General Advice

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30
Mar

5 top tips to keep employee engagement high

 How to keep your team together while working remotely

Managing remote employees can be difficult, but with the addition of a global pandemic, this task has become a lot harder. Although many organisations have been geared up for remote working for a while, many businesses have been thrown into the transition leaving teams disjointed in these uncertain times.

 

Understandably having the right IT solution is essential to remote-working but having those tools is just the beginning. A large proportion of the population is now in lock-down within their homes with their family’s meaning that distractions are abnormally high. If you also consider that many have heightened emotions due to health and economic concerns, as an employer it’s now more important than ever to take a moment to be mindful and factor these aspects into expected productivity levels.

 

To help employers through this difficult time we have pulled together our top 5 tips for keeping engagement high amongst home-workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

  1. Online meetings – Keep weekly meetings going and keep teams together by using video conferencing tools (such as Microsoft Teams). Studies have shown that seeing each other (even virtually) has a positive effect on our mental health, helping us to feel connected whilst we work apart. Even a 10 minute morning check-in is enough to add a touch of normality to proceedings and will encourage team members to get ready for the day and mentally switch to ‘work’ mode.
  2. Collaborate – Ensure your team has access to everything they need by using a shared cloud application such as Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint gives you the ability to create team sites for each of your ongoing projects allowing remote team members to share files, data, news and resources.
  3. Kitchen moments – The kitchen is the social hub of any office where employees catch -up and grow closer and share their lives. As we all work remotely this vital part of the day is missing. Be sure to encourage ‘light’ chat using tools such as Microsoft Teams, you could even introduce lunchtime quizzes or other fun activities to keep spirits high and team members connected.
  4. Reflection – A positive aspect of this current situation is that we have time to reflect on existing processes, systems and business procedures. Encourage your team to take time to think big picture and envisage an ‘ideal’ solution to areas that need improvement.
  5. Office budget – To boost productivity your team needs the right tools and supplies. From sending out office stationery packs to investing in cloud applications or even splashing out on new monitors there are plenty of ways you can help improve home-working for your team.

 

While we navigate through these testing times technology can help with engagement, collaboration, productivity and most importantly keeping us connected.

 

If you would like more information on remote working or solutions that could help your business during this time please get in contact with our experts on 0191 500 8150 or drop us an email at [email protected].

 

1
Nov

Is your team communicating effectively?

What is Microsoft SharePoint and how can it help me?

When it comes to communication within the workplace, technology continues to reshape the way we collaborate. But with an app for almost everything these days some businesses are suffering from communication fatigue. Make no mistake, technology is an amazing addition to any workplace but only when it’s the right solution.

With a market flooded with communication and collaboration tools, many businesses are resorting to sticking with outdated methods and processes.  

Microsoft SharePoint has over 100 million users worldwide and is used by a whopping 78% of the Fortune 500. 

 

What is Microsoft SharePoint  

Developed by Microsoft, SharePoint launched in 2001 and is a web-based document management and collaboration tool. SharePoint works with Office 365 to create a server type environment designed for sharing. 

If you choose to implement SharePoint into your business it is typically deployed onto your company’s network as a selection of intranet sites. Each site is designed specifically for each department with its own security, functionality and data. 

 

Reasons to use SharePoint 

Improve efficiency The most common way businesses use SharePoint is as an intranet portal. SharePoint gives its users a powerful, fully-searchable centralised location from which to run operations. By dividing your SharePoint into separate team sites you can organise information and documents by department, ensuring data is but a click away. Unlike other intranet systems, SharePoint follows the same Office 365 style you are acclimatised to but adds additional intuitive features such as; highlighting upcoming deadlines and team scheduling data. 

 

Cultivate positive collaborationSharePoint is a content management system (CMS) and is used to store and share information. Its’ features include version management, business workflows and social aspects, which can all be accessed remotely. You can use SharePoint to accelerate productivity by transforming everything from a simple task to complex operational workflows.

 

Increase business intelligence Your business collects so much valuable information, wouldn’t it be amazing to view all this data at a single glance and in one location? Through SharePoint’s integration capabilities, users can connect the platform with just about any existing information output from different applications. SharePoint is your one-stop-shop for custom-made business intelligence reporting. 

 

Microsoft SharePoint by Monpellier

Monpellier (based in Cumbria and the North East) are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions, delivering first-class support and solutions across a wide range of areas from accounting & payroll to intranet and CRM solutions. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s October’s 2019 issue. 

2
Oct

Are you making the most of OneDrive?

Tips to boost your OneDrive experience

 

What is Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft’s storage service facility for hosting files in the cloud. Although you can sign up for OneDrive for free, you gain more as an Office 365 customer. OneDrive has been designed to provide a simple solution to store and share various types of documents and files.

 

How to make the most of OneDrive 

 

Expiry Links 

If you need to share a file with confidential data for a fixed period of time you can create a shareable link that is constrained by a set expiry date and time that you’ve pre-set. 

 

Password Protected 

Want to share very sensitive data? Microsoft has added password functionality so that the data you share has another layer of security. 

 

Scan & Go 

By using the OneDrive app you can scan, save and share documents that you can snap straight from your camera phone. It also lets you save these images as PDFs or directly into other applications such as OneNote. 

 

Offline Mode 

OneDrive gives you the option to make folders offline so that you can work on the go without an internet connection and back-up to the cloud once you’re back in the office. 

 

Version Control 

Whilst it’s important to make sure you are always working on the most up-to-date version of any document it’s also beneficial to refer back to older versions. OneDrive lets you look back at previous versions of each document to make sure no vital information is lost. 

 

Outlook 

We are all guilty of clogging up our inboxes with emails that on their own are useless but they have an attachment we want to keep. OneDrive lets you save these attachments straight to your chosen folder on OneDrive so that your Inbox stays clean and you don’t misplace important documents. 

 

Microsoft Office 365 Apps & Monpellier

Are you interested in what Microsoft’s Office 365 Apps can do for your business? OneDrive is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to the capabilities provided by the Office 365 suite. If you are interested in finding out more and how they can integrate into your business give us a call today to arrange your free onsite consultation. 

2
Oct

Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution

The age of automation

Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution, (the first industrial revolution involved mechanisation through water and steam, the second electricity and the third nuclear power). The fourth industrial revolution is all about the internet and emerging technologies such as the Cloud, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. In summary, Industry 4.0 is the age of smart manufacturing and atomisation.

 

Industry 4.0 in practice

Manufacturing organisations are a wealth of data however, according to IDC, only 30% of manufacturers are currently investing in transforming the digital operations of their businesses. Monpellier believes this is due to the sheer scale of the data and processes held by most manufacturing businesses. The idea of digitalising all this information and implementing a future-forward solution is daunting, and in some cases not always necessary. Here are our top 5 tips for ensuring your business stays ahead of the curve during the Industry 4.0 revolution.

 

Assess

Firstly, you need to take the time to step back and assess. Spend time (don’t rush) taking stock of existing processes and software/ hardware. Map out how each process currently flows and how you would like it to flow (in an ideal world). After all this work is done, it’s time to reach out and speak to a specialist solutions provider. Your chosen provider can help you devise the best plan to fit your needs and budget, whether that’s a modern ERP solution, moving to the cloud or simply streamlining what you currently have.

Plan

Changing or updating your current solution in any way can cause teething problems. The best way to manage this is to start by assigning a small, invested team to manage the project from start to finish. Ensure your team is perfectly formed with key players from each department, communication is fundamental in the early stages to guarantee the new solution will satisfy the predetermined needs. During the planning stage, you may also want to take the opportunity to cleanse your existing data, this will put you in a much easier position going forward.

Connectivity

Industry 4.0 is all about smart manufacturing and making the most of new technological developments, which has led many organisations to move to a cloud-based system or hybrid architecture (a combination of cloud and on-premise). According to Aberdeen research, manufacturing early adopters are migrating faster than ever due to faster implementation speeds (61%), efficiency in total life-cycle costs (59%) and scalability (44%). Cloud connectivity truly resonates with Industry 4.0 as it supports the operational structure needed for optimal efficiency.

People

Roles once occupied by people are increasingly being handed over to robots and AI (Artificial intelligence), but where does this leave our current workforce? The reality is that humans will still play a vital role in manufacturing but there needs to be a shift in skills. To guarantee your business is ready for the coming change look to recruit people with skills such as knowledge of automation, data, analytics, programming and software.

Implementation

Why not start small? Some manufacturing businesses are kicking off their journey into Industry 4.0 by adding something small such as a sensor to their machinery. Even minor innovations like this can greatly influence a company’s success by gathering all sorts of intelligence. Starting small also gives you a longer period of time to convert your entire workforce to a new automated way of thinking readying them for future change.

 

Manufacturing solutions by Monpellier

Experts in providing custom solutions to manufacturing businesses Monpellier (based in Cumbria and the North East) deliver support and solutions across a wide range of areas from accounting & payroll to CRM and EPOS. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s September 2019 issue

10
Sep

Join the Team – Most Loved Microsoft Teams Features

Number 3 in our Jargon Buster series: Microsoft Teams

Another tool within Office 365’s robust suite of services is the popular Microsoft Teams. Teams is a chat-based collaboration tool released by Microsoft in 2017. Although the tool is still somewhat ‘new’ to the market it has flattened the competitors and is now leading the space with the highest number of raw-user. 

Microsoft Teams gives you and your team the space to collaborate, creating a shared work-space where you can chat, meet, share files and work with business apps. 

The question is how does Teams help your business and which of its features would you find useful? We have pulled together our favourite features that our clients love for you to better understand if Teams is the right choice for your organisation. 

 

Meetings

Microsoft Teams really shines when it comes to meeting functionality. Teams gives you the ability to host audio, video and web conferences with anyone inside your company or an external third party. 

Features like scheduling assistance, note-taking, desktop sharing, uploading files, and chat messaging really highlights that Microsoft are focusing on making Teams the best-in-class tool for collaboration. Microsoft have announced Skype’s end-of-life date for July 2021 so for those that predominantly use this for their business conferencing needs it may be worth looking at making the switch to Teams. 

In addition to its regular meeting features Microsoft Teams also has the capability to host live large meetings and events. For example, if you needed, with Teams’ help you could give a virtual presentation to up to 10,000 attendees! 

 

Calls

The phone system within Microsoft Teams has PBX (Private Branch Exchange) capabilities and can even replace your on-premise PBX. Specialist calling features allows you to create call groups so that a specific colleague can answer your calls and gives you the ability to create and configure shared numbers.  

