Access to real time data changes business decisions for the better.
Using integrated and automated real-time data from an ERP system gives everyone at the company an instant and unified view of the operations. Here are a few areas where manufacturers can use ERP to make better, faster, more informed business decisions:
Get a competitive advantage in a crowded and lean operating marketplace. Learn more about the advantages of real-time ERP data for manufacturers. Give Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920.
Almost all small manufacturing firms start with Excel. It’s simple, customizable and easy to use. It can also be limiting as a company grows.
The manual entry and formula updates in Excel are not only inefficient, but also less reliable due to potential human error. Tying together and analyzing data between departments is also difficult, if not impossible. This requires more manual processing, often by busy department gatekeepers, and attempting to use said data to optimize workflow between departments becomes a quagmire.
Is it any wonder COOs, CFOs and IT Directors begin to research MRP / ERP software solutions as a company grows? Everyone can see the value of sales staff, inventory personnel, accountants, and shipping employees accessing the same real-time data.
A single source of interconnected data allows the modern manufacturer to streamline operations by building in useful functionality, such as emailing automated reports on a schedule or notifying key employees about incoming supply shipments or supply issues.
If your manufacturing firm is outgrowing Excel, schedule a time to talk with us about your ERP and MRP software options. We are experienced consultants with both manufacturing and software. Together we can get your business operations on the right technology track for expansion and growth.
Check out what manufacturing companies are saying about Parallel Solutions and then give us a call at 440-498-9920.
The moment of implementation. This is where all of the hard work done in the pre-planning and planning stages pays off. This is also when all the work that someone avoided or did poorly reveals itself.
While no amount of planning, however detailed, can completely mitigate every single bump in the implementation road, a company with the right project managers, a solid business process model and dedicated ERP resources will experience a mostly smooth implementation. If that same firm also addresses a few potential problems, then Go Live should Go Well.
Here are 4 potential problems to anticipate:
IT Integration Snafus:
There are two areas to review -- correct customization of add ons and importing of cleanly scrubbed data. The broader cause of both these issues is often poor collaboration between IT and department heads. If company leaders believe the ERP project is an IT project instead of a business project, then leadership, engagement and collaboration can fall apart just when it’s needed most. There is no part of the new ERP system that won’t affect top leadership and the bottom line. The IT team needs proper support, input and guidance, prior to and during roll out.
Drained Human Resources:
Too much on everyone’s plate is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, leadership has to make efforts to beef up human resources -- not the department, but people, sitewide, committed to making implementation a success. Leadership and influential staff in all departments need to be available to put in extra time during implementation. Since conversion usually happens over a weekend, having a plan to feed, reward and provide breaks for involved employees is important.
Management and the employees themselves can underestimate the importance of training. There must be lots of opportunities for employees to work through typical transactions and also troubleshoot with the software ahead of conversion. Management can encourage employees to pursue this critical step in a timely manner by incorporating training as an employee responsibility included in the annual review process.
Time is money, but saving time by cutting testing phases is not a wise move. Testing ensures the software works as needed, it catches process issues and glitches, and it ensures the system meets all business needs. Reducing testing can leave problems undetected and decrease functionality as people “make due” with ignored issues.
An experienced vendor and partner will help their clients manage these potential problems and help ensure smooth implementation. If you are thinking about using a new ERP system to improve your efficiency, decision-making, and customer outcomes, give Parallel Solutions a call at 440-498-9920.
Don’t overlook proper and complete training on a new or upgraded ERP system. After the time spent developing a business process model, customizing a solution and scrubbing data for transfer, the last thing a company should do is skimp or make due on training staff.
Often, the whole reason for embracing a complete ERP software solution is to streamline business processes, to improve profitability and make data-driven decisions. Without proper use of the system by staff, these goals will be short changed and profitability and efficiency will suffer.
To get the best results from all of the hard work put into new ERP implementation, a company must ensure that everyone using the system is comfortable and confident in its use. Training staff will also help company culture. If employees feel confident in the decision to switch to this system, they will embrace its use and use it properly, which will ensure ideal results.
To get the best results with new ERP software, provide plenty of opportunities to learn.
Parallel Solutions will work with a company onsite or via web conference to provide training and consulting assistance as needed. If you’re considering a new ERP system, give us a call at (440) 498-9920.
When a company decides to move to a new ERP software program, it must decide whether to key in basic information like vendors and customers or migrate this data from the existing system. Assuming there is a large number of data points, the usual decision is to migrate basic information and some history. Good data is at the heart of an effective ERP system. It is vital that the best, most up-to-date information is input into the new system. Not only is it important for the data to be complete, companies must also ensure information is formatted correctly prior to data conversion.
Getting this right at the beginning of the transfer process will ensure that the new system will be functional and ready for use from the start, without having to go back and fix corrupt or missing information. So, how does a company prepare for converting and transporting data into a new ERP system?
Review all records including vendors, customers, bills of materials and account numbers. Eliminate duplicate records. Drop old information. Update new contact names and addresses. The process of extracting and cleaning data will take time, but will be worth it in the end.
