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...
An often-used buzzword over the last few years in the IT sector has been virtualization - the process of turning one server that hosts a single operating system into a super-system that can potentially host 10 or more operating systems. By now most large corporations and agencies have some sort of virtualized infrastructure in place, and for good reason. The benefits to using this technology are numerous: hardware and operation costs are drastically reduced, virtualization provides enhanced flexibility with the allocation of resources, and production environment’s mission critical applications have been noticing improvements of up time. But how can a virtualized server improve your organizations testing and development cycles?
One of the major benefits of a virtualized test server is the ability to swiftly bring new resources online and create new development environments. Cloning a standard template that has been authored with the fundamental tools required by the development team can create these new environments. Procuring, configuring and installing hardware used to take weeks - but all of the sudden your development team’s new environment is up and running in less than the amount of time it takes to get a cup of coffee.
Another true benefit to a virtualized test server is that there is less risk of cross-contamination between environments. There is no longer an issue when development team A modifies core system files that could possibly interrupt development team B from using that code library. Why? Because both teams have completely separate environments using completely different virtual hard drives connected to completely different virtual networks.
So what about the cost? The common perception is that you need a really powerful and expensive server - but this is not the case. Taking into account the timesavings you will experience, you will also find that there is there is not much investment needed to get a virtualized test server online, especially now that VMWare’s ESXi Hypervisor is available as a free download. Perhaps that server sitting in the basement can be used to get your foot in the virtualization doorstep.
Everyone is connected! And companies can now gain access to their ERP system through mobile devices securely. Our previous discussion focused on the benefits found by sales personnel who can remotely access ERP & CRM data. In part two of our discussion, we will focus on industry specific benefits that can be gained.
While we all know that mobile devices have allowed employees to become much more efficient. However, many companies still require employees to be sitting at a work centre to access & input data. By mobilizing your ERP system, one can differentiate themselves from competitors & reduce costs.
Mail carriers have been recording your signature upon receipt for years, but what other uses can be found by mobilizing your ERP?
Consultants or engineers can assign their time to projects or input travel expenses all while waiting to catch a flight. Busy logistics professionals can supervise deliveries & shipments without being close to the warehouse. Maintenance staff in the utilities sector can be remotely tracked & that data directly visible in system reporting. Those working with chemicals would have instant access to quality & safety processes.
WebSan has found that companies that effectively implement mobilized solutions realized significant cost savings. Contact WebSan today to arrange an evaluation of your industry specific needs.
There was a great article published on cpatechnologyadvisor.com late in 2007 that's worth showing here.
Here's the link to the article.
Here's the reprint :
From the Dec. 2007 Review of High-End Accounting Systems
Microsoft Dynamics GP continues to be one of the flagship products in Microsoft’s mid-market accounting lineup. Version 10.0 of Microsoft Dynamics GP, released in June 2007, only helped strengthen its already strong position in the market. Microsoft has improved Dynamics GP by continuing to focus on molding the user interface to look and feel more like Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Previously Microsoft discussed plans to converge its ERP products on a single code base, however; more recently the company reinforced its commitment to support all four ERP products in the markets they serve, with the applications increasingly sharing technologies over time. The decision to keep Microsoft Dynamics GP appears to have given developers the motivation needed to take the product to the next level.
Modules/Scalability - 5 Stars
Microsoft Dynamics GP offers business solutions through components such as Financial Management, Business Intelligence and Reporting, Supply Chain Management, Project Management, Customer Relationship Management, Human Resource Management, Manufacturing and Workspace Collaboration. Microsoft’s mid-market ERP products all use a flat pricing model known as “Business Ready Licensing,” where the products are sold in one of two pricing bundles or tiers consisting of an entire suite of modules.
Tier one is the Business Essentials Edition for customers who need core financial management and trade functionality including Basic Financial Management, Basic Supply Chain Management, Basic Business Intelligence and Reporting, and Configuration and Design tools. Tier two is the Advanced Management Edition for growing, mid-market customers who are looking for an adaptive solution with a broad set of functionality that includes all functionality found in the Business Essentials Edition in addition to Business Intelligence and Reporting, Manufacturing, Advanced Supply Chain Management, Advanced Financial Management, Project Management, and CRM-Field Service and Collaborative Workspace. Additional components are also available a la carte for all editions to serve unique business needs.
With proven code and a wealth of modules running on a solid MS-SQL platform, Dynamics GP continues to be a highly stable and scalable solution capable of easily supporting hundreds of end users. Users will not be disappointed with the current available modules and the scalability of the program.