 

First-line Benefits 

First-line employees are often mobile, Microsoft Teams gives you access to training materials, handbooks, policies and on-demand video content via a mobile device. Compatibility with apps such as ‘Shifts’ creates seamless integration with your workforce management system.  

 

Security & Compliance 

Microsoft Teams was designed with your organisation’s advanced security needs in mind. Admin functionality grants you the ability to make granular changes and includes capabilities such as; data loss prevention, information barriers, retention policies, eDiscovery, legal hold, and more.

 

Free Consultation 

If your business is ready to make the switch to Microsoft Teams, Monpellier are here to help. Monpellier are a trusted Microsoft partner specialising in providing an end-to-end solution and support. If you would like more information on Teams or any of Microsoft’s products,  give our team a call on 0191 500 8150.

30
Aug

With over 100 million users worldwide, what is SharePoint?

Number 2 in our Jargon Buster Series: SharePoint 

It’s hard to avoid a mention of SharePoint these days with many productivity experts hailing it as a must-have collaboration tool. But what exactly is SharePoint and how can it be used to help your business?

 

What is SharePoint?

In very simple terms SharePoint is a web-based document management and collaboration tool. It works with Office 365 and has a core set of functionalities including; document storage, intranet capabilities, and organisation sharing. 

 

Benefits of using SharePoint 

    1. Collaboration – Using SharePoint allows users to stay connected, even during live projects with the use of document version history. Losing information in a cluttered inbox becomes a thing of the past as all employees have access to critical and up-to-date documents at their fingertips. 
    2. Security – Integrated security within the platform protects your data from unauthorised access. You can set permissions per user giving you ultimate control over user visibility. 
    3. Customisation – SharePoint is jam-packed with unique tools that allow you to tweak your organisations build to look and function in a way that works for you. Add custom features, widgets, calendars and request forms to your organisation’s intranet in order to maximise productivity. 
    4. Less Training – By working seamlessly with Office 365 SharePoint feels familiar from the start. In addition to support from your solution provider, Microsoft have free training courses available via their support site to help with the integration of your new collaboration tool. 
    5. Informed Decisions Use SharePoint to create personalised dashboards that allow your employees to see information from different sources and make better-informed decisions. For example, you could create a dashboard that acts as a live report area that allows you direct access to things such as KPI’s, critical financial data or even current stock levels. 

Free Consultation 

Monpellier are a trusted Microsoft partner specialising in providing an end-to-end solution and support. If you would like more information on SharePoint or any other Microsoft products give our team a call on 0191 500 8150. 

26
Aug

What’s the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365?

As part of our Jargon Buster Series we’re looking into the world of 365

Microsoft is galloping ahead with their business software solutions and are constantly adding to their plethora of products and add-ons. But in this minefield of new offerings, it’s hard to make sense of what each product is, what functionality they include and how it can be applied to your business. 

Our Jargon Buster Series has been created to cut through the noise, explain each solution in real terms and give you the information you need to make the right decision for your business.  

 

Microsoft 365 VS Office 365

Microsoft 365 and Office 365 seemingly the same thing right? Unfortunately not… 

Office 365 is Outlook plus the usual Office suite sold as a Cloud-based service through a subscription model. There are lots of different Office 365 plans (Business Essentials and Business Premium) that cover your different needs as a business. Subscriptions are calculated per number of users and have the benefit of always providing you with the most recent version making compatibility and upgrades a thing of the past.  

In comparison, Microsoft 365 includes everything you get with Office 365 plus Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security. This bundle gives you Microsoft’s latest operating system paired with a suite of mobility and security tools that gives your data extra protection. 

 

So which option is right for me?

Realistically, the best option is to speak with a Microsoft Partner to ensure your chosen solution is the right fit for your needs. We recommend this because of the amount of options that can be added to your subscription is so vast a consultation with an expert ins simply invaluable.  

However, in basic terms both solutions give you the full Office 365 package, but Microsoft 365 gives you even more (Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security). Apart from the additional features the only differences appear when it comes to device management. Unlike Office 365, Microsoft 365 comes with a single console to manage users and devices. This added feature lets you manage Windows 10 PC’s with an easy-to-use setup wizard. 

 

Free consultation

Monpellier are a trusted Microsoft partner specialising in providing an end-to-end solution and support. If you would like more information on Microsoft 365, Office 365 or other Microsoft products give our team a call on 0191 500 8150. 

26
Jul

Does your ticketing system measure up?

How to better meet customers’ ticketing expectations

Customer experience (or CX) is crucial in contributing to various factors including customer satisfaction, loyalty and increased footfall. All business models can stand to improve by working on customer experience but for this article, we are focusing on tourism and attractions. Both these sectors have point-of-sale and ticketing at their core and as this interaction happens at the start of the customer journey it can have a lasting imprint on a customers’ expectations.

An ideal guide detailing how to guarantee outstanding customer service does not exist as each attraction and its visitors are unique. There are, however, key pillars that should be considered by businesses based within tourism and attractions that can help them meet and hopefully exceed expectations.

Trust

Stories regarding scam sites are unfortunately a common occurrence, therefore building trust with your potential visitors is key to giving them a pleasant ticketing experience. Two simple ways to do this is to ensure your ticket page looks like the rest of your site and to have integration with major banks. Software like Digitickets works seamlessly with your KCPOS solution allowing you to maintain brand integrity with a ticketing system that’s a visual match to your own website. This design element paired with bank and payment provider integration helps retain the customers’ trust and encourages the best possible conversion rate of website visitors into paying customers.

Control

We all have busy lives and our plans are often made on lunch breaks or late at night. Giving customers the ability to buy tickets directly from your website (without being redirected) has become best practice. Potential visitors are smart and expect all the information they require to be easily accessible, clear to read and available to them without having to make human contact. You must also consider that many visitors may be from different time zones or work unsociable hours meaning calling to book may not be possible. Having all this information available along with the option to buy tickets online puts control in the hands of the visitor (or the appearance of control). If your visitor can go through this entire portion of the customer journey without any difficulty, you are already creating a professional standard that can be continued on arrival.

Ease

Mobile ticketing is no longer the future, in fact, in some cases, it’s now expected. Giving visitors the freedom to choose how they redeem their ticket adds a layer of ease that can help meet customers’ expectations. By implementing software that works with your EPOS system (such as Digitickets) visitors can take advantage of mobile technology by buying and presenting their tickets on iPhone, Android or iPad devices.

 

For more advice on how to meet customers’ expectations during the ticketing process or to learn more about our point-of-sale software and hardware solutions please give us a call today on 0191 500 8150 or email us at [email protected].

 

5
Oct

Six strategies to see ROI from your ERP implementation sooner

When you think of ROI, monetary returns spring to mind – particularly if you have stocks.

But there are other, crucial factors of ROI to do with savings and increases. The right investments can save you time, effort, resources, and sometimes even your sanity. And increases gained can include efficiency, productivity, the speed of getting the job done and much more.

When you purchase a new laptop, you may not realise it, but you’re probably thinking about savings and increases. How much faster will the laptop work? How much more can you get done in less time with a more efficient processor?

When it comes to business management software, it’s the same situation. Sure, there’s a monetary factor. The right ERP software can help you increase sales and grow your revenue. But it can also help reduce time-consuming processes through automation, do more with fewer resources, get your operations running more efficiently, and make your team more productive.

There are a lot more ROI benefits to leverage from an ERP implementation. So, if you’re considering an ERP system, be sure to start out with the right strategies that will help maximise ROI, faster.

ERP implementation is key

Analyst firm, Gartner, estimates that 55% to 75% of all ERP projects fail to meet their objectives. Common causes of failure include inadequate communication and planning, poor change management and constant adjustments to business objectives during the implementation process.

If you’re considering an ERP system to help your business grow faster and improve profit, getting your ERP implementation right is a crucial ingredient. And seeing a strong return on investment from your ERP software hinges on the implementation.

Here are the top 6 strategies to help you see ROI from your implementation sooner.

Identify your requirements

When scoping an ERP solution, choose software that’s designed for the needs of your business and industry. Look for functionality that addresses your core processes and business requirements.

Spend some time jotting down the current pain points and issues that you and your team are having with your current systems. Are you spending too much time rekeying data from one system to another? Or you see errors in your critical business data as a result? Are there specific business reports you need as standard? Ask your team for their input and prioritise the impact of the current issues. If you’re not sure how to get started, talk to the ERP provider you’re considering working with. They’ll often have a wealth of experience and advice about what to consider.

Think of your relationship with the ERP provider as a partnership that can aid the success of your implementation. Don’t be afraid to ask for their advice. Any good solution provider will already regard this as a necessary part of the process. Have a further read of our post, ERP software comparison: how to plan the right choice, for some additional tips on what to look for and what to expect from an ERP solution provider.

Customised or standard?

Studies have shown that customisation is a leading factor of why implementations can take longer than expected and incur higher costs. Think about how you want to start off with your ERP system. Do you want to start simply and quickly, planning for additional functionality or customisations is a second phase of your project? Or do you have specific requirements that need to be met as part of the initial set up? It can help to work with an ERP solution provider to clarify what your business needs early on. Scoping your ERP implementation project appropriately and considering customisations or additional functionality, whether that’s immediately or in a second phase, can help set the right timeframes and expectations.

A standardised ERP implementation isn’t right for every business. But for those wanting to get up and running with financials and inventory as soon as possible, it can be a wise decision that lets you see ROI very quickly. Once you’re up and running, you can continue to work with your ERP provider on customisations and expanding functionality to drive value from your software investment even further. Work with your ERP provider to establish the right plan for your continued implementation goals beyond your initial ‘go-live’ phase.

Choose the right ERP implementation for your business

It’s crucial to understand the differences between two main types of ERP systems in which you can invest. You can purchase an on-premise ERP system and install it on your own physical computers and servers. Using an on-premise option, the software is installed on your physical servers. To keep your ERP technology current, you’ll need to perform regular testing and upgrades of the software. You’ll need the knowledge and resources in-house to do this or pay for an IT technician to help.

You might also need to schedule windows of down time for the work to be done or organise out-of-office hours to manage updates. Be mindful of how you plan this out as it can run the risk of affecting productivity, as well as any customisations and integrations you’ve set up, if not handled correctly.

On-premise ERP software generally incurs a much larger upfront investment. You’ll need to consider costs for the software, the hardware and the resources to maintain and upgrade both the software and the hardware.

