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.
One of the best ways to ensure that a new ERP system works ideally, is to do thorough preparation at the beginning of the project. A major step in this planning phrase is creating a Business Process Model (BPM), which is essentially a playlist of ideal functionality for your ERP system to make sure it fits the company’s specific needs.
Software Evaluation stage
The great news is that you don’t have to engage in this process alone. Company teamwork is key to building a successful BPM that leads to ideal software purchase and successful implementation. Management needs to set the tone by showing support. A good starting point is staffing a project team with experienced representation from all departments. Discuss the usual and unusual activities that occur. As you engage with software vendors during the pre-sales process, look for people who fit with your corporate culture. Look for experienced consultants who can offer advice when your staff need help. Your company brings its strengths, especially in the day-to-day operations of the business, while your software partner should bring software knowledge and experience from working with diverse companies.
Post Software selection
While it may seem an added step, re-envisioning how your operations can become more streamlined in the future, and working out any potential snags, is crucial to getting the most bang from your software buck. Rethink how operations are handled. As an example, would different steps improve the flow on a manufacturing floor? Create a plan to ensure employees are properly trained. Have all business scenarios been considered? Take the time to ensure that your investment has the best chance to positively impact your business by paying back dividends in efficiency.
Not only will collaborative work lead to the purchase of the right software, it will also save implementation time by focusing on those issues and procedures that generate a return on investment by improving operational efficiency. By taking the time to properly plan for software implementation, you will save time later, when tensions are rising as you approach the "Go Live" date.
At Parallel Solutions we like to have a thorough understanding of your processes, so we can help you choose the ideal software solution within your budget, and give you a realistic idea of the time needed to implement the software. We know that a smooth roll-out of new software is vital to your company’s success, and our team works diligently with your staff to ensure a successful implementation.
Give us a call today at 440-498-9920 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Parallel Solutions specialize in working with small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses, and, as such, we understand the unique needs and challenges these smaller operations face in contrast to large, enterprise-level companies. When it comes to ERP software, one size does not fit all.
In a smaller business environment, you often have fewer people monitoring more business functions. When you’ve got less than 100 employees, key personnel wear many different hats, keeping track of operations in their heads. But in order to grow effectively, all of that information needs to be tracked in such a way that everyone who needs access to it can get it.
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. Those that rely simply on the cheapest software solution which solves the problem at hand, can end up with a patchwork quilt of non-integrating pieces of software that don’t talk to one another, making any kind of proactive, big-picture analysis very difficult.
Don’t settle for a solution that won’t integrate with one department or requires a workaround by hand up front, as this is precursor of inconvenience and expense to come. Make sure the new solution covers ALL of the business tracking and measuring you need both in this moment and in a projected scenario where the business, and its needs, have grown.
Of course, this is easier said than done. How can you reliably know what kind of software a business will ideally need in five or ten years? How do you meet projected needs without over-buying something too robust and complicated?
Having a trusted software consultant can help answer these questions. Vendors like Parallel Solutions can help you see which pieces of your business software puzzle need to fit together and how to get the best results from them.
Take, for example, the case of ALTEO NA, LLC. Their AS400-based legacy order-entry system, Oasis, was no longer meeting the firm’s growing needs. Executives considered business needs and came up with a straightforward list, which led them to consider replacing the current system with Quickbooks Enterprise. However, after speaking with experts at Parallel Solutions, they were able to fine tune their business process model and consider future needs.
Scott Barnhouse, Director N.A., found this service to be especially valuable. “Parallel Solutions guided us through the decision process regarding the specific ERP that was best suited to our company and showed us that Quickbooks Enterprise would not be our best long term solution. Initially, we did not fully understand the longer term, total needs of the company.”
When it comes to choosing the right software solution, the right vendor can be invaluable. Having a trusted software partner helps you find the right-sized software for the business practices you need to monitor both today and in the future.
If your existing software needs an improvement, don’t delay. Give us a call at (440) 498-9920 and we can help you assess your business needs and find the software that will best serve your immediate and future business needs. You can also download our free resource checklist right now at this link: Questions to Ask Before Buying an ERP System.
It’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day running of your organization and not take the time to look at the “big picture” of your company’s business processes. The turn of the New Year is a great time to take inventory of your Accounting, CRM and operations IT systems to make sure they can meet growing business needs for the coming year.
Often business owners and managers are able to rationalize the time and attention necessary to address problems in a makeshift system with glaring inefficiencies, but it would be wiser to use that time for planning and strategizing about a system upgrade or change. Don’t wait for a glaring problem in a makeshift system to force change.
