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The quest for the omni-channel grail for manufacturers

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Manufacturing companies are in quest of the holy grail for how to capitalize omni-channel distribution and capture customers from the multichannel avenues available for customers to place orders for merchandise. Consumers are using all types of channels and delivery to maximize convenience.   Manufacturers have been slow to adopt new practices that enable customers to buy their products.  Manufacturers are looking for new ways to compete with B2C based stores to maximize customer satisfaction and increase revenue that may have not been available previously.

 

The internet has become the great enabler with regards to access of products through local channels or through  global fulfillment.  The trends discussed in this post are: New payment options, mobility, website ease of use,  real-time analytics, fulfillment/delivery/transportation, and inventory synchronization are  major issues that have kept manufacturers behind their B2C counterparts.

 

New payment methods: New payment methods have emerged and manufacturers often do have the infrastructure to support the new technology and consequently have lagged behind in customer convenience.  Since the infrastructure needs to be built, technology deployed the time to market in getting this portion running is prohibitive due to hardware/software/implementation costs.

 

Mobility and Ease 0f Use: Consumers are using all types of mobile options for search, research and purchase.  If a manufacturing company has a website it is often not equipped to adapt to the several mobile channels and devices that consumers are using.  The option of completing a purchase from a mobile device for manufacturing is difficult due to the lack of ability to create an equivalent procurement experience using mobile devices and platforms. Manufacturing websites are often lacking the convenience that customers now expect in order to complete a transaction.

 

Real-time analytics: Manufacturers are now starting to catch up to the trend of using realtime information when making decisions.  Older systems often siloed information and provided delayed data so that accurate decisions were more difficult to make.  New systems such as cloud, SaaS, multiple hybrid deployments and hardware compatibility and IoT integration have all advanced and has brought manufacturing companies into the 21st century. More advanced MES systems and reporting techniques have been adopted to  provide realtime accurate decision support data.  More accurate decisions based on what’s actually happening within your supply chain can greatly reduce several major issues.

 

Fulfillment/delivery/transportation:  One of the major problems faced is how to deliver the product once the order is placed.  Manufacturers have a difficult time with completing this part of the transaction.   How a product is fulfilled (as to which warehouse, store or location) it may be picked from, how it will be delivered to that location, which method of transportation is used to do so,  how much will it cost to deliver it to their home, will it be dropshipped, is there a way the customer can pick it up in-store if available,  is there a way to handle returns both systematically and business process-wise, lead time and expectancy dates are major concerns that manufacturers must solve in order to provide an omni-channel shopping experience.

 

Inventory Synchronization:  Multiple systems must exist and speak to each other using interoperability, proper integration, and provide realtime data to appease consumers.  Multiple systems must be harmonized to provide in stock quantities, project proper delivery estimates and an easy to use transaction experience from the website are all areas where customers expect this to be in place before being confident about a purchase.  Since they have not done this in the past, the time to market has been considerably expanded, making it difficult to achieve omni-channel presence.

 

There are many other concerns that are dependent on some of these issues and others that are not covered here. Omni-channel presence is proving difficult for manufacturing companies to achieve due to the many complex moving parts that understanding how the customer experience, mobility, system and business processes must be unified to complete an end-to-end transaction.  This will bring manufacturing companies in to direct competition with their B2C counterparts.  In some cases, the middleman can be cut out completely thereby eliminating one layer of the supply chain and possibly reducing overall costs to the consumer.

 

About Eval-Source

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

A variation of Agile or Lean Manufacturing is just what the doctor ordered

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Manufacturers are faced with many obstacles to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and improve top-line results.  Labor, material costs, transportation, time to market, distribution, customer delivery, ecommerce presence, mobility, new manufacturing techniques and materials emerge, equipment efficiency (equipment utilization), IoT, omni-channel presence are all areas that have changed and customers expect manufacturers to adapt to accommodate changing consumer preferences.

 

While many manufacturers follow the Lean and/or Agile manufacturing methodologies which are efficient have started to lose its lustre and inefficiencies once gained.  No only must these organizations adapt to the changing landscape  but find a way to do what they are doing or making better than what has brought them there in the first place.

 

Manufacturing techniques that have worked previously have become outdated.  These companies are looking for ways to refresh their manufacturing techniques without major changes to its core business.  Change for employees to relearn is also difficult and may overwhelm some employees if techniques or systems become too advanced too quickly and lack of employee training becomes another point of risk which may further complicate any possible changes that may be required.

