See the visualization of the major concerns with cloud computing through this helpful infographic. Cloud computing is still in its infancy stage and has many pros and cons. Although the benefits are real, trepidation about the safety and environmental impact of massive data centers are serious concerns.
Customer reference calls and a site visit to see an ERP vendor’s customer using a proposed ERP solution in a real-world environment is a logical and essential step in the ERP selection process. That said, organizations that are evaluating distribution and manufacturing software solutions need to consider when in the overall selection process to ask the ERP vendor for such references. Following these two simple guidelines will not only help an ERP selection team find the best possible ERP system for their respective business, they will help the selection team make the most effective and efficient use of its and the ERP vendor’s customer’s time.
1. Complete the vast majority of the ERP selection project first, including remote demonstrations, an RFI, an RFP, and onsite scripted software demonstrations, before moving into customer reference calls and a site visit.
ERP selection teams should make every effort to complete other phases of the selection project before worrying too much about speaking to an ERP vendor’s existing customers. Selection teams should conduct a thorough, quantitative assessment of each potential ERP vendor and solution through distributing RFI’s and RFP’s, participating in initial web demonstrations with potential vendors, and bringing a short-list of vendors in to perform a day-long, scripted software demonstration. Through distribution of an RFI and RFP, a perfectly logical request would be for the software vendor to provide some sample customer names who are in a similar industry and/or who have similar internal processes and software requirements. Through onsite, scripted software demonstrations, the ERP selection team should be able to narrow their short list of potential vendors and solutions down to one (or two at the very most) preferred vendor of choice. Done right, the scripted software demonstration process should provide the selection team with a clear-cut, quantitative ranking of the various software vendors and ERP solutions being evaluated.
Requesting customer references with only the preferred vendor or top two vendors will minimize the number of reference calls made by the selection team and prevent the team from calling customers of ERP vendors who have already been eliminated from the evaluation project due to functional fit.
2. Avoid cold-calling; allow the ERP company to arrange dates and times for customer reference calls based on their customers’ and the selection team’s availability.
Following scripted software demonstrations and identification of the preferred ERP software vendor, the selection team should request the vendor to arrange dates and times with three of its customers who are similar in size, industry, and functional requirements. The selection team should also request the vendor to arrange the calls with customer contacts who have an intimate knowledge of the proposed ERP solution and vendor, the software selection process that was used when evaluating the vendor, and who will be able to discuss his or her experiences with the ERP software implementation process and working with the software vendor.
Calling ERP vendors’ customers without having the vendor first arrange the date and time of the call with the right contact will prove to be largely ineffective. Not only does the selection team run the risk of a given customer contact not being available, it risks speaking to somebody who may not be able to answer the full scope of the selection team’s questions relating to the ERP vendor, the software, the selection process, and/or the implementation process.
Customer reference calls are, without doubt, essential elements to the overall evaluation process. It is important, however, for the selection team to make the most effective use of its time to keep the selection process moving forward and request customer reference call arrangements to be made at the most logical time in the process.
One of the most common objectives a business has when evaluating distribution software solutions is to find an ERP system with a fully-integrated, RF and barcode-enabled warehouse management system. Many organizations enter the ERP selection process with the goal of implementing an ERP system that will allow them to operate their warehouse in a completely paperless environment.
While the paperless warehouse is an achievable goal through implementation of Enterprise 21 ERP’s warehouse management system, there are three critical success factors for achieving such a goal, all of which revolve around the issue of organizational change management. The process of migrating from a paper-based warehouse environment to one of real-time, paperless inventory tracking requires all parties to be equally vested in the process.
The Three Critical Success Factors for Paperless Warehouse Implementation:
1. Take a Phased Approach. Too often, organizations try to tackle more than they (and their users) are capable of doing all at once. Particularly in instances in which no barcode scanning exists prior to ERP implementation, it is recommended to have an intermediate step in the process in which users use a paper-assisted method in which barcodes are scanned via an RF device but a paper pick-ticket, work order, and/or packing slip is still generated. If nothing else, the piece of paper can act as a “safety blanket” for the warehouse users as they become more acclimated with the new ERP system on a daily basis. Once the users are more accustomed to interacting with the system and have demonstrated a willingness to record data electronically in real-time, the organization is ready to move to a more paperless environment.
