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Manufacturing ERP Software: 10 Vendors That Rock

Manufacturing ERP Software: 10 Vendors That Rock

Manufacturing organizations today have more than 200 different manufacturing ERP software solutions to choose from. To help navigate this challenge, we developed a report highlighting what we believe to be the top ERP systems for the manufacturing industry based on our experience and research. 

Before you download the 2019 Top 10 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report, here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights from the Tier I ERP vendors:


As one of the largest vendors in our report, SAP makes large investments in research and development. SAP has recently invested in its manufacturing execution system (MES) by leveraging artificial intelligence. When tracking defects, for example, the MES system provides near real-time information by relying on the Internet of Things (IoT).

SAP S/4HANA is the product we highlight in the report. One of the product’s key strengths is its operational purchasing capabilities that use machine learning to propose material groups.

One thing to consider when evaluating an SAP product is the systems’ complexity. In our experience, implementation durations can range from nine months to more than 18 months, depending on complexity as well as the rollout methodology.

2019 Top 10 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

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


Infor is another large ERP vendor that is consistently developing innovative products. Infor’s products for process manufacturers are designed to increase operational efficiencies by allowing easy adjustments to formulas before and during production.

Earlier this year, Infor enhanced its supply chain management (SCM) functionality to leverage digital technologies, such as big data, machine learning and IoT. The SCM system can be purchased as part of a full suite of solutions.

The product we feature in our report is Infor M3. This product has deep industry-specific functionality and provides analytics that use in-memory processing.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics solutions have a familiar user interface and suit organizations of all sizes.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, the product featured in our report, features a spatial-planning application that helps users visualize shop floor layouts in a 3D real-world scale. The solution has been redeveloped as a pure SaaS model, but also can be deployed on-premise or hosted in the cloud. 

Dynamics D365 continues its reliance on a partner ecosystem to develop niche functionality. Partners are currently in the process of understanding niche IP development for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics.

The Ideal Manufacturing ERP Software

The ideal manufacturing solution should address the entire supply chain, from product inception to customer delivery. It should have functionality to track suppliers, materials, production costs, maintenance and customer relationships. Ultimately, it should increase operational efficiency and provide full visibility into manufacturing processes and business data. Transforming your manufacturing organization requires technology that drives efficiency and enables full supply chain visibility.

While it’s helpful to compare the strengths of various ERP systems, the best solution for your business depends on your unique needs and situation. We hope the 2019 Top 10 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report helps you evaluate the solutions we’ve deemed the most viable manufacturing ERP vendors in the market.

The Importance of Measuring Customer Experience

The Importance of Measuring Customer Experience

Measuring customer experience isn’t easy, but it is essential if you hope to improve your customer experience. Understanding the drivers of customer satisfaction can help you determine where to invest your time and money.

So, what metrics should you measure? What technology should you use? And, what obstacles should you expect?

Challenges of Measuring Customer Experience

New Variables

Customer expectations have drastically changed during the last decade, so drivers of satisfaction you measured in the past may not be the same variables that matter today. Today’s customers expect self-service, convenience and personalization. Customer touch-points span more channels than ever before, so you’ll need to track more metrics and consider the unique metrics of each channel.

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Lack of Integration

Many organizations haven’t integrated their ERP system, or main system of record, with their e-commerce system or content management platform. Without one version of truth, customer metrics are difficult to decipher.

Lack of Ownership

Even organizations that have actionable customer metrics struggle to decipher them simply because they didn’t assign data ownership. Should the sales department be responsible for some metrics, while the marketing department is responsible for others? Which decision makers need access to dashboards? These ownership decisions baffle many organizations.

Tools for Measuring Customer Experience

Before you measure customer experience, you need processes and tools for collecting quantitative and qualitative data. Most organizations collect this data within their CRM systems, which integrate with their ERP systems. The ERP system provides additional insights from the business as a whole and offers advanced analytics capabilities.

Common sources of data include billing, help desk, web analytics and social media. Some organizations gather additional data from focus groups and customer surveys. Ideally, all of these data sources should flow into an ERP system to ensure a single version of truth.

Some technology falls short when it comes to measuring customer experience. Based on your business strategy and IT strategy, you can evaluate your current systems to determine where you should invest in new technology.

The best technology for measuring customer experience integrates data from multiple channels and supports customizable dashboards. The technology should also include business intelligence functionality, as this will help you diagnose root causes and predict potential outcomes.

What other functionality should you consider? Requirements gathering workshops can help you determine this. Some organizations involve their customers in the requirements gathering process by asking them how they’d like to interact with the company and what would make their lives easier.

Most importantly, don’t look for the lowest cost solution, but the solution with the highest ROI potential.

Best Practices for Measuring Customer Experience

Some common customer experience metrics include measurements such as customer satisfaction and net promoter score. These metrics can be cross-referenced with other metrics or insights to determine the drivers of satisfaction. For example, if a customer has a high customer satisfaction score, you can investigate contributing factors, such as website user experience. This helps you prioritize improvement efforts based on their level of impact.

Customer satisfaction and net promoter score can each be measured through a single, straightforward question on a customer survey. Net promoter score measures customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend. You can divide responses into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors.

In addition to top-level metrics, you should determine metrics for each stage of the customer journey as well as each transactional touchpoint. You can correlate these with top-level metrics as well as operational data, such as sales figures and HR data.

A customer journey map is useful in this process as it helps you make sense of both quantitative and qualitative data. As you identify pain points throughout the customer journey, you may generate ideas for new product or service offerings. This may also give you ideas for process improvements, in terms of customer interaction processes as well as product or service rollout processes. You may also want to track customer buying histories and preferences as this will help you improve targeting and personalization.

Almost as important as what to track is who should track it. Your sales and marketing departments should each be accountable for tracking and communicating certain KPIs. These departments should agree on how metrics should be interpreted and acted upon. One way to interpret customer experience metrics is by benchmarking against your direct competitors as well as industry leaders. This insight may help you think of innovative ways to serve customers.

Customer satisfaction is not just the responsibility of sales and marketing. Your entire organization should have a customer-focused mindset, but this doesn’t happen overnight. If you appoint change agents in every department, they can ensure that actionable insights make their way to decision makers. Developing a change management plan can help you transform the culture of your organization so it is more customer-focused.

