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How does ERP fit with e-commerce?

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

ERP vendors were not prepared for the onslaught of e-commerce.

ERP is complex and not intended for public consumption. It assumes that the only people handling order information will be your employees, who are highly trained and comfortable with the tech jargon embedded in the software. But now customers and suppliers are demanding access to the same information your employees get through the ERP system—things like order status, inventory levels and invoice reconciliation—except they want to get all this information simply, without all the ERP software jargon, through your website. E-commerce means IT departments need to build two new channels of access in to ERP systems—one for customers (otherwise known as business-to-consumer) and one for suppliers and partners (business-to-business).

These two audiences want two different types of information from your ERP system. Consumers want order status and billing information, and suppliers and partners want just about everything else. Traditional ERP vendors are having a hard time building the links between the Web and their software, though they certainly all realize that they must do it and have been hard at work at it for years.

The bottom line, however, is that companies with e-commerce ambitions face a lot of hard integration work to make their ERP systems available over the Web. For those companies that were smart—or lucky—enough to have bought their ERP systems from a vendor experienced in developing ecommerce wares, adding easily integrated applications from that same vendor can be a money-saving option. For those companies whose ERP systems came from vendors that are less experienced with ecommerce development, the best—and possibly only—option might be to have a combination of internal staff and consultants hack through a custom integration.

But no matter what the details are, solving the difficult problem of integrating ERP and e-commerce requires careful planning, which is key to getting integration off on the right track. One of the most difficult aspects of ERP and e-commerce integration is that the Internet never stops. ERP applications are big and complex and require maintenance. The choice is stark if ERP is linked directly to the Web—take down your ERP system for maintenance and you take down your website.

Most e-commerce veterans will build flexibility into the ERP and e-commerce links so that they can keep the new e-commerce applications running on the Web while they shut down ERP for upgrades and fixes. The difficulty of getting ERP and e-commerce applications to work together—not to mention the other applications that demand ERP information such as supply chain and CRM software—has led companies to consider software known alternately as middleware and EAI software. These applications act as software translators that take information from ERP and convert it into a format that e-commerce and other applications can understand.

Middleware has improved dramatically in recent years, and though it is difficult to sell and prove ROI on the software with business leaders—it is invisible to computer users—it can help solve many of the biggest integration woes that plague IT these days. 

Look for us instance, we have developed an ecommerce connector for Microsoft Dynamics. Connect360 connects your systems, departments, and people to eradicate data bottlenecks and free up resources while advanced business alerts and automated workflows convert slow, error-prone manual tasks into quick and responsive automated processes.

  • Automatically transfer orders from an online shopping cart into your ERP system.
  • Synchronize stock levels from your online store (and) to your ERP.
  • Track shipping information in your ERP from UPS, Fedex etc.
  • Multiple Language and currency support.
  • Connect 360 supports multiple stores – B2C, B2B & B2X
  • It utilizes the complete Magento API to integrate every available part of Magento with Microsoft Dynamics.

Traits of an awesome ERP implementation partners

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

1. They Are Experts! Is the ERP solution provider a true ERP expert? An organization must fully understand your pain points and the most effectual and valid utilization of the ERP solution you have in mind. Their level of expertise needs to be superior, as well as the level of understanding of your business operations and productivity goals. Only an ERP solution provider with a strong combination of technology expertise and business management knowledge will be a true ERP implementation partner.

2. They Master Your Business Processes! You are moving in the direction of an ERP solution because you want to elevate business process efficiency and improve the utilization of data throughout your organization. A true ERP partner will work to diligently map out your processes to ensure the most effective deployment of your ERP solution. They will also take the time to meet with key managers and technology team leaders to ensure they understand all elements of your enterprise’s operations and what the short-term and long-term goals are for improving operational productivity and efficiency.

3. They Provide Consistent Training & Support! This is a big one! The best ERP partners deliver ongoing training and support resources, dedicated to determining a positive implementation process. The right ERP partner will not support your implementation on a selective basis, but a 24/7 partnership. ERP partners that support a methodology of training and support are dedicated to the technological advancement of your business.

4. Their Track Record Is Awesome! When searching for the right ERP partner, ask questions—and investigate their track record. It is crucial the ERP partner you select understands your market, as well as your company’s operational requirements. If the ERP partner you are evaluating has helped many businesses just like yours, you are in good hands.