 

Organizations can re-examine current procedures to change manufacturing techniques to address some of these changes.  When reassessing procedures and techniques organizations should look to align how technology can maximize throughputs and increase inefficiencies.  Changes in business process, manufacturing techniques, new machinery for automation purposes and increased throughputs, new materials (changing alloys, plastics, steel etc.), 3D printing  (additive manufacturing), systems that orchestrate these many changes and assists in further automations. Revisiting your current techniques and processes may just require a minute tweak that results in large gains.  When people say baby steps they mean a little bit at a time will have a large impact on your overall process.  You may not need to reinvent the wheel but maybe just change the tires to maximize operational efficiencies.

 

About Eval-Source

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Differences between enterprise software for ERP manufacturing

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Organizations know their business and what they do but are unaware of how enterprise software vendors classify their solutions and how they are sold.   This blog will identify the main differences between how vendors categorize their software solutions and offer organizations a starting point as how to begin their software evaluation project.

 

ERP software for manufacturing is classified by the type of manufacturing that your company does.   Namely these are Discrete, Process, Mixed-mode and Project Manufacturing.  Software vendors market their solutions to the general industry, type of system and then the specific industry towards a specific vertical. This framework determines how organizations should approach software vendors when evaluating software.

ERP manufacturing categorization

 

Discrete Manufacturing –  This type of manufacturing is described as organizations that fabricate definite or specific items.  This is sometimes referrd to as unit production.  An easy way to remember this type of manufacturing is that thefinished  item created may be disassembled by components and parts, the final product may be produced out of a single or multiple outputs. Typically idustries such as consumer electronics, comercial goods, appliances, automotive, aeorospace and defense , smartphones, toys, machines, tools etc.

 

Process Manufacturing – This type of manuafcturing is often referred to as formula, batch and or recipe manufacturing.  This type of manufacturing combines individual ingredients so that when mixed creates a new product or formulation that cannot be disassembled or separated.  Industries that fall into this category are:  food and beverage, cosmetics, pharmeceuticals, paints etc.

 

Mixed Mode Manufacturing – This type of manufacturing refers to the using a combination of discrete and process manufacturing techniques to create the final product. This is a combination of individual components and fomulated components create a single product.   Examples of industries that are mixed mode manufacturing are:   Steel and aluminum processing,  apparel etc.

 

Project Manufacturing:  This is often reffered to ETO or contract manufacturing.  This process is defined as manufacturing to engineered to order specifications usuall issued on a contract, low quantity or low frequency orders.   This type of manufacturing is often used to create expensive, specialized products, highly customized and high degree of complexity type of goods.  Examples of these include: airline carriers, submarines, aircrafts,

 

In a nutshell, these are how the enterprise software vendors differentiate their enterprise ERP solutions.  Knowing these classification types can assist your organization in starting on th right foot to select the appropriate software during your software selection project. 

 

About Eval-Source

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Gamification in enterprise software – Fact or Fiction ?

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Is gamification a trend or an actual trend that has disrupted software?  Gamification in a nutshell pertaining to enterprise software is the using simplification and accessing usability of consumer based apps to make enterprise software easier to use.  The evolution of enterprise applications from character-based green screens to now more user-friendly interfaces have utilized gamification to ease the long awaited trend of simplifying enterprise software.  From green screen character input and legacy-based systems to clean nice drag and drop functionality, enterprise software has come a long way, although it has been slow to adopt change.

Has gamification gone too far though ?   Enterprise software is still complex and it should be for the nature of the operations, tasks and automations it performs.   Newer features have simplified complex tasks, eased reporting issues, workflow creations, eased configuration and administration concerns and has increased business agility multi-fold.  That being said, we have seen cases where gamification has gone too far and has oversimplified the purpose of the software. This makes the software no as useful as before as there are now “hidden features” that were easily accessible are now buried deep into the settings or architecture.  For technology that is supposed to benefit the organization usability and ease of access has actually been diminished.  All enterprise softwares are experiencing system overlap by incorporating complimentary functionality that bolster and enhance the core functionality.  This confuses organizations as the traditional software categories have evolved to other systems entirely and in some cases creating new software categories altogether.

