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White Paper: Why Global ERP? Traditional Challenges, Benefits, and Key Success Factors

Organizations that have multiple sites and global operations face significant challenges to efficiency and growth. Disparate business systems, lack of supply chain visibility and control, and high IT maintenance costs hold companies back and make it difficult to support new growth initiatives.

In an effort to sustain growth and profitability, companies are now under an immense amount of pressure to reduce costs, encourage growth, and optimize their processes, technologies, and margins.

By implementing an integrated, global ERP system, executives are given a comprehensive, real-time view of the entire organization for financial reporting and operational decision making. A global ERP system also allows for consolidated and standardized processes that enable an organization to consistently optimize business functions, such as intercompany trade, multi-site planning, shared services, and book closing. Finally, a global ERP system helps companies to better collaborate across value chains and work more efficiently with other operations, partners, and suppliers.

This document outlines the traditional challenges associated with Global ERP implementations, benefits of globally adopted systems and processes, and key success factors for your implementation project.

View the white paper: Why Global ERP? Traditional Challenges, Benefits, and Key Success Factors

Top 5 Benefits of Global ERP Systems and Processes

Organizations that have multiple sites and global operations face significant challenges to efficiency and growth. Disparate business systems, lack of supply chain visibility and control, and high IT maintenance costs hold companies back and make it difficult to support new growth initiatives.

All businesses at one time or another have to weigh the costs and benefits of retaining an older ERP system (or systems) against the costs and benefits of selecting and implementing a new one. Legacy systems, although on older technology, provide companies a level of comfort - comfort that is likely at the sacrifice of increased efficiency, visibility, and growth.

Below are the top five benefits our clients experience when implementing global ERP systems and processes:

  • Single Business Management System: Global organizations need a way to move out of silos of data and systems, especially considering the vast differences in geography and culture, and operate with the best processes and people working together across locations. Globally adopted systems allow a business to break down these cultural and geographic barriers and get people working together in an efficient manner.
  • Global Adoption of Best Practices: A global ERP solution helps companies optimize and standardize business processes while encouraging the adoption of best practices throughout the organization. Streamlined processes lead to better performance and more efficient people. Globally adopted best practices also supports cost-effective expansion, enabling organizations to use company-wide standards, templates, and best practices to "cookie-cut" new locations, regardless of geography.
  • Faster Financial Reporting: The ability to more quickly close the books and provide much more timely financial results to corporate management is a great benefit to global organizations. Global ERP solutions provide much greater visibility to individual global entities and the ability to view the entire enterprise with multiple currencies and multiple locations; this positions organizations to quickly grow and expand as the market dictates.
  • Compliance and Risk Management: Global visibility and control of compliance-related processes and activities are key factors in enforcing effective compliance and risk management practices. A Global ERP solution can enable your organization to streamline and comply with a variety of global and local compliance requirements and customer mandates, including financial, legal, and environmental. By utilizing a single solution for policies and procedures, process documents, database logs, reports, charts, and key risk indicators, global organizations can see the whole picture, take control of processes, mitigate risks, and ultimately reduce the cost of compliance.
  • Reduced Operating Costs: Organizations that successfully adopt global systems and processes see reduced operating costs in a number of areas. With a single global ERP system, companies benefit from reduced IT costs, including staff, support, infrastructure, and applications. Standardized processes also enable organizations to continuously improve efficiency, productivity, and decision making - enabling volumes to increase without needing an equal increase in operating costs.

Learn more about how a Global ERP system and standardized business processes can help your organization successfully move into new markets while maintaining visibility into overall operations, optimizing value chains, and simplifying IT environments: Global ERP Implementation Partner

Bad Processes Forced by ERP System?

We recently asked the CEO of a large multinational organization why they were changing their ERP system. “To improve our business processes,” he replied, stating one of the most widespread drivers companies have to change their ERP systems. As you evaluate your ERP system with regard to business processes you should first assess the level to which any bad business processes are forced on you by your ERP system; and then identify the number of disparate and sidebar systems users have created to work around your ERP. If you find significant process issues in these areas, a change to a modern ERP system that can help you differentiate your business may be beneficial to your organization.

The functionality and capabilities inherent in your ERP software have a big impact on your business processes. As you assess the effectiveness of your current system, you must first review your core business processes to determine if they enable maximum efficiency and productivity. If they do not, investigate whether the software system imposes constraints on your processes. Are your users saying “I do this because that’s the way the system makes me do it”?

When ERP systems were introduced 20 years ago, they were rigid in their functionality. They forced companies to conform business processes to the dictates of the software, or required them to significantly customize the software to meet their specific requirements. However, business processes evolve over time while the software remains static. This causes a disparity between the way the software was originally implemented and the new requirements of the business. This evolution continues until you get to the point that the processes in the system actually constrict the ability of users to efficiently run your business. In common with the CEO mentioned above, this is a major reason why your company might end up implementing a newer, innovative, and proactive ERP system.

