Innovation Enablement – The New Criteria for Selecting an ERP

Introduction

Today’s business environment can be characterized by a single word: dynamic.  Hyper market changes, M&A activity, AI technologies, a volatile political climate, and ever-changing consumer purchasing habits contribute to the rapid growth (or decline) of an entire industry.

As immense as these changes are, they do not happen overnight. Consumer expectations change, which lead to new buying behaviors, and ultimately new products and services are brought to market in response to consumer demand. While this cycle of change has sped up over time, it has happened incrementally, leaving many businesses vastly unprepared to meet new demands.

How can organizations adapt? They must now anticipate change and build an internal infrastructure that will meet new, yet unknown demands. Businesses are challenged to build innovation into their existing processes and systems, including their ERP systems. Today’s ERP systems must seamlessly connect functional areas, global divisions, and legacy systems, and while supporting a diverse set of users. These systems must be quick-to-implement, cost effective and agile, allowing them to meet the ever-changing demands of fast-moving incremental change.

Successful companies understand that innovation is the critical quality that allows them to adapt to dynamic change. That quality must also be an inherent part of their ERP system for it to be an asset, not a hindrance to growth.

Systemic ERP Issues in Today’s Market

ERP systems have existed for nearly 25 years. Their goal is to integrate company operations like Accounting and Finance, Sales and Marketing, Logistics and Inventory, HR, and other departments into a single system for greater ease in accessing company data and reporting on operations.

Unfortunately, many ERP systems have not kept pace with today’s business needs or technology advances.  The most common issues with existing ERP’s include:

  • Time and Cost of Customization. Each company has a unique set of data, workflows, and reporting. Traditional ERP applications are expensive and require a long time to implement as they must customize the application to unique requirements, even for the most technologically-advanced companies. These ERP systems may also require post-implementation customization when additional modules are purchased or glitches are discovered.
  • Cost of License. Time is money, and a lengthy implementation process will drain resources. Numerous user licenses are often required, which can be difficult to manage for a global firm or growing business. Licenses, consulting, and labor costs are a significant outlay no matter what size the firm.
  • User Adoption. Unless the ERP system has an intuitive interface and functional workflows, expected productivity gains will be lost to a long learning curve as users integrate the systems into their daily work routine.
  • Integration and Scalability. Today’s companies may use a combination of local or cloud-based software, legacy systems, and applications from third-party vendors.  Integrating these applications and providing a foundation for future scalability remains a challenge for the most advanced firms.
  • Reporting. Today’s companies are still dependent on manual data entry into their ERP or spreadsheets to produce the reports they need for strategic, financial, or marketing decision-making. Without a centralized datastore of real-time data, reports are expensive and cumbersome to produce.

These systemic issues have given ERPs a reputation for being costly, cumbersome, and difficult to use.  For organizations that are tasked with innovating for the future, a minimally featured ERP system can prevent them from meeting their strategic business objectives.

 

ERP expectations are high

For companies seeking to replace or upgrade their existing systems, expectations are high. Organizations want a new ERP to solve all of today’s problems, have instantaneous user adoption, and effortlessly connect with legacy systems with minimal disruption. In short, they cannot continue using – or invest in a new ERP system – that is plagued with historically systemic issues.

Today’s ERP platforms must solve more than just today’s data integration and performance issues.  Decision-makers must focus on how their ERP can support organizational transformation for the long term. By building on existing systems, an ERP will leverage the knowledge, data, and customer relationships that are already established, creating room for market advancement.

Transformation used to be expensive.  But today’s ERP systems offer cost-effective ways to centralize and share data, making it accessible to desktops and mobile devices.  Transforming routine work creates room for innovation, allowing businesses to remain competitive for the long term.

Scalability for Innovation-Readiness

ERPs have a simple goal: capture and produce information that leads to better decision-making.

If data is inaccessible, it can’t be analyzed or reported. In a business-word that is driven by analytics, companies can no longer afford to have data segregated by departmental silos. They need quick and secure access, real-time information, reported instantly by the people who need it most: leaders and decision-makers.

