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Defining requirements for an ERP system is essential. The process is part of pre-planning for an ERP implementation. It consists, in essence, of looking at what is unsatisfactory in your present system in some detail and mapping out how to fix it with ERP.
Requirements mapping starts with taking a hard, close look at your business and how it performs. In addition to seeing what's right with your business, it consists of identifying what you're not satisfied with. These range from pain points to working, but less-than-ideal, areas that need improvement.
Basically requirements mapping consists of identifying the areas you want to improve, mapping out the processes as they now exist and looking at how you can change them with ERP to make them function more efficiently.
Starting with what is happening now, the mapping effort involves laying out the processes as they now exist and looking at how ERP can improve them.
At this preliminary stage you're not so much concerned with finding exact solutions as you are understanding where you are and where you want to be. Don't worry about what is “practical” at this stage. As you get more into the ERP process you'll find you've got a lot more potential for change than you imagine. Exactly how you're going to get from where you are now to your ideal state can be worked out later. For now it is more important simply to identify the areas you want to work on and what you ultimately want to achieve.
Once you've identified the areas you want to work on, the next step is to document their processes as they currently exist. This means laying out the workflow in a flow chart or something similar with all the steps involved and all the possible outcomes.
Do this from the process on the ground, not what it says in the procedures manual (if you have one). You will undoubtedly find that many of the processes don't work the way you think they do.
Also don't be surprised if a lot of processes have loose ends. These are situations that don't have a formal resolution. In practice these are usually handled by humans on an ad-hoc basis. They are particularly troublesome because there is no standard method of handling them. One of your goals is to document and standardize resolutions to these hanging ends.
It may help to prioritize your areas of concern and pursue them from most to least problematic. The idea is to get the biggest boost from your early efforts by concentrating on the big issues.
Later in the implementation you can use the process outlines that this technique produces to help when it comes to mapping out all the processes in the business. For now, however, you're simply trying to understand how these problem processes are causing you headaches.
At the end of the mapping you should have a much better idea of what isn't working effectively in your business and at least a starting notion of how to fix it. Remember, you're not trying to spell out a cure at this stage of the operation, but rather get the lay of the land and see how your pain points operate – or don't operate.
Requirements mapping is an early stage of the ERP implementation and it can be as detailed or as loose as you chose to make it. Obviously the more detailed the mapping of these processes, the easier it will be to integrate the results into the overall process maps of your company's workflow. On the other hand, you may find that the amount of work in precisely mapping the process isn't worth it at this stage of the game.
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Enterprise Resource Planning systems have become more common in companies across the globe as the systems can be integrated into key systems such as sales, accounting, customer service, IT and human resource departments. A new ERP system fully integrated with your current key systems often increases the productivity and profitability. Besides the benefits your business gets from new ERP system, here are five surprising ways that employees benefit from a new ERP system.
It is easy not to realize how much work your employees successfully accomplish during one day. Your order entry department may be behind on entering new orders into the sales management software; but your order employees may have created a record number for the day. A fully-integrated Enterprise Resource Planning system will show real time data which has been completed by whom. This increased transparency of employees’ time and work reduces some of the stress of departments feeling that others don't pull their fair share of the work.
When vendors market most ERP systems they focus on benefits like productivity and efficiency. When employees are more efficient and productive, they become more confident in their ability to complete their tasks on a timely and correct manner. When processes are easier to manage, it goes a long way toward improving competency and confidence.
A new ERP system requires training of your employees who expected to utilize the system. The training affects your employees and isn't related to their job performance. For this reason, employees benefit from more training without the adverse perception that training means poor performance. During training phase, your employees may learn more about their job duties, or have the opportunity to further clarify aspects of their job that they may have missed.
Many employees started working remotely especially your sales team. The number of mobile workers has increased considerably. Many older Enterprise Resource Planning systems utilize servers or other equipment that may not be beneficial to a remote workforce. Newer Enterprise Resource Planning models incorporate cloud-based technology where possible to make the stored information more accessible. That's why it makes a lot of sense to select a new Enterprise Resource Planning system that supports mobile functionality. Your employees will like the flexibility that the new ERP system allows them to work from home. The new system may allow for a more formal telecommuting policy that promotes workplace flexibility.