As your business grows, your ordering, inventory, manufacturing, order processing and accounting grow more complex, and siloed departments with multiple ways of tracking information can become roadblocks for future success. Whereas a comprehensive software solution—ideally, one linked to your other business functions—keeps everyone on the same page as far as customer needs, follow-up, operations and processing.
If the idea of considering a change seems daunting, know that you don’t have to go it alone. We here at Parallel Solutions are not just sales people, we are consultants that can help you during the consideration and planning phase for IT software and hardware changes.
When we work with potential clients, we like to visit the facilities to get an understanding of how your business works, so that we can help tailor a solution that works with your specific processes. For example, we can help determine if today’s software has the ability to grow with you to meet future needs. While keeping growth in mind, we can also help prioritize which needs are greatest to keep expenses down and maximize ROI as quickly as possible.
Here at Parallel Solutions, we pride ourselves on finding the best solution for today and tomorrow when it comes to your business. We work with you to help you make well-informed choices about your software, while maximizing your financial investment.
Call us at 440-498-9920 or email us at email@example.com.
Excel spreadsheets are often a company’s first foray into the world of data aggregation, management and forecasting. In this way, Excel, often paired with Quickbooks, is a first ERP system of sorts for many. There are benefits and drawbacks to using Excel, either as its own solution, or paired with other tools or ERP systems. As a company continues to grow in the marketplace, they often get to a point of asking: Is it time to upgrade from Excel to ERP?
Here are some considerations...
The Benefits of Excel
Many companies run their data through Excel for good reason. It’s simple to use, easily shareable and customizable. Most everyone in business, knows how to use Excel -- no special training required. The simplicity of using Excel, is much like the ease of customizing it. There is no shortage of affordable experts worldwide that can create custom formulas, reporting and templates for many of your company department’s needs.
When it comes to collaboration, sharing Excel data and files is also easy. Anyone can hop into a shared Excel file, access the data, and use it for their needs. Easy sharing can mean security issues with data. Excel may not be able to manage more complex processes, such as inventory management, or workflow, in real time.
The Benefits of ERP
Workflow optimization is one benefit of ERP. For example, inventory information is used by sales, accounting and other departments. Accessing and using data with Excel means lots of email sharing, exporting, importing and manual entry. With ERP, all that is eliminated as data is pulled in real time from one single, secure and up to date source. This not only minimizes error and omissions, but makes the data more reliable and useful across all departments and for operational and forecasting purposes.
This single source of interconnected data also allows modern ERP systems 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.
But what about the user training required for an ERP system? Typically training classes are available but vary in terms of class format and delivery, location and frequency. Timing of education is important; you want your users to remember how to complete transactions but have time to consider possible exceptions from the norm. Successful implementations result from more than just attending educational classes. Users should have access to the software before it goes live, to re-enforce their training and experiment with unusual transactions. Ask your software vendor about creating a “sandbox” for your users and structuring a conference room pilot.
The primary reason companies eventually switch from Excel to ERP is operation efficiency, security and business intelligence. Data housed on individual PCs, held by gatekeepers across departments and in different formats slows down operations, leaves too much room for error and risk, and keeps real-time information out of reach. At some point in a business’ life cycle, companies find themselves outgrowing Excel.
Making key set-up decisions are mandatory for success. Experienced consultants can help the project team make informed decisions lessening risk and costs associated with experimentation during a system implementation. Your staff understands your business; they are not experts in implementing ERP software. With proper training and care in implementing the business processes, a company can realize significant cost savings from an ERP system
Do you feel your company may be outgrowing Excel’s usefulness? Give us a call at Parallel Solutions at (440) 498-9920 to talk about the different options available for your growing needs. You can also download our free resource checklist, Questions to Ask Before Buying an ERP System.
One of the first considerations of ERP purchase and upgrade is whether to choose cloud or on-premise hosting environment. The primary difference in the systems is this: cloud-based software is hosted on a third party’s servers and accessed through a Web browser; on-premise software is installed on a company’s own servers. The secondary difference then becomes cost structure. Cloud-based software is priced via subscription (and seems to offer savings up front), while on-premise software is a one-time license fee. The longer you are utilizing cloud software, the more expensive it is, compared to on-premise.
Both types offer advantages. In this article, we will be exploring the distinct, sometimes overlooked, benefits of on-premise hosting.
