Tag: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

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16
Apr

Connect and Grow with D356 Business Central

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Specifically designed for small to medium-sized businesses, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an all-in-one management solution with a very desirable price point (from £52.80 per user/ month). Similar to Microsoft’s previous offering, Nav, D365 Business Central is an easy to use cloud (or on-premise) solution that draws all your systems together.

 

Essentials Licence: What’s included?

Financial Management  – D365 Business Central includes all the basic features you have come to expect from an ERP system including; general ledger functionality, audit trails, bank management, budgets, deferrals, bank reconciliation, fixed assets and currencies.

Business Central can also help manage inventory costs and operational and departmental budgets. The look and feel is similar to that of Office 365 and you can dive deep into your data by integrating applications such as Power BI.

Customer Relational Management – Although it doesn’t contain the complete D365 CRM, Business Central does contain core CRM features that can help your business organise sales efforts. The functionality to record, manage and segment contacts based on a number of criteria is seamless and works with the full Office 365 suite.

NB – if you are looking for a complete CRM solution with all the bells and whistles, Business Central can be easily integrated with Dynamics 365 for Sales.

 

Supply Chain Management – D365 Business Central really shines when it comes to organising operations. Supply Chain Management gives you the capability to manage orders, oversee inventory, process orders, manage transaction and receivables. Furthermore, no matter where inventory is located, levels can be tracked even if it’s in transit!

Human Resources – From managing detailed employee records to tracking/ group codes and logging absences D365 Business Central’s HR functionality has changed dramatically since the days of NAV. The application now gives a more holistic approach to HR and even allows you to manage employee expenses, which can be reimbursed easily using the same method used to pay a vendor.

Project Management – Business Central has all of your core project management features covered, including; scheduling resources, managing budgets, task monitoring, resource planning and availability. All of the functionality including time sheets can be accessed remotely meaning that your workforce can keep up-to-date on the move.

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has two licencing options, the first of which (Essentials) includes everything we have covered in this article while Premium includes all the above as well as Service Order Management and Manufacturing.

 

D365 Business Central and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. For further information regarding the D365 Business Central and the licences available please give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s March Issue.  

5
Mar

One to watch: Integrated Solution for Manufacturers

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

One of the most talked about trends for the next decade is digital integration. As accessibility to digital manufacturing tools, such as cloud storage, artificial intelligence and IoT sensors grows the concept of a ‘smart factory’ is becoming a reality. Manufacturers of all types can  benefit from digitally integrating their operations. 

Integration has been on Microsoft’s radar for a long time and they now have a vast, robust selection of solutions that all work together in perfect harmony. One such solution, which is priced for the SME market, is Dynamics 365 Business Central. 

This all-in-one solution includes modules for; Financials, Purchasing, Inventory, Operations, Warehousing and Projects. 

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite tools and functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central…

 

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) 

To avoid ending up in that all too familiar situation of having too much of one item and not enough of another the MRP functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central focuses on making tracking bills of materials (BOMs) flawless. It automatically generates order suggestions based on demand and sales, giving you accurate order suggestions at a glance. 

 

Scheduling

Our manufacturing clients often find the scheduling process the most stressful part of their business. Incorrect data or the slightest supply error and your whole schedule could suffer. Dynamics 365 Business Central slims down and simplifies the scheduling process with automatic production orders and purchase orders, action messages linked to balancing of supply and the option to set-up some items with individual reordering policies.

 

Capacity Measurement

Many businesses have the goal to grow in 2020 but with growth comes increased capacity. Dynamics 365 Business Central tracking capacity alongside materials and projects to ensure you never overbook or oversell – or lets you know you need to add to your facility, materials and team.

 

Inventory Items

Keeping track of raw materials, component parts and sub-assemblies can be exhausting. Dynamics 365 Business Central can quickly track these items and ensure you have what you need at all times. Keeping on top of your inventory like this can dramatically increase productivity and reduce time wastage during the production cycle. 

 

Machine Centers

Machine centers are designed to help you manage the capacity of a single machine or resource. Within Dynamics 365 Business Central, Machine Centers lets you plan and manage capacity on multiple levels and had the capability to allow users to store more default information about manufacturing processes, such as setup time or default scrap percentage.

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. We lead with your business objective and take the time and care needed to plan, customise, implement, train and support the solution that will achieve your goals. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s February Issue.  

31
Jan

Microsoft Business Central – more than just Excel

Myth Busting D365 Business Central

Many accountants have relied solely or partially on Microsoft Excel to assist in their role for decades, leading many firms to ask when the next legacy solution will arrive. 

 

Enter Microsoft Dynamics. 

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has shifted their focus to collaboration and have invested in new ways of working through Office 365. D365 Business Central is part of a wider product line of enterprise applications that all work together including applications focusing on sales, marketing, service, operations and CRM. D365 Business Central is the successor product for Microsoft NAV.

As D365 Business Central is still a relatively new offering in terms of ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions Monpellier are here to clear up a few common misconceptions and equip you with the information you need to make an informed decision for your business. 

 

Microsoft Myth Busting

Myth 1: ‘ERP solutions from Microsoft are far too expensive!’ 

A D365 Business Central licence is £52.80/user/month. A company with a financial director, controller, and management accountant would pay a little over £150/month for its ERP software. 