One of the problems that businesses face in this century involves ensuring compliance with government and industry regulations. Corporations are required to generate detailed financial reports for industry and government regulations.
A new Enterprise Resource Planning system is better able to meet compliance standards for tracking and reporting information. If managed by a third-party vendor, the vendor will be able to share some of the responsibility for keeping the Enterprise Resource Planning system up to date with evolving regulatory compliance standards. Employees can rest assured that they are effortlessly maintaining compliance.
Implementing a new ERP system into an existing business, the benefits to employees are substantial. In the future, employees may choose to work for companies that remain competitive with their internal systems to increase mobile functionality and transparency.
Reduced compliance risk and confidence through speed and training only strengthen the overall posture of the organization. For these reasons, transitioning to a new ERP system may be worth the investment in time and resources.
Every Enterprise Resource Planning system will require upgrade after five to seven years due to changing technological trends and business practices.
Upgrading of your existing ERP system is good for businesses in the long term. The upgraded system will be more powerful and easier to use. Further, it will provide much greater support in areas such as analytics which are becoming increasingly important in modern organizations.
What about the short term benefits? Not so much. An upgrade is effectively installing a new ERP system with all the difficulties that imply. While it is easier the second time around, it is still expensive. For the expense and the difficulty, organizations tend to cling to their ERP systems even after they are outdated. It often takes a major cause, such as loss of support by the vendor, to make companies make the move.
It is important to approach the ERP upgrade process with the right attitude which means managing reactions from employees and management for both positive and negative.
There are usually two mistakes in expectations when Enterprise Resource Planning system is being upgraded. The first mistake is expecting a major improvement in business processes without re-engineering the business. Business Process Re-engineering aimed to help businesses fundamentally rethink how they do their work in order to dramatically improve client service experience, reduce operational costs, and become world-class competitors.
Re-engineering aimed at encouraging full-scale recreation of processes rather than iterative optimization of sub-processes. If you want your business to achieve major changes than re -engineering should be considered. The other common mistake is to expect the implementation to be an IT project with minimal disruption of the other departments of the business. Upgrading your ERP will have an effect on the entire organization.
Upgrading your ERP system will represent an opportunity to improve both your ERP system and the overall process of the business. But like ERP in general, the magnitude of the benefits is directly related to the changes it makes in your business.
Part of this is the unavoidable changes that have occurred in the business since the Enterprise Resource Planning system was implemented. Part of it is the major efforts by ERP vendors over the last few years to make ERP systems more feature-rich and user friendly.
An Enterprise Resource Planning upgrade is an opportunity to re-examine your business processes as you did when you installed ERP in the first place. Unfortunately this is not significantly easier than it was when you implemented ERP system for the first time. It still means going through and analyzing each process and looking to see how you can improve it. It is this business process re-engineering that provides most of the power boosts that come with upgrading ERP.
Upgrades will help your business have an opportunity to reassess what you can do to get more functionality from your system, both by looking at existing processes and by taking advantage of new features and advanced capabilities of the upgraded system.
Like the original implementation, the upgrade will probably involve major changes to your employees business’ processes. Just as you did for the original implementation, you need to communicate with your employees and management about the changes and what the changes will mean for the workers.
In summary an Enterprise Resource Planning system upgrade should be a positive experience for the organizations. It will take nearly as much effort as the original implementation, but it should bring a significant increase in capability and efficiency of your businesses.
ERP systems have a variety of applications so that your company’s business processes such as product planning to post-sale customer service can be accessible on the same system. This practice improves efficiency, security and many other essential business characteristics. . Training will ensure that employees will use the system correctly and ensure that you are getting the most out of your new system. Below are the some essential tips for training employees on new ERP system.
There are different reasons for Implementing a new ERP system at your business but in every situation old system is being phased out. During an ERP implementation employees have to be trained and become comfortable with the new system. Because of this change your employees won’t be overly excited about the switch, and failing to explain it to them will only lead to stress.
Stress may seem like a normal part of employee experience but in fact stressed employees are less productive. Stressed employees are more likely miss work than other employees. This is why, during implementation of a new ERP system, it's essential to spend time explaining exactly why the change is taking place and the benefits that will come from the shift.
