competitive niche. However, content localization coupled with digital transformation can help your brand achieve that goal. By going the extra mile and localizing your web content, you will make a statement that you are ready to grow as a brand.

Both customers and other companies in your niche will start to notice your online content, pages and the impact you make thanks to the search engine optimization (SEO) that comes with localization. In short, the more you move into localization of your content through digital transformation, the more prevalent your name will be online.

2. Greater variety of markets

Localization entails that you translate your content into languages other than your native one. This means that any customers and clients who speak Chinese, Russian, Greek or some other language will take notice of you. In that regard, you will effectively attract a more varied and lucrative clientele than ever before.

While traditional digital transformation efforts focus on internal restructuring, localization looks outwards towards the public. This is what makes localization a good choice for digital restructuring since it will place your brand’s pin on the markets across the world.

3. A flexible content structure

Content localization will give you ample opportunity to catalogue your website, blog posts and social media accounts. This is a good time to refresh and reevaluate your content marketing strategy now that you have localization in mind.

You will effectively create a more manageable and flexible content structure, which will allow you to create new types of interesting content for your international audience. Managing such a large operation is a huge feat, so you should consider outsourcing a part of your localization process to a trustworthy third party.

It is good practice to check out several translation reviews before settling for the writers and translators that suit your brand needs the most, especially in long term. Once you have a content creation and localization pipeline in place, managing the digital transformation chess pieces around your brand will be a quick and enjoyable task.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

4. Better SERP ranking

All the digital transformation efforts you put into your website, brand and content lead to one thing – better SEO. SEO remains a pivotal part of content optimization on the web and directly affects the visibility of your brand on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Search engine result page (SERP) extrapolates data from your SEO optimization and ranks that content higher or lower than the competition’s. Your rank will depend on the level of optimization you applied to your content.

Localization is considered a huge leap forward from anything you might do to technically optimize your content through Google Adwords or SEM Rush. In essence, localization through digital transformation of your online brand will ensure you show up on people’s browsers far more frequently than before.

5. High ROI

Every company has to take ROI into consideration when innovations are in question. After all, digital transformation isn’t the cheapest or fastest way to upgrade your business model. However, content localization is a very worthy investment for an online brand for one simple reason – organic traffic. Localization brings organic traffic to your website and subsequently allows for much higher conversion rates.

This is a much more affordable marketing strategy than any form of paid advertisement, live event or influencer campaign. The ROI of localization in your digital transformation far exceeds any previously mentioned marketing efforts and it makes sense for your brand in the long run.

6. External investments & partners

Once the buzz around your company starts spreading, you will see a lot more clients and customers knocking on your door. One of the more prominent knocks you should be present for is when interested partners and investment opportunities approach you.

Localization can do a lot for your brand and being interesting to potential investment partners is only one of them. Make sure to take every option into consideration when it comes to corporate partnerships and investment projects as a result of your newly-implemented digital transformation. There is a lot to be gained by working with other brands in your niche and creating joint products and services for international markets.

Now, Not Later

Large companies and small startups are both cautious about implementing anything new into their existing business models. However, technical transformation and digital upgrades to your brand are becoming a market necessity. If you decide to wait, you can find yourself in the position of becoming irrelevant to the market because other brands have embraced new digital transformation techniques in your place.

Localize a portion of your online presence into popular global languages and monitor the performance of your brand for a while. Before you know it, you will have expanded far beyond where you were when you started considering localization as part of your digital transformation strategy.

Written By: Kristin Savage. Kristin graduated from Columbia University where she was majoring in Germanic Languages. Besides English as her mother tongue, she also speaks German and Dutch fluently. Currently, Kristin is studying Spanish and planning to obtain her PhD in Applied Linguistics.
Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.
A Brief Overview of Robotic Process Automation

A Brief Overview of Robotic Process Automation

Competition is fierce in the robotic process automation market. It’s a market that has more than tripled in revenue during the last two years, perhaps due to the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI). However, robotic process automation isn’t quite the same as AI.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software robots to perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as data entry or certain employee onboarding tasks. Unlike AI, RPA cannot make judgments about future scenarios.

Organizations often deploy RPA bots in place of an ERP system or use them in conjunction with an existing ERP system. While ERP systems automate many business processes, they don’t automate all processes. This is where bots become useful. Usually, a bot does not have to be directly integrated into an ERP system to interface with it.

When RPA technology came on the market, it was primarily adopted by the financial services industry. Now, it is popular across all industries, and organizations have a variety of software vendors from which to choose.

Three software startups rule the RPA market: Blue Prism Group, UiPath and Automation Anywhere. These three companies were all founded in 2005 or earlier, but they didn’t become successful until they entered the RPA market.

Why is the RPA Market Growing so Quickly?

Using bots to complete repetitive tasks saves organizations time and money and reduces errors. Bots also allow employees to focus on higher-level work instead of mundane tasks. In other words, the return on investment is huge.

Strategic marketing has also contributed to the growth of the RPA market. Blue Prism Group popularized the use of the word “robotic” in conjunction with “process automation” as it invoked the concept of AI. Taking advantage of the popularity of AI, the RPA market skyrocketed.

Another reason for the market’s growth is the fact that RPA technology is relatively low cost, and the initial implementation typically doesn’t require extensive customization or deep systems integration.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

RPA Implementation Challenges

The RPA market continues to grow despite rampant implementation failures. You may have heard that RPA implementations are quick and easy, but the only reason this rumor has spread is because organizations are rushing through implementation. While this may seem like a good idea, this leaves no time for proper planning or developing a long-term roadmap. Organizations soon find that RPA technology is difficult to maintain as their organization grows and business processes evolve.

If you know where your business is headed in the next five to ten years, you can configure your bots to fit your future business model. When evaluating RPA vendors, look for a flexible solution that aligns with your culture of continuous improvement.

The Future of RPA

RPA technology will likely become more sophisticated as software companies move beyond the automation of simple tasks and begin automating more advanced processes. Eventually, more ERP vendors may acquire RPA (soon to be AI) companies to extend their own AI functionality.

In the meantime, organizations implementing RPA are getting creative. They’re integrating RPA with cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing, so they can automate processes previously requiring human judgment. Many organizations are putting this type of automation, known as intelligent automation, on their strategic agendas for the next year.