Today’s ERPs must be fully integrated across all functional areas, not a patchwork of legacy systems, spreadsheets, and separate applications. The information should be easily reported and available where and when people need it, on both desktop and mobile devices, using voice recognition for increased productivity. Quick customization is essential, to reduce associated costs across the organization.

Advanced ERP systems bring numerous benefits in reduced costs and increased productivity. But there is one additional benefit that is often overlooked.

Innovation readiness.

Businesses succeed by bringing ideas to market that offer value to their customers. New ideas come from innovative options to improve or radically shift today’s offerings. To achieve innovation readiness, firms must be able to scale their financial, technical, physical, and human resources to make room for tomorrow’s innovations – quickly.

ERPs allow firms to scale all aspects of their operations by making it easier to do the work that needs to get done. Whether it’s using advanced workflows, reporting in real-time, or tracking staff training, ERPs provide the foundation for tomorrow’s growth.

Using the Four Enterprise Technology Fundamentals to select your ERP

When it’s time to choose your ERP system, you’ll want to avoid the problems caused by lengthy customization timelines, high overall costs, roadblocks to scaling operations, user adoption issues and reporting. In addition to your system requirements and budget, look to these four fundamentals to guide your choice of ERP vendors.

Fundamental #1:  Licensing Costs

Committing to a multi-year license is an expensive endeavor that must be carefully evaluated to answer the question is this ERP system financially viable for the long term?  Your ERP decision is affected by:

  • Cash flow requirements. ERP licensing costs will impact cash flow especially for growing firms and may affect routine operating costs like payroll, leases, inventory, and other routine business expenses.
  • Scalability for Innovation Readiness. Innovation readiness is the key to business growth and a system that allows you to scale your business is critical to your long-term success.
  • IT Bandwidth. Understanding your IT department’s ability to support your ERP now and in the future will affect how much you must invest in licensing, maintenance, and support.
  • Staying with the Status Quo. If you fall into the trap of saying “no” based on licensing costs alone, you won’t be able to take advantage of solutions that help your company grow without breaking the bank or disrupting users.

Fundamental #2:  System Maintenance and Support

The type of support you’ll need is dependent upon your core technology.  If you have the in-house talent to support your core technology, you’ll have more flexibility in the type of maintenance and support you’ll need for the long term.  However, long term system support must be part of your maintenance plan and the best ERP vendors have skilled staff in place to help you.

Fundamental #3:  System Flexibility

ERP systems must integrate with external vendor platforms, handle complex financial and banking transactions, support your growing sales staff, accommodate payroll for a growing workforce, and manage your warehouse, manufacturing and logistics functions. Your ERP system should easily integrate with growing platforms and support your internal operations without overtaxing your IT resources.

Fundamental #4:  Usability

The most expensive ERP system will fail if users won’t adopt it.  That’s why the interface must be intuitive, flexible, provide the information users need – fast.  Choose an ERP with an intuitive interface and streamline the implementation process and make it easy for users across all departments to quickly adopt the ERP’s functionality.

In addition to ease, the ERP must be secure. Role-based access is critical to the security of your company’s information and allows users to get the information they need whether in the office or on the go.

Focus surpasses the competition

 

The issues of mergers and acquisitions, legacy systems, pricing fluctuations and changing political climates are challenges inherent in the oil and gas industry. The industry remains under pressure to bring innovative products to market to satisfy global consumer demand for traditional and renewable energies at competitive price points.

Recent mergers and acquisitions have left many organizations with a patchwork of systems that add to the complexity of running their multinational organizations. One oil and gas company sought out an ERP solution that addressed their need for system customization, cost effectiveness, integration and scalability, ease of user adoption, and enhanced reporting.

After a deep-dive analysis of 25 ERP systems, this leader in the oil and gas industry chose Focus 9 ERP because it addressed their need for creating scalability, anticipating volatile product pricing, managing global inventory, offering mobile access to field personnel, and providing customer support tools.

Focus 9 ERP allowed this global company to embrace innovation throughout their organization by building in the capacity to address changing consumer demand, quickly react to competitors, and build a foundation for meeting both today’s and tomorrow’s business objectives.

