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Part 3 – Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

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Part 3 – Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

Anderson Yates consultants have been asked to rescue three ERP projects in the past two months, all involving companies that employ less than 250 employees – deploying cloud based ERP. What went wrong for them and what lessons can be learned that will ensure your company doesn’t fall into the same traps? (Part 3)

This week’s article and case study is the final in the series asking if ERP implementation is an Extremely Risky Project for SMEs to undertake.  Our final ERP implementation rescue is for a financial services company providing advice on various products.  They have been implementing their ERP system for 18 months but have not yet adopted the solution for finance.  The front office team has been using the Customer Relationship module to meet regulatory and internal sales management needs.

Case study 3 – Lessons from a Financial Services company ERP project rescue

Why has the solution not yet adopted after 18 months of implementation?  That’s a great question and it was the same question the board was asking.  I am unable to go into great lengths in disclosing this case as it is still ongoing.  Sufficient to say that initial review of the implementation uncovered a number of basic errors.  An example is the use of a text field instead of a drop down list which would have ensured data integrity.  Additional entries can be added to the drop down list if an option was not available.  There were in excess of 100 custom fields added to the Relationship Management module mainly in the Customer and Contacts records.  Automation was deployed to create tasks and activities to support the business processes.

Do you have a System Design Document for the implementation?  If you have read part 2, you know that this is one of the first questions our consultants would ask when reviewing an implementation.  Unfortunately – no.

Do you have a documentation of your To Be Business Process?  Again no.  So how would they know once the system has been implemented if that’s the optimized business process?

Transformation delivered? No not yet.  After discussing with the management team and explaining the implementation best practices that we use, we agreed that a re-implementation was the best solution.  A fixed fee and fixed scope fast track implementation program was agreed with clearly defined scope, deliverables, timescale and tasks to be carried out.

Here is our Sales pitch ……

Are you in the process of setting up your ERP system and need additional resources?  Do you need a fixed fee fixed scope ERP system implementation to ensure certainty and reduce risk on your part?  Our consultants are experts in Netsuite, Sage, Deltek Vision, Microsoft Dynamics, Sales Force & FinancialForce CRM, ERP and Business Intelligence solutions.  Call me on 01223 257769 or email:help@andersonyates.co.uk  if you need an impartial advice and assistance.  We will carry out an initial ERP health check review.

Key lessons learned from 3 case studies :

  1. ERP Project failures are not limited to location, size, industry or sector.
  2. Ensure you have a clear understanding of your optimum To Be Processes and reports and KPIs needs.
  3. Team training is important to set expectations and promote buy in from the start.
  4. Ensure you involve and focus the ERP project on all departments.  Even if you do not intend to roll out the system for certain departments immediately, explain the timescale and why decisions at the initial stage have impact on every department.  Engage all process owners throughout the project lifecycle, right through to go live and do not make assumptions on their behalf.
  5. Do not skip or short cut on User Acceptance Testing stage. Ensure that a thorough User Acceptance Testing is carried out before go live.  It must include all current and potential scenarios.  Run an end to end process testing not just segment tests.
  6. The choice of consultants matter for your ERP project success.
  7. We cannot over emphasize the importance of training.  It reduces frustration and stress. Get help early if you think the system is not behaving as you expect. If you think something is wrong – you are usually right.
  8. Ensure that you or your supplier documents your new ERP processes including details of the configuration options and the reason why they were selected.  Update the document after go live as soon as possible and carry out final configuration check.
  9. Ensure that you examine the consultants’ implementation methodology and plan to ensure they make sense and provide sufficient time and attention to adoption as well as implementation process.  Flag up any concerns or issues early and seek another independent advice if required.
  10. Choose fixed scope and fixed price fast implementation option if possible to reduce uncertainty and risk and to get the ERP solution ready for testing as soon as possible. Any potential issues can be identified earlier and addressed.

Summary

SMEs have the opportunity to upgrade their often non-integrated business management solutions with cloud native fully integrated ERP.  These systems offer lower cost of ownership, less risk, increase efficiency and provide flexibility and scalability to meet increasing business complexities.  Implemented and adopted properly, ERP provides a great Return on Investment (ROI) for fast growth and internationally focused SMBs.  However, as lessons learned above shows,there are pitfalls and “gotchas”. As SMEs place increasing demands on suppliers and resellers to implement ERP solutions to meet their needs, there will be a shortage of experienced consultants, project and change managers.  The choice of consulting firm will become more important to ensure successful outcome.

