A post on TechAdvisory.org points to the advantages of enterprise resource planning (ERP) for small and mid-sized businesses considering the technology for the first time; however, its list of how ERP supports today’s business requirements in terms or productivity and profitability extends to enterprises of all sizes. They cite 10 top requirements for today’s businesses and how ERP helps meet them:
- The need to make decisions fast. ERP delivers reports and dashboards that combine data from every department to managers no matter where they are.
- The need for highly productive employees. ERP automates most of the manual processes that takes workers away from more valuable labor.
- The need for great customer service. It’s never been easier for customers to find a new supplier. ERP connects information across the organization so that you can answer your customer’s questions quickly and accurately, every time.
- The need to support multiple distribution channels. To expand market reach, Internet, channel, and direct distribution need to be supported. ERP connects all systems across supply networks to improve market performance in all market channels.
- The need to accurately match costs with income sources. When you execute work, you need to know whether you are really making a profit on it. ERP tracks all costs related to projects or jobs to ensure profitable engagements.
- The need to support remote employees. Employees need to be productive wherever their work is. ERP systems allow remote workers to access and enter information where they are, when they want to—increasingly on the mobile devices they choose to use.
- The need to manage industry-speciﬁc requirements. Every business is unique; business systems generally aren’t. With ERP, you can build workflows and reports that specifically address the specialized requirements of your industry.
- The need to simplify compliance. Meeting the reporting requirements of increasingly stringent regulations can take a huge manual effort. Instead of spending weeks and months on manual documentation, ERP’s automated functionality speeds and simplifies compliance while allowing your human capital to focus on more productive and value-added tasks.
- The need to support global commerce. Increasingly, business crosses international markets. ERP eases complicated currency translation and supports staffing overseas by providing accurate information without undue latency (essential for efficient operation of dispersed business networks).
- The need to attract young workers. The aging workforce places a premium on attracting young talent. A generation that has only known the digital age has little patience for tasks they know can be simplified with technology; to this group, the technological prowess of ERP not only makes intuitive sense, it reinforces their belief in the company’s commitment to stay current with technology—something they see as highly important.
When ERP matches your business, the best practices that are part of the system can be used to automate the flow of information in the business. The key is finding an ERP that is a good fit—the general flow of the system needs to match your business practices. When this happens, many good things follow, including greater productivity and higher profitability.
Posted by By Christine Hansen, Manager, Product Marketing
In a recent post, we addressed how manufacturers are seeking greater vertical functionality from their ERP providers. A perfect example of how this is succeeding can be seen at Illinois-based Chirch Global Manufacturing LLC (Chirch Global). Consistent with its mission of creating an optimal customer experience, the leading Chicago-area manufacturer of metal stampings and sheet metal fabrications strategically chose Epicor Software Corporation as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider.
“The core reason why we selected Epicor was that its roots were in manufacturing,” says Anthony L. Chirchirillo, CEO of Chirch Global. “With their robust service available in the cloud, we’re able to focus on our end goal: fulfilling customer needs in the best way possible. This adoption comes at a key time for us, and has already helped us further improve our responsiveness to customers.”
Operations manager Michael A. Chirchirillo adds that using the Epicor ERP solution has improved communications across the Chirch Global enterprise, enabling better, faster reactions to market demand changes and customer needs.
The partnership with Epicor reflects Chirch Global’s continual commitment to innovation, to staying abreast of technological advancements, and to serve as an all-encompassing resource for the manufacturing community. With the inception of the Chirch Global Manufacturing Network that currently consists of 15 best-in-class businesses, the company is poised to become the single-source provider for nearly any type of manufacturing need in the year ahead.
For an up-close interview with the Chirchirillo’s regarding their selection and use of Epicor ERP, you can watch here.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
An article in CIO points to the strategic conundrum that is giving rise to increasing vertical functionality in ERP, for manufacturing as well as other business sectors:
If your enterprise has customized your mission-critical ERP systems over the years, your future upgrades will likely be more troublesome and terrifying because the changes can conflict with the patches. On the other hand, if you are running out-of-the-box ERP with little customization, maybe you're not getting all the important features your business needs. So what's a CIO to do? And how do you figure out what to do next if upgrades or replacement are looming in your future?