Focus 9 ERP offers functionality that is unique in the industry:

  • Drag and Drop Customization. Using industry-specific templates, Focus 9 ERP makes it easier to customize the application to your specific needs, reducing time, cost, and effort.
  • End to End Application. All modules are in one application, so no need to pick and choose what you need.
  • Voice Recognition – NEW! Making it easier to record and access information
  • Finance and Accounting – including Receivables and Payables, and Fixed Asset Management
  • Sales and Marketing – CRM, campaigns, and sales projections
  • Procurement, Inventory, and Warehouse Management Systems – to better manage all supply chain operations
  • Human Capital Management (HCM) – integrated recruiting, payroll, onboarding, and training
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality – from prospecting to contracts, everything you need to attract and retain customers
  • Report writer – Includes  real-time advanced financial, accounting, KPI and Dashboards
  • Flexible Computing – built on a unique AI / Hybrid model platform with Thin Client to provide faster access, anytime and anywhere
  • Intuitive Web and Mobile Interface- for sales or field teams on the go

Our solution minimizes the burden of extensive customization and excessive cost while maximizing employee productivity through streamlined on boarding.

Managing people, products, and business operations using advanced AI technology and voice recognition is what differentiates Focus 9 in our industry – and scales your business for the future.

 

Who we are

Focus Softnet is a leading provider of the latest generation ERP and CRM systems. With over 25 years of experience, and 27 offices in 17 countries, we have the unique ability to serve over 30,000 clients.  Our unique ERP platform connects departments that include Accounting and Finance, Logistics, HR, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service at a competitive price that gives our clients the capacity to innovate and grow.

Debunking 3 Myths: How Every ERP Implementation Can be a Success

The Focus Agile Implementation Methodology

Analyst firm Gartner estimates that 55% to 75% of all ERP projects fail to meet their objectives.”

Scary, isn’t it?
After all, your ERP implementation can make or break your career.

If you get it right, then you become the hero. You’ve successfully launched the new system that secures your company’s growth. You’ve improved your company’s efficiency, internal visibility, and data analysis, collaboration, and reporting. You’ve created huge benefits for your company, and you’ve hit a home run for your career.

But if you get your ERP implementation wrong, then you become the villain. You’ve reduced your company’s data visibility and accuracy, and you’ve crippled your company’s operations. You’ve created a huge failure for your company, and you’ve damaged your career.

We want to help you become the hero, not the villain. We want to show you how to make sure your ERP implementation is a huge success. And to do that, we’ve wrapped up everything we’ve learned from managing thousands of successful ERP implementations, and put them together in this simple article that will shatter the biggest myths of ERP implementation, and show you the correct path to a successful deployment.

So read on and learn why the three biggest myths of ERP implementation are just plain wrong, and how you can follow a better framework to make yours a success.

Myth One

“The words Agile and ERP Implementation are not compatible.”

We’ve heard this myth so many times— that ERP implementations are best handled through the standard Waterfall approach, and that an Agile implementation plan is 100% inappropriate for a project of this size.

This myth is repeated for one of two big reasons. First, because the industry is just plain used to following traditional implementation methods, and it’s the only thing they know how to do. Second, because traditional, slow, and bloated implementation methods generate a lot more revenue for consultants than a fast, lean Agile implementation.

We know first-hand that our Agile approach—which we’ve honed over many years—works much better for ERP implementations that traditional approaches. We’ve learned to run a fast, flexible, and responsive implementation that eliminates the possibility of any big failures, and instead follows a fast, flexible, and responsive method that continuously re-aligns to our client’s needs, limitations, and emerging opportunities.

Here is the new way ERP’s are successfully implemented, which we call the Focus Agile Implementation Methodology (FAIM). You can modify it for your implementations to make them a success as well:

 