Myth 2: ‘I will have to do a lot of work outside of D365 Business Central’

There’s a huge amount of connectivity with reporting tools like Power BI, which can be built directly into your ledgers. You can easily create bespoke reporting dashboards and have all of your valuable information at your fingertips. 

Myth 3: ‘Extensive training to learn the new software will be needed’ 

D365 Business Central is a cloud ERP solution, meaning that delivery and installation is seamless giving users the ability to get up and going quickly. Furthermore, all applications are designed to work together and integrate with Office 365 creating a familiar layout for users. 

Myth 4: ‘It won’t communicate with my emails’

If you get an email in Office 365 and use Business Central, there’s a direct interface that will recognise any email address affiliated with a customer or supplier. From there you can raise a sales quote or purchase order or invoice without having to leave your Outlook email inbox

Myth 5: ‘It’s just another accountancy package’ 

Like your Office 365 subscription, D365 Business Central runs on the Microsoft Common Data Service meaning that all your information is securely stored in the same place. This cloud-based storage option gives you the ability to supercharge your data by working seamlessly with Power Apps and Power Automate (previously known as Microsoft Flow). 

 

D365 Business Central and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. Grounded in technical expertise, the team is made up of professional financial accounting advisors and technology experts, who work together to advise, install and support the best business software on the market Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation. 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s January Issue, 2020.  

12
Jan

Supercharge your supply chain

Business Intelligence Software

Food and drink companies are rapidly embracing new technology in order to optimise their processes and supply chain operations, and Microsoft is leading the pack in terms of supply chain reporting with applications such as Power BI. 

Power BI is fully compatible with Microsoft’s other applications such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Business Central as well as being able to integrate with other supply chain systems you may have in place. The application is designed to create intelligent visualisations based on your business data to better support your decision-making processes. These engaging reports can easily be shared with one or more employees to create a business intelligence environment that can empower whole workforces. After all, knowledge is power! 

 

Resolve your supply issues with Power BI: 

Delivery information 

Food and drink manufacturers often have multiple delivery vehicles but information such as delivery times, mileage, damage reports and down-time if often not recorded or lost entirely due to paper forms that are filled away. Power BI takes all this information crunches it and creates valuable reports that can improve delivery performance and overall operational efficiency. 

Warehouse management 

Manually tracking items available in the warehouse is not only time consuming but also open to all kinds of error. Microsoft Power BI provides a consolidated view of data collected from the warehouse, from multiple sources, and displays it in the form of interactive dashboards. 

Remote working 

Do you have multiple sites or employees that work in the field? The Power BI application can run remotely through a variety of internet-enabled platforms and devices. Desktop reports can be adjusted to fit into reduced screen sizes making them both user-friendly and succinct. 

Connectivity

Sometimes it can feel like there is a device for everything, one to record stock, one to monitor machinery health, one to manage customer data, one for financials, it really can be an endless list. Power BI taps into the Microsoft Azure Cloud and other third-party data sources to bring all your data into one place. This gives your business the freedom to create new compelling datasets with a 360-degree view of your supply chain. 

In conclusion, a business intelligence solution such as Power BI can unlock critical insights into your supply chain operations, therefore minimising the time associated with manual data analysis. Our Power BI customers see real change across their entire business as the added understanding the application brings leads to the more effective management of their operations and the ability to pinpoint and act on disruptions before they become issues. 

 

Power BI and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation and to start your business intelligence project today. 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s December Issue, 2019.  

7
May

How outdated ERP undermines your business potential

Inertia is a powerful force. It’s easier to keep doing what you’ve always done than it is to make an improvement. Change can be time consuming, scary, or require significant investment. When it comes to ERP solutions, though, the cost of doing nothing may be higher than you realise.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the ways that an old ERP system might be limiting your potential, or even putting your business at risk.

Flexible working

It can be hard to attract and retain the right talent, especially if you need everyone to be in the office. Enabling your people to work from home helps them to maintain a good balance between work and family responsibilities and gives them a chance to optimize their work environment too. Remote working is also important for those who travel on business or work from customer sites. If your ERP solution does not provide remote access using the cloud, it’s time to upgrade.

Mobility matters

We’re so dependent on our mobile devices now, it’s hard to remember a time before them. Yet, mobile computing is a relatively recent trend. Android came out ten years ago; the first iPhone was in 2007 and the iPad’s launch in 2010 invented the consumer tablet market. If you’re using an old ERP system, it may not have been designed to take advantage of mobile devices.

That really matters: if you can’t access or update information on the move, your team may be forced to use paper workarounds. It’s time consuming and error prone. There might be discrepancies in your data because someone hasn’t had time to do the updates or rekey the paperwork yet, or worse still because they can’t read someone’s wiggly handwriting. If your team don’t have current information, it could affect your sales processes, because they don’t know something is in stock, or because two people sell the exact same item. You could carry extra inventory to cope, but it’s tying up your capital.

Modern ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central enable you to work wherever you are, using a wide range of devices. It enhances productivity and helps you to ensure your team are always up to date.

