Tag: microsoft dynamics 365

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25
Oct

Dynamics 365 Wave 2 Release

Our top 5 features

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an application suite of ERP and CRM modules. This October saw the greatly anticipated Dynamics 365 Wave 2 release. The update gave users 400 new features and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. This is one of Microsoft’s largest release waves to date and we wanted to highlight our favourite aspects that produce proactive insight and drive intelligent action. 

 

Top 5 Updates

  1. Security – Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is now available and provides a powerful solution that reduces fraud costs. To learn more about how Microsoft has used this technology to reduce fraud-related costs by millions of pounds in just two years visit – LINK
  2. User Interface Business Central has seen the biggest change when it comes to user interface. New features including additional bookmarking capabilities, autofit columns, department overview functionality and the ability to work on multiple Business Central tabs at once are now fully available.    
  3. AI ApplicationsWave 2 sees the addition of two more AI applications, Product Insights and Connected Store. Product Insights transforms product development, marketing, sales and support by acting on real-time insight relating to customer usage while Connected Store uses data from cloud-connected sensors. 
  4. Scan a Note The new update allows you to take your meeting notes (as usual) with a pen and paper, you can then scan these notes straight into Dynamics 365. The sophisticated application then reads your handwriting turning it into an editable note that is stored against the potential customer. This allows you to keep all valuable information in one place insuring your sales team never misses an opportunity. 
  5. Virtual Agent Good customer service can take a lot of physical time but with the wave 2 release, your customer service team has a helping hand. Intelligent AI-powered robots have been designed with the ability to chat with customers, thereby improving speed and overall service. 

Microsoft recorded their entire virtual launch event which you can watch by clicking the LINK

Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Monpellier 

If you’re interested in what Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 can do for your business, Monpellier can help. We are offering free, personalised onsite consultations designed to showcase the areas that would work for your individual business. Call our experts today on 0191 500 8150 or drop us an email [email protected] 

22
Jun

When selecting marketing automation software, avoid these 5 pitfalls

5 Pitfalls When Selecting Marketing Automation Software

When used correctly, technology will enable any company, large or small, to reach their goals. Unfortunately, some businesses have had bad experiences with marketing automation tools early on. The wrong strategies and investments will only create problems for both sales and marketing.

To get things right from the start with this type of software, here are five of the most common marketing pitfalls to avoid.

1. The lack of Meaningful Investments

Many executives make the mistake at focusing too much on technology pricing before considering long-term value. As a result of this, they allow for the unsupported implementation of poor-quality automation tools.

It’s important to do some serious research before selecting the first tool which will meet your budgeting expectations. Get everyone on board to choose the right tool without compromising too much on price.

2. Don’t automate the wrong activities

You can and should always automate:

  • Contact management
  • Social media posts
  • Email marketing
  • Content posting

Did you know that you can even automate follow-up scheduling for sales representatives? On the flip side, try not to automate every communication channel. Your audience will soon begin to notice when communications are “canned”.

Make sure to balance automated activities with live interactions from staff members. Within your organisation, get every marketing, sales and customer success agent involved.

3. The lack of strategic focus

It’s essential to understand the connection between marketing and sales. The right combination will have you on your way to being able to fully capitalise on the automated marketing process.

If you don’t have proven methodology, automating the process won’t change the results. The lack of strategic focus can only highlight any existing dysfunction.

4. Separating marketing and sales professionals

At the end of the day, marketing automation can only do so much. To really succeed, businesses should encourage marketing and sales team’s collaboration to generate qualified leads and then follow them through.

When it comes to the digital world, the lines between marketing and sales are still a little blurred. Professional collaboration can improve marketing tool utilisation which in turn drives revenue strings.

5. Don’t use unhelpful benchmarks

The right measurements can have a major impact on the efficiency of marketing automation. In terms of online engagement analytics, quality comes ahead of quantity. It’s essential to make sure your measurement tactics focus on consumers who are likely to convert rather than those who may be identified as low-quality leads.

Why not try targeting conversion pathways? This will provide the number of sales you generate from each marketing pathway. Stay clear of unhelpful benchmarks which will only have a detrimental effect on your business.

