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6 Benefits to Expect From an ERP Center of Excellence

6 Benefits to Expect From an ERP Center of Excellence

If your organization is implementing an ERP system, then you understand the benefits it can provide to almost every business process. Improving business processes by implementing ERP software, may seem like a huge accomplishment – and it is – but it’s only the beginning of achieving operational excellence. 

In fact, benefits realization should continue many years after go-live as new organizational goals are identified. As soon as you begin the journey of selecting an ERP system, we recommend establishing an ERP center of excellence.

What You Need to Know About an ERP Center of Excellence

A center of excellence is not only relegated to ERP systems. Centers of excellence are born out of a need to establish areas of expertise for certain business functions, such as project management, business intelligence, IT or research.

This begins with the concept that there are people, facilities and other resources that can provide leadership and best practices for a particular area or discipline within an organization. If those resources can be pooled to maximize efficiency and return on investment, then your new ERP software will have the longevity to support a digital transformation.

The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Transformation

What are the 6 secrets to digital transformation that are helping organizations build competitive advantage?

An ERP center of excellence is designed to support continuous improvement after an ERP implementation. For example, it can ensure alignment between changing business requirements and ERP system design. It also can proactively identify potential process improvements.  Other roles that an ERP center of excellence might play include management of system upgrades and deployment of end-user training to develop new organizational capabilities.

Organizations should ensure their ERP center of excellence touches every area of the operation where the ERP software has functionality. They also should designate business process owners within the center of excellence to ensure continuity and continuous improvement.

6 Benefits of an ERP Center of Excellence

Extends the Life of Your ERP Solution

An ERP system is an investment your organization makes with the intent of receiving a significant return. Aligning ERP system design with new business requirements ensures you attain a high return on investment. 

No one buys a laptop computer with the intention of discarding and replacing it six months later. There are operating system upgrades, new software and additional peripherals you might add in order to extend the life of the computer. In the same way, your ERP system should support your organization in the long-term, even though your organization likely will look different five years from now than when the system was first implemented. 

A center of excellence ensures a continual focus on business process management after go-live. This is critical if you want your ERP system to support future business needs.

Reduces Long-term Reliance on ERP Consultants

Using ERP consultants when selecting and implementing an ERP solution is wise, as it provides external expertise and an outsider’s perspective to help your organization understand what to expect. 

However, once consultants have helped you establish a center excellence and develop organizational capabilities, you will have the tools and expertise to continually make effective use of new digital technology.

Allows Greater Flexibility When Adapting to Change

The adage that no one likes change is especially true when organizations implement a new ERP system. A center of excellence allows you to anticipate organizational changes while being mindful of your organization’s culture.

A organizational change management plan is easier to develop when you have in-house expertise dedicated to the ERP project. These team members have intimate knowledge about the organization’s culture and can use this to assess employees’ readiness for change.

Ensures Organizational Alignment

Another benefit derived from a center of excellence is the alignment of operational areas in terms ERP project goals, resource allocation and prioritization.

Operational silos are a natural byproduct of a lack of proper communication and collaboration.  A center of excellence encourages cross-functional collaboration, which ensures alignment between operational needs and technical capabilities.  

Ensures Resource Optimization

Once stakeholders are on the same page, you can determine what areas resources should focus on to provide the greatest return on investment. 

Many organizations unwittingly waste resources because they don’t prioritize functional areas.  A center of excellence can be charged with making decisions that allocate resources in a way that provides the most benefit.

Promotes Accountability

A center of excellence promotes accountability by ensuring all business demands are balanced in relation to available resources, business values, commitments and future needs.

When held accountable, project team members are more likely to address issues with an understanding of resource allocation needs and organizational objectives.

Is it Worth the Investment?

While centers of excellence can be used for several different organizational functions, a center that is dedicated to the longevity of an ERP system is certainly worth any additional investment.

Panorama’s ERP consultants are experienced in establishing ERP centers of excellence as part of organizations’ ERP implementation plans. We help organizations develop the capabilities to evolve their ERP software and business processes as their organization grows and changes.

The Biggest Improvements to ERP Software in the last 5 years

The Biggest Improvements to ERP Software in the last 5 years

In a world that is constantly changing, ERP software has also had to evolve to meet customers’ needs and stay competitive. There have been significant changes over the last five years with some being more of an improvement than others. Here’s a quick look at some top improvements to ERP software since 2013.

1. Giving Companies the Opportunity to Move to the Cloud

Without a doubt, one of the biggest improvements to ERP software involves a company’s ability to switch to the cloud. There are several reasons companies have had such a positive response to the cloud. For example, it offers greater security by frequently testing for vulnerabilities and making certain data is securely backed up with a disaster recovery plan in place. The cloud also offers anywhere access to information by partners, staff, and customers and eliminates the need to purchase additional storage/server hardware. As a bonus, the up-front costs tend to be less expensive[1]. In fact, in Panorama’s most recent 2018 ERP Report shows cloud deployments increased to 85%. This was a surprising increase from the previous year which shows more and more companies are taking advantage of this type of ERP software system for their business.

2. Increasing ERP Software Options for Smaller Businesses

Over the last five years, more and more small businesses have adopted ERP systems. The reason for this is simple. There have never been more ERP software options. From niche and industry-specific software to software geared specifically to small businesses. Whether on-premise or cloud solutions, small businesses have tons of options to choose from. They even have the ability to customize their solution. This has led to more small and medium-sized businesses to consider implementing ERP software.

3. Shorter Integration Periods

Vendors have made every effort to shorten integration periods. For example, interfaces are cleaner, faster and more accurate. At the same time, the introduction of simpler applications has not only reduced integration times, but also decreased setup costs and improved effectiveness. Check out the video “How to Develop the Right ERP Strategy for Your Organization” to help with this 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.

4. Enhanced Security

Security is an increasing concern for both individuals and companies, especially since data breaches have become increasingly sophisticated. This is why ERP vendors have put so much time and effort into offering top-notch data protection with highly advanced permission protocols, encryption and high-quality firewalls.

5. Improving Interconnectedness

As SaaS (software as a service) applications and cloud solutions have merged into existing ERP systems, they have given businesses the ability to run operations using a single, end-to-end platform. This has eradicated the need for different systems and greatly enhanced interconnectedness between various departments. This has resulted in instantaneous department communication, quicker response times and operations that are quicker overall. For many companies, this has led to a substantial boost in both production and revenue.