Read Part 2 – Is Cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

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Part 2 – Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

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Part 2 – Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

Anderson Yates consultants have been asked to rescue three ERP projects in the past two months, all involving companies that employ less than 250 employees – deploying cloud based ERP. What went wrong for them and what lessons can be learned that will ensure your company doesn’t fall into the same traps? (Part 2)

This week’s case study is based on an ERP implementation rescue for an E-commerce company selling luxury wear in several countries.  Their ERP system has been running for 12 months when we were appointed following a change in its operations team.

Case study 2 – Lessons from an E-commerce ERP project rescue

Surely if it has been running for 12 months, it must be working properly?  You would have thought so wouldn’t you?  Yet in reviewing how their stock items were set up for items with different sizes and colours, they were not correctly done.  Consequently, when sales invoices and delivery notes were printed, there were missing information relating to the size and colour of the product.  Could they have picked this up at User Acceptance?  Yes, definitely.  The UAT phase should have involved creating new stock items of all types.

Was that it? Anything else?  When we were reviewing questions and anomalies regarding the system and how it behaved, it became clear that the new operations team has had little training in the use of the software and some of these anomalies may have been by design.  An example question was can we hide or default the VAT column when users enter sales orders.  Whilst the system can be configured to do so, it was not practical as orders were created for sales to different countries for the same client.

Do you have a System Design Document for the implementation?  This is one of the first questions our consultants would ask when reviewing an implementation.  I got a blank stare and a question of what is that? The system design document contains details of configuration options.  It explains the reason why the system is set up as it is.  Unfortunately, none was available.  Our recommendation to clients is that a System Design Document should be updated at the earliest opportunity after go live.  It is the system administrator(s)’s role to do so.  This allows the administrator(s) the opportunity for final review.

Our stock valuation is incorrect – it should have been higher than what is being reported? Our suspicion was confirmed by this very statement.  We didn’t think the system was correctly implemented with the right stock valuation method in place.  I was further puzzled by why I was also asked to help them correct stock numbers and valuation.  It was like opening a can of worms.  It appears that the process of stock ordering, receiving, sales order processing, despatch and sales invoicing has not been strictly followed through.  The finance team has been adjusting stock valuation to compensate for the incorrect valuation method in use.  Frustrations and stress level was high as reports of sales through and valuation were being questioned.

What we did?  Following a review with the Operations manager, a plan of action was agreed.  Correct stock type, correct stock valuation as at the end of the previous year.  Review previous sales orders and close those already fulfilled or partially fulfilled if no more despatch is to be made.  We provided the operations team with training on the correct use of the system and the effect of each step of the process on accounting.  We also provided training on the use of reporting tools to report on transactions, to carry out analysis and the use of Dashboard for KPI reporting.

Transformation delivered.  The corrective work took three days to complete and training was provided “on the job”.  The operations team is now able to maintain the system correctly and understands the impact of their action on accounting.  The stock valuation is now correctly reflecting the purchase cost of items made up of several components including packaging and additional work purchased from multiple suppliers on a number of purchase orders.  We are now six weeks since the remedial work was carried out.  Stock Valuation at the end of May was to be compared to physical stock count.  The team is now preparing for the launch of a new range for the summer season.  They are now using the import routine devised for adding new stock lines which included style, size and colour.  “We are delighted by the care and attention provided by your team.  You have in-depth knowledge of the product and we have no hesitation in recommending yourcompany” was the comment from the operations manager.

Here is our Sales pitch ……

Are you in the process of setting up your ERP system and need additional resources?  Have your business model changed since your ERP was set up?  Are you now struggling in using your ERP system?  Would further optimisation or training be helpful?  Our consultants are experts in Netsuite, Sage, Deltek Vision, Microsoft Dynamics, Sales Force & FinancialForce CRM, ERP and Business Intelligence solutions.  Call us on 01223 257769 or email: help@andersonyates.co.uk  if you need an impartial advice and assistance.  We will carry out an initial ERP health check review.  Our mission is to assist SMEs to successfully adopt business management solutions that help them win more business, improve efficiency, increase profitability and provide flexibility to maximise opportunities.

Key lessons learned:

  1. Ensure that a thorough User Acceptance Testing is carried out before go live.  It must include all current and potential scenarios.  Run an end to end process testing not just segment tests.
  2. We cannot emphasise the importance of training.  It reduces frustration and stress.  Get help early if you think the system is not behaving as you would expect it to.  If you think something is wrong – you are usually right.
  3. Ensure that you or your supplier documents your new ERP processes including details of the configuration options and the reason why they were selected.  Update the document after go live as soon as possible and carry out final configuration check.
  4. The choice of consultants matter for your ERP project success.