  1. Understand and Map. Focus Softnet’s team develops a high-level understanding of your business, and maps out your organization and business processes.
  2. Design a Better Way. Then we design a better way of doing things. We try to go beyond just digitizing the old way of doing things. Focus invests the time needed to architect a better system that will give your internal users and customers a better overall experience, without sacrificing long-term flexibility (change is constant).
  3. Simple and Clear Scope. We create an easy-to-read, bulletproof scoping document that explains your entire project scope in 1-3 pages— max— to limit your initial functions, outcomes, and details to the absolute essentials.
  4. Break it down. Typically break your scope down into phases, and each phase into sprints, to create a clean, clear, accountable project plan that minimizes mistakes and allows for flexibility. Phases are mini-projects that build up to the overall main projects.
  5. Compare, shop and plan. After scoping and planning is understood. We ask our customers to take the time to compare different solution providers based on key factors including: license costs, time and cost to implement, the cost to support your system, and how much time and budget it would take to modify your system as your needs evolve.
  6. Select and Execute. Based on these findings, often times Focus ERP is often the entire solution stack or part of it because it provides the most Innovation Enablement, Money ROI and Productivity ROI.

 

From there, we cascade an Agile mindset through your full implementation. We start by implementing your new ERP in just one small area of your organization. We learn from this initial project. We find and fix technical issues in this contained environment. We make sure it actually meets your stakeholders’ real-world needs. We prove it’s a success. And once we do, we gradually roll-out your ERP to additional areas of your organization so by the time your ERP runs enterprise-wide, it’s operating flawlessly, with no chance of catastrophic failure.

 

Whether you work with Focus ERP, or implement your ERP on your own, remember this— Agile and ERP Implementation are highly compatible. In fact, following an Agile implementation method is the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful ERP deployment!

 

 

Myth Two

ERP Implementations need to be planned for every part of the business down to the smallest detail.”

 

This is another big myth that seems to exist entirely to make ERP implementation consultants rich. While there are good ERP consultants out there, most of them will overload your project plan with as many details and as much documentation as possible. They say they’re trying to make your project “perfect”, but most of the time they’re just extending your project implementation timelines to bill more hours.

When it comes down to it, even when consultants are coming from a good place, this whole approach is misguided for one simple reason… it’s impossible to create a “perfect” ERP implementation plan. Your company’s business model is constantly evolving and being tweaked. If you plan for years in advanced, you will kill innovation, and make it impossible to continuously re-align to your business as it changes course.

Instead of planning every single step and detail of your ERP implementation, we’ve learned to just focus on the most important details:

  • We focus on only delivering mission-critical functionality on phase one.
  • We only bring essential stakeholders onto the project— mission-critical business executives, the ERP’s real-world users, and the smallest project team possible
  • We don’t say “yes” to every stakeholder request during the planning phase, and we don’t give them full customization at first
  • We offer gradual customization to give our clients long-term system agility and innovation readiness.

 

Overall, it’s impossible to plan too far into the future for your ERP. Plan the essentials. Bake in as much flexibility and adaptability as possible. And continuously engage your stakeholders and stay close with your business so you can adapt your ERP to their new needs as those needs emerge. Often, the less you plan and the more you just get started, the more successful your ERP implementation will be!

 

Myth Three

“You should only implement the ‘typical’ ERPs that have a lot of brand name recognition.”

 

At this point, we bet you can guess why this myth has persisted— most of the big-name ERP solutions are complicated, they take a long time to implement, and they require expensive ongoing servicing… all of which add up to bigger fees for the ERP provider and their consultants of choice. In fact, most ERP implementation consultants have invested huge amounts of money in the most commonly known brand-name ERP solutions, and have to charge you a huge price to implement them to earn a little ROI off their investments.

Now, there might be a situation where one of the big, brand-name ERP solutions is the right option for you. But we’ve learned that most people end up picking one of the best-known platforms because they’ve heard the name before, and they just assume it will solve their problems. The same holds true when most people hire an ERP implementation consultant— they just go with the firm they’ve heard of before.

You can avoid this problem, and make sure you pick the best solutions and partners for your project, by performing enough due diligence ahead of time. When evaluating a solution or firm, ask yourself:

  • Are they overselling their capabilities?
  • Are they overselling their ability to implement on time?
  • Have they asked enough questions upfront to make sure they understand my needs?
  • Have they educated me on their tech front-and-back, and made sure I understand all the operational processes involved?
  • Have they clearly defined the resources they need to integrate into my company?
  • Have they clearly defined my actual needs, and explained with 100% clarity how they will meet them?
  • Did they clearly delineate responsibilities between their consultants and my staff?
  • Do they have logical transition plans to follow as people move in and out of the project?
  • And most important— are they going to adequately train my people in their platform, so we can put it to work from day one of launch?

