TGI - ERP Software Solution

Main Menu

Posts Tagged ‘ERP Software’

ERP for the Small Business: Three Ways TGI is Making ERP Software Affordable for Small Businesses

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by admin

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.

When Should I Replace My Existing ERP Software?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 by admin

Let’s examine when it’s time to consider kicking off an ERP selection project replacing your existing manufacturing or distribution ERP software. There can be a number of symptoms that will help point someone to realize it’s time to evaluate and implement new ERP software. Here are some examples.

  • Current software can’t match existing business processes – this may have existed from day 1 of installing your new software if you did a poor job of selecting software the first time, and the gap may have continued to widen over time.
  • The business is changing and software can’t enable this change – as a business changes and grows, new processes can get introduced which help enable that business to be competitive in new markets with new customers.
  • Lots of off-line processing (i.e., spreadsheets, manual processes, re-keying of data multiple times) – if the existing system doesn’t allow someone to get their job done, they will tend to find ways around the system to do so. Unfortunately, these inefficiencies can eat substantial amounts of time and can create data inaccuracies as the “same” information is entered multiple times in disparate systems.
  • Have lots of “data” but can’t get “information” out of the system – analyzing information is critical to continuous improvement and attracting and maintaining good customer relationships. One can get handcuffed by having a data rich, information poor environment where they put data into their system but can’t get any information back out.
  • Can’t easily implement new functionality or technology (i.e., RF/barcode, EDI, warehouse management system, CRM software, etc.) – there may be improved efficiencies to be gained and new customers attracted by making it easy for them to do business with you. Many times, technology is a key enabler to making it easy for your customers to interact and transact business with you.  If you can’t readily adopt these new technologies, you may lose customers who are better prepared to transact business with your customers.
  • Existing software and/or underlying infrastructure is no longer supported by the associated vendors – as there have been massive amounts of acquisitions in the ERP market over the years, there are lots of ERP solutions which were thought of as “flagship” solutions that are no longer receiving an adequate level of investment to keep existing customers satisfied and to attract new ones. Your vendor may have “dropped support” for your software without formally announcing it to you.
  • Can’t keep up with business demands by writing custom software vs. using packaged software solutions – for those who continue to write their own custom software, there are so many “commodity” processes that could be enabled via packaged software while still gaining the benefits of customized software in those “competitive advantage” processes – those processes that enable a company to gain competitive advantage in its marketplace. Unfortunately, most companies who have a “build” vs. “buy” approach to software do so across all business processes, and either pay a lot for “commodity” processes or can’t get resources focused on the “competitive advantage” processes due to keeping day-to-day operations running.  Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by your internal application development team.

While the above is not intended to be an all inclusive list, these symptoms are very common in businesses.  As symptoms continue to pop up and their results become increasingly more disconcerting, manufacturing and distribution businesses will opt to evaluate and implement new ERP software solutions to remove these barriers to future business growth.

ERP Implementation Critical Success Factor: The Pace of the Game Can Dictate the Odds of Success

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by admin

For those of you who are NFL sports fans, you’ve likely noticed there are some NFL teams whose offenses produce better when they play in hurry-up mode – the way in which all teams play toward the end of the game when they’re behind and need to score rapidly.  The current day Indianapolis Colts strike me as this kind of team.  With Peyton Manning calling the plays from the line of scrimmage, the Colts’ players stay focused and execute in a highly-efficient manner.

Let’s contrast this to the slow, methodical, grind-it-out NFL offenses that take long periods of time and numbers of downs to get to the end zone.  Sure, there are successful scoring drives that can take twelve to fifteen plays to completion; however, the more times a team has to snap the ball and run a play the more opportunities there are for issues to sneak in that stall or end the drive – a penalty, a turnover, or even one dropped pass or missed block can result in an unsuccessful drive.

From my perspective, ERP implementation and NFL offenses have a lot in common.  They both require a variety of players with varying skill sets and experience levels to play their respective positions for a successful outcome.  In the NFL, all of the players know their roles, and there is a sense of urgency to accomplish tasks in an expedient, highly-efficient manner, and measurable progress occurs.  The same should be the case to ensure successful ERP implementations.

Players should be educated on what their roles are and how what they do fits into the overall plans for the ERP implementation.  And, while I completely understand that personnel’s day-to-day responsibilities can get in the way of having sufficient time to devote to the implementation project, my recommendation is that by running the ERP implementation like a two-minute offense, key personnel will feel the sense of urgency to execute in a highly-efficient manner thus producing a successful outcome.  To contrast this, if there is an expectation that a project can take as long as people want or has sufficient slack time in the project plan, there is a lack of urgency that keeps most personnel from prioritizing the time to accomplish what is necessary to produce a successful result with the implementation.