Next week will be our final instalment and conclusion to the question “ Is Cloud based ERP an Extremely Risky Project  for SMEs?”  We will share with you what lessons can be learned from a financial services company implementing Services focused ERP (SRP – Services Resource Planning).

Read Part 1 – Is Cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

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Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

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Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?

Anderson Yates consultants have been asked to rescue three ERP projects in the past two months, all involving companies that employ less than 250 employees – deploying cloud based ERP. What went wrong for them and what lessons can be learned that will ensure your company doesn’t fall into the same traps?

You are right to be cynical

When I see a headline like this written by an independent consulting firm that sells project management and change management, my initial reaction is: of course they will say that.  They want to scare us into buying their services.

You will be right if the whole article does not draw any practical lessons that you can put into place to avoid making the mistakes when your company needs a new CRM, Accounting, ERP or Business Intelligence system.  This article is not the same as ERP suppliers giving you advice on how to choose their product as your next ERP.

Location and industry is not immune from ERP project failure.

Let me tell you about these three ERP projects.  First of all, they are in three different locations;  East Anglia, London and Wales and in three different sectors;  IT Services, Ecommerce and Financial Services.

Case study 1 – Lessons from IT Services company ERP project rescue

Surely IT Services company must have a successful implementation, aren’t they experts?  You would have thought that such a company is accustomed to delivering successful IT projects.  They have dedicated project managers in house, what could possibly go wrong?

What event caused the failure?  It wasn’t their project management that let them down, but it was their ERP project focus.  When discussing the project with the management team, they admitted that their focus was on replacing their Quickbooks accounting software.  Marketing and the services team perceived this as being a finance only system so didn’t really get too involved in the implementation.  Until the services team was asked to use the system to process sales orders, place purchase orders for hardware and software sold and raise appropriate sales invoices.

Why did the implementation not work for the Services team? With little input at the business process stage, the services team found the system difficult to use and was not complementary about it.  They were unable to know which Sales Order has been dealt with and by whom and whether purchase orders have been raised or not for the items sold.  They are able to see that Sales Orders has been invoiced but they were unable to tell if the goods ordered has been delivered to the warehouse, whether an engineer has been assigned to configure it, and whether it has been delivered.   Finance did not think it necessary for the stock system to be used – after all they only do a back to back order and most stock is allocated to client project.  The result of this assumption was that the services team had to use good old email to inform everyone what’s going on.  There must be a better way….

What we did?  We booked in a review with the Services team to uncover the problem above.  We informed and show them that if they were to use the stock control system, the progression from Sales order, to placing Purchase order, to receiving and invoicing workflow can be seen from a sales order screen and that is how most systems gives you control.  We also resolved other matters relating to who is dealing with the order and the stage that it is in now.  The solution comes from changes to their process and system.  It isn’t one or the other in order to find the optimum process, it is usually both.

What happened to Marketing?  Well we helped them implement marketing automation after explaining what their system provides them.  Campaign Management linking to project costs comparing budget with actual, E-Mail and letter templates, Campaign Categories, Run campaigns out of the system and track results, viewing each contact lead source and their history of responses to each campaign, which opportunity, sales order and profit is generated by each campaign to provide campaign effectiveness and ROI measure.  Finally, we reviewed reports and dashboards for KPI monitoring.  We configured the system based on the client’s marketing mix.  They are now busy preparing the first campaign from the system which is the launch of a new product.

Transformation delivered?  The Managing Director commented that we have achieved more in one day consulting with these departments than the previous consultant did in 6 months.  The users are now enthusiastic about the system that is aligned to help them to be more efficient and effective to meet business goals.  That’s transformation.

Team Training?  Why and isn’t it a waste of time and money?  We recommend team training conducted by senior consultants to help clients really understand what their software can do and how best to achieve it.  We conduct Team Training at the beginning of every full ERP implementation project or rescue.  The purpose of which are 1.  to envision the project team as to what the new system will look like.  2.  To communicate why the change and 3.  The process involved and the hardships to get there.  Not to worry though we will be with them on the journey and we have completed lots of successful implementation in their industry.

