ERP in the Cloud… Is It a Viable Solution? Part 1…

Hi There – It’s been a while…  hope all is going well…

This is the first in a series of posts where we will discuss the viability of a cloud ERP / enterprise system solutions from a number of different angles?

• Performance

• Storage

• Maintenance

• Fault tolerance and Redundancy

• Access

• Security

• Cost

• Virtualization

• Specific module issues

• AND anything Y0U wish to add…

Obviously a number of these topics have been the talk of tech of late, but the implications of the cloud ERP – enterprise resource planning platform are far reaching.

Performance – While increasing bandwidth is available to small and large business, the variability in performance can be a real issue when you are talking about critical path business processes.

Storage – The cost of per gigabyte storage has come down dramatically and for that reason, storage cost reduction is not really going to be justification for putting your business systems in the cloud. However there are other issues associated with storage that could be important factors…

Maintenance – Hardware and software updates can certainly factor into the equation when considering a cloud enterprise business system. You really need to look no further than the SalesForce.com homepage graphic “No Software” to see the value proposition.

Fault Tolerance and Redundancy – Having your data stored on more than one disk system is a good idea. The question is… is it primary storage, secondary, tertiary, you get the idea…

Access – This factor to the overall discussion can take on a number of different facets. First of all, who has access to your system and data and second of all how reliable is your access…then there are security concerns…

Security – You know that if your hardware, software and your database are housed in your server room, that shutting down the web would mitigate intrusion at least from the outside. Next you also know that you have direct control over the condition of your hardware.

Cost – it is tantalizing to think that you could eliminate the overhead cost associated with your hardware and maintenance but at the same time what is the true cost of a cloud based business system? Accountability etc…?

Virtualization – Boy, talk about the buzz word of 2011! The potential benefits of virtualization can be tremendous from a labor, performance and a cost standpoint. But there are different things to consider and approaches when looking at a cloud virtualization solution.

Specific Module Issues – Now let’s discuss a few specific modules to your business system that might be of concern:

First Planning and Scheduling. If you have been involved in manufacturing systems for more than 5 minutes, then you know the CPU intensive nature of regenerating data.

Next, your financial / HR information; I don’t care what kind of encryption you have; passing mission critical information around the web is a concern. There are others, but you get the idea and we will discuss these in further detail in future posts.

In Conclusion

These issues and others will be the topics of discussion in upcoming posts. I am eager to hear your thoughts and experience with ERP in the Cloud.

Until next time, this is Rick, signing off…

If you are considering the purchase of, are upgrading or are in the middle of an ERP or CRM implementation, check out the Business Software Implementation Tracker, my 500+ page step by step guide that can aid you in:

Pinpointing your current location in the implementation process and…

Help you determine your next step in the project…

Walking all the way to Go Live…

WSJ – Companies Are Spending On Software (ERP)

Hi there

This article in the WSJ today highlights that companies are starting to spend on equipment and software – Firms Spend More –  Carefully…
Sorry it’s just a summary (Subscription to read the whole thing)

This is good news for those of us that need to upgrade our aging systems. It appears that organizations are realizing that their equipment and systems are aging and now is the time to make some changes.

This is BAD news for those that get the go ahead due to the fact that vendors are not as motivated to give you the deal of the decade… that was two years ago… It told you so…

At any rate, if you can get the “green light”, do it while you can and ASK FOR THE MOON… If you don’t ask for more for less – you definitely WILL NOT get it. My #### 1 rule in negotiation…

Until next time…

Rick

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 6

Hi Folks – Sorry for the delay –

Big project in the works – heavy deadlines – but I’m gonna make it!!!

This post concludes the detail description of the 15 ERP Implementation Elements… Remember to review the last five episodes, as they have mucho additional information related to the Implementation Elements – so for the full story, be sure to check them out.

OK – Let’s get to it… The Quality Elements are those that deal with training, testing and documentation. These elements are there to ensure that all of your work was not DONE IN VAIN!