Creating customized dashboards for decision makers and holding regular meetings will enable you to act on data in real-time and make continuous improvements. If you have a call center, your reps should have easy access to customer feedback, so they can make informed and timely decisions.

Measuring Customer Experience to Transform Your Organization

For many organizations, providing an excellent customer experience is part of their competitive advantage. A positive customer experience can lead to repeat business, which is the lifeblood of most organizations.

If your organization is customer-centric and dedicates time and resources to measuring customer experience, you may want to consider a digital transformation initiative – you can use customer metrics to design new service offerings and new ways of interacting with customers.

An ERP implementation is another initiative that could help you make the most of customer data. Our ERP consultants can help you select an ERP system that aligns with your customer experience goals.


Why Attend Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp

Why Attend Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp

ERP Boot Camp was the best value for the money seminar I have ever attended. Every manager hoping to build or validate their project strategy should attend.
~ Boot Camp Attendee

Panorama’s next ERP Boot Camp is just around the corner on May 22nd-23rd in Chicago, Illinois. Boot Camp is two days of intensive, interactive ERP education in an informal setting. The subject material covers everything from software selection to implementation to organizational change management. We ensure guests walk away with a robust understanding of what constitutes ERP project success. Still not convinced that ERP Boot Camp is necessary for you and your team? Read on for other reasons to attend:

Because the Fundamentals of ERP Project Management Should Not be a Secret or Surprise

Too many teams go into an ERP implementation with little or no ERP project management background. An ERP implementation can be a defining point in your career — don’t you want to be armed with all the information you need to make it a success?

We Will Give You Expert Guidance and Advice You Will Not Hear Elsewhere

Panorama instructors are ERP consultants with boots-on-the-ground experience. They will discuss the variables that can mean the difference between success and failure. Their goal is to provide best practices on everything from negotiation to licensing to customization . . . and more.

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You Will Learn in a Relaxed, Collaborative Environment

Forget giant auditoriums. Panorama’s ERP Boot Camp is an intimate, collegial experience with plenty of time for interaction, networking and relationship-building. Presenters are accessible, and presentations are interactive. We limit attendance to ensure a small group format. If you are looking for personalized training, you have found the right place.

We Will Cut Through all the Jargon and Hype to Give You the Truth

One of the most challenging tasks for a project manager is to cut through all the hype to discover what their ERP software truly can provide. Because our instructors are independent consultants, they are not afraid to give you the real story on software selection and implementation. Our collective opinion is based on hundreds of ERP implementations.

We Teach You About ERP Failures to Prepare You for Success!

Panorama’s expertise in salvaging failed ERP implementations and our expert witness work in ERP lawsuits gives us an unparalleled breadth of knowledge to help you avoid pitfalls and build a framework for ERP success. If you are still on the fence, consider this: Is an ERP implementation really something you can do without proper training? You become licensed before flying an airplane and certified before diving in the ocean. Why assume an ERP implementation would be any less risky?

How Microsoft Dynamics Compares to Other ERP Software

How Microsoft Dynamics Compares to Other ERP Software

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

1. Options for a Variety of Business Sizes and Operations

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

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

2. Implementation and Integration

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

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

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

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

3. Customer Support

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

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

4. Microsoft Dynamics Intuition

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

5. Dynamics is Compatible With Legacy Systems

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

6. Microsoft Dynamics Useful Features

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

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

Fierce Competition: Tier I vs. Tier II ERP Vendors

Fierce Competition: Tier I vs. Tier II ERP Vendors

Twenty years ago, organizations didn’t have many choices when it came to ERP systems. SAP and Oracle had a pretty tight hold on the market, especially among the blue chip Fortune 500 clients. Smaller to mid-sized organizations were even more out of luck since most could not afford SAP and Oracle. Instead, they were forced to settle for homegrown systems, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Access databases.

The good news is that times have changed. Companies of all sizes, geographies and industries have a multitude of options to choose from. SAP and Oracle continue to provide very viable options for organizations large and small, while Tier II solutions provide viable alternatives for organizations looking for new ERP software. Throw in the Tier III, functional point systems and industry-focused solutions available, and organizations now have quite the variety of options to choose from.

Fortunately for CIOs, CFOs and the organizations they represent, there are a number of factors driving increasing competition and options in the market. Here are a few trends that bode well for companies hoping for viable alternatives beyond the top ERP systems:

Scalability. One of the biggest lingering concerns among C-level ERP software buyers is the scalability of the software they purchase. This concern isn’t isolated to larger organizations, either. Even Panorama’s small to mid-size clients want the comfort of knowing that their ERP system can scale to meet their business objectives. Fortunately, technical scalability is not nearly as much of an issue as it once was for Tier II and Tier III ERP vendors. For example, we’ve implemented Epicor for just as many small to mid-size organizations as we have for our larger, global clients. Further, it’s been quite some time since we’ve recommended that a client not consider a Tier II or Tier III ERP vendor because we felt the software couldn’t scale from a technical perspective. We are more concerned with how the organization will adapt to the new technical needs of the ERP software rather than whether or not it will scale with the company.

Versatility and flexibility. Just as high-growth and larger organizations are concerned with scalability, smaller, more nimble organizations are concerned with versatility and flexibility to change with their evolving business requirements. In fact, this is probably a more relevant concern than the scalability issue mentioned above. Tier I ERP systems have done a good job of creating and investing significant R&D dollars into industry-specific solutions, which evolve with the needs of the industry over time. In addition, plenty of niche solutions provide alternatives. Plex Systems for the automotive industry, ProcessPro for process manufacturers and Deltek for aerospace and defense contractors are just three of many examples of software solutions that have carved out niches. Not only is this topic not nearly as much of a concern as it was several years ago, but the bigger concern for organizations is how to facilitate business process reengineering to capitalize on the flexibility of ERP systems.

Vendor viability. Many of our clients are often scared of Tier II and III ERP vendors because they’re worried that the vendors won’t be around in five or ten years to support their software. This fear is unfounded. In recent years, we have seen a wave of private equity money rushing into smaller ERP vendors. This provides some certainty that most vendors will be around for some time. The rapid growth of Tier II and Tier III vendors helps increase the likelihood that if they are eventually acquired, their acquiring parent will preserve the software to appease the relatively large customer install bases. While this topic is still a viable concern, it’s something that can easily be mitigated as part of an effective ERP selection process.