You need support

Old solutions may no longer be supported by the software vendor, and so won’t be updated for compatibility with new devices and other applications. Your ERP solution might have been running successfully for some time, but software is hugely complex and new bugs are often discovered late in an application’s lifetime. If the software is unsupported, these bugs won’t be squashed, which could put your data or uptime at risk.

What happens if something goes wrong with your ERP solution? You need to know that you can get it fixed, and fast. That’s unlikely to be the case if you’re working with a legacy solution. You might struggle to find IT consultants with the expertise in outdated software, and the willingness to work on it. When you do find someone, it might prove time consuming and expensive for them to find the problem and fix it.

By migrating to a modern ERP solution, you can ensure you’re benefiting from software that is currently supported, continuously updated, and easier to maintain. You not only reduce your risk of downtime (with the huge opportunity costs that entails), but may also be able to cut the cost of a support contract or any ad-hoc maintenance.

You’re under attack

IT systems are constantly under attack today, so it’s important your ERP solution is resilient. Hackers often try to exploit any bugs that become public knowledge to see if they can use them to infiltrate the system. An older ERP solution that is no longer receiving bug fixes and security patches is particularly vulnerable, so it’s important to have a current solution that still benefits from updates.

Changing business processes

Your company doesn’t operate in a vacuum: there are changes in the market and in regulatory requirements. These all need to be reflected in your business processes. We’ve recently seen the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and HMRC is now rolling out Making Tax Digital, an initiative that will require businesses to file financial returns electronically.

If you’re relying on an outdated ERP solution, you might not be meeting all the regulatory requirements that apply to your business. Compliance might involve using multiple applications and manual workarounds. It’s a productivity killer, and puts stress on your team.

Benefit from the latest trends

By using a legacy ERP solution, you’re not benefiting from the latest innovations and productivity improvements. Researchers are working out how to make software easier to use all the time, and customer feedback is often incorporated into later software releases. People use software at home and have expectations about how it will work. Older ERP solutions might be harder for them to navigate, and require more deliberate thinking to switch context from the applications they routinely use to the unfamiliar ERP environment.

The best software enables your people to work seamlessly and intuitively so they can focus on adding value to your business, not spend time puzzling over an interface. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, your team can use smooth integrations with the Office applications they know, and a familiar Microsoft Office look and feel throughout.

We’d love to tell you more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, an all-in-one business management solution for businesses of any size. Why not give us a call?

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.

18
Sep

How ERP functions change the world for SME manufacturers

The manufacturing industry seems deemed to grow forever.

It is, therefore, no surprise that manufacturers require incredibly efficient organisation of all their daily business processes. Solo coordinators often fail at the task of keeping up, and whole committees rarely do any better. Enter enterprise resource planning (ERP).

If you’re looking for a way to up any aspect of your company’s game, there’s a good chance this versatile, understandably popular software is your ticket.

According to statistics, manufacturing stock rose 0.4% to a record high of £81.5 million last year, and stocks were up in 9 of 21 industries, representing 58% of total manufacturing stock. Meanwhile, unfilled orders were up 3.5% to £92.8 million last year – the fourth consecutive yearly gain.

To keep unfilled orders down and stock levels at a healthy turnover rate, more and more manufacturing companies are using ERP and taking advantage of its many benefits. It’s no wonder that the global ERP software market is expected to reach £41.69 billion by 2020.

Not convinced of the vital role of ERP in manufacturing industries? Consider the following eight advantages of an ERP system for your company:

Next-level automation

Perhaps the most significant benefit that a solution involving manufacturing ERP functions offers is automation. Process automation speeds up overall production and drastically reduces errors. When your company transitions from manual manufacturing to automated, you rely less on humans, and the process becomes more straightforward and accurate, which in turn improves customer experience and boosts your profits.

Streamlined operations

As manufacturers grow, operations grow more and more complex. Custom manufacturing ERP software provides real-time information you can use. Imagine the level of productivity you could achieve by letting ERP guide users through complex processes. Eliminating data re-entry, and improving production, order completion, and delivery are just a few of the perks. Modern ERP systems also offer integration capabilities, making it easy to centralise information so all employees who need access to data can get it from one place and update each other as needed.

Cost reduction

Thanks to the automated, streamlined processes they make possible, manufacturing ERP features for SMEs help manufacturers reduce operational costs. Additionally, ERP implementation in the manufacturing industry is known to increase worker productivity, in turn minimising labour costs. The ability to efficiently track stock levels and integrate it with production planning eliminates excess stock and storage costs. Also, lower error rates curtail your losses even more.

Product quality assurance

Knowledge is power, which means observing fault in a product facilitates the production of higher quality items. An effective ERP solution can be incorporated with a quality control module which helps manufacturers standardise their products. Manufacturing ERP modules also help to detect those areas where quality issues are occurring in the first place and identify appropriate measures for putting an end to them. Better products mean higher sales and genuine customer loyalty.

Better flexibility

Manufacturing ERP functions offer you the opportunity to seize control of your stock, precisely plan out and streamline production schedules, and coordinate distribution channels. Thank your ERP-conducted system for consistently on-time product delivery – a critical performance metric for any manufacturer. Think of it as yoga for your company: enhanced flexibility goes a long way.

Stronger communication

An ERP system is all about effective communication.