While the future of RPA is bright, will the future it creates be just as idyllic? Automation technology has eliminated jobs in the past, so its reasonable to expect that more advanced automation will eliminate just as many, if not more, jobs. In response to this fear, organizations are developing reskilling plans, so they can maximize employee retention even as entire roles and job descriptions are eliminated.

Should You Consider RPA?

In this digital era, organizations want to redefine the way they work. While the need for new technology is urgent, you should first focus on aligning your people and processes with your digital strategy. Your RPA implementation should be part of a holistic digital transformation initiative.

If you build this strong foundation, your organization can realize numerous benefits from RPA technology, including cost savings, reduced cycle time and improved customer service.

Are You Making the Most of Digital Manufacturing?

Are You Making the Most of Digital Manufacturing?

What is your manufacturing model? Is it mass production or digital manufacturing? Most manufacturers will say they’re trying to move to digital manufacturing, but are they prepared to realize the full benefits of their digital strategies?

Digitizing every phase of your supply chain is only half the battle. Digital manufacturing also entails integration of disparate systems, processes and machines. Integration enables real-time decision making based on real-time data. Digital manufacturing isn’t just about automating processes; it’s about using intelligence from multiple technologies to optimize processes and improve product design.

2019 Top 10 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

Find out what ERP vendors made the Top 10 list this year!

How to Realize the Benefits of Digital Manufacturing

Even if you already have all of the manufacturing technology you think you need, it never hurts to reevaluate your current state:

Define a Digital Strategy

Your digital strategy should be aligned with your organizational vision. What technology do you currently have, and what technology should you implement to achieve your goals? More importantly, how will you integrate this technology?

Develop a Business Case

You should set ambitious but realistic KPIs and continually monitor your progress.

Obtain Executive Buy-in

We’ve included this in several blogs. It will probably be in every blog. That’s how important it is. Not only do you need executive support, but you need a core team with stakeholders from each functional area.

Streamline Your Processes

You should begin business process management before selecting technology. Inefficient processes cannot be fixed with technology alone.

Prove Value

Use proof of concepts to demonstrate the value of digital manufacturing. Early wins show employees how they can benefit from upcoming changes.


Even with a proof of value, employees may still worry about being replaced by a robot. You should remind them that digital manufacturing will free them to focus on more important tasks.

Develop Essential Skillsets

You will need digital skills, such as big data analytics, automation, cyber-security and mechatronics.

Define a Business Intelligence Strategy

Who will be responsible for analyzing and acting on business intelligence from the factory floor? What processes will you need to implement to streamline decision making?

Finding an ERP System to Support Digital Manufacturing

While ERP software isn’t the only technology you need for modernizing your manufacturing processes, it often is the backbone of the full suite of technologies that gather, store and analyze your data.

Many ERP software vendors have been quick to respond to the evolving needs of manufacturers. They’ve committed to building capabilities such as IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain directly into their cloud offerings. Other vendors use API to connect to external applications.

IoT is an essential component to integrate into your ERP system as it gathers sensor data from the supply chain and provides actionable analytics on design issues, lead time, maintenance needs, inventory levels, energy consumption and even the customer experience. Housed in the ERP system, these analytics can be reviewed by supervisors and communicated to decision makers on the shop floor.

When evaluating ERP systems, you should assess their ability to aggregate data from key areas of your supply chain.

Is Digital Manufacturing Improving Your Operations?

So, you’ve selected an ERP system and integrated it with advanced manufacturing technologies. What benefits should you expect? Here’s a partial list:

digital manufacturing benefits

Here’s a bit more detail on a few of these benefits:

Easier Consumer Product Customization

Whether you’re selling directly to consumers or to other businesses, you need to be flexible and responsive. Customer needs constantly change, and they expect quick response times. Five years ago, it wasn’t economically viable to produce smaller quantities of customized products. Now, this is faster and cheaper thanks to 3D printing and digital collaboration with contract manufacturers. Mass customization is also more feasible with today’s technologies.

Better Decision Making

The masses of data contained in ERP systems become manageable when integrated with digital manufacturing technology. IoT brings actionable data to the forefront and alerts managers in real time. Smart machines can also alert managers of impending maintenance needs.

Continuous Innovation

The same data that improves real-time decision making can be used to drive continuous innovation. Customer experience data helps product managers design better products. Product managers can also rely on artificial intelligence to determine what factors improve production quality.

Who’s Adopting Manufacturing Technologies?

Few manufacturers have implemented all of the technologies mentioned in this article, and even fewer have done so successfully. While fully digitizing and integrating your supply chain seems like an ambitious endeavor, manufacturers who move first will realize benefits unachievable for slower moving competitors.

Panorama’s ERP consultants have helped many manufacturers digitize their supply chain. Contact us to learn how we can help your company achieve it’s manufacturing goals.

Challenges of Hiring an ERP Consultant When You Don’t Like Asking for Help

Challenges of Hiring an ERP Consultant When You Don’t Like Asking for Help

Whether you’re lost and asking for directions or distraught and seeking a listening ear, asking for help is never easy. This is true in both our personal lives and our professional lives. While asking a coworker for help can be embarrassing, it’s not as mortifying as seeking outside help beyond the walls of your organization. Many executives dread the prospect of seeking professional guidance, such as a business consultant or ERP consultant, to address an organizational issue they don’t want to address internally due to time or resource constraints.

According to Gartner, CEO’s top priorities for 2018 are growth and IT-related. It will be interesting to see how many of these CEOs seek outside help and how many use only in-house resources to transform their organization.

Reasons Organizations Don’t Engage ERP Consultants

Asking for Help Seems like a Sign of Weakness

You might feel like you’re admitting incompetence, but you’re actually admitting you have limits. No organization has unlimited time and resources. Acknowledging this fact is a strength. It shows you’re informed about your processes, your people and your pain points. It shows you’re willing to change and do what’s right for your employees and your organization as a whole. If you hide organizational problems, they become much harder to fix.

Your Competitors Don’t Seem to be Struggling

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re falling behind your competitors. But, are you really? Underneath all of their flashy marketing and innovative products, likely lie the same underlying operational pains your organization is experiencing. Again, your feelings of incompetence are unfounded. You’re all in the same boat. The person who calls an ERP consultant first, will quickly outpace the others and achieve operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

You’ll Surrender Control of Your Project

While it’s difficult to trust people you don’t know with something dear to you, no one said you won’t have any say in the process. In fact, you’ll be in charge of all final decisions, and you’ll have the opportunity to set the tone for all project communications. Digital transformations are more likely to succeed with executive sponsorship and buy-in. The more involved you are, the more business benefits your organization will realize. ERP consultants make recommendations – you decide whether or not to follow them.