These three issues have in some ways helped Tier II and Tier III ERP vendors gain more market share in recent years. This is not to say that these three topics are moot points nowadays, but instead, it is to say that many of the risks can be mitigated. The upside of having more ERP vendor options to choose from almost certainly justifies the potential risks associated with a larger pool of potential systems.

The key is to objectively weigh the pros and cons of your various options using ERP consultants that are independent experts in this space. Request a free consultation below to discuss your ERP selection.

Why Your ERP Evaluation Process May Be Rigged

Why Your ERP Evaluation Process May Be Rigged

Recently, I was working with a potential client whose ERP evaluation process was rigged. The potential client didn’t realize it at the time, which made the situation especially risky.

I started Panorama 12 years ago, because of this very concern. Most ERP consultants, system integrators, and value-added resellers represent the software vendors rather than clients’ best interests. It concerns me that so many firms operate with economic incentives. These “incentives” can be misaligned with what’s best for companies. Keep in mind that these are often multi-million-dollar ERP initiatives with a lot at stake.

Part of the conundrum is that it’s not always obvious when a third-party is biased. There are a host of things that can lead to a rigged evaluation process, but here are some common ones to watch out for:

1. Your Consultant is a Value-Added Reseller of One or More Software Vendors

This is probably the easiest one to sniff out, but one that is often overlooked. If your software vendor is a reseller of software or has any sort of economic incentive to sell a certain software, then you’re probably not getting a truly agnostic and unbiased recommendation. Be especially aware of companies that claim to be agnostic because they represent more than one solution (see point #2 below).

2. Internal Politics or Economic Incentives of Your Consulting Firm can Lead to a Biased Recommendation

Even if a consulting firm or system integrator isn’t a formal partner, there still may be other economic or political incentives that cause bias. For example, many large consulting firms are resellers of both SAP and Oracle. In theory, they could help you decide between the two systems, but you will always be nudged toward the group with the most internal political clout or the one that provides the biggest economic incentive.

Before launching Panorama, I worked for one of the big consulting firms. We helped clients evaluate multiple systems that we represented, but we had our preferred solution. The prevalent choice was often pointed to the one with the biggest bench of resources that we had to keep busy. The only way to receive a truly independent ERP recommendation, is to ensure that there are literally no financial ties with vendors or any solution-specific resources on the consulting team.

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. Software Vendor Demos can Create False Internal Perceptions of the Software

Whether you work with a consulting firm or not, you will want to make sure that your vendor demo process doesn’t create a biased view of your software options. Your internal employees will form opinions based on emotion or sales spin if you let this happen. It’s important to have a structured and disciplined demo process based on your specific needs and requirements, rather than what a software vendor might want to show you. It is not unheard of for demos to contain “future-state” features. These future-state applications may not even exist in the current software, but are a glimpse of what might exist in the next release.

4. Your Consultants or Internal Resources Don’t Understand ERP Implementations

This is all about having the right people in the room. If you or your team haven’t been through an ERP implementation (or better yet, several implementations), you may have very different expectations within your group. Unfortunately, an uninformed view can become misaligned with reality and create a high-risk backdrop for your project.

This sort of bias leads to a number of challenges, including an incomplete or misguided plan of how to implement the solution. For example, you may not know enough to realize how important business process management, organizational change management, program management or data migration are to a project. You may also not understand what level of effort these work streams will entail. The symptoms of unrealistic expectations often don’t emerge until the project is underway. The amount of time, money and resources required to make your implementation successful, are also common risk factors for teams that struggle with this bias (see #5 below).

5. Unrealistic Expectations of Your Implementation Timeline and Budget

Someone in your company has probably designated a timeframe and budget for your ERP initiative. While not arbitrary, it is also unlikely the work of an experienced ERP implementer. A software vendor is not going to tell you if it’s realistic or contradict your wishes. Unrealistic expectations are often a root cause of many ERP implementation challenges. Wouldn’t it be great if the project took less time, money, and resources than planned? Rarely is this the case. Forcing a timeline could lead to some bad decisions later.

For example, if you find that you can’t complete your project within that unrealistic timeframe or budget, you’ll be more inclined to cut organizational change management activities, which are arguably the most important critical success factor for an implementation. These pressured decisions are often forced upon you. An initial bias in planning your implementation is where the downward trajectory begins. Relying on a biased software vendor or ERP consultant’s opinion to validate your planning process only adds fuel to the fire.

There are ways to combat and mitigate biases. The straightforward answer: hire experienced independent ERP consultants (like Panorama Consulting) to help you with your evaluation, implementation planning and implementation process. This is the best way to smoke out biases while adding valuable resources to your bench.

Does Your Business Need an ERP System?

Does Your Business Need an ERP System?

When a start-up entrepreneur, or any business owner for that matter, dives into the nitty-gritty of his or her operations, then he or she becomes well-aware of the intricacies involved in the processes. Managing processes and transactions can be helped greatly with today’s technology.

Focus on the Foundations of Success: Efficiency is Key

Optimizing operations towards efficiency can positively impact any type of business.  Is it not true that for any business, the combination of experience and wisdom is a formidable asset to have? The presence of these two things is a critical aspect that roots itself in the growth of many business ventures. This often means investing in your business in ways that make sense for future stability and growth.

With technology and the internet as necessary components for business success due to their sheer significance – both as a platform and resource – competition has become fiercer than ever. While many an organization may have access to these two, the businesses built for success are backed by the foresight. One of the ways towards progress and development is to be transformative.

In practice, many businesses begin with basic tools like QuickBooks and Excel but eventually outgrow them or they start to become less efficient. Selecting and investing in a more robust ERP system can be a long-term strategy. The intelligent CIO knows that there is no “one software” fit for all types of businesses. For example; a financial organization will have requisites that differ from a building contractor. It is advisable that a business first seek consultation with tried and tested ERP consultants, most familiar with the current types of ERP software available. Like any technology, ERP software changes and updates frequently.

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.