Your ERP implementation will be highly successful if the ERP partner you select is not only professional and knowledgeable, but also dedicated to your success. If your ERP partner is committed to a long-term relationship, you will reap the benefits of a successful ERP implementation—and a technology alliance that will serve you for many years to come.

Dhyey Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd. is a Mircrosoft Recognized Gold Partner for Microsoft Dynamics Implementation and volume licensing. Dhyey’s consultants maintains a deep knowledge of the trends driving businesses today to be more productive and profitable by leveraging technology.

Hardwork V.S. Talent

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

In this world, hard work is everything. As ridiculous as it may sound, it is indeed a fact that cannot be ignored. Whilst the existence of geniuses or natural prodigies cannot be discounted as a mere anomaly of fate, it is also incorrect for us to believe that we cannot surpass them in our own way. The fact that some people appear to be more skilled at a particular task is simply the illusion of ‘best fit’.

If a hundred people were asked to write poetry, some would be good and some would be bad. If the same hundred were asked to play sports, some would be good and some would be bad. Even if we take into account the fact that some individuals are ‘well-rounded’, even they will have an eventual weakness.

The problem then stems from one’s ability to convert talent into something marketable as a job. For example, a talent in riding a unicycle can allow one to be an entertainer, but a talent in being able to find the best way to grope a person, is likely to get you arrested.

When faced with such a problem, the individual then has to make a choice, which many people fail to see (simply because it is uncomfortable). You have to keep picking talents until you find one that’s suitable for the job market and then work hard at it.

Poetry, on a personal level, would probably be my 7th or even 8th best, but because of the effort I put into it; I have steadily improved since the day I first began writing 8 months ago.

The point I am trying to bring across by writing this however, is that most people tend to give up early and believe themselves to be talentless. It is easy to get frustrated when the goal appears to get further and further away, but in fact nothing could be further from the TRUTH.

The goal never changes. It is only your perception of that goal that alters, as you gain more knowledge and understanding of its complexity.

As long as one doesn’t give up however, it is not a difficult thing to break down the goal into smaller components and tackle it one at a time.

Never give up and never give in to adversity, because failure only exists when you stop trying.

Small Businesses Can Benefit from an ERP System

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

Most small business manufacturers and distributors want the same basic features of an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, e.g. purchasing, order management, inventory control, manufacturing, warehouse management, financials, customer relationship management, and business intelligence.

But given their relatively limited internal resources, many small businesses question if they can take advantage of the full functionality of their ERP system, as well as if they can complete ERP implementation in a short period of time. The answer is, of course! Though, the degree to which small businesses can achieve an ROI (return of investment) from ERP implementation depends on the implementation method of their vendor.

During ERP implementation, a small business must work closely with its project manager to determine the core functions, processes, and rules that the system has to deliver by the go live date. At the end of the implementation process, the company should be able to carry out all necessary transactions in the manufacturing or distribution software system, as well as operate faster, easier, and more cost-effective than before the implementation. They should also begin to realize an ROI.

After implementation, what happens to a small business and how it uses its ERP system depends on the ERP vendor’s degree of involvement, as well as its plan to roll out additional features in the months following the implementation. The ERP vendor project manager and implementation team should continue to work with the company after the implementation period to create a post-go live plan to add extra functionalities. This will allow the organization to realize an ROI on its ERP software. The post-implementation plan may include leveraging features such as remote warehouse management.

An ERP system has thousands of features and functions that a small business can take advantage of. Making the most of an ERP system depends on the implementation method of the vendor, though. If the ERP vendor has worked with its small business clients before in coming up with plans to leverage the extra features of an ERP system, then the organization will be in a favorable position to realize an ROI in the months and years after the implementation period.

Is integration having an effect on how manufacturers approach the product development process?

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

As an integrated ERP system shifts industry status from nice to have to must have, the benefits of such systems are more commonly being leveraged by process engineers and plant managers. Process engineers are spending less time procuring cost data, sourcing materials, and compiling data. More effort is focused on continuous process improvement, quality goals, and waste elimination. Plant managers are offered a vast array of Key Performance Indicators upon which to manage their equipment and personnel. Workers are more effectively incentivized, and the reaction to production issues is more swift and effective than ever before.