Your business operations will run as normal during ERP implementation. It would be perfect if a company could just stop daily operations to implement ERP software and leave all the time to train employees. Instead, business processes must continue even when new technology is being started and workers trained in it. Business executives must acknowledge that ERP training of employees cannot be postponed. If it is treated as a second-tier priority, making this smart investment won't pay off as expected.
There is continuous discussion over whether standardized tests are a fair predictor of a student's academic success. This is due to the fact that students or your employees all have different learning styles. Scientific studies have shown that, even when learning the same information, individuals have benefited from different teaching methods that are geared towards their learning style.
In learning institutions like colleges or universities, this means some students do better reading the learning subject on their own while others benefited from group study sessions. For ERP implementation in the office, different employees may do better when learning on the new system.
Your business should try classroom training, direct simulations, hands-on training, self-guided practice or a variety of other learning methods.
By providing training that utilizes several of these techniques, the chances of effective implementation increase.
While it may seem tempting to train everyone in your company at once, it's far more ideal to start out with a core group of team leaders. Team leaders should be employees who are already hold a higher position at the organization or those striving to attain higher positions. Provide in-depth training for these employees prior to rolling out the main training program. Once these team leaders are well-informed and equipped with the ERP software knowledge, they can assist in training and be assigned as coaches of their own teams.
Your business will provide training but because a company provides training and study material doesn't mean their employees will all immediately catch on. This could easily account for the fact actual ERP implementation takes two to four months longer on average than expected. It's important, though, that no employee be left behind.
This means that businesses should constantly monitor their employees' progress when it comes to ERP implementation. Individuals who need additional guidance should have it offered to them.
ERP implementation is a difficult process, but once a company begins to see its benefits, it becomes obvious how great of an investment Enterprise Resource Planning system really is. By implementing the above mentioned training strategies, a company can streamline nearly every business process and make their organization even more efficient.
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A major upgrade on your Enterprise Resource Planning system isn't quite as big project as implementing a new system, but it could have a disruptive impact at your organization if it is not done right.
Just like a new implementation, a major upgrade can produce chaos in your company, schedule disruptions, cost overruns through your entire enterprise. It's important to plan carefully and manage upgrades tightly.
The process of a successful Enterprise Resource Planning upgrade starts with communication. You need to make sure that everyone understands just what you're going to be doing and how it is going to affect them.
Informing the benefits that you will gain from the upgrade and keep everyone from top management to line workers fully informed about the upgrade and its progress.
The project management team should be knowledgeable enough through the process. You will also need to choose an experienced project manager to see the upgrade through. To get someone with the qualifications and experience you need you may have to bring in a third party.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you need to bring the manager(s) in early to get the project on track right from the beginning.
Selecting a project manager who is compatible with your corporate culture is important. Make sure you get someone you can work with comfortably and who will cause the least disruption in your process.
Load testing is an important part of any upgrade. Most Enterprise Resource Planning software comes pre-set to handle a given user load. However your load may be different and need different tuning for best results.
The target load is important for a good performance and therefore it is important to have it right.
If you use the ERP system without testing, you may be faced with coming back and spending the time, effort and resources to re-tune your system.
The best way to test the load on your company’s Enterprise Resource Planning system is with a combination of load-testing software, real users, and scripts. Just testing with scripts won't show you the effects of user mistakes and just testing with real users won't account for things like batch jobs and electronic data interchange.
Testing with one or the other is better than nothing but it won't show you the whole picture.
Training is another important aspect of a major upgrade. You're going to have to bring your people up to speed on the new system before it goes live.
This is likely to be as big a job as training everyone on the original system. This is to say, it is a major project. It's important that your employees be well trained before your new upgraded system goes live.
As with the original training, this will require a mix of hands-on and classroom instruction backed by appropriate written material such as manuals, cheat sheets, etc. Make sure you prepare your people thoroughly for interacting with the new system.
Security considerations will be considered in installing your upgrade. Prepare a comprehensive security plan that can protect you from the wide range of malware, viruses, and other attacks that a business faces in the modern world.
This will probably be significantly different from the measures you have in place now, especially if your current system is several years old. That is a pain but it’s better than having your system hacked.
Don't forget to archive. Ideally you want everything archived before you go live with the new system. This will save you time and money and make the conversion go faster.