Some ERP Preparation Basics

An organization that aims to be more than statistic is interested in continuous improvement. This almost always points to the use of technology. To ensure that a business is on the right path, below are some of areas to consider in the ERP selection process:

  1. Revisit the business’ processes (are they still relevant)
  2. Study the workplace environment (are your workers productive and happy)
  3. Identify business requirements (not just today’s requirements, but your future state as well)
  4. Consider financial limitations (budget and ROI)
  5. Evaluate your existing ERP system or lack thereof (what are your pain points and workarounds)
  6. Prepare for changes and developments (organizational change management)
  7. Determine quantifiable benefits (how will technology help grow your business)

If this seems like a lot to consider, it is. Independent consultants such as Panorama Consulting Solutions have the expertise, and are well-versed, in ERP software selection and all the nuances that must looked at for a successful transition to a new ERP system.[vc_custom_heading text=”Welcome to the Future: A Case Study on Modernizing a Business” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”]Take, for instance, how a consumer services company in Denver grew exponentially. However, they were still relying on paper-based and manual operations. The company’s primary problem was that it coursed all its processes through a single employee who served as the primary architect of the operations. Should something happen to this person, the possibility of the organization being crippled was very real.

Through a meticulous evaluation of available ERP software options, redefinition of business processes, as well as management of its ERP implementation, the Denver-based company streamlined and automated its operations. This success, as forecasted, was measurable through business results – the company yielded a 60 percent ROI and 2-year payback period, among other gains.

Business owners, information officers, and project managers should consider the ongoing and ever-changing need for technology. An organization’s ERP system affects budget, timeframe, and operations. If an ERP project is not executed flawlessly it can very well result in the failure. However, an organization with well-matched current ERP software and a solid implementation plan sets itself for an upward trajectory. This is what industry leaders do, utilizing accessible knowledge and tools to support and propel an organization’s goals.

Is Your Business Falling Behind? Your Antiquated ERP Might Be to Blame

Is Your Business Falling Behind? Your Antiquated ERP Might Be to Blame

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is the backbone of business innovation. As a matter of fact, an antiquated ERP might just be the only thing standing between your business and growth. In today’s competitive business environment, a robust, well-integrated, and up-to-date IT infrastructure is a key ingredient to long-term success.

But a sweeping upgrade or replacement can be intimidating and costly. Some organizations tend to operate with aging systems on the premise that the current system, “still works.” An upgrade sometimes only becomes an option—the only option—when a malfunction occurs causing the system to stop. This creates big issues.

With market changes driving competition on a global scale, can your business afford to sit and wait to update, upgrade or replace your ERP system?

How an Antiquated ERP Hurts Your Business

ERP systems older than five years old may not have the capabilities necessary to bolster today’s retail, manufacturing, and supply chain activities. They often can’t support future expansion. As software ages, eventually software vendors stop supporting certain versions. You don’t want this to happen because it will clearly put your company in a reactive mode, which is never a good place to be.

Today’s businesses are also more diverse, where a new generation of employees are rapidly joining the workforce. Today’s workers, especially those working remotely, expect an ERP system that’s intuitive and compatible with IoT (think handheld devices, smart phones, etc.). Aging ERP systems often have many manual workarounds, lower employee acceptance, and reduced quality of output.

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.

What Makes a Robust ERP System?

A fast-paced, rapidly changing business landscape requires an agile and integrated ERP system. From enhancing your business performance to allowing better decision-making via advanced reporting capabilities, your ERP system can transform the way your business runs.

It can unify your core and non-core operations, including finance and accounting, inventory, warehouse management, fulfillment, analytics and reporting, sales, customer service, marketing, human resources, and other relevant processes and departments.

ERP software should also be user-friendly to enhance the productivity of your workforce and reduce errors. Newer ERP software can offer exceptional flexibility and multiple configuration options. It automatically updates on a regular basis, and can be remotely operated and accessed in real time.

Moreover, cloud options offer a whole new and expanding dimension to ERP.

Advantages of Hiring an Independent ERP Consultant

But how do you make the move from stone-age ERP to new ERP? Seeking an independent ERP consultant is a sound choice. This greatly enhances your chance for success.

An ERP overhaul is a long and complex process, and can be a major business disruption. It has many steps. To make sure it doesn’t divert your focus from critical business operations, choose an ERP consultant that understands your line of business, and can align their solutions with your objectives.

Letting an independent ERP consultant work with you is comparable to hiring an experienced attorney to represent you in court. While you have the option to represent yourself, there is a danger of overlooking critical details and facts that a lawyer would have otherwise spotted.

ERP consultants also offer a fresh set of eyes to uncover what’s causing inefficiencies in your business processes. Independent ERP consultants like Panorama, are not tied to software companies, so you’re getting unbiased and practiced advice.

ERP systems are indispensable in achieving significant business growth and product differentiation. The right time to invest in an updated ERP system is probably now, because there will never be a good time.

ERP Software Selection: It’s All About Your Business

ERP Software Selection: It’s All About Your Business

There are a number of questions you might ask during the ERP selection process: Is the ERP system cloud-based? How reliable is technical support? Will the software vendor be around in five years, because, jeez, I don’t want to have to learn how to use a new ERP system again?!

These are the questions on everyone’s mind. But these are all the wrong questions.

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.

It’s About Your Business, Not the Software

Think about it. Your organization’s competitive advantages were born, nurtured and developed by people, not software. If ERP software was all we needed, we would just flip a switch and drink cocktails with little umbrellas at the beach.

Right now, your business is known for an overnight turnaround on delivery, and you have the best quality rating for your class of product on Amazon. Is this a result of some out-of-the-box ERP system, or is it a result of your organization’s well-designed business processes?

ERP software is a tool, and it is incredibly important to use it correctly. When talking to an ERP vendor, you should ask the right questions, and this requires a thorough understanding of your current state and future state business processes.

Hold Your Horses

Before selecting an ERP system, you should begin by mapping out your current business processes. If any business processes need optimization, you may want to engage an ERP consultant to assist you with business process reengineering. With clearly defined business processes, your organization will have a better idea of the business requirements that your ERP system must address, and you’ll be ready to begin digital transformation.

While ERP vendors know their product inside-and-out and can validate your required functionality, they don’t know your organization as well as you do. It is up to you to paint a clear picture of your business and the differentiators that fuel your competitive advantage.