 

Like we said, there are likely times when one of the big, brand-name solutions might be best for your firm. And there are times when one of the best-known consulting firms might deliver a lot of value for you. But we’ve learned that taking the time upfront to select the best platform and partners will dramatically increase your chances of achieving ERP implementation success!

 

 

The Most Important ERP Implementation Myth to Break…

There is one last big ERP implementation myth we’ve seen that almost guarantees ERP implementation failures…

 

“I can handle my entire ERP implementation myself.”

 

Over the years, we’ve come to see that ERP implementations are always a complex process. No single leader can ever manage the entire process effectively on their own. They always need hands-on help and guidance, tailored to their unique context. We’ve learned that even though our clients could follow the insights we included in this article to avoid ERP failure, they always implemented faster, easier, and more successfully, when they let us and our partners handle the heavy lifting for them.

 

We saw this again and again, and designed Focus Softnet to offer CIOs, CTOs, CFO,s and other ERP implementations leaders the hands-on help they need to successfully launch their platform. If you would like to see if we could be the right fit to ensure your own ERP success, contact us.

 

 

Top Five Innovations Coming to the ERPs of 2022

The future is upon us, and with it comes innovative advancements in technology once only dreamed of while reading the pages of a sci-fi novel. From nanotechnology to brain mesh and beyond, the technological advancements that are sure to come in the next couple of decades hold endless opportunities for the future of ERP software. Small and large companies on a global scale will soon be able to take advantage of tools that will make conducting business as easy as a simple thought. But before we get too ahead of ourselves as we think of all we’ll be able to do by 2040, let’s take a look just three to four years into the future and examine the top five ERP trends and innovations we’re likely to see hit the warehouse management and inventory control space by 2022.

 

Greater Access for All Who Seek It

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, is soon to be commonplace for all businesses. Whether a large, well-established corporation or a small startup, ERP software will soon be available for all who seek its benefits. This is because of the fact that as technology advances, the cost of it becomes more and more affordable. In 2011, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and software engineer, Mark Andreesen, said, “software is eating the world.” In a way, he was absolutely right because software is becoming a tool that we all rely on as heavily as we rely on electricity and food. For example, individuals in developing countries have greater access to smartphones today than they do to books, according to Unesco, and the trend is only growing. This is because of the affordability and availability of technology for the masses. Companies are also beginning to rely solely on technology for all of their core business functions such as Skype, Netflix, Amazon, etc.

 

Think about the cost of a laptop computer back in 1999. What may have cost $2000-$3000 for a piece of technology now seems like a primitive dinosaur compared to the capabilities laptops have today. What’s even more important to note is that the cost has drastically lowered over the years. A laptop today that’s far superior to what was available in 1999 can be purchased for around $500 or less. ERP software will be no exception to this trend in 2022. Purchasing an ERP to streamline company data and activities will become as commonplace for companies as having a website, and perhaps even more-so.

 

The IoT

With the availability of technological advancements, companies no longer have to rely on primitive methods of the past for relaying information and communicating between different departments, vendors, supply chains, and sales teams. Companies want real-time updates, insights, and analytics on a day-to-day, or minute-by-minute, basis to allow decision making and the flow of activities to run smoother and faster. These capabilities are only becoming better as time goes on and we start seeing innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting us with the devices and tools we need to access data in real-time. For example, a food supply chain with IoT sensors can now tell a company exactly where in their supply chain inventory has been lost due to spoilage. This allows a company to react instantly and fix their faulty refrigeration system before anymore inventory or money is lost. There is no need to wait for someone to send over a report or wait for a repairman to troubleshoot the issue because the data is already being transmitted as it’s being received—much like the human brain.