According to Rebecca Wettemann, VP of Research at Nucleus Research, an increasing number of CIOs are choosing the less customization path. A major driver of this development is that ERP vendors are building applications with greater industry-specific vertical functionality. “Part of the reason for this recent trend is that ERP vendors are now recognizing that if they build applications that include verticalization, they will be easier for more companies to adopt with fewer problems and far less customization,” says Wettemann.
CIO defines verticalized applications as those “built with specific industries in mind, so they are essentially designed to fit different kinds of businesses out of the box.” Typically, to help the applications better conform to a specific industry vertical, they include role-based views and components that users can easily configure so they more closely suit business and process needs, without requiring code writing and deep code customization.
Wettemann says that this approach—which she describes as install vanilla—is good for many companies using ERP. "I think it depends to a certain extent on the application that is chosen. If the application has vertical functionality with role-based sourcing and other possible configuring, then, yes, you're better off going vanilla," she says. "Clients see this as a less risky move, a more predictable way to deploy ERP and a way that is more likely to minimize disruptions and costs over time, which is even more important."
In fact, a survey cited in Industry Week showed that 96 percent of manufacturers “need or want” more specialized ERP. The single greatest need for more industry-specific functionality was cited among manufacturers who say managing return on assets is a core part of their business. The rationale is straightforward:
Manufacturing in North America has become more complex as long-run repetitive manufacturing has become less common. More and more manufacturing in the Western Hemisphere centers around demanding processes like engineer-to-order (ETO), product lifecycles are becoming shorter and manufacturers are focusing more on the specific needs of the vertical industries they serve.
As manufacturers themselves have become more sensitive to the vertical segments they serve, manufacturing companies are increasingly valuing ERP solutions that have been developed and maintain vertical functionality with their industry in mind. This trend gained traction at the outset of the decade, and has been building momentum ever since.
Posted by Tom Muth, Senior Manager, Product Marketing at Epicor
Many companies do not realize successful economies of scale and resource synergies from a merger or acquisition because they are unable to rapidly consolidate disparate organizations and business systems. Organizations currently on or considering a Merger and Acquisition (M&A) path will be tasked with bringing those companies together. One of the most critical projects in this endeavor will be implementing the selected go-forward ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. A properly executed onboarding strategy will enable you to recognize ROI by leveraging the scale of the new organization, and capitalize on the synergies of the merger or acquisition.
“RAPID” in the title of this article represents an acronym and a framework for executing a fast-tracked ERP implementation. RAPID actually includes an acronym within an acronym.
Reports include any business intelligence output, such as: dashboards, printed reports, transactional information, external data sources, etc.
Interfaces: Interfaces are any systems that may push or pull information from the ERP.
Conversions: All activities related to data conversion or data transfer.
Enhancements: Any functional gaps between your current ERP and the acquired company’s ERP should be fully documented, focusing on the impacts to your value stream.
Actions: The near-term action items resulting from each meeting should be tracked to completion.
Policies: All policies—especially customer-facing ones—of the acquired company should be documented, and policy changes should be communicated to the appropriate stakeholders.
Issues/Decisions: As operational, personnel, or technical issues are uncovered, it is important to track those issues to completion with ownership and due dates. The resolved issues should have the decisions or solutions documented and filtered off your list.
Decreasing the amount of time to assimilate all entities onto one system will improve your timeline to return on investment of the merger or acquisition. Another tactic to rapidly implement acquired companies includes an effective project kickoff session, i.e., a Change Acceleration Process (CAP) workshop, to minimize employee resistance, attrition, and general dissatisfaction.
Communication is a key part of change management, and having an expert onsite that is skilled in this area is helpful. After all, if you fail to clearly describe the reasons for the acquisition and its expected impacts to your customers, your competitors will certainly do it for you.
Along with the technical migration, equally important projects to pursue during the
M&A process should include:
- Human Resources Plans, Systems and Policies, such as: payroll, benefits, etc.
- Marketing: A co-branding program is typical, with the acquired company’s logo being phased out over time
- Sales territory alignment
- E-commerce Web site shopping permissions
Approaching each aspect systematically, via the Actions, Policies, and Issues/Decisions execution steps of the framework above, will allow you to properly scope the project, manage the strategic deliverables, and work towards a RAPID implementation.
