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ERP Systems and the Tower of Babel

As the story goes, once upon a time there were people who wanted to build a grand tower at Babel. But as we know, those people were never able to finish the project because of communications problems.

Millennia later we still have communications failures. Sometimes they stop big projects and often they just interfere with day-to-day business.

But why is this going on when we have technological advancements and enterprise business systems that are supposed to cure all ills?

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Getting Lean with ERP

Organizations of every kind want to get lean. Adding value, eliminating waste, and automating are some current buzzwords. ERP, on the other hand, is sometimes considered a necessary evil or even a creator of waste. But these two disciplines can get along quite nicely as complementary tools in our toolbox.

The best definitions of lean consider it to be an endless cycle. We identify value and define it in terms of value to our customer. We map the value stream; we identify all the activities that create value and place them along the stream of our processes. We create flows where our products and services move easily from one step to the next. We establish pulls; nothing is completed and passed along the stream until the downstream operation is ready to receive. We seek perfection, practicing every step until it is automatic and eliminating any unnecessary steps. Then we do it all over again.

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Make An ERP System Fit Your Business, Not Vice-Versa

The decision is made: you need a new business suit. You contact suitmakers to present why their suit is best and how great you’ll look in it. One outfitter is particularly persuasive, and you make your purchase. When the suit arrives, it is two sizes too big. A phone call to the company reveals a nasty little secret – their clothes only come in one size. The customer service rep suggests you solve the problem by gaining 25 pounds.

Now imagine you’ve made a significant investment on an ERP system only to find out the software company expects your company to “gain 25 pounds” to fit the system. The analogy is particularly apt because the wrong ERP system can impose functionality that forces you to expand business processes to get the job done.

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Avoid User Workarounds

Employees trying to complete their daily tasks in the most efficient manner possible. A positive for an organization, right?

Of course, but red flags go up when employees start implementing their own workarounds to the organization’s ERP system. What the employee sees as bright ‘tips and tricks’ to share with co-workers can actually hurt the organization in the long run.

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Systems Integration with Merit Solutions

The needs of IT are changing - and industry leaders are beginning to see IT as an enabler of business performance. This transition has created more complex challenges for CIOs as they look for ways to create the highest value for customers through greater flexibility and faster technology innovation.

Social connectedness, mobile devices, and growing opportunities for interaction “any time any place” have changed the way people live and work. They require anywhere, in-context collaboration services that link the right people, in the right place, in the right context, at the right time, across multiple channels of communications.

Yet years of growth and global expansion through acquisitions and new market opportunities have left many enterprises with manufacturing, distribution, accounting, customer service, sales and procurement operations that are being run on disparate legacy business systems. These systems are highly inefficient, expensive to support and maintain, and lack visibility into the global business data companies need to make quick, informed decisions.

Learn about how Systems Integration can help you maximize the return on your IT investments and enable you to flow more value to your customers.

Best Practices for Successful Enterprise Transformations: Systems Integration

In our last article in our series on successful Enterprise Transformations we want to discuss Systems Integration.

Odds are good that you have information flows and enterprise applications other than your ERP system that manage different areas of your business. Maybe you have a payroll package that handles payroll – which means your employee data needs to integrate back to your ERP. Perhaps you have estimating software - and since each estimate will tie into your ERP system, you need to integrate that as well.

Welcome to the art of systems integration.

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Enterprise Transformations with Merit Solutions

In order to sustain growth and profitability, companies must create the business workstreams, organization and culture, and information flows that form the foundation for continuous improvement and driving higher value for customers. How are you positioned?

Today’s enterprises have ample opportunities to leverage the advantages derived from being globally operated in order to continuously improve and sustain long-term success. End-to-end visibility, global brand advantages, sourcing and procurement power, and the ability to move quickly on market opportunities are all examples of benefits of globalization. The most successful companies today are those that can anticipate rather than react to those signals.

In an effort to sustain growth, profitability, and competitive advantages, many executives are looking to enterprise transformation projects hoping to align their people, workstreams, and information flows investments more closely together, globally, to create more efficient and effective operations, resulting in higher value to their customers.

Unfortunately, we find that while many companies have made investments in enterprise transformation projects looking to gain improvements, make work repeatable, remove waste, and increase value to their customers - few have actually achieved the business results they targeted.

Learn more about Enterprise Transformations with Merit Solutions.

Best Practices for Successful Enterprise Transformations: Business Process Modeling

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be discussing enterprise transformation projects to understand what companies can do to mitigate risk and increase the chance that their transformation will drive long-term value.

For part 1 of our series, we’ll take a look at business process modeling. Business process modeling (BPM) is a model-based engineering sub-discipline that can be applied to business analysis and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations.

The most important part of BPM is to determine the current state (as is) of your people, processes, and systems and to then compare them to the proposed (to be) state that is planned with your enterprise transformation. This will require a lot of research up front to make sure that all of your processes are properly documented.

There are a few ways to do this. Some companies will use general tools like Microsoft Visio, Word, and Excel to document processes as they are uncovered. Other companies will choose professional business process modeling software. Either way can work; the important thing is that you map your current and plan your proposed processes.

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7 Warning Signs You Need Better Change Management

When you initially planned your business process transformation and ERP implementation project, you created a thorough project plan that included all of the items that needed to be completed before the project was ready to go live. And as go live approached, processes were re-engineered, waste was removed, enterprise software was configured and installed, and users were trained on how to use their new systems and tools. At this point, you probably thought the project would be a huge success!

But, on go live day, you gradually start to notice employees that had been doing their job for years come to you saying they needed more training. This puzzles you because you followed your plan and everyone was trained on how to use the software!

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