Manufacturing ERP features for SMEs allow firms to share important production-related data with internal employees as well as external stakeholders like suppliers, distributors, or even end-customers. This improved ability to communicate and collaborate allows department heads to maintain, sustain, and strengthen key business relationships.

Decision-making power

A comprehensive ERP solution provides thorough visibility (and therefore insights) into every department, rendering it easy for your company to make it quick, and informed decisions on the spot. Access to key performance metrics such as overall sales, or sales margin, helps you optimise day-to-day operations and stay close to your goals whenever called for.

Increased customer satisfaction

When you put the pieces all together (which is precisely what manufacturing ERP functions do), it becomes clear very fast that the combination of accurate production planning, increased stock control, streamlined processes, and coordination of distribution has a significant positive impact on delivery times. Punctual delivery is integral to maintaining your customers’ happiness, which in turn makes them want to leave glowing reviews.

To ERP, or not to ERP?

Many SME manufacturers ask themselves if they really need the features an ERP offers. Integrating an ERP is a major investment for any manufacturer, so many small and medium-sized businesses feel they might be too small to take the leap. But, the fact of the matter is, in order to compete against larger companies, small businesses need to outdo their competition. Small and mid-sized manufacturers who use the right ERP can actually operate like enterprise-scale businesses, leveraging the power of the software to streamline their processes, increase their productivity and throughput, and reduce costs.

What are the advantages of an ERP system?

At a base level, an ERP can integrate all the core processes you need to run your manufacturing business into one seamless system: engineering, purchasing, production, inventory management, human resource management, customer relations management, accounting, sales and more.

Imagine having easy access to truly useful, real-time information about how your business is functioning, the status of individual jobs, and an accurate forecast for your margins. Manufacturers who have installed an ERP built for the manufacturing industry, have not only been able to increase their sales, but they also have higher customer satisfaction rates too.

Still, it can be difficult for many SMEs to outline the specific benefits an ERP system will deliver to help accomplish their goals. Here are just a few benefits of getting the most out of manufacturing ERP functions:

  • Transparency: all relevant data can be shared, accessed and updated by all departments, eliminating the need to re-enter or export data.
  • Productivity: a custom manufacturing ERP can handle the demands of high-variable, multi-stage production with fewer errors, increased productivity, and reduced HR expenses.
  • Decision-making: real-time data generated by the system can provide an overall picture of your operations useful for marketing, management, and accounting purposes, enabling your company to make crucial decisions on time.

The right time for ERP implementation

You can ask yourself a couple of simple questions to see if an ERP would help you:

  • Do you have 100% clarity on your stock? Can you order just-in-time for high-variable jobs?
  • Is your sales team able to build accurate quotes on the fly that your shop can produce profitably?
  • Do you know the status and anticipated delivery date of every job on your floor and in your backlog?

If your goal is to save time, achieve quicker response times when dealing with customer queries, boost your ability to plan ahead, reduce waste, and best of all, reduce stress, then it may be time to work those manufacturing ERP functions into your strategy.

Interested in finding out more? You can get in contact with us here, or call us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

26
Jul

It’s not about technology, it’s about making your strategy future ready

In a day to day environment, you often get to hear, “I’ll just mail the spreadsheet to you.”

A fairly harmless expression by itself, but if you stop for a moment to consider, it highlights a vital point, not so much a flaw but definitely a shortcoming.

Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, conversational bots, Digital Twins, Blockchain and Machine Learning are practically redefining the way businesses are getting more structured, accurate, definite and efficient, eliminating more scopes of uncertainty and mitigating risks of errors. Besides, the use of spreadsheets, instead of an enterprise-level resource planning software, underlines a major drawback in management as it highlights the lack of foresightedness that is required to equip the organisation to battle challenges that inevitably come with gradual expression over time.

It’s okay to love Excel spreadsheets

When it comes to spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel is inarguably the most popular one. Numbers don’t lie: over 750 million people are using it worldwide to record, track and calculate. And not for no reason. It is easy to use, flexible and largely reduces dependency on the IT department, especially for storing, calculating, tracking and accessing data. Think about a world without Excel. It seems impossible. That’s because Excel has enabled the masses to make sense of the numbers.

But you shouldn’t love it too much

However, while spreadsheets might be phenomenal for personal productivity tracking and arguably for small businesses, they are not designed to manage enterprises. Expanding enterprises eventually arrive at a juncture where they, albeit begrudgingly, have to admit that their dependence on Excel is not serving their business purpose adequately. There are limitations on Excel, and nobody should be doing anything 100% in Excel.

Accurate revenue recognition requires outgrowing spreadsheets

It has been reiterated that the fundamental requirements of a business changes as the company grows. It’s obvious. However, businesses don’t do it. They continue to use spreadsheets, increasing complexities of business operations which can impact tasks as vital as revenue recognition.

This is how:

  • Billing process is spread across multiple spreadsheets, dependent on manual processes which significantly increases risks of errors and frequency of delays, thereby resulting in a slow opp-to-cash cycle.
  • Revenue data is scattered across multiple source spreadsheets which has to then be collated manually. This magnifies compliance risk, which in turn, leads to an audit process that’s not only costly but time-consuming too.
  • Maintaining expansive spreadsheets means recording customer details, project details and contracts. Over time, data integrity may get compromised in Excel.
  • Limitations and difficulties of reporting through spreadsheets makes it practically impossible for you to have a clear and accurate picture of revenue.