6. Maximizing big data information

In recent years, there has been a huge push to incorporate big data into ERP software. The reason for this is simple. Big data has the potential to be a game changer by improving information density, providing greater predictive analytics to potentially uncover hidden patterns and shortening decision making processes. Plus, it allows companies to effectively track incredibly detailed production data, which has resulted in enhanced processes, productivity and overall quality.

The Right ERP Consultants Will Improve Your ERP Project

The Right ERP Consultants Will Improve Your ERP Project

Implementing an ERP system for your business can be a daunting and time-consuming task. However, choosing the right ERP consultant can make the process go a lot smoother and provide you with much needed ongoing support. Here are some of the ways the right “independent” ERP consultant can improve your ERP project.

Experience and Expertise

The experience and expertise in implementing an ERP system is perhaps the biggest way an ERP consultant can help you. Your ERP consultant will know the best practices for implementing your program. They do it every day! They’ll also help you stay on time and on budget. They will also view your project from an outside perspective which can be valuable. It’s important to ensure that the consultant you choose fits your culture and is independent. Truly independent consultants are not software resellers and they do not receive compensation from software companies.

To make the most of your ERP consultant’s expertise, be sure to choose a consultant who has experience implementing ERP software in your specific industry or with other similar businesses. A good consultant will also suggest best practices from outside of your industry that could be of help to your business if incorporated.

Day-to-Day

Every project has unique needs and once the initial plan and strategy is done, the day-to-day details start. Some people need a lot of guidance while some need assistance when problems or questions pop up. An experienced consultant will have shepherded multiple ERP projects while most companies have not. Whatever your specific situation is, let your ERP consultant know your level of experience so he or she knows how to meet your needs. Also let your ERP consultant know how you like to communicate and share the communication plan that’s been drafted for the project.

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.

Project Management

You probably have project managers in your company, but they also have other responsibilities. ERP consultants can manage all facets of the ERP implementation process to ensure a timely and cost-effective result. The ERP consultant will also help your company set/validate realistic goals, budgets and deadlines.

A consultant will understand industry standards and best practices and will help you negotiate your ERP software costs with vendors. Consultants often have established relationships with vendors and can help expedite the process. Consultants also have your best interests in mind. Typically, a consultant can negotiate a lower overall software package price on your behalf.

You may task your consultant with help validating a software that you have chosen or hire them to lead a more comprehensive software selection process. Ultimately, they will help you ask the right questions to ensure you are getting the best product fit for your business.

The Big Picture

Your ERP consultant can also provide you with unbiased opinions about what’s working or not working regarding your business processes. This expert outsider’s perspective can be invaluable throughout your implementation project. Most companies and employees have personal biases, based on their job roles and how things have been done in the past. Business process improvement should also be tackled before the implementation begins.

Your ERP consultant will help you meet your objectives and keep your team on track. It can be easy to lose focus with all the excitement of a new system. But your ERP consultant will keep your decisions in line with the big picture and company goals for the new system.

Your consultant will also help you address any insufficiencies in your business operations (think redundancies) and help ensure that your overall process for doing business is optimized.

Change Management

Implementing an ERP system can mean big changes for your business. These changes can be overwhelming for your team and the rest of your workforce. An ERP consultant can help usher in these changes. Employees are often worried about job loss or having to learn new duties or routines.

An ERP consultant can help with training and provide resources to make sure your workforce is ready and able to make changes to their daily routines. Your consultant can also act as a mediator when differences of opinion will undoubtedly arise. Having someone to help manage the human element of your ERP implementation is important. A common cause of ERP implementation failures is not dedicating enough time, money and resources to ensure that employees understand and are supportive of upcoming system changes. 

As you can see, choosing the right ERP consultant can improve many facets of your ERP software selection and implementation process. Finding a truly independent consultant like Panorama Consulting Solutions may be one of your biggest challenges.

Ten Warning Signs of ERP Failure (Or Success)

Ten Warning Signs of ERP Failure (Or Success)

ERP failure doesn’t happen overnight. Much like “death by a thousand paper cuts,” they are instead a culmination of a large number of seemingly small decisions and actions.

During our experience with ERP expert witness projects, we see firsthand how some of the biggest failures unfold. When combined with our proficiency for helping clients select and implement ERP software, these experiences provide useful lessons that can help project teams avoid some of the same missteps that doom so many other organizations.

ERP failures can often be traced back to common root causes that fester over time. When identified and remediated quickly, project teams will avoid failure and ensure their initiatives stay on track.

Below are 10 warning signs to watch for during your ERP implementation:

1. Unrealistic Implementation Project Timeline, Budget, and Resources

In our recent 2018 ERP Report, we found that a majority of projects spend more time, money and resources than expected. This is often because expectations were unrealistic to begin with, which leads to a number of poor decisions later on. It’s important to add a dose of reality to any sales proposal or implementation plan that you might receive from an ERP vendor or reseller.

2. Lack of Involvement From Your Executive Team

It’s important that your executive team be involved in key decisions surrounding your project. Most understand the need for executives to approve budgets and project resources, but executive involvement needs to go beyond these peripheral functions. They also need to be involved in ongoing decisions surrounding key business decisions, changes to business processes and other strategic considerations.

3. Unclear Business Processes and Requirements

Clear business processes and requirements provide the direction that every project team needs to be successful. Without them, projects are more likely to go over budget, take longer than expected, over-customize the software and fail to meet the organization’s broader strategic intent. It’s important to take the time to complete this step before beginning the ERP implementation process.

4. Not Enough Time Spent on Business Process Reengineering

Most digital transformations and ERP implementations are intended to improve business processes. If you don’t spend enough time redefining your business processes, however, you will instead find yourself “paving the cowpaths,” or automating already inefficient processes rather than making fundamental improvements. Most ERP vendors and consultants gloss over this important point, so be sure to allocate enough time for this in your project plan.

5. Your Organizational Change Management Strategy Consists Solely of End User Training

End user training is important, but it is just one component of an effective organizational change management arsenal that you’ll need to overcome resistance to your new system. Your strategy should also include change readiness, change impact assessments, communication plans, benefits realization plans, and a host of other items important to any successful 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.

6. Too Little or Too Much Dependency on Outside ERP Consultants

Some companies don’t recognize how difficult ERP implementations can be, so they underestimate their need for outside independent help. Others think they can outsource the entire function to ERP consultants. Either extreme is risky, so it’s important to find the right balance that leverages outside help, while at the same time ensuring your organization has dedicated ownership of the project.

