Archive for June, 2011

Enhance ERP Adoption thru eLearning

June 16, 2011

In a Gartner survey of over 400 companies, 76% faced end-user competency challenges related to their ERP system. As organizations attempt to leverage the value of their ERP investment, user competency and adoption is paramount to the success of the enterprise. One of the main reasons for an ERP investment in the first place is to streamline transactional functions, and improve business management by empowering your staff with better tools to perform their jobs effectively, and more efficiently. However, without a significant investment in initial and on-going training, many ERP implementations will fall short, forfeiting the advantages of a highly trained and skilled workforce, compliments of a comprehensive eLearning strategy.

Soon after an ERP system is implemented, many end-users will gravitate toward the narrowest capabilities of the software, most pertinent to their own jobs. Unfortunately, they often fail to recognize the full capability of a single, integrated, enterprise-wide solution with a common look and feel, and a single version to truth (single-database design). ERP strives to extend the roles of its end-users, so they not only better manage their own duties, but can appreciate the full impact their functions have with the rest of the business, anticipating potential pitfalls, and aligning departmental goals with corporate-wide objectives.

As an example, a Financial Analyst may be tasked with evaluating the profitability of their top customers, so they can target their offerings toward key accounts. However, if the Analyst is focused solely on Accounts Receivable, because they are more familiar and comfortable within the accounting suite, they may fail to consider the amount of service and support a particular client requires. This information would more readily reside in the CRM (Client Resource Management) modules. Similarly, they may fail to consider collections, charge backs, or the declining credit rating of a customer. An eLearning solution can remove these blinders, by cost-effectively perpetuating application proficiency through-out the workforce, and broadening their understanding of the rest of the ERP system, and the workflows that inter-connect their job functions.

eLearning applications enable companies to document their business processes as well, including the thought process and reasoning behind any changes to these workflows. Once a business process has been established, an eLearning solution can capture those workflows and document them in an interactive training session that includes video, audio, and text bubbles that sequentially take the end-user through a full mock business process, with actual screen shots and video streams of the software application itself. In addition, an eLearning solution should include learn it, try it, and know it modes, to test for proficiency and understanding. Once developed, these training sessions can provide the proof necessary to document business processes, to meet compliance requirements associated with Sarbanes Oxley, IFRS, and US GAAP.

To maximize the value of an ERP investment, it’s critical to continue to manage and adapt your system to your business, which includes changes to workflows, and upgrades, and expanding the network of inter-connected applications, leveraging the full power of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). But in order to maintain user proficiency, it’s imperative to implement an eLearning strategy, in order to adapt and document internal changes back out to the end- user community, so that they can continue to perform their job functions to their highest productive capacity. As you consider your ERP investment, consider an eLearning solution as an integral part your overall ERP strategy.

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The True Value of ERP

June 16, 2011

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions have gained popularity in the past decade as companies begin to realize the benefits of a single, integrated software system to manage their core business functions. ERP systems today attempt to incorporate some if not all of the following key disciplines: Manufacturing (Engineering, BOM, Scheduling, Workflow Mgmt, Quality, Cost Management), Supply Chain (Inventory, Order-to-Cash, Scheduling), Financials (AR, AP, GL, Cash Management, Fixed Assets), Human Resources (Benefits Administration, Talent & Performance Management, Time & Labor, Payroll), and more recently, Customer Service (CRM), Sales (SFA), Projects, Warehouse Management, Product Lifecycle Management, and Business Intelligence.

A modern ERP solution enables a company to eliminate disparate software applications, or point solutions, that may not only be obsolete and costly to maintain, but are run in virtual silos, so that individual departments cannot easily link communication or workflow to other departments. Often times there are manual, paper-based processes or spreadsheets for departmental interactions, which are not only time-consuming and burdensome to maintain, leaving you more susceptible to errors, but are also more dependent on internal staff that understand the idiosyncrasies and “work-arounds” of the current system.

Consider a wholesaler taking an order from a retailer. If the wholesaler has an order entry system from a point solution it may be effective in capturing that initial order, and generating a shipping order for the warehouse, or an invoice for billing, but if it’s not integrated with the supply chain system, they won’t be able to determine how much inventory is left w/out contacting the warehouse, or checking a report. And if it’s not integrated with the financial system, they won’t be able to verify the credit worthiness of a particular client, and see if there are any outstanding invoices. Additionally, they may fail to promote excess inventory identified for discounts under promotion. Such disconnected work environments promote departmental silos. Lapses in the system become the problem of another department, and ultimately hurt the competiveness of the enterprise because they lack common goals or a shared vision.

The process of implementing an ERP solution enables a company to examine their internal processes, re-engineering them for enhanced efficiency, and improved workflow. It’s an opportunity to eliminate manual processes and spreadsheets, and streamline interactions between departments. It further blends and integrates the responsibilities of each department so that they are working in tandem, empowering individuals while enforcing accountability, and facilitating the core competency of the business. An integrated ERP system’s main value, therefore, is not just the ability to streamline the transactional functions, but more importantly, to improve communication and accountability between departments, making educated businesspeople out of the staff, who can now be armed with individual and department goals that raise the competiveness of the entire enterprise.