Element M – System Admin / App Training / End User Training
Quality Element

• Training must occur throughout the implementation of the system in various parts of the organization. In the beginning, a core team must be trained on the basics of the specification, sourcing and qualification of a system.
• Later on, training occurs during the system installation and configuration stages in the form of the administration of the system.
• Next, process integration and then application training take center stage.
Elements_1.jpg

• End User Training is that point in the implementation where many focus their attention, where personnel are trained to perform those tasks / processes that make the company money.
• This element allows the project team to manage the training aspect of the implementation in a progressive manner that culminates in personnel that are ready to go – at Go Live.

Element N – System Testing / Verification
Quality Element

• Testing your new system is an obvious aspect to a system implementation, and while testing has greater focus later in the implementation, it must be given proper attention throughout the project.
• This element drives you to properly identify, test, review and revise your system and to document your testing in all phases of your implementation.

Element O – Documentation
Quality Element

• Documentation is crucial to all aspects of your implementation. Things are changing on a daily basis and with the velocity of this change is the constant need to be reminded of
– where you have been,
– where you are and
– where you are going.
• Documentation must also be firmly in place to address regulatory concerns relative to the implementation.
• Documentation serves a key role in the development and delivery of training at all levels of the organization.
• This element provides reference, support and justification at all phases of the implementation process as well as at points long after your system has been implemented.

Well, that’s about it for this post, and please note that these posts are just a tiny sample of the contents of the Business Software Implementation Tracker...the guide and tracking system that will be your companion throughout your implementation – ERP, CRM, SCM – it does not really matter, the "Tracker" will be there for you … Check it out…

Later

Rick

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 5

Happy Sunday…

In this post we are going to cover the last two Project Implementation Elements, System Security and System Reporting or Business Intelligence (BI).

Standard Reminder – the 15 implementation elements lie across your entire implementation – horizontally – and traverse all phases of your ERP / Business System implementation.

Being the 5th post in this series, if you have not read the previous ones, you are going to miss some of the foundation. The following info can stand on its own, but check out the previous posts when you have a chance.

Element K – System Security
Project Element

  • Digital security seems to be a topic of discussion in most technology circles these days and I don’t think that it is going to go away anytime soon. As software systems continue to become more sophisticated and integrated throughout the organization, the supply chain and across the Internet, the need for buttoned down security is essential.
  • During the implementation of your software system, this element must be given attention in all aspects of the project.
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  • In justification and specification, security must be looked at from the current state and future state perspectives.
  • In sourcing, qualification and purchasing, security must be looked at from the standpoint of a supplier that can appropriately meet your needs and continue to meet them in the future.
  • During the installation, process integration and training phases of the project, security must be a subject that turns a theoretical solution in to a reality.
  • Throughout process integration and training, security continues to take on a key role in building security methods, processes and systems and in training end users to assist in mitigating threats.
  • The security implementation element is crucial to the overall success of the organization in guaranteeing stability in a way that assures that the company can progress and evolve with the confidence that data is secure and is only accessed by those authorized to access it.

 Element L – System Reporting / Business Intelligence
Project Element

  • Extracting data from your system in the format required when and where you need it is a capability that to many is an afterthought.
  • Reporting and BI (Business Intelligence) must be given ample attention early enough in the implementation process for the organization to be prepared to make needed decisions at Go Live and thereafter.
  • Reporting is a critical implementation element given the fact that a software system is only a valuable and necessary as it provides you with the decision making information and intelligence that you require.


This concludes the Project Implementation Elements – In the next post, we will cover the three Quality Implementation Elements… Stay tuned…

If you are considering the implementation or upgrade of your system, The Business Software Implementation Tracker – will walk you through the structure and approach I am laying out here. This 500+ guide and template to an ERP or other large scale software implementation is designed to be your “consultant in a box”…

Until next time… this is Rick signing off…

Oh, I almost forgot… if all goes well Episode 25 of the Implement ERP Fast Podcast will be released this week…

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 4

In this post we are going to move on to the second set of Project Implementation Elements.

Remember, 15 implementation elements lie across your entire implementation – horizontally – and traverse all phases of your ERP / Business System implementation.