New enterprise ERP software applications like Microsoft Dynamics AX offer flexible business processes based on best practices and process tools such as workflow. Workflow is the ability to set up and change process flows within the system. It includes many capabilities such as electronic routing of documents, event notification, and automated processes based on triggers. Many ERP vendors offer flexible rules-based workflows that allow businesses to create custom processes based on their operations. These workflows can be changed as their preferences and requirements evolve. In some of the more sophisticated systems, power users are even able to diagram and implement new workflows with drag-and-drop technology. Such flexibility allows the ERP system to evolve with changes in business processes and practices in your company and industry.

As you assess the effect of your current ERP software on your business processes, you should consider the following questions:

  • Do your current business processes decrease efficiency and productivity?
  • Are they in place to make up for inefficiencies in the ERP system?
  • Have they been dictated by the system because of lack of functionality?
  • Have your business requirements changed over the years making the reasons you selected your current system no longer valid?
  • Have users created many sidebar and workaround systems outside the ERP?

Implementation of a flexible ERP system like allows your company to take advantage of new capabilities, functionality, and fresh ideas. An implementation partner that understands business process optimization and is industry expert is an excellent resource for efficiently implementing the system and effectively setting up your business processes. Selection and implementation of a modern ERP system can reduce manual processes, eliminate redundancy, and reduce paper documentation giving your company the opportunity to:

  • Review all business processes in place and determine which are required, which can be modified, and which can be eliminated.
  • Identify and eliminate redundancy and manual data entry.
  • Standardize business processes across all departments.
  • Adopt the best practices available in new software to obtain greater efficiency over the current ways of doing business.
  • Make use of flexible workflow functionality to take advantage of automated business processes, document routing, events, and alerts.
All businesses at one time or another have to weigh the costs and benefits of retaining an older ERP system against the costs and benefits of selecting and implementing a new one. Legacy systems, although on older technology, provide companies a level of comfort—comfort that is likely at the sacrifice of increased relevant functionality and technology.

Sure Step Online Project Wizard – Architecture Overview and Benefits

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard adds the ability to create specific Sure Step projects in a partner or customer’s SharePoint environment all from within their own SharePoint environment or SharePoint Online.

In Sure Step, projects are a collection of documents, tools and templates that follow the Sure Step implementation methodology. When creating a new project, Sure Step Online Project Wizard will always retrieve the latest content ensuring that project documents are up to date. As the documents reside on SharePoint, it enables easy collaboration of the whole project team.

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard is a SharePoint hosted Silverlight application which harnesses the power of both SharePoint and cloud-based content storage. It can be hosted either on your local SharePoint 2010 environment or on SharePoint Online.

After a simple one time process for manually deploying the Project Wizard to the desired SharePoint environment described in the User Guide, Sure Step project can be created on the same site collection or any other accessible locally. (If the site collection resides on another SharePoint farm or web application additional configuration of the destination web application is required. This will be described in one of the later posts.)

Each time a Project Wizard is started it retrieves the configuration information and checks for compatibility. Only if a new version is required (which actually means that there were significant changes to the Sure Step content metadata model) a user will have to download the latest version and redeploy it to the destination SharePoint environment before continuing with the project creation.

Project Wizard retrieves the latest content metadata and generates the options offered in the wizard itself. Content as well as all the options offered in the Project Wizard are dynamically loaded from the Sure Step Online content repository. This enables seamless update of the Sure Step content, addition of new tools and templates, new solutions, project types and languages. This architecture ensures that each time a project is created using the wizard, it will contain the latest content available from Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online without the need to regularly download and install client and content updates (which can be around 400MB for each language).

The Sure Step content is categorized into seven (industry related) solutions, six Dynamics product lines, five project types for implementation engagement type and numerous accelerators for diagnostic phase and optimization offering. An inventory of more than 750 tools and templates are available for use on each project with partial translation in nine languages. Projects are created for a specific Solution, Dynamics Product, Engagement type and a selected Project Type or accelerator. New project contains copies of all Sure Step documents applicable to selected criteria.

Sure Step Online Project Wizard can be deployed on the following environments:

  • Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
To start using the Project Wizard in your SharePoint environment, download the Online Project Wizard and follow the instructions from the Sure Step Online User Guide.

More info and the links to resources can be found here.

Benefits of Micrsoft Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step is a customer lifecycle methodology for all Microsoft Dynamics solutions (AX, GP, NAV, SL, CRM and CRM Online). Besides delivering guidance, project management discipline and field-driven best practices, Sure Step also contains a huge collection of tools and templates to be used in all phases of a Microsoft Dynamics customer engagement.