2. Training, Training, and More Training. Sufficient training on the new ERP system, particularly for inventory and warehouse users, is critical to a successful ERP implementation and reduces the risk of issues occurring upon system go-live. As much training should be dedicated to the warehouse users as possible; the users not only need to learn the functional processing of the system but the business processes and transactions they engage in as well. They also need to be prepared for situations that they may not necessarily see on a daily basis but that arise on occasion nonetheless (a supplier shipped the wrong product, a purchase order was over-shipped or under-shipped, inventory is not in the right location, etc.). The more prepared the warehouse users are prior to system go-live, the faster they will be able to adopt a paperless warehouse environment in the following months using the ERP Software.
3. Senior Management Enforcement and Oversight. Senior management enforcement of user data entry for each warehouse transaction is essential to migrating to a paperless warehouse environment. ERP software and warehouse management systems are only as good as the data they are given. Management needs to be willing to adopt the motto, “If you do something, you need to tell the system you did it.” Maintaining complete inventory data accuracy and integrity, and users’ willingness to adopt such methodologies, will prove to be the most critical factor to realizing the benefits and efficiencies provided by a paperless warehouse environment.
TGI will be exhibiting at the 2012 NACD Annual Meeting Vendor Expo, held November 27-29, 2012 in San Diego, California. TGI representatives will be on hand at Table #3 while at the event to provide demonstrations of Enterprise 21 ERP to all NACD Annual Meeting attendees.
The NACD Annual Meeting is the National Association of Chemical Distributors’ premier event for chemical distribution industry leaders and provides a wealth of opportunities to its members to engage in industry best practice sessions, learn about changes to industry compliance regulations, interact with other business executives in the industry, and more.
With constantly changing and increasingly more stringent industry regulatory requirements, the Enterprise 21 ERP system has emerged as an ideal chemical distribution software solution in the past several years. Enterprise 21 ERP provides chemical distributors with:
- Forward and backward lot tracking and traceability
- A fully-integrated, RF and barcode-enabled warehouse management system
- Advanced forecasting and MRP/DRP functionality
- Integrated quality control functionality with Certificate of Analysis (COA) generation and management
- MSDS generation and management
- A built-in document management system
- Value-added service support through advanced manufacturing software functionality
- Sophisticated customer and product pricing rules including promotions, allowances, and volume discounts
- Quoting and conversion of quotes to customer sales orders
- Multiple unit of measure support
- Multi-company support
- A complete transportation management system
- Landed cost, container tracking, and import management functionality
- Fully-integrated order management, inventory management, procurement, financial management, CRM, and business intelligence functionality in a single ERP software solution.
To learn more about the NACD and the 2012 NACD Annual Meeting, please visit www.nacd.com.
A common question asked during the ERP evaluation process is, “How does your ERP system compare to other ERP solutions on the market?” The problem with such a question, unfortunately, is that it is typically being posed to a sales person representing a specific ERP application, making it virtually impossible for the person evaluating the ERP system to get a truly objective, unbiased response.
One of our primary business objectives at TGI is to encourage our new business prospects to compare TGI and our Enterprise 21 ERP system to our competition through a quantitative ERP selection process. We do not believe in “selling” software in the traditional sense of the word; rather, we believe in demonstrating Enterprise 21 ERP and being straightforward about what its functional capabilities are. In many cases, this means we have a strong functional fit for a given business. In other cases, however, we may not be the best fit, in which case it is better for both TGI and the prospect to part ways. No ERP software solution can be everything to everybody.
Over the years, we have attempted to provide the necessary tools to allow companies to select the ERP vendor and solution that has the best functional and organizational fit for their respective businesses. One example of this is our free ERP Software Selection Tool Kit, which has been downloaded by thousands of organizations and used to evaluate potential ERP, distribution, and manufacturing software systems.
