April 19, 2011

4 Things not to do when educating your ERP staff

Failing to provide appropriate training is debatable. One of the major pitfalls which companies fall into in an attempt to cut back on costs when implementing an ERP system but in the long term this can lead to a reduction in productivity which ultimately means that the company has paid for a system and is not reaping the full benefits from it. Here are things not to do when training your ERP staff . 

1. Educate, not train  
Training staff is much different to educating staff. Training is when you show staff how to carry out a particular task whereas educating staff is when you explain why a task is carried out and this will ensure that the staff have a much deeper understanding of the in and the out of the system thus enabling them to make appropriate changes as and when problems occur.

2. Take advantage of a number of educational methods
People are unique in many ways and one member of staff may benefit more from one training method whereas another member of staff may benefit more from another training method. Make use of a number of training methods such as web based tutorials, user guides as well as holding a questions and answer session.

3. Don’t merge formal training with informal training
Trainers can often mix formal with informal training which shows signs of a poorly laid out training scheme. To make the most of the training process, formal training should take place independently from informal training. Formal training includes the standard training methods such as classroom training and examples of informal training could include embedded training courses within the software that the staff will use as well as context-sensitive help.

4. Education is an investment not an expense
Businesses need to understand that education is not solely an expense but it is an investment which will eventually blossom into a more productive business. It should be understood that for a business to run efficiently all staff must be confident that they can carry out their job proficiently and this can only happen by effectively training and educating staff. In addition to this, education should be more than just a one off event which takes place only when the ERP system is implemented as new developments occur all the time and staff must be made aware of these developments in order for them to meet the on-going needs of the business.

April 2, 2011

Why Every Company Should Use ERP Software

An Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) is sometimes thought of as an expensive software system which needn't be acquired because local information technology (IT) staff can just write the applications the business needs. Here are 5 reasons why every company should use ERP Software: 

1. One stop financial shopping - ERP software pulls all your financial information together for easy access and reporting.

2. Integration and coordination - ERP software integrates your information, avoiding the need to gather data from multiple, independent systems.

3. Ease of learning and use - ERP software has a uniform feel and similar methods are used across all of its modules. This makes it easier to learn as it only has to be learned once. In addition to this, it makes it substantially easier to use, with knowledge transferred from module to module.

4. Flexibility - ERP software with its unified design, adapts to your business as your business grows. Unlike disparate systems, ERP systems are created with growth in mind. Changes are made centrally in a rapid and effective manner.

5. Updates with legal and business climate changes - ERP software is supported by the software vendor which means you will get regular updates as legal requirements change and the business climate evolves. Compliance issues are eased and competitive advantage is maintained without staff being saddled with time-consuming, expensive programming work.

Case Study

The following case study is a composite of numerous real-life situations and illustrates the problems faced by a certain large corporation struggling to cope with independent financial systems.

Company X had taken self-importance in the development of their own financial systems. They had a large information technology staff who had produced separate systems for general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, human resources, and inventory. The IT staff ran these systems in the Company X data centre, and processed change orders when business needs demanded modifications to the systems. Because each change order had to be reflected in each individual system, typical turnaround time for an average change order was about three months from start to finish. Large changes took longer, sometimes six months or more.

Everything came to a head when the company considered flexible work hours, requiring significant modifications to the human resources system, and these changes rippled out into the other systems. The IT department estimated a year of work to get everything ready if overtime wasn't authorized.

Senior management didn't understand why this should take so long, and hired a consultant to study the problem. The consultant came up with the only possible recommendation: an integrated, flexible ERP system which would easily handle work schedule variations and much more. It would also take a year to set up, but it would properly position the company far into the future and provide untold additional benefits. Senior management eagerly adopted this recommendation.

Integration and flexibility are key in today's competitive business world. An ERP system uniquely provides these advantages, and every business should be using one.