7. Ill-Defined Project Governance and Controls

Projects fail without the right project governance and controls. There should be clearly defined approval processes for changes to project scope, customization requests, and other things that can undermine a project’s chances for success. Be sure to define (and assign) these and other critical governance processes as part of your project charter.

8. No Business Case or Benefits Realization Plan

You can’t achieve what you don’t measure, so it’s important to have a business case and plan for how you intend to achieve the expected business benefits of the project. Your business case should be more than a tool to simply justify the investment in new ERP software; it should also be a tool to manage and optimize potential business benefits during and after implementation.

9. The project is managed like an IT project

Your project may be doomed from the start if it’s managed and treated like any other IT project. The more successful projects are those that are treated as important strategic business transformation initiatives, which permeate the decisions that are made and results that are achieved.

10. You don’t have a contingency budget

Most projects don’t go exactly as planned, so it’s important to not paint oneself into a corner. Be sure to allow for wiggle room when things don’t go as expected. Setting aside a contingency budget of at least 15% to 20%, is an important way to ensure that you have the budget and resources required to adapt to evolving project twists and turns.

While these 10 things can’t guarantee success, they can ensure that you avoid some of the common pitfalls that many organizations succumb to.

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.

How SAP Compares to Other ERP Software

How SAP Compares to Other ERP Software

When you are considering ERP software to integrate and streamline your business’s finances, HR, and other processes, SAP is an option that you will frequently come across. For well over a decade, SAP has been the ERP system of choice for all types of industries. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years [1].

This raises two important questions. What sets SAP apart from other ERP systems currently available? Why is it one of the most widely used ERP systems in the world [2]? To answer these questions, here’s a brief look at how SAP compares to other ERP software.

1. SAP can Fit Any Size Business (From Small Companies to Fortune 500 Companies)

Unlike some other ERP systems that are geared for use by companies of a specific size, this is not the case with SAP. Instead, they offer a diverse line of ERP platforms that are known for being incredibly consistent. They offer an all-in-one solution with a straightforward implementation process. Additionally, transitions are easy as a company grows and expands.

SAP also offers multiple cloud solutions and it integrates straight out-of-the-box with complementary services, such as Google and PayPal. This is uncommon in the world of ERP systems. All of these are things, as well as the fact that SAP offers plenty of flexibility for growth, are things that small businesses can greatly benefit from. At the same, SAP offers the functions and capabilities needed by the world’s largest companies. In fact, almost 80% of Fortune 500 companies use SAP, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Phillip Morris [3].

2. It is Also Ideal for Any Business

As mentioned above, SAP works with all types of industries, which isn’t always the case with ERP systems. Businesses that are implementing a new ERP may not know exactly which functions and modules they need. SAP has a wide selection for a custom fit without having to pay for customization. Businesses also benefit from SAP’s integration. When changes are made to one module, other modules are immediately updated.

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. It Does Not Offer Unnecessary Functionality

All ERP systems require training and time for your staff to learn how to use it. The simpler the system, the shorter the learning curve will be. Some ERP systems, such as Oracle, to offer too many functions for most businesses. Many of them are unnecessary which makes training more difficult and complicated. While SAP offers all the functions a business needs, it keeps them streamlined so the users does not become confused.

4. When Compared to Other ERP Systems, SAP Offers the Quickest Financial Payback and Shorter Implementation Time

SAP is the second most expensive ERP system to implement (Oracle is first). However, it does provide the quickest financial payback (around nine months) when compared to other ERP systems [4]. For businesses using SAP, this results in faster financial benefits. At the same time, SAP has established a significantly shorter implementation period than its counterparts, which also facilitates quicker success.

5. SAP Usually Requires Less Customization Than Other ERP Systems

When compared to its competition, SAP has a reputation for its impressive out-of-the-box functionality. This results in minimal, if any, need for customization, which can slow down the implementation period. However, it is worth noting that SAP does provide plenty of customizable solutions that will suit all types of business if needed.

Currently, SAP rates very high when compared to other ERP systems. Of course, other vendors, including Oracle and Infor, are continually looking to make upgrades and changes. SAP will have have to work hard to stay ahead of the competition, or they could be surpassed in the future. 

Don’t fret, contact Panorama Consulting Solutions to help with your ERP selection.

Risk: Its Impact on Your ERP Implementation Project

Risk: Its Impact on Your ERP Implementation Project

ERP failures may be more common than you think, but they don’t simply happen without warning. They also don’t happen overnight.  Instead, failures and other ERP implementation project challenges tend to build over time. Seemingly small risks become bigger, while a subset of risks may mutate into exponentially more complex challenges over time. If not properly identified, managed, reduced or eliminated these risks will reach a tipping point – wreaking havoc on the project, or worse, causing a full-blown failure.

To the trained eye, many risks are recognizable from the start. The key is to know what to look for and how to navigate the challenges. I like to call this iterative process, “actionable strategies for risk mitigation.” Risks come in many forms, if you’re too close to your project (immersed in detail) or don’t have a deep specialization in digital transformations the road ahead may be bumpy.

Below are five key takeaways about assessing risk on your ERP implementation project:

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment During Your Implementation

A crucial mindset is to accept risk exists and put forth a concerted effort and plan to control it. An objective, third-party assessment of your implementation is a best practice. It’s key to involve someone who isn’t clouded by, or too close to the day-to-day details to recognize risks and warning signs. One way to do to this is to bring on a resource that isn’t part of the project team. Someone whose area of expertise includes risk assessment experience with several similar projects throughout their career.

These assessments should be done regularly throughout your implementation to identify probability of occurrence, consequence severity and impact. Unlike most of your team members, an external partner can also dedicate time and methodology to this important effort (think identify, manage, eliminate or proactively avoid or reduced risks). You can learn more about Panorama’s independent oversight service offerings here.

2. View from all Perspectives

Project risks come in different shapes, sizes and variations so it’s important to assess your project using many different “lenses.” Risk factors can span a spectrum relating to people, process and technology. Identifying and recognizing risk earlier on is preferable to reacting to risk factors as they pop up. For example, Panorama uses a project assessment framework, evaluating from 12 key areas including data, organizational change management, business processes, project management and a host of other areas. Whatever evaluation framework you decide to use, it’s important it provides a comprehensive and structured analysis of your project in a time sensitive manner.