Posted by Jon Snow, Director, Business Consulting Services at Epicor
Are your line operators "checked in," engaged, and excited about the impact they have on business results? How about managers and executives? Are the top floor and shop floor connected?
Businesses achieve some amazing things with line metrics – but the most surprising improvement of all is around human capital. When manufacturing data and information starts to flow throughout the business, it becomes a story of uniting your team around performance. An engaged workforce translates to passionate, empowered individuals – operators right on up to plant management and the executive suite – working together to build, sustain, and multiply improvements in operations performance.
While there is an unquestionable link between employee engagement and organizational performance, unfortunately, engagement is a real problem in manufacturing. According to Gallup’s 2012 Employee Engagement Index, only 1 in 4 production staff was engaged last year – line operators ranked last among the 12 manufacturing occupation types. The Gallup Index also shows that among disengaged workers, 50% were “mentally checked out” and about one-quarter of them were unhappy and actively undermining the employer.
Any manufacturer who is concerned about factory performance might also be concerned that plant staff might reject line metrics en masse. However, a new and entirely unexpected trend is emerging among businesses that use metrics and analytics to drive performance improvement. Manufacturers who leverage technology to establish a connection between the top floor and shop floor see a dramatic and unexpected shift in culture – one that unites and inspires operators, supervisors, plant management, and corporate executives to work together to build and sustain performance, and extend improvements across the production network.
The information-sharing loop begins with line and plant performance, then involves and engages people across the organization, from operators on up to the executive suite. These passionate, empowered individuals have what they need to drive financial and operational directives into specific, meaningful action.
Join us and special guest John Oskin, leading industry advisor on operations performance, this Thursday at 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern to learn more. Oskin will discuss how companies blend corporate initiatives and technology to drive operations performance – and along the way create collaboration among operators, management, and executives.
Epicor Webcast Event: Line Metrics Changed a Culture.
Sign up for this webcast today!
Posted by Diane Murray, Manager, Product Marketing
Key emerging markets offer excellent demand for enterprise applications. This is especially the case with Brazil. The country’s ongoing economic expansion continues to place it at or near the head of emerging markets. Bill Adams, senior international economist for Pittsburgh, Penn.-based PNC Financial Services group, described the Brazilian economy in a recent Forbes
article: “Brazil’s economy is in a self-sustaining expansion. A tight labor market fuels persistent wage gains even in a slow economy, and these wage gains fuel higher consumer purchasing power and domestic demand and sustain economic growth.”
According to a recent report from Gartner, Inc.
, Brazil’s overall IT spending will near $124 billion (US dollars) in 2013, with IT modernization at the top of the list of priorities for Brazilian IT leaders. Furthermore, within the context of IT spending, the report also indicated that in 2013, ERP, CRM, industry-specific software, office and personal productivity tools, and e-commerce software lead the application software investment initiatives for organizations.
Such development is leading to an increase in customer-specific functionality (CSF) in software solutions, a trend underscored by the new release of Epicor iScala that integrates with the Epicor ICE Business Architecture to help customers gain increased agility, mobility, and flexibility while incorporating CSF functionality. “The new release of Epicor iScala represents a significant investment, bringing new capabilities designed to increase system performance, improve stability, and deliver long-term support for the latest technologies. This will enable our customers to realize even greater business value from the solution,” says Robert Sinfield, senior manager, product marketing for Epicor. “The increasing demand for enterprise applications within key emerging markets such as Brazil offers growth opportunities for Epicor iScala, while supporting our customers who are moving into this new market space.”
As companies increasingly target emerging economies as part of their strategic growth initiatives, support such as CSF is increasingly seen as an essential software component.
Posted by Robert, Sinfield Senior Manager, Product Marketing
Food Manufacturing interview with Tom Muth, senior manager of product marketing for process manufacturing, Epicor Software Corporation.
Food Manufacturing spoke with Tom Muth of Epicor Software Corporation about the challenges processors face regarding food safety and traceability, and how ERP software can help mitigate these issues.
Q: What unique challenges do food manufacturers face regarding documenting food safety and traceability efforts?
