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ERP Software Use in Global Manufacturing Companies

ERP Software Use in Global Manufacturing Companies

Globalization is the way of business for many.  Especially with new technologies and innovations in manufacturing, communication and flow; businesses all over the world can connect with each other.  Arguably, there has never been a time quite like now when there has been such a global connection of possibilities.  Simply, global manufacturing is when one company makes components of, or finished products for another company, usually for a lower cost and higher efficiency.   Basically, it can be cheaper and easier for one manufacturer to be contracted out to make a speciality product, a component of a larger product.  With global manufacturing there are tight deadlines and a need for high efficiency and this is where ERP Software can totally help to change the game.  So lets explore how ERP software is used in Global manufacturing and how Panorama can help you:

1. Helps to Have Efficiency in Operations

In global manufacturing, is it vital to stay organized in every step of the process.  Whether the manufacturer is the supplier of the component for a larger product overall or whether it manufactures the larger product itself, all parties involved need to have efficiency in every step of the process.  From invoicing, keeping track of inventory and stay on deadline ERP Software can help provide solutions to all of these challenges and help to avoid inefficiency which would ultimately result in lost revenue.   Efficiency and overall digital transformation brought on with ERP software can totally help to change an operation’s efficiency outcomes.

2. Helps to Stay Organized – Internally

Anyone in manufacturing will tell you that there are a lot of moving parts at any one time and it involves every department at least one time in the process.  From administrative duties like invoicing and taking note of deadline, to accounting which would handle the actual billing and of course the manufacturing floor which is making product and taking inventory, ERP software can help in all of these aspects.  Take a look at some of your options here.  Not only can it help each department stay organized themselves but it can also help to better let these departments interact with each other and ultimately will be able to speak to customers with more information as well.

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. Helps to Stay Organized – Inventory

Some larger global manufacturers can have thousands, if not millions of SKU’s and keeping track of them all can be a nightmare if not done correctly.  In case you didn’t know, ERP software was originally crafted with the end goal of helping manufacturers to stay organized and keep track of inventory which is the difference between a successful operation and one that is not.

4. Helps to Stay on Deadline

Global manufacturing can be like a domino effect- if one department, or party involved drops the ball then the whole process could be in jeopardy.  With manufacturers needing to have a concrete deadline of product delivery, everything needs to operate with efficiency and these clear goals in mind.  That means that missing inventory or a neglected invoice can alter these deadlines and upset the entire process.  Let ERP software help you to stay on track!

Let one of our independent ERP Consultants walk you through the process of how ERP software and digital transformation can make your manufacturing operation the best it can be and contact us today.

Top 5 ERP Software Resolutions for 2018

Top 5 ERP Software Resolutions for 2018

The new year brings a new opportunity to define and execute the best digital and ERP software strategy for your organization. Wherever you might be in your ERP implementation lifecycle or digital transformation journey, there are always better ways to mitigate risk and increase the likelihood of success.

As we pointed out in our recent blog post with our top predictions for the ERP software industry in 2018, there are a number of trends to be aware of as you navigate the challenges of your transformation. In addition, there are several resolutions that will ensure your initiative is successful in the new year.

Here are five things to increase your chances for success and a prosperous implementation in the new year:

1. Educate Yourself on ERP Software Best Practices

The most dangerous implementations are led by those that aren’t well educated on the risks, challenges, and best practices associated with an ERP implementation. Fortunately, there are a number of free resources to help educate you on digital and ERP best practices. For example, our weekly ERP webinar series  provides hour-long training sessions on topics ranging from digital strategy to implementation to organizational change management. Our three-day Digital and ERP Boot Camps – hosted several times per year in different parts of the globe – are an excellent way to receive the training you need to succeed.

2. Control the Tempo of Your Initiative

There is often a push to “get something done” on projects of this magnitude. I get it. But it’s more important to make sure you have a solid plan in place, the right resources, clearly defined project controls, and other critical success factors. Believe it or not, going at a slow (but not too slow) and steady pace will actually save you time and money in the long-term. So even though ERP software vendors are incentivized to push you to purchase their software and start implementing right away, it is important to recognize that this is your project and that you control the tempo of the 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. Invest in the People Side of Your Digital Strategy

What is the #1 cause of digital transformation and ERP software failures? Hint: it’s not technology – it’s people. Despite the importance of organizational change management, not a lot of people understand what the term means or how to implement it effectively in their organizations. Companies that invest in an effective organizational change strategy are much more likely to succeed than those that don’t. Even though a solid change strategy includes training, communications, change impact, organizational readiness, and a host of other change tactics that you may be overlooking, it doesn’t need to be expensive. In the long-run, it will cost you less to invest in this critical success factor than if you don’t.

4. Take Industry Hype with a Grain of Salt

Messaging from ERP vendors, sales reps, and analysts – all with biases based on economic incentives – would lead us to believe that on premise solutions are dead, ERP systems are a silver bullet for a company’s problems, and that their solutions can be implemented without much time, risk, or effort. None of this is true. So, be sure to recognize that most of the industry is biased and that their inputs should be taken with a grain of salt.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Leverage Outside, Independent ERP Experts

One of the best ways to accomplish resolution #4 is to hire unbiased, independent ERP consultants, such as those at Panorama. Whether you are about to define a strategy, evaluate potential systems, implement a system you’ve already chosen, or need help cleaning up an implementation mess, you need someone that is protecting your interests – not those of your ERP vendor or sales rep.

By accomplishing these five resolutions, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed in the new year. Learn more by attending our weekly webinar Top 10 Predictions for the ERP Software Industry in 2018, or watch it on demand here.

Digital Transformation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Digital Transformation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

For anyone who has attempted to run a race of any length (5k, 10k, half marathon or full) you know the importance of finding your pace and keeping consistent with stride and breathing.  Not many people in the world can run an entire race starting at full speed and keep it going the whole distance.  Athletes who sprint and those who run distances, often train very differently and their skillsets are not the same.  The boxer who runs hill sprints in preparation of a fight is probably not also training for a marathon- the skills are different.  However, sprints may be more exciting to watch because the results are very quick and the race is over “right now.”

1. “Right Now” Mentality: A Downfall for Digital Transformation

This “right now” mentality bleeds over into our professional lives too as we get antsy for promotions to come and projects to finish.  Yet, trying to finish quickly just for the sake of finishing quickly often leads to budget oversights, tasks being poorly completed, if they are done at all, and an overall shoddy project all because you want to reach that finish line quicker. 

2. Digital Transformation is a Full Marathon

Take Digital Transformation for example, a big phrase with a potentially monumental outcome.  By nature, Digital Transformation is often referred to as “complex,” “profound,” or “impactful.”  These words are not often associated with quick and easy processes.  Digital Transformation, when done correctly, is an overall change in an organization which leverages all technologies to create a huge impact in day to day operations and overall outcomes.  Digital Transformation is no doubt a full marathon and not a sprint.

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. Training for Your Digital Transformation

Just like training for a marathon, Digital Transformation must be properly planned for and mapped out first.  Often times, it pays to hire professionals who can help with this Digital Transformation planning, because they are familiar with the process.  After all, if training for a marathon you wouldn’t ask advice from someone who doesn’t run.  For example, many of our ERP consultants have backgrounds in both tech and business and can not only help with implementation but also establishing process. 

4. Follow Your Process

From the initial map out plan, this regiment must be followed closely.  After all, when training for a marathon you may map out your diet and if you stray from that your training will be impacted.  If there are certain milestones or tasks along the way during your digital transformation, make sure those are being followed.

5. Keep Going!

Of course, it is normal to feel a little fatigue during the process (both marathon training and Digital Transformation) but it is important that you don’t quit or take a long break.  It may not seem like it, but the finish line is closer with every step you take.