Visit TGI at the IDDBA 2010 Show and Expo – June 6-8, 2010 in Houston, Texas

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by Alex Smith

We are very excited to be exhibiting at the International Dairy Deli Bake Association’s annual show and expo for the fourth consecutive year. IDDBA 2010 will be held June 6-8 in Houston, Texas. TGI representatives will be on hand at Booth #3555 to offer product demonstrations of TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP software for show exhibitors and attendees.

If you plan to exhibit at or attend IDDBA 2010 and would like to schedule a product demonstration while at the show that focuses on your business’s unique software requirements, you may complete a brief form on our IDDBA 2010 show event page or contact us directly.

Enterprise 21 ERP Software Functional Highlights for the Food and Beverage Industry:

  • Lot Tracking and Traceability
  • Shelf-life and Expiration Date Tracking
  • Inventory Management
  • Warehouse Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Scalable Batches
  • Formula and Recipe Management
  • Multiple Units of Measure and Unit of Measure Conversions
  • Catch Weight Processing
  • Compliance and Product Recall Management
  • Order Management
  • Purchasing
  • Shipping and Receiving
  • EDI
  • CRM
  • Financial Management and Accounting

Additional Resources and Links:

Enterprise 21 ERP: An Ideal Food ERP Software Solution for Producers of Gourmet Sauces, Stocks, and Concentrates

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 by Alex Smith

A recent article in Bon Appétit magazine highlighted five companies’ alternatives to “homemade” chicken broth. Interestingly, two of the five food processors featured in the article run TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP software, including More Than Gourmet, a producer of gourmet French stocks and French sauces, and Savory Creations International, maker of Savory Choice Liquid Chicken Broth Concentrate. Aside from the fact that Enterprise 21 is a fully integrated ERP system, there are a number of features in Enterprise 21 that make it an ideal food processing software solution, particularly for makers of stocks, sauces, pastes, and concentrates.

Lot Tracking and Traceability. Integrated food traceability software functionality is a must for any food processor. Enterprise 21 tracks the lot numbers of ingredients and materials received into inventory, the suppliers who provided the ingredient lots, when these lots were consumed in manufacturing, the lot numbers of finished goods produced, and all customers who were shipped a given lot of a given product.

Multiple Units of Measure. Enterprise 21 allows organizations to establish global or product specific unit of measure conversion factors. Food processors and distributors can purchase, manufacture, stock, and sell ingredients and/or products in any unit of measure.

Formula and Recipe Management. Enterprise 21 gives food processors the ability to meet their desired formula and recipe requirements. Enterprise 21 supports multi-level formulations while also providing for ingredient substitutes for a given formula. In addition, each formula can have one or multiple manufacturing routings that consist of a series of steps and instructions to be followed during batch production.

Scalable Batches. Food processors can leverage Enterprise 21’s integrated manufacturing software capabilities when producing varying batch quantities. Enterprise 21 can automatically scale required ingredients in a formula or recipe for large or small production batch sizes.

Quality Control. Enterprise 21 supports the establishment of quality control procedures for food processors and distributors to ensure the highest levels of product safety. Ingredients can be set to be placed on quality hold each time they are received into inventory. Similarly, finished goods can be set to be put on quality hold each time they are produced before they are released into available inventory for customer orders.

In addition, quality control personnel can enter test values for ingredients and finished goods directly into Enterprise 21, release ingredients and/or finished goods from quality hold, or reject ingredients and/or finished goods that do not meet desired product specifications.

Shelf-life and expiration date tracking. Food processors and distributors can leverage Enterprise 21 ERP software for both first-in, first out (FIFO) and first expiry, first out (FEFO) inventory management. Under a FEFO inventory management methodology, Enterprise 21 can automatically allocate specific ingredients and/or finished goods in inventory for production or customer shipments that are nearest to their expiration date to prevent ingredients and finished goods from expiring while in inventory.

Furthermore, should an organization’s customers have guaranteed minimum shelf -life requirements, Enterprise 21 can automatically allocate those items in inventory that will meet each customer’s unique shelf-life requirements on a product-by-product basis.

Production Scheduling and Reporting. In the Enterprise 21 ERP system, production schedules can be created manually or generated automatically. Production schedules can also be re-sequenced with a drag and drop user interface with the system automatically checking for machine and labor availability.

Following production, production quantities can be recorded and measured against their standard (or anticipated) production quantities. Enterprise 21 then monitors actual vs. standard production output to provide the organization with sophisticated material planning capabilities.

ERP Selection and TGI’s No Maintenance Fee Increase Guarantee

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 by Alex Smith

In addition to functional requirements, there are a number of cost-related questions to ask potential software vendors during the ERP selection process, such as:

1. What is the cost of software licenses? Are software licenses sold on a named user or concurrent user basis?
2. What is your average implementation services-to-software cost ratio?
3. Is the software sold on a module-by-module basis, or is it sold as an all-inclusive ERP software product?