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. Assess Project Risk

Those of us who have been involved with enough ERP implementations recognize there are commonalties across projects (pitfalls, cost impacts, failure points) in these initiatives. Rather than recreating the wheel or shooting from the hip, it’s useful to start by evaluating project risks relative to what other similar projects experience. This helps ensure you have a “checklist” of sorts to help identify and focus on specific project risks and threats. With this said, you’re also working in a constantly changing environment. The ability to monitor and adjust is key, as well as understanding how the project’s risk profile may change.

4. Prioritize Risks and Create an Action Plan

When done correctly, most project assessments identify more risks than can reasonably be addressed with limited resources and team members. Additionally, not all risks require a mitigation strategy. Therefore, prioritization is important since it enables your team to focus on addressing the things posing the most immediate and/or greatest risk to your project. An objective view of your project and plenty of experience will ensure the most pressing issues are being addressed first. For these highest priority risks, you will want to create and execute a risk mitigation plan backed by a contingency plan.

5. Recognize Early Warning Signs of ERP Implementation Failure

It’s important not to underestimate the complexity of an ERP implementation. It’s also not an exaggeration to say there’s a direct correlation between successful implementations and early risk identification. Experience and research shows most ERP failures marinate over time. A string of small, seemingly insignificant mistakes can morph into sometimes unstoppable failure points when unattended. Like the “canary in the coal mine,” it’s important to recognize the value of early warning signs. Read this blog to learn some of the common warning signs of ERP implementation risk.

The takeaways mentioned above highlight the importance of dedicated independent risk oversight, which can sometimes get buried in the excitement and momentum of an implementation project. It’s a complex subject and I’ve only touched on it. Realistically assessing risks, recognizing recurring risks and understanding the opportunities made possible by risk are other important considerations. Don’t tackle these challenges alone.

Download Seven Pre-implementation Steps for a Successful Implementation.

Best Practices from an ERP Expert Witness

Best Practices from an ERP Expert Witness

Over years of being an ERP expert witness, I’ve had the opportunity to examine, analyze and testify in court on all types of implementation failures.

I’ve been an expert witness for SAP implementations, Oracle projects, Microsoft Dynamics transformations and a host of other solutions as well. In addition to these expert witness engagements, we’ve also helped countless companies recover their failed implementations before they reach the lawsuit stage.

Having a front row seat to ERP disasters provides a unique understanding of what makes projects fail. More importantly, it helps us better understand what it takes to succeed in an ERP implementation. Rather than focusing on the negative failure points, it is often more constructive to look at the things that you should be doing to be successful.

Below are five best practices from our expert witness experience that will help you be more successful in your digital transformations:

Begin with Realistic Expectations

Many failed projects were caused by unattainable timelines and/or budgets, while our most successful clients begin with realistic expectations and adjusted them (as needed) during the project. ERP software vendors may not have (nor are they necessarily incentivized to attain) a realistic view of all the resources, tasks, budgetary line items and internal requirements to make your project successful. It’s important to create a realistic implementation plan, timeline, resource allocations and budget based on your company’s needs. This is an area that independent ERP consultants can help with.

Define and Document your Business Processes and Requirements as Early as You Can

Even though you may not yet have approval to move forward with your entire ERP project, it is important to define and document your business processes in as much detail as you can as early in the project as possible. If you’re able to do so during your evaluation phase, it will only help ensure you have a more complete picture of your evaluation criteria, while allowing you to begin implementing process improvements before the new system is implemented. At the very least, you should document in detail “future state” business processes before your functional and technical resources begin configuring 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.

Invest Heavily in Organizational Change Management, Training and Communications

Each project failure I’ve been consulted on failed to effectively manage and prioritize organizational change management. This is no coincidence. Successful project teams realize that there is no such thing as over-investing in people, communication and training. The technical components are probably the least likely reasons for failure. An effective organizational change strategy should include organizational readiness assessments, change impact analyses, benefits realization and a host of other best practices. (Click here to download a white paper on organizational change management best practices).

Don’t Hesitate to Postpone Go-Live Until Your Organization is Ready

Successful projects don’t treat a go-live date as a “Hail Mary” pass at the end of an American football game. Instead, they are measured, deliberate, and focused on mitigating risk. Even with a realistic implementation strategy early on, you may still find yourself faced with a crucial decision: go-live before I’m ready, or do I delay until the organization is fully prepared? The only way to get to the right answer is to conduct an independent and agnostic go-live readiness assessment to determine the pros, cons, and risks of your pending go-live date. Too often the pressures of a predetermined go-live date or budget may cloud your judgment.

Remember this is Your Company and Your Project

At the end of the day, you own the result. It’s not your software vendor’s or your system integrator’s responsibility. It’s also not realistic to completely outsource your project to an outside party without the appropriate oversight, input and accountability. Yes, you should be able to rely on outside experts, but don’t be afraid to pivot if things aren’t going as planned.

An independent ERP consultant can be invaluable in offering up suggestions and/or concerns to keep you on the right path. An “outside” opinion can also be an effective support mechanism for your team, who has been working long and hard. They may benefit from complementary insights that can affect the end project result in a positive way.

How Post Modern ERP Software Differs from Traditional ERP

How Post Modern ERP Software Differs from Traditional ERP

Business must constantly plan for the future. In the world of ERPs, the future is now. For over 25 years companies have implemented and benefited from traditional ERP solutions. Your favorite t-shirt might be 25 years old but it is highly unlikely your employing decades-old technology.

An ERP is an integral part of your business. Why doesn’t it update as often as our computers, cell phones, tablets and TVs? The simple answer is cost and time. A traditional ERP is big, rigid and expensive…really expensive. Naturally, you are not going to abandon your current traditional ERP tomorrow but it would be beneficial to explore transitioning to a Postmodern ERP.

The Primary Difference

A traditional ERP is a single large platform that covers every aspect of a company. A postmodern ERP has a core ERP that covers the most important business functions but unique parts of your business are covered by specialized software applications.

A traditional ERP could be compared to buying a new car. The dealer will let you pick the color, leather or cloth interior and a few other options. However, your choices are limited to what he has on the lot or the manufacturer has in production.

Now imagine you could design your own car. Sports car styling and power with the efficiency of a hybrid and the highest safety ratings. Then a few years later you decide an SUV is more practical so the dealer simply swaps everything over to a new body style. That is a postmodern ERP. A core ERP with almost unlimited flexibility.

For example, with postmodern, the core ERP may be responsible for financials, procurement, and managing orders, while unique solutions may be used for quality management or retail. Then a few years down the road your retail operation expands to include a web presence or international sales. You quickly and easily change that part of the ERP.  