Overall, don’t expect digital transformation to be a quick or easy process and it doesn’t benefit you to speed it along either.  Some things just take time and training which are often the secret ingredients to a great outcome.  Learn more by downloading our white paper Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.

Five Tips to Limit ERP Software Customization

Five Tips to Limit ERP Software Customization

ERP Customization is one of the greatest fears I encounter when speaking with executives about their digital transformation initiatives.

These fears are founded and with good reason: customization is one of the most cited reasons for ERP failure. It’s no wonder that executives and project teams try to draw a “no customization” line in the sand early in their projects.

While these fears may be well justified, avoiding ERP customization is much easier said than done. In fact, our research shows that 9 out of 10 ERP implementations involve some sort of customization (see our annual ERP Report for more detail). While this doesn’t mean that most project teams should customize their software, it does indeed point to the difficulties of avoiding this common pitfall.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to navigate this common landmine. Here are five tips to limit ERP software customization on your digital transformation initiative:

1. Recognize the ERP Software Customization is a Slippery Slope

Today’s ERP software is flexible with robust customization tools, which makes it easier for organizations to change the way off-the-shelf software was built. But, just because you can easily customize doesn’t mean that you should.

It is important to recognize that it can be very difficult to stop once you start down the path. So, be prepared to receive ERP customization requests from project team members and employees – even if you have made it clear that you won’t change the way the software was built. And, you should only consider approving customization for areas that are core competencies of your business, while avoiding those that for your more “vanilla” business processes.

2. Ensure Strong Project Governance and Controls

Implementing strong project governance and controls is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t customize more than you should. In addition to helping maximize post-implementation business benefits, a business case provides a strong, ROI-based foundation for making decisions regarding customization requests.

In some cases, your business case will point to business benefits that might be enabled with changes to the software. In others, it will be clear that there is no ROI for the associated risks of customization, which includes “breaking” the software and making future upgrades difficult. Ensure that you have strong decision criteria and processes in place to make customization the exception rather than the norm.

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. Invest Heavily in Organizational Change Management

As unrelated as they may sound on the surface, I’ve found that heavy customization is typically a symptom of a deeper issue: resistance to change. When companies don’t invest enough in organizational change management, employees are more likely to resist change.

With this in mind, it is important that you invest heavily in your organizational change efforts. On paper, a robust organizational change program may seem expensive, but it is a lot less expensive than the risks and costs associated with customization.

4. Build Internal Competencies and Knowledge for Your ERP Software

When internal employees and project team members don’t understand how the software could work out of the box with standard functionality, they often go down the dark road of customizing software. This is why it is so important to train your team on the standard software functionality – even if that functionality isn’t being used by your company.

One way to do this is to implement a formalized center of excellence. This ensures that you have the internal competencies required to proactively find innovative new ways to leverage out-of-the box functionality or advanced modules that you may not have considered.

5. Educate Your Team on the Risks of ERP Software Customization

Momentum for customization requests often begins because team members don’t recognize the risks and costs of customization. They don’t realize that customization can undermine your software’s effectiveness, create headaches when it comes time to upgrade, and increase the overall implementation cost and risk of your project.

In order to avoid too much desire for customization in the first place, consider educating your team early in the process. is something that we typically do with new clients as part of our ERP Boot Camp service offering.

While it may be unrealistic to avoid ERP software customization altogether, your goal should be to limit this necessary evil. Learn more by downloading our white paper Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.

Why is a Business Case Key to ERP Success?

Why is a Business Case Key to ERP Success?

I’m not sure why, but business cases have gotten a bad rap in recent years. It seems that more executives I speak with are becoming less inclined to develop a business case for their digital transformation initiatives.

In years past, it seemed that leadership and project teams understood the need for business cases – even if they were often superficial or unrealistic. They at least understood the value as a tool to justify the investment or to estimate the return on investment.

Now, I seem to hear more excuses for not creating a business case or cost-benefit analysis. One hypothesis is that companies have under-invested in their enterprise software for so long that they have reached a breaking point of needing to upgrade their systems out of necessity, so organizations don’t see the need to develop a business case. In other words, more companies are implementing new ERP software and other technology because they have to, not because of a strategic expectation surrounding ROI.

Whatever the reason, this isn’t a good trend. A business case is key to a successful digital transformation, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Because You Have To

It is important that you define and quantify the exact business benefits that you expect to realize from your digital investments. From there, you can assess whether or not the investment is a wise one and make adjustments to your plan as needed. This is also the first step to holding your team accountable to actually realizing the expected business benefits and achieving the ROI that you would like to see.

2. You Won’t Achieve What You Don’t Measure

The popular adage is true: if you don’t measure it, you won’t achieve it. Defining performance measures and targets for each area is a first step toward achieving the ROI potential of your ERP implementation.

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. You Can’t Improve Business Benefits Without Measuring and Understanding Where You Might be Falling Short

Most organizations don’t realize business benefits right away. It can take months or years to realize the full potential of new ERP software. But, you won’t ever achieve many of those potential benefits if you don’t understand where you’re falling short and continuously improve to optimize those benefits.

Then, you can identify the root causes of suboptimal benefits and take corrective action to remediate them. Most of the time, I’ve found that these are very simple fixes, such as refresher end-user training, tweaks to business processes or modifications to the way the software is implemented. After spending so much time and money on your implementation, why not take this small (and relatively easy) step to ensure you improve your business benefits? This is an area where independent ERP consultants can help.

4. A Business Case is a Key Project Governance Risk Management Tool

If the long-term, post-implementation advantages of a business case still isn’t enough, then perhaps the value during implementation will convince you. It’s no secret that many ERP implementations fail, and poor project management and governance is one of the leading reasons for this phenomenon.

A business case will help rationalize key decisions that haunt so many project teams. For example, is that customization request really worth it? There’s no way to answer this question without a solid business case. Without it, you’re making tough decisions in the dark, but with it, you have clear direction on how to keep your project on track.

5. You Need to Accept That You Will be Disappointed with Your Benefits Realized – At Least Initially

It’s common to fear business cases because they expose the areas where you will inevitably fall short of your expected business benefits. It’s okay to admit it: you’re going to fall short at first, no matter what – we all do. A business case will ensure you eventually get to where you want to be. So, it’s important to view this as a positive rather than a threat.

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

What You Can Expect During One of Our Boot Camp Sessions

What You Can Expect During One of Our Boot Camp Sessions

You may know that Panorama Consulting will be hosting an ERP boot camp in San Diego, California January 24-26, 2018 and we hope you can join us!  Panorama has hosted many of these events and there’s rich information for you to benefit from!  If you are planning on joining us or you’re not sure if you should, there are a few things you can expect from one of our boot camps.

What is Boot Camp?

If you’ve never been to one of our boot camps, you may be wondering what exactly it is and what you can expect from it. All of our boot camps are full days sessions lasting 3 days. During these sessions we cover both advanced and basic topics surrounding ERP so whether you are a novice to ERP just gathering information, or you are six months into your project, you can find something valuable. Not only will you be connecting with our managing partners and expert consultants but you’ll also be able to network with other attendees and learn about their projects. Many of our past attendees found a lot of value in simple connecting with other professionals on their field who face the same challenges.


We’ll be breaking down the benefits of different ERP software options.  Even if you’ve already chosen your ERP software, we’ll be discussing validations and benefits realization of your software selection.  There will be discussions about the kickoff and implementation of ERP software.  We’ll also talk about how to measure business performance going forward. 

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.


When you register online for boot camp, we’ll give you a phone call to confirm your attendance, answer any questions and take payment.  We partner with hotels in the area and offer great deals for your stay.  For the upcoming January boot camp, we’ll be in San Diego so while learning about ERP software, you can also enjoy the California sun.