Thus, most back office personnel managing departments like HR, Finance, Marketing and IT struggle to track the progress of each process, clear backlogs and identify opportunities leading to a mammoth bottleneck for the decision making. The challenges of errors in data entry are a grave concern as well. Additionally, in a competitive environment of today, businesses are relying on data analytics to arrive at accurate insightful decisions which is practically non-existent in spreadsheets, thereby hampering business growth.

Today’s spreadsheets can be tomorrow’s databases, with ERP:

Why spreadsheet users are so intensely attached to their files is quite understandable. After having spent weeks, maybe even months to prepare and keep them updated, it is not easy to consider not using them anymore. That’s why, the first response to a proposal to use an enterprise resource planning software or ERP, is often, “what’s wrong with spreadsheets?”

It is important to understand that enterprise software doesn’t entirely do away with spreadsheets. Instead, it actually helps to ensure that the data has been carefully entered and updated, managed well, made more secure, maintained consistently and rendered accessible across the organisation. ERP ensures that the spreadsheets of yesterday can successfully be converted into databases for tomorrow.

Executives can still export data into spreadsheets when they want to take a quick look at information or run ad-hoc analyses. Alternately, they can use the software’s built-in business analytics and reporting features to generate the same information in half the time.

Besides reducing data entry errors, ERP also helps to eliminate repetitive data entry between users, which is a real possibility in Excel. If no one recognises these errors, there may be a risk of the company making less than favourable decisions, based on conclusions drawn from inaccurate information.

ERP helps to resolve collaboration challenges. Since all users draw data from a centralised source, chances of confusion are less. Moreover, computing protocols prevent the possibility for users to duplicate efforts or confuse updates to product information.

It improves visibility and communication between departments, divisions and suppliers, which in turn, can integrate various business processes and reduce time to market, thereby improving return on investment.

Spreadsheets vs. ERP

Spreadsheets

  • Temporary, short term
  • Unstable environment
  • Simple data sets
  • Static data
  • Localised use
  • Decision support

ERP

  • Medium to long term
  • Stable environment
  • Complex interactive data sets
  • Real-time process/data flows
  • Pan-organisational use
  • Decision execution

How can ERP serve as a critical element in getting future-ready?

ERP solutions can not only benefit those who are implementing it for the first time, but also can be beneficial for those organisations that are updating and adding incremental operations like HR management or CRM. In fact, some ERP softwares have built-in HR or CRM modules that can be activated or used only when a company grows and reaches a certain level and the need for enhanced coordination and collaboration becomes prominent.

Digital transformation is only effective when it is seamless and company-wide and such ERP solutions ensure that this seamlessness can be achieved by enabling capabilities to be added when the time is right. Back office has always played an instrumental role in aiding the front office achieve business goals.

It’s only now that ERP is integrating the two and encouraging digitally-transformed businesses to focus on the front-office and the customer experience by ensuring that back-office tasks are being conducted smoothly with enhanced efficiency and heightened accuracy.

Making the move from spreadsheets to ERP is not as much about technology as it is about strategising for future growth. And as businesses grow they need to assess the need for fewer systems. If spreadsheets are still holding your business back, now is the right time to consider implementing new age ERP software. It can be the major component of a sustainable, scalable IT strategy that evolves with your business and strengthens the foundation for future growth.

Ready to take the next step? Get in touch with us today to set up a meeting so we can help you help yourself. Call us on 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.

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.

14
Jun

ERP selection: the definition of insanity

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Why are you reading this? We’re sure you have better things to do, like focus on your customers and your products. You’re likely reading this because at some point your ERP solution stopped meeting your needs. Don’t worry, you’re not alone; only nine percent of companies achieve 80 percent or more of the expected benefits out of their ERP systems.

For some companies this may have happened on day zero due to the design of the implementation. For other companies, it may have happened later as the needs of the company evolved (and their ERP solution did not).

Your business environment is constantly changing. Growth, mergers and acquisitions, new regulations, new products and even new competitors can impact the requirements you have for an ERP system. At the same time, unless you’re working to continuously evolve your ERP solution, a gap will grow between your needs and what your ERP provides.

The three sins of ERP

Here’s something to think about: 75 percent of ERP implementations take longer to implement than planned, 55 percent are over budget and 21 percent fail at implementation. Add to that the fact that 60 percent receive less than 50 percent of their expected benefits, and there’s good reason to step back and try to understand why some ERP projects fail while others succeed.

In working with some companies who came to us because of failed ERP projects, we have identified what we call the three sins of ERP that other vendors often commit. These include: lack of continuous improvement approach, a singular concentration software and assuming the job is over when the solution is deployed.

In general, these ‘sins’ are associated with a feature-focused rather than a business-focused approach to ERP. In fact, 72 percent of projects have a feature focus versus business focus. A feature-focused approach can lead to complex, higher cost, big bang projects focused on ‘advanced’ software features. A business approach will lead to a lower cost and lower risk phased project focused on achieving business outcomes through process review and business transformation backed by a rational set of software features.

How can you tell the difference?

