ERP investments to slow in 2011

According to analyst group Forrester, ERP investments will continue to slow in 2011, despite growth in IT spending. Almost three quarters of those surveyed said that they would not be investing in ERP this year. That is troublesome for the industry and even ERP giants such as Oracle are being conservative this year.

You can read the full article here.

We would like to see what your plans are, please comment on this article and let us know if you are seeing any ERP investments in your company.

How not to implement and use ERP software

ERP Software done correctly can be a great tool for improving a business.  Done badly, it can demoralize employees and drive down business results.


How not to implement and use ERP software
ERP Software should enable business processes, not torture the employees.

“My experience with SAP was of an all-purpose integrated business solution. At the beginning of the day, I clocked in using an SAP applet. Next, I would go through a set of SAP generated planned-production orders, direct work orders, or reported directly to my supervisor. After looking through the routing information (generated through SAP), I would complete the specified task. When the task was complete, I would “clock-off” on the job, which entailed bringing the PPO to a computer, scanning it into an SAP applet, and entering my badge number (employee ID). Another thing I found interesting was the request to clock off on all activities. Even if I had only swept or scraped tape off the floors (it was a slow summer), I was asked to clock off on something called “lean labor.” I found this curious, though I suppose from an efficiency standpoint it was very important. To refer back to these “value-chains,” it is important to know exactly what every employee, piece of inventory, and work order are doing at any given time. Whether it is benig worked on, working on something, or finished, this real-time updating system allows everyone company-wide to see which projects are in progress, which are complete, and which have not been touched. Also from a managerial standpoint, it is important to see how much work each individual employee is doing and how well they are performing, not to mention that employee’s ID will always be attached to that job if future concerns arise.

Now from a business standpoint this is all well and good. But what about the employee? A lot of days, clocking and clocking out I felt as though it did not matter whether or not I was even there. There were simply no jobs to be done for entire weeks at a time, but that did not change that I had to “clock out” for certain jobs. Of course, a business wants to make sure that all of its employees are being as productive as possible, but clocking out on cleaning out the same area 3 times during a week seemed redundant and absurd. Not to mention clocking out on an activity such as “material handling” or “lean labor” is fairly arbitrary. This of course necessitated a manager to scold me when my productivity levels fell (ie playing Frisbee with a cardboard box in the back). It is important to note that I was simply summer-hired as well. Working full time at a job as a number would eventually get fairly tedious. As one of my co-workers noted to me, they had simply clocked in and clocked out for a couple of weeks and clocked off on none of the jobs they were doing. No one said anything to him. So who’s checking these jobs?”  – Andrew Mellino

Implementing technology to collect data is one thing, but ERP should not be just about the numbers. ERP ideally should be “process improvement enabled by technology.” It should not be a tool to harass the employees. This is a key concept to understand when implementing and going through the design phase. Which processes are broken and which processes are working fine. Once you have defined that, then see where the ERP software can enable best business practices. It is essential that the employees have a buy in and provide feedback to this step.

If you get the employees to buy into the implementation and how it will change their jobs, you will gain the benefits of higher utilization of the system and overall better adoption. If you fail this step, you will have a failed ERP implementation. There is a saying that you should “drive data collection to the source.” This means that you should have the person who is directly responsible for the source of that data be the one who is entering it. When the ERP system is not implemented with the employees in mind, the employees will be unmotivated to use the system, ensure that the data is accurate, or even bother to put in correct information.

With the help of your line employees, design in best practices and work with them to build a system that they will use and will benefit not only them by making their jobs easier, but also benefit the whole company by driving positive results.

12 Steps to a Better ERP Launch

12 Steps to a Better ERP Launch

ERP implementations can turn a young project into a grey haired war veteran in no time. The stress of the implementation from Kick-off, configuration, data conversion, training, and all the other component parts up through Go-Live are no easy task.

If you have done everything right, then the Go-live should be a non-event. But in order to ensure that there is no catastrophic fallout from the cut-over, you need to prepare.

There is a good list of items that will help you to plan and prepare for the day that all eyes are on you and your launch. These steps are items that should be planned for early in the project, allowing for a smooth transition and a better ERP Launch.

These 12 items include such things as planning the ROI, Utilizing outside help if needed, getting buy-in from all levels of the organization and several other key planning topics. Take a look at this list and use it the next time you are planning an implementation, You might just save a few grey hairs.

You can find the 12 Steps to a Better ERP Launch listing here.

Modern ERP: Select, Implement & Use Today’s Advanced Business Systems
12 Steps to a Better ERP Launch

ERP Implementation Strategies – Survey Results

Recently, Huston Neal, a fellow ERP blogger, performed a survey to find out what ERP implementation strategies are most popular and successful. The results are very interesting. He wanted to know which of the strategies people used and which ones were successful. The strategies he focused on were:

  • Big bang – Implementation happens in a single instance. All users move to the new system on a given date.
  • Phased rollout – Changeover occurs in phases over an extended period of time. Users move onto new system in a series of steps.
  • Parallel adoption – Both the legacy and new ERP system run at the same time. Users learn the new system while working on the old.