Special to Panorama’s Boot Camp

Aside from spending 3 days on a personal level with other professionals and our expert consultants and partners, you’ll also be able to get one on one help. For example if your project is delayed and over budget we offer personal sessions where we can discuss about how to get you back on track. After all, 59% of all projects encounter delays and we can advise you with our expert knowledge. All of our consultant advice is based on the technology of today and not based on a bias or opinion. All of our consultant dispense advice based on their training of the best practices of today because we keep our fingers on the pulse of the industry.

We hope to see you at boot camp and invite you and your colleagues to learn with us in San Diego in January 2018.  Register Here 

SaaS vs. On-Premise ERP Systems: Is It All or Nothing?

SaaS vs. On-Premise ERP Systems: Is It All or Nothing?

Over the last several years, ERP vendors have doubled-down on their investments in cloud and SaaS solutions. However, it’s not the right option for everyone.

To be sure, cloud and SaaS ERP systems adoption has steadily increased over the last several years – up until last year, when cloud adoption actually decreased (download our annual ERP Report for specific data points). Still, on-premise deployments still represent the most common deployment models.

This is the first time in my career where I can recall each of the major vendors offering brand new flagship products, with very little track record or client success stories to get potential buyers comfortable. SAP is pushing SAP S/4HANA, while Oracle is pushing its Oracle Cloud solution and Microsoft Dynamics is all-in on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Even Infor is pushing its CloudSuite solution as its flagship solution.

Just because SaaS or cloud solutions are the most profitable for software vendors, however, doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for you. It also doesn’t mean that it needs to be a binary, mutually exclusive decision.

Here are five simple steps to ensure you are choosing wisely among your deployment options:

1. Educate Yourself on the Pros, Cons, Risks, and Tradeoffs of Each Solution

No matter which route you go, there will be risks and tradeoffs. No solution is perfect. For example, SaaS and cloud solutions can be easier to deploy from a pure technology perspective, but it can also limit your flexibility.  Choosing the right solution requires you to prioritize your objectives and assess the pros and cons of your options against those objectives.

2. Recognize that Software Sales Reps are Biased

Sales reps and vendors are always biased to some degree – a reason why independent ERP consultants such as those at Panorama thrive – but this has never been truer than it is today. Not only are sales reps more likely to promote their own suite of products, but there are biases even within their own suite of products.

I’ve heard several sales reps say that their cloud solutions are the only ones being supported going forward, but this is based on self-interest rather than truth or reality.  Several vendors, value-added resellers, and system integrators are compensating their sales reps much more heavily for SaaS and cloud solutions, not because it’s the best for customers, but because it’s the most profitable to the vendors. It is important to recognize these biases and take sales messaging with a grain of salt.

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. Avoid Being Backed into a Corner by Seeking out Independent Consultants and Alternative System Integrators

Even though certain vendor and VAR sales reps may tell you that only one of their solutions is viable, there are always alternatives. For example, we recently assessed a client’s needs and found that Oracle eBusiness Suite was a better fit than Oracle Cloud – even though that recommendation ran counter to Oracle’s sales messaging. We’ve seen similar disconnects recently with SAP, Microsoft, and Infor as well.

But, there are always way to acquire the software you want, even if your first try doesn’t work. We work with a host of system integrators and VARs that still sell and support solutions such as JD Edwards, Microsoft Dynamics on premise, Infor Syteline, and other non-cloud solutions. These are all viable solutions, and even though vendors won’t always admit it, they have ten to twenty year roadmaps for some of these solutions due to the large install bases. Contact Panorama to find out some of the most viable non-cloud solutions and the best system integrators or resellers for each.

4. Consider Hybrid Options

Hybrid options are becoming more viable as organizations realize that cloud versus on-premise isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Call it two-tier, post-modern ERP, best of breed, or whatever you’d like, but the point is that there is a lot of flexibility in how systems are deployed.

For example, some organizations find that a traditional, on-premise ERP system is appropriate for back-office functions such as finance, inventory management, and other master data. On the other hand, they may find that point solutions such as Salesforce CRM or Workday HCM systems are ideal for other functions. It’s important to consider all of your options and take a technology-agnostic approach to defining your digital and IT strategy.

5. Don’t Start Without a Solid Digital, ERP, and IT Strategy

Every decision you make should be made in the context of an overarching digital, ERP, and IT strategy rather than in a vacuum. Be sure to take the time to define your strategy up front, consider your alternatives, weight the risks and tradeoffs, build a business case, define a business plan, and incorporate other aspects of a successful strategy. Your decisions will be much easier when made in the context of your higher-level strategy and plan.

If you do these five things, you will be much more likely to find the right cloud, SaaS, and/or on-premise solution(s) that best fit your needs.

Contact Us for Help With Your ERP Implementation!

Is Adding More Modules To Your ERP System the Best Way

Is Adding More Modules To Your ERP System the Best Way

Whether you already have an ERP system in place or are still in the process of selecting one, the question of whether or not to add more modules to your ERP system is likely to come up. After all, there is the possibility that additional modules could enhance your system. Of course, there is always the chance that these modules could cause more problems than they are worth.

To help you decide if adding more modules to your ERP system is the best way, here are the top factors you should consider.

1. Does Hour ERP System Have the Following Essential Modules?

Researchers have found that there are five common ERP system modules that businesses not only find useful but also provide the most significant value. If your system is lacking one of these modules, adding it may be very beneficial.

Financial management: Almost every department has a financial link, from your marketing department to human resources, which is why it is so important. Payroll is also usually located within the financial management module.

Supply chain management: Supply chain management can be complicated, but a good ERP system simplifies this process by keeping real-time data and allowing for demand forecasting.

Inventory management: Knowing how much inventory you have on hand is critical to ensure order fulfillment, determine how many spaces you have for incoming stock, and even tracking outgoing inventory.

Human resources management: HR deals with all of your employees and every department. As a result, this module contains plenty of valuable information that is necessary for an accurate and efficient ERP system.

Customer relationship management: This module is necessary for managing customers, leads, and sales processes. It also contains information that is very valuable in regards to marketing and sales.

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. How Large or Small is Your Business?

Typically, larger businesses have a greater need for modules that allow for advanced functionality, are more industry-specific, or a combination of the two.

3. Does Your Business Have an International Presence?

If your business attracts customers from overseas, you will likely need more advanced accounting functionality to help you deal with multiple currencies, as well as complex tax situations that may arise.

4. Does Your Business Manufacture Products?

If your business is involved in the manufacturing process, you will need an ERP system that includes a robust manufacturing module that is designed to meet the needs of your specific industry niche. You will want modules that can do everything from recognize production bottlenecks to forecast production requirements in the future. If your ERP system modules do not have these capabilities, it is time to consider an addition.

5. Is There a Specific Reason You Need More than Just the Basic Modules?

The best way to understand this is by use of an example. If your business has a substantial social media presence that you plan to amplify even further, you will benefit from a module that has strong built-in social media tools that allow you to track analytics and measure the ROI you are getting through social media.

In other words, is there some aspect of your business that is of vital importance that the basic modules do not touch? If so, you will want to add modules that will.

Just as selecting an ERP system is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly, so is the decision to add modules. Using the information above, determine if adding modules will enhance or hurt your business. Not sure what modules will work? Talk with us!  Panorama Consulting specializes in helping companies identify the right modules that fit your business.

5 Tips for Overcoming User Resistance to Your New ERP Implementation System

5 Tips for Overcoming User Resistance to Your New ERP Implementation System

It is human nature to resist change, which is why you will likely encounter user resistance when completing your ERP Implementation. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to overcome user resistance among your employees. These tips are designed to help you do just that.