  • Are you working to define your technical requirements or your business process requirements?
  • When you train do you conduct system transaction training or workflow training that emphasises ERP as an enabler of those processes, not ERP as the process itself?
  • Do you measure the success of your ERP based on minimising technical bugs or maximising business results?

Time to rethink your ERP

Just as a near death experience can cause you to reassess your priorities, a failed ERP implementation has led companies to rethink their solution.

The first step in preventing a similar fate is to challenge yourselves about the role of ERP in your business and the criteria you will use in selecting an ERP partner.

If you don’t you’re doomed to suffer the same fate again. After all, don’t you already have an ERP system? What will prevent you from being in the exact same place again in eight years?

It’s already known the ERP solutions are mission critical systems for the company or organisation.

They support the organisation’s core business processes and store very valuable information that will be key input for the management team when making important decisions.

Like any software, ERPs have a limited lifespan and, on average, every 7 to 10 years the system will need a replacement. However, implementing a new ERP solution is a complex process that will require an initial investment, an external expert help from an implementer and a project that will take months of work to fully complete the system configuration and customisation according to business requirements. In addition, the new ERP software will also have a big impact on the organisation, as users will have to learn how to use it to be productive in the shortest time possible.

Bearing all of the above in mind, it is clear that selecting the right ERP software is a strategic decision for the company that will have a huge impact on the business’ or organisations’ performance. Below is a list of the nine key criteria we recommend taking into account when choosing a new ERP solution.

Meet functional requirements

The first analysis to do is mapping the functional requirements with the system capabilities. When doing this exercise, it is important to distinguish must have from nice to have needs and prioritise them accordingly. ERP implementations are usually phased and it is recommended to focus on must have requirements in the initial phase, leaving more advanced or complex needs for later phases.

Platform flexibility and scalability

Although we might have a clear list of functional requirements to be addressed during the implementation, the reality is that some of the current organisation’s needs probably won’t be fully covered with standard features or new needs will appear in the future. We need to make sure that it will be possible to address them. Software flexibility and scalability will remove possible limitations in the present and in the future.

Ease of use and intuitive user interface

Usability is a very important criterion that needs to be taken into account. In the end, the easier the system is to use, the greater return it will provide. Users need to be productive and self-sufficient when recording new transactions and searching for the information they need. This will even have an impact on customer service quality.

Innovative technology

As ERP systems have a long lifespan, it is important that their technology is innovative enough to not become obsolete too early. Technology evolves very quickly and what can be enough today, might be a bottleneck in the future. Currently, cloud-ready solutions that can be access from anywhere and any device are a must.

Competitive pricing and flexible financing

The ERP implementation will be an investment that will provide return. As with any investment, it is important that costs are properly distributed over time. If possible, it is advisable to avoid big upfront investments and go with a model that allows you to pay a similar amount every year.

Similar customer references

Certainly your company or organisation will not be the first one in your market segment willing to adopt specific ERP software. Another proof of having made the right selection is knowledge of other similar companies or organisations using the same solution.

Local implementer and support

Choosing the right software is important, but working with the right partner is key. In an ERP project, there are three elements that are equally important: product, implementer and company involvement. Make sure that your implementer is experienced in both the business and technology areas and can provide local support when needed.

ERP vendor backup

An additional guarantee that the implementer will be able to provide the right support you need is having ERP vendor support. Working with an official vendor partner is essential. Ask for the SLAs the vendor has agreed with your implementer when receiving support.

Compelling product roadmap

Finally, it is also advisable to look at the product roadmap for the coming years to check if the vendor’s vision is aligned with yours and your future business plans. Make sure the ERP software will also evolve from a technology perspective so that you can benefit from future innovations in this field in addition to new features.

So, there you have it. If you would like to find out more about ERP software or would like to organise a free consultation and demo, either contact us here, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 to speak to one of our friendly Business Software Consultants.

22
May

Get one step closer to GDPR compliance with an ERP upgrade

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on the 25th May 2018, which is this Friday!

Regardless of Brexit, UK companies need to comply with this new regulation or suffer very harsh consequences in the form of hefty fines. This new regulation is the biggest shake up to occur in data protection regulations in 20 years and complying in GDPR is no small feat.

GDPR is all about protecting data that can be used to identify an individual. The regulations state that an individual must remain in control of how their data is used, stored and disposed of at all times. This means that ways in which companies collect and process this sort of personal data has to change.

An example of the new regulations is that individuals now have to perform a double opt-in to give consent of their data being collected and processed. They also have the right to be forgotten and can demand proof that their data has been removed from a corporate database.

Businesses are expected to be GDPR compliant right from the start of any project, under key aspects of the regulations named ‘privacy by design’ and ‘privacy by default’. In practical terms, this means that from the earliest stages of planning, before projects are rolled out or new systems deployed, data privacy must be considered.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions have always claimed excellent data storage, accurate representation of data and the centralising of data housed in an organisation. So, of course, ERP and GDPR are connected. However, it;s crucial to recognise that GDPR compliance is a company-wide concern that will require changes to policy, IT security and data protection processes.

Yet your ERP lies at the centre of your business operations and if your data management solution is aligned correctly, it can play an enormous role in your organisation achieving compliance.

Let’s investigate how a modern, robust ERP system can help a business as it works towards GDPR compliance.