  • There are also a number of other pitfalls to avoid involving marketing automation software such as:-
  • Insufficient knowledge of technology and processes
  • Insufficient integration with the CRM system
  • Insufficient attention to cooperation and strategy
  • Not enough support from the IT Department

Make no mistake, marketing automation has the potential for success. When used correctly, it will keep your business moving forward. Get in touch with us today!

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.

26
Sep

ERP vs CRM software – what’s the difference?

Today’s technology gives companies an advantage they have never had.

With the ability to streamline processes and access data in real-time, companies can stay on top of their competition. In addition, today’s data analysis technology allows companies to forsee future events and plan accordingly. These tools, which include both enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and customer relationship management (CRM) software, give companies the power to control their success in today’s market. While similar at first glance, ERP and CRM platforms are distinctively different. Understanding each platform is critical to your system’s success.

What is ERP software?

First and foremost, ERP software is designed to make a company’s processes more effective and efficient. By better managing all the key functions of a company – accounting, warehouse, stock and supply chain – ERP software allows the company to focus on what really matters: the data.

With integrated ERP software, employees can update the platform with important information available in real-time to all departments within the company. This integrated technology gives companies a heads-up when problems occur. If there is a problem in the supply chain, the ERP software will capture the issue and make it available to all areas affected, such as the warehouse. ERP not only provides all departments with updated information, it also gives companies a clear and accurate picture of their standings at any given moment.

What is CRM software?

CRM software fulfils the customer side of the system. Customer relationship management systems focus on just that: customers. This software manages customer information and captures all relevant details for the company. This information is used across the board, from sales reps to managers to accounting personnel. A quality CRM system should capture every interaction the company has with the customer. By properly managing customer information, companies can build their customer relationships to increase customer loyalty and ultimately, revenue.

Not all CRMs are the same, however. Nearly all CRM programs consist of different modules – such as marketing, sales and service – all used by different departments of an organisation.

ERP and CRM integration

ERP and CRM systems both manage important information for your company. While both software systems manage different information, their integration is critical. The benefits of ERP and CRM integration are many, including ensuring an optimal return on your investment in both platforms. The information captured by both platforms helps employees make better decisions. For example, a sales rep could not make an effective sale without leveraging both ERP and CRM. Without CRM, the rep may miss out on information crucial to that client’s sale. Without ERP, the sale has the possibility of not being communicated to accounting, production, and/or warehouse departments, creating a mess that could result in unmet client expectations.

Ultimately, integration between ERP and CRM ensures that your customers’ expectations – and your company goals – are met. This integration guarantees that all departments in your company are working together. The sales rep can communicate with the accounting, supply and warehouse departments before making the sale. If there are any problems, the sales rep will be notified ahead of time. This gives sales reps the ability to close deals with all necessary information and maintain a good name for your company. Without ERP and CRM integration, your company stands the risk of being lost in communication.

Streamline business processes

If you’re looking to streamline business processes and boost productivity, consider integrating your ERP system and CRM software system. Doing so will help remove data silos in your organisation and optimise operations to enhance efficiency.

Let’s take a look at the three benefits of merging your ERP and CRM software.

A 360-degree view of your customer

 

Exactly how well does your business know its customers? One of the biggest advantages of CRM and ERP integration is that it provides a complete view of your customers. From sales and support to finance and accounting; these systems provide complete visibility on your customer’s buying habits, order history and general needs.

Not only does this provide you with a better insight into your customer base, it can help you build lasting relationships and determine where their is potential for future growth. Consistent data gives you better analytics and reporting, so you can track changes in your customers preferences, profitability, and loyalty.

Increased mobility

When your sales team are in the middle of a crucial touchpoint throughout a customer’s journey, having on-the-go access to all customer inventory and orders alongside product and pricing information will assist in closing deals more efficiently – they must have up-to-date data during the interaction, not afterwards.

ERP systems such as Pegasus and Sage enables a sales team to view a customer’s credit limit, current balance, a list of outstanding invoices and previous orders placed; meaning they will have the full history of the customer’s purchasing patterns.

With effective integration, employees from various departments will also find it easier to collaborate, for streamlined information keeps everyone in your business on the same page.

Managers can keep a track of all the critical business operations in real time, which will aid them to make more informed business decisions.

Faster access to crucial information

Without a fully integrated system, employees run the risk of becoming less efficient, meaning your customers will pay the price.