A few important questions that are often missed or overlooked during the ERP selection process, however, are:

4. When do you start to charge new customers for annual maintenance?
5. What is your annual maintenance fee, and how is this maintenance fee calculated?
6. What was your annual maintenance fee five years ago?
7. Are software upgrades and future software releases included in your annual maintenance fee?

Questions 4-7 are crucial to the selection process because they can serve as a basis for the selection team to determine not only the most cost-effective short-term ERP solution but the most cost-effective long-term ERP software solution as well. The selection team must have a reasonable understanding of the future costs associated with purchasing the ERP product for the years following ERP implementation.

At TGI, we offer one year of free ERP maintenance from the date of software installation. Given that an ERP implementation may take between three and nine months to complete, we believe our customers should not have to pay maintenance on a software product when they are not using the software in a live transaction environment.

Perhaps more importantly, TGI provides a No Maintenance Fee Increase Guarantee.  We guarantee, in contract writing, that we will never increase the annual maintenance fees charged to each of our customers. This guarantee is designed to provide our customers with a consistent, expected yearly software maintenance expenditure that is free from unanticipated increased fees associated with their software maintenance agreement. We are very proud of the fact that we have never increased our customers’ annual maintenance fees since TGI was founded in 1990.

Why is this guarantee important?

Referring to questions 5 and 6 above, should there be a difference in the maintenance fees an ERP vendor charges its customer today versus five years ago, and the vendor does not provide price protection on their software maintenance agreement, a manufacturing or distribution organization may be subject to escalated software maintenance fees over time. The end result of these unexpected maintenance fee increases could mean that the organization will be forced to allocate funds to their annual software budget that would have otherwise been used for investment in other potential business endeavors.

At TGI, we believe increasing our customers’ annual maintenance fees over time is not the right way to establish long-term partnerships with our customers. As such, we have not and will not increase the maintenance fees we charge our customers over any period of time. Guaranteed.

For a complete listing of questions to ask potential ERP vendors, click here to download TGI’s “50 Questions for Every ERP Software Suppler” white paper.

Using Enterprise 21 ERP’s Integrated Workbenches for USDOT Audits

Monday, April 5th, 2010 by Alex Smith

TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP software features a built-in Workbench Designer that allows end users to design their own inquiry screens, graphical reports, and productivity gauges without any programming knowledge and without any modification to the application’s source code. These screens can be added to the Enterprise 21 menu structure and shared with other users throughout the organization with appropriate security privileges. Given the fact that virtually any data field in Enterprise 21 can be added to a workbench, the Workbench Designer has literally hundreds of applications for use in sales, marketing, customer service, manufacturing, shipping, receiving, finance and accounting, warehousing, and procurement.

In a recent conversation with a seafood distributor looking to migrate from their existing legacy system to a fully-integrated food distribution software system, the company’s GM informed me that they are subject to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) audits. The GM told me that each time they are audited by the USDOT, she has to compile data from a variety of systems into a consolidated Excel spreadsheet. From start to finish, her process of retrieving and consolidating the data the USDOT wanted to see would last some two to three weeks, as she had to take the time to find the data in their existing system and a series of unorganized Excel documents. I then asked her what specific information the USDOT auditors wanted to see in her reports. According to the GM, the USDOT wanted to be able to see the country of origin of their products, when they received the product, what entity specifically supplied the product(s), the lot numbers assigned to the products upon their receipt, when the products were shipped to the distributor’s customers, the customers who were shipped the product, the method of shipment that was used for each customer order, and the freight carrier that was used for each customer order over a specific range of dates. She then asked, “Is this something Enterprise 21 can do?” My response – “Let’s build a workbench!”

By building a workbench, the seafood distributor can retrieve the data required by USDOT auditors with relative ease and efficiency. The GM’s formerly tedious process of retrieving information for USDOT audits would be reduced from two to three weeks to a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the GM would be able to export the data retrieved in her workbench directly to an Excel spreadsheet to then pass along to the auditors in their preferred data format.

While using Enterprise 21’s Workbench Designer for USDOT audits is just one example, workbenches have literally hundreds (if not thousands) of applicable uses for system users in any department of an organization.

ERP Software Evaluation: What Customers Want from ERP Software and What ERP Vendors Want

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 by admin

Let’s examine what most customers want from new ERP software and what most ERP vendors want from an ERP selection and implementation.  While there are many layers to the topic of what customers want from new ERP software, the core answer of what businesses want from new ERP software is business results – business owners want to reduce costs, increase revenue, improve operational efficiencies, and make it easier for their customers to do business with them.