In continuing with this approach, we are pleased to announce that businesses interested in evaluating Enterprise 21 ERP can obtain a free ERP comparison report based on user-defined functional criteria using Technology Evaluation Centers’ (TEC) online ERP comparison tool. Users may select up to three additional ERP vendors, enter their requirements, and get an immediate, detailed report comparing Enterprise 21 to the other selected ERP solutions.
One of the single biggest challenges cheese and dairy producers face is the set up and maintenance of how they pay their milk suppliers. As part of our ongoing commitment to the cheese and dairy industry, we are releasing new milk procurement software functionality that is fully-integrated with the Enterprise 21 ERP system.
The new milk pay module enables cheese and dairy manufacturers to create standard route pickups for each milk supplier, develop their own milk payment grading system on a supplier-by-supplier basis, establish user-defined testing procedures for each milk supplier, define an infinite number of hold back codes and associated costs, and electronically transfer funds to the entities of the hold back codes. In addition, cheese and dairy producers can define their own milk payment methodologies based on test values for fat, protein, and antibiotic content for each lot of milk.
Perhaps most importantly, the Enterprise 21 ERP system will track each lot of milk picked up from each supplier, the quality control test values for each lot of milk, the date of pick up, when each specific milk lot was used in production of finished goods, finished good lot numbers, and all finished good lot shipments to customers, providing an end-to-end lot traceability software solution.
The new milk payroll functionality will be free to all existing TGI customers and will be sold to all future TGI customers at no additional cost when they purchase Enterprise 21 software licenses.
To learn more about Enterprise 21 for the cheese and dairy industry, please click here.
TGI will be exhibiting at the 2012 International Cheese Technology Expo April 10-12 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. TGI representatives will be on-hand at Booth #237 at ICTE 2012 to offer demonstrations of Enterprise 21 ERP, our fully-integrated food ERP software solution for cheese and dairy manufacturers and distributors. ICTE 2012 promises to offer a fantastic showcase of leading technology solutions for the cheese and dairy industry.
What makes Enterprise 21 ERP an ideal ERP solution for the cheese and dairy industry? Enterprise 21 ERP delivers:
• Forward and backward food traceability software functionality;
• Shelf-life and expiration date tracking;
• Catch weight processing;
• Fully-integrated EDI;
• An advanced, RF and barcode-enabled warehouse management system;
• Sophisticated forecasting and material requirements planning functionality;
• Formula and recipe management;
• A complete milk procurement software system to manage payments to dairy suppliers;
• Complex customer pricing rules and methodologies;
• Scalable batches;
• Production scheduling;
• Production recording;
• Order management;
• and business intelligence and executive dashboard functionality in a single ERP system.
For additional information on Enterprise 21 ERP for the cheese and dairy industry, please click here.
TGI will be exhibiting at the International Dairy Deli Bake Association’s 2011 show and expo in Anaheim, California June 5-7, 2011. We are looking forward to showcasing Enterprise 21 ERP at the IDDBA 2011 show for IDDBA and its members.
If you plan on exhibiting at or attending IDDBA 2011, we invite you to visit Booth #1859 for a full-featured demonstration of Enterprise 21 ERP for you and your company. To pre-arrange a demonstration while at IDDBA 2011, please click here to register for a demo.
Enterprise 21 ERP has been recognized as an industry-leading ERP software solution for food processors and distributors and has received Food Logistics magazine’s annual FL100 award for three consecutive years. Offering a fully-integrated ERP application suite, Enterprise 21 provides food processors and distributors with:
• Forward and backward lot traceability software functionality;
• Production scheduling and recording;
• A fully-integrated, RF and barcode enabled warehouse management system;
• Quality control processing;
• Complete inventory management;
• Advanced forecasting and material requirements planning (MRP);
• Catch weight processing;
• Formula and recipe management;
• Product shelf life and expiration date tracking;
• Order Management;
• Purchasing Management;
• Financial Management;
• Business Intelligence;
• Recall Management;
• eCommerce, and much more.