Many companies take a Big Bang approach or “let’s turn off the old and start with the new on a target day” method. Others take a more cautious approach and go with a few modules such as the financial modules while linking them back to the legacy system. This usually takes more work to integrate and it usually costs more in terms of consulting and internal team hours. The Parallel adoption is often very difficult as the two systems usually take a different approach to gathering and summarizing the data. It requires double data entry as well, so the employees feel a lot more pressure. This is seen less-and-less nowadays.

We would have thought that Big Bang would be the more frequently used approach and yet the results show that it is almost even with a Phased Approach. Fortunately only a few companies went with Parallel processing. This is often the most painful approach.

The results of the survey are here. It is a fair representation of how people approach implementing a company-wide software. It would be interesting to see how people implement add on systems to ERP such as a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).

AMR Research Bullish on ERP Software Market

AMR Research Bullish on ERP Software Market

Published: July 23, 2007

by Alex Woodie

Worldwide ERP software sales grew by 14 percent in 2006 to $28.8 billion, according to a recent report from IT analyst firm AMR Research. While 2006 was “spectacular,” according to AMR, the good times should continue to roll for the next five years, with an average annual growth rate of 11 percent, a percentage point more than the group predicted nine months ago.

At least once a year, and sometimes more, AMR publishes a report analyzing the past, the present, and the future of the market for ERP and related software, and ranking the top enterprise software vendors by revenues. Because ERP and related products are at the core of most organizations’ IT investments, the relative health of the ERP market can function as a barometer for the overall business IT market.

Read the entire Article Here…

What is your ERP’s Legacy?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is key to integrating all areas of a business. It controls the financials, the inventory, the purchasing and the ordering. There are a lot of ERP software vendors. The market though has consolidated in the past few years since the Y2K upgrade fever and the downturn of the software market.

Now ERP is undergoing a resurgence and many companies are looking to either purchase new systems to replace a collection of disintegrated systems or to upgrade an older ERP system that just doesn’t cut it anymore. With the market consolidation, there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions of software companies. These acquisitions often result in the name of the company being revised and the software being renamed to something “more modern” or catchier to the ear.

One such software is Infor’s Syteline. At one point it was Symix Software’s Syteline. Then it became Frontstep. Then it was acquired by Mapics. Then Mapics was purchased by Infor. Thus Syteline the product has had a lot of masters. The core functionailty has remained relatively unchanged through the transitions. It has gone through some serious upgrades though along the path, including a switch to the .NET programming platform.

Baan is another software solution that has been through the wringers. But where Syteline continued to upgrade, Baan laid dormant for a couple of years. Baan had some financial difficulties and then it was purchased by a British company Invensys. Invensys held on to it for a while and then Baan the software was ultimately purchased by Infor. Under the hood, it is still relatively the same code base, although a lot of new functionality has been added.

On other fronts, older legacy software is becoming upgraded. Take JD Edwards World Software. It has a lot of clients who were running on the old green screen software for a long time with minimal upgrades. A few patches. Then in the past few months, Oracle, the new parent to JD Edwards finally released a comprehensive upgrade.

A key point to understand is that while many systems seem to be modern, you need to look at the history behind the software, especially if you are about to purchase a new ERP system. Key answers to find out are the history of the package, the customer base of the software, and the industries it typically serves. Often people will buy software and find out it was meant for a different market. Find out too if the software has remained on a consistent upgrade path. Some software systems have been completely rewritten in modern languages while other systems have had a window dressing interface applied, while the underlying engine is still antique code. Dig deep and hopefully you will be sure that you are not buying the proverbial pig with lipstick.

My ERP supplier has been acquired – now what?

With all the ERP consolidations going on (look at Infor, Sage, Oracle, etc.) it is hard to know what to do. This interesting article points out the issues surrounding the client of an acquired software.

My ERP supplier has been acquired – now what?
By Quocirca

Published: Monday 5 February 2007

If your ERP vendor is acquired, don’t panic. Quocirca’s Sharon Crawford explains how to decide whether to jump ship to a new vendor or stay the course with your newly merged supplier.

Given the recent abundance of mergers and acquisitions amongst the mid-market ERP vendors, IT directors managing an ERP system may feel uncertain about the future of their incumbent system. Yet it is critical to be able to assure the board the product wont disappear – or at least warn them if its time to switch vendors. Read more…

An ERP who owns who

If you have been around even a short time in the ERP software business as either a user or a provider, you are sure to know of the latest acquisitions. The big ones of course are all the companies Infor bought as well as the Oracle mega mergers of PeopleSoft/JDE. Here is a website dedicated to tracking these acquisitions, called fittingly enough The ERP Graveyard.

The ERP Graveyard has a spreadsheet of acquisitions going back to the 1990’s. So if you are interested in what happened to so-and-so software, you might find your answer to dead ERPs here.