The other option is cloud-based ERP software. Your system is always securely accessible in the cloud and the infrastructure is managed by your ERP provider. You don’t have to spend anything on hardware or invest in resources to maintain or upgrade the system – that’s all handled by the ERP software vendor. This gives you an ERP solution that is always current, without the down time or additional resources needed to manage regular upgrades.

Implementation can also be much simpler – and faster. Cloud delivery gets you system access as soon as your software licenses are provisioned. Your ERP provider can start working with you sooner to implement your system.

Factor in change management and organise training

ERP implementations require dedicated time, planning, training, communication and documentation. Those factors apply added pressure to the day-to-day business responsibilities and operations of your team if not handled the right way.

Larger enterprises have the resources to assemble ERP implementation teams to manage the entire process. But for growing businesses, that’s not as feasible. Investing in a cloud-based ERP implementation service can take some of the burden away from your employees and free them up to focus on other tasks. A good cloud ERP provider will drive training as part of the implementation process – letting your team learn throughout the setup. Delivery is often managed by web conferencing to help get all stakeholders involved in the setup, no matter where they are, to speed up the process and maximise value.

Make sure your ERP provider also offers a knowledge base of information to support your employees. Pre-defined reference material, processes, help articles and FAQs can be a quick ‘lifeline’ for your team the moment they need answers.

Any new system of process will need your team to adapt, and it’s a factor for which you should be prepared. Get your team’s buy-in. Include them early on in the ERP implementation process. Spend the time you need on change management. And when your ERP implementation is complete, think about ongoing training to keep your team using the system to its full potential. The more effectively everyone is using your ERP software, the better ROI you can expect to see.

Develop and execute a communication plan

Keeping everyone on the same page about the progress of your implementation and key milestones is important. A good communication plan should:

  • Identify all stakeholders and make people accountable.
  • Outline the ERP implementation schedule and go-live date.
  • Detail all the various stages of your implementation and key milestones.
  • Provide information, such as FAQs, on the ERP system’s functionality.
  • Promote scheduled demonstrations and any testing requirements.

Allocate adequate time

There’s no getting around the fact that an ERP implementation needs time and resources to make it successful. So be sure to allocate what’s needed for your implementation requirements, to see that the process runs efficiently. A few tips to make this happen:

  • Letting stakeholders and your ERP implementation team know how many hours a week they should set aside for reviewing changes and updates, testing, training and helping to define any new processes.
  • Allow plenty of time to train users on the new system – during and after the implementation – so they can hit the ground running and continue maximising use of the system (and the ROI you’ll gain from it) after your implementation is live.
  • Don’t be afraid to re-set expectations – if unexpected factors arise during implementation, account for them in your implementation timeline and update stakeholders with new timeframes.

Getting it right

These 6 strategic steps can help you see ROI that targets savings and increases that the right ERP implementation can bring to your business. And all this leads to greater profitability.

Having an experienced implementation provider to work with you through the process can make all the difference. Be sure to ask the ERP provider you’re considering about the number of ERP implementations they’ve successfully completed. Look for customer testimonials to understand how the solution has worked for other businesses. Start preparing your ERP implementation checklist to make sure you’re taking all requirements into account. And when you’re ready, reach out to an ERP provider for a tailored demo that focuses on what you want to get out of the system.

So, what next?

Are you ready to reach out to a request a demo of an ERP system? Then we can help! Drop us a message here, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

3
Oct

ERP software comparison: how to plan the right choice

Have you ever been to the supermarket and found yourself paralysed by which one of four different types of tomatoes to throw in the basket? It can be astounding how many questions rush through your mind like, ‘Do I need diced, crushed or chopped?’, or, ‘Do I get the larger tin that’s better value or the smaller tin which looks like a higher quality brand?’.

It seems like there are so many options for as simple a task as just doing the shopping. So, what happens when you get to the important decisions like making an ERP software comparison between options that will run your entire business?

Choosing an ERP isn’t a task to be taken lightly.

It can mean the difference between dramatically improved business performance and profitability when getting it right, or getting stuck with more convoluted processes and decreased performance if it goes wrong. There are many different vendors, resellers and implementers out there, all pushing their own strengths. Which ones should you be paying attention to? Which are the top ERP systems to start researching? And how do you focus on your specific ERP solution needs to choose the ERP system that’s right for your business?

We’ve set out some straightforward considerations and steps to follow for choosing ERP software, and some questions you may not have thought about, that are sure to give you some food for thought.

Get your shortlist in order

Before starting your research for ERP solution advice and comparing vendors and providers, it’s a good idea to jot down the biggest problems or pain points you’re trying to solve. What kind of process inefficiencies is your business seeing right now? Are you using multiple systems which don’t talk to each other? Think about all the processes that are happening in your business each day – including inventory and order management, purchasing, CRM, sales and marketing, and accounting.

Consider running your shortlist past others in the business to help validate the importance of issues and uncover more opportunities for improvement. The most pertinent issues will soon reveal themselves and you can begin putting an order of importance to your list.

The first choice: traditional on-premise or modern cloud-based?

This is an important decision to make early on, as it will dramatically cut down the number of ERP options you need to compare and help crystallise what you’d like to gain from an ERP system. To touch on it briefly, choosing a cloud ERP simply means you’ll have an ongoing subscription to the vendor’s software. There’s no server equipment to set up as your system is accessed via a secure web interface.

There’s a lot of flexibility with cloud-based solutions as users can access the system securely from wherever they are. There’s no longer a need to be in the office to stay productive. You’ll also be able to add functionality as soon as you need it, and all software updates are managed for you automatically by the software vendor.

On-premise ERP solutions are the traditional set-ups which require servers and other equipment to be installed locally to run your ERP application. This is a non-issue if you already have a high level of existing IT infrastructure and skilled IT staff in-house to maintain and update equipment but can present a challenge for start-ups and small businesses due to larger up-front costs.

Security and data redundancy are aspects which also need to be carefully considered. Keeping equipment on your premises presents a certain level of risk which needs to be mitigated. Whether it’s the risk of physical intrusion or natural disaster, it’s important to plan for a variety of circumstances that will ensure business continuity and safety of your important business data.

Understanding all the costs involved

Whenever you speak with an ERP vendor or ERP implementation partner about costs, there are standard areas covered such as licenses, setup and implementation of the software, ongoing support and add-ons that can further enhance functionality where needed. But there’s still more that you’ll need to think about, such as:

Total implementation time

No matter how competitive a quote for an ERP implementation may seem, an implementation project that’s not executed efficiently can drag on interminably. There’s also a commitment from your business’ stakeholders during this phase, dedicating their own time and effort to the project. If they’re kept working through the setup for too long, it’s likely to cause implementation fatigue and slow down the process even more.

Find out if the implementation partner you’re looking to work with has a rapid implementation methodology. This is a positive sign that they’re experienced, organised and will keep the momentum going to see you going live and using the system sooner.

Training

Involving the key stakeholders from your business right from the start of implementation can be hugely beneficial. When they’re guided through the setup for their roles and responsibilities, they’ll become more confident in using the ERP once it’s in place. This reduces the need for additional training or extended time working system processes and usage after go-live.

They’ll naturally become the champions and help to drive enthusiasm throughout the business in using your new ERP system. They’ll also be able to help other users get familiar from the beginning, quickly raising the collective knowledge and expertise.

Physical equipment

This is largely restricted to on-premise ERP solutions, as cloud systems are designed to work on virtually any device with minimal specifications. The physical equipment requirements for on-premise systems often requires a much larger, up-front investment. It includes hardware such as servers, operating system software for those servers, backup devices, additional networking and other equipment needed to run your business software.

Many startups and small businesses don’t have this level of existing IT infrastructure, so be sure to find out about equipment requirements needed to run the ERP software you’re considering. It’s an additional cost that needs to be taken into account.

It’s all in the delivery

Once you’re ready to start engaging ERP providers, find out whether they can manage everything for you directly from supply of the software, right through to implementation and ongoing support. Some solution providers manage all implementation work in-house, which provides a greater level of direct quality control. Others may supply the licensing but use outsourced partners to manage the setup and implementation. You may even choose to use a specific implementation partner yourself if you’ve heard positive feedback about that partner.

The delivery of implementation plays a huge part to your ERP system’s success or failure. Regardless of whether it’s an ERP provider or a partner managing the implementation for you, find out how many resources they have, whether they’re locally based, and how many implementations they’ve completed to date. It’s important to have confidence in having experienced, knowledgeable resources setting up the software that will run your business.

It’s the same situation for ongoing support requirements. No matter how involved your stakeholders and staff are throughout the implementation, sooner or later they’ll need help with using parts of the system, new features and enhancements, or alternative processes that they haven’t seen before. Over time, businesses also see staff changes, which means having re-training needs. Does the ERP provider you’re considering have the resources to provide local support and training?

The proof is in the pudding

To wrap up the research process, and to give yourself reassurance that you’re choosing the right ERP solution, get across the success stories of other clients who have chosen the same solution. Have they made significant improvements to their business by using the software? Have they managed to reduce costs, grow their business and improve performance?

If you can’t easily find customer success stories on an ERP provider’s website, ask them to provide case studies, success stories or other material that provides proof of their solution for your type of business.

So, what next?

If you’ve got more to do than time to do it, then we need to talk. An ERP system is something that can not only help improve your business processes and make your business become much more efficient, it will also free up time so you and your staff can focus on other things in the business.

Get in contact with us today to see how we can help, by either dropping us a message here, or calling us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

20
Sep

How EPOS systems can improve employee management

Keeping on top of your employee reviews, training, incentives and day-to-day communications can be hard work, particularly when you have so many other tasks to juggle.

It can also cost you extensively in time and money. Yet, these processes are essential to the efficient running of your business and cannot be overlooked or ignored.

No one said running a business would be easy, but there are ways to simplify your working day. An EPOS system, for instance, is designed to help manage your team more efficiently, while also giving your staff the provisions and information they require to help make healthy business decisions day after day.

In order to say goodbye to poor staff management, it’s important to first realise the most common challenges suffered by business. Four extremely common management problems are experienced by companies of all shapes and sizes, from restaurants to retail outlets, and we’ve touched on these in more detail below.

Common employee management challenges

Now many of you may be a little confused, after all, doesn’t EPOS stand for Electronic Point of Sale, and isn’t it essentially an electronic way of letting people pay for goods or services? This is a common misconception, as yes, it is an electronic point of sale, but it can also help to improve your employee management significantly…the question is, how?