You’ll Choose the Wrong ERP Consultant

Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past where your ERP consultant put entry-level college grads on your project and allowed you minimal facetime with senior leaders. Maybe you were given a biased recommendation for an ERP system based on the consultant’s financial ties. Maybe you are scarred from this experience. While you don’t want to risk making the same mistake again, your project will benefit from third-party guidance, so you should keep your options open. If you need additional skillsets and resources, the right ERP consultant can provide this while bringing seasoned, industry expertise and unbiased software recommendations.

Why it’s OK to Ask for Help

While there are many reasons to approach a digital transformation without third-party guidance, there are just as many reasons to ask for help.

Validation of Project Deliverables

Oftentimes, you’re too close to the project to see the big picture or you’re focused on organizational politics. A third-party can provide a fresh perspective and review your project plan to ensure it’s realistic and includes all necessary components.

Lessons Learned from other Digital Transformations

If you hire the right ERP consultants, you will have access to experts with a wide breadth of digital transformation experience. They’ve encountered similar problems to yours and know how to navigate challenges such as vendor negotiations and organizational change management.

Specialized Skills

Speaking of organizational change management, you may not have this expertise in-house. If you hire the right experts, they’ll have both technical and business skillsets to address the full lifecycle of your digital transformation.

Reduced Strain on Employees

You don’t have to significantly disrupt your employees’ day-to-day jobs to transform your organization. While you do need a dedicated project team, consultants can help you strategically build your team so you select the right subject matter experts with a strong understanding of their particular functional areas.

Leverage for Persuading “The Powers That Be”

Sometimes, you have a great idea that will save your organization time and money, but you have no decision-making power. ERP consultants can help you build a business case that will convince your boss to invest in digital transformation.

Cross-Functional Problem Solving

Successful digital transformation requires a focus on business process management throughout the project lifecycle. ERP consultants can collaborate with process owners across departments to understand pain points and facilitate the definition of future state business processes. Sometimes, these meetings are one-on-one. Sometimes, they are cross-functional. In both cases, consultants place a high value on stakeholder input from all functional areas – this includes customers!

The Value of ERP Consultants

Whether you’re hiring a business consultant or ERP consultant, you’ll likely feel a little unnerved about being so humble. However, organizations that are willing to admit their limitations can experience the benefits of third-party guidance, such as objectivity and specialized expertise.

Transforming your processes, people and technology isn’t easy. ERP consultants can reduce the risks inherent to large projects by helping you anticipate common pitfalls. If you wait to hire a consultant until you’ve begun experiencing problems, the damage is much harder to fix.

Three Ways Blockchain Will Affect Supply Chain Management

Three Ways Blockchain Will Affect Supply Chain Management

The increased use of blockchain technology could significantly impact supply chain management. Some experts claim it has the potential to completely revolutionize the supply chain industry.

Here’s a quick look at three ways blockchain will affect supply chain management.

1. Blockchain Allows for Streamlining Secure Transactions Between Logistics Suppliers, Manufacturers and Third-Party Partners

Blockchain is a ledger of records structured into blocks of data, which are connected using secure cryptographic validation to form a continuous chain. Each block references and detects its predecessor. What makes this so important in terms of supply chain management is the fact that the ledger isn’t stored in a master location. Instead, the data lives on multiple computers simultaneously, giving all vested entities visibility and access to the records. Old transactions are preserved forever, while new transactions are instantly and permanently added. This ensures that the history being viewed is exactly the same for everyone, from the manufacturers and suppliers to the third-party partners. This will eliminate the need to reconcile internal data and prevent any group from cheating the system by misrepresenting goods, shipments, etc.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

2. Blockchain Makes Everything Traceable and Enhances Accountability.

As mentioned above, every single aspect of a transaction is visible to every party in the supply chain. This means every single item can be traced from the very beginning to the very end, essentially eliminating fraud, waste and delays. This also ensures that no single company has complete control over access to the information. As an added bonus, once a transaction has been added to the chain of information blocks and confirmed, it cannot be removed or altered, making it a very trustworthy record (a transaction must be confirmed six times to be deemed valid.) Then, it is permanently added to the record on the public ledger. There is absolutely no way to manipulate or erase any confirmed block data.

3. Overall, Blockchain Makes Most Things Easier.

When it comes to the supply chain market, the use of blockchain simplifies almost everything. It virtually eliminates fraud and reduces errors. Additionally, it becomes much easier to manage inventory, improve partner and consumer trust and identify and fix any potential problems. Courier and payment costs are reduced, and the need for paperwork is eliminated. Finally, the long process of reconciling and auditing separate ledgers from different entities in the supply chain is eliminated.

The unique features of blockchain have the ability to positively affect all industries on a global scale.

How IoT is Enhancing ERP Functionality

How IoT is Enhancing ERP Functionality

In the past few years, IoT (Internet of Things) technology has exploded, resulting in plenty of positive changes for ERP systems. From enhancing customer service to making it easier for companies to monitor and evaluate data, IoT has significantly improved ERP functionality and how companies do business as a whole.

What is IoT?

IoT is the collective term used for the billions of physical devices all over the world that are connected to the internet, both collecting and sharing data. Think of all the tools in your life that connect and share data. This includes everything from smartphones and heart monitors to refrigerators, washing machines, coffee makers, cars and more.

How Has IoT Enhanced the ERP System?

In simple terms, IoT increases the usefulness and power of an ERP system, whether on-premise or in the cloud. It is easy to see why companies in all industries are looking at creative ways to utilize IoT. For example, in the manufacturing industry, equipment-mounted diagnostic tools and computerized maintenance management systems make sure information is available to everyone from the technicians working on the floor to the senior executives upstairs.

In both the manufacturing and customer service sector, handheld scanners have tremendously enhanced an ERP system’s functions. It makes keeping up with inventory much more manageable, while also providing the data needed for better forecasting and production. This ensures products are adequately stocked so when customers are ready to make a purchase, so are you. As a bonus for companies, the use of handheld scanners can cut down on administrative costs [1].