Flexibility

As is evident, a postmodern ERP is much more flexible and agile than its traditional counterpart. This is partially due to its ability to integrate unique solutions as needed. Additionally, software can be changed and/or upgraded much more quickly. Being flexible is crucial in a business world that is always changing, particularly if your business is growing quickly.

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.

Vendors and Strategies

With postmodern ERP software, you will most likely have to manage multiple vendor strategies. On the surface it would appear to be a more complicated option than traditional ERP software, where you deal with a single vendor. However, before selecting any ERP it is wise to employ an ERP consultant. A reputable ERP Consulting firm like Panorama Consulting Solutions can manage it for you. This makes postmodern ERPs no more complicated than a traditional ERP.

Customization

Utilizing postmodern ERP software allows for a level of customization that is simply not available with traditional ERP software. You are not locked into trying to make an off-the-shelf solution work or forced to spend large amounts of money on small custom changes. You have the opportunity to create software and hardware solutions that are precisely suited to the needs of your business and its ever-changing requirements. You gain a competitive edge over your competition and greater profit margin.

The Use of Your Business’s IT Resources

The IT department is probably spending a good bit of time maintaining your traditional ERP. However, when it comes to postmodern ERP, the system is often based on site and in the cloud. This lightens the load on your IT department. Now they can focus on more on differentiation and innovation.

Continuous Deployment of Upgrades

Postmodern ERP software allows for the continuous deployment of upgrades without the need for any additional work on your part. Upgrades made to traditional ERP software systems often require great expense in software and/or hardware. A postmodern ERP can often be upgrade only where needed. By combining on-premise and cloud-based software often upgrades occur continuously and seamlessly without large capital expenses. The benefit is constant improved performance and the growth of your business.

The Biggest Changes to ERP in the Last 5 Years

The Biggest Changes to ERP in the Last 5 Years

As ERP becomes one of the older software applications in the business landscape, ERP vendors are constantly evolving to meet the needs of customers and stay competitive in an ever-changing industry. Here are 3 of the biggest changes to ERP in the last 5 years.

1. ERP Software Customization

More companies are choosing to customize their ERP software options than ever before. ERP customization has long been a risk that companies have shied away from. But this is certainly changing. In fact, according to the 2005 ERP Business Report, a whopping 93% of companies chose to customize their ERP to varying degrees.

It seems more and more companies are coming to terms with the fact that ERP systems need some kind of customization in order to meet unique business needs. In response to this recognized need, ERP companies are working to create an environment where customization is less risky and more accepted. It’s important to note that this increase in customization might also contribute to a rise in the failure rate of ERP implantation 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.

2. ERP and SaaS

SaaS applications stored on cloud-based servers have seen a major rise in popularity in the last 5 years. ERP companies are finally starting to recognize the need to shift to SaaS applications to some degree. On-premises ERP tools require storage on company servers, which can make up-front hardware costs and continued maintenance a pricey endeavor.

Many ERP companies are launching SaaS products for new customers looking to implement, as well as migration paths for current customers to move to cloud-based ERP. Some ERP companies even offer mixed models that allow for SaaS-based modules to be added to already existing ERP systems.  This can be a major cost saver and is allowing more small-to-mid-size businesses the ability to implement ERP systems of their own. It seems cloud-based ERP is here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

These SaaS options also mean a greater need for technical expertise in implementing and maintaining ERP systems. This is great news for IT professionals. Still, it’s important for companies to consider their ERP implementation as a full-scale business transformation, not just an IT decision.

3. Internet Connectivity

ERP systems are also having to adapt to an increase of data availability due to more devices and products becoming connected to the internet. This is great news for businesses looking to have more oversight into things like supply chain, appliance performance, and shipping partners. While there may not be a great deal of accessibility in this area yet, it’s certainly on the horizon. 

The last 5 years in the ERP industry have been exciting and full of changes. The industry is in a constant state of flux as new technologies collide and understanding this is essential to a successful ERP implementation. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the importance of hiring the most qualified ERP consultant you can find.

References

https://www.pcmag.com/article/351807/5-enterprise-resource-planning-erp-trends-to-know-in-2017
https://www.panorama-consulting.com/top-10-predictions-for-the-erp-industry-in-2016/
https://www.panorama-consulting.com/key-findings-from-the-2015-erp-report/
Why an ERP Center of Excellence is Critical to Your Success

Why an ERP Center of Excellence is Critical to Your Success

Most organizations don’t implement new ERP software for the technology. Instead, they are implementing to improve their business capabilities and competencies.  However, most organizations don’t think enough about how they will build these internal competencies to be successful in the long term.  Instead, they focus on technical aspects of their ERP transformations. An ERP Center of Excellence is the best way to build these internal capabilities. But, what exactly is a center of excellence and how can you build one as part of your longer-term ERP strategies?

Here are five things to keep in mind as you build your internal center of excellence:

1. Define the Scope of Your Center of Excellence

Every ERP center of excellence has different purposes, depending on the needs of the organization. Some are focused on extending the usage of software, while others might focus on continuously improving business processes. Still others might focus on ensuring master data is effectively managed. Whatever the purpose of your center of excellence, it is important you clearly define its scope and purpose as a starting point.

2. Define the Roles and Responsibilities Required for Your Center of Excellence

Just as you’ll want to define the scope, you’ll also want to define the roles, responsibilities and skills required to develop your internal center of excellence. These roles and skills will typically constitute a combination of functional, technical, software, support and business needs, along with short-term and longer-term needs. This requires a broad and cross-functional team understanding the software well, as well as the internal goals and objectives of the organization.

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. Focus on Long-Term, Strategic Needs – Not Just Short-Term Support Needs

Some see a center of excellence simply as a glorified IT help desk or support mechanism. The best centers, however, are those that don’t just focus on short-term support needs, but those focusing on more strategic needs as well. In particular, centers of excellence are especially effective when they look for ways to better support long-term strategic and operational objectives, such as better aligned business processes and benefits realization.

4. Use Your Center of Excellence as a Way to Extend the Lifecycle of Your ERP Software

Many organizations are forced to prematurely choose new ERP software due to misalignment between their operational needs and software capabilities. In many cases, simple upgrades or better use of their software can extend the useful lives of their ERP systems (think: advanced software modules and capabilities such as advanced planning or predictive analytics). A primary goal of your center of excellence should be to extend the lifecycle of and improve the alignment with your ERP software. After all, you’re probably not interested in doing another implementation sooner than you need to.