Usability/User Experience/Security - 5 Stars
With an Outlook-like appearance and the use of custom home pages for users, I found GP to have a very comfortable look and feel. Version 10.0 extended the Office look and feel beyond the home page to nearly all areas within the program. Home pages can be modified to include quick links to commonly performed tasks. It also lists outstanding “To Do” items, offers access to Outlook e-mail and calendar items, provides displays of quick business metrics and launches preferred reports. The ability to tailor custom home pages by user significantly improves accessibility. Other nice features include the use of toolbars across the top and a navigation pane down the left side that enables users to quickly jump to screens, reports and functions they use most often.
Data-entry screens were improved from prior versions allowing users to adjust the screen size, which was a common complaint in previous versions. One of the important enhancements that was made in Version 10.0 was the ability for users to have multiple data input screens open at once. This will allow users to minimize all other screens except the data-entry screen in order to operate more efficiently. Users can set individual preferences to highlight required fields on data-entry screens and underline fields supported by lookup lists. In addition, navigation, print and Help functions are clear and easy to access. Version 10.0 also introduced users to action panes and lists much like the look and feel of Microsoft Office 2007. Action pane functionality seems to be a key reason for upgrading to version 10.0.
Microsoft Dynamics GP’s tight integration with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is another key improvement with Version 10.0. Integration with SharePoint is important for the workflow process that GP offers. SharePoint allows users to view reports in Microsoft Outlook without accessing the GP software. SharePoint gives users a powerful search tool that can be used with built-in filters to locate information in an efficient manner. Company data can be accessed without a GP license and without SharePoint. However, with SharePoint, it is much easier, and data can be rendered on a SharePoint page. Product security is comprehensive and well thought out, enabling administrators to control the use of the product by company, user, user class, function and field. There are over 400 different tasks in version 10.0, and many new roles were added. The new role-based security approach gives administrators the rights to limit users to only those areas in the system that is necessary.
Extensibility - 5 Stars
The core product is mature, and there is a large independent developer community. As well, a great number of highly specialized applications currently exist to help make Dynamics GP a strong fit for many industries including Education, Non-Profit, Professional Services and Distribution. These specialized solutions can be easily located on the Microsoft Solution Finder website.
Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 is a modern business management system that provides a consistent look and feel of Microsoft Office and extends access to business information through Microsoft Office Excel, Word and SharePoint Server and adapts to business needs through Microsoft.NET tools and service-oriented Web services architecture. For customers seeking deep vertical functionality, Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 has hundreds of ISVs (independent software vendors) providing enhanced solutions for a variety of industries and verticals.
Integration/Customization - 5 Stars
Dynamics GP seems to be very customizable and provides tight integration with the tools your staff already works with — Microsoft Office. Screens can be easily modified, enabling users to add or hide fields, modify screens prompts, change tab sequence and globally modify field terminology all by using the built-in Modifier tool. Version 10.0 greatly simplified the Extender tool set, a feature that allows the user to easily link additional windows into existing forms, expand note fields, add additional fields, and create data-entry templates and customize lookups.
The Integration Manager can be used to design re-usable import templates that integrate data from outside programs, and it has been improved in version 10.0 to take advantage of the eConnect code. eConnect code allows the Integration Manager to share information both ways with web-based applications. There is a preconfigured import available in the software that allows for importing of information from ADP directly into the General Ledger. The eConnect Enterprise Application allows for real-time access to Dynamics GP data. It offers a way to add up-to-date back office information to existing front office applications like web storefronts or service applications. eConnect also allows multiple applications to share financial management data. The eConnect interfaces can support a number of independent applications, allowing changes to financial data in Dynamics GP to be simultaneously available to all applications with an eConnect connection to that company in Dynamics GP.
Reporting - 5 Stars
Report Writer is a tool that is included with Dynamics GP. Users can also install the SQL Reporting Services reports, which use the reporting tool for the SQL Server database or use Microsoft Office Excel Reports. Users can create as many report options for a report layout as needed, but Dynamics GP comes with many report layouts and report options already defined for SQL Reporting Services and Microsoft Office Excel. However, if your business needs a report that is not among the predefined reports, numerous options are available that can help. The predefined reports can be modified and stored in the Reports Library for easy access. These reports have been modified based on the requests of customers. In addition to Report Writer or SQL Reporting Services reports, users can use Crystal Reports for Microsoft Dynamics GP to design new reports for Dynamics GP data using the industry standard Seagate Crystal Reports.
Support, Training & Help - 5 Stars
Microsoft Dynamics GP users have multiple means of getting the support and training needed. One of the really helpful features, especially with release 10.0, is the “what’s new” document provided with each new release. All product manuals are available in *.PDF format and are easily accessed and/or printed from the Help menu. Unlimited web-based training is available, which can be a valuable resource for you and your staff for module-specific training. An online knowledgebase quickly and easily addresses common issues. Microsoft also provides contracts for telephone support, and additional support and training is available through VARs. I think the Help, documentation and training tools within Microsoft Dynamics GP are some of the best of all the products reviewed.