Be sure to review the last couple of posts if you are just jumping in and be sure to subscribe to add these posts to your blog feed…

Part 1 – Implementation Phases and Steps
Part 2 – Implementation Elements – Reference Issues
Part 3 – Implementation Elements – Project Issues 1

In the second set of Project Elements we are going to cover two Elements; System Management and Configuration and System Customization.

System Management and Configuration is all about tailoring your system to meet your requirements and specifications. This is an ongoing activity and as you move through your implementation, depending on where you are in the evolution of your system, different focus must be given to configuring your system.
elements Projects 02.jpg

Next, System Customization; No matter what type of large scale system you are implementing, there will be aspects of the project that must be customized. BEWARE of this thread of the implementation. Keep VERY tight control over this activity; make sure that you needs are CLEARLY specified to avoid “feature creep”…

With that … let’s on to the meat of this post…

Element I – System Management /Configuration

Project Element

  • System management is an obvious aspect of keeping any modern system up and running. However focus on the system itself throughout the life of your implementation will morph and attention to configuration is crucial to your success.
  • In the beginning, the assessment of your legacy system to identify weak points will be the primary focus.
  • Then to specifying a new system to best meet your future needs.
  • As the implementation progresses, competent installation, configuration, migration and testing are all integral to your implementation.
  • During integration and training, the system is further refined in User Interface (UI) and configuration.
  • This element focus’ your attention on your core system architecture, it’s structure and functionality and the care and development of that system not only throughout the implementation but post Go Live as well.


Element J – System Customization
Project Element

  • While I do not look favorably on system customization, it is usually required at one point or another in a new system (in some cases – many points).
  • This element exists to develop, monitor / control and test customization efforts as they are usually expensive and are prone to grow and morph on their own – feature creep.
  • This implementation element provides you with a focus on system customization to ensure that your changes are appropriate, are reasonably priced (generally speaking), properly testing and documented.

Well that’s about it for today… short – but food for thought.

If you are considering the implementation or upgrade of you system, my guide, The Business Software Implementation Tracker – will walk you through the structure and approach that I am laying out. This 500+ guide and template to an ERP or other large scale software implementation is designed to be your “consultant in a box”…

Until next time… this is Rick signing off…

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 3

Good day folks – in this post we are going to continue the discussion of the Implementation Elements.

To briefly review, the 15 implementation elements lie across your entire implementation – horizontally – and traverse all phases of your ERP / Business System implementation.

While the overarching Phases and Steps are sequential and vertically oriented, each with a discrete beginning and end, the Elements stay with you throughout your entire journey.

The Implementation Element is the “runway” level of your project and where actions and tasks are defined and carried out. At this lowest of levels, you maximize your focus and zero in on exactly where you are in your project and implementation.

I strongly recommend that you read the last two posts if you have not already done so, as they cover the Phase and Step levels of your project as well as an introduction to the Implementation Elements and take you to the point where this post begins…

Today we are entering into the “Project Elements”, where you are really starting to deal with the elements of project management, how policy affects an implementation and finally, the critical role of process management.

Element F – Project Management
Project Element

• Project management in the implementation of a software based system can vary in complexity depending on the scope of the system being implemented.

• This element guides you through the recommended project management techniques and the level of detail required at various Phases and Steps in your project.

Element G – Policy Management

Project Element

• Policy management is a critical aspect of any software implementation because of the broad guidelines that policy provides. As a system implementation progresses, policy must be referred to and revised as the system envisioned in the beginning is seldom the system that you end up with at Go Live.

• Without the direction and guidelines that business and process policies provide, project direction, process integration and team buy in are in serious jeopardy.

• This element directs you to view policy at different Phases and Steps of the project from different angles. This Element acts as a reminder that policy is a vitally important aspect of the project and that it will evolve along with other aspects of your organization.

Element H – Process Management
Project Element

• The Process element lies at the heart of a system implementation in that no recurring activity within an organization should occur without a clearly defined process.

• Business process definition and refinement will, even more so than policy, refine and change not only throughout the life of the implementation but also on a broader basis throughout the life of the business or organization itself.