This is especially apparent in CRM software.  Traditional CRM contains the standard sales, customer, supplier information, sales forecasting, marketing automation as previously expected and possibly salesforce management in some advanced CRM software.  Enter social capabilities – CRM vendors have oversimplified the core functionality going too far and ruining functionality. Users are left to unscramble what was once easy access has now been hidden in new configuration tabs and extra menus that are totally unnecessary.  Simple workflows that may have needed a slight tweak or a slight automation enhancement now involve several steps to get to the required information.  We have seen some cases where this has occurred but the social aspect added little value and even complicated tasks. This is more prevalent in B2B software.  To make something simple takes thought, understanding by balancing utility and usefulness.  To get it to that point, a clean UI that is easy to use and makes sense in order for work to get done is the challenge of gamification. To take a complex software and/or process and simplify it to enhance usability that still adds value and makes sense to users is difficult.

Enterprise software vendors are reimagining their UI’s using gaming principles to ease functionality, integration, configuration and usability concerns.  Two enterprise software vendors that have done this extremely well are INFOR (mainly ION, its middleware solution) and UNIT4 – Agresso Business World – Self Driving ERP.  While other ERP vendors have updated their GIU’s it is not to the optimum capabilities. A fine balance between usability, utility and usefulness would be ideal for organizations to easily change, manage, update, create new information, define new automations, tweak and create new approvals and workflows may require a complete overhaul of the entire SOA which is not feasible, as solutions will have to be reengineered pretty much from scratch.

Vendors that have achieved this fine balance are excelling within their respective spaces.  Enterprise software has achieved an equalization where 73% of functionality is now common among industry leaders.  The remaining 27% are the differentiation factors. Whether it is vertical expertise, solution size, strategic solution alignment, localization, support, maintenance, business agility, data security, administration, TCO, ROI, portability, configuration and deployment models are now more areas where organizations are paying closer attention to than previously within the software evaluation process.

About Eval-Source

Eval‐Source is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Reasons why Target failed in Canada

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When Target Corporation announced it was coming to Canada especially in Ontario there was widespread euphoria.  Canadians that ventured to the States had become familiar with Target’s decent prices and more upscale product line than other bigbox competitors.  In the States, Target was known as an alternative to Walmart and that is what Canadians also expected to see when they opened for business here.

 

There were several major reasons for the massive failure in Canada which resulted in a total extraction from the Canadian market.  The retail environment in Canada is different than that of the States, often varying by province and further down to localized consumer preferences.  Let’s examine a few of the major issues that led to its downfall in Canada.

 

Pricing Issues 

When Target moved to Canada they underestimated the cost of doing business especially with respect to the dollar and price sensitivity.  In the States, Target is comparable to Walmart and this is what consumers in Canada expected.  When Target prematurely opened a multitude of stores the perception was all their prices were significantly priced higher than Walmart for the same products.  In actuality, not all of the prices were higher but most were.  One comparison done by a major TV network in Toronto compared 10 of the exact products at Walmart and Target.   In reality, some were cheaper at Target and most were lower priced at Walmart, the number was actually 4/10, meaning 6 products were actually higher at Target.  This threw Canadians for a loop as they expected a closer competitor to Walmart as in the States. This continued o be the trend until the retreat out of Canada.

 

Supply Chain issues

When Target prematurely opened its retail operations in Canada many of their stores were severely understocked.  This resulted in large areas of empty shelf space looking like limited product supply. The undersupplied stores could not possibly predict with any level of certainty what type of replenishment and forecasting would be required. The inconsistent flow of goods was close to impossible to predict what Skus were purchased by customers, what needed to be replenished, in what quantities and how often (frequency – inventory turnover) – all breakdowns in the supply chain.   This continued for many months fortifying the Canadian perception that Target could not compete with Walmart in the North.

 

Another contributing supply chain factor was that the selection that existed south of the border was devoid in Canada – again what Canadians did not expect. They had expected the same type of product selection and upscale quality as offered in the States.  Their suppliers were not prepared for the different business climate in Toronto resulting in inconsistent supply and proper inventory planning from both the organizational side which trickled down to their suppliers.  Their stock of “premium” products stocked in Canada were not of the perceived quality that the premium lines in the States represented.  Their premium goods prices were more expensive than the generic as expected but a higher rate showing a large variance between the generic over premium.