Data security management

When last did you consider your company’s data security? This is not only about the applications used to gather or the servers on which its stored. A comprehensive internal data policy must be developed and instituted before the GDPR deadline and it must include answers to questions such as:

  • What personal data do you hold?
  • Where did it come from?
  • How was it gathered?
  • Who internally has access to it?
  • Do they access it from any mobile devices that leave the office?
  • Do you keep an asset register tracking location of all company mobile devices?
  • Are they able to upload any new personal data from outside the office onto your systems?
  • How long do you keep personal data?
  • How does your company share this data – internally and externally?
  • Do you know where all your data ends up?
  • What is your process for deleting old data?

The first step in answering these questions is to undertake an information audit. This audit needs to unpack the management of every piece of personal data you hold, which might mean investigating multiple systems used to collect, process and store personal data.

The more systems your business has in place, the tougher the information audit might be. But the consolidation of the information and data from the disparate systems will already stand you in good stead for GDPR compliance.

The fewer points of data collection you manage, the clearer your views into the data you hold, the more streamlined your operations will become and the easier compliance should be. Your ERP solution should also offer benefits of greater functionality, enabling you to control data access permissions and view throughout the strata of your business.

Consent and data erasure

GDPR requires businesses to obtain explicit consent from its customers to remain in contact with them regarding sales and marketing activities. By the same token, those very same customers must be allowed to withdraw their consent and they have the right to be forgotten.

Obtaining consent needs to be a simple process that in plain and simple language explains what the customer is agreeing to. The onus is on the business to then be able to, at all times, demonstrate that all of their contacts have provided consent to be contacted and have their data processed, controlled and kept.

As with data security, consent and data erasure are also better managed by having a suitable ERP solution in place. Your solution should be equipped with customer relationship management (CRM) functionality as standard. This allows you to manage contact records, communication history and provides an audit trail of all customer touch points. You can see how your customer has corresponded with you including any calls and meetings and, critically, if you have all of this information in one place, deleting their record on request is straight forward.

GDPR compliance makes your business better

The deadline for GDPR compliance may appear looming, leaving many company executives feeling full of dread. But it has long term benefits because it forces companies to interact with their customers more authentically. The transparency that GDPR enforces will provide both companies and their customers with improved communication.

Companies can expect better lead conversion and customer retention by adhering to GDPR. Employing an ERP solution makes GDPR compliance easier. It’s a smart move for companies who want to become customer-centric and want to implement data-driven marketing activities.

Is GDPR not reason enough for upgrading? Do you need some incentive to start pushing for your company to upgrade its ERP software?

We’ve got six reasons why you should upgrade your ERP software right now ready to go. If anything on this list sounds familiar, quit wasting time and upgrade already!

You’re jealous of anyone who can run their business from their smartphone

Do you still have to call someone in the office for help when you’re trying to answer customer questions? Did you know you can easily resolve this problem by upgrading to cloud-based ERP software?

Using cloud-based ERP software gives you complete mobility. You can stay connected with your data on any device with an internet connection, respond to new opportunities, and exceed customer expectations. It’s a win-win for everyone. There’s no need to stay within arms reach of a desktop anymore. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be using ERP software that’s mobile-friendly and allows you to provide the customer service that clients have come to expect in the digital age.

You’ve uttered the phrase,  ‘I think we might have that product somewhere in the warehouse’

If your system can’t tell you what’s in stock or what’s been distributed to a customer, you aren’t alone. It’s surprising, but there’s a lot of businesses out there that operate without a firm understanding of their inventory. But why?

There are so many great options out there just waiting for you to take advantage of them! Your ERP software should provide you with any and all information about your inventory with the easy tapping motion of fingertips on a screen. So, if you constantly find yourself playing the ‘maybe’ game, don’t you think it;s time to start thinking about an upgrade?

You’re losing sales to competitors whose products don’t hold a candle to yours

You can be the best of the best, but if you don’t provide visibility into account information, available stock, or self-service options, your customer service, and sales, will fall flat. There’s no good reason why you should be losing sales to competitors with inferior products. Especially if that reason comes back to your ERP software, mainly because that’s an easy problem to fix. How? You guessed it, upgrade your system.

Your ERP software is older than graduates applying for jobs at your company

If you can still talk to us about how you Y2K-proofed your current ERP system, we’ve got a problem. Your ERP system has seen better days when it starts limiting functionality.

Things move fast in the world of tech and software and if you haven’t made any changes over the last two decades, it’s safe to say you’re missing out. Don’t hold your business back by hanging onto old, outdated systems and processes. Change is good. Embrace it. Keep moving forward and upgrade that ERP software.

You don’t have a comprehensive view of what you’re spending and earning

How many details about expenses and accounts do you have in one-off spreadsheets? Lacking an accurate and comprehensive view of where your spending and earning is going to catch up with you and hurt you in the long run.

The ability to operate cost-effectively relies on your ability to utilise information like payroll and other expenses. You have to know when and where to cut costs and adjust budgets if you plan on continuing to grow. Analysing your costs and earnings should be easy if the ERP software you’re using is up-to-date and it’s the right fit for your company.

Your current software is no longer benefiting your business

This should be a no-brainer and practically encompasses everything we’ve discussed this far anyway, but it’s worth going over again.