For example – when a customer contacts you requesting an order status update, your customer service staff should not have to trawl through different systems to access that information or inquire with other employees, for this could result in a negative customer experience and therefore a loss in business.

A fully integrated CRM and ERP solution will provide employees with access to important information in real-time. With the push of a button, they can retrieve information on stock levels, customer financials, order history, returns, payments, pricing and more.

Eliminate tedious data entry and duplication

Although both ERP and CRM systems hold account and contact information, it is done for different purposes – CRM is focused on support/sales and prospects; whereas ERP is focused on stock, warehouse, shipping and billing, etc.

The ERP and CRM integration removes the tedious necessity of duplicating data entry by providing identical rules for each system. For instance, any alterations made in the ERP database will reflect in the CRM system and vice versa. The same principle also applies for the addition or removal of custom fields, new entries or changes to the database.

Improved order, stock and quote management

Once a CRM proposal has generated into an order in the ERP software, having to switch systems and re-enter the data multiple times is neither time-sensitive nor practical.

With ERP and CRM integration, businesses can turn proposal generation (created in the CRM) into actual orders (executed and tracked at the ERP level) using just one system; reducing time consumption for data management and increasing company efficiency. Furthermore, a sales team would have enhanced visibility regarding order status updates for customers and easy access to make necessary changes if needed.

Also, while quoting for a prospect/customer in CRM, a sales representative can quote the most accurate pricing by using the integrated ERP solution to retrieve the updated pricing information. Any promotional or discount pricing will be available in the CRM as well.

Reduced IT and training overheads

Statistics indicate that businesses spend a yearly average of £1028 on training per employee and 31.5 hours a year training employees – that’s a substantial amount of expenditure and lost time.

With a single, unified platform for both CRM and ERP, there is no need of maintaining two separate systems resulting in reduced IT costs. Likewise, if the integration is carried out effectively, the amount of support and training goes down, for training sessions would only be required for the combined system instead of the individual systems.

Staff might be sceptical to embrace more than one piece of software; especially if it requires extensive training. Learning to use both ERP and CRM at the same time can be a challenge, resulting in poor adoption rates post-implementation.

The combination of these two programs makes it easier for employees to gather and analyse data – they can familiarise themselves with a singular piece of software and spend time learning all of its features.

So, what next?

To see how you can truly benefit from CRM and ERP integration, we can help. Give us a call on 0191 500 8150, or contact us here and we can come and see what your current business processes are, and how we can deliver a solution to streamline your business.

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.

13
Sep

What’s driving your ERP project?

Most project teams from mid-market and distribution organisations are challenged by an ERP selection project.

This is because an ERP project cuts across each area of the business, impacting functional areas from finance, accounting and supply chain, to shop floor, production, inventory, quality management, shipping and more. Manufacturers and distributors have already gone through lean initiatives, cutting away excess and thereby are operating with lean staff.

While it’s tempting to consider these initiatives as pure ‘technology or projects’, that perspective is not effective and often results in an implementation that fails to meet expectations. IT may lead the project and certainly has a major role, but ERP projects touch almost every area of the business. The new system will naturally bring some change to how business is done, so it’s important that business process owners are heavily involved.

Thus, when a project team is considering an ERP selection project, it’s imperative that the selection process is based on a solid foundation of industry expertise, vendor research and intimate knowledge of the business, all aligned with the goal of improved business performance.

Software decision drivers: aligning selection with the needs of the business

At its most fundamental, establishing strategic software decision drivers during a selection project involves matching the future state of requirements a business must achieve to drive business process transformation against the system features a technology solution offers.

Monpellier’s ERP consultant team has guided organisations on this very approach. This set of software decision drivers will vary for every organisation dependent on what is the best match for the specific functional areas of the business.

Six categories of software decision drivers

Manufacturers and distributors should take into consideration the following software decision drivers when entering an ERP project:

Features and functionality

  • Does the software meet the future state needs of the business?
  • Will users find the software intuitive and easy to use?
  • Does the software have advanced industry functionality to support dynamic business needs?

Vendor synergy

  • Does the vendor understand the specifics of the business?
  • Is the vendor aligned with the specific requirements of the organisation?

Solution agility and viability

  • Is the vendor invested in this product solution?
  • Will the software be part of its service offering for the long-term?