There is no doubt that smartphones have also had a substantial impact on ERP systems, improving the quality of service for both customers and employees. Access to critical information is now at their fingertips, creating better response times by delivering real-time information on the spot. Customers no longer have to wait to find out if something they are interested in is in stock. Instead, this information is immediately available. From the employee side, productivity is increased, and downtime is reduced.

There are plenty of other ways IoT has improved customer service. For example, mobile apps allow you to check-in at hotels, restaurants, and store pickups. When it comes to healthcare, patient care is greatly enhanced when physicians can use their smartphone or tablet to view a patient’s test results, previous doctor’s notes and medication records using IoT enabled technology.

How Will IoT Continue to Enhance ERP Systems?

IoT also allows for greater flexibility, considerably enhances data and makes life easier for everyone. By 2020, a whopping 95% of products are expected to be IoT enabled. Any business that has yet to embrace this technology is at a considerable disadvantage to users of IoT technology. In the very near future, they will have no choice but to adopt this technology or continue to be left behind [2]. It is impossible to predict precisely how IoT will enhance ERP systems in the future, but you can be confident their role will only increase.

A Personal Invite to Panorama’s ERP Bootcamp

How Microsoft Dynamics Compares to Other ERP Software

How Microsoft Dynamics Compares to Other ERP Software

As the top software company in the world, it only makes sense that Microsoft would offer its own version of ERP software [1]. Microsoft Dynamics was first released in 1993 [2]. Since then, it has undergone significant changes and upgrades, primarily to stay ahead of the many other ERP software vendors that have entered the market. So, how does Microsoft Dynamics stack up against the competition? Here’s a look at how Microsoft Dynamics compares to other ERP software.

1. Options for a Variety of Business Sizes and Operations

Microsoft Dynamics offers four ERP solutions: AX, NAV, GP, and SL plus CRM software (Microsoft Dynamics CRM) and software for retail businesses (Microsoft Dynamics RMS). Although any of the four ERP solutions can work for any size business, GP, NAV, and SL are better suited for small to medium-sized businesses. AX is the preferred option for large companies that operate in multiple sites and/or countries.

Each ERP has unique features to suit different business sectors. NAV offers the functional support that is often needed in manufacturing and distribution industries. GP has significant HR and financial management abilities. SL is a great fit for project-based businesses, such as construction companies. This array of choices makes it easier for businesses to select the specific ERP solution that will work best for their needs.

2. Implementation and Integration

Dynamics can be challenging to implement. One reason is because it is an expensive and complex ERP program. If the initial parameters are not correct, the long term results could be costly. Those mistakes won’t be apparent until it’s much too late. It is unwise to attempt implementation without the guidance of an expert. While Microsoft has several Value Added Resellers (VARS), finding who is competent with Dynamics and your industry can be difficult.

Dynamics easily integrates with other Microsoft products that you are likely already using, including QuickBooks, Outlook, Excel and Word. This streamlines processes and increases business efficiency. Also, this allows your employees to access and use Microsoft programs without going outside the ERP software. Integrating other ERP systems with Microsoft products is often a difficult and time-consuming process.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Customer Support

It is important to identify the level of service your vendor is going to provide. As stated above, Dynamics is a complex, intricate program. Your employees are going to need guidance and support well beyond the initial implementation.

Larger companies using AX will find there are several competent, customer-focused VARs in the marketplace. They will provide on-site training and support. However, smaller businesses often have to rely on Microsoft’s rapid deployment program. Training usually doesn’t extend beyond self-service training videos. This can leave your employees with more questions than answers.

4. Microsoft Dynamics Intuition

Dynamics makes good use of artificial intelligence, including Azure Machine Learning and Power BI. This greatly enhances the system’s intuitiveness. Your team will gain insight into customer communications, transactions, and other pertinent data. The result is accurate predictions and inferences allowing you to anticipate client needs. Businesses benefit from streamlined operations and reduced costs.

5. Dynamics is Compatible With Legacy Systems

Compatibility with your legacy system is critical when transitioning to an ERP system. Unfortunately, not all ERP systems are compatible with legacy systems. Dynamics has shown the ability to be compatible with some legacy systems. This can help the transition by reducing time, money and effort. Again, it’s imperative to have an expert guide you through this process.

6. Microsoft Dynamics Useful Features

Dynamics gives businesses a wide selection of tools for productivity that can enhance every facet of a company. The functions available through Dynamics are numerous. Businesses can accomplish useful tasks, such as control general ledger, sales and finances. Manufacturing has the ability to manage their supply chain, schedule and plan production. It can even assist HR by tracking employee training, development and performance.

Overall Microsoft Dynamics is a powerful ERP. But due to its complexity, it requires expert guidance. Is Dynamics right for your business? Panorama Consulting can help you decide.

How Infor Cloud Compares to Other ERP Software

How Infor Cloud Compares to Other ERP Software

If you have looked into ERP software, then you have almost certainly heard of Infor Cloud. For over 16 years, Infor has been providing ERP solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. Currently, a Tier I ERP vendor, Infor Cloud is one of the four most leveraged ERP systems. This is primarily due to the variety of functions and capabilities it offers, as well as its scalability [1].

So, how does Infor Cloud compare to other ERP software like SAP or Oracle? Here’s a quick look at how Infor Cloud stacks up against other top ERP vendors:

1. Although Once Targeted at the Manufacturing Industry, Infor Cloud now Offers a Variety of Products Designed for Other Industries

Unlike some other ERP vendors, Infor Cloud has worked diligently to create continuously enhanced software for every industry. Their ERP software is not considered “one type fits all” and no one industry is considered more important than the other. They have specialized software available for every industry, including fashion, equipment rental, healthcare, hospitality, food and beverage, public sector, automotive, aerospace and defense. All software features the latest innovations and modules specifically designed for that individual niche including social applications and mobile access. This may help eliminate the need for specialized (and expensive) customizations.

2. After Making Numerous Acquisitions, Infor Cloud has Made Integration with Other Services Easy

When some ERP vendors acquire others, they put little, if any, effort into integration. At Infor Cloud, this is not the case. Instead, they have released middleware that allows for high integration with other services. For example, systems used to do everything from track workflow to monitor processes and manage events can be integrated into Infor Cloud software.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Infor Cloud offers fast installation

Infor ERP software has been designed to facilitate rapid deployment, allowing users to get up and running as quickly as possible. This is the case, whether it is on-premise or in the cloud. This may be an advantage over some other ERP systems that require lengthy installations or a great deal of customization.