1. Involve Others in the Selection Process

Hopefully, you took some of the information detailed in previous posts to heart and selected an ERP system selection team to help you decide on the one best for your business. This is a great way to avoid any resistance in the first place. After all, the more say your employees have had in the selection process, the more ownership they will feel, which should result in less resistance in the future.

2. Don‘t Keep Your Employees in the Dark

Communication in the workplace is always essential, especially when any change is in the works. Keep your employees updated on the ERP system selection process and make certain they understand how the new ERP system will not only benefit the business but themselves and their positions. Employees are much likely to be resistant to change that they recognize they will benefit from.

3. Make Sure all Your Employees Have Sufficient Training Time

Proper training is crucial to a seamless transition from your current system to your new ERP system. This gives your employees the time not only to learn how to use the system but also address any problems they may be having. Keep in mind that not all employees learn at the same pace, so some may need multiple training sessions before you go live. Make sure everyone has the time they need and does not feel rushed. You may also need to reassign some of their daily tasks to allow them to focus solely on their training.

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. Don’t Move Too Quickly

It is never a good idea to implement a change overnight, especially one as big as the implementation of a new ERP system. Give your employees sufficient time to process the upcoming change, as well as learn the actual system. If possible, don’t go live until all of your employees (especially those who work full-time) feel comfortable using it. If you must go live before everyone is adequately trained, be sure there is always someone in the building to assist them if he or she runs into a problem.

5. Have Onsite Assistance for an Extended Time

Even your employees who seem to know the new ERP system back and forth may run into a problem or two during the first few days, or even weeks, of going live. This is why it is so important to make your employees aware (during the training stage) that they can expect help when going live. Knowing that they can count on assistance during the first week or so of going live is a great way to prevent resistance and possibly make their training even more successful. Doesn’t it seem like it is much easier to learn something when you are not under tremendous pressure to do so?  Check out more information on “How Your Digital Transformation Will Affect Employees.

Using the five tips above, you can set your ERP system implementation up for success and free from resistance.  Need help getting started?  Download our free organizational change management report to learn more.

Overcoming the Biggest Risks of Digital Transformation

Overcoming the Biggest Risks of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation initiatives have tremendous potential and can completely transform any business. Unfortunately, most plans fail and don’t materialize as planned.

According to our 2017 ERP Systems Report, most initiatives take longer than planned, cost more than expected, and/or fail to deliver the expected business benefits. This may sound discouraging to those who are about to start such an imitative, but our experience shows that companies that struggle, tend to fall into these same pitfalls and traps.

The reasons for failure aren’t insurmountable. It simply requires awareness of the risks, along with effective risk mitigation strategies. Easier said than done of course, but still something that any executive and project team can overcome.

Here are the biggest risks of digital transformation, along with some strategies to overcome each:

The Digital Transformation Initiative Exceeds the Planned Time and Cost

Most digital transformation initiatives are derailed before they are completed, simply because they consume too much time, money, and resources along the way. The best way to overcome this risk is to have a complete and realistic budget, which means that you’ll need to add a dose of reality to what technology and ERP vendors might propose to you. Their costs typically do not include key components of a successful project, such as organizational change management and business process re-engineering.

Technology Bias and Blind Spots De-rail Your Overall Initiative

Let’s face it: most ERP consultants and vendors are biased and would prefer that you implement the technology they’re peddling – regardless of whether or not it’s a good fit. With so many options in today’s marketplace, it’s important to have a technology agnostic view of your options so that you’re selecting and implementing the software that best fits your needs – not necessarily earning the most commission for a sales rep. Finding the best technology for your business should be clearly outlined in your overarching digital, IT, and ERP strategy.

Business Processes Aren’t Aligned With Technology – and Vice Versa

Speaking of biases, technology vendors general prefer that you purchase and implement their software is quickly as possible so they can start earning commission ASAP. However, a more deliberate and measured approach is generally more effective. You need time to ensure that you’ve conducted business process reengineering to ensure that your technology is enabling more effective and efficient business processes. Otherwise, you’ll simply be paving the cowpaths, so to speak, and creating misalignment between your software and your operations.

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.

Employees Don’t Accept the Corresponding Organizational and Business Process Changes

The people side of the equation is one of the biggest – if not the single biggest – risk of any digital transformation initiative. According to our research and experience, most organizations cite organizational change management as the biggest challenge and risk in their implementations.  A well-defined organizational change strategy is the best way to overcome this risk. Side note: your organizational change plan should include much more than end user training.

The Digital Transformation Effort Doesn’t Deliver A Strong Return on Investment

These initiatives are generally expensive, so any rational executive team expects to see a tangible return on investment. This isn’t generally top of mind for many project teams and their vendors, but if you don’t measure it, you won’t achieve it. To ensure you have the business benefits to justify the investment, ensure that you’ve create a business case and a benefits realization plan. In addition, you’ll need to conduct post-implementation audits – something that most don’t want to do once they’ve finished an implementation.

These risks are very real, but they can be overcome with the right mitigation strategies. Learn more successful strategies by downloading our An Expert’s Guide to ERP Success” eBook.

Major Problems to Avoid When Implementing an ERP System

Major Problems to Avoid When Implementing an ERP System

Implementing ERP systems is not quite as easy as you might think (or hope) it will be. In fact, there are several major problems that you could potentially run into. To keep you from running into these common problems, here’s a quick look at what they are, as well as what you can do to avoid them.

Offering Inadequate Support for Your Implementation Team

Now that your ERP system selection team has completed the long, tedious process of choosing the best ERP system for your business, it’s easy to assume that they can go back to business as usual. After all, you’ve probably already had to reassign some of their responsibilities while they worked on reaching a decision. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is putting everything back on their plate immediately. Keep in mind that the ERP implementation process is just as difficult and time-consuming. Continue to reassign their duties until the implementation is successfully completed. It could be the difference between a successful implementation and failure.

Improper Planning

Implementing an ERP system is not something you can simply wing. It requires plenty of planning to prevent confusion and other problems down the road. This is why it is a good idea to take full advantage of the information and tips offered by your vendor. They can help you plan the entire implementation process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Not Dedicating Enough Time to Training

Everyone needs to know how to work with the new ERP system. Some employees will have a more difficult time adapting to it than others. Allow them extra time to train. Rushing them could lead to severe mistakes, leaving the employee unmotivated to continue. Ideally, you should be sure to start training your employees well before the rollout for the best results. This should be done as part of your organizational change management strategy.

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.

Choosing the Wrong Time to Implement

Back in 1999, Hershey choose to implement their system during Halloween, which is definitely one of their busiest times of year. Unfortunately, there were a series of mishaps involving several different ERP system applications. As a result, $100 million worth of Hershey Kisses went undelivered, leading to an 8% decrease in their stock value [1]. There is a lesson to be learned from their mistake. ERP failures  like this one provide useful lessons to make.

Implementing the Entire System at Once

While it may seem like a good idea to make the entire switch at the same time, the implementation process tends to be much more successful when it is done in small steps or different stages. This ensures data is transferred properly, while also not overwhelming your employees who will be using the system day after day. This also allows for sufficient testing to ensure everything is working smoothly.

Failing to Take Advantage of Key Features

You would be surprised how many businesses do not take the time to learn everything their system has to offer. To get the highest ROI it is important to take advantage of these features during the implementation process. This gives you the opportunity to ask the vendor any questions you may have. Create a list of the key features, as well as how often they are used, to determine which ones are most often used and most efficient. This will also allow to focus on these features when training new employees.

Failing to Perform Formal Testing

Anytime a new software solution is implemented without formal testing; there is a huge potential for failure right from the beginning. Testing during the rollout phase is crucial for identifying and fixing incomplete applications, permission errors, possible security vulnerabilities, and broken links.