Some companies will also need to combine data from multiple sources into a master file before migration. In addition to making sure the data is accurate, or “scrubbed,” it must be placed into a software program that can be used to migrate the data file into the new ERP system. Understand that data cleanup and migration is an ongoing process until the Go Live date cutover.
Finally, once the data is migrated into the new system, it must be validated. Check for data volume to match up -- records uploaded should match records in the system. Check to verify values, like sales dollars or inventory volume, match as well. And finally, ensure data was mapped and entered into the correct areas and fields.
If data migration seems worrisome or overwhelming, don’t worry. The right vendor, like Parallel Solutions, will be there to help every step of the way. Contact us at (440) 498-9920 for your ERP needs. We are a full-service software provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software selection to training and system support.
Five Signs It's Time to Implement a New ERP Software
Client TestimonialsExcel Is Everywhere
You've got data set drama - HR, CRM, Accounting, Inventory - all running on different platforms and none of them integrate. Setting up a new customer involves 3 separate employees, and 6 emails, 2 phone calls and Excel documents.
Worse yet, you've got even more paper involved. Sales orders are backlogged for manual entry, which slows invoicing, by the accounting department, which enters it into the system that integrates with inventory as long as... you get the idea.
If watercooler talk turns to fantasizing about entering information at one time in one place, your company needs ERP software. That way employees can spend their time doing productive work instead of exporting and emailing update between department.
IT Struggles to Meet User Needs
The user community complains current reports don't provide necessary information. The amount of custom patches, plug-ins and upgrades to maintain and partially integrate systems is turning into a jerry-rigged, costly nightmare.
If the network is more of a "netwant," it's time for one final upgrade... to ERP. While the new system requires up front costs, the ROI will make up for the initial expense quickly. And you'll be astounded how much business grows when IT can actually work with management on improving process operations and reports.
Getting Business Info = Scavenger Hunt
Preparing for strategic business meeting requires a two week heads up so managers can hunt down key performance metrics. The answer to questions like "what's our average time between sales and shipment?" is always, "I'll get back to you next week."
Business moves fast, and competition requires spotting and resolving inefficiencies quickly.
Current System No Longer Supported by ERP Vendor
ERP Software is evolving, and there comes a time when your system is no longer supported by the ERP Vendor. This can quickly become expensive to support and new software is more cost effective.
Not to mention, you need your software to be able to handle expansion through organic growth or acquisition.
Customer Service is Unravelling
"Please hold while I chase down your order and let you know when that promised item will be available." Your reputation is on the line, especially in this day and age of online reviews.
Streamlining operations and integrating internal communication is key to customer experience and satisfaction. Internal system failures rarely remain internal. When reliability and service start to suffer, it's the final indicator that your system is deeply flawed. Getting your customer information - sales, project, supplies and accounting - together in one place means exemplary service. And customers expect nothing less in competitive markets.
If these scenarios sound familiar, it's time for new software. Please call us at 440-498-9920 with questions about ERP software and how it can streamline your processes. We are here to help.
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Understanding the processes you already have in place, makes it easier to select and implement new software.
One major step in your preparation for an ideal software solution for your company is to create a Business Process Model (BPM). Creating a BPM will also facilitate the implementation of an ERP system.
Detailing the work flow of each department and how these departments work together enables a company to determine specific requirements for the new system. Know your sequence and interactions (ISO-9001). This creates the building blocks for your BPM. Simple flow charts or process maps of each department will make company-wide processes more understandable and less likely to have gaps.
How to Build Your Model
While you by no means need to reinvent the wheel, re-envisioning how your operations may be able to become more streamlined, and working out any potential snags, is crucial to getting the most bang from your software buck.
Consider the following:
Once these and other key questions are answered and documented, a wish list / needs analysis can be created for new software. A key tool in selecting ERP software will identify the “must haves”, the “nice to have” and the “ don’t need/don’t want” functions.
A detailed BPM should illustrate how an enterprise application will fit the different functions within different departments in the business, along with how these departments ideally streamline and integrate data.
Once the BPM has been created, it is important to identify sample data, which can be used to test the effectiveness of the system so that adjustments can be made as necessary. It is also important to give users time and training to work through all the different scenarios and routines, so when the system goes live, the daily processes are able to run seamlessly.
Want to learn more about creating a Business Process Model? We can help. Contact Parallel Solutions at (440) 498-9920. We are a full-service software provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software selection to training and system support.
Businesses have to adapt to the rapidly changing technological demands of customers and business partners. A businesses’ employees, in turn, must adapt to the changes these new technologies bring to the work environment. The psychological and cultural toll this may take on individuals and organizations should not be ignored. Human beings are always reluctant to change even when we realize that change is necessary.
The way in which a company’s employees adapt to technological change often depends upon the usability of the software chosen, the cultural support given to key personnel, and the training offered during the transition. So, how do you mitigate fear when overhauling technology within an organization?
Choosing the Correct Tech Partner
It’s a balance between getting an ERP solution that meets future needs without choosing something with too many bells and whistles that overcomplicates the tasks at hand and exceeds the budget. While some smaller companies may err on the side of something too robust, others might seriously consider an inexpensive solution that only meets their immediate needs.