4. Infor Cloud is a Leader in Mobile Functionality

Infor Cloud understands that in today’s world, traditional offices, where everyone comes in and works in the same building from 8-5 p.m. are a thing of the past. Instead, more and more companies allow remote offices and employees to work from home. Infor Cloud’s mobile functionality is touted to be more robust than its competition.

5. Infor Cloud is Always Looking for Ways to Modernize, Simplify and Save

Infor Cloud dedicates a significant amount of time and effort to creating software that is continuously innovative, offers greater choices and increased value. Additionally, they have a strong support network that ensures upgrades go as efficiently as possible. In just the last year alone, Infor Cloud has introduced over 6,400 new integrations, 6,200 new features, and 176 new products, an impressive accomplishment [2]. Few, if any, other ERP vendors can match this. It is easy to see why their customer list includes some of the world’s top corporations, including Ferrari, Heineken, Bausch & Lomb, Best Western International and Wyndham Hotels.

Simply put, many other ERP vendors cannot compare to Infor Cloud.  Not sure if Infor Cloud is right for your company?  Don’t fret, leave it to the best!  Contact Panorama Consulting Solutions to help determine the right ERP software roadmap.

Standardization vs. Flexibility: How This Decision Drives Your Digital Transformation

Standardization vs. Flexibility: How This Decision Drives Your Digital Transformation

As you consider the potential shift to an ERP system, it’s important to identify which style of digital transformation is most aligned with your business strategies and goals. One of the most important questions you should consider in your planning is whether or not you are looking for standardization or flexibility in your operations. There are certainly pros and cons to both approaches.

1. Pros and Cons of Standardization

Standardization is a great option if you are looking to create a system that delivers quality goods or services with a solid degree of predictability. Standardization allows for consolidation of business practices and adds a great deal of stability to your operations. Standardization also allows you to implement foundational processes with consistency and dependability.

You may find a few issues with standardization as well. Sometimes, standardization makes it difficult to keep up with changing trends. While your standardization allows your business a great amount of stability in the here and now, it may not leave room for future forecasting. As your business grows, your standardized processes could hold you back if you’re not careful.

In terms of implementation, standardization will require a greater amount of management up front in both the business process and in implementing organizational change You’ll also need to plan for a large scale employee training program.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

2. Pros and Cons of Flexibility

Flexibility in your digital transformation will allow you to better meet the unique and often customizable demands of your clients. Flexibility can be great for rapidly growing companies that need to be able to adjust operations processes quickly. Smaller companies also benefit from flexibility, as they often face unique challenges because of their size. A flexible system might also provide compatibility for upgrading software in the future.

On the downside of flexibility, your system can become too loose. This might make it more difficult to enact standard business processes across the board. It also might not push employees who are resisting your digital transformation to make necessary operational changes. Too much customization in your software can also be a negative, as this affects usability.

A flexible ERP system will require a large amount of project governance. There also needs to be aggressive controls in place throughout the implementation and customization process.

3. How to Decide

As you can see there are valid reasons to consider a standardized or flexible approach to your ERP system. Often, you can choose a software program and implementation plan for your business that lends itself more to one side of the spectrum or the other. Consider what aspects of your digital transformation are most important to your company brand and growth strategy.

The best thing is to decide what the goals of your ERP system implementation are and look at how more standardization or flexibility will support you in achieving these goals.

Why Private Equity Firms Demand Successful ERP Implementations

Why Private Equity Firms Demand Successful ERP Implementations

We help companies select and implement ERP software and each has unique needs and requirements. Some are looking for more of a strategic and complete digital transformation, while others are looking for a shorter-term effective fix. Some are looking for ways to standardize operations and drive business improvements, while others are simply trying to replace their outdated legacy systems.

Private equity (PE) owners and funds are some of our most frequent repeat clients. They are more predictable customers who hire us to manage ERP implementations at companies they directly own or invest in. Their needs and drivers are laser focused because they are driven to accelerate growth and profitability even more so than most executives. PE firms are formed by investors often using a combination of private and borrowed money. This makes their needs and motivations particularly interesting and time sensitive.

Below are some key things we commonly see PE firms looking for in their ERP implementations:

1. Low Tolerance for Implementation Time and Cost Overruns

No executive likes to see an implementation take too much time, money or resources and this is especially true with private equity organizations. They tend to have a very low tolerance for software customization, overly complicated software functionality, poor project management and other things impacting implementation time, cost and risk. Almost to a fault, they want to make sure their ERP investments are maximized and not distracted by what they perceive to be superfluous project activities or costs.

2. Higher Likelihood of Opting Out of “Big” ERP Systems

Because of the lower tolerances for cost, time and risk overruns, PE firms are more likely to push for alternatives to “big” ERP systems such as SAP S/4HANA or Oracle Cloud. While plenty of large, Fortune 1000 companies use these products, PE firms are more likely explore ways to get more bang for their buck at a lower cost point.

One common school of thought is the new system may be a shorter-term (but credible) enhancement until they sell the company to an acquirer, so they don’t want to spend too much time or money on a larger or more complex system. This often leads them to a Tier II or industry-focused solution rather than one of the more common “big” names.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Scalability of Business Processes and Credible Reporting

A primary focus is often to ensure their investment in new ERP systems can help scale for aggressive growth. This means they are more likely to stomp out inefficient processes, automate as much as they can and build a business process and technology framework that aligns. Delays or inefficiencies can directly impact profitability and momentum. This is where shared services models, common business practice, optimized business processes and other drivers of scale and precision are particularly appreciated.

Operating and reporting enhancements are another driver, such as credibly being able to report, capture and manage key performance indicators. This is an important tool for PE firms to measure value, progress and predict cash flows. 

The most sophisticated private equity firms also recognize that managing organizational change management (OCM) will be a key enabler and driver of scalability and growth. A trend is to use the functionality the software provides, so the people must adapt to the new system and not vice versa. This reduces costly customizations and recognizes the impact on the people side (think business culture change). Experienced ERP consultants like Panorama offer detailed roadmap OCM Solutions that should be incorporated with any ERP implementation. 