As data integration becomes increasingly granular, the true cost of each step in the manufacturing process has become more accurate. In plants with well-integrated MES systems, clients are frequently finding the cost of rework and line change-over is significantly higher than initially estimated. This has led many to shift focus from output rate KPI’s to quality and downtime KPI’s. In most cases, this has led to a reduction of scrapping materials, as quality data allows for process adjustment before critical characteristics drift out of specification. In rare cases, this process has led to an increase in scrapping, as the true cost of rework occasionally exceeds the per-part cost. In any case, it is the improved accuracy and speed with which information becomes available to ERP systems that allows for quicker analysis and reaction in modern manufacturing environments.

How is ERP integration affecting supply chain tendencies? Has it had an effect on purchasing decisions?

Integration of ERP, SCM, and MES systems has served to optimize supply chain decisions in ways never before possible. As MES systems return real-time data on materials consumed, and ERP systems push the most current data on outstanding orders, supply chains can be kept in constant motion without the risk of part shortages that once necessitated large warehousing operations. The warehousing operations that remain have, as a result, become more localized, with higher turnover. Cost savings are also met in other ways. Data managed in ERP allows alternate suppliers to be more quickly tapped when scheduled deliveries are not met. Quality data improves supplier accountability. Execution data improves the calculation of true costs. Since raw material supply usually accounts for the majority of manufacturing costs, it is vital for any enterprise to identify a single master repository for material data (usually ERP), and to make sure that the SCM system has a clear path to these data.

Unlocking business value through ERP

by Nilesh Mandani Nilesh Mandani No Comments

ERP is commonly perceived as a computer system. Not so. It’s a people system made possible by the computer software and hardware.

Good people can make a bad system work; bad people can’t make a good system work

Often the problem lies not with the ERP concept. But in the demand for quick fixes and rapid cures to underlying structural problems. Putting yourself on the same side as the customer is one of the best ways to avoid the massive rework caused by the customer deciding that the product you just spent 12 months on is not the right product after all. One of the most important areas in enhancing the value added to clients is designing the presentation of information so that it can be readily assimilated and internalized as knowledge. All of the work that goes into development is not adding value until the software is in the hands of the customer.

The truth is, no organization plans to fail – rather, they fail to plan…

Many ERP implementations proceed without sufficient knowledge of the possibilities or potential in the new systems. This relegates the design process to a discussion of repeating the current design (the only thing the client knows) or implementing a process that the consultants happen to know (limited to what the consultants have experienced).

There are literally thousands of decisions that must be made on these projects. The project team must be empowered to make most of them. That is one reason organizations must put their best people on these teams. Achieving early wins and optimizing user buy-in can pave the way for controlling both political and fiscal costs down the road and increase the chances of delivery project on time and on budget. In making design decisions, the entire process should be considered, not just the individual steps, in isolation. As in many things, the business process is only as good as its weakest subprocess. Most of the attention should be focused on the process bottlenecks.

To integrate business processes, there is a tendency to employ a bottom-up technical integration, stitching together application components that were never intended to work together at the business level. The “Train the Trainer” Pitfall: It is not realistic to assume someone can be trained several weeks before the go-live and expect him/her to deliver quality training.

The starting step for business-driven implementation is the creation of business process maps. Ironically, customizations don’t add value by default. By default they subtract value, at least in the short run through costs associated with analysis, design, and development. In general, the more comprehensive the system, the more complex configuration will be.

Implementations must shift from “design and build” unique products to “buy and integrate” standard products. Unsuccessful companies start their ERP implementation effort with automation, bypassing the critical steps of understanding and simplifying their processes. These companies believe that automation alone will improve performance and lead to productivity gains. Automating complex or nonvalue-added processes, however, will not increase productivity or provide measurable improvements in performance.

Implementing the ERP system and realizing the promised benefits are two different ball games. Implementation can be a success, but if the operational phase is not planned and organized properly with the support of all the people involved, then the promised benefits will not materialize. To ensure rapid and smooth implementation, team members must be capable of dedicating 60 to 100 percent of their time to the ERP project. Lower committed times of 20 to 30 percent, or less, do not work well because of the high learning curves required for ERP implementations. Improvements in the use of the ERP system are an outcome of improvements in the process.

Knowledge transfer is the greatest value an implementation partner can provide to a customer.