Here is a Sales pitch, feel free to ignore……

If you have Quickbooks Enterprise V14, your license and support will be expiring on 31 July, 2015.  You can still get free technical support including e-mail support free until 31st July 2017.  After which time I guess the support team will be going on their summer holiday.   Here is what QB says about payroll: “After 5 April 2015, no further tax or payroll updates will be released. This means it will not be possible to use the software to run payroll or prepare returns for HMRC.” If you are still using their payroll, it may not be compliant.  But don’t panic.  What you should do next depends on your business.  Call us on 01223 257769 or email:help@andersonyates.co.uk  if you need an impartial advice and assistance as to the best thing to do.  That’s why we are here for – our purpose is to assist SMBs to successfully adopt business management solution that helps to win more business, improve efficiency, increase profitability and provide flexibility to maximise opportunities.

Key lessons learned:

  1. ERP Project failures are not limited to location, size, industry or sector.
  2. Your focus and change management during implementation determines if your ERP ends up to be perceived as Finance only system.
  3. Involve all process holders engaged throughout the project lifecycle, right through to go live and do not make assumptions on their behalf.
  4. Do not skip or short cut on User Acceptance Testing stage.
  5. Team training is important to set expectations and buy in.
  6. The choice of consultants matter for your ERP project success.

Next 2 weeks we will share with you what we found at the e-commerce and financial services companies.

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Sinclair Finance & Leasing goes live with Fleet Manager portal from Anderson Yates

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Sinclair Finance & Leasing goes live with Fleet Manager portal from Anderson Yates

Sinclair Finance & Leasing turns to Anderson Yates to assist in delivering the solution fast. Using the company’s agile development approach and RAD (Rapid Application Development) platform, the project was completed by Anderson Yates within a six week period from inception to go live. The portal ensures fleet managers receive the highest level of customer service with the personal touch.

Sinclair Finance and Leasing is part of the Sinclair Group, one of Wales’ Top 50 and UK Top 250 most successful privately owned companies which is constructed with a total of 19 franchises consisting of Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, Smart, Skoda and Volkswagen Commercial vehicles. The company is responsible for providing a full service financing, maintenance, support and disposal of fleet and individually owned cars.  The company pride itself on providing the highest level of customer service with the personal touch.

When the company was looking to enhance its service to fleet managers and drivers with on-line and apps based portal for leased vehicles under their care, Sinclair Finance & Leasing turns to Anderson Yates to assist in delivering the solution fast. Using the company’s agile development approach and RAD (Rapid Application Development) platform, the project was completed by Anderson Yates within a 6 week period from inception to go live.

“Anderson Yates took a different approach in solving our problem – by taking the time to understand our needs and providing us with sample solutions – fast.  They communicated everything well to both our technical and less technical staff,” commented Kerry Thomas, Director, Sinclair Finance & Leasing.  “In addition to being responsive to changes we need, we were kept fully informed of challenges and potential delivery problems.  We are delighted with the team at Anderson Yates and we look forward to engaging them in future projects.”

The first phase of this project was to provide Sinclair Finance & Leasing with a portal which fleet managers can access online. The portal provides live contracts information, Vehicle on Order, History of all Vehicles ordered and Vehicle contract Information including MOT Due, RFL Due and Mileage exception reporting.

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Anderson Yates releases innovative fleet manager solutions platform

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Anderson Yates releases innovative fleet manager solutions platform

Anderson Yates today announced the release and availability of Fleet Portal 2.0, the company’s market leading customer services fleet manager solutions to car leasing companies.

The software was designed for finance leasing companies to provide information to fleet managers and individual drivers with a self-service portal to view their fleet and individual vehicle information. The solution is currently available for the desk top with an app version due in Q2.

The company claims that providing fleet managers with a self-service portal enhances customer service, adds value to fleet managers and drivers whilst at the same time reducing admin costs.

Fleet Portal 2.0 by Anderson Yates is available as a hosted or onsite solution. “ Every company has different policy regarding client data security” explained Yuwan Effendi, CTO of Fleet Manager. “By providing an option for Fleet Portal deployment, our clients can choose the best option for their individual circumstance.”

Using Fleet Portal 2.0, fleet managers are able to review all cars under management with the leasing company and to drill down to pricing, current and estimated mileage at the end of the lease period, RFL and MOT due information. New car on order information and expected delivery date is also available. With this information, fleet managers can be proactive in managing their company’s vehicle arrangement, availability and use.

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Anderson Yates invests in Netsuite consulting competency and expands its cloud offerings

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Anderson Yates invests in Netsuite consulting competency and expands its cloud offerings

Anderson Yates partners with Netsuite through Collaborative Systems Consulting in Cambridge and Keystone Data in Leeds – and invests in Netsuite consulting competency to provide independent advice and assistance to companies evaluating cloud based business management solutions.