Last autumn Microsoft announced Sure Step Online, which enables you to:

  • View the complete Sure Step methodology, including all tools and templates.
  • Create and manage customer projects based on the Sure Step deliverables on SharePoint.
  • Link to online marketing, training, and other resources on PartnerSource and CustomerSource

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online

Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online is a new approach to using the Sure Step methodology. Instead of having a client application with a set of content language packs, Microsoft developed a Silverlight application available on Partner Source and Customer Source. As the Sure Step Online is cloud-based, you no longer have to regularly download and install client or content updates (around 400MB for each language) to have the latest tools and templates, Sure Step Online will always contain the most recent content, and be available from anywhere, always.

Some of the advantages of the Sure Step Online include:

  • Using the latest guidance and content available online without downloading and installing the client.
  • Ability to access and share content quickly from anywhere. All you need to have is an internet connection, a browser with a Silverlight plugin and access to Partner or Customer source.
  • All supported languages are also available. Besides English, Sure Step Online offers (partial) methodology and templates in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
  • Ability to point users to a specific guidance page or template, which will eliminate the need for them to download the whole methodology to locate the specific content/guidance.
  • Ability to create customer projects on your local SharePoint instance, partner hosted SharePoint or SharePoint Online. Projects created using Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Online Project Wizard will always contain the latest templates.
Of course, if your prefer to do so, you can still download and use the “on-premise” Sure Step 2012 client with the latest language packs.

Sure Step Online is available for partners and customers on the following location https://mbs2.microsoft.com/SureStep

For more details, please refer to the Sure Step Online User Guide.

Microsoft Dynamics AX ROI / Benefits Estimator

Are you considering a new ERP solution? Not convinced that Microsoft Dynamics AX is the right choice?

Welcome to the Microsoft Dynamics AX ROI / Benefits Estimator!

This tool, based on analyst interviews and insight by Nucleus Research, helps companies calculate the potential annual savings they could achieve by implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX. Identified savings include: increased productivity, improved visibility, reduced administrative overhead, reduced inventory, improved supply chain, and more!

Don't wait - calculate your annual savings with the Microsoft Dynamics AX ROI / Benefits Estimator! Then sign up for your Microsoft Dynamics AX Free Trial!

ROI of Process Industries for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Process Industries for Microsoft Dynamics AX can provide significant value opportunities across your business.

Let’s look at some of these.

Value Opportunity

Range

Enablers

IT maintenance and support costs

Reduce by up to 40%

· Improved ease of use; reduction in systems management requirements and in-house support; reduced maintenance and upgrade costs

Order lead times

Reduce by up to 35%

·  Better visibility of on-hand and in-process inventory; more efficient production; shelf life management and first expired/first out (FEFO) inventory management

Work-in-progress inventories

Reduce by up to 30%

·  Reduced production cycle times; increased utilization; improved routing and scheduling accuracy

Obsolete, expired, or perishable inventory

Reduce by up to 30%

·  FEFO inventory management, shelf life management

Changeover and setup times

Reduce by up to 20%

·  Better order sequencing and batch management; improved visibility of production setup and changeover requirements

Finished goods inventory

Reduce by up to 25%

·  Overall reduction in cycle times; improved order accuracy and forecast accuracy

Planning cycle
time

Reduce by up to 80%

·  Weekly, daily, and hourly supply/demand netting; what-if planning and simulation; improved granularity of resources constraints by formula, dimension, or other attributes

Forecast accuracy

Improve by 5% to 15%

·  More complete and accurate order data; integrated forecast netting against inbound orders and rework orders

Temporary labor requirements

Reduce by up to 25%

·  Greater visibility of actual production requirements; improvement in planning accuracy

Microsoft Dynamics AX Cloud ERP

Merit Solutions is proud to announce the availability of three new Cloud ERP offerings.

MAXCloud ERP
MAXCloud offers companies a way to take advantage of the industry-leading capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX at a decreased cost - without the up-front investments in hardware and infrastructure. With MAXCloud for Microsoft Dynamics AX, companies can increase profitability, improve productivity, and reduce IT costs, all without compromising security or functionality.

Learn more about MAXCloud ERP.

MAXLife Cloud ERP
MAXLife provides a complete, enterprise wide business software solution designed to help organizations gain insights and optimize performance. MAXLife enables Life Sciences organizations to connect with their business partners, optimize business processes, and gain competitive advantages, while helping to simplify compliance processes mandated by the FDA, customers, and other regulatory agencies.

Learn more about MAXLife Cloud ERP.

MAXFood Cloud ERP
MAXFood software helps medium to large manufacturers and distributors in the food industry to monitor food safety, streamline business processes, and enhance customer responsiveness. MAXFood ERP Software provides a complete, enterprise wide business software solution designed to reduce an organization's total cost of ownership and improve profitability.

Learn more about MAXFood Cloud ERP.

Still not sure if Cloud ERP is right for you? Learn more by browsing the links below:

If you are interested in learning more about our Cloud ERP offerings, please contact Merit Solutions.