Who’s to Blame? Investigating an ERP Failure

Life as an ERP expert witness has its pros and cons. While it’s discouraging to see the magnitude of failure that many organizations face when trying to implement new enterprise software, there are plenty of lessons learned from ERP failure that help project team members avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Our ERP expert witness and project recovery practice is often tasked with the need to identify who is at fault in a failed ERP implementation. This is never an easy question to answer, as a host of stakeholders contribute to the success or failure of a project. Depending on the unique situation, the implementing organization’s team, executives and front-line employees may all be at least partially to blame. Even the company’s ERP consultants or system integrator could be at fault. In some cases, it’s a combination of both.

Regardless of who is at fault in an ERP implementation, there are a number of key lessons that we have learned from helping with ERP lawsuits and project recoveries:

Technical projects typically don’t succeed, but business transformations do. Unfortunately, most CIOs are more comfortable with technology than they are business. The most successful ones, however, treat their ERP implementations as business transformations rather than technical installations. After all, implementing new ERP software is much more complex and has more impact on the business than say, a Windows upgrade or antivirus software rollout. When compared to a more basic technical installation, ERP implementations have a bigger impact on employees, business processes and the overall strategy of your company. Be sure to plan and execute your project accordingly.

Taking time to reengineer your business processes prior to implementing the software will reduce time, minimize costs and maximize business benefits.  ERP vendors love to sell the proposition that you do not need to worry about your business processes because implementing their software “will solve all of your problems.” Industry best practices, pre-configured solutions and out-of-the-box silver bullets should be taken with a grain of salt, because they typically don’t have material relevance to how you will run your business. ERP systems are too flexible and robust to define your business processes out of the box. Because of this, it is critical to define your future state business process reengineering prior to implementing your new system.

The “people” side of the project will make or break your project. If I had to pick one thing most likely to determine ERP success or failure, my hands-down choice would be change management. It’s the most important aspect of an implementation, yet too many organizations fail miserably in this area. In fact, of the 30+ lawsuits that I have either testified and/or written expert reports for, organizational change management and ERP training was a key failure point in each and every one. Investments in training, employee communications and other organizational change activities will yield exponential returns relative to the investment.

Unrealistic expectations from ERP vendors and sales reps can kill your chances of success before the project begins. Starting a project with unrealistic expectations is often the first domino to fall in an ERP failure. When an ERP vendor or sales rep lowballs the implementation cost or duration, it leads to a host of bad decisions later. Corners will need to be cut, additional money and time will be requested and key employees will most likely be fired. It is critical to start the project with a realistic implementation plan and budget (read: not overly aggressive). Remember that it is not the job of ERP vendors to manage your expectations – it is your job to understand what it will really take to get the job done right.

When you are investigating an ERP failure, it’s not about pointing fingers. It’s about getting it right.

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Selecting an ERP System That Fits Your Agency’s Budget

iStock 000075066677 MediumWith literally hundreds of ERP software packages to choose from, selecting the right one for your government institution based on your specific needs can be stressful, to say the least. Throw in the threat of some type of operational disruption occurring at go-live and the selection process itself can add a gray hair or two.

Many of the indicators of a successful ERP implementation are quantitative and in the form of budgetary and timeline measures. If your ERP project runs over budget and/or takes longer than expected to complete, your boss probably won’t be too happy with you. He or she might be asking you the tough questions such as, “Why did this happen?” and “How could we have prevented this?”

Download our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives.

No one ever plans to fail; rather there is just a failure to plan. It doesn’t matter if the purchasing decision is for a new ERP system or for a box of cookies; the idea is the same – one must think before they act. Setting realistic expectations for what you need and planning ahead will reduce the risk of your ERP implementation going over schedule and over budget.

Below are three common reasons that ERP implementations can quickly become out-of-hand and out-of-scope:

1. Poor vendor demonstrations and negotiations. ERP software vendors are very good at showing what their software is good at and very good at not showing what their software is not good at. Without an experienced and technology-agnostic ERP implementation partner who can help manage software demonstrations, the vendors will be showing all the bells and whistles of their software and not necessarily what your government institution specifically needs to see. This oftentimes leads to the selection of ERP software that is not the best fit. The expected benefits that would have been realized are reduced and you are forced to backtrack and spend more time and money to gain additional functionality that should have been included from the beginning.

2. A “cookie cutter approach” was taken during ERP selection. In this approach, the ERP vendor uses an RFP and implementation plan from prior engagements and modifies it to better fit your specific needs. This is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that squeezes your government institution into the vendor’s template. The vendor does not take the time to get to know your agency, understand your operational model, get to know your people and find the right fit for your processes.

3. Choosing the wrong consulting firm. Certain consulting firms claim to be “independent” and “technology-agnostic” yet demonstrate their value proposition by participating in vendor negotiation savings for their clients. These consulting firms have been known to have prior agreements with ERP vendors, allowing them to artificially inflate their initial cost estimates so the consultants can purport larger discounts earned for their clients during the negotiation process.

Below are three tips for selecting the right ERP software:

1. Understand the difference between a want and a need. As with any purchasing decision, the trick is to determine what your government institution really needs and then find what best meets those requirements. What is a ‘must-have’ and what is a ‘nice-to-have?’

2. Establish and document a project schedule before implementation. Beware of optimistic schedules as they will only result in cost and duration overruns further down the road. You do not want your ERP implementation to be over budget because of unspecified costs that were not defined by the vendor.

3. When you’re choosing an ERP vendor you want a partner and not just a provider. Support throughout the full lifecycle of an ERP implementation calls for a long-term relationship and should not be seen as a commodity.

Written by Daniel Rivero de Aguilar, Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

Which Type of ERP System is Right for You?

There are a multitude of options to choose from when looking for new ERP systems.  SaaS, cloud, on premise, best of breed, single ERP and a host of other options can make the ERP selection and implementation process overwhelming.

The bad news? There is no one size fits all answer to determining the right type of system for you. The good news? An objective evaluation framework can make navigating these challenges more clearly.

portfolio of options

There are five key variables to consider when evaluating the proliferation of options at your disposal:

On-premise vs. cloud ERP systems. One of the first decisions is to determine if you want to own the software within the four walls of your IT department, or if a hosted cloud or SaaS solution may be a better option. In general, and as visualized in the above graphic, if your organization is very complex and has a heavy need for IT control, then it is much more likely you should gravitate to on premise ERP systems (the opposite is true for simple organizations that want to outsource their IT functions). It’s also important to remember that hybrid options can provide the best of both worlds: the flexibility of on premise without the need to build an expensive internal IT infrastructure.