What is most essential is choosing a solution that makes the tasks at hand easier and more streamlined, while anticipating needs in a projected scenario where the business grows. The new software must integrate with all departments and require no workarounds by hand, as this is precursor of inconvenience, expense and employee anxiety.
Having a trusted software consultant can help avoid these pitfalls. Vendors should help you see which pieces of your business software puzzle need to fit together and how to get the best results from them.
Culture & Communication is Key
While researching and choosing a software solution, be sure to communicate with key employees, get their feedback and involve them in the process. Having a non-commutative culture can breed fear and resentment, which makes change more difficult.
Management and key influencers who have a good understanding of how the new ERP software will positively affect the company, can communicate a positive message of change to the rest of the staff whose work may be significantly impacted by the new processes. Helping everyone see the long-term strategies that can be achieved through a new technology will be a solid investment in a positive outcome.
Training to Alleviate Anxiety
Turn fear of the unknown into an opportunity to learn and grow. Thorough training and support of employees as they learn the new system, will allow staff to move forward confident in their abilities.
Training must be customized for each process in the organization so that staff see it’s direct relevance to their department. Consider training incentives that focus on the positive and use this stage of ERP implementation to highlight key features and demonstrate how it will ultimately save time and make jobs easier in the long term.
The right ERP vendor can help you manage cultural change and establish effective training across multiple departments. If you’re considering a vendor, or have more questions about change management, give call Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. We are a full service provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software to training and support.
Tech Research company, Gartner Inc., has named Macola 10 as one of six “Leaders" in the FrontRunners Quadrant for Manufacturing Software. Gartner uses “Quadrant” research methodology to judge over 24 software markets, one of which is manufacturing.
According to Gartner Inc., their Quadrant analysis, “provides a data-driven assessment of products in a particular software category to determine which ones offer the best capability and value for small businesses.”
In the case of the Macola award, Gartner started with a list of over 315 manufacturing ERP products, and used user reviews, to determine that Macola 10 is a “Leader” in the market. Like Parallel Solutions, Macola Software is committed to serving manufacturers and meeting the specific needs faced by small and medium businesses in manufacturing and distribution.
Gartner says this about FrontRunner Quadrant Leaders: "Leaders are all-around strong products. They offer a wide range of functionality to a wide range of customers. These products are considered highly valuable by customers."
According to Macola Software, their software is highly valued by its users because it provides manufacturers with, “Real-time data and insights, enabling them to make more informed business decisions; access to vital information wherever one works, such as real-time insight into inventory; increased efficiencies through reduced data entry; and streamlined processes with business automation.”
If you are a manufacturing or distribution company looking to upgrade your software, the experts at Parallel Solutions can help determine if Macola 10 is a good fit for your organization. We take the time to understand your business processes and accurately assess and prioritize needs to maximize ROI as quickly as possible.
Give Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. We are a full-service provider and our experienced staff helps with software selection, implementation, training and ongoing support.
Involving key stakeholders in meaningful and empowering ways in the implementation of enterprise-wide software is key to its success. Getting buy-in from not only the key players in management, but those at the front-lines where the data will likely be entered, is critical.
When it comes to top-down buy in, be sure pay attention to influencers amongst both top and middle management. Assure management about the time and resources being dedicated to change and help them understand the relevancy for the firm overall and their individual departments.
Even if benefits of ERP seem obvious compared to a legacy system, selling large-scale change to management is often about the bottom line. This means providing firm numbers and crafting a compelling financial argument, which includes accurate cost and ROI projections.
This often means working with a vendor to fully understand software licensing expense, on premise hosting or cloud costs along with additional costs for implementation, training, and customization. Understand the cost and scope of service to be delivered which is covered via annual vendor maintenance.
The costs of existing processes and systems must also be understood to accurately calculate ROI of a new system. Consider and measure the costs, as much as possible, of time consuming work arounds, duplication of efforts and other time wasters within the current process and system. Then one is able to calculate in financial terms how ERP will increase efficiency and lower costs over the long term.
When it comes to front line employee buy in, communication is key. Staff want to understand the timeline, project scope, and underlying business decisions for the project. Open lines of communication ensure that everyone who has a stake in the implementation is able to understand and contribute to the success of the end result.
After two way communication lines are open between ERP project managers and staff, it’s all about training. Once any concerns are vetted, training will support a staff’s growing positive attitude. This training must be customized for each process in the organization so that staff see it’s directly relevant to their department. Consider training incentives that focus on the positive and use training to highlight key features of ERP and show how it will ultimately save time and make jobs easier in the long term.
We Can Help
A good ERP implementation partner will be there for every step of change management. They will guide you on the needed steps of your project and will work with you throughout the process to help you evaluate the needs of the business. Parallel Solutions works with businesses from planning to implementation to help you make better decisions and work more efficiently on the project without interruption to daily operations.
If you’re considering a software change, or have more questions about cost projections, ROI calculations, Business Process Modelling or other planning, give call Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. We are a full-service provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software to training and ongoing support.
Mary Jo O'Neill