Don’t assume that just because you have decided on an ERP system that the hard part is over. The implementation process should be taken just as seriously.  To learn more about how to make your ERP implementation successful, download our free “Expert’s Guide to ERP Success” eBook.

Cheat Sheet – Steps to Implement an ERP system

Cheat Sheet – Steps to Implement an ERP system

Now that you have realized the potential business benefits of an ERP system for your business, it is time to implement one. Of course, that may be easier said than done. To help you, use this cheat sheet. It breaks down the steps needed to implement an ERP system.

1. Choose a Team of Employees to Assist You

Start by selecting an employee from every department to be involved throughout the process. Their specific department knowledge will be valuable in selecting the correct modules and options for your ERP software.

2. Evaluate Your Problems, Objectives, and Goals

Have everyone sit down to identify the specific objectives and goals you want to achieve. Identify which analytics, functions, and processes are of the utmost importance. Don’t forget to factor in future changes and scalability. Once you identify what you wish to accomplish, it’s time to select your ERP system.

3. Choose Your ERP System

There are a vast array of ERP system vendors on the market with a large variety of options. Factor in your budget, while also paying careful attention to the system’s method of implementation and what type of training is provided. Make certain the ERP system you select does the following:

  • Improves upon your current processes
  • Supports your existing processes, yet eliminates workarounds
  • Introduces greater collaboration and efficiency
  • Supports growth, including new ventures and higher volumes

Also, opt to use an ERP system vendor who will take care of the data migration process and agrees to take on the responsibility of training your employees on the new system.

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. Clean Up Your Data

After selecting your ERP system, it is time to concentrate on moving your data. This involves looking at your source data and comparing it to the ERP system’s target data. However, before the migration, it is imperative that you take the time to clean up your existing data.

This involves removing any out-of-date information. Only the most important and necessary data should be moved. Additionally, strive for uniformity and accuracy. For example, you may have the address “North Broad Street” listed as “North Broad St.,” “N. Broad St.,” “and N. Broad Street.” Choose one and make certain they are uniform.

Only after you have reviewed all of your data, made the necessary changes and purged out anything that is old or unnecessary, should you allow the vendor to perform the migration.

Learn more about how other manufacturers are leveraging ERP systems to automate their businesses. Download our Manufacturing ERP Report here to view the unfiltered and objective results from our annual study of manufacturers across the globe!

5. Set Up Plenty of Hands-On Training on the New ERP System for Your Employees

Change can be difficult, especially for longtime employees. In fact, 56% of ERP implementations result in some type operational disruption, after going live, which is frequently attributed to inadequate training [1]. Typically, the most effective type of training is hands-on. This should be completed before going live. The instructor should not only detail how to use the ERP system, but also ensure every employee has access to a test system and is given scenarios to perform and create. Before going live, have every employee test on the ERP system to demonstrate their understanding of how to use it.

6. Test and Go Live

After confirming accurate data migration, it is essential to thoroughly test the ERP system to identify any potential issues before going live. This includes testing functionality, as well as making sure specific interfaces, business processes, reports, and transactions are working correctly.

Finally, it is time to go live! In the meantime, download our 2017 ERP Report to learn other benchmarks and best practices to optimize your ERP implementation.

[1] Panorama Consulting ERP Survey 2017 – Download the report here.

Why Your Manufacturing Company Should Be Utilizing an ERP System

Why Your Manufacturing Company Should Be Utilizing an ERP System

Did you know that ERP systems were originally created to solve the internal process tangles of manufacturing?  If you are in the business of manufacturing, no matter how big or small the product you manufacture, you need an ERP system to make your life easier. 

ERP systems can help you to optimize your internal processes, which saves time for employees and makes their jobs easier.  These ERP systems can also make customers happier because these internal processes are in place and so when they call or ask a question, staff will better be prepared to help. 

Below are a few reasons why manufacturing companies should be utilizing Enterprise Resource Planning software:

1. With its Core Functionality, ERP Systems Integrate all Things Within the Company

From stock management to report generation, manufacturing ERP systems are designed to take on many needs of multiple departments and manage them well.  Especially noted for their functionality in relationship management and billing, ERP systems can help stop the endless cycle of tracking down invoices.  This makes for a happier customer list if their orders are being properly processed and order are getting out timely.  This also makes for a happier billing department because all of the invoices are easy to locate, track and send out. 

2. Manufacturing can be a Complex Process, and You Need a Tool to Help

As a manufacturer, you most likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of SKU’s in inventory, so you had better have a foolproof system to keep track of everything. Whether new SKU’s are being added or SKU’s are being discontinued, there is a need to constantly update the inventory system at a manufacturing company, and a proper ERP implementation can assist with that.  Aside from SKU tracking, ERP systems can also help with order tracking and administrative functions.

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 Systems Offer Reporting and Automation for When You Need to Look Through Data or Compile Analytics

In manufacturing, there is often a need to compile data for meetings or inventory discussions.  It is times like these that ERP systems can help you in compiling these reports without endless hours and multiple programs to do it.  This will save time and money which will ultimately make the ERP system the best investment for a manufacturing business.

4. ERP was Originally Created for Manufacturing

Originally called Material Requirements Planning (MRP), the systems we know today as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) were created to manage inventory for manufacturing.  For anyone who has been involved in a manufacturing company, either from an administrative or managerial role, you know how daunting of a task it can be to track inventory.  This becomes especially daunting if you’re manufacturing either a large product with many pieces or small widgets with thousands of SKU’s. CRM system functionality within your core ERP software can further help track inventory and customer orders.

Learn more about how other manufacturers are leveraging ERP systems to automate their businesses. Download our Manufacturing ERP Report here to view the unfiltered and objective results from our annual study of manufacturers across the globe!

Waterfall vs. Agile: Which is Right for Your Digital Transformation

Waterfall vs. Agile: Which is Right for Your Digital Transformation

Agile software development is a big buzzword phrase these days. Many view this form of software development and deployment as an anecdote to the big, slow, expensive, and risky ERP implementations that spook so many executives.

Like most buzzwords and alleged “silver bullets” hyped by the industry, agile isn’t the answer for every digital transformation strategy. While waterfall approaches are appropriate in some situations but not in others, the same is true of agile.

What is the Difference Between Agile and Waterfall?

First, it is important to understand the difference between waterfall and agile. Waterfall approaches entail a more traditional, sequential approach to development, with clear milestones amongst requirements, design, development, testing, and go-live. Next phases begin only when the previous phase are complete.

Agile methodologies, on the other hand, involve a more iterative approach. Design, development, testing, and training happen as each batch of requirements are defined. For example, rather than waiting for the entire solution design to be completed before moving on to development, agile approaches would conduct development, testing, and rollout as the different needs are defined.

So, which is right for your organization? Like many decisions regarding digital transformations and ERP systems: it all depends. It depends on a number of decision points that need to be defined prior.

Below are a few questions to help you define the best approach for your project:

Are You a Fast and Nimble Organization, or are You Trying to Build Scale and Efficiency?

Organizations that are generally fast and nimble may benefit from agile approaches. Startups, quickly growing organizations, and other companies that value speed over scale and efficiency are more likely to benefit from agile. In these cases, things are changing too quickly to support a waterfall approach, which fits better in a bit more of a static operational model.

Companies that have reached a certain point of size, scale, and predictability, on the other hand, typically benefit more from waterfall approaches. In these cases, creating operational efficiencies and scaling for growth are bigger priorities than speed. Here, it is more important to clearly define an entire solution up-front, rather than incrementally rolling out changes in piecemeal.

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.

How Important are Standard, Well-Defined Business Processes Within Your Organization?

Some organizations have fundamentally broken business processes and systems, or they have opportunities to better integrate their end-to-end value chains. In these cases, it is important to engage in business process reengineering and business process management activities to clearly define what the “to be” business processes will be. These needs point to a more traditional waterfall approach.