Technology alignment

  • Does the platform fit within the team’s technology roadmap?
  • Is the vendor following industry standards for current future integrations?

Total cost of ownership

  • Are licensing fees, maintenance and subscription costs understood?
  • Are fees for services/support and integrations included?

Implementation considerations

  • Does the vendor’s implementation methodology align with the organisation?
  • Is the project plan comprehensive with adequate detail?
  • How are risks and issues managed?

When the focus is business process improvement, and not solely technology, the project team has a better chance of conducting an effective technology evaluation that is designed to meet future state needs. That’s the power of a strategic approach to software decision drivers.

In a perfect world, once you implement ERP software, you don’t have to worry about your centralised business system again. The realist is that an ERP system needs upgrading like any other piece of software. Chances are good that you aren’t driving the same car you did 5 years ago and I highly doubt that you are even using the same smartphone you had 2 years ago. The fact is that technology is not just changing, it’s constantly improving.

That means software built even a few years ago starts to age and new versions are needed to take advantage of the incredible new opportunities today. For instance, ERP systems are moving towards mobile solutions to augment the core package. That wasn’t possible even 3 years ago.

Plan your future updates to your ERP system – today

Whether you are investigating the benefits of ERP software for the first time of have a system in place, it is best to plan for periodic upgrades in software. Just like you schedule tune-ups for your car, tune-ups are also good for ERP software.

The thing about upgrades is, while they bring a host of improvements, fixes and new features, it can take time before employees using the system are totally familiar with what’s new. There can also be slight downtime to the system while the ERP upgrade commits to your system. That’s why its extraordinarily important that you have a plan in place for updates.

Generally, creating a plan for downtime – how to minimise it – and training on new features is essential. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but communicating the expected changes and how it will impact day-to-day operations needs is key. All that could be rolled up into a simple company-wide email or phased in with specialised support from your ERP implementation partner.

Additional benefits of ERP upgrades

Upgrades are also like spring cleaning for your data. Before installing the upgrade, you should perform a backup of the existing data. You might also sort out old data, archive old records, and optimise the configuration of the database server to get the best performance from your system.

All of this preparation is important to keep your ERP software running smoothly and at optimal speed. Once your upgrade is complete, you have an ERP system that works even better than it did before.

Also, ERP system security improvements are generally parts of updates. You don’t need me telling you how many data breaches have happened, you can flip on the news and you’ll likely hear about a new cyber attack. ERP systems house an incredible amount of data that powers your company. Not everybody can afford to recover from the pain of lapses in security and upgrading your ERP system is one of the tools you have control over.

It all comes down to driving to work in a Model-T car and using a rotary-dial phone which is inefficient in this modern era, and so is using old software.

For more information about ERP upgrades, or if you just simply want to see what solutions are out there, that might fit your business processes better, you can contact us here, or give us a call on 0191 500 8150 and speak to a Business Software Consultant.

6
Sep

Empower your business and staff with data

Data is one of the most powerful tools for modern business to gain a competitive advantage.

Is your business ready for the data revolution?

According to some commentators, we are in the throes of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology has changed the way we think about the world and affects every interaction, from ordering a pizza to watching a movie to chatting with our friends.

From a business perspective, it is no different. The outward signs are obvious enough to see, with changes in communication and dynamics, an increase in flexible and remote working practices and so on. But perhaps the biggest game-changer concerns data.

Quite simply, we are now producing volumes of data that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. Today’s data comes from a variety of sources: every web search, mouse click and purchase; every like, share and retweet on social media. It all creates its very own data stream and the business that makes the best use of the insights that are hidden in all that data will be the one that gets an edge over the competition.

Given that it is such a new discipline, our full understanding of just how much we can do with big data is still developing every day. What is clear, though, is that the biggest and most successful organisations in the world are devoting ever more budget into developing their data analytics capacity. Those who fail to capitalise on the opportunity are at risk of being left behind.

Big data in action

It is worth taking a step back and looking at some everyday applications of big data. Here is a perfect example – you might sometimes feel as if you are living in some Orwellian dystopia with Big Brother looking over your shoulder as you search the net for, let’s say a flight to Amsterdam, then log on to Facebook to be bombarded by banner ads offering you bargain rates for that exact flight.