Listen to our new podcast, Findings from Panorama’s 2016 ERP Report.

Single ERP system vs. best of breed. Salesforce, Workday and other best-of-breed solutions have threatened the appeal of single ERP systems. However, best-of-breed solutions also create technical complexities that can be hard to manage. This includes integration, architecture and data issues that are less difficult in single ERP environments. When determining the right path for your organization, you must weigh the pros and cons of standardizing and consolidating your systems versus the flexibility and “better fit” that you may likely experience with a best-of-breed approach.

Standardized vs. flexible enterprise software. With over 200 ERP systems (and counting) in the market, not all are created equally in terms of flexibility. For example, SAP software is more rigid and standardized than Microsoft Dynamics, which may be a good thing if you are a globally siloed organization looking to consolidate and standardize your business processes. On the other hand, JD Edwards and Infor are commonly seen as more flexible options, which can be good if you are a rapidly changing organization. An objective assessment from independent ERP experts can help ensure that you find the right options that meet your needs.

Tier I vs. Tier II or III ERP systems. The scalability of your chosen ERP solution is another deciding factor. Tier II and Tier III systems may provide more unique, industry-specific functionality that is a better fit for your organization, but they may also not be as scalable as your organization grows and diversifies into new products, markets and customer bases. Choosing the right path will help you narrow down the field of options so you can focus on those that are the best fit for your organization.

To ERP or not to ERP. At the end of the day, you may find that a new ERP system is not what you need. It may be that process improvements, spot enterprise solutions or other more low-hanging fruit will deliver better improvements to your company. ERP vendors may insist that you need their software, but other non-ERP options should be considered just as carefully. These other options can often deliver close to the same benefits – but without the same cost or risk.
Whatever options you choose in each of the above instances, it is important to recognize that there is no perfect answer. Each will have tradeoffs, risks, pros and cons. It’s a matter of finding which is the right fit for you.

Using ERP Technology to Increase Public Sector Innovation

Public sector technology has brought us to a unique time in history. Government organizations now have the opportunity to take advantage of cost-effective innovation that delivers a high return on citizenship (ROC). Due to the ongoing financial crisis and budget cuts, government CIO’s, IT managers and civil servants are looking for ways to save money while implementing the best possible technology in their agencies and organizations.

If public sector leaders want to implement innovative technology, they need to think outside-of-the-cubicle. Innovation has underappreciated strategic value that extends beyond cost savings and streamlined procurement. In the public sector, innovation can enable government cooperation, interagency collaboration, shared services, flexible working environments and common compliance standards in the federal government.

Learn more by downloading our White Paper, Organizational Change Management in Public Sector ERP Implementations.

In order to reap all of the benefits of innovative technology, public sector leaders must work together to define an ideal future-state and a clear strategic roadmap. A vision of the final network, infrastructure and capability is easy to put down on paper but very difficult to achieve. While this takes cooperation and patience, it is the necessary foundation for success.

How far should CIOs and IT managers go to ensure that cost effective innovation reaches its potential? Very far – innovation is a journey that most certainly will require new thinking. Changing processes and altering “business as usual” is a necessary component of innovation and should be viewed as a way to enhance cooperation and collaboration rather than simply to save money.

On the surface, these are simple concepts, but in practice, they are very difficult to implement. An organizational change management strategy will absolutely be necessary. Technology is the easy part of collaboration; the people-side always proves more difficult and requires significant change management.

The key to IT success is learning to repurpose existing technologies and processes to yield more efficiency. By reaching out to other successful public sector IT project managers and government portfolio leaders, you can learn from their success.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Account Executive at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

Top 5 Takeaways From Panorama’s 2016 ERP Report

Today’s the day we release Panorama’s 2016 ERP Report, which summarizes actual results from 215 ERP implementations across the globe. The report provides key lessons from companies of all types and sizes – from smaller, domestic organizations implementing niche solutions to larger, multi-national organizations rolling out new ERP systems in multiple locations.

This annual report is the only one of its kind. It provides a truly objective look at the actual state of ERP and enterprise software implementations across the globe. The study includes organizations implementing single ERP solutions, CRM systems, HCM software, and/or other types of enterprise software. The data is as pure and objective as it can be, so there is nothing to spin or sugar coat.

There is a multitude of information in this comprehensive report, but here are five things that stood out when I read the report for the first time:

1.  Business transformation is still not the top reason for pursuing ERP implementations. Unfortunately, too many organizations still take a myopically flawed approach to their ERP implementations. The #1 reason for selecting a new ERP system was to replace the old system. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it shows that too many companies are replacing systems because they have to – not because they want to pursue a larger business transformation. Still need further evidence? A full 18-percent of organizations didn’t improve business processes as a result of their projects and only 24-percent improved all of their business processes. This over-dependency on technology and lack of focus on business transformation is a sure recipe for implementation challenges and compromised business benefits.

Business Process Improvement

2.  Overall project costs and budgetary overruns are increasing. Overall project costs decreased in raw dollar terms – from $4.5 million last year to $3.8 million in this year’s study – but costs actually increased when normalized to account for company size. When expressed as a percentage of annual revenue, average total costs increased from 5.9-percent to 6.5-percent of annual revenue. In addition, 57-percent of organizations said that they spent more than they had expected, which is an increase over last year’s numbers. The top three reasons for these budgetary overruns are attributed to expanded scope, organizational issues and underestimated project staffing needs. Spending more on ERP systems isn’t necessarily a bad trend, provided that the expectations of and results from those increased costs are in sync.

Reasons for Budget Overages

3.  SaaS ERP takes a hit, on premise holds its ground, and cloud ERP continues its growth.It may not sound consistent with what many industry pundits think and swear by, but on-premise ERP systems held steady at a slight 56-percent majority of all ERP implementations, while cloud ERP systems grew aggressively – at the expense of SaaS providers. Cloud solutions increased their share from 11-percent to 27-percent, which includes companies that buy their own software and outsource the hosting of that software to a third party. SaaS solutions appear to be losing ground to the “best of both worlds” benefits of having a third-party host a traditionally on-premise ERP system.

type of ERP software with green red blue

4.  Project durations increased by 50-percent.Perhaps the most startling revelation in the report is the significant jump in average implementation duration times. Last year’s data showed an average implementation duration of 14 months (the two years prior to that were 16 and 17 months), but that number jumped to 21 months in this year’s study. This could partially be attributed to the number of larger and more complex organizations represented in this year’s study compared to last year, but that’s not enough to justify such a large increase. Companies seem to be doing a relatively decent job at containing implementation costs, but they are clearly struggling to manage time and milestones.