A: Food safety is seen as the single most important issue among manufacturers, and the demands to document information relating to food sourcing, material flow, traceability and more present an ongoing challenge. These complex demands have a real cost, one very critical to bottom-line profitability as major food retailers take on a larger role in controlling. Forward and backward traceability of processed products, batches and lots requires detailed tracking from the point of materials receipt throughout production and delivery to customer shelves. Food manufacturers also require strict ingredient and environmental control throughout the manufacturing process, driving the need for food manufacturers to have the flexibility and details recorded across lots, batches, co- and bi-products. Lastly, food manufacturers are increasing the value of traceability responsiveness to quickly and efficiently respond to recall events or customer inquirers within minutes versus days.
Q: How can ERP systems help food producers meet these challenges?
A: ERP systems are providing the means to meet these challenges while improving internal business processes. By providing a framework to meet regulatory compliance demands, ensure product safety and control costs, ERP is proving increasingly essential as a tool in the food manufacturer’s arsenal for traceability. The ERP role is automating traceability of ingredients from origin to the final customer, as well as speeding and simplifying the audit process. A holistic electronic quality management approach is essential for meeting the challenges associated with traceability and quality. With ERP systems such as Epicor Tropos, quality workflows are integrated from the time of a sales order, to purchasing, to production, into inventory and finally to dispatch. ERP maintains quality specifications, sampling regimes and QA test results from order to dispatch and also may dynamically link to material lot and product release controls to help control quality and ensure full traceability.
Q: What are some best practices food companies should put in place regarding their supply chain management to help their business succeed?
A: Food manufacturers can help improve their bottom line by having standardized procedures for order management and delivery fulfillment. Another is to have standardized workflow and procedures for production planning and execution, and to ensure their operations are integrated and coordinated with customer service, logistics and delivery to improve process visibility and improve efficiencies. By doing these best practices, food manufacturers can better manage items throughout the whole value chain: improve controlling and planning stock, production, packaging, and distribution; and improve the collaboration between departments to optimize production capacity, perishability, warehousing and cash flow.
Q: What are the latest trends with process manufacturing that food manufacturers can take advantage of to lower operational costs?
A: Some of the latest trends with process manufacturing that food manufacturers can take advantage of to lower operational costs include:
- Optimizing materials consumption (reducing waste)
- Extending shelf life of final products by speeding throughput
- Lowering energy costs through real-time visibility
- Benchmarking energy usage
Q: What should food manufacturers consider before implementing an ERP system?
A: Food manufactures should consider an ERP system that has been designed for their unique business requirements for the food industry and representative success in their particular segment. Effective food ERP solutions such as Epicor Tropos are designed for process manufacturing and have a built-in process model and recipe and materials management support aimed at driving efficiencies and improving margins specifically for food and beverage industries. The ERP system should also be able to monitor and manage the variable nature of yields and product quality, shelf life and accurately forecast, optimize scheduling, manage materials, labeling and transportation in order to properly fulfill order to promise with a short notice. Lastly, an ERP package designed for food manufacturers will also have industry-specific functionality designed to minimize customization and include support for date code management, rebates and commissions, consignment costing, day one for day one order and delivery, multiple product attributes and grades, retailer-specific packing, and catch weight labeling.
In the game of baseball, there is a strategy of each player knowing who gets the ball and who they throw it to; no matter where on the field it lands. Not only is there an automatic response; the outfield is talking; the infield is talking; the outfield is talking to the infield, and a good coach is sitting silently because he knows his team is prepared and has the tools to get the job done. He knows that each player understands that when a ball is hit to center field, the center fielder calls it, catches it, and immediately throws to the second baseman. It’s automatic. This is a process that happens without thinking and that transcends departmental boundaries. Can the same be said of the plays that happen in your manufacturing business when your customers throw a curve ball with a new product line, a change in release date or added requirement?
For businesses with silos of information and fractured processes, the answer is ugh .. yet another change. But for those that understand the value of end-to-end ERP systems where business processes flow from department to department, change is like expecting a bunt when a man is on first base and there are no outs. The play is already set.
In today’s fast paced business environment, speed and the ability to quickly respond are many times the name of the game in filling customer demands. Manufacturers that deploy ERP systems that cover end-to-end business processes know immediately as the product ships what their profitability looks like on each production job for the customer and can in tune see historically, every time I ship this, how my profitability is improving.