Challenge 1: accountability

The challenge here is that without close monitoring, it;s difficult to determine who is accountable for what. This can be troublesome should a problem occur, for example, if a payment has been processed incorrectly, you wouldn’t know which specific staff member to query the transaction with.

Solution: With the help of an EPOS system, each transaction is assigned to the employee who completed the checkout. Knowing that store transactions are closely monitored can deter both mishandling and also internal theft practices.

Challenge 2: setting an expectation

Poor transparency among your team can mean your colleagues are somewhat blind to the level of expectation you’ve set, or at least, they’re in need of a reminder. Lack of monitoring can result in standards slipping. Also, too often than not, employee objectives are set on insufficient or inaccurate information, which can result in businesses creating both unreasonable and uninspiring targets with little business value.

Solution: With each of your staff members working under the same EPOS system, you will be able to motivate staff by setting relevant goals. Such level of monitoring will encourage staff to thrive in their performance, resulting in higher levels of productivity amongst your workforce.

Challenge 3: career development

It’s not always easy to identify and reward your top performers, especially if you’re unsure of who they are. Without the use of up-to-date reporting, you’re likely to lose sight of who is generating large amounts of sales or who is falling behind in meeting his or her monthly quota.

Solution: With an EPOS system, you’ll be able to run sales performance reports which can help you to recognise your most reliable team members. You’ll be able to pinpoint who your highest performing employees are. Such statistics will enable you to determine who deserves recognition and praise for their ongoing hard work.

Challenge 4: staff training

There will always be that star pupil among your workforce who naturally performs to a higher standard than the others. But for those who are struggling and are in need of a helping hand, it’s important to implement the right level of training.

Solution: Now that your EPOS reports have helped you to identify your high performers, you can dig deeper into what makes these employees perform better, as this data can really enable you to get into the nitty gritty of your employee performance. As a result, you can adjust your staff training to help under-performers perform better.

How an EPOS can help aid employee management

Well, in the cases listed above i.e. accountability, setting expectations etc., an EPOS system can work wonders for your workplace. This is because it arms you with the essential facts and figures you need to gain better insight and set meaningful employee objectives that are both clear and measurable, all via valuable reporting tools.

It also provides the opportunity for you and your staff to gain better transparency of exactly what activity has taken place on a day-to-day basis. The record performance and results of such activities can help to indicate opportunities for career development and staff training, boosting morale amongst your team.

Monpellier can ensure that you have the sales and stock analysis you need to gain comprehensive management reports and information. This gives you greater control over your business and better insight into employee productivity and performance.

For more information on how EPOS can benefit your business, contact our friendly team at Monpellier today, by either dropping us a message here, or calling 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

4
Sep

Can ERP systems contribute to your competitive advantage?

With the rapid advancement of technology, SMEs need to transform the way they manage their business in order to stay competitive.

According to a survey conducted by Oxford Economics, 64% of SMEs are leveraging technology to outperform their peers; everything from social media, mobile-friendly software, cloud computing and big data.

Indeed many businesses that use enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications are transforming their business to stay ahead of competition with improved visibility, efficient operation, and the ability to capture vast amounts of data – data on things like sales, production, and inventory management.

The challenge remains to find a way to analyse this data more efficiently to gain actionable insight and outperform the competition. That’s where applications like MicrosoftSage and Pegasus comes in. In order to make sense of business data, SMEs are taking advantage of reporting and advanced in-memory analytics that ERP systems have to offer; increasing visibility and enabling fast and accurate analysis. What’s more is that they are doing this faster, easier and with more accuracy.

SMEs now have the option to leverage business information into valuable insight through an ERP solution. Every business hopes to receive some turnaround on their ERP investment. The name of the game is to make more money and trump your competitors, but in an era where just about everyone has an ERP system, standing out against the competition can be tough. If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage in your respective industry, the right ERP software can help.

Pick the right ERP system for your company

Despite the fact that many ERP solutions cover a lot of the same core functions, there are some differences to take note of that differ from industry to industry. It is crucial for your newly implemented ERP software to be industry specific to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. If you were in the business of manufacturing, you would never tell a professional service firm how to do business. The same goes for ERP systems.

Just because everyone else is working from the cloud doesn’t mean that it’s best for your business, and vice versa. Picking the right ERP software has everything to do with picking the right partner so that your organisation has the constant support and training that you need to be sure your needs are met.

Don’t waste money on customisations that won’t help you grow

While it may be tempting to go ahead and customise every aspect of your new system, first consider these system customisations are really going to make a difference in how you do business. Customising little things that don’t give you an advantage isn’t as necessary as using your customisations to fit areas that do. That being said, don’t be completely stingy with customisations either.

There is great value to be found in customising ERP. If your business has come up with a unique process that allows you to outshine your competitors, that is when you should customise your ERP to fit your model. Thoughtfully differentiating between the two will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

Take advantage of your ERP’s predictive capabilities

The use of real time analytics can be a great advantage for businesses using ERP software. This automated software enhances preventative maintenance and detects potential failure before the problem arises. Something that competitors without advanced ERP systems will continue to struggle with.

Your ERP’s predictive capabilities can allow users to pinpoint the location of potential errors so that you can eliminate the problem right off the bat. Thanks to many ERP collaborations, err can be essentially eliminated thanks to smart technology. Don’t get set behind by silly errors and mistakes, and use ERP to keep you ahead of the competition.

Improve planning, scheduling and execution

ERP systems like Microsoft, Sage and Pegasus have highly advanced manufacturing and planning modules that support the entire range of products from beginning to end. Execution modules give decision makers full access to data collection options and quality measures, while the scheduling module provides easy to read visuals of master schedules so that your planners can make accurate ‘what-if’ scenarios accordingly.

Meeting demand and rerouting potentially conflicting schedules only enhances conflict and error prevention, helping you to focus on the bigger picture. In a world where good and bad reviews can make or break a company via the internet in just a click of a button, it’s important to make sure that your ERP software works for you and not against you. Standing out against your competitors can be easy with ERP.

Gaining an advantage over your competition is as easy as finding the right ERP software and implementing it in a way that serves you best. For more information on how Sage and Pegasus could be the next best step to help your company gain a competitive advantage, either contact us here, or call 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

30
Aug

The importance of integrating your most important IT systems

Growth: it’s every retailers goal.

Whether it’s a small shop opening a second location across town or a big-box chain with stores numbering in the thousands, retailers of all stripes and sizes want their businesses to grow. When it comes to expanding operations, EPOS solutions do much of the heavy lifting. But not all EPOS systems are created equal.

There are key features and functionalities that particularly equip some EPOS systems to aid retailers on their path to growth and expansion – and an important feature is the ability for your EPOS system to integrate with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

When ERP meets EPOS

When your business integrates its ERP program with an EPOS system, then you’re dealing with a horse of a different colour. Today’s customers want options in everything. From ecommerce stores to brick and mortar stores and even shopping opportunities on social media, the consumer is a mobile animal.

Your business software must be able to keep up with the demands of your customers. It may be time to integrate EPOS capabilities with ERP functionalities. Even in traditional brick and mortar stores, an integrated EPOS/ERP system can keep them competitive by improving efficiency and providing them with a mobile presence to meet consumers’ changing demands.

EPOS software completes your transactions on the spot. It isn’t dependent on a computer console but is fully functional on a tablet or phone and offers the ease of a touch-screen. It can calculate a sale, including tax and delivery charges, and adjust inventory. This makes your sales staff more efficient, improve sales (and possibly their commissions) and tracks inventory levels in real time.

Integrating with the ERP means your front-office processes and your back-office operations can coordinate and play nicely together.

Good news…

With an integrated retail system in use, your business combines the front-end EPOS, inventory and stock management in the middle of the process, and accounting in the back-end. There may even be links with your supply chain partners. This means a streamlined process across all departments.

Specific advantages to integrating ERP and EPOS may include the following:

  • Information at fingertips: An integrated mobile EPOS system provides sales staff with immediate access to information they need to effectively close the deal. Customer information and purchase history help them make better recommendations, improving cross-sells and upsells.
  • Options: By integrating a mobile EPOS system with your ERP platform, you give your customers the same experience online as they get in your store. You can offer such features as order online and pick up in store.
  • Improved sales numbers: Integrating your mobile EPOS and ERP lets you close sales wherever you may be without the need for increased overhead associated with syncing customer information.
  • Customer satisfaction: Your customers will appreciate the more personal service they get when your sales representatives have the information they need to help build deeper customer relationships.
  • Inventory management: The back-office inventory control can let your front-office salesperson know when an item is available in another store so you never miss a sale. You can also get alerts of potential problems, such as a product going out of stock.

… and not so good news

As with everything in life, there is usually a downside. The most glaring argument against incorporating ERP/EPOS into your business platform is cost. These systems can be expensive to implement.

The counter argument is the old adage: you have to spend money to make money. Incorporating an integrated ERP/EPOS system can help take your business to the next level. With the many positives outweighing the cost outlay, smart business owners are getting on board with ERP/EPOS systems of their own.

Open for business

Open-platform EPOS systems offer many benefits and advantages for growing retailers, but one of the biggest is that an open API allows developers to integrate your EPOS and your ERP systems. ERP-agnostic EPOS systems enable data exchanged automatically among all store systems and applications, including accounting, inventory, ecommerce, promotions and CRM. This integration eliminates having to re-enter data, which is time-consuming and error prone.

With integrated EPOS and ERP at the core of retail IT, your store systems can integrate easily with third-party solutions. After all, no retailer wants to be left behind when competitors are getting ahead by adopting new tech as people-counting software that offers critical data on store traffic or digital signage that engages shoppers with bright displays on product information, promotions, videos and other content. And you want to be prepared for advances in technology that are around the corner such as augmented reality and virtual reality applications for brand immersion experiences.

In essence, an EPOS platform with an open API ensures your system is future-proof and can accommodate new directions your business may take. An EPOS system that is truly scalable is designed for whatever your business needs will be tomorrow.

Extensibility

Is your EPOS solution rigid or flexible? How often do you find yourself saying “I wish my EPOS could…?” Unfortunately, some EPOS platforms were built with a ‘walled garden’ approach. Truly scalable EPOS, however, lets retailers get their hands on the code and tweak it to their specifications when needed. Every retailer is different and as much as off-the-shelf EPOS software tries to accommodate all, many businesses demand a certain level of customisation in order to truly manage the nuances of their specific vertical, whether that’s the optical industry or the restaurant world. Truly scalable EPOS doesn’t hold you back from what you want it to do.