A major upgrade is a lot of work and a good deal of money, but the benefit of having a more modern, better performing system should be worth it.
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After using CRM for a while it is very common to hear that, “Sales people aren’t using CRM, and we are missing opportunities and losing business!”. Do we need a new CRM system? Possibly not.
User adoption is critical and we have tools to monitor this. You have employee turnover and sometimes your most senior and productive sales people don’t track their activities in CRM so management has no visibility. Ongoing repetitive basic sales training is critical and underscores that CRM empowers sales people to be more successful.
For “CRM Phase II” it is likely time to revise your key business process workflows including lead generation, phases in the sales process, the customer onboarding process and issue management. You should probably add automated notifications of when leads, opportunities and cases are being ignored, and when you are about to lose a customer.
Your screens and dropdowns are likely cluttered and need clean up. Your workflows may not fit your business. It could be time to add separate workflows for your multiple business units selling multiple product lines. If the system doesn’t fit your operations you could be losing business, and causing users to balk at using the CRM system. One size really doesn’t fit all.
If you are not using CRM “Cases” then you should. This facilitates taking better care of and retaining your high value customers.
By continuing to fine-tune your CRM system you can increase your sales and use technology and processes to hang on to your most profitable customers. It is 4 – 7 times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Increase your “share of wallet” of your existing customers. It is far easier to cross-sell to an existing customer than to win a new customer.
At CRM Systems, Inc. we have implemented Sage CRM for over 450 client organizations since 2001. We are the leader in Sage CRM implementation and development.
Schedule a no-charge introductory review of your CRM system and processes by a CRM expert.
During the service we interview key personnel from each functional department. We talk to the staff about how they perform their jobs today and the tools they use. What is working and what is not? We gain an understanding of your goals and recommend any tools you may need to grow. We document the process of each functional department and provide recommendations for business process, workflows and systems controls.
“Re-program your business”. Increase sales and retain your high value customers. Ensure that corporate goals are being implemented at tactical levels. Improve dialogue and collaboration between departments. This eliminates the need for a new CRM system by learning how your existing CRM system can be better configured and leveraged.
ERP is a useful software application that allows companies to share data between different departments. Data sharing between departments streamline the business processes and automate the essential daily tasks of the employees. ERP systems are used in different departments from human resources to supplies, accounting, to even information technology. Small businesses benefit from an ERP system, and the system will grow as the business expands.
There are many different ERP choices on the market but making a good decision is essential for the implementation to become successful. As ERP can become a core component in optimizing the business, the best system will move your business forward, while a poor fit can hold you back significantly. Make sure you follow a step-wise process in selecting the system, and have all the information you need before making a decision.
Before deciding on an ERP system selection, take the time to define your business processes and identify the pain points that can be changed by the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning. Future growth of the business, expansion plans should be considered before choosing and implementing an ERP system. This decision process should have involvement of executives, end users, and all level of the organization. This evaluation should produce a list of needs that can be addressed by an ERP software suite and provides a good starting point for identifying potential software solutions for your specific business.
It is tempting to think about an exciting new process of optimization and technology, but not all businesses need an Enterprise Resources Planning system. The cost of implementation may outweigh any savings obtained in the near future. Any estimates of ERP system benefits should consider not only the optimization of processes but also value-added services, employee time and the removal of any current bottlenecks. ERP implementation is not a simple process, make sure your business is ready and in need of such a solution.
The current trend is to treat ERP as a software service, for which you pay a vendor a specific monthly fee, and they provide the system and the support on a remote server. As ERP changes make sure you have a vendor who is committed to the product, and is willing to innovate and change to remain viable for a number of years. Take the time to identify vendors that seem like a good fit, and negotiate with them to get a suitable package that will expand as your business grows.
One of the main benefits of cloud-based ERP system is their modular nature. It allows businesses to optimize and customize the software to their particular needs. However, many businesses fall into the trap of purchasing many customization options they don't need and paying for them without ever utilizing the full potential. Selecting an ERP package is an important decision that should be approached with due diligence and caution. Take the time to evaluate your business, and identify the need for the system before contacting vendors and making your final selection.
CRM Systems is a full-service professional service provider of end-to-end ERP and CRM solutions for the SMB business market.
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