Monday, August 27, 2012

ERP Solutions Enable Automation and Streamlined Operations

When you boil down the driving force for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) automation and streamlined operations should be at the top of your list.  More data collected and analyzed enable better and quicker decision making.  ERP solutions do not just collect information, it is what that information enables the business to do more quickly and efficiently that is important.   It is through accurate record keeping that we can see trends.  Integrating and connecting more of your business operations is not optional any more.


Are we using more labor to pick, pack and ship fewer orders?  Are those orders more or less accurate?  Where we able to find the inventory at the location our system indicated?  Do our customers feel like we are being responsive to their needs?  Are we buying what we need or what we think we need?  Are our customers buying what they did last year?

ERP solutions cannot just be bought off the shelf. 

Some vendors have hosted or cloud solutions and offer free 30 day trials.  Just sign up and off you go.  Are you really willing to risk your business on this type of solution?  How will you convert, test, and learn any new system in that period of time?  How much time did you invest to see if that would be a good solution?  Did you find them in an Internet search?  How reliable is that vendor?  Do they have a successful track record of serving their customers?  Will they be bought out next week?  What commitment do they have to your success?  Can you meet their company president or even get him on the phone?  Is your business that straight forward?

Any solution must be process based like your operations. 

You must invest in a Trusted Advisor to help guide you through the jungle and maze of technology.  Weed out the hype and define the metrics necessary to select a new solution and define the criteria needed to implement and gauge its success.

A successful solution will be one that integrates or has the ability to integrate over time your entire organization.  You may need to phase in a solution, because of budget, support, or some other resource constraint.  The system you choose needs to have the ability to grow with your growth.  Find out if the software vendor is continuing development so that as new technologies are adopted in the industry you can take advantage of them in a timely manner without replacing all of your systems.

Do you need a cloud solution?  How distributed and mobile is your Salesforce or organization for that matter?  Do you need to analyze sales and inventory trends?  What type of integration do you need with your supply chain?  Does procurement need to forecast demand with your suppliers?  Does your finance team have the tools and information to manage your accounts?  Can you produce accurate financial statements in a timely manner?  When was the last time you had accurate inventory counts?  How accurate are your shipments?

Do not forget about people. 

The software must fit your company’s culture.  It cannot be so dramatically different that no one has the capacity to learn how to use it.  If you will integrate the enterprise, do you have buy-in from senior management?  What about the customer service people who deal directly with your customers?  Will the shop floor or warehouse people be able to utilize the system?

Is your organization ready for change? 

How will you pay for the solution?  What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?  How will you determine the Return on Investment (ROI) of the solution?  What are the base requirements for a new solution and what is on your wish list?

Where and how do you get started? 

Would my existing consultant or trusted advisor be able to assist me or do I have to find new advisors?  How do I tell if they have my best interest at heart or if they are only interested in a commission?  Do I have to establish a new relationship with the company after the Salesrep leaves or do I work with the same people throughout the entire project?  What if I like the software, but not the Salesrep? 

There are no shortcuts to finding the right solution.   Dolvin Consulting works with your team to determine your needs and match that with an appropriate solution.  Contact us today to get the ball rolling.  It is a process, like your business, and it takes time to make an intelligent decision.  We are here to help.


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