However, if you are an organization with fairly well-defined processes and systems, then an agile approach may make more sense for you. These situations offer a certain flexibility to define process improvements as solutions are rolled out – more so than in waterfall situations.

Are You a Centralized or a Decentralized Organization?

Companies that are – or are trying to become – centralized, tend to gravitate toward waterfall development models. In most cases, these organizations are trying to create a standardized operating model throughout various locations and business units. The upfront business process and system design of waterfall methodologies enables this sort of centralization.

Decentralized or largely independently operated organizations, on the other hand, often find that agile methodologies better fit their needs. Here, more structured and sequential development methodologies aren’t beneficial, but more iterative and fast-paced changes are.

How Broad is Your Digital Transformation?

As a broad generalization, enterprise-wide digital transformations are difficult to do without a waterfall approach. The value of these transformations is the level of cross-functional integration, which requires a good deal of up front design and planning. In these cases, it may take longer to design these solutions than some may like, but if done correctly, these early stages of the project can save a great deal of time and money later.

If your initiative is more isolated to a smaller part of your organization, then agile may be a better fit. For example, if you are rolling out CRM software and limiting its use to a sales team, then it may make sense to roll out changes in a more iterative nature rather than designing the entire solution first. In this example, realizing quick wins may be more important than perfection.

Which is Your Organization More Able to Tolerate From an Organizational Change Perspective: More Frequent, Longer-Term, and Ongoing Incremental Changes, or Less Frequent, Larger Scale Changes?

Change fatigue is a risk with any digital transformation. Employees tend to resist change of any sort, but your decision regarding agile versus waterfall will heavily influence the magnitude of change – and how those changes are received by employees. Waterfall implementations tend to involve less frequent, but larger scale changes, while agile implementations generally entail more frequent and more incremental changes.

In either case, you are simply trading one risk for another. So, it is helpful to look at your culture and your people to determine which will be better received. Will employees be more open to one big wave of changes, or do you think they would do better with more constant, incremental changes? In either case, an effective organizational change management strategy will be critical to your success.

There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions – and there is certainly no silver bullet, one-size-fits-all answer, either. The important thing is to determine what makes the most sense for your organization, then build your implementation strategy and plan accordingly.

Top Predictions for the ERP Software Industry in 2018

Top Predictions for the ERP Software Industry in 2018

We are at a pivotal juncture in the world of ERP software and enterprise technology.

This may be the first time in my career when there was so much excitement and uncertainty in the enterprise software space. On one hand, major vendors are promoting exciting new flagship technologies. On the other, many CIOs and other executives are nervous about the relative immaturity of these new products.

In many ways, 2018 will bring exciting new trends to be aware of. In other ways, the coming year will bring more of the same.

Here are my top five predictions for the ERP software space in 2018:

1. Capital Investments in Digital Transformation Initiatives will Continue

With the global economy continuing to improve, more companies scaling for growth, and capital investments continuing to gain momentum, more companies will be more likely to invest in their digital transformation initiatives. Other contributing factors to this trend: more companies are reaching the end of their legacy system lifecycles dating back to Y2K system replacements, and more industries are going through major, market-driven transformations (think: the retail industry grappling with the disruption of Amazon and the e-Tailing trend). All of these factors will lead more companies to revisit their enterprise system strategies going into the new year and beyond.

2. Cloud ERP Software will Reach a Tipping Point

The trend toward cloud systems has been gaining steam for several years now, but this is the first year where major vendors are all doubling down on their cloud offerings. SAP S4HANA, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Infor Cloud vendors are all examples of the flagship products being aggressively promoted by the top ERP vendors. The only thing complicating matters? The relative immaturity and lack of proven track record of these systems, along with executives’ continuing comfort level with on-premise deployments. The coming year may be the year where one of these two conflicting pressures win out and cloud systems are either more widely accepted – or the trend proves to be a short-lived fad. (Watch for our upcoming 2018 ERP Report to see if cloud adoption regains momentum after giving up market share last year).

3. More Organizations will be Forced Off Their Legacy ERP Systems

As more ERP vendors (link to /resource-center/erp-database/page) increase their investments in cloud solutions, they will likely continue paring back R&D in some of their legacy products. For example, products such as Oracle EBS, Microsoft Great Plains, and Epicor Prelude are likely to see rapid deterioration of focus and support for these products as they are sunset. Vendors will be less likely to introduce new functionality or provide long-term support for these dated products, leading many organizations to conclude that they have no choice but to migrate to more modern enterprise technologies. When combined with trends #1 and #2 above, executives are more likely to reconsider their platforms of choice moving forward into the long-term.

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. More Companies will Say “No” to ERP Software

Due in part, to #3, while on one hand we predict more organizations moving toward new technologies, we also see more executive teams being skeptical of ERP systems (link to /erp-software/ page) as we have known them over the last 20 years. Organizations are too painfully aware of the historic and ongoing challenges with the enterprise software status quo, so they will be more likely to consider alternatives to big, complex, monolithic ERP systems. Potential alternatives include less risky upgrades, more attention to business process reengineering, and point solutions. Whatever the exact alternatives pursued, the coming year’s focus will be on fixing more immediate operational issues and pursuing more low-hanging fruit.

5. Organizations Grow Increasingly Allergic to Organizational Change Management

This is one of the most interesting (and surprising) trends that we are seeing in the market. An increasing number of organizations are becoming seemingly allergic to the term “organizational change management” – while at the same time recognizing the need to address the people side of their digital transformation initiatives. On one hand, they recognize the risk of not addressing organizational change, but on the other, they are jaded by past org change failures.

In other words, organizational change management has a branding and PR problem. This starts with calling is something more specific, such as people enablement, workforce transition, business process implementation, and whatever other words of choice fit. However, words are just words, so it is even more important that organizations recognize the need for proven organizational change expertise and toolsets – something most ERP vendors, consultants, and system integrators aren’t good at.

2018 Will Be a Year of Transition

These are just five of the biggest predictions that we see in the coming year. It will clearly be an interesting year of transition. How will you navigate these changes to make your organization more successful in the new year and beyond?

What We Learned About Digital Transformation in 2017

What We Learned About Digital Transformation in 2017

As this year starts to wind down, it’s helpful to reflect on the changes that have occurred in the market throughout 2017. It’s an interesting time for those acquiring and implementing new ERP systems and other enterprise software as part of their digital transformation efforts.

As you prepare for your digital transformation efforts in the coming months and years, here are a few things that summarize the state of the industry at the moment:

There is a Resurgence of Organizations Investing in Enterprise Technology

During the economic recession several years ago, companies were very risk adverse in their enterprise software investments. Past horror stories of ERP failures, tight IT budgets, and uncertain economic conditions led many CIOs to defer investments in new technology and other operational improvements. Now that the economy appears to be on the rebound, however, there appears to be long built up demand for new ERP systems and other digital investments.

In addition to demand in the US, we are seeing increasing demand for enterprise software investments in developing countries in Africa, South America, and other parts of the world. In some cases, these economies are actually growing faster than their more developed counterparts, creating strains for companies that are unable to handle this growth with their current infrastructure. This is creating further demands for back office ERP systems, as well as CRM, HCM, and other enterprise technologies.

ERP Vendors are Going Through Significant Transformations of Their Own

The many organizations about to implement new technology, are going through significant transformations and ERP vendors themselves are also experiencing their own change. Many have doubled down – and in some cases gone “all in” – on their investments in cloud ERP systems. For example, SAP’s S/4HANA, Oracle’s Cloud, and Microsoft’s Dynamics365 platforms have all made it clear that the leading vendors’ flagship products are now all cloud-based.