5. Don’t Wait Until After Go-Live to Build Your Center of Excellence

Since centers of excellence make organizations more self-sufficient and less reliant on external consultants, you should ideally start building one before your implementation is even completed. This will allow you to take better ownership of the software and the business benefits afforded by that technology, as well as to build those internal competencies sooner. This will enable you to accelerate the ERP implementation and post-implementation business benefits as well.

But don’t fear, if you’ve already completed a portion of your ERP initiative, it’s never too late to begin building these internal competencies. In addition, the perspective of an independent consultant will add value to you project in relation to building your center of excellence. 

Five ERP Software Trends to Watch in the Healthcare Industry

Five ERP Software Trends to Watch in the Healthcare Industry

Almost every aspect of the healthcare industry is continuously evolving. ERP software, which plays a pivotal role in everything from ensuring the security of patient data to identifying possible illness patterns, is one area that is expected to see substantial changes in the upcoming year. To give you an idea of what to expect in 2018, here are 5 ERP software trends to watch in the healthcare industry.

1. There will be a Significant Focus on Increased Security

By October 2017, there had been 272 security breaches in the healthcare sector for the year [1]. Due to these breaches, hackers were able to obtain the personal information of more than 1 million patients from all types of medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient surgical clinics, and imaging centers. This is why it should come as no surprise that ERP software vendors will be taking every step possible to improve security. Currently, some providers are considering the use of digital and encryption keys, as well as fingerprint, eye, and even voice scanning to be proactive instead of reactive. Also, blockchain technology is being developed, allowing medical records to be stored in encrypted blocks. This data would be unchangeable and only available to someone with the correct access key.

2. There will be a Push to Develop Telemedicine Features Further

Today, many patients do not necessarily want to visit their doctor in person. Instead, they are willing to have their consultation completed on their computer or mobile device. While some ERP systems have been adapted to allow for telemedicine, such as by enabling clinicians to access information from other locations, this is indeed another area that ERP system developers will focus on overhauling. Telemedicine is one of healthcare’s fastest growing sectors and ERP software will have to keep up.

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 Predictive Power of ERP Software will be Used to Help Reduce Healthcare Costs

ERP software can include predictive analysis capabilities, which is used to identify patient readmissions, allowing the healthcare provider to implement measures to prevent this from happening. This is important because the costs of hospital readmissions have risen so high that the Medicare Hospital Readmission Reduction Program was created in 2012 to withhold reimbursements for hospitals with excessive readmissions. For Fiscal Year 2018, $564 million in payments will be held, meaning hospitals will not recoup the money they were expecting [3]. You can expect hospitals to take full advantage of ERP software to identify and limit their readmissions. At the same, ERP system vendors will work to make this as thorough as possible.

4. ERP Software will be Utilized More in Research and Prevention

ERP software can be used to collect all types of data, giving researchers the ability to identify information that once would have taken months or even years to obtain. For example, it makes it easier for them to track disease outbreaks among specific locations and demographics, as well as make a plan to stop it. You can expect to see healthcare providers to take full advantage of the data available at their fingertips to create a safer health environment.

5. Healthcare Centers and Providers will have to Renew and Upgrade their ERP Software to Keep up with the Times

In today’s world, ERP software is offering so many benefits that healthcare centers just can’t afford to lag behind the others. Those that are using legacy software will have no choice but to look at and invest in new ERP software options.  Need help in your ERP software selection?  Contact the World Leaders of ERP Consultants, Panorama Consulting.

[1] https://www.hipaajournal.com/q3-2017-healthcare-data-breach-report/
[2] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-promise-of-telemedicine-for-american-health-care-654432623.html
[3] https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2017/08/07/hospital-penalties
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!

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.

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.

ERP and Effective Project Management. How to Drive Project Results

ERP and Effective Project Management. How to Drive Project Results

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) project management is a full-time job that requires dedicated resources. Although it’s not as simple as it seems, it’s one of the keys to the success of software implementation.

For this reason, business owners, Chief Information Officers (CIOs), and project managers need to understand the significance of effective ERP project management. They must also understand the factors that make up an effective project plan.

Effective Project Management Should Mean Consistency of Direction

Project management is a principal factor in any ERP initiative. It keeps track of the time, budget, and scope of any project. Furthermore, it aims to get and keep everybody on the same page, ensuring that everyone is marching in the same direction.

Having said that, a good project manager holds the team and its clients together, guiding them throughout the various ups and downs of any project. This is especially important in terms of ERP, which strikes a balance between technology and human resources (think organizational change).

Effective ERP project management is crucial to the success of a project. Some of the elements of effective ERP project management include:

  • Alignment of strategic goals. Business and project goals must align and support each other.
  • Clear objectives. The team has a clear guide to tackle tasks, effectively boosting their focus.
  • Realistic project planning. The team sets proper expectations based on accurate data.
  • Quality control. Project managers ensure the quality or applicability of project deliverables.
  • Risk management. Project managers get ahead of issues and find solutions as soon as possible.
  • Continuous supervision. To monitor, react and adjust as necessary.
  • Typically a charter that provides guidelines and structure.
  • Communication. Over-communicate using different methods and to all levels of the organization. This should also include regular positive and constructive feedback to team members.

Effective ERP project management also serves as a guiding force for the team. It stands as a vision and motivation for the team, encouraging them to do their best and drive favorable results.

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.

Project Managers Need to Build a Comprehensive Plan

Project management is only effective when it involves a comprehensive plan. As such, a good project manager must spearhead a sound strategy, that is approved by many levels of the organization.

First, the plan must have targeted realistic dates that give a substantial overview of the project goals and how and when they will be achieved.

Second, it must have a set of objectives that will serve as the driving force of the project—this includes an understanding the organizational mission and business goals.

Third, the plan must define the scope of the project, letting the team and its clients know how many resources are necessary for the project. It should also spike out all the factors that can affect timely implementation. This should include contingencies for adjusting the timing of certain deliverables, if things begin to go sideways.

Fourth, the project plan must clearly define resource assignments, work division, and check points to ensure that every person involved is doing their job. Together with this, the project manager must give an overview of the different project stages to serve as the team’s guide.

Finally, a comprehensive project plan must have an established budget. The project manager must have financial oversight to make sure that the costs are accurate, realistic and that contingencies are anticipated if needed.