Does your current system provide you with automatic updates? Is it multi-user accessible and collaboration friendly? Do you have a clear overview of your financial position in real-time? Has it reduced upfront business costs like version upgrades, maintenance and system admin costs? Has it prevented you from worrying about server failures?

If you can’t answer yes to all of the above questions, here’s your sign. It’s time to upgrade your system so what are you waiting for? Get in contact with us here today to book a free consultation, or call us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

1
May

How ERP software can improve customer satisfaction

Just about every business in any industry relies on repeat clients to keep business going, and  that entails ensuring customers are satisfied with goods and level of service. But mid-sized distributors in particular may face some challenges that are unique to their business. Distributors are usually competing directly with much bigger companies that can get advantageous terms from suppliers and can get their hands on more resources.

As such, small to mid-sized distributors may find themselves charging higher prices and having less manpower compared to their competitors. Competing on price isn’t an option, so there are other ways that small to mid-sized distributors need to compete to attract new customers and keep them.

Taking advantage of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software with customer resource management (CRM) capabilities can give small to mid-sized distributors the opportunity to more effectively meet expectations for a high level of customer service.

Since good customer service translates into good business sense, an ERP solution can give distributors the ability to attain higher quality interactions with both new and existing clients.

Here are some ways that ERP software can help improve overall customer service and inevitably increase sales.

Get rid of inefficient order processing

Making sure that deliveries are on time is of paramount importance when it comes to customer satisfaction. An ERP system can help make sure that deliveries reach their destination when they’re supposed to. Distributors that make use of ERP solutions can provide distributors with on-time shipments just about every time because they eliminate inefficiencies.

Boost efficiency when solving client issues

In distribution companies, customer service representatives are the first people to deliver service to clients. It’s important that they’ve got the information needed to resolve any issues in a timely manner.

Having ERP software can help provide customer service reps with more power to offer pertinent details about a client’s whole experience with a company. These representatives can see all there is to know about a customer’s history, including payment methods, previous orders, and so on. This can help them provide customers with the answers they’re looking for, which ultimately enhances customer loyalty.

Offering value through business intelligence

Customers can be better served by being offered the right value-added services at the right time. ERP solutions allows sales teams to be much more confident in the data they’ve got on customers because they can more closely rely on the information that’s stored in the system. With such information on hand, they can offer services such as special discounts that can boost sales.

These types of tools are essential to the success of small to mid-sized distributor companies. Monpellier offer customised ERP solutions such as MicrosoftSage and Pegasus that can help improve customer service, make order processing more efficient and increase sales.

Now, you might be thinking ”does my company really need to implement a new ERP solution?”. Well, here are our top five reasons why you should:

An effective cost reduction tool

ERP systems offer the chance to get the actual and real-time data about daily operations that help companies to plan their strategy professionally. An ERP is a wonderful system that not only saves on operational cost & administration cost, as we mentioned earlier, but very effectively systematises the operation. One thing that needs a special mention here is that with modern ERP, distributors deliver complete and on-time shipments 97% of the time, thus it has become a comfortable tool for distributors.

Increase the producitivy

There is no doubt that any company would like to work on reducing the cost and time consumed in doing a particular job. And, ERP is one such system that consolidates all the information fed into its system across the multiple departments, thus acting as a safe storehouse.

The employees can use this wholesome information for various activities and expedite the process and make a faster decision that would be in the interest of the company. You wouldn’t want your staff to run here and there or call each and every colleague across different departments until they have found their exact piece of information, which could have been easily maintained in the system.

Reinforce customer service

No company can just go on selling until and unless it has maintained the old customers and believes in adding the new ones. ERP, here too, acts as a guide that comes to the rescue of the company that wants to focus on the growth and customer service. Whether it is a simple query of a customer regarding the product availability or managing the inventory accurately, the ERP system has the entire information ready on what to do now or next. This is an impeccable way to move ahead in the competition.

Consistency and smooth functioning

A study came out in 2015 indicating that more organisations are going to go multi-site over the next few years. An increasing percentage of organisations are implementing an ERP system across multiple offices, warehouses and sites. Last year, 85% of companies implemented an ERP system at two or more locations.

A well-informed player is always confident and this applies to business too. A common system enables the decision maker to receive information and to gain a holistic view of the operations spread across various locations, thus having the ability to make better and quicker decisions.

ERP squashes the need for various other software, like CRM for different departments. So, it’s evidently better to have a centralised arrangement such as an ERP system that stores and updates the information in real-time and is helpful to each and every department for planning purposes.

Nips the problem in the bud

With the constant flow of data being transcended into information for management, any aberration or issue can be quickly highlighted in real-time. Although most organisations begin their ERP initiatives with the expectation that they use the software as is, many are still making changes to the way the software was intended to be used.

Thus, companies planning to implement an ERP system for their day-to-day business should, first of all, undergo an evaluation to understand why and how they can use ERP at its best. The business should consider the technology and make a move in that direction so that they have a competitive edge over others. Using ERP can prove to be a healthy deal if used to its maximum.

For more information about implementing ERP systems, or if you think you are ready to take the plunge and would like to book a free consultation with us, contact us here, or call us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.