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5 common mistakes SMEs make when selecting Cloud ERP solutions

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5 common mistakes SMEs make when selecting Cloud ERP solutions

A recent survey conducted by Redshift Research for a major ERP supplier reveals that ERP users aren’t happy with what they are getting. The Information Week article further noted that ERP users expect mobility in future ERP implementations. In Anderson Yates’ study of 20 ERP implementations that yielded disappointing results for SMEs, they discovered five common mistakes that these companies made during their ERP selection process.

1.        Lack of detailed requirements that the ERP solution must deliver

Most SMEs fail to produce a detailed requirements document when selecting cloud based ERP.  The lack of documentation of their required reports, KPIs and processes results in the company being subjected to each software supplier’s best practice process.  Unfortunately, these may or may not meet the company’s optimised processes.

Since one of the major reasons for selecting cloud based ERP is to provide timely management reports and information to assist in decision making, SMEs are failing to produce clear management reports and KPIs requirements.  It puzzles me that many SMEs treat management reports and KPIs as an after-thought.  Too often we find that clients are struggling to produce their reports in the format required or they are surprised by the costs involved in producing them.  The widespread use of Sage software has resulted in SMEs moving to an ERP solution assuming that creating  reports is a simple process.  Many are often surprised by the time it takes to specify and create an invoice layout to meet their clients’ requirements.  One client had a fairly complex invoice layout that took 2 days on average to produce.  They had 5 different layouts.  That’s £10,000 just for invoices.  Ouch!

2.       Lack of clarity as to what the optimised business processes should be for the business

Although most SMEs understand the most optimised processes they need, they fail to make it clear to the ERP supplier that their solution must meet these processes.  The lack of documentation on process and reporting requirements result in suppliers showing their software best practices and the standard reports in the system.  Although the best practice in the software solution makes sense, it may not be practical to the user tasked with carrying out these processes.

We recommend that SMEs take the time to document their “As Is” processes and their optimised “To Be” processes with their users.  This leverages users’ deep understanding of the best processes to adopt and also for their buy-in.

3.       Selecting too many or too few ERP vendors on their list

Selecting less than 3 vendors for obtaining quotation and a demo is less common than selecting too many companies to consider.  Most SMEs will select 6-8 suppliers to consider based on their research.  The most I have seen involves 15 suppliers.  Each is expected to provide a demo of their system in meeting the company’s outlined high level requirements and to provide a quotation.

In addition to the process being extremely time consuming, laborious and demoralising to the selection team involved, it also resulted in significant confusion.  Yes you guessed it.  When they finally selected the ERP solution considered to provide the best features and value, some features that they thought the software provided was in fact features in other software they have seen.  It’s incredible how we sometimes remember the features we liked in software and thought that the selected software had those features.

4.       Failing to confirm that the ERP solution proposed is able to deliver without further customisation

Companies sometimes fail to realise that ERP solution contracts are created by the software suppliers to reduce the supplier’s risk.  My advice to clients is simply BUYERS BEWARE.  Be aware that the construct of the agreement is often structured in such a way that it states that you the customer has fully satisfied yourself that the software solution and services provided by the supplier meet your requirements.

We sometimes get involved with ERP project rescue or recovery where the customer is dissatisfied with the software features and functionalities and is asking if they can ask for reimbursements from the supplier.  Unfortunately, with the construct of the agreement being so, they are at the mercy of the supplier.  Often, supplier will agree to create custom code to compensate for the lack of features and functionalities.  In most cases, this involves additional costs.

The message here is simply to ensure that before entering into a contract with a supplier that you have fully satisfied yourself that the software you are buying can meet your requirements and can meet them within the timescale and costs quoted by the supplier.  Ask to see an end to end demonstration of their proposed solution for your business, test it out internally and look under the bonnet to ensure you understand what the reporting or customisation tool is like.   It is imperative that you include a detailed statement of requirements of outputs required from the new system and the “to be” processes it must meet as part of the contract.  Their inclusion should enable suppliers to provide a fixed scope, fixed price contract – minimising the uncertainty and risk of your ERP project.  Any suppliers with extensive experience will welcome this approach.

5.       Making assumptions of the features and capabilities the selected ERP have

 Underlying a number of mistakes made by SMEs during an ERP selection process is the assumption that based on the demo they are shown, the software is able to meet their business processes, reports and KPIs with little or no customisation or modification.  Some also believe that the reporting and customisation tools are simple enough to use that they themselves will have the skills in-house to do this.  However, these are often all based on ASSUMPTIONS.  My colleagues used to point out that if we assume things, it would make an Ass of U and Me.

 

This article is created based on the forth coming e-book to be published by the author, Yuwan Effendi, on“Best Practices for the Selection and Implementation of Cloud based ERP Solutions”  RRP £ 6.95.  Anderson Yates has 25 copies to give away FREE.  Simply send an e-mail to info@andersonyates.co.uk with the subject title “FREE E-Book” and we will send you a copy.

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For more information about our services visit our website www.andersonyates.co.uk , complete an enquiry form or call us on +44 (0)1223 257769.