Strong Project Managers Believe in Success, and Aren’t Afraid to Ask for Help

We have discussed the importance of a strong project manager. The inclusion of independent consultants such as Panorama bring businesses one step closer to success by reviewing, validating and enhancing ERP project plans. They go over project plans meticulously, pointing out aspects that may need adjustment, and help formulate midcourse corrections as they are needed. For example, non-technical business factors, such as organizational change management, sometimes get overlooked or not sequenced properly. Putting your best foot forward typically means being collaborative, and open to the fact that even the best formed plans are a work in progress.

Contact Us to see how Panorama can help with your ERP Project Management.

When Uncertainty Isn’t Good Enough: How to Determine if Your Project is Really Going to Succeed

When Uncertainty Isn’t Good Enough: How to Determine if Your Project is Really Going to Succeed

Your implementation partner assures you that everything’s going great, but you have an uneasy feeling about how the project is progressing – is it paranoia or intuition?

If you’re talking about an ERP project, it’s probably intuition. You shouldn’t ignore any indication that something is awry with your system integrator, project manager or internal team. Be on the lookout for the following red flags: budget overruns, schedule overruns, delayed deliverables, cancelled meetings, unexplained absences and staffing shortages without proper backfill.

Individually, these missteps aren’t necessarily cause for concern, but taken together, they should trigger uneasiness – if not sheer panic. You are on the brink of ERP failure, and it’s time to hire a third-party for project recovery services.

The Rest of Us

For the rest us, we just need to take steps to avoid ERP failure. A large contributor to failure is the cutting of important project deliverables due to time or money constraints. Your project plan should include organizational change management, business process reengineering and adequate budgeting and resource allocation.

A common challenge with resource allocation is the “and factor.” Sometimes, employees will be assigned to the ERP implementation but still be expected to fulfill their regular job duties. Schedule overruns can occur when employees prioritize their day job over the project – this is to be expected. The key is to avoid this sticky situation altogether, and hire outside resources.

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.

More Tips for Avoiding Failure

Even if your project is progressing beautifully, it doesn’t hurt to look beneath the surface. At the very least, this is a good form of risk mitigation. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is our system integrator fulfilling their contract? Do we need a new integrator or can the relationship be restored?
  • Did we select the right ERP software or do we need a different system to meet our needs?
  • Do our employees feel prepared for the transition? How can we make them feel more prepared?

Of course, this is just a starting point. Many organizations find it easier to hire a third-party to conduct an independent assessment of their project and deliverables. This service is called independent verification and validation.

Your Intuition

So, listen to your intuition, address red flags and mitigate risks. This is the formula for digital transformation success.

It is also a good formula for avoiding our Expert Witness team – as much as Richard would love to play golf with you, and as much as Bill would love treat you to some authentic Chinese food, they both would rather see your project succeed!

Who Did Your Project Manager Vote For?

Who Did Your Project Manager Vote For?

Like a lot of organizations – we try to stay quiet on our political choices. Not every person is going to agree with your points of view, so it’s best practice to keep your views to yourself. However, it is hard to stay in the middle with such a polarized political environment. So….who did your ERP project manager vote for? Stay tuned because the answer may shock you. The candidate your project manager (PM) voted for was…project governance.

Not the answer you were expecting, right? So, why? Well, a project governance document addresses key statements and processes that support the objectives of project sponsors, decision-makers and stakeholders. Good governance documents don’t just spring from a specific party or even from a burning bush – they are the results of careful thought and well-reasoned logic.  Your project team, led by the PM, invested a lot of time into developing it.  It will thrill them to no end if you ask them a few questions about it.

The vital running mate of project governance is a chap we call the project charter.  The project charter takes into account information developed during the executive-level strategy sessions and contains:

  • A validated project vision
  • A validated list of objectives that support the vision
  • A list of the expected business benefits that the project will bring
  • A clear depiction of what constitutes success for the project
  • A high-level scoping statement, timeline and budget
  • A high-level list of project variables
  • A high-level list of assumptions and anticipated risks
  • A responsibilities matrix
  • The plan to ensure and maintain alignment between executives, stakeholders and the project team
  • A list of standing project meeting schedules, agendas and reports
  • Change procedures that address how changes to budget, scope and time are treated

Like most running mates, the project charter should be taken very seriously.  Simply put, the project charter’s job is to ensure that the project stays on track and completes within time, scope and budget.

So, who does Panorama endorse? We endorse a well-reasoned, balanced and strong project governance document. The project charter is the perfect running mate for governance and makes up an unbeatable ticket, unless you are not concerned with achievable timelines, reasonable scope and thoughtful and realistic cost estimates.

Download our eBook – 20/20 Panoramic View of the ERP Industry: Nine Business and Technology Trends to Watch.

Evaluating Your Company’s IT Strengths

Evaluating Your Company’s IT Strengths

Your ERP system runs your day-to-day operations and is the heart of your business. Few would disagree that without technology, your business could screech to a halt. What is your perception of the dependability and flexibility of your systems? Memories of outages and customer complaints are more vivid than “the good times.”

The lean and mean staffing of many companies doesn’t lend itself to deep dive analyses of what went wrong, much less the implementation of preventative measures. Instead, companies depend on subjective feedback.

Could your IT infrastructure be clouding the true picture of your ERP capabilities?

Companies hire IT professionals, first and foremost, to keep systems running. However, IT professionals often neglect to continuously report information that helps management make decisions. Your organization may need to allocate additional resources to ensure your technology stays one step ahead of where sales and product development is heading. Having an overarching enterprise IT strategy in place is key.

  • While senior management may support your IT strategy, employees should regularly exchange ideas regarding its improvement.
  • The pace of technological change is so fast that external guidance, information and validation is almost always both needed and welcomed.
  • When is the last time a new technology of software was declined by management or IT? Saying no to a new technology or software is sometimes as important as saying yes and is a sign of a forward-thinking organization.

As consultants with over ten years of experience under our belts, we’ve seen cases where more technology doesn’t always equate to better; sometimes the purchased technology doesn’t even work.

Like most business challenges, there are indicators to help evaluate your ERP platform.

Show Me the Numbers

  • What gets measured is the base of informed decision making. You probably measure growth in orders, but are you projecting your system limitations before you reach them?
  • When a system snafu occurs, do you complete a root cause analysis? After the system is up and running do you bullet proof it by investing IT dollars or exploring alternative solutions?
  • What are the pain points of the users of your systems? Employees can be clever about working around system issues — some see it as job security. Employees should be surveyed about the systems they use. This will give you a new perspective and set of numbers.
  • What’s the added cost of your periodic software upgrades? How does this compare to new technologies/software available and the added features that they may bring?
  • When you are shown numbers or costs, is there a risk and reward component as well as a recommendation?