There it is, big data in action. Machine processes watch our every move and try to predict what we are likely to do next, and this capacity will grow beyond our wildest dreams over the coming years. It might sound sinister, but all it is trying to do is help us do what we want to do as easily as possible.

Other examples abound – while you sit reading this article, Siri is there on your wrist, quietly keeping an eye on your health and exercise, and your LinkedIn profile is busy looking for a great next step in your career.

From a business perspective, there have already been some major transformations in the finance sector that have been brought about by big data, including enhanced customer service levels and streamlined back office functions. Increasingly, we are seeing data-driven technology behind every innovative business practice.

Investing in the new oil

Businesses have many driving factors in deciding whether to implement a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, often sharing the same wish lists and requirements with other organisations.

Streamlining business processes, increasing revenue and driving forward growth against market competitors are key targets to attain.

So, what are the benefits of implementing an ERP system? In this post, we’re going to look at the rewards of bringing an Enterprise Resource Planning solution to your business.

Integration

One of the top requirements for many organisations implementing a new ERP system is bringing together multiple parts of the business into a unified solution. Sales, accounting, production, and customer service are tied together to allow free-flowing communication and information, resulting in a streamlined and efficient process.

Revenue

Secondly, if not a defining requirement for many, is increasing the company revenue. ERP systems are best-in-class when it comes to helping you minimise costs within your organisation. They are also staggeringly intelligent when it comes to helping you identify and capitalise on opportunities you may have not previously been aware of. CRM modules can help your sales team keep track of all your customer data, including sales history and eligibility for cross-selling.

Employee engagement

A key benefit of implementing an ERP solution not widely expressed is the increase in employee engagement and morale. It’s a difficult metric to measure, but many report seeing a boost in morale after an ERP system implementation. Manual processes become automated, freeing up time for other tasks, information is delivered quicker and tasks become easier to execute.

Efficiency

Many businesses are still comprised of several legacy systems and processes that have left the current structuring inefficient and incredibly expensive. An ERP solution replaces and eradicates these problems. That’s not to say that bringing in an ERP solution will fix all niggles in your organisation, but it’s important to remember that it can help bridge the gap between restructured processes and your desired business outcomes.

Minimising waste

Companies that hold a significant amount of product often find themselves with problems such as not having the capacity for their stock levels, or an excess due to the inability to accurately predict product demand. An ERP system can analyse demand from your customer base and accurately predict future consumption, so you will know exactly how much to allocate to your warehouse and at what time, inadvertently minimising waste and reducing associated warehousing costs.

Monpellier are experts in ERP software solutions including MicrosoftSage and Pegasus and we can advise on a range of popular products that could be right for your business needs. If you are thinking about the benefits of an ERP solution and what it could provide to your business, then contact us today – we’ll talk you through the options and help you implement a system that’s right for your business.

You can either contact us here, or give us a call on 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.

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.

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.

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.

26
Jun

Cloud ERP: taking your business to the next level

It’s estimated that 95% of businesses will use cloud technology within the next five years.

What makes the cloud so appealing to a growing number of companies? It’s because cloud computing enables them to consume computing resources as a utility, just like electricity, without the need to build and maintain computing infrastructure in-house.

Three powerful core features compel businesses to move from on-premise to cloud solutions. First, it’s fully customisable at any time, allowing users to manage and create their own systems for fast deployment. Second, it’s highly scalable, giving the users the ability to adjust their needed resources based on how much the system is being used. And third, businesses only pay for what they use.

Large corporations are embracing the cloud because they need to move nimbly in today’s dynamic environment without being held down by an immovable and inflexible IT infrastructure. In fact, according to McKinsey, large companies will double their adoption of cloud services by 2018.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs), on the other hand, are moving swiftly toward the cloud while also eyeing the promises of the lower costs and convenience of third parties managing their IT needs. Studies by Intuit reveal that by 2020, 78% of these small businesses will complete their migration to the cloud.

The big shift to the cloud

Cloud technology started in the early 2000s, when applications were written as software as a service (SaaS) applications. Its popularity began to grow in the mid 2000s. By this time, many enterprises had moved their email, document sharing, and customer relationship management solutions to the cloud.