How you may ask? These manufacturers are doing this by enabling their business data to flow from estimating to production to procurement and finance as well as production. This data is captured as it happens and every employee understands the benefit of accurate information – to not only help their business determine what customers to keep happy, but also to help their business determine what customers to charge more to or to fire. Each department doesn’t run as a silo, with its own systems to support it. Rather an ERP system supports the entire business and provides a natural flow of data between departments, not unlike the strategy deployed by a good coach. In the game of business, reduce the silos to see improved profitability. ERP technology can help. Epicor can help.
Please plan to join us this Wednesday at 1pm Central to learn more.
Epicor Webcast Event: Improve Efficiency by Streamlining Quote to Cash Process!
Posted by: Christine Hansen, Manager, Product Marketing at Epicor
About 60 miles west of Columbus, Ohio, situated along the banks of the Muskingum River, lies a picturesque town of 25,000 known as Zanesville, Ohio. Rich with history, Zanesville was a notorious a hub for bootlegging activity during the Prohibition Era. These days, the town is known for a far tamer vice—it’s home to the New Bloomer Candy Company, which was founded in 1879 and has been delighting children and adults of all ages with their signature chocolates and candies ever since. A few years ago, New Bloomer realized there was one area of operations in need of significant modernization: their legacy computer system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
As a small, seasonal business, New Bloomer’s orders vary greatly depending on the time of year. From January to September, bagged candies are in high demand, while chocolates are the most popular products during the holiday season. In order to ensure they have enough resources to fill orders from one season to the next, the company must diligently monitor inventory levels and compare them against the lead time of the orders they receive. If there isn’t enough product on hand, employees must be able to determine how much they need to import from other suppliers, or what ingredients they need to purchase in order to manufacture additional products on-premise.
In the past, the homegrown system New Bloomer used did a poor job helping staff meet this challenge. Knowing they needed a better way to run the company’s manufacturing and planning processes, New Bloomer began to evaluate new ERP solutions and chose Epicor Tropos.
One of the biggest immediate benefits of Epicor Tropos was a vast improvement in employee communication. New Bloomer has two separate locations: they repackage imported candies at one facility, while chocolate products are manufactured at another facility five miles away. Both facilities need to communicate effectively in order for things to run smoothly. In the past, however, all communication took place via phone, which slowed things down significantly. With no access to crucial data, such as how much of a certain product was on hand, employees had to rely on managers to look up the information they needed in the system.
With a new ERP system, all employees have real-time access to all information they need. This includes work orders, current inventory levels and when orders placed for additional ingredients are expected to arrive, which lets staff know when they’ll have enough materials in stock to fill customer orders.
The ability to view all of this data has helped improve the New Bloomer’s relationship with their customers. Employees can now provide up-to-date information on work orders at any given time, so customers calling in for details can be immediately informed of any shortages or delays. The system also helps New Bloomer avoid any repercussions from shortages by allowing them to easily substitute one product for another so a sale can still be completed.
Another significant benefit is the system’s lot control abilities. In the past, racks of outdated products would pile up because New Bloomer’s old system wasn’t able to alert them when items were near their expiration date, which cost the company anywhere from $20,000-$40,000 per year. Now, Epicor Tropos delivers two sets of reports periodically: one for items that have expired, and one for those that will expire soon. This allows New Bloomer staff to quickly move products that are close to expiry so they don’t lose money, and has greatly reduced the amount of products they have sitting in their warehouse at any given time.
As a result, the company was able to reduce their inventory from $1.6 million at the end of 2011 to $1.2 million at the end of 2012, largely due to Epicor Tropos. “The system helps us control our inventory better so we’re not bringing in truckloads of product we don’t need,” says New Bloomer Controller Michael Montgomery. “We’re doing a much better job there.”
With Epicor Tropos, New Bloomer has not only modernized company operations and made their business more efficient—they’ve also given their employees greater control over their jobs, which has led to a renewed sense of pride.
“[The staff] own their jobs because they know where the information is and they can look it up themselves,” Montgomery says. “We’ve changed the culture here, just with this new ERP system, because now people have more knowledge than they’ve ever had.”
