I've been involved in IT and Supply Chain projects all over the world. I've seen projects achieve all of the objectives, come in under budget and ahead of schedule. I've also seen projects fail to achieve the benefits they set out to, or even outright fail to even work.
And what's the #1 difference between success and failure?
When I am contacted by a prospective client to discuss a new ERP system, I always make sure that the first meeting includes key decision makers. You may say, "well of course! You don't want to sell to someone who isn't authorized to make the purchase." And you'd only be 1/2 right...
The real reason that the key decision maker needs to be in the very first meeting is because if they aren't "driving the bus", then everyone will end up under it. What I mean is that technology projects are complicated and fraught with challenges just by their very nature. If someone at the top of the organization isn't driving the success of the project, then it will not work. It may finish, albeit over budget and over schedule, but I can almost guarantee that it won't meet the business objectives set at the beginning.
Sometimes a CFO or CEO looks at me funny during the first sales meeting because I've refused to meet with the "IT guy" and insist on meeting with them as well. After I explain the reasoning behind it and start the Q&A session that is outlined in the "Unlock Your Potential" program, they are always heavily engaged and demand to be significant contributors along the way. This is because we create value right at the very first meeting and if there is no significant ROI demonstrated right at the beginning for them, then it ends right there. No one is wasting time.
When the senior leadership is engaged at the beginning of the sales process, they can have a vision of the solution and understand the objectives right at the outset. We always make sure that when we publish the Project Charter, it states clearly what the objectives of the project are; not in "subjective terms", but in real, tangible benefits.
This way, when the project hits a couple of bumps along the way (they always do), the senior management team is aligned to the goals and objectives and the project is put right back on the tracks.
Depending on the complexity of the project, I also sometimes recommend a steering committee or program office be formed to manage the project along the way.
I'll get into those details in the next post...
In my last entry, I discussed downloading the latest Service Pack from CustomerSource. Since then, I have had people asking me, how to I access CustomerSource & what is it? So I thought I would provide a little more insight on your new best friend.
Like any best friend, CustomerSource is available 24/7 (although you have to bribe Microsoft by getting on a service plan). Loaded with tools & information, it can help you increase efficiency & productivity. How? Well, the many self-help resources such as Knowledge Base, technical documentation and access to online training are a good start. CustomerSource is also a one-stop resource for access to news & information to help you maintain your business management solution. Pay CustomerSource a visit at https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/
My favourite section for new users is E-Learning. Browse the hundreds of training programs available (did I mention they were free!). Become a Dynamics GP expert. Or try one your hand at one of the many other products training is provided for. Maybe it’ll help you solve that one problem that no one in the office can figure out. Then you’ll have even more friends!
The truth about large-scale technology projects is that the majority of them actually fail. In fact, studies show that 65% of them fail!
If IT projects were airplanes, no one would ever get on one! So why do so many companies venture down that road and why do so many fail?
Here's the answer to the first part of that question : because, to remain competitive in today's market, you have to leverage the benefits of technology. Performing every function of the company manually, or with Excel, is just too time-consuming and costly to be competitive.
The problem is that as companies grow, employees literally invent processes in order to accomplish tasks. These processes are mainly work-arounds to "get around" inefficiencies in the current ERP system or other people in the company. The fundamental issue occurs when a new ERP system is installed and merely automates inefficient, manual, processes.
So how do we ensure that projects are successful?
WebSan consultants have years of experience implementing ERP solutions all over the world and this is exactly why we've created the "Unlock your Potential™" program. We align strategic business objectives and growth drivers with the real purpose of the project: increase profits and/or revenue. Our comprehensive process starts right from the first sales meeting that we have with a client/prospect.
In my next post I'll go into more detail on our process and the benefits of it...
Don’t miss out! Last week, Microsoft released Service Pack 4 for Dynamics GP 10.0. The lastest Service Pack contains a long list of fixes, reaching almost every GP module. Updates in Service Pack 1, 2 and 3 are included in Service Pack 4. For GP 10.0 customers, Service Packs require the modified forms and reports to be updated using GP Utilities.
As always, services packs & patches can be downloaded from CustomerSource (https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/). CustomerSource also includes detailed instructions on installation & features, however, please test your system prior to implementation. Of importance to our Canadian customers, the latest tax patch should now be installed in order to account for changes in CPP & EI deduction maximums. If you missed the boat, please give us a call! WebSan is one of only a few Dynamics Partners in all of Canada certified in Payroll.
I've seen it numerous times...it happens in law firms, accounting firms, consulting firms, and any company where employees are the "product" upon which revenues are based.
The problem with the professional services industry is that a large key to success is cash flow management. That means that you must effectively manage the time between when your resources perform the work and when the customer pays. Let's take a look at the whole process.
Part 1 : Time and Expense reporting
To effectively get your personnel to report their time and expenses, it must be simple. Some of the ways to address this are :
- enable your team to enter their time and expenses through a simple to use web portal, or even a mobile device. That way it doesn't take a significant amount of time out of their day to "get their paperwork in".
- set up a process whereby remote users can simply mail their expense receipts to head office (or even scan them into a central server). The receipts should be indexed with the expense report number as well.
Part 2 - billing entry
- the time and expense reports should be approved by a manager, preferably online, and afterwards should move seamlessly into the billing engine
- the billing process should be automated from the time and expense reporting, with minimal, if any, manual intervention. We find in most professional services firms that this is an area where the most manual intervention takes place.
- if the invoices need to be approved as well, this should be done online and with workflow. This step is usually a "crutch" for poor time and expense reporting accuracy, so it's acceptable for this to be part of the process to ease the transition to a new system for management. After a while, however, this approval step should be eliminated.
Part 3 - customer invoicing
- during all professional services systems implementations, I insist on the client providing us 2-3 customers to interview. This is because the #1 reason why bills are not paid on time is because they are not clear and concise for the customers.
- invoices should be standardized, but can also be customized by customer. This is a service I would recommending charging for, but it can also reduce their time-to-pay. The theory is simple: if a customer gets their bill in exactly the format they're looking for, then why would they need time to reconcile it against their records? Provide as much information as possible, presented in a way that they want, and watch your open AR shrink.
So there are some creative ways to affect your cash-to-cash cycle, while improving customer service and reducing costs as well.
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This blog will feature posts about the latest ways to get the most out of your enterprise system and how to leverage a WMS to improve warehouse operations plus much more! Check back often for updates, there is also a RSS feed you can subscribe to for your convenience!