Security, Customization & Control of Data
Hosting ERP on-premise means controlling not just the physical servers, but the security as well. You control your own employees secure access and don’t have a second layer of employees (who you do not know) to consider as potential security risks. You also control the backup environment, which can be critical in a disaster situation. Cloud solutions do not always provide the flexibility needed when you use a custom solution tailored to your business.
Cloud ERP is hosted, managed and backed up by a vendor in a subscription cost environment. At that point, ERP data is locked into a system where you have little control and the vendor has a lot. If the vendor goes out of business, this can be problematic. And, of course, switching vendors becomes a real hassle in a cloud based environment where you are likely to receive a flat file and told, “Good Luck.”
Long Term Cost Savings
Initially the expense of a subscription may appear less costly. However an on premise hosted environment will most likely be less expense after several years. One should determine the ROI over a 5 or more year period. Overall cost depends on the subscription and support your company would need from a cloud vendor. When you’re locked into a subscription service with less control of data and vendor options, maintenance costs can escalate without much room for negotiation.
It’s a little bit like buying a condo vs. a house. The condo arrangement seems low-hassle and less expensive, but if Home Owner Association fees climb and the community environment becomes less ideal, then suddenly you’re in a pickle.
Choosing an on-premise or cloud-based ERP solution is a complicated decision, but one you can make with certainty if well informed of all the options. In the end, it’s about understanding your company’s unique set of needs, working with a trusted vendor, and analyzing the pros and cons objectively.
If you have questions about on-premise and cloud-based ERP, contact Parallel Solutions at (440) 498-9920 to learn about the risks and rewards of various options.
Join Parallel Solutions at the Cleveland Accounting Show, Oct. 25-26, 2017 at the I-X Center. Stop by booth #46 for a chance to win a basket from our client, the King Nut company. We’ll help you complete your missing word game piece.
We will also be available to answer questions you might have about our software, Macola, Intuit and CA our networking services. Parallel Solutions has over 20 years of experience providing Accounting Software Solutions or Secure Network Solutions to clients ranging from start-up companies to those with $16 billion in annual sales.
Stop by to learn more about our software and services or visit our website. For more in-depth resources about Accounting and Enterprise Resource Management, visit our blog, and be sure and connect with us on Facebook.
See you at the Cleveland Accounting Show!
Parallel Solutions enjoyed the Solon Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing with some of our clients. The Golf Outing was a great time. It was wonderful to meet all the people, who came out to support the chamber.
You know it’s time. Your inventory is not optimized, customers are having frustrating experiences with delivery or returns, and it seems like data duplication is just the name of the game between departments. You know you need a better system and you’ve heard Enterprise Resource Planning software is the way to go for a firm your size, but how do you even begin the process of researching these tools? How does a company understand enough to begin weighing options and determining any one products’ viability for the organization?
While it may be tempting to throw this complex process into the hands of multiple vendors, there are definitely some high-level considerations that an internal team can, and should, explore before reaching out to software solution providers.
Here are the 3 Things to consider during ERP research:
Needs Assessment -- What this means, essentially, is you need to isolate your business’s biggest challenges that you believe a new software system would ideally solve. This involves identifying some shortcomings of the current system, identifying some ideal functionality in a new system and putting thought into scalability needs over the next 10 years.
Budgeting -- Total ERP project cost can be a daunting number, so consider balancing this number with the current cost of inefficiency. What is the outdated system costing you in lost time, productivity, duplicate inventory and labor, etc.? ERP costs are based on the following:
Implementation & Training -- While it might seem like you could worry about these details later, it is wise to take the long view of transitioning to a new system. Yes, a vendor will help do heavy lifting in this regard, however, corporate culture, planning and leadership plays a key role in implementation success. While your vendor will be an expert at knowing the software and troubleshooting transitions, you are the expert in your company’s departments, data, process and staff needs.
This means that understanding user roles and access needs, ideal streamlining of interdepartmental data, and training essentials, are just a few of the things that will fall more heavily on you as the client.
That said, a good vendor will be there every step of the way to help deepen your understanding of these considerations and help you make ideal choices. Educating yourself initially will help everyone involved and help you choose that vendor wisely. If you’d like more information about this process and how to get started, give Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. And read about our customer’s experiences with us here on our testimonial website page.
Ohio’s 2017 sales tax holiday weekend is set for August 4-6. Items exempt from sales and use tax are school supplies priced at $20 per item or less; school instructional material at $20 per item or less; and clothing priced at $75 per item or less.
If you have any additional questions about the sales tax holiday, the Ohio Department of Taxation has answers on their FAQ page.
Mary Jo O'Neill