Case study by Victoria Garment, courtesy of Software Advice, a trusted resource for buyers of MRP systems
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is the largest payments initiative ever undertaken within Europe. European Union (EU) law effectively mandates migration to SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) in the Euro area by February 1, 2014.
In a statement from Benoît Cœuré, member of the executive board of the European Central Bank: “Adapting to SEPA involves adjusting a lot of technical and business procedures over a limited period of time. I hope that all stakeholders will take migration to SEPA payment instruments as a top priority.” (Source: European Payments Council, March 2013).
With SEPA fast approaching, is your business ready? Equally important, is your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system ready? This blog explores the importance of SEPA and the changes necessary within your ERP system to achieve compliance in advance of the February 2014 deadline (EU-member states with a non-Euro currency will need to have adopted SEPA by October 31, 2016).
What is SEPA?
Electronic banking has been around for many years, however, each country, and often each bank has required data to be formatted according to a proprietary standard. In a drive to reduce the cost of electronic payments and to simplify cross-border transactions the EU has created a set of standards and common payment instruments to be used with a common payment area (known as SEPA).
As of August 2013, SEPA impacts 33 different countries including the so-called “EU-28” and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland. Each country within the area will be able to adopt the standard or extend it with additional requirements; however, due to the way XML works this will not break interoperability. As such, it’s important to make sure your ERP system supports the standard SEPA messages for instructing a bank to make a payment on behalf of a customer.
Why is SEPA important?
Trade is built around an exchange of goods or services for either goods or services of equal value, or some form of monetary compensation. Management of the transfer of funds for goods and services in multiple countries has resulted in increased complexity for banks, financial authorities and payment brokers, as well as increased costs for payers and payees.
The introduction of a single, overriding payment standard for the management of electronic movements of money is designed to simplify systems, increase transparency and hopefully reduce costs for the various parties involved.
I thought SEPA was the same everywhere?
SEPA is a set of standards and guidelines for managing electronic transfers in Euros. These standards allow for some interpretation and flexibility with member countries able to extend and modify the SEPA layouts to match local fiscal governance requirements.
The adoption of SEPA in Europe has been different across the region up until now; with countries like Finland opting to adopt SEPA earlier than other countries. This combined with the flexible nature of the SEPA standards framework has resulted in different levels of control in different countries. Countries like Germany and Estonia have opted for a single SEPA standard to be used by all banks within these countries requiring all banks to accept the same SEPA file format. Countries like the Netherlands and Finland have taken a different approach allowing banks to extend the SEPA file layouts according to the individual bank’s requirements. Remember, this is Europe after all and even though most use the same currency, there are still some differences between the different countries!
This means that you might use multiple banks in the same country and be required to prepare slightly different SEPA output files depending on the local interpretation of SEPA. It also means that you might use the same bank in multiple countries and there may be a need to prepare multiple formats of the same payment files depending on whether these are going to be sent to the Swedish branch, the Finish branch or the German branch.
What can you do to get ready?
You need not despair though. Even though SEPA might differ slightly from country to country you can use one bank account to make and receive ANY and ALL payments in Euros from a single bank account.
As your organization prepares for the move to SEPA, Epicor has identified the following major things you should think about:
Implementing SEPA is a big change for your organization, so create a project for the introduction of SEPA with a clearly defined ﬁnancial budget. Know what your goals are and put things into different phases if necessary.
Make a list of the customers that are in ‘SEPA countries’ and adjust your plan to support the introduction of SEPA in these different countries.
Make sure to check all your banks are SEPA-compliant, don’t assume anything!
SEPA allows you to use one EUR bank account for all payments and receipts in Euros. Is one bank account in EUR sufﬁcient (are more local bank accounts needed)?
Remember to update your invoices with your IBAN and BIC and ensure all customers’ and suppliers’ bank account numbers are entered into your ERP according to the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) formats.
Epicor iScala extends support for SEPA
SEPA does not need to be complex. The latest release of Epicor iScala offers organizations a flexible framework that harnesses the power of the Epicor Service Connect (ESC) integration and process orchestration tool. Standard SEPA XML schemas can be adopted and easily adjusted to meet local, regional or even bank specific requirements.
Posted by Robert Sinfield, Senior Manager, Product Marketing