Fast Growth companies and Exporters based in East Anglia (Cambridge, Ipswich & Peterborough), the South East (London), Leeds and Manchester can now get independent advice and assistance in evaluating the real benefits of integrated cloud based ERP solution for their businesses.

Anderson Yates has been advising clients on the benefits and justification of ERP investment for growth focused SMEs since 2004.  The company has significant experience of working with Fast Growth companies and Exporters.  Their consultants have assisted several winner of The Queen’s Award for International Trade to improve their use of integrated ERP solutions (CRM, Finance/Accounting, HR) and Business Intelligence and Analytics.

“We chose to invest and develop consulting expertise in Netsuite having independently evaluated a number of Cloud based ERP offerings including Sage (www.Sage.com), Microsoft Navision (www.microsoft.com), SAP Business One (www.SAP.com), and Accumatica (www.accumatica.com) but found Netsuite’s significant experience in the cloud, global reach, 24,000+ client base, financial strength and completeness of solution for most industries (E-Commerce, Light Manufacturing, IT Services, Technology, Professional Services and Engineering) to be most impressive”  explained Yuwan Effendi, Senior Consultant, Anderson Yates.  “Companies looking to invest in a fully integrated Cloud ERP solution and those trading internationally, needing to meet local market legislation and multi lingual E-Commerce and business management system features, will do well to evaluate Netsuite One World”

Anderson Yates do not resell Netsuite or any other software packages it highlights or recommends and clients are free to choose whether to engage their consultants or use resellers and other consulting partners for their implementation.  At the implementation stage, the company has proven to be most valuable in assisting clients with Stakeholders management, Project and Change management and User Acceptance Testing (UAT) activities.  Anderson Yates’senior consultants have held senior finance roles and with 15+ years ERP implementation experience in Europe, North America, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.

 

Anderson Yates (www.andersonyates.co.uk) is an independent consultancy assisting mid-market Fast Growth and Exporting companies in the succesful selection and implementation (Project Management) and adoption (Change Management & User Acceptance Testing (UAT)) of integrated business management solutions (CRM, ERP/Accounting, HR) and Reporting, Business Intelligence and Analytics that drives business performance.  Our senior consultants have 15+ year’s successful system implementation and adoption experience with in-depth knowledge of business and financial processes and international reporting requirements.

Netsuite (www.netsuite.co.uk) is the industry’s leading provider of cloud-based financials / ERP and omni channel commerce software suites.  Today, more than 24,000 companies and subsidiaries depend on NetSuite to run complex, mission-critical business processes globally in the cloud. Since its inception in 1998, NetSuite has established itself as the leading provider of enterprise-class cloud ERP/financials suites for divisions of large enterprises and mid-sized organisations seeking to upgrade their antiquated client/server ERP systems. NetSuite continues its success in delivering the best cloud ERP/financial suites to businesses around the world, enabling them to lower IT costs significantly while increasing productivity, as the global adoption of the cloud is accelerating.

Collaborative Systems Consulting (www.collaborative-systems.co.uk) and Keystone Data(www.keystonedata.co.uk) are reseller partners, system integrators and consulting companies for  Netsuite based in Cambridge and Leeds respectively.

 

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Cegedim Analytics and Anderson Yates to present at Project Challenge 2014 in October

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Cegedim Analytics and Anderson Yates to present at Project Challenge 2014 in October

Cegedim Analytics and Anderson Yates will present a Master Class at Project Challenge 2014 on “How Agile Business Intelligence(BI) supports the Project Management Office (PMO)”. The event at Olympia, London, on 14-15 October is the UK’s largest independent show for project and program managers.

Companies are adopting Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics tools today to gain valuable insights into company performance and facilitate revenue growth. The presentation discusses how the PMO can use these tools to best effect within the project lifecycle and how agile BI platforms such as Cegedim Analytics’ Reportive automatic reporting, dashboard and analytics platform fast track the PMO’s stakeholder reporting and communication tasks.

The presentation also acknowledges the technical complexity and costly corporate systems incumbent within many companies such as IBM Cognos, Oracle & SAP offerings can benefit from adopting a 2 tier BI startegy which include agile BI solution for automating reporting at departmental level.

Agile BI platforms such as Reportive co-exists with and utilises data from corporate BI & Analytics tools to enable departments such as the PMO to combine data from multiple sources to produce and distribute stakeholder updates and reports without coding. These agile BI platforms are designed for business users in mind and can output results in multiple formats including Excel,Pdf, Word, PowerPoint and Html.

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