Going mobile

When you purchased your EPOS software, it’s entirely possible that mobile EPOS wasn’t a staple yet in retail. But now that handheld devices are downright commonplace among frontline retail store staff, you’re probably considering adding mobile EPOS to your operations. As retail continues to move towards a customer-centric approach, it’s increasingly important for sales-floor staff to have EPOS functionality at their fingertips.

The question is, however, does your entire IT system support mobility? Truly scalable EPOS, which integrates with your ERP system, can accommodate new modules and functionality, such as putting the software onto small form-factor devices and enabling sales associates to access customer data, update inventory from mobile EPOS, and conduct payment transactions that are automatically shared with the accounting program.

Whatever lies ahead

Maybe the next step for your business is as simple as incorporating additional EPOS terminals or onboarding new users. Or perhaps you have big plans to expand into new areas or even grow internationally. Working with a scalable EPOS system made possible by integrated EPOS and ERP makes all of this a straightforward, painless process. No matter how big or small your plans are, a purpose-built platform can scale along with you.

When considering an investment in new technology, be sure that the software meets your needs today – and is feature-rich to exceed your demands tomorrow. Insist on an ERP-agnostic, scalable EPOS system that will enable you to build a unified, powerful retail management system, positioning your business for growth and competitiveness in a fast-changing environment.

For any help and advice regarding either EPOS or ERP systems, we at Monpellier are here to help, so either contact us here, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 and speak to a Business Software Consultant.

14
Aug

How a professionally installed EPOS can help you get more

You’d be hard pressed to find a business these days without a dedicated EPOS system.

They’ve almost completely replaced traditional tills, but many businesses still don’t know how to make the most of them, or which EPOS system is the right fit for them and their customers.

When choosing a new EPOS system or upgrading from an older one, it’s important to look at what different systems are available and explore the many different ways they can be configured. A professionally installed EPOS system should make your business run smoother than ever before, helping with things like stock control, bookkeeping and the quality and efficiency of your service.

In fact, one of the most overlooked advantages of having a professionally configured EPOS system in place is how much it can benefit your workforce.

Keeping mistakes to a minimum

Whether you run a bar, restaurant or retail store, on of the trickiest things to deal with is human error. It happens to all of us from time to time, especially during long, busy shifts. While EPOS systems can’t actively stop somebody from making a mistake, they can dramatically reduce the chances of a mistake occurring.

A well configured EPOS system will have products laid out logically and neatly in categories and folders, with quick and easy access to items that normally go together – like gin and tonic or a burger with a side of fries. As well as products being easier to find, discounts and complicated offers can also be implemented across all terminals at the same time, so your staff can apply them quickly and easily without any confusion or risk of overcharging the customer.

Giving more ownership and responsibility to staff

With a professionally installed EPOS system, each staff member will have their own log-in for each terminal. This might be accessed through a magnetised key chain or a quick swipe with a card, or even a code they can use to manually log in each time. Such a system can let them start an order on one terminal and pick it up on another, and if something isn’t cashed off leaving you scratching your head at the end of a long shift – you know who to ask.

Increasing productivity

A good EPOS system will help your staff to avoid making mistakes and help you keep better control of stock and orders, but a great EPOS system will actively help your business to be more profitable by enhancing your productivity. For example, you could easily track individual staff members and see how many orders they’re putting through in a given one hour shift.

This might help you better prioritise their placement or organise shift patterns. What’s more, because staff are better able to find and process orders on the fly, their average service time should decrease – good news for your customers who won’t have to wait quite so long to enjoy their purchase.

However, we all know that it isn’t just about making your workforce happy, it is also about saving your business money in the short and long term.

As the way consumers pay constantly evolves, you need an EPOS system than can evolve with them. While a do-it-yourself approach might get you part of the way there, you leave yourself vulnerable to crashes, errors and downtime that can cost your business money. That’s where a professionally installed and maintained EPOS solution can pay dividends…

As technology advances and workplaces become more and more connected, the ways in which businesses handle their EPOS systems is evolving. We’re living in an increasingly cashless society, with card payments overtaking cash payments for the first time last year. From bars and restaurants to high street stores and takeaway, consumers want choice when it comes to parting with their hard earned money, and old POS systems simply won’t cut it.

Why getting the right EPOS system is essential

In 2018, you need to make sure your business is equipped with an EPOS system that cannot just handle card payments, but also contactless NFC features for things like Apple Pay, Android Pay and contactless card transactions. This goes doubly so for businesses who sell at low cost and high volume, like cafes and bars. More EPOS capability means faster transactions and more sales, rapidly increasing the productivity of your staff.

We’ve already touched upon the point that having an up-to-date EPOS system is important if you intend to grow your physical business, but for start-ups or existing businesses looking to modernise, it can be difficult to know where to get started.

The technology available today has made do-it-yourself EPOS systems perfectly viable, and many businesses have seen success using this method through trial and error. But how many startups have the resources to get such a complex system running, and how many have the bounceback ability to recover when something inevitably goes wrong? That’s where getting a professionally installed EPOS system really starts to make sense.

Why you should get your EPOS system professionally installed

A professionally installed EPOS system can be tailored to your individual business needs, whether you’re running a charity shop on the high street or you’re a landlord at the local pub. An initial set up would usually include all the products, pricing, promos and staff profiles you need, allowing you to concentrate on running your business.

They’re often cloud-cased with extensive back up capabilities so you’re always covered if anything goes wrong – particularly if you go with a local EPOS supplier who offer ongoing service and support like Monpellier. If there’s’a power outage or our system stops working for any reason, support will be no more than a quick phone call away.

Remember, an EPOS system should be an asset to your business rather than a burden; less downtime means more productivity and profitability for your business.

Getting a system professionally installed will also make it easier for you and your staff on shift. For example, at Monpellier we learn all we can about our customers before we implement the right point of sale solution for them, so you can be rest assured that your team will have everything you need to record sales and issue bills right from the get go. We’ll even show you how to update and programme the system yourself so you can easily add and remove products as well as change prices on the fly.

When all is said and done, an EPOS system is there to make your business run smoothly and make it easier to manage, both on a day-to-day basis and when managing the bigger picture. If you want to make the most out of your workforce, there’s no better way than getting an EPOS system professionally tailored to the individual needs of your business.

When it comes to choosing the right EPOS ssytem the choice is ultimately yours, but in order to stay ahead of the curve and keep your business running smoothly without interruption, a managed professional installation is definitely the way to go.

Want to get in touch with Monpellier? Whether you’re looking for a completely new EPOS system or just some help and advice on your current EPOS solution, we’re here to help. Call 0191 500 8150 or leave us a message today.

31
Jul

Key benefits of ERP in the construction industry

In today’s highly populated and constantly evolving world, infrastructure, architecture, technological advancements and development of a nation depend on well-planned construction facilities.

Where such fields face demands and challenges with regard to business management, transactions can be made simpler with the use of ERP in the construction industry.

Effective development of construction projects rely a great deal on strategic resource management and planning. Research proves that 30% of the unsuccessful projects have solely ended in disaster due to inadequacy in the aforementioned criteria.

Construction ERP software helps managers to devise comprehensive plans for successful civil engineering of projects from the onset of project work till the outcome, and during the entire construction lifecycle.

Here are eight key benefits of ERP in the construction industry:

Assimilation of data

When running an organisation, there are many forces simultaneously at play, which are required to be utilised in various work streams from time to time. Having a standardised work platform which combines these processes into a single storage system ensures that data is easily managed, thereby increasing the overall efficiency of the system.

The benefits of ERP in the construction industry include dynamic analysis of financial and operational data, which provides executives with more accurate and precisely calculated information in real-time. By using this data effectively, companies can track simultaneous operations and report and manage deficiencies across departments in a more effective manner.

Planning and analysis

Improper planning within the framework of an architectural firm has led to the substandard completion of projects and the downfall of many reputed global organisations. Enterprises incur heavy losses in the form of labour costs and loss of clientele due to untimely completion of targets. Delay in the delivery of projects due to a lack of planning also reflects poorly on the goodwill of an organisation.

An accurate analysis of raw materials required, effective utilisation of manpower, architectural design and contract management is essential for proper channelling of resources. Construction ERP software can be used to make allowance for collateral expenditure and financial budgeting of the assignment. This helps avoid unnecessary downtime and contractual complications with the client, throughout the duration of the project.

Streamlining of data

Latest service providers have started to come up with industry-oriented solutions where construction ERP software has started to become more project-oriented due to the demand for a system that can handle numerous tenders at the same time.

Larger construction companies handle more than one client at any given time, because of which exchange of information within the organisation can become quite tedious and confusing.

Having to manage and compile data for multiple assignments in the form on individual Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations becomes cumbersome for executives to process.

At the same time, using different software solutions for multiple operations leads to an ineffective exchange of information among departments of the same organisation. An ERP solution manages to kill both birds with a single stone.

Increased system efficiency

A centralised system helps increase efficiency by providing an overall view of the scenario prior to making decisions. Whenever employees are required to correlate information from different sources, an ERP solution assists in extracting data and providing relevant criteria that need compliance prior to closing a query.

For example, when deciding on a purchase order for a specific raw material, the budget report is handed over to the project manager, based on which the project manager refers to the engineering team and formulates the design of construction. Based on this design, the purchasing manager creates the purchase order which is finally screened by the accounting department prior to being passed.

The interdepartmental transfer and correlation of these reports, combined with back and forth changes as well as real-time monitoring of the entire process would be nearly impossible without having an efficient ERP solution in place.

Estimation of construction cost

More construction companies work on a contractual basis with their clients. Prior to acquiring the tender for a project, these firms are required to bid for the project with their cost estimations.

Since different clients have different priorities, the most suitable bid is chosen based on the design submitted, the reputation of the company and most importantly, the cost feasibility to the customer.

A majority of construction projects continue to develop over a span of a couple of years. Therefore, planning expenses for such projects must be carried out keeping in mind the overhead liabilities that may be incurred in the future.

An ERP can be used to determine an accurate estimation, so that the actual cost does not deviate much from the projected cost of the undertaking.

Diversity of business processes

An all-encompassing ERP solution divides business processes into various modules. With the industry becoming more and more aware of ways to improve stability, risk management, cost effectiveness and other operational facets, construction enterprises have had to encounter restrictions at every step of the way.