 

Not doing their homework     

When Walmart first moved into Canada they spent a lot of money doing market research.  Target did not do this to their detriment.  Walmart spent considerable time getting to know their local markets where their stores existed.  This included getting to know the demographics of the area and catering products to satisfy local needs.  While most of the Walmart product line is standardized along with equal pricing across the entire franchise makes Walmart the 800lb Gorilla as it can standardize supply chain practices and supply issues that Target could not figure out.  This is very apparent in the selection of goods offered across Walmart stores especially in clothing (additional sizing), groceries, some products and services (pharmacy, optical, photography etc.)  are most often localized while the main product lines remain.  This localized approach is one factor that Target entirely missed.

 

Lack of business agility

An area where Target failed was their ability to quickly adapt to the business environment. They knew what the perception of consumers were and they continued to do nothing to rectify any of their deficiencies.  The executive team for Target Canada did not fully understand the nuances of the Canadian market, how to respond, what Canadian customers expect and to deliver it.  Their execution was flawed in delivering its products and services to Canada.  The executive team did not do much to rectify certain situations that could have aided in perception and customer service to appease its clientele.   They also did not connect the dots in utilizing their supply chain system infrastructure that existed in the States to leverage in Canada.

 

These were some of the major issues that plagued Target from the onset with its Canadian expansion.  When they opened,  I predicted that their supply chain issues would be their eventual downfall.  Another perception of Canadians  was the management team were not capable of adjusting to the Canadian environment quickly and were conceited in their approach.  This was further apparent when Target eventually closed and the president’s compensation package (One person)  was equal to the total severance pool in which all the Canadian Target employees had to share.  These missteps were major areas of deficiencies on why Target failed in Canada.

 

About Eval-Source

Eval‐Source is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Tips on how to Shortlist Software Vendors

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Enterprise software evaluation is difficult, where to start, what to do, how to do is usually not documented or does not exist.  Many people have cobbled together steps, tasks and procedures to create an approach.  This post will offer a best practice approach used by Eval-Source within its methodology for companies to shortlist software vendors.

 

Keep in mind, that creating the shortlist is one component of a software evaluation project and could possibly make or break your project success. This single task could be the difference between IT failure or success.  Here we discuss four tips and tricks that will assist you in your software selection project.

 

Build a Requirements Document

It is recommended that you create a full standard operating procedure (SOP) business requirements document.  This document is the culmination of all the functional and technical business processes used daily to support your business.  This includes technical information about integrations to other systems, exceptions, and functional business processes.  Be sure to include the “Future” state as the document created will likely be for the “Current” or “As Is” state of the business.   The requirements document is the basis for the eventual RFI that will be issued to vendors as part of the RFX and then the vendor demonstration script.  Doing this correctly will ease the RFX creation process and identify actual business issues that the software will have to support your business.

Market Categorization

Organizations rarely know how software vendors sell their software and the differences that they see as to how organizations perceive themselves.   Software is categorized into many categories for endless verticals and industries and with many vendors having significant market expertise which may be difficult for organizations to discern between competing vendors.

A best practise approach is to classify what type of business your company actually does,, services, distribution, manufacturing etc.   If manufacturing is your business ascertain what type of manufacturing you do – discrete, process, mixed-mode, ETO.   This will aid you in selecting the correct vendors from the beginning.

Not comparing Apples to Apples

Organizations often make the mistake of comparing different types of systems and different deployment models side by side.  Cloud, hybrid, managed and on-premise costs for ROI and TCO are all calculated differently.  You cannot compare the initial cost of a cloud system to a hybrid deployment model as the measurable cost components differ significantly.   Another tip is to consider the base software or the “off the shelf” core package, not the add-ons.  The add-ons may confuse the actual need and what is supplied.  Usually add-ons are expensive whether they are third-party or from the vendor itself.

A best practices approach is to do a comprehensive due diligence investigation.  Include aspects of product features/functions, vendor services, product maintenance, industry expertise, vendor resources, case studies, reference checks, site visits, vendor viability, vendor track record for sticking to budget and timelines, consider analyst reports, like deployment models(cloud versus cloud, not cloud versus managed services or on-premise),  strategic fit (matching a s solution to the size of the company.  An SMB should not be implementing SAP Enterprise Suite) are some areas to focus on.

Full Disclosure

A mistake that organizations make is that they do not clearly define what they are doing, how they doing it and what needs to be supported for daily operations.  This failure to communicate these requirements can cause the vendor to misdiagnose which type of software is required, resulting in the incorrect type of software to be evaluated and then improperly chosen.  Full disclosure from the organization to the vendor is required as the vendor uses this determine the type of software required, as well as possible configurations and workflows to satisfy the business and technical needs.  Not fully communicating your needs may result in an improper business requirement mapping (the matching of software functionality to your business needs).  This may further affect adoption when implemented as the certain criteria and processes may have been accidentally misunderstood or even omitted.  The result, lower adoption and the perception of a failed IT project.