5.  Data issues are derailing implementation project plans. For the first time since we started conducing this annual study, data issues are the number one cause for implementation timeline overruns. In the past, increased project scope and resistance to change were the primary culprits of delays, but this year’s data points to data as the top issue in hitting project milestones. This also points to the complexities and risks that go with cleansing dirty legacy data, implementing more advanced (and tougher to implement) business intelligence solutions and leveraging the more robust reporting capabilities of modern ERP systems. The technology and tools are there, but the execution and reality of using those tools have not yet caught up.

There is much more to learn in this year’s report, which you can download here.  For further analysis, be sure to register for our webinar, Review of Panorama’s 2016 ERP Report, on Thursday April, 21 at 10 a.m. MT.

Five Reasons Self-Driving Cars are Safer Than Self-Directed ERP Implementations

businessman looking at business strategySelf-driving cars may be the wave of the future, but they are still a ways from being viable forms of transportation. Just last month, tests of one of Google’s self-driving cars led to the first crash of its kind. This shows that technology still hasn’t quite found a way to be completely superior to humanly-operated vehicles.

Even though self-directed autos may not be perfect, they still perform better than self-directed ERP implementations. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Most organizations are not experts in ERP implementations. No matter what your role is within your organization, chances are that you’re not solely focused on managing ERP software Even if you and your team have been through an implementation or two, there is no surrogate for having dozens – or even hundreds – of projects under your belt. Unlike self-driving cars that become driving experts with the use of data and surroundings to make safer driving decisions than a human may, self-directed ERP implementations are fraught with risk, unknowns and other challenges that can only be addressed by years (or decades) of experience.
  1. Time-tested and proven methodologies are the keys to success. Self-driving cars leverage historic data, hundreds of sensors and “business rules” to determine which moves to make. Self-directed ERP implementations typically lack proven toolsets and methodologies that are a cornerstone of ERP success. Unfortunately, it is vital to have clear set methodologies and processes to help you navigate the complexities of new ERP projects. These methodologies should also include the non-technical aspects of successful projects, such as change management and business process management.
  1. You know what you’re getting with a self-directed car, but few understand how complex a self-directed ERP implementation is. Sure, a self-directed car may have the occasional crash, but not nearly as often as humans have driving on their own. Individuals embarking on an ERP implementation may think that their ERP implementations are going to be as simple as driving their car, but come to find out that they are sadly mistaken.
  1. Humans can’t cause a self-driving car to fail like they can an ERP implementation. Automating much of the decision-making eliminates the human element of self-driving cars. ERP projects, on the other hand, are most commonly derailed by the human element. Resistance to change, an overly confident project team, lack of understanding and a host of other people-related issues are the reasons organizational change is the #1 cause of ERP success or failure. Self-driving cars don’t share the same dynamic.
  1. The rules for driving a car are well-defined and understood by most, but ERP implementations are not. There is a limited number of decisions to be made when driving a car, but there are an infinite number of decisions and variables to consider when managing ERP implementations. For example, there are a huge number of ways you could change your business processes to make them better – even if you simply leverage the software’s basic functionality. Unless you have a great deal of experience and a proven tool set, you will not be able to navigate these issues and are instead exposing your organization to failure.

Self-directed cars may be the wave of the future, but self-directed ERP implementations are not. It is important to make sure to find a leading ERP implementation consultant – such as Panorama Consulting – to help navigate these complexities.

What to Look for When Hiring a Consultant for the Public Sector

While many firms claim to be “ERP consultants,” claiming is not the same as actually being a competent and seasoned ERP consultant, particularly in the public sector. What is a government CIO or G6 to do when an ERP system is required? How do they find a consultant who will streamline their processes, provide sage advice and deliver a successful go-live? Well, my friends, you are in luck. We have a handy five-step method to help guide your choice:

1. Recent experience. Ensure your prospective consulting team has significant and recent experience implementing ERP software, particularly in the public sector. If you are nonprofit, look for firms with a great deal of experience with nonprofits. If you are in the federal government, ask for the consultants to provide references with other federal government organizations of similar size and mission. Ask for references, check the references and ask the hard questions: How will they handle scope, changes, requirement creep, schedule and budget? A key indicator of experience is having multiple industry studies, white papers and case studies published by the consulting team.

2. Independence. Are the consultants truly independent or tied to a specific ERP system? While many competent consulting firms have ties to specific ERP vendors, consider selecting an independent consulting team that will help you select the right software for your organization. It is better to use the correct tool rather than using a hammer for every issue even if it requires a screw or a molly bolt.

3. Are they up to the challenge? Ask the consulting team to provide industry specific certifications and accreditations. Ensure those credentials belong to the consultants that will actually be doing the work. The consulting team should be PMP- and Six Sigma certified and actively involved in local or national chapters. Membership in ERP, PMI and Six Sigma organizations is a key indicator that the consulting team is continuously growing their skill set. The gold standard is SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and other vendor specific certifications. Make sure their certifications are up-to-date and that everyone on the consulting team has credentials.

4. Do a background search. If the team will be working with classified departments of government organizations, be sure to ask if it has the necessary clearances. If not, it is a time-consuming process to get an un-cleared individual the necessary clearances to complete a project and make it successful. Additionally, look at the history of the team – bankruptcies, misdemeanor convictions and other red flags must be checked prior to giving them access to your sensitive materials and information.

5. Project team. Nail down who specifically will be on the team and hold the consulting firm accountable to this. Are you investing in a single person or a team? “Bait and switch” is a common complaint with consulting firms. They bring in the high value and extremely experienced consultants to make the sale and attend the kick-off meetings; then two weeks later, the team is wholly composed of recent MBA graduates with less-than-robust ERP experience in your vertical. Prior government projects are a key predictor of success. ERP consultants who are experienced in your public sector vertical understand the difference between public sector pressures and regulations and the bottom-line driven private sector.