This had led to the bifurcation of construction ERP software into diversified modules such as architectural designing, contract management, project phasing, inventory management, marketing and HR management and accounting and financial management. This not only helps in better handling of the processes, but also organises regulatory compliance of the system.

Effective communication

For better management of operations, it is necessary for effective communication channels to exist between employees. An ERP solution being equipped with in-built chat forums and other communication capabilities to provide the perfect platform for executives to communicate internally, irrespective of the location of where work is being carried out.

Execution of marketing strategies

The end goal of any construction enterprise is to deliver quality work and acquire as many reliable clients as possible. Without the existence of construction ERP software, contractors would have a hard time implementing marketing strategies to effectively handle customers, projects and outsourced employees.

In order to consistently increase market productivity, it is crucial that long-term strategies are installed in place and executed from time to time.

Conclusion

Every business must assess the information collated after careful scrutiny of the market demands and possibilities of growth. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the magnitude of positive outcomes with the use of ERP in the construction industry, in comparison to the hindrances that can appear as major blocks in the path to success without the ease of project planning and data management.

ERP is the on-stop software solution for all your business demands if you’re looking to make an imprint in the world of construction in today’s competitive times.

Sound interesting? If you would like to see which ERP package would suit your business needs and processes, get in contact with us, or call 0191 500 8150 to speak to one of our friendly Business Software Consultants.

19
Jul

How to select an implementation partner for your software solution

If your organisation is considering a replacement or upgrade for your business software solution, you will have to make two of your most important business decisions.

If yours is like most firms, you’ve spent plenty of time deciding on the best solution; now it’s time to choose the right partner. Because choosing the right partner is as important as choosing the right software, here are some important recommendations,

Insist on specific industry experience

It’s crucial that the partner you choose has not only knowledge but a depth of experience working with firms in your industry. They need now only to know the software and how it functions, but they need to understand your specific challenges, business processes, regulations and anything else unique to your industry and they way you operate.

Be specific when you interview a partner – ask specifically about your sub-industry (e.g. not financial services, but wealth management). Different approaches and processes are involved, so ask about their team’s experience in your field and always ask for and check client references.

Don’t judge by size

Bigger is better, right? Not necessarily. You might assume that bigger companies have the most experience and reliability. But be aware that size comes with its pros and cons. Larger companies often have more bureaucracy, and often it takes longer to get anything done. A simple request can slow down the whole process while they pursue everyone’s approval. Look for a partner that is large enough to support your needs, but small enough to be efficient.

Larger companies often have standardised solutions and don’t allow for thinking outside the box. You may be pressured to do things their way or be charged extra for a customised solution. Look for a partner that embraces your vision and thinks creatively to give you the exact solution you want.

Larger companies often have less leeway when determining cost. A nimble partner can work with you on meeting your budget, and they can make strategic decisions about their people and their clients. Look for a partner that is focused on doing what’s right for you and within your budget and for whom your success is a priority.

A large organisation might offer you more than you need and charge you for it. Does you project really need a consulting director, a project manager, a consultant and a development resource? Maybe, but perhaps you have qualified people internally who can fill one or more of those roles? Look out for hidden, unnecessary costs.

If you’re no a ‘big’ client (often well into the millions of pounds), you are going to share resources with other clients, and you may not be a priority. Look for a partner that focuses on working with firms of your size – and solutions required by firms of your size. Look for a partner that treats you like you are their biggest client, even if you aren’t.

Don’t ignore the human factor

You may sometimes have been forced to work with someone you didn’t see eye-to-eye with or even someone you didn’t particularly like or respect. But don’t choose someone like that as a technology partner. You can minimise stress and possible complications if you work well together as a team.

You’ll want your culture and business approach to align with those of your partner. If not, you risk the success of your entire project. Look for a partner that plays well with your team and insist on meeting with those who will work on your project. Don’t assume you know the implementation team because you’ve met the sales team. The sales team will not be working on your project.

Remember, the choice of partner can make the difference between success and failure of your software replacement or upgrade. Know what to look for and choose a partner for success.

Any leader considering an ERP solution is likely very familiar with the benefits, and possibly heard the success stories shared by those from other companies:

  • Automated tasks and increased productivity
  • Streamlined processes and efficiency
  • Created more accurate forecasts
  • Forecasted interdepartmental collaboration
  • And the list goes on…

Identical to implementing any new software, one of the biggest hesitations for those considering an ERP solution is the disruption caused during the planning and implementation stage. The reality is, like almost any business improvement, it’s impossible to make a change without investing some time and effort into its success.

Implementing an ERP solution is like remodelling your home while you’re still living in it.

If you don’t tell the designer what you want, don’t work with the contractor throughout the process to provide input and address small changes along the way, and don’t test the new appliances or smart devices until long after everyone has packed up and left, the end result is likely to be a disappointment.

Although ERP solutions can produce some of the largest benefits, they can also be more painful than other software projects. With many moving pieces and the risk of impacting current and future operations, ERP implementations are more often complex and robustly managed.

If not managed correctly, parts or all of the implementation can fail. According to a recent study by analytics firm Gartner, almost 75% of all ERP projects will fail in some way. There are several reasons why:

  • Ambiguous requirements
  • Limited availability of key stakeholders
  • Miscalculation of budget and timeline
  • Team adaptability and training
  • Inadequate testing

Often, we are invited in by companies going through a failing ERP implementation. One or more factors mentioned above are the reason for that. Strong project management and sound functional and technical expertise are critical, but above all having the right mindset is the key. There are two important mindsets to achieve success.

Mindset 1: the journey is as important as the goal

Let’s say you are planning to take a holiday to an amazing destination like Hawaii. You most likely will pack for the nice warm weather, bring sunscreen, a bathing suit etc. If you are a diligent planner, you will also plan for the journey and include snacks or something to occupy your time in the airport.

What if the flight is significantly delayed due to bad weather? If you packed an extra pair of clothes in the carry-on, or included battery backups, you’d be much better off than most of the other passengers. If you thought even further ahead and secured travel insurance, that would put you in an even better position.

An ERP implementation is obviously much more complex than planning a holiday. Moreover, the stakes are much higher. Given this, why do we focus almost exclusively on the destination (the end goal) and not prepare for the journey itself? With so many variables and even the most well-thought-out procedures, we know that things will not go exactly as planned and, like bad weather or mechanical issues impacting a flight, we should be prepared to address the issues that arise.

Recognising this, we can choose to have a mindset to focus more and enjoy the journey.

With many years experience, we have seen that ERP implementation teams (including ERP partners) focus too much on the end goals and not enough on the journey. With some success criteria such as a budget, defined timeline, KPIs, specifics of what needs to be built or implemented, etc., the journey begins and project plans and milestones are laid down. How many times does the original goal – due to situation, budget, timeline, scope, resources, or something else, change during a project execution?

In our experience the goal invariably changes. Due to various reasons, we deviate from the original goal. And that is where things start going south. Out of necessity, you must communicate the change and re-plan the project. Then the project change/risk-related problems start. This is an issue only because everyone was focused on the goals and not the journey.

How do we become better prepared?

  • Like Murphy’s Law, assume that the ERP implementation will not be a walk in the park. When things go south, look for opportunity.
  • Live in the present. This will help drive innovation. Under the stress of unrealistic deadlines, we have not seen many innovative solutions created, just ‘good enough’ solutions that will meet the deadline and not necessarily far surpass expectations.
  • Always have your emergency kit ready. You have this because you planned for it!

Mindset 2: always think of ways to empower your employees

ERP systems are designed as bottom – up systems, thereby bringing transparency to the organisation. That means if all the transactions, such as purchase orders, sales orders, production orders, invoices etc. are entered correctly, then your top numbers will match and every report will be accurate. ERP systems will not work properly, nor bring the greatest benefits and improvements, if employees are not motivated to use the new system or, sometimes worse, not trained properly to use it.

This is why it is critical for your ERP implementation team to go above and beyond to ensure all users are empowered not only once the implementation is complete, but also during the implementation journey.

It is critical for the ERP implementation team to assess how they can make their users’ lives easier not just as part of the implementation, but also during the journey itself.

Pain is temporary, profits are permanent.

Remember when considering an ERP solution, or starting an implementation, that adopting these two mindsets will help you. your company and your users as well. The more deliberate the journey, the more exciting the destination is.

If you’re ready to choose the right partner to deliver you not only the best implementation, but the best journey as well, contact us here, or call us on 0191 500 8150 and speak to a Business Software Consultant to see if we’re a good fit for your business.

10
Jul

How ERP solutions address problems of an SME

In today’s globalised world, SMEs in manufacturing are grappling with many challenges to remain competitive and relevant.

With limited time, resources, skills and budget, there is a growing need to demonstrate and derive value from every investment made.

Many SMEs in manufacturing may not know the value of technology in addressing some of these challenges. Those that do usually worry about the enormous costs of acquiring and running these technologies. Poor decision making in IT investments can have a critical impact on the profitability and sustainability of any business.

In reality, some of these businesses may be making money. So why do they need to invest in automating processes? If as a business owner you want to save time, accelerate your response time to problems and customer queries, plan ahead with real-time data, mitigate wastage and keep the frown lines off your brow, then you definitely need to automate your business processes. A good way to do this for SME manufacturers is deploying an ERP solution.

While some might be informed on the concept of ERP software and what it can do for them, there is definitely a section of business owners who would like to start with the most basic question…

What is ERP?

Let us take a step back and look at all the processes that are central to running a business such as purchasing, production, marketing, invoicing, managing inventory, human resource management, customer relations management, accounting and more.

At the basic level, ERP integrates all of these processes into one seamless system giving you real-time information which is a necessity to survive cut-throat midmarket competition. It also means boosting your sales and customer satisfaction rate by having real-time data and avoiding delays spent scouting for scattered records.

Further, it increases business intelligence support for quick, dynamic decisions and adjustments whenever necessary. Having too many software solutions for different processes can add to the bureaucracy of management in the crucial growing years. ERP systems help to centralise all of these processes.

Did you know that SME businesses hold over 95% of the market and regulate 70% of employment? However, only 50% of businesses survive in the market and the rest just don’t remain in the competition and are shut down.

The recent era of advanced technology has drawn the attention of customers towards better quality and more innovative plus customer-centric products. Therefore, more and more manufacturers are now moving towards ERP implementation for automating their business.