A best practice approach is to fully disclose all business needs to the vendor using your SOP business requirements document that includes, prioritization, exceptions, integrations needed for current systems, current and future processes required, tasks, business process workflows and what you would like automated if possible.  This will confirm that certain criteria and business objectives are sufficiently met and aid in the RFX evaluation process.  In this process, you should not disclose pricing from competitive vendors as that will question your credibility and make you biased as to a potential vendor which may jeopardize the software selection decision. .  

These four tips of building a requirements document, proper market categorization, not comparing apples to apples and full disclosure will possibly identify early issues within your software evaluation process and can be mitigated early before implementation.

About Eval-Source

Eval‐Source is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Why SalesForce.com Remains On Top

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Since its inception SFDC has remained a market leader in their space.  After 17 years, it has achieved a nice balance of organic growth (mostly through innovation)  and through acquisitions.  One major competitive advantage that SFDC constantly demonstrates is its ability to strategically acquire complimentary technologies that will add to its platform or create a new product altogether.

 

The other main advantage that SFDC demonstrates is its ability to quickly integrate the acquired companies into their platform and use the new technologies to build new products and or to bolster existing functionality.  Other software vendors that acquire smaller companies have great difficulty integrating the new functionality into its existing application.   SFDC has done a formidable job in adding new functionality and making it available to its customers rather quickly.

 

Some of their marketing initiatives have forced organizations to rethink how the CRM is viewed and used.   Although, SFDC has evolved to a true enterprise software player that offers more than just a CRM.   SFDC has created a platform that has rapidly becoming an IoT through the extensive diversification of products and services it has created.  From just a CRM (a single product) has evolved to sales, services, marketing, community, analytics and a platform for cloud applications and its own App Exchange.

 

SFDC Products

Sales – Sales cloud and Data.com

Services – Service Cloud, Desk.com

Marketing – Marketing  Cloud, Pardot

Community – Community Cloud, Chatter

Analytics – Wave Analytics, Wave Apps

Platform and Apps – App Cloud, App Exchange, IoT Cloud, SalesForce1

 

Another area where SFDC has executed better than their enterprise software counterparts such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle etc.  is its partner channel.   SFDC has made it a priority to integrate other existing applications and new applications to existing SFDC products, whether it is the AppExchange and/or SalesForce1.  SFDC is making accessibility to other functionality and applications much easier thereby spreading the adoption of SFDC. Seamless integration has become a key driver for adding SFDC products to existing applications and infrastructure which simplifies an organizational IT decision of what needs to be added and how.

 

A few reasons that SFDC will continue to succeed is it’s ability to create new products and services that cater to all industries and verticals, a wide product portfolio that satisfies the needs of many organizations from digital savvy customers to digital holdouts types of companies, an ever increasing plethora of partner applications that ease integration worries and a combination of organic growth through innovation and continued acquisition.   SFDC quickly integrates new technology that it acquires into its own platform thereby capitalizing on the new functionality that quickly builds its portfolio to become larger and more rounded out.  As its portfolio continues to increase more midsized companies are able to utilize some or one of its products.

 

Summary

It will be interesting to see how they can continue their speedy growth and remain relevant as a legitimate enterprise software vendor.  A factor that may slow its growth is the transition to large enterprises.  SFDC started out reasonably priced as a CRM solution.  Now, SFDC is not cheap anymore which may become a barrier for smaller and midsized companies to enter into a SFDC relationship.  Within a software evaluation context the SFDC platforms and products offer some degree of usability for many types of organizations.  Organizations would be well served to examine the component it requires within a cloud platform.

 

About Eval-Source:

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , CorporateTtraining and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

 

The Changing Face of Software Evaluation

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As changing business priorities evolve organizations are forced to become more learned about software evaluation process.  The task of selecting enterprise software has become increasingly difficult due to the multitude of deployment models, contract stipulations, trends, increased number of vendors in the space, industry expertise, strategic alignment of vendor and organizational size,  vendor resource management, vendor responsiveness and a host of other tangible and intangible factors that are difficult to evaluate.