Panorama’s independent ERP consultants provide a full spectrum of support in software selectionchange management  and implementation for government agencies, departments and organizations. Our experienced ERP consultants are an insurance policy against project cost overruns, misaligned software, diminished return on investment and diminished return on citizenship (ROC). Our team has public sector experience in overseas, remote and difficult environments and will work with you to transform and innovate your organization and its processes.

Learn more by watching our on-demand webinar, Tips to Select the Best ERP Consultants.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.


SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics vs. Infor: Customization

Panorama’s Clash of the Titans 2016 provides an independent comparison of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Infor. Watch this webinar clip for an analysis of the average levels of customization for customers of these four vendors.

A large percentage of SAP customers leverage out-of-the-box functionality, while Microsoft Dynamics customers opt for higher levels of customization. Organizations implementing Infor reported the lowest levels of customization, with 71-percent of responds reporting minor or no customization.

High levels of customization may indicate that organizations are failing to perform proper due diligence when evaluating systems against their business requirements. This can lead to the selection of a system that is not the best fit for the organization. Organizations should document detailed business requirements, including current state processes, in order to evaluate each system against their business needs.

The full webinar is available here: Review of Panorama’s 2016 Clash of the Titans Report. For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics vs. Infor: Payback Period

Panorama’s Clash of the Titans 2016 provides an independent comparison of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Infor. Watch this webinar clip for an analysis of the average payback periods for these four vendors.

The vendor with the most respondents receiving payback in less than a year is Oracle (20-percent), followed by SAP (13-percent). However, compared to SAP, Oracle has a higher percentage of implementations that take three years or more to provide payback. A large percentage (40-percent) of organizations implementing Infor reported no recouped costs, and a large percentage (43-percent) of organizations implementing Microsoft Dynamics reported three years or more until recouped costs.

Significant customization may contribute to long payback periods, while using out-of-the-box functionality and best practices with minimal customization can result in shorter payback periods.

The full webinar is available here: Review of Panorama’s 2016 Clash of the Titans Report. For more YouTube videos and webinar clips, visit our YouTube Channel.

Know Your ERP Consultant

ERP systems are much more than just another application. The ERP system facilitates and directs the processes that are essential to conducting business and impacts the lives of the people who use it. With so much at stake, how do you find a trusted implementation partner to guide your team through a successful ERP implementation?

An organization confronted with this question might use Google to search for an ERP consulting firm, which would yield a long list of advisors trying to sell their services. With such an array of choices, you need to define specific criteria for evaluating a potential ERP consultant. Here are some questions you should ask:

  • What problems are driving my company to consider a new ERP system?
  • Do we have an executive sponsor for this ERP project?
  • Do we have a clear vision for the benefits that the ERP system will provide?

As the ERP landscape has evolved, the type of resources needed to select and implement ERP systems has also changed. Instead of using purely technical consultants who are experts in a specific technology or vendor, organizations can now engage ERP consultants who have expertise in organizational change management, business process reengineering and helping organizations achieve their goals. An ERP implementation is a business project, not a technology project.

Your ERP consultant should be able to work with your organization to gather business requirements, map processes and create efficiencies. They should also help your organization work through the issues that arise with new technology and a change in business processes.

ERP implementations consist of a complex web of non-technical challenges that can make or break your project. Following are six areas where your organization should partner with a trusted third-party:

  • Selecting an ERP system that supports the corporate vision
  • Creating a business case to help justify the implementation of a new ERP system
  • Identifying ways to streamline workflows through business process reengineering
  • Engaging end-users in requirements gathering and obtaining end-user buy-in to the project as a whole
  • Testing the ERP system before implementation to avoid post go-live issues
  • Training employees to use the new system and support system improvements

Bottom line: know your ERP consultant. While technical experts are required to implement an ERP system, business needs should drive your project. Ensure that your trusted implementation partner understands your business and has a proven track record of successful ERP implementations.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Guide to Choosing an ERP Implementation Partner.

Written by Ed Spotts, Senior ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

Three Tips for AVOIDING ERP Failure

All of us have participated in projects that have not gone as smoothly as we had hoped. Most of us will probably experience failed projects again in our lives because failure is part of the learning process both for individuals and organizations. However, not learning from mistakes and repeated patterns will cause projects to fail time and time again. Below are three ways to help ensure success in the future.

1. Have an accurate schedule that is upheld and/or modified as needed, within reason. Project architects should understand all of the moving parts involved in a project, who the key actors are and how long each task should take. Project architects should not be the random person in the office who is “volun-told” to make a schedule for a multi-million dollar project.

Even after a company invests in a project architect who builds a near-perfect schedule, it is up to the project manager to review all of the moving pieces to confirm that it is reasonable and executable at this moment in time. Maybe a key player is going on a three-month sabbatical; maybe there is a major holiday or business event or there may even be an anticipated lay off; all of these should be accounted for in the schedule.

Even after the schedule is “perfect” (at that moment in time), it needs to be followed, reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The project schedule is your blueprint to success.

2. The project triangle (time/scope/money) is a rule. The project triangle of time, scope and money constrains every project. If money is decreased, scope and time are decreased. If scope is increased, money and time increase. The project triangle shifts whenever a change occurs to any one of the three factors. This rule always applies , even to management.

If management wants to spend less money, they must be willing to make sacrifices, and those sacrifices must be articulated to re-calibrate expectations, which will also reset project success measurements. Having effective change management and contingency plans will help assuage these changes to the project triangle, but they will not alleviate all signs of change. Companies must be willing to accept these trade-offs.

3. Don’t be the project hero. Whenever a project is near failure, there is almost always someone who has had very passive participation in a project yet steps in at the eleventh hour to try and save the project.

Behind their backs, these people are called, “Project Heroes.” Project heroes, in effect, serve no purpose other than to annoy everyone who has been working diligently on a project for a very long time. Project heroes get in everyone’s way by demanding updates and asking questions that they would have had answers to had they been meaningfully participating in the project from the start.

Don’t be a project hero. Be the person who always shows up on time, has his homework done, can be relied upon and leads through example. Strong work ethic from management has tremendous flow-down results for employees.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.

Written by Annalynn Evenstad, Associate General Counsel & Contracting Department Manager at Panorama Consulting Solutions.