With an ERP, small businesses can focus on core business operations and its productivity that helps to improve profit margins and reduce operational costs. A competitive edge is achieved by streamlining and automating day-to-day activities. Let’s take a look at the five most common problems an SME faces, and how an ERP solution can help to address them.

Problem 1: Manual Data Processing

Small businesses rely on manual data entries and get stuck in manual data logging methods. Manual entries may lead to data redundancy and time wastage. Also, human negligence results in unsuccessful data keeping.

But an ERP integrates all information into a single system which provides business immediate access to key data like financials, sales forecasts, purchase activities and inventory levels, thus, providing a holistic view of your business operations.

With an ERP, you get increased accuracy, information empowerment and improvement in the overall health of your business.

Problem 2: Intense Competition

Competition is everywhere and businesses – small or big – are under it’s impact. Due to unavailability of all resources and tools and unplanned strategies in the business process, small businesses lack this advantage. They need specialised tools to deal with big businesses and maintain a place in the marketplace.

An ERP provides important information related to reduction in operational and administrative costs. Also, an ERP helps to monitor and control business operations to execute business plans effectively.

With an ERP, you get better decision making, streamlining of overall business activities, improvement in quality, customer retention and cost reduction.

Problem 3: Inaccurate Scheduling

For every manufacturing business, effective scheduling is the most important key to inculcate better scheduling when data is the tool. In absence of real-time data, a lot of time is spent in preparing schedules for the shop floor which are erroneous too.

With an ERP, you get real-time analysis of demand and supply of the materials, efficient production plans based on demand, supply, resource availability, various lead times, and accurate procurement plans eliminating the chance of over or under supply.

Problem 4: Poor Customer Service

Taking care of customer satisfaction is a prime factor to develop a long-lasting business. Showing customers a caring approach could help you in your business growth, but what if you fail your deliveries or do not respond back to customer queries?

Your business will lose customers and eventually you will notice a reduction in your sales. ERP helps in providing instant access to get your sales staff which helps them in making true commitments that can be fulfilled in the specified time genre.

With an ERP, you get instant information access for your customers about accurate updates and deliveries of the product item, resolution to all customer queries by gaining real-time access to the data and information regarding cancellations of refund procedures.

Problem 5: Meeting Quality and Statutory Guidelines

For every business, meeting quality and statutory guidelines is necessary. A compliant business can keep the risk of fines, penalties and lawsuits to function smoothly. However, the small businesses find it difficult to meet the regulatory needs.

An ERP helps by providing visibility to the entire product flow, starting from material receipt, production process to the supply of finished goods, helping manufacturers to track the product across the supply chain.

With an ERP, you get quick report generation of all materials and their details, bi-directional traceability of products starting from raw material. Intermediates to finished goods, easy tracking of faulty materials and production tracking on multiple parameters.

With and without ERP

Features Traditional Methods ERP Implementations
Ease of Integration

No integration, seeks out each and

every business activity individually.

Integrates all business activities

in a systematic manner.

Business Intelligence

Scrambling your mind to bring out a

decision with no surety of its aptness.

Allows making informed and

data-centric decisions.

Database Management

Data managed unsystematically through

the use of manual data logging methods.

Data is kept in systematic records

which are easily accessible with real

time visibility.

Flexibility

No flexibility, sticks to old primitive

methods.

Accepts to all new changing trends,

challenges and laws.

Ease of Communication

Lacks communications and develops

misunderstanding between departments.

Collaborated workforce becomes the

new identity of businesses that run

on ERP.

Cost Effectiveness

Manual data handling can lead to surplus

or deficit inventory level which can cause

increase in overhead costs.

ERP maintains optimum inventory

levels that help in controlling costs.

Security

The possibility of data theft,

manipulations or misuse is quite high.

Enhanced security features with role

based permissions ensure complete

security.

Reporting

Manual data analysis can lead to wrong

planning which results in degraded

business performance.

Effective reports can be created and

analysed in order to create effective

future strategies.

Supply Chain

Manual methods can lead to compliance

and unmanaged supply chain cycle.

Improvises supply chain management

by integrating all business processes.

Tips to create a successful plan and eliminate business challenges

  • Take your business decisions wisely considering all the pros and cons of the output.
  • Be consistent and stick to your business routines.
  • Implement an ERP software to manage all your day to day operations.
  • Make innovation your company value.
  • Manage your employees at every level.
  • Regularly share information within all the departments.
  • Understand market requirements and gather information accordingly to create strategy.
  • Never ignore the sales performance calculations.
  • Analyse the past pitfalls and plan a strategy to never repeat them again.

Old ways will never open new doors”

To grow your business, implement an ERP and ditch those primitive business methods that deliver the same output.

We, at Monpellier, understand all your business needs and help you integrate all your business processes under one platform. We can help you meet all the challenging trends through faster innovation, better compliance, effective planning, controlled costs, reduced wastage and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Get in contact with us here today to organise a free business consultation and demonstration, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

5
Jul

Why one-size-fits-all ERP systems are not the future

Any ERP system, at its core, is a collection of applications that perform tasks related to verticals like finance management, inventory management, human resource management and more.

Due to the seemingly generic nature of ERP software, some organisations rely on systems that operate on a common platform, and are supposed to cater to the needs of different industries.

Why does the one-size-fit-all trend exist?

Many best practices are common across industries. Some ERP vendors develop and market their application suites basing them on these standards. Key benefits are that it’s less expensive for a vendor to develop a generic system and they will likely benefit from volumes.

Problems caused by one-size-fits-all ERP solutions

Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all ERP software suite is rarely sufficiently reliable because the applications are simply not designed keeping in mind individual, organisational requirements. Some applications may not be suited to handle the unique needs of an organisation at all, and even those that may be are unlikely to uncover all your core business processes and will, therefore be fragmented and inefficient. Ultimately, it’s a case of wasted resources, time and money. We’d go so far as to say continued reliance on a one-size-fits-all ERP system can be very bad for business.

A generic ERP tool can restrict your organisation’s workflow and slow down growth and innovation. Problems can surface when it’s time to scale up and diversify. A tool offering a blanket solution is rigid and hampers progress because it cannot support the agility most businesses need to help them grow.

While picking specifics up front might seem like a daunting task, making the right ERP choice to suit your specific needs doesn’t need to be hard.

Choosing the right ERP solution for you

We’ve said this many times before, and we’ll reiterate it, start any selection process with careful deliberation to avoid the risks associated with a generic tool. If your organisation is clear about its goals, that’s a good first step. While choosing an ERP solution, establish the capabilities of the product as well as the solution provider.

Make sure the tool offers most of what you require out of the box. This translates to reduced customisation later. Ensure your ERP vendor has experienced delivering ERP solutions specific to your industry. A vendor who has provided ERP solutions for the manufacturing industry, for instance, understands the unique requirements of the industry better than a company that has a solution geared to manufacturing that they offer to customise.

The advantages of an industry-specific ERP tool

An industry specific tool is more likely to accomplish a task using fewer resources and in less time than a -one-size-fits-all tool.

It will also require little or no customisation before it can be deployed.

When your organisation grows, an industry-specific solution will be able to handle changes with greater efficiency. This makes your job easier and less time-consuming.

In comparison, a generic tool can slow your organisation down to a crawl. Sometimes, even when it’s tailored to your requirements, the heavy customisation in itself can become a bottleneck.

Choosing a suitable ERP solution and deploying it requires the guidance of experts who are familiar with integration and change management, but how to you determine when your business is ready for a new ERP system?

Making the move to an ERP system is a major milestone in any company, signifying a certain level of success and growth. To ensure your company can continue on that growth and success trajectory, making the move to an ERP is key. Understandably though, making the transition to an ERP can be rife with concern. Before you make a move, it is vital to understand your business needs now and in the future. If you think your business may be ready for an ERP, ask yourself the following questions:

Are your current systems able to connect all departments in all locations?

Are all of your current business systems fully integrated or do you find that each department is functioning within a silo? What may have worked in the past when your company first started, consisting of only a handful of employees all working out of the same location, may no longer fit the bill.

If your business has grown and now you have multiple locations, with multiple systems and limited integration, it becomes increasingly difficult to work effectively as a team. ERP software is designed to help the flow of internal business processes and allow for communication between the various business departments and their internal functions and data.

Are your processes consistent across the business?

Along with having software systems that are fully integrated, a successful, growing organisation needs to have consistent processes across the business. As your organisation has grown, it may have accumulated and adopted a wide range of work practices and procedures. Moving to a global set of standards will help your business work more efficiently. An ERP system can support this move and ease the adoption of processes across the business.

Are your staff productive?

Are your staff spending time on manual processes that could (and should) be automated? Do they have to call or email each other to determine stock availability or to track customer orders? Are you missing sales because it takes too long to get an accurate reading on your inventory? ERP systems can increase productivity by automating processes and providing consistent information on orders, sales and inventory.

Are your staff in sync?

How many times has this happened: sales have sold more stock than you have; sales blames operations for not having enough inventory, and operations blames sales for over-selling and not informing them soon enough? This leads to unhappy customers, lost sales, and frustration among your employees. This type of disconnect is one of the major reasons why businesses need an ERP solution.

Are your reports accurate and reliable?

If it is taking consistently more time to check and reconcile the number within your business, then it is taking longer to make important business decisions. ERP systems provide real-time insight into the state of your financials, so you can make better business decisions faster.

It takes some introspection to determine your company’s readiness for an ERP. However, knowing that your business is ready for an ERP system helps make the investment more palatable, and the transition smoother.

For more information on other advantages of using an ERP, how your company can benefit from this software, and how to get assistance in picking an ERP system that is right for your business needs, contact us here, or call us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to one of our Business Software Consultants.

3
Jul

How ERP systems can increase a business’ operational efficiency

Every business wants to get ahead of the competition and increasingly looks to innovative ways of achieving effective solutions that cut costs but retain a smooth-running, efficient organisation.

Many businesses are turning to ERP systems to increase operations efficiency by integrating organisational systems into a single program.

ERP is a software solution comprised of a variety of modules that link departmental data and information together with real time updates. Businesses can choose the modules most relevant to their needs and add more as they develop and expand further.

Management Integration

ERP enables its users to join up multiple areas of the business into one program and allows managers to have access to an overall database that covers client information, orders, invoices and figures. The users, who will require high quality training on the system, can update changes and then implement them in real time. Information is accurately stored and will not get lost across other applications or spreadsheets.