Our research and clients indicate that software evaluation is changing. The components that were previously evaluated have somewhat changed due to cloud, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, SOA, Web 2.0, collaboration, social and mobile technologies. These technologies have introduced new evaluation categories that have led to more confusion around software evaluation. In many cases, companies must evaluate the technology and then the system. Companies are determining their own TCO and ROI which has shifted from once traditional areas to different priorities within the software selection process.  Many companies often incorrectly calculate ROI and TCO due to varied/multiple deployment models, and comparing cloud to on-premise software.  Since the licensing models differ the method of cost calculations vary.  It is very difficult to compare a cloud to an on-premise software.

Organizations are continuing to evaluate features and functions as before but as many companies have learned the hard way this is not the end all and be all to evaluating software. Companies are now considering new areas such as business agility, business process management, vertical expertise, integration/globalization and more of a focus on the strategic technology fit.

Business Agility is the ability of the software to quickly adapt to changing business conditions and processes without much vendor engagement. Many new systems are incorporating richer user interfaces and easier configuration options to enable the customer to do most of the changes themselves. Since many systems are on par with respect to feature/functions self-configuration is heavily being considered within the evaluation process.

Business process management is now a unifying link that can reside inside or outside the software in which you are evaluating. The business process engines contained within the software often allows integration and unification of disparate systems. This often is the method that software vendors use to combine functionalities and unite their own disparate softwares. These new business process engines allow for decision making capabilities, offer BI/EPM visibilities, collaborations, abilities to define workflows, dataflows, creation of approval triggers, allows changes to be tested without disruption to the current process through data modelling and can facilitate sharing information upstream and downstream to suppliers and partners. These have become new main evaluation criteria for companies with workflow for business process management now; a major shift from before.

Vertical expertise is now given a higher priority than before.

Organizations now realize that software is pretty much equivalent in functionality and use the expertise of the vendor as a differentiation point to select the appropriate vendor. Software vendors that have vertical specific solutions for specific applications are now compared to as a true apples to apples comparison. Organizations sometimes mistakenly compare a vertical specific solution to the base application which is often more general in nature. The ability for the vendor to distinguish themselves within a vertical may prove beneficial to the evaluating organization to show the company that the vendor understands their business and consequently their support requirements.

SaaS and cloud system applications that include, SOA, IaaS and PaaS have thrown organizations for a loop as now they must evaluate this portion of the application more closely as to align the technology with their business strategy. Integration using the cloud, Web 2.0 technologies, web services, browser–based applications, cloud storage/backup/administration options is now more closely considered with a more significant weighting within the overall evaluation process. Globalization factors; since more companies have subsidiaries, two–tier ERP strategies, connectivity, and time zone issues are now weighted more heavily in the evaluation process and have come to have more importance than features and functions. This has become a major shifting point in the software selection process along with the appropriate weighting when scoring throughout the evaluation process.

Many factors have changed the software evaluation landscape such business agility, business process management, vertical expertise, platform, infrastructure, integration/globalization and strategic technological fit have changed from previous software evaluation processes. These factors now are more heavily weighted and can dramatically influence the outcome of your software evaluation. This is approximately the 30% of differentiation that each vendor must illustrate to win the business.

About Eval-Source

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

Tips for ERP Implementation and Project Success

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Organizations face many obstacles and challenges when implementing any type of enterprise software.  Many issues, concerns and bad practices can often lead to IT failure as over 70% of IT projects end in failure.   See the post of 50 causes of IT Failure http://bit.ly/1Qjb0UE for things to avoid and give yourself a chance of a successful implementation.  The post will outline several tips that if addressed would put your IT project on the fast-track to success.

 

Now that the software has been selected, here are some areas to focus on that will pave the way for success of your IT implementation.

 

  • Change Management – Employees should be kept in the loop as to how the new system will impact the company and more importantly their daily jobs. There should be a clear communication path that involves two-way communications between the employees and the company.  The employee should have the opportunity to ask questions on how the system(s) work, what type training is required, allowed to make suggestions for system improvements (inputs/outputs),  how their daily job responsibilities may be impacted and where their particular operation fits into the scope of the overall big picture within the business.  Conversely, organizations should explain how the system works how it will benefit the employee/company, provide proper training and accept input from employees and have a mechanism to handle concerns, communications, risks and

 

  • Leadership from the top –  This refers to executive buy-in from the top down and commitment organizationally as to system adoption within the organization. If the leader of the organization does not demonstrate why the system is important to the company chances are the employees will not accept the system.  It is the leader’s job to convince the organization how the system will impact the business, the importance of the system, provision of flexibility and agility, provide a competitive edge and reduce and simplify operational processes and costs.  If the leader sets these expectations upfront there will more than likely be a company-wide commitment to making the system project successful. This level of enthusiasm is infectious and usually trickles down which improves employee morale and assists in system adoption.