While this may be good news for the vendors and their investors that crave the predictable, high-margin revenue that the cloud model affords them; it isn’t all good news for buyers of this technology. These are all relatively new and less proven technologies and platforms, which are creating a good deal of uncertainty and perceived risk in the market. I don’t recall a time in recent history when the vendors were going through so much change with their core platforms.

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.

There is No One-Size-Fits All Solution in the Market

Cloud ERP systems may be the focus of ERP vendors, but they are not necessarily the right answer for all organizations. Some will find cloud solutions to be ideal for their situations. Others will find that the less-developed, less-robust, and less-flexible functionality of certain systems outweighs the benefits of a cloud-based deployment model. Among most of our global client base, we are seeing a fair amount of skepticism and disinterest in the cloud models relative to the more established on-premise counterparts.

Cloud isn’t the only example of a type of technology that doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is the biggest trend right now. Buyers should beware of industry hype and generalizations that may or may not apply to them, such as agile development, SaaS, predictive analytics, and other buzzwords that vendors and industry analysts like to create. These and other advancements are interesting and should be considered, but they’re not for everyone.

More Than Ever, Digital Transformation is About People and Processes – Than Technology

Rapid evolution and advancements in technology are wonderful, but it often creates simple short-term noise that can distract you from the more important, bigger picture. At the end of the day, your transformation will succeed not because you chose the best cloud solution or the most robust technology in the market, but because you effectively addressed the people and process side of the equation.

Our broad implementation management and project recovery experience shows that effective organizational change management and business process management are much more likely to make your project succeed or fail.

This snapshot of where the industry is in 2017 should help navigate enterprise software decisions you make next year and beyond.

How ERP Software Can Help with Lean Manufacturing

How ERP Software Can Help with Lean Manufacturing

You know the story. He uses logic in every situation and tries to control every possible circumstance. She’s personal and only cares about living in the moment trusting that everything will work. They meet and are instantly repelled only to find that opposites attract. Slowly they compromise and live happily ever after. Is this the latest summer romance movie? No, it’s the story of ERP software and Lean Manufacturing.

For years, ERP software and Lean Manufacturing were polar opposites. ERP is big and robust. Analyzing sales trends to forecast inventory needs. Materials are ordered and “pushed” through production. Lean Manufacturing is individualized and responsive. The past and future are less important. What matters most is the present. Materials are “pulled” through the system as needed. Inventory levels are kept to a minimum with “just in time” ordering being key.

ERP and Manufacturing: The Start

Early on companies saw the benefits of both systems but thought they were too dissimilar to work together. As a result, ERP software was used for tracking customer and supplier relationships. Lean Manufacturing handled all production. The rule of thumb was everything in the plant was Lean Manufacturing and everything outside the plant was ERP.

While on some levels this worked it caused several challenges. Namely running two diverse systems at the same time isn’t conducive to productivity. It also fails to capture the strategic benefits of both systems. Recently more companies have discovered that ERP and Lean Manufacturing can be an ideal marriage.

For example, KanBan has visual signals to resupply inventory. This works well with a single manufacturing facility. ERP turns visual signals into electronic ones. This means notifications and response times are faster. Additionally, multiple manufacturing facilities and even suppliers can now be linked together into one KanBan loop.

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.

Inventory Control and ERP

Another benefit is controlling inventory. A mantra of Lean Manufacturing is ‘just in time inventory” or having just enough to complete the production demands. Excess inventory leads to wasted resources. ERP can analyze current inventory levels compared to current sales demands. This creates a more refined “JIT” inventory process.

ERP can also analyze the productivity of individual workstations. Lean Manufacturing thrives in make to order environments. However, this type of production often requires multiple fixtures and production changes during the week or even the day. Projected change over times rarely match the actual times. Additionally, producing custom products creates varied production flow rates. An ERP system can compare these data points allowing you to identify and correct inefficiencies. 

Scrap is the bane of all manufacturing. It directly affects product margins. An ERP can track scrap rates. As many businesses know – “What can be measured can be controlled.” A reduction of scrap leads to an increase in profit.

ERP and Manufacturing: A Perfect Match

When businesses unite Lean Manufacturing and ERP everyone lives happily ever after. However, it will require customization of your ERP software to see the most significant results. Any slight additional cost will be recouped through a more efficient productive manufacturing facility. When choosing an ERP vendor be sure they have the ability to fully understand your operation. An ERP vendor that knows your unique challenges will ensure you have a system that harmonizes all aspects of your business. As the world’s leading independent ERP consultant, Panorama Consulting Solutions has the expertise. Marrying ERP and Lean Manufacturing isn’t some fairy tale. Contact Panorama Consulting Solutions to create a match made in heaven.

12 Lessons From 12 Years of Digital Transformation

12 Lessons From 12 Years of Digital Transformation

This month, Panorama celebrates its twelfth-year anniversary. In fact, in October 2005, I started Panorama Consulting with the vision of becoming the world’s leading independent ERP consultants.

I’d love to say I had all the answers to succeed when I started the company, but I didn’t, and I still don’t. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from our over 300 clients plus our amazing and experienced team of consultants. These lessons stand the test of time and still apply to our clients’ success even today.

Here are twelve lessons that summarize our twelve years of helping clients of all sizes, industries, and geographies through their ERP software and digital transformation initiatives:

1. Always More About People and Processes Than Technology

As much as technology has changed over the last couple of decades, some things don’t change one bit. In particular, successful enterprise transformations have more to do with people and business processes than they do with the technology itself. If anything, this is truer now than it was several years ago. Organizational change management is more important than ever.

2. There is No One-Size Fits All

Software vendors may push a one-size-fits-all solution since it’s what they sell, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for you. For example, many vendors push trendy cloud solutions because it means more profits for them, but it’s not the right answer for everyone.

3. Most ERP Consultants Don’t Have Your Best Interests in Mind

Just as ERP vendors may push a myopic solution, most ERP consultants also push what is best for them rather than what is best for your organization. This is because the industry is still dominated by consultants, VARs, resellers, and system integrators with financial ties to software vendors.

4. Your Business Should Drive Your Digital and Enterprise Software Needs

Your business has been successful for a reason, and often times this is true in spite of your outdated enterprise systems. You don’t want your enterprise software, or anything else, to cause you to lose the “secret sauce” that makes you who you are. Successful companies start with their business needs and let those drive their technology initiatives.

5. Take Industry Hype with a Grain of Salt

There will always be industry buzzwords and new trends to cloud your thinking and understanding of the market, so it’s important to look beyond short-term trends. Cloud ERP systems, SaaS, big data, analytics, mobility, internet of things, and a slew of other sexy terms will come and go, so it’s important to focus on what’s best for your business (see point #4).

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.

6. The Best Technology Can’t Fix Your Broken Business Processes

One of the biggest (and most longstanding) misconceptions in the industry is related to business process management. Some will tell you that their off-the-shelf technology will help you define your business processes; but don’t fall for it! It sounds good in theory, but today’s software is too flexible with too many options to allow short-cutting of this important part of your transformation initiative.

7. An Effective IT and Digital Strategy is the Foundation for Success

Companies too often start running full speed ahead with their initiatives without a clear sense of direction. The only way to overcome industry biases, hype, and myopic thinking is to define a clear IT and digital strategy that fits your specific business strategy and objectives.

8. ERP Failures Don’t Happen Overnight

To the uneducated and inexperienced, it may seem as though one or two fatal mistakes lead to ERP failure. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Much like death from a thousand paper cuts, ERP failures develop over months or years of poor strategies, decision-making, and execution as we’ve discussed in previous blogs. Experienced and agnostic expertise can help you identify those failure points before it’s too late.