4. What Does This Mean to Companies that Aren’t Private Equity Firms?

While most readers don’t work for or are owned by private PE firms, there are still plenty of lessons to learn from these practitioners. They are fueled by strategic growth even more than most, so if your organization shares a similar focus you may learn from their priorities and approach.

Many public and private companies acquiring other companies with the intention of integrating them profitably, can learn from this discussion. Also, the ability to achieve higher returns or accelerate growth could benefit all types of businesses. Bottom line, underlying most successful enterprises is an effective, modern ERP system that can support the goal of the organization while maximizing resources. PE companies have opportunistically realized they can usually sell a company for a greater premium or valuation when equipped with an effective ERP system.

PE firms have a compelling reputation of a successful buy-to-sell focus that must yield superior financial results. This tends to focus them solely on running their businesses and portfolios, while strategically using outside experienced independent ERP help to do the heavy lifting when it comes to changing or enhancing systems. This begs the question; why do some companies without a core competency in ERP excellence try to do this themselves? 

Six Things to Consider for Your Global ERP Implementation

Six Things to Consider for Your Global ERP Implementation

Deciding to implement a global ERP system is not one that should be made lightly. The truth is this can be a very challenging transition to. Are you ready to take on the challenge of global ERP implementation? It can be daunting, like when you are at the top of a ski slope thinking you are ready to push off. To make this process easier, first determine if this is even the best strategy for your company. Here are six things you should consider before embarking on a global ERP implementation:

1. Consider the Size and Reach of Your Business

Just like skiing, if you have not been growing your skill level you might not be ready for this big of a mountain. The primary reasons to even consider making the switch to a global ERP system are size, scale and locations. If you have multiple sites and operate on a worldwide level, a global system may be necessary or desirable. It will allow for standardized business practices, streamlined processes and faster financial reporting. If your company does not have this type of footprint, there may not be a need to go global. If it does, consider adding the services of an independent ERP consultant to help navigate. Global ERP implementations are difficult and fraught with unknowns.   

2. Evaluate Possible Language and Cultural Barriers

Trying to get everyone in your company on the same page can be hard, mainly when there are issues with communication. This can lead to a significant breakdown of the ERP planning and implementation process. In fact, underestimating the impact of culture is one of the primary reasons of global ERP implementation failure. This is why it is imperative that you partner with someone who has experience and expertise in the language and culture of the country you are working in. This will help avoid language barriers, prevent you from committing cultural taboos and help you gain the trust of your company’s local team.

3. Have a Clear Understanding of the Country Requirements

Every country has different (and sometimes intricate) requirements when it comes to taxes, currencies and regulatory reporting. Without even realizing it, you could fall out of compliance and be subject to penalties. Global ERP systems necessitate understanding each country’s requirements and nuances. Countries can operate very differently. While may use a flat tax rate regardless of profit, some countries (Italy and Germany, for example) have alternate tax models that correlate the effective tax rate with increasing profits. Matching and testing them within your ERP system can be complex at best.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

4. Find an ERP System that Provides a Balance Between Localized and Global Processes

Global ERP systems give you the opportunity to standardize as much as possible. When determining how to do this you should be sure to identify methods that will work best for everyone. Be willing to bridge differences that will make it easier for everyone to accomplish crucial tasks and build a healthy relationship between the various locations. This is also the time to determine whether your support will be global, localized or customized.

5. Think About Your Rollout Style

Are you planning to go-live with all features and geographies simultaneously or will you roll out in phases, based on geography and/or features? This will largely depend on the experience of your implementation team and other resources, as well as any legacy system constraints. Keep in mind that a well-defined phased implementation offers significant advantages including decreased ERP failure risk.

6. Develop a Clear Plan for Cleaning and Migrating All Data

Determine how data and growth will be managed now and in the future. How much data will be transferred to the new system? Another way of thinking about this is your ERP initiative should be geared for the future state business challenges and opportunities. For example, can local offices control their local accounts or will any changes require centralized governance?

Don’t jump off on this big mountain without anticipating all the pitfalls, bumps and angles. Contact Panorama Consulting Solutions to help determine and validate if this is the right time and approach for your global ERP implementation

ERP Software vs. Best of Breed: What to Consider

ERP Software vs. Best of Breed: What to Consider

Making a decision between implementing an ERP system or Best of Breed system is never an easy decision to make. There are several factors to consider when trying to decide what is best for your company.

First off, in case you don’t know, Best of Breed software is simply the best product in its class.  Often comprised of the best modules from various vendors, Best of Breed incorporate many different functions and features. 

To position you and your team for success, here are the top five things you should do prior to starting your implementation:

1. Cost

Integrated ERP software often comes with a hefty upfront price tag. There is often the need for customization and this can really add to the bottom line. Best of Breed systems can be less expensive, however costs can add up quickly when talking about additional features and functionality which your organization many not even need. Highly touted Best of Breed systems may pose a potential for overlap in functionality. In other words, don’t overpay for systems which you won’t be utilizing just because it’s highly touted. An experienced ERP consultant can help you make those determinations.

2. Implementation

The ERP software selection and implementation process should be a factor in determining which direction is best for your organization. You can implement Best of Breed to address specific business processes that might be in immediate need of help. Best of Breed ERP systems encompass a variety of specialized functions from a variety of specialized vendors, all of which need to be integrated.  Implementing any new ERP system is a major endeavor which requires time and cost.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Versatility

Are you looking for a cloud-based solution?  There’s a Best of Breed option for you.  Are you looking to expand into new territories fairly quickly?  Then Best of Breed may be for you.  Of course ERP software offers versatility as well, the functionality isn’t quite like Best of Breed so you should truly understand your long-term and short-term needs before deciding between the two.

4. Ease of Use

Ease of system use is something else to consider. Best of Breed systems focus on specific areas of business, which can be extremely helpful, however, specialization can also require further staff training or learning many nuances of the solution.  Day to day, Best of Breed can also make it easier for your organization to manage work orders, satisfy customer needs, improve internal processes and increase efficiency overall. ERP software comes in a fully integrated approach, which can also be a solution for your organization’s need for a digital transformation.

5. The Best Fit

It’s important to consider which model will fit best with your company and both its long-term and short-term needs. Be sure not to get too caught up in trends or thinking about what worked well in another organization like yours.  Your organization will have its own individual needs, budget and dedicated staff hours that all need to be considered.  Should you find that Best of Breed is a good fit for your organization then it’s important to go through all of its features and benefits with your independent ERP Consultant before starting implementation.