 

Increased Workflow Automation

Over the next few years, we’re sure to see ERP software become broader and easier to use. More and more businesses will be automating and incorporating their processes, and ERPs will be producing more outputs as companies rely more heavily on insights and inputs. Technology will be easy to use by companies looking to streamline and automate their workflow processes so that even the most inexperienced person (as it relates to technology and computers) will be able to set it up. The technology that once required complex coding skills for implementation will now be available for everyone via drag-and-drop user interfaces (UIs). Companies are already demanding the future of ERP technology to fit and adapt to their unique business needs rather than trying to build a business around the technology that’s currently available. Because of this growing trend, innovations are moving toward becoming easy to integrate by all—providing a quick and easy solution for streamlining each component of a business’s activities.

 

Advanced AI

Artificial intelligence is getting more advanced than ever before. By 2022, we should see AI that has the ability to analyze, learn, and grow much like the human mind. Using built in algorithms, AI can help make ERP more valuable for companies than ever before. Through advanced analytics, intelligent interfaces, and workflow automation, AI will be used with ERPs to improve internal management structures, create smarter tech infrastructures, and optimize the processes of a business that once required employees to do manually, such as data entry and searching through historical data. ERPs will have the ability to automatically input data, learn from it, create workflows, and save companies time and money without error. By analyzing the data from months and years past, AI will also allow ERPs to make suggestions and give business risk alerts.

 

The ERPs of 2022 will have no problem handling big data. AI will allow ERP software to analyze, organize, and present big data like never before. The good news is that the technology surrounding data entry automation and streamlined workflows is already in place and being used by Focus Netsoft ERP software. Current ERP technology is able to learn from manual data inputs and automatically suggest and create workflows for businesses without relying on employees to create their own workflows based on spreadsheets and data sourced from various systems. The ERP software has access to all of this data in real-time. Current Focus ERP technology also has advanced data mining features built in, and even greater AI capabilities are in the works. Focus 9 users are already able to ask questions via text or voice. For example, if a person wants to pull up invoices from a particular date they can simply ask, “what invoices did I have on May 23rd?” The system will then pull up the invoices and give an answer.

 

AR and VR

Much like AI,  data visualization will also be receiving an upgrade by 2022. Virtual and abstract reality will change the way that abstract data is presented. While this technology is already being used for video gaming and entertainment, we can only expect it to become more advanced and lifelike over the next three years. This means that taking a look at data could actually bring users into the world of what it is they’re trying to better understand or monitor. This technology paired with a greater acceptance of wearable technology and the availability of big data could really shake up the way companies tap into target customer needs, lifestyles, and feedback surrounding a product or service. For example, VR can take a manager into a warehouse or distribution center from a remote location in order to change layouts and conduct business from halfway across the globe. This insight is going to rely on an equally advanced ERP to receive inputs and send outputs.

 

As technology becomes smarter, so will the ways businesses conduct day-to-day activities. People are already getting a taste for some of this technology we expect to see by 2022, and this is creating a demand for faster, easier to use software. For Focus Softnet, the future of ERP technology is already here. Focus is at the forefront of this new wave of innovative technology as it relates to enterprise software. By delivering a better, more advanced product for less than the cost of competitors such as Oracle Netsuite and SAP, we’re paving the way for the ERP industry as we near 2022.

 

Focus has helped companies ranging from small to large gain access to real-time data and insights in ways that were only dreamt of just a decade ago. One such client, Arabian Farms, needed to deliver 120 million eggs to various supermarkets. We were able to help them incorporate mobile applications to sales deliveries and supermarkets—allowing for updates to order quantities to be processed immediately so that no one skipped a beat, and nothing was amiss. These capabilities are only going to grow stronger over the next few years.

 

Focus currently has the fastest implementation speeds in the industry. We’ve assisted thousands of companies through our seamless integration process and variety of popular apps that allow businesses to access several vendors at once without incident. We already have a drag-and-drop UI built into our software so that anyone can take advantage of the peace of mind and ease of use our software provides. While we’re still waiting for the rollout of 3D holographic technologies to hit the mainstream as far as computer technology is concerned, we’re ready to embrace all of the innovations we’re expecting to see just a few more years into the future.

 

If your company would like to get ahead of the competition and gain instant access to data, insights, and the technological innovations ERP software can bring to your warehouse management software or inventory control software, Focus Softnet is the solution for bringing the future of ERP to your fingers in the here and now. If you’d like to learn more about how Focus can help improve your business processes, we’d love to schedule a demo or presentation with you today.