9. ERP Failures Have a Lot in Common – and So do Successful ERP Implementations

Neither ERP success nor failure is a result of chance. Instead, there are clear and consistent patterns between those that succeed and those that fail. It’s important to understand those patterns so you can pivot as things get off track along the way.

10. Advances in Technology are a Double-Edged Sword

For the most part, enterprise technology improvements have been a good thing for customers. But, it’s also a double-edged sword. Robust functionality and impressive flexibility also make implementations more challenging from a people and process perspective (see point #1 above).

11. Dramatic Digital Transformations Aren’t for Everyone

It may be blasphemous to say out loud, but some companies simply shouldn’t move forward with their digital transformation or ERP implementation efforts. For some, there is more low-hanging fruit that can be accomplished with much less cost and risk, such as business process reengineering, upgrades to current systems, or implementing point solutions.

12. Vendor Independence and Objectivity is Still a Critical Key to Success

In order to navigate these twelve lessons, it is important to find a trusted, independent consulting firm, like Panorama Consulting, with no ties to software vendors to help you plan and execute your journey. This is true not just for the software evaluation stage of your project, but also for the implementation planning and implementation phases as well.

There will undoubtedly be more lessons in our next twelve years in business, but these twelve are a good foundation for anyone considering an ERP or digital initiative. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your digital or enterprise software initiative.

Why ERP Implementations Fail and How to Avoid It

Why ERP Implementations Fail and How to Avoid It

Implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system doesn’t stop at purchasing one. While it’s good to be excited about rolling it out to your employees, it’s a big project that requires careful planning and preparation. No matter what little modifications you include in the implementation, the odds are still stacked against you, if you recklessly enter the project.

Avoid the following pitfalls in ERP implementation:

1. Incompatible Technology

Most ERP implementations fail due to the reluctance of companies to let go of old work processes that are not compatible with current technology. The false assumption that all ERP software is a good fit for the organization practically drives the sentiment. But, as with all business applications, there are best practices to follow for a successful deployment.

Mitigation: The success of most IT modernization projects lies in setting realistic, detailed, and specific goals. Define what processes you want to include in your system, what problems will it solve and what financial benefits will the organization and its stakeholders get from the project. Keep in mind that ERP implementations are always risky, so having a clear direction is the key to success.

2. Weak API Integration

Developers design ERP software to centralize, integrate, and process information and systems involved in the business to facilitate a streamlined exchange and workflow. Companies need to carefully implement Integration of additional data. All these require a robust application programming interface (API) that would dictate how different business components would interact. Failure to do so will most likely cause the implementation to fail.

In some cases, restricted information sharing or “information silos,” where separate applications are used for different business process, may also lead to failed projects.

Mitigation: Most implementations are bound to fail at the onset. But there’s no reason to stop at the first failed attempt. When it comes to modernizing and automating business processes to the greatest extent, your business need to make sweeping changes at the back-end via APIs.

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. Over-Customization

Customizing an ERP software is a make or break situation. It adds risk, time, and cost to the project, not to mention the technical challenges that may arise and derail the initial timeframe of the project. In fact, even organizations with unlimited resources and a strong IT department find this task extremely difficult, in that they decide not to make any customizations at all.

Mitigation: In cases where some degree of customization is really necessary, see to it that you have the resources and tools to commit to and tightly manage even the smallest customizations. Start out small with implementation and customize gradually when the dust has settled, and the system has been rigorously tested and used for the recommended period.

4. Inadequate End User Training

The prime reason companies invest in ERP systems is to have a centralized space to manage its core business processes, including product and production planning, marketing and sales, inventory management, retail, shipping, payment, finance, and down to human resources and even accounting. But more than being a tool, it should make the lives of its end users easier and their work more efficient.

Mitigation: Training those involved on your ERP project, both internal and external, is a great step. Working closely with a reputable independent ERP consultancy firm, such as Panorama Consulting Solutions, will also help guide the team in the right direction and provide a wealth of resources to facilitate a successful implementation. Provide sufficient training to its end users, as well, before the rollout.

Planning ahead prevents the enormously difficult and costly task of recovering from a failed program. No matter the scope of the project, implement it in phases and at a pace that management, ERP teams, and end users can handle and tightly manage.

Top Five Urban Myths of Digital Transformation Initiatives

Top Five Urban Myths of Digital Transformation Initiatives

Urban myths and other misconceptions can kill a digital transformation initiative. Even worse, ironically the enterprise software industry fuels misinformation in its quest to sell more software.

Talk to any organization that has implemented new enterprise software, and you’ll find that they all have most likely stumbled on some of the same common challenges. Some of these mistakes are predicated on things that “sound good” at the time, or represent what people want to believe to be the case with their ERP implementations. After all, who doesn’t want to believe that their implementation will be cheap and easy?

The good news is that we’ve studied hundreds of implementations over our 12 years in business, in both our own digital transformation experience with our clients, as well as our research into what others have gone through. There are some elemental truths that dispel many of these common myths. Here is a countdown of the top 5 urban myths to avoid in your digital transformation:

5. Your Project can be Implemented Quickly, Inexpensively and Easily

This may be the most common trap, but it is also one that organizations are beginning to figure out. These projects are never easy – and they are not supposed to be thought of as being easy. It is important that you realistically estimate how much time, money, and resources will be required for your project, which may mean adding several doses of reality to the project plan proposed by your ERP vendor or system integrator. It will also require you to plan for things outside your vendor’s purview, such as process mapping, organizational change, and data migration.

4. Organizational Change, Training, and Communication Won’t be a Challenge for You

Most organizations seem to understand that organizational change management is a common challenge with ERP implementations. However, many of these same teams think that they are different or that this risk doesn’t apply to them. Maybe they think that their team is ready for the change, so getting them to adapt won’t be a problem. Or perhaps they think that they will simply mandate the change and things will be fine. Whatever the case, it is important to recognize that no matter what your organization does or what your team looks like, organizational change management is going to be a challenge.

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. Your Assigned VAR, System Integrator or Consultant Must be the Ones to Lead Your Implementation

Companies often paint themselves into a corner with their ERP vendors or system integrator during implementation. In other words, they assume that there is some sort of requirement to use whatever third-party that they might be interacting with. But, it’s important to recognize that this is your project and that you control the tempo of the game. This includes which outside resources you use, what methodologies you use, and how you manage the overall implementation. This also means that you may want to hire a competent and proven third-party implementation consultant, such as Panorama Consulting, to manage your project. Your outside vendor most likely has good inputs to consider, but they should not be the end all, be all in your process.

2. There is No Need to Document Your Current State Business Processes

This is a common fallacy, based on what we want to believe, regardless of whether or not it’s aligned with reality. It’s also fueled by software vendors who overstate the capabilities of their software by suggesting that you shouldn’t spend time worrying about your current business processes. It may not be a strength of your software vendor or integrator – and it may not be something they are interested in helping you with – but understanding your current state business processes is a critical part of the business process management that needs to happen on your project. This will also aid your organizational change management efforts.

1. Software Best Practices will Make Your Implementation Easier

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just flip the switch on your new technology and experience smooth sailing from there? The simple fact is that modern day ERP software is too flexible to contain “out of the box” functionality to speed up your implementation process. If anything, the robustness and complexity of today’s leading software options are actually making implementations more difficult; not less. Be leery of suggestions that offer “industry pre-configurations” or “out of the box functionality that will make things easier for you”. This is a very dangerous assumption that can lead to significant downstream implications throughout your project.

These aren’t the only five to consider, but they are the most important ones based on my experience. Which of these have you experienced, or what other traps have you fallen into? I’d love to hear your comments below!

These are just a few of the dozens of warning signs that you need to watch for in your project. If you’re worried that your project is already off track, then don’t worry: contact me to learn more about our ERP project recovery services to help get your project back on the rails.