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Anderson Yates introduces Business Intelligence for Salesforce and Sage users

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Anderson Yates introduces Business Intelligence for Salesforce and Sage users

Salesforce and Sage users can enjoy the benefits of Business Intelligence and Analytics immediately with Panintelligence. Connectors and pre-configured dashboard and analytics for Salesforce and Sage are available from Anderson Yates. In addition to standard integration, Panintelligence enables Salesforce users to connect the cloud CRM with Sage & other on premise and cloud accounting/ERP databases.  Here are answer to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Can we combine Salesforce CRM data to my Accounting, Production, E-Commerce and warehousing data?  Our acconting and production data are on -premise but our e-commerce and warehousing data are in the cloud.

Panintelligence can connect to any of 24 commercial databases both on premise and in the cloud including IBM DB2, Oracle, MySQL, SAP and SQL Server OLAP as standard. We can connect Salesforce CRM data with your accounting data to deliver visibility of customer payment history to improve cashflow and collection.

Can we access our dashboard and reports using any device?

Yes, Panintelligence dashboard is a browser based application that can be accessed on any device.

We wish to deploy Panintelligence on our own servers – is this possible?

Yes, Panintelligence is licensed to enable companies to choose the best deployment model to suit their business.  The application can be hosted on a private or public cloud.

How secure is our data and will any data be cached on local device or machine?

Panintelligence is the only PCI compliant Business Intelligence and Analytics tool approved for use in the Financial Services industry.  By design, the software uses server procesing.  No local procesing or Caching takes place on your device or client machine.

Find out how Panintelligence is used in this  services industry video.  For more information or to arrange a Proof of Concept for your company, please call 01223 257769 or email: BI@andersonyates.co.uk.

 

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Anderson Yates expands BI & Analytics practice to SMEs by partnering with Panintelligence

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Anderson Yates expands BI & Analytics practice to SMEs by partnering with Panintelligence

Anderson Yates, niche consultancy providing Business Intelligence, Project & Change Management and Implementation Services for Netsuite CRM, PSA, SRP, ERP and E-Commerce solutions today announces that it has signed a consulting partner agreement with Panintelligence, provider of real-time web-based reporting and dashboard tools for SMBs.

 Panintelligence brings ready-made reports and dashboards for Sage and Salesforce.com user communities to meet growing SMBs’ demand for cost effective, easy to use, real-time self-service reports, analytics and dashboards.

Anderson Yates plans to develop further reports and dashboards by combining multiple sources of cloud and on premise data for IT/Technology, Professional Services, Non-Profit, E-Commerce and Distribution companies.
The Panintelligence dashboard is business intelligence software that tracks KPIs, monitors individual, team and corporate goals in real-time, and promotes collaboration across the organisation.  It is used by key ERP software vendors to provide real-time collaborative dashboards for their solutions.  The company has also developed dashboards that integrate Salesforce CRM data with other company data held in ERP/Accounting, Warehouse and Production systems. Business Intelligence reports and dashboards for Sage products are also available.

Anderson Yates and Panintelligence plan to create additional reports and dashboards to other cloud and on-premise systems, where the existing solution is either too expensive or too complex for SMEs to manage.

Panintelligence scores highly in Anderson Yates’ evaluation of Business Intelligence tools for SMEs.  The three compelling key differentiators provided are:

  • Ease of implementation – one click deployment on server or a stand-alone PC and the installer does the rest.  Create an ODBC Link and you can get charts in minutes with Panintelligence.  All using familiar drag and drop functions.  This gives users confidence to create more complex reports and dashboards.
  • Charts and reports, including drill down reports are produced using drag and drop functionality, no coding.  This provides a real-time self-service BI and analytics tool accessible to business managers and not just IT.
  • The Panintelligence team focuses on building long lasting mutually beneficial and supportive relationships and values continuous improvements based on customer feedback.

The product will sit alongside Anderson Yates’ current Agile Self Service Enterprise Business Intelligence offering Reportive which is now owned by the US Group IMS Health.

Panintelligence users do not need to understand cube development or other data warehousing techniques.  It is therefore an ideal tool for use by business managers within SMBs.  Available on premise or as a SaaS solution, clients can choose the most suitable model for their business. See Panintelligence in action here.  To see Panintelligence for Sage or to discuss your requirements, email: BI@andersonyates.co.uk or call 01223 257769.

About Panintelligence

Panintelligence is a UK based software company that provides business intelligence software solutions to customers across a range of industries.

The Panintelligence dashboard is a flexible and intuitive business intelligence application that provides access to real-time data allowing businesses to make more informed decisions. It presents complex data in a visual and easy to digest format as a series of interactive charts and graphs. We offers businesses a short lead-time to market, allowing them to move from a pilot to a customer facing BI solution in a matter of weeks. Priding itself on being easy to work with, having dedicated points of contact and a simple licensing model, Panintelligence makes it easy to deploy and manage its solution. Working in close partnership with all of its customers, Panintelligence helps them to deliver the best solution to market and provides ongoing product support.  http://www.Panintelligence.com

About Anderson Yates

Anderson Yates provides advice and assistance for companies planning or undergoing business transformation projects.  Our team specialises in successful delivery of Agile Business Intelligence (BI) & Analytics, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and ERP / Accounting solutions to the Professional Services, Engineering, Technology, Retail and Non-Profit organisations.

Anderson Yates also delivers cloud native ERP solutions based on NetSuite SRP (Services Resource Planning), Open Air Professional Services Automation, Manufacturing, Warehouse & Disribution & SuiteCommerce.  www.andersonyates.co.uk

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For more information contact tricia@andersonyates.co.uk or zandra.moore@panintelligence.com

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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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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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