True story: In a past job, I was working to integrate a new contact management system (CRM). I encountered some resistance from coworkers.  They were enduring system outages that were sporadic, yet serious enough to keep them from getting their work done on certain days. While the system issues were reported to IT, little changed.  It was only when workers began faithfully documenting the outages for a month that upper management became aware of the problem.  In this case the new CRM system needed to be put on hold while time and resources resolved core system issues.Budget vs. Investment

  • Is your IT department managing to a predetermined corporate dictated budget? Does it realistically align with the IT strategy and company vision?
  • When IT expenditures are approved, who is responsible for the timeline and outcome? Are larger initiatives independently verified by an outside entity?*
  • What is the cost of not doing an innovative ERP enhancement? An example of this is digital transformation where a significant change in technology is dictated, e.g. deciding to sell product on the web.
  • Companies are less likely to negotiate meaningful vendor software discounts because they are not familiar with the changing product, pricing and software landscape.
  • The decision to hire additional personnel vs. system expenditures is a complicated dance as it involves, HR, training and organizational change management (OCM)
  • Deferred investments in technology may or may not be overcomeable, but always point to added cost and probable loss of competitive advantage.

Do human judgements affect ERP implementations and enhancements?

Bias Comingles with Knowledge

  • IT professionals (like most employees) have biases. In the IT world, this can include biases towards or against certain software and vendors. In some instances, experience with a software can sometimes equate to familiarity, which could mask the availability of better or more cost effective solutions.
  • Longer term employees have legacy knowledge of older systems and interfaces. Be aware of this as you look for your champions of change.
  • Predicting how technology will grow a business requires a variety of thought leaders from inside and outside of the company, as well as your industry. Many IT professional may be experts in transactional processing vs. emerging technologies or the competitive landscape.
  • Technological tools and toys may be suggested, defined as the internet of things (IoT). This requires careful evaluation both in terms of cost to benefit, as well as risk. A financial advisor would be taking on significant risk by texting a client investment advice, while an appliance repair person may be able to give better service by ordering a part using a handheld device.

While every company is different, the need for a more structured, “deeper dive” approach to evaluating the ERP and digital transformation systems that can propel your businesses is warranted and needed. Only then will your next IT expenditure be more strategic and if it is done right, it will feel like the investment that it is.

*Independent verification and validation (IV&V) is a service typically offered by an independent source or consultant. It introduces an outside assessment (including metrics) of the proposed ERP system initiatives, greatly enhancing the likelihood of a successful implementation. This can support or make suggestions to supplement your IT department’s recommendations. Independent assessment and associated recommendations provide management and the project team with actionable advice based on industry standards and best practices. A truly independent ERP consultant like, Panorama Consulting Solutions, should not have any financial incentives or ties to software vendors. They also bring the perspective of having managed hundreds of software implementations and maintain a very current knowledge of the software environment. Ideally they would also have knowledge of, “service recovery”; assisting companies to get back on track when after a major ERP implementation failure.

Download “The Importance of Independent Verification and Validation.”

How to Come Full-Circle With Your ERP Through IV&V

iStock_000020614256MediumRecently I learned what goes into making a delicious, homemade pie.  One of the most important tricks to a good pie is consistency. This ensures that all of the ingredients are accurately added and evenly distributed. Unfortunately, the disproportion of any ingredient can change the overall success of a pie.  Coincidentally, what dictates the success of an ERP implementation is not very different. Any one poorly-managed factor could lead to overall project failure.

Unlike a clearly-defined pie recipe, the roadmap to a successful ERP implementation is much more complex.  The “ingredients” are all moving pieces that must be actively managed to ensure a cohesive project.  A number of these important factors tend to be overlooked due to the time and experience limitations of the project manager and project team.  In order to help bridge these gaps, many consulting firms offer independent verification and validation (IV&V) services.  Due to their wide range of expertise, consultant teams perform assessments of the project’s health in order to proactively mitigate risks.

To learn more, check out our white paper, The Importance of Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V).

Panorama approaches IV&V using a 360-degree methodology, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative ERP best practices to help protect our clients’ interests.  A 360-degree approach ensures that all important aspects– or “ingredients”–are equally assessed and managed so that projects do not encounter unpleasant surprises.  Through our industry research, implementation experience and expert witness assessments, we have identified several commonly neglected factors project teams typically overlook.  Below are the common “ingredients” that lead to ERP failures:

  1. Project Governance: Project governance and project management are as important to an ERP implementation as the crust is to a pie. Without adequate experience dealing with ERP project implementations,  many project teams easily become overwhelmed.  Failure to adequately monitor project decisions, changes, timeline, budget and risks often lead to unrealistic ideas of the project’s health.  Oftentimes we find that ERP failures cannot be attributed to implementation failure, but is instead due to poor internal oversight and engagement.
  2. Business Process Management (BPM): Allowing established business processes drive the design of your new system could potentially lead to over-customization, increased project costs and extended timelines while allowing the canned design of the system drive your business processes could potentially lead to dilution of competitive advantages. Successful ERP implementations involve a fine balance between business process improvements, system customization decisions and application of industry best practices.
  3. Organizational Change and Training: Organizational change management (OCM) is one of the most frequently overlooked activities in ERP projects. Without a proactive approach to change management and training, many projects encounter employee resistance and frustration; resulting in poor engagement.  For an ERP system to be properly used by end-users, the software design must be aligned with the people and processes.
  4. Benefits Realization: Based on Panorama’s 2014 ERP Report, about 55% of organizations reported realizing less than 50% of expected benefits from their ERP implementation. Without creating a robust benefits realization plan from the beginning, many companies fail to set up the appropriate key performance indicators to measure their benefits. Without pinpointing these, benefits realization become difficult to gage.
  5. System Design and Documentation: In our expert witness assessments of external ERP failures, one common finding is the limited design and decision documentation. Detailed documentation on system design and testing is crucial in order to track the system development effectively.

Overall, in order to ensure a 360-degree approach to ERP success all factors must be assessed and managed simultaneously.  Here we have only shared five of the many important factors to an ERP project.  Due to the size and complexity of implementations, the critical “ingredients” will vary from project to project.