What to Look For in a Qualified ERP Consultant

What to Look For in a Qualified ERP Consultant

Finding the right ERP consultant for your business can be a time consuming process! There are so many different factors to consider in your search that it can feel a bit overwhelming. But choosing the right ERP consultant is essential to the successful implantation of your ERP project. Here are several things to consider when selecting your ERP consultant.

ERP Firm Experience

It’s important to do your research on the specific ERP consulting firm you’re considering. Different firms may have different experiences with ERP selection and implementation and you want to make sure the firm you choose is the best fit for your project goals. Is the information on the company’s website accurate? Is the firm involved in any lawsuits? Be sure to check facts and ask for references early on in the process.

2. ERP Consultant Experience

If the ERP firm checks out, you’ll also want to consider the individual consultant you might be working with as well. Understand your potential ERP consultant’s background and experience with the firm. Also, take into consideration whether or not your potential consultant is a contracted employee and if this matters to you. Has the consultant worked on projects similar to yours? Be sure to assess the particular skills that a potential consultant brings to the table to ensure they are a good fit.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. ERP Consultant Knowledge

It’s also important to get a feel for your ERP consultant’s general knowledge. Don’t be afraid to as a lot of questions. What is their education and professional qualifications? Does the consultant have real world experience that will enable them to understand potential problems that arise in implementing a new ERP system? What kind of industries has your ERP consultant worked in? All of these questions will help you determine whether or not your ERP consultant has the knowledge required to help you implement your project.

4. Customer Stats and Feedback

Make sure to understand the types of customers your ERP firm and consultant has worked with in the past. ERP software can be highly specialized and it might be important to consider an ERP consultant whose previous clients are in a similar industry to your own. Also, consider the size of previous companies an ERP consultant has worked with. Do they have experience in with a company your size? Be sure to request references from the ERP firm and contact companies for feedback.

5. Project Plan and Methodology

Make sure your ERP consultant has a plan for taking your project on. Ask for a project plan and make sure it outlines in detail the steps they will take for implementation, as well as their methodology. Also, be sure to consider the proposed methodology. Does it fit with your company’s business philosophy? This is an important partnership and you want to make sure that your goals align.

There are many things to consider when choosing an ERP consultant. It may seem like a lengthy process, but doing your research to pick the right consultant will only save you time, money, and stress in the end.  Be sure to check out our list of qualified, independent ERP consultants here.

Five Common Gaps to Watch for in Your ERP Software

Five Common Gaps to Watch for in Your ERP Software

While enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has proven to be invaluable for all types of businesses, you cannot always be certain the ERP system you are using is without gaps. Fortunately, performing a GAP analysis can help you determine what functions and/or services your ERP software may be lacking, whether accidentally, deliberately or because it still needs to be developed.

In addition to being without certain features and functions, there are several other gaps you should watch out for with your ERP software. Here’s a quick look at the five most common gaps:

1. Your ERP system is missing features, functions or services that could benefit your business.

Yes, this is stated above but it is important enough to mention again. There are three crucial components your ERP software should have. Although sales and marketing are apparent, service is not. However, it is essential for tracking complaints, warranty claims and service issues that require the assistance of your ERP system vendor to help your customer. Performing a GAP analysis can suggest changes and additions that would offer plenty of

2. There may be areas of redundancy.

This is a common problem that many businesses fail to recognize. It involves identifying data that must repeatedly be entered, which is a waste of both time and money. GAP analysis can also be used to point out areas of redundancy, allowing you to make the changes necessary to ensure the ERP software you are using is as efficient as possible.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. The system does not offer the flexibility you need.

Companies will need to be able to make changes to their ERP software at some point in time. Therefore choosing a software package that offers flexibility and adaptability is important. If your current ERP software is not flexible, it may not be a problem now, but it could create significant pain points in the future.

4. The ERP system has challenges that create a gap as your business evolves.

After a business has experienced a significant change or undergone restructuring, there may be gaps. GAP analysis will identify them. For example, if your company underwent a change to combine positions, your ERP system may not be designed to take advantage of this organizational efficiency. Check out “An Expert’s Guide to Organization Change Management” to get some help with this process.

5. Your software vendor does not provide preventative maintenance, or you are not taking advantage of this service.

Not all ERP systems are equipped with the ability to perform preventative maintenance. Without a maintenance plan in place for your ERP system, you run the risk of unexpected downtime which can take a considerable toll on your business. It also puts you at a higher risk of a security breach, especially if the system you are using is outdated. If you do have a maintenance plan, it is vital that you keep up with when maintenance is due. You may want to read “Three Reasons Not to Cancel Your ERP Software Maintenance.” This will allow you to schedule it at a time that will create the least inconvenience.

How ERP Software May Be Affected by The End of Net Neutrality

How ERP Software May Be Affected by The End of Net Neutrality

A phrase that has been on everyone’s mind in the last few months has been “the end of net neutrality.”  In case you might not know exactly what this ominous phrase means, it is simply the end of free internet.  Currently, with the exception of paid services and subscriptions, the internet is a free and open marketplace where you can browse anywhere you’d like, for free.  This means you pay your ISP to get internet and there’s no fee to access Facebook and no higher price to access national news outlets (as opposed to local new outlets).  The end of net neutrality many mean that the internet could soon become a very regulated and expensive experience for some. 

The end of net neutrality is a fairly new concept and even many experts can’t say for sure what the future may hold for this new internet environment but here are some ways that the end of net neutrality could impact ERP:

1. Less Connected Future

Some estimates believe that there will be 30 billion connected devices online by 2020 according to Network World*.  That’s a lot of time on the internet to say the least.  At Panorama, we are always promoting “Digital Transformation” within your facility which can make for easier, faster communication and better overall day-to-day functionality.  Some experts anticipate less connectivity in the future because some may not be able to afford to stay connected or some will opt out in frustration.   