• Business process definition provides clear direction in process integration between your existing and your new or upgraded system.

• The process management element must be given constant attention in every module, Phase and Step of the implementation and in doing so will provide you with the assurance that your new system will be as efficient, effective and as intelligent as possible.

Well that’s about it for today…

If you are considering the implementation or upgrade of you system, you should check out the Business Software Implementation Tracker – that fully describes the structure and approach that I am laying out. This 500+ guide and template to an ERP or other large scale software implementation is designed to be your constant companion…

Until next time… this is Rick signing off…

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 2

In the last post I introduced you to the the business software implementation from the top down – First by giving you an overview of the implementation phases and then directly below that, the implementation steps. Finally we discussed the implementation elements as the "Runway" level of an software implementation and where most of the actual work gets done.

I left off discussing the first two Elements – the Description and the Deliverable of any given Implementation Step.

Let’s pick up where we left off and move into the Team and Event elements…

Note – If you have not read the last post you should read it before you read this one…

Element C – Implementation Team
Team and Event Element

• There is usually only one implementation team. This team is comprised of senior management, and other key personnel. The members of this team must be hands on in the implementation of your system and act as the steering committee in guiding other teams in overall implementation. The Implementation Project Manager usually leads this team.
• This element provides you with Implementation team focus at various phases in the implementation process.

elements Teams and Events.jpg

Element D – Phase / Activity Teams
Team and Event Element

• Each Phase / Activity team has a specific purpose. These teams are mandatory for the successful implementation of your system.
• Phase / Activity teams are formed and then disbanded once their purpose has been served at any appropriate intermediate step in the implementation.
• Phase / Activity teams are extremely hands on and can be comprised of management, leads and other personnel that are key to that particular Step.
• This element provides you with guidance as to the teams that must be formed, what they should focus on and when they are required in the implementation.

Element E – Project Events / Meetings
Team and Event Element

• Project Events and Meetings occur at many points during an implementation. Many of these meetings are ad hoc, however, others are much more involved and require a great deal of planning.
• This project element allows you to look ahead and plan for these upcoming events in providing available space, ensuring that key personnel are present and that the event or meeting is properly planned and executed.

In the next post we will start discussing the first of the project elements…

Until next time… Rick

 This content is based on my implementation guide – The Business Software Implementation Tracker – Check it out …

ERP Software Implementation – Structure and Flow – Part 1

Hi folks – Ready for another thrilling ride on the roller coaster ride called an ERP Implementation.

The first thing that I wanted to mention is that regardless of whether you are implementing ERP or CRM or any other large scale business software roll out, the implementation process is basically the same. It is for that reason that I might use the terms ERP and Business Software interchangeably in conversation as appropriate… There I’ve said it – I have been wanting to say it for a while … and I feel better…

OK, on with the ride… Over the last 7 posts, we have been discussing the overarching Phases and Steps of an ERP implementation.

The activities at the Phase level are usually strategic in nature and revolve around resource allocation. This is top level stuff and on a day to day basis you will probably not be talking about your software implementation here.

The Phases look like this:

Phase Breakout.jpg

When you go one layer down, the Implementation Steps come in to focus and you start thinking about the implementation in a little more detail. More frequent attention is given to the project at this level… however, it’s still 10,000 feet…

Phase - Step Breakout.jpg

If you want to look at where an implementation "Lives", you should focus on the business software Implementation Elements… The  "Runway" level.

When you move below the Implementation Phases and Steps – you move away from a "Horizontal" view and go "Vertical…

The Implementation Elements are different from the Phases and Steps in that the Elements  span your ENTIRE implementation.

The 200+ Implementation Elements (when put into a matrix across all 14 Steps) weave threads throughout the entire fabric of your implementation and while the Phases and Steps move you sequentially – in linear fashion through the process, the Elements adapt to fit your exact needs in EVERY Phase and Step.

There are 15 Elements and I will discuss the first two today…

These two Elements are what I refer to as "Reference Elements" as they relate to the basic definition of each Phase / Step but are more for clarification and definition only.