Additional Resources and Links
• ERP Demonstrations
• Improve Product Safety and Traceability – TGI White Paper
• Enterprise 21 Product Overview Brochure
• ERP Implementation Services
One of the biggest roadblocks for small businesses that are ready to make the jump from their existing software systems to a fully-integrated small business ERP solution is cost. When it comes to purchasing an ERP software system, all businesses, regardless of size, should examine both the upfront first-year costs associated with purchasing an ERP solution and the potential long-term costs associated with the ERP system, such as customer support and software upgrades. At TGI, there are three things we are doing to make purchasing Enterprise 21 ERP more affordable for small businesses that are ready for an ERP system.
1. Free Data Migration for Small Businesses that Purchase Enterprise 21 ERP. For 2011, TGI is offering free ERP data migration services to businesses that purchase Enterprise 21 ERP, and currently use a number of small business software packages. We’ve developed a series of mapping files that allow us to export data out of these systems and load the data into Enterprise 21 in a timely, efficient manner. Given that data migration is perhaps one of the most time-consuming, tedious tasks performed during the ERP implementation process, TGI’s free data migration services can save small businesses both time and money, resulting in faster, more cost-effective implementation projects.
2. Interest-Free Payment Plans. TGI offers every small business that purchases Enterprise 21 ERP flexible, interest-free monthly payment plans for software licenses. As opposed to giving the ERP vendor 50% of the total software license cost upfront, in the form of a down payment, and another 50% of the total software license cost thirty days later, TGI allows small businesses to purchase Enterprise 21 software licenses with twelve, equal monthly payments, minimizing the disruption to the organization’s cash flow and monthly budget constraints.
3. One Year of Free Maintenance and a NO Maintenance Fee Increase Guarantee. For every business that purchases Enterprise 21 ERP, TGI offers one year of free maintenance from the date of initial software installation. Given that an ERP implementation may take anywhere between three and nine months to complete, we believe it is inappropriate for ERP vendors to charge their customers maintenance fees during the first year of software ownership. For each subsequent year following the first year, TGI guarantees, in contract writing, that we will never increase our customers’ annual maintenance fees. This guarantee provides our customers with the peace of mind in knowing they will not be subjected to unforeseen maintenance fee increases and escalating yearly software expenditures. Click here to learn more about TGI’s No Maintenance Fee Increase Guarantee.
Implementing an ERP software system represents both a significant technological and cultural change for any manufacturing or distribution organization. An ERP system changes the very nature of individuals’ jobs, roles, and responsibilities within the company. Unfortunately, the ERP industry is wrought with failed implementations or terrible stories of companies not being able to take orders, receive product, or ship orders to customers upon go-live.
Generally speaking, implementations fail for two reasons. First, the manufacturing or distribution organization’s internal ERP implementation project team was simply not committed to executing the necessary tasks to complete the software implementation in a timely fashion. Similarly, the ERP vendor was not able to deliver what it promised during the sales process or was not equally committed to completing the implementation successfully.
Secondly, and perhaps more commonly, ERP implementations fail because the organization did not select the right ERP solution and vendor in the first place. Successful ERP implementation projects do not begin with signing contracts and paying a software vendor money for software licenses; rather, successful ERP implementation projects begin with a well-structured, quantitative ERP software evaluation process that looks in-depth at each ERP system’s complete set of functional capabilities and how such functionality translates to tangible benefits and potential ROI for the manufacturer or distributor. To a degree, “selecting” an ERP system is different than “buying” an ERP system.
At TGI, we encourage each of our potential new business prospects to evaluate TGI and Enterprise 21 ERP through a thorough, quantitative ERP selection process, and we offer free ERP software selection tools to assist in this process. Depending on the nature of the industry the prospect is in, the prospect’s software requirements across various business departments and units (accounting, order entry, inventory and warehousing, purchasing, manufacturing, etc.) expected software implementation time frame, budget constraints, and countless other factors, we are often times a great fit for the prospect. Other times, however, we may not have the most viable solution for a particular business. The point is that through a thorough ERP software evaluation process, strengths and weaknesses of each software vendor and solution can be identified, allowing organizations to select the best possible ERP solution for their respective businesses while simultaneously providing a stepping stone for organizations to complete their ERP implementation projects successfully.