2. Less Innovation

We live in an age where you can start a multi-million dollar company from your home by using the internet.  Many people across the world have created fantastic, innovative and truly awe-inspiring technology through humble start-ups.  With the end of net neutrality, many experts think that the internet may become a pay-for-content landscape, which would ultimately snub out those with small, inadequate budgets and could effectively create monopolies for some.  The end of net neutrality could damper innovation as smaller companies are pushed into the shadows.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Changes to AI and ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning software, especially cloud-based platforms, have opted to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their functionality.  This makes sense, especially in manufacturing or performance tracking, this technology could take a lot of guesswork out of operations and help to define clear and obvious patterns otherwise not seen.  AI comes from not just internal patterns, but ones which exist in similar markets and with the end of net neutrality this could alter those organically made patterns.

4. New Frontier

There’s always the possibility that the end of net neutrality could hold something beneficial for us after the dust and upset has cleared. No matter what happens in the future, the end of net neutrality signals a new era for anyone in the field of technology. This future, while unknown, could hold new innovation and opportunity that we just can’t see yet.   

*Gary Eastwood, 2017  “How the end of Net Neutrality will affect IoT”

Three Simple Ways to Get Your ERP Implementation Back on Track

Three Simple Ways to Get Your ERP Implementation Back on Track

Every ERP software implementation is difficult, riddled with pitfalls, risks, and common mistakes. Most fall into the various traps of an ERP implementation, but few effectively navigate those traps once they’ve fallen in.

But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your project back on track if and when you encounter those risks.

First, it helps to understand why projects fail. The reasons are numerous, but some of the more common reasons are things such as:

  • Lack of executive buy-in
  • Poor project management and controls
  • Unrealistic expectations early in the project
  • Too much focus on the technical aspects of the implementation
  • Choosing the wrong software for your organization
  • Too much customization of the software
  • Failure to regularly identify and mitigate implementation risks along the way

While there is no way to avoid these risks altogether, there are ways to address and mitigate them along the way. Here are three ways to get your implementation back on track:

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

1. Perform an Assessment of Your Current Project

Effective project recovery begins with an objective understanding of where the project is and trying to pinpoint where the project went off track. The best way to do this is to perform an implementation project assessment. This should be an objective view of the people, process, and technology components of our project, along with an assessment of the project from several more detailed “project lenses” that are important to an implementation.

For example, these are just a few of the common areas worth assessing in your project:

In addition to these and other areas of importance, any implementation should be objectively assessed to identify the problem areas and opportunities for improvement.

2. Look for Common Warning Signs

As part of the assessment identified in step #1, it is important to look for common warning signs that portend a potential failure – or, at the very least, problems that could lead to failure later on.

In a recent blog, we identified thirteen warning signs we commonly see in troubled ERP software implementations. Some of the early indicators of trouble include things like: not enough iterations of conference room pilots, no organizational change activities beyond training, and not addressing the non-technical aspects of your implementation. These and other warning signs need to be identified as part of your implementation project assessment. Caught early enough, these indicators can be remediated before they turn into bigger risks.

3. Develop A Project Recovery Plan

Once you’ve identified the warning signs during your project assessment, it’s time to define how you’re going to remediate those risks. This could through either a formal project recovery plan, and/or updates to your implementation plan and strategy.

The recovery plan should cover the people, process, and technology aspects of your implementation. And remember to not try boiling the ocean. Even just addressing the low-hanging fruit rather than trying to improve everything at once can have a material impact on your project and help get it back on track.

Don’t be discouraged by warning signs or difficulties you may be facing. Through assessment, analysis, and experience, you’ll be able to get your project back on track. For more info, watch our on demand webinar Confessions of an ERP Expert Witness, which highlights some of these warning signs in more detail.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With an ERP Software Selection Expert!

5 ERP Software Trends to Watch in the Retail Industry

5 ERP Software Trends to Watch in the Retail Industry

With a new year comes new trends, especially when ERP software in the retail industry is involved. After all, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendors are constantly working to create more powerful, less complicated and more affordable options for retailers.

So, what should you expect to see in the upcoming year? Here are five ERP software trends to watch in the retail industry in 2018.

1. Retailers Using Legacy ERP Systems will be Forced to Change

Believe it or not, there are still a few ERP vendors who have not encouraged their retailers to move away from the legacy ERP systems they have been using for years. These include systems such as Microsoft Great Plains, Oracle EBS and Epicor Prelude. However, as an increasing number of ERP vendors focus on cloud solutions, they will put less and less focus on legacy systems. In fact, they are almost certain to stop introducing new functions or offering long-term support for these dated systems. As a result, retailers will have no other option than to mitigate to a modern ERP software system. In fact, more and more retail companies are using omnichannel systems. Using an omnichannel system allows owners to see the connections between channels and the customer enjoys a unified approach to their purchase and to stay in touch with the company on many different levels.

2. More and More Retailers will Opt for a Cloud-Based ERP System

At one point in time, retailers avoided cloud-based ERP systems like the plague. That is no longer true. More retailers than ever have been making the switch to a cloud-based ERP system, a trend that will continue over the next year. The reasons for this are simple. Cloud-based systems offer the benefits retailers are looking for, including enhanced security, better scalability and increased support. By 2020, it is estimated that the cloud ERP system software market will be worth around $26.5 billion [1].

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. Niche Industries will Begin Using ERP Systems

Over the last few years, ERP system vendors have begun to see the importance of catering to small businesses and niche industries. As a result, they have been working to incorporate functions and capabilities they had previously overlooked. For example, traceability is a common requirement in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Vendors want to do business with these niche industries, which is why they are adding functions that trace everything from equipment used to test results. Now that the niche industries are noticing that their industry is being catered to, you will see them start to use ERP system software.

4. Retailers will take Advantage of Increased Functions and Capabilities by Reassessing Their Business Processes

Again, thanks to the trend of migrating to cloud-based ERP systems, retailers will have the opportunity to outsource responsibilities, which could lead to changes in business processes. For example, they may choose to rethink the company’s organization and outsource some tasks. At the same time, they may take a good look at their data and decide to refocus the company’s values on the needs of today’s customers. More retailers are using eCommerce websites instead of Big Box stores since the trend of purchases are made online. To keep up with online sales; businesses need to utilizing e-trailing to stay abreast of customer needs.

5. The Push for Mobile ERP will Only Get Stronger

More employees are working outside of the office. They need to be able to easily collaborate with colleagues and access data on the go. In 2018, retailers will push vendors for improved mobile ERP systems, giving employees the chance to access reports, shipping/ billing details, etc. using their cellphone or tablet. Vendors will have to focus on this to keep retailers happy.