Microsoft Dynamics GP’s latest release made more substantial improvements than any other software I have seen in this year’s review. Many of the usability issues that were identified in previous versions were solved with Version 10.0. Microsoft Dynamics GP remains a truly diverse and solid product capable of supporting large numbers of users across a variety of industries with strong reporting, customization and extensibility capabilities.
2007 Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Whether its aiding an aging workforce or assisting a disabled employee, there are a wide variety of cost effective products in the market today that can help employees become more efficient in the workplace. Many of these technologies will also allow employers to take advantage of resource pools they once were unable to profit from.
Our analysis of assistive technologies focuses on two of the leading impairments faced by workers today, visual difficulties & dexterity impairments. Those with either of these impairments can take advantage of many technologies discussed. For example, Speech Recognition Software is a great tool for those living with either difficulty. Furthermore, many of these technologies can be used to aid those with learning difficulties or simply assist those not living with any impairment.
Aides for Visual Impairments
Among adult computer users in the United States, more than 1 in 4 (27%) have a vision difficulty. This large percentage of the population can take advantage numerous technologies to aid in everyday tasks.
- ·Screen Enlargers – Working like a magnifying glass, these enlarge a portion of the screen as the user moves their focus. Many allow the user to further zoom in & out on a specific area of the screen as well.
- ·Screen Readers – These programs used to verbalize, or "speak," everything on the screen including names & descriptions of control buttons, menus, text, and punctuation.
- ·Braille Displays - Provide a tactile output of Braille letters such that users can read with their fingers.
- ·Speech Recognition Systems - Allow users to enter data & give commands using their voice rather than a mouse or keyboard.
Aides for Dexterity Impairments
Among adult computer users in the United States, 1 in 4 (26%) have a dexterity impairment. Technologies used to assist this portion of the population can also aid those with other disabilities, such as the Speech Recognition software mentioned above.
- ·On-Screen Keyboard Programs – Displays an image of a keyboard on the computer screen allowing the user to select keys with a mouse, touch screen or electronic pointing device.
- ·Keyboard Filters - These products reduce the required number of keystrokes enabling users to avoid inadvertently selecting keys they don't want. Examples are word prediction utilities & add-on spell checkers.
- ·Alternative Input Devices – Modified keyboards, touch screens & electronic pointing devices allow data entry through unconventional means. Electronic pointing devices in particular are extremely useful as they can be utilized by a variety of individuals facing dexterity problems. Devices utilize ultrasound, infrared beams, eye or head movements, nerve signals and even brain waves.
Many of these technologies are not only for the impaired. Any employee can take advantage these as well as many other means in order to minimize time & errors when performing everyday tasks. For example, most programs allow for the use of macros for repetitive entries or allow the saving of favourites for quick access to certain screens. Keyboard shortcuts can also be employed to reduce time during entry. Even the settings on a standard mouse can be modified to adjust the double-click options or the left & right click settings.
Many employers are surprised to find most devices designed for the impaired require minimal investment or setup. One or two of these systems in the workplace can go a long way to improving employee productivity & expanding ones workforce. The disabled community is closely knit & presenting your company as one with an inclusive environment can also go a long way in improving corporate image.
In the first volume of this series, we discussed one of the key advantages a well-designed warehouse management system (WMS) delivers – visibility of inventory. For volume two we will touch upon the direct correlations between an effective WMS and increased customer service.
By implementing the appropriate WMS solution to fit your warehousing needs, you are telling your customers through your actions that, “Hey, we really do care that you get your product on time and in an accurate fashion”. It’s one thing to promise your customers that you can do something for them and another to keep that promise.
The simple concept of customer service is very often confused and misplaced in a world full of fancy gadgets and new-age business theories. At the end of the day, just make them happy; it’s really all they ask for.
A WMS increases customer service directly through:
- Improved warehouse organization
- Efficient usage of warehouse space means lower storage and overhead costs. This translates into a competitive advantage you can leverage to provide more attractive pricing to customers
- A return system that actually works
- An ineffective return merchandise authorization (RMA) program is as frustrating to customers as misleading promotional deals. A returns processing applet is typically integrated in a well-designed WMS
- Better inventory accuracy
- If a customer needs to order a product and your website says that it’s available then you should be making sure this is true. A WMS increases inventory visibility, which reduces the number of stock-out confusions
- By forecasting inventory trends, buyers can determine when a demand spike for certain products will arise and make appropriate purchases to support it
- Faster order cycle times
- A WMS is not only software – it is a complete integrated system that works with your ERP system. RF devices can be incorporated to increase order-fill rates. Shipping stations can be established with shipping partners for automation and shipment management
Vernon Johnson is a warehouse management specialist at WebSan Solutions Inc. He can be reached at 416-499-1235.