Cloud computing solutions cover a gamut of applications, including enterprise resource planning (ERP). However, even as ERP can be migrated to the cloud, some companies still choose to have it on-premise. They see on-premise ERP as a capital expenditure, a one-time, upfront investment. Meanwhile, cloud-based ERP is increasingly viewed as an operating expenditure – one that is paid for on an ongoing basis.

On-premise ERP benefits include greater ability to customise the system and control over the implementation process. However, the price of these benefits is a heavy upfront investment, the need to pay for associated hardware and IT costs, as well as risking data security that might not have optimised security protocols. These are further coupled with implementation delays that might come from ERP customisations.

Such disadvantages laid the groundwork for a business to shift from on-premise to cloud ERP. And for many organisations, the move to cloud was just irresistible. Why keep spending on IT when they could just ‘set it and forget it?’

The business benefits of cloud-based ERP solutions

Businesses, big and small are embracing the on-premise ERP to cloud ERP shift, because the benefits are c;ear, and they point to cost efficiency. Indeed, business owners and finance managers have been paying attention to cloud’s practical business benefits which include:

Lower Costs

One advantage business owners find in the cloud is the lack of heavy maintenance required to keep their company running. Thanks to SaaS, enterprises can save on hardware infrastructure costs and do away with experienced IT experts required to manage and run the solutions. Costs related to office space, utility and manpower are reduced as well.

The move to cloud technology also helps companies manage their cash flow, and business processes. Without the need for significant upfront costs, upgrades or third-party licensing, users can enjoy predictable costs without being handcuffed to physical hardware. They also get to tailor the terms, such as the number of users and contract length to fit their business requirements.

Convenience of Automated Updates and Reliability

No more worries about slow processing, system downtime, and disaster recoveries; these will be handled by the ERP provider.

Better Security

Entrepreneurs might wonder if the shift from an on-premise to cloud-based ERP solution will affect security. Cloud vendors typically provide a higher level of security than most companies could achieve on their own. In the cloud, essential integration between enterprise applications and supported data, processes, and user interfaces isn’t an issue.

Fast, Agile and Scalable Operations

The marketplace is increasingly unpredictable. Through cloud-based ERP solutions, business owners and stakeholders can respond to the dynamic needs of their clients more quickly, giving them the edge to outmanoeuvre the competition.

Transitioning from on-premise to the cloud not only improves productivity, but it also helps save financial capital and ongoing manpower costs that might otherwise be needed.

The transition from on-premise to the cloud

Is the shift from on-premise to cloud-based ERP troublesome and difficult? As with any system overhaul, there is a learning curve, but it is an easy one if you choose the right partner.

When migrating to SME cloud-based ERP, you need to identify processes, inventory your systems, and define the integration points across the enterprise. Ask yourself these questions to prevent any negative impacts on your business:

  • What cloud adoption strategies should you consider?
  • Who is responsible for your cloud data?
  • Which functions and data will you move to the cloud?
  • What skills and organisational structures are required for cloud innovation?
  • How should you measure your business value now you’re in the cloud?
  • Which vendors will provide user training and testing to help ensure a smooth transition to the cloud?
  • Who is accountable for damages when they are service level agreement agreeable?
  • What are the grounds for terminating a cloud providers service?

A popular strategy is to use a hybrid approach that balances the use of local servers and the cloud. By utilising virtual servers on a local machine and selectively choosing the right applications to run in the cloud, businesses reap the benefits of simple management and efficient operation. The core servers and applications can be maintained locally while customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP systems are managed in the cloud.

Finding the right vendor that helps ensure a smooth small business migration can make the difference between a painless move and one that costs significant time and money.

The tools you need, at your fingertips

When moving to the cloud, it’s important that your ERP solution remains at the top of every aspect of the business. Plus, standardisation and streamlined processes enable better decision-making across functional areas, such as accounting and finance, sales and customer management, purchasing and operations, inventory and distribution, and reporting and administration.

And because a cloud-based ERP solution is a SaaS, businesses can deploy and extend functionality quickly. In turn, this brings a great advantage over the competition as reaction to changing market conditions accelerate.

Companies of all sizes can hasten growth, achieve competitive differentiation, and profit from cloud solutions. And as the business grows, decision-makers can easily adapt and respond to the ever-changing market landscape while overcoming workplace complexities.

So, what next? If you think that you are ready to make the move to the cloud, and want to explore your options, we’re here to help. Either get in touch with us here, or call 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.