Cost Benefits

With industries constantly examining ways to cut costs but maintain efficiency, ERP can bring significant cost benefits to all sectors. Using ERP means that managers can make considerable reductions in costs relating to inventory and administrative mistakes. With information available to be exchanged across all levels, communications between all departments is made much easier. As each department is able to access a central database, the cost associated with multiple data centres is diminished, with both time and money saved.

Operating costs can also be reduced using an ERP solution. The program works to merge all aspects of the business into one central system, allowing businesses to improve their processes and cut down on waste or unprofitable areas. By increasing organisational efficiency, ERP not only helps decrease operating costs but can also reduce control and inventory costs as well as costs incurred in help desk support and marketing.

Strategic Planning

ERP can help managers as a strategic planning resource, allowing them to pinpoint their target market and define exactly what their aims and objectives are. In terms of day-to-day activities, the software gives quick and easy access for managers to get the information required for better decision-making.

Financial Controls

With finance at the heart of every organisation, managers need to keep a close watch on how the financial department is operating. ERP gives management comprehensive visibility into the department’s performance, so the functioning of accounts can be viewed with full integration of business analytics. By keeping on top of the financial situation there are opportunities to boost organisation profitability and to improve financial controls and risk management.

Organisational Performance

The creation of a single system allows management to drill down to see how efficient and productive individual employees are, using precise, accurate data from each department. As a result, organisational performance together with staff efficiency can be increased.

An Effective Solution

When ERP is rolled out across an organisation, and provided it is implemented correctly, it has the ability to transform the operational, financial and human resources aspect of any business.

As you can gather from the above, companies at the forefront of innovation are looking to implement ERP to reduce internal costs, improve processes and increase efficiency across the organisation.

So, if you still need some persuasion that now might be the time you need to implement an ERP system, we’ve compiled 15 of the most common benefits of an ERP system that companies have reported after implementation.

Competition

It’s true that ERP software requires a major investment, but there’s also an even bigger cost in not making the investment. While some businesses choose to stick to the tried and true methods of the past, others seek technology solutions. Companies cannot afford to put off an ERP implementation while their competition invests in ERP and starts reaping the many benefits we’ll touch on below.

Efficiency

An ERP solution eliminates repetitive processes and make it easier and more efficient for companies to collect data, no matter what department they’re working in.

Forecasting

Enterprise resource planning software gives your users, and especially managers, the tools they need to create more accurate forecasts. Since the information within ERP is as accurate as possible, businesses can make realistic estimates and more effective forecasts.

Collaboration

Nobody wants to run a siloed business with each department functioning separate from the other. Collaboration between departments is a crucial and often unnecessary part of the business. With the data entered into ERP systems being centralised and consistent, there’s no reason why departments can’t work together. The software also touches on almost every aspect of a business, thus naturally encouraging collaborative, interdepartmental efforts.

Scalability

Did you know structured ERP systems allow the addition of new users and functions to grow the initially implemented solution over time? When your business is ready to grow or needs more resources, enterprise resource planning software should be able to facilitate that growth.

Integrated Information

No more issues with data spread across separate databases; all information will be housed in a single location. This means you can integrate platforms like your CRM software or EPOS with the ERP system, keeping data consistent, accurate and unique. Know your customer, their orders, and your inventory, all in one place.

Cost Savings

With one source of accurate, real time information, ERP software reduces administrative and operations cost. It allows companies to proactively manage organisations, prevents disruptions and delays, breaks up information logjams and helps users make decisions more quickly. If you’ve chosen the right solution for your business, and the right vendor who meets your needs, you’re bound to see powerful ROI.

Streamlined Processes

As companies grow, their operations become more and more complex. ERP software automates business operations cross-departmentally, providing accurate, real time information to everyone utilising the solution. ERP increases efficiency and productivity by helping users to navigate complex processes, preventing data re-entry, and improving functions such as production, order completion and delivery. Streamlined, efficient processes throughout.

Mobility

An advantage of ERP solutions is having access to a centralised database from anywhere you work. Home, office, wherever, through cloud-based ERP software solution and application.

Reporting

ERP software helps make reporting easier and more customisable. With improved reporting capabilities, your company can respond to complex data requests more easily. Users can also run their own reports without relying on help from IT, saving your users time to use towards other projects.

Productivity

Save time and increase productivity levels. Sound too good to be true? It’s not with ERP software. By having redundant processes automated, users have more time to work on other pressing projects and tasks. They’ll also be able to work easier since the solution was designed for ease of use.

Regulatory Compliance

A benefit of ERP software which sometimes goes unnoticed is how it ties well into regulatory compliance within a number of different industries. Powerful ERP solutions will keep track of regulations within the industry and monitor changes in compliance.

Flexibility

Modern ERP software systems are robust, flexible and configurable. They are not a one-size-fits-all proposition but can be tailored to the unique needs of a business. ERP systems also can adapt to the ever-changing needs of a growing business, ensuring you won’t have to buy a new solution once your needs change or your business grows.

Customer Service

It’s easier to provide high-quality customer service using an enterprise solution, especially when you’re using one as well-equipped as some of the solutions out there, such as Pegasus or Sage. Sales and customer service people can interact with customers better and improve relationships with them through faster, more accurate access to customer’s information and history. You’ll also have access to marketing automation, ensuring your customers can be interacted with constantly.

Security

Data security isn’t a worry when you have an enterprise resource planning solution in place. A new system will improve the accuracy, consistency, and security of data, all through built-in resources and firewalls. Restrictions to data can also be enhanced by managers of the solution, so you can make your own software as secure as you like.

Convinced? Ready to learn more or just to have questions? Contact us here today or call us on 0191 500 8150. Our Business Software Consultants are ready and willing to answer all your questions and help you get started on selecting the right solution for your business.

28
Jun

Covering all your bases: the importance of ERP training

Imagine this situation: your family needs a second car because one vehicle just can’t get everyone where they need to go. So, you undertake the extensive research and finally decide upon a fuel efficient yet powerful model. You decide the best way to inform your other family members of this purchase is by surprising them with the keys.

However, the one thing you don’t do is give them the owner’s manual. Maybe they don’t know how to drive, or they’re not familiar with how this model works. In any event, the fantastic new car sits in the driveway. You’re bewildered – why isn’t anyone using it?

Now replace ‘car’ with ‘ERP system’.

When no one knows how to use your new ERP system, it will remain under or unutilised, no matter how user-friendly it’s supposed to be. Read on to learn why providing end user training for ERP systems is a crucial part of your implementation.

You won’t use it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

We’ll go back to the example of the new car purchase. Maybe your family members understand that the purchase of the car is important because it will help them get to where they need to go faster, but if they don’t understand how to operate the vehicle, they can’t use it. Perhaps some of them don’t believe they need a car in the first place – maybe they’ve got a bike or they rely on the bus. Why do they need a new car?

End user training for an ERP system solves that problem. It teaches users how to use the system and explains why it’s important. Your employees might be using workarounds now that they believe makes their jobs more efficient or easier, though that’s because they’ve never had a solution that works as well as an ERP system. When your employees understand how to use an ERP system, they’ll gain insight into how it helps them carry out their jobs.

Don’t sacrifice ROI

The example of the car purchase works in this case because of the principle of ROI. If your employees aren’t utilising an ERP system because they don’t understand it, or they don’t see the need for it, you’re not going to see very much (or any) ROI on this technology.

How upset would you be if you saw a beautiful new car sitting on your driveway, its internal workings becoming gummed up due to lack of use? While your ERP system won’t experience the same problems because no one is using it, it will be the same waste of money.

There are some business leaders who believe that their employees are capable enough to figure out how to use an ERP system on their own without needing any kind of training. That mindset is costly. Even the most user-friendly ERP system requires some user training to ensure that they understand how it works.

Don’t look at end user training as an unnecessary cost. It’s the last step in your ERP implementation and arguably one of the most important.

As you can see from the above, ERP training should be one of the top priorities when planning an ERP implementation.

Before the implementation even begins, training should be outlined and planned, and some training should be started. As the implementation progresses, so should the training, and it should continue even after the implementation is complete.

Training leads to success

Many organisations believe that users will adapt to the system after it’s in place, and therefore, training doesn’t need to be such a high priority. Consider this: more than half of the organisations that believe users will adapt with a minimum of training end up with an ERP system that is underused and, in some cases, fails completely. Training is considered one of the top five most important factors for achieving ERP implementation success.

Well-trained users are most productive

By some estimates, well-trained ERP users reach required skill levels in about a quarter of the time it takes users who have received only minimal training – if the less trained users ever  actually get to full proficiency. In most cases, those users who are not trained well will use only the most basic aspects of the system and default to the more manual processes with which they’re more comfortable. Well-trained ERP users, however, are sometimes as much as five times more productive and capable of gaining all the value the system has to offer.

Training helps reduce costs

Remember those lesser-trained users who revert to the old way of doing things? Those users are costing the organisation far more than what the company would have paid to train those users, because manual processes are more time-consuming, and undertrained users could waste a lot of time getting help from peers or help desk personnel. Training users to take full advantage of an ERP system with a minimal amount of help, however, can help them be more proficient and more effective at tasks, freeing them – and those who may have been stuck helping them – to spend time on higher-value activities.

Training helps improve quality

We’ve already established that users who don’t receive sufficient training often revert to the old manual processes. Unfortunately, those processes often riddled with mistakes. To compound the problem, when some users or processes are on the old system and others are on the new system, data tends to be degraded, duplicated or just plain wrong. Training helps ensure that all users are using the same data, and it reduces the risk of human error in processes that can be automated. The result is better-quality data and processes with less likelihood of incorrect or duplicated data instances, which improves quality overall.

Training can reduce attrition

The stress level of users who are poorly trained is often cited as the reason those employees move on to another job. That presents two problems. First the knowledge existing employees take with them can be invaluable; second, new employees must now be trained. Users who don’t have proper training will reject the ERP system, creating a vicious cycle that often leads to employee attrition. In contrast, great training helps employees feel competent and valuable. They may enjoy their jobs more and are less likely to see greener pastures with other organisations.

Even though it’s common knowledge that ERP training is essential, many organisations still wait until the last minute to consider a training program. That strategy could lead to failure of the ERP system at worst, and unhappy employees at best. Put a training plan in place early. It’s the one way to be sure you’re getting the most from your ERP system.

For more information about support and training for your ERP system, get in touch with us here, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 to speak to one of our friendly Business Software Consultants.