 

  • Employee Training – This is imperative for enterprise software success. Employees should be able to ask questions and how the system impacts their daily job.  There should be enough training from the organizational side for employees to do their job better using the new system.  This promotes adoption throughout the company.  This includes input from the employees as to how the system is used, what the employees are actually asked to do and how the system can help them do achieve their responsibilities. This also includes business processes that are less used and exceptions to business processes and how the system handles them.

 

  • SME/PM Accountability – One major issue that causes IT projects to fail is accountability. Either the organization or the company does not have the expertise or resources to manage the IT project.  Employees continue to do their current jobs and don’t realize the time and commitment required to properly test, set-up, configure and define business processes and how the system will conform to the business.  Organizations rarely have enough resources usually people and expertise that do not have the skill set to lead a project or provide the proper expertise required for proper decisions to be made in a timely manner.  The fact there is no accountability from the organization or the vendor to achieve success breeds project overruns and extended timelines.  There needs to be a leader that reigns in the organization and provides the necessary expertise required for the organization to succeed and controls the vendor to provide the proper support and adequate expertise to achieve a successful implementation.

 

If organizations examine the above factors with diligence they may find that these helpful tips can lead to a successful enterprise software package.  The goal is to not have a failed IT project and these tips should help to mitigate some of these risks.

 

About Eval-Source:

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

5 reasons to Replace your ERP system

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There are many reasons to replace your ERP systems, if your organization are seeing one or many of  these concerns it may be time to look for a replacement system.  Organizations have different priorities due to budget, systems, business alignment and resources.  The right system can deliver a competitive advantage by harmonizing procedures, reducing operational costs, increasing customer service capabilities,  create a framework for SOP and governance, provide real-time information for decision-makers and other benefits that implementing a new system may bring.

 

  1. Legacy Systems reaching end of lifecycle – These systems have become to difficult to maintain due to customizations and expensive resources to maintain often obsolete technology. The hardware might be dated or the application, technology and or language may not be supported any more.  Specialized IT, access of system through a distributed model may prove difficult, business visibility are all areas that are siloed and difficult to update and maintain. These same problems exist with ERP systems that were implemented for Y2K as many of the architectures have changed for mainstream ERP systems.

 

  1. Lack of System Functionality – As your business and processes evolve to new practices existing systems may start to lack functionality and may no longer support what business functions are required.  The system becomes difficult to use and slow, which are now all unacceptable for a system given today’s technology.  The system doesn’t support current business needs like web sales, collaboration, reporting, social, accounting procedures or business intelligence.

 

  1. Lack of Business Agility – The system is now inflexible as it cannot accommodate any changes made to business from a systems standpoint.  Customers go elsewhere as it easier to do business with competitors, the system may be hampering or limiting your effectiveness in reacting to customer changes and inquiries, answering their questions, or delivering products on time.

 

  1. Limits Growth – The system cannot keep up with business change.  The devoid capabilities are not delivering the required systems support as expected by changing business conditions and processes.  The system limits your ability to adopt new technologies and industry practices. This business is growing too fast for the system to catch up and support and thereby limiting organizational growth.

 

  1. Vendor Lock-in and Data Portability – Due to new deployment models older vendors may inadvertently adopted a lock-in procedure that keeps organizations dependent on aging technology.  The other aspect is that vendors cannot separate its data and transactional records from centrally shared databases. This proves nearly impossible if organizations look to change their cloud or IT deployment model.

 

If your organization faces any of these situations it may be time to look for a replacement ERP system.  The enterprise software business system may be holding your organization back putting you behind your competitors.  Organizations have a plethora of choices to cater to all sizes of business, verticals and price points.  A properly documented and solid methodology for software evaluation is still required. Since there are so many more options and possible impacts to consider organizations must remain overly vigilant when selecting a new software system.

 

 

About Eval-Source:

 Eval‐Source is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, Corporate Training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

 

  • Please enter existing systems in use, Current and future business functionality and features required, have you contacted vendors for demonstrations, has RFI/RFP been issued ?