Elements.jpg

 The Step Description

The first Element is Step Description and while this one is a "duh" at first blush, without a specific description of each Step, you have a critical portion of your implementation without a name – an orphan without a home – OK – Sorry – there should be NO humor when it comes to implementing business software… But I think you get the point. Think it through – give a specific description.

For example you are implementing a financials package, best of breed, supposedly compatible with your manufacturing and distribution modules. The "Description" of Step 1, the Justification of the package would simply be "Justify and Get the Go Ahead for XYZ Financials". You are generating an action statement for that particular Step.

The Step Deliverable
The second Element is the Deliverable and this differs from the Step Description

The Step Deliverable element clearly defines the completed work associated with each Step in detail.

Lets use the same financials package example.

The deliverable could go something like this:

"A financials package that has been completely justified via a comprehensive list of system, business and external justification drivers, has been presented to the Management team and has been given their full support".

Description vs. Deliverable

While at first glance, the Step Description and Deliverable appear to be the same or very similar…they are different in the following ways:

• The Description simply describes the activities involved in a step and the…
• The Deliverable describes what the step will look like when it is complete; the finished product.

While Reference Elements – Definition and Deliverable, do not require specific action, they are essential to your ongoing success.

Having a Definition and a Deliverable for each Phase Step provides you with clarity and guidance when trying to describe a step and provide you with a method to decide if you have completed that step.

Specifically, the Deliverable element is used during each Step Readiness Assessment review to determine if you are ready to move the next step.

Well, that’s it for now – until next time – Wishing you success…

Rick

This content is based on my implementation guide – The Business Software Implementation Tracker – Check it out …

 

The Business Software Implementation Tracker Just Released

Whether you are thinking about a new ERP, CRM or any other large scale software solution, there are many challenges common to them all. The Software Implementation Tracker provides you with hands on direction and guidance from the very beginning – where your might just be thinking about a new system, to the final steps and ultimately Going Live on your new software.

The Business Software Implementation Tracker will allow you to spend MORE time implementing your software and far LESS time managing your project!

Click Here For More Information

BSIT Cover r02.jpg


The Seven Steps to Implementing ERP – Step 7 – Go Live

Good Day to All!

If you are ready to Go Live – You have travelled a long road…

This is the point in time where you have to double and triple check, test everything that you can think of. This is where the "rubber meets THAT road"…

While I am a big fan of doing whatever you can in house – Go Live is one of those times in your implementation where you need to have expert support at your facility – knowledgeable consultants with phones are on speed dial to the tier 3 support guys that can diagnose and fix anything…

The Implementation Team and other support teams sole role (poet eh?) is to ensure that End Users can do their jobs on Day 1 of Go Live… All those that are assisting the End Users should have a clear idea of the subject matter experts relative to all processes and other aspect of the implementation so that they can refer a problem to correct person IMMEDIATELY.

Being the eternal optimist, I am going to tell you that Go Live can be a breeze if you covered the 6 prior phases of the implementation of an ERP system. If you got lazy however, or cut corners, well… maybe Go Live is going to be a bit rougher…

Step 1 – Justification and Specification
Step 2 – Sourcing and Qualifying your ERP Supplier
Step 3 – Negotiating and Purchasing your System
Step 4 – Installing and Configuring your System
Step 5 – Process Integration

Step 6 – End User Training

So anyway … where the heck was I, oh, once you have made it over the finish line, be sure to sit down with your team and make a list those things that went right, and yes, those that didn’t. (This is called a "post mortem"). Because, there WILL be a next time! While your system implementations are usually spread out – every 3-5 years (more for some), it will happen – for that reason, it’s a good idea to have documented how things went. You will thank me 3 to 5 years down the road.

Well that’s about it for now. You know, it’s kind of ironic… After writing this blog and hosting the podcast for two years, I am finally getting to Go Live at just about the same time on both of them… Keep an eye out for the next episode of Implement ERP Fast – the next episode will be on end user training. It’s been so long since my last one, I am sure that some thought that I "pod faded", but the truth of the matter is that I have just completed and am getting ready to publish the Business Software Implementation Tracker. More on that very soon.

Wishing you success…

Rick