Beyond business results, companies also want the following from new ERP software:

  • Efficient software evaluation leading to a successful result – companies want to make excellent decisions in the most efficient manner possible (unfortunately, when businesses aren’t aware of how this process should work, it rapidly becomes very inefficient).
  • Efficient, successful implementation – companies want their new software to deliver the functionality they expect and for the implementation process to be delivered on-time, on-budget, and on-scope.
  • Good long-term customer/vendor relationship (“win-win”) – companies want to be able to work with their ERP vendor, have continuity of the software vendor’s business, continuity of relationships with personnel at that business, and be able to understand how best to utilize their software and to resolve issues as they arise.
  • Ability to grow with the solution – companies want a solution that will last them for an extended period of time, in many cases this is 10-15 years or more.  To be able to do this, the software must be flexible, robust, and have sufficient functionality to be able to be leveraged as the customer’s business continues to grow and evolve.

So, what do ERP vendors want?  Probably not surprising, they likewise want business results.

Additionally, ERP vendors also want the same things the customers want:

  • Efficient software evaluation leading to a successful result – while ERP vendors would love to bat 1.000 by winning every deal they touch, they know that’s not practical.  They want to compete in deals in an efficient manner where they can compete on a level playing field, can win, and it is worthwhile to win.
  • Efficient, successful implementation – vendors want their customers to receive the business benefits they desire from their software and want the implementations to be delivered on-time, on-budget, and on-scope.
  • Good long-term customer/vendor relationship (“win-win”) – vendors want to work with customers who are easy and fair to work with, have continuity of the customer’s business, continuity of relationships of personnel, and are able to understand and internalize how best to use the software they’ve acquired.
  • Ability to grow with the solution – vendors want customers to continue to leverage more and more of their software’s capabilities over time.

While said somewhat under the covers above, I’ll also explicitly state the following which ERP vendors also want:

  • Efficient sales cycles (winnable deals, no “tire kickers”) – again, vendors want to focus their time on evaluations where decisions will be made and customers will move forward.  There is no time to be spent with perennial prospects that go through the same evaluation once a year and never decide to move forward to do anything. Additionally, vendors don’t want to be in a position where a potential new customer has orally committed they are going to move forward with the vendor only to take an inordinate amount of time to make the final commitment and sign contracts.
  • Happy, referencable customers – there is nothing better from a vendor’s perspective than having happy customers who are willing and able to act as references on their behalf.

You’ll note that to this point in time I’ve mentioned these things apply to most customers and most ERP software vendors.  That is because there are still people, including those who set the cultural tones of their businesses, who believe the only way for them to “win” is if the other party with whom they’re working is to “lose.”  This “win-lose” mentality unfortunately still exists frequently in the customer/ERP vendor intersection.

Speaking from an ERP software vendor’s perspective, when it is determined that a potential customer is focused on establishing a “win-lose” relationship, we walk away from those deals as rapidly as possible.  Likewise, if potential customers determine that an ERP vendor is attempting to establish a “win-lose” relationship, those customers need to eliminate that vendor from further consideration as rapidly as possible.

The most prevalent situation in which ERP vendors attempt to establish a “win-lose” relationship is where the functional and cultural fit between the vendor and potential customer is low, and the vendor is so hungry for new sales (i.e., business results are far more important than any of the other desires) that they continue to press on to close the sale.  In doing so, the ERP vendor knows the implementation is going to hit the rocks, but their objective is to get the customer so deeply invested in the project (both time and money) that they cannot turn back.

Those who are unfamiliar with how to structure and perform an ERP Software Evaluation are most highly susceptible to be bitten by a vendor attempting a “win-lose” transaction.  In cases in which the company is unfamiliar and inexperienced in orchestrating a software evaluation on its own, those companies are highly encouraged to find and engage experienced, independent assistance to help with the evaluation.

Here again I want to stress that the most critical word in this statement is “independent.”  There are tons of individuals and businesses that tout themselves as independent.  However, they may be software resellers in a consultant’s clothing or have biases to specific products because they have established implementation practices built around those solutions.

If, for whatever reason, hiring an independent consultant is not feasible, companies are encouraged to adopt a structured, analytical process they can follow on their own.  To help companies establish and manage a structured, analytical evaluation process, TGI offers free software selection tools via our Web site for the do-it-yourself software evaluation.

In closing, through this point in time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with well over 2,000 end companies and roughly 200+ independent consultants in ERP software evaluations since Q4/2003. During that time, I’ve seen some firms and individuals who were very good at performing their roles in their respective evaluation processes, while others were at best ill-prepared. In the end, when participants in the process are unable to successfully play their positions – whether intentional or unintentional – nobody wins.

In an effort to draw upon these experiences to help the various stakeholders of the process learn from these activities, I wanted to summarize those situations into a single statement. In doing so, I was drawn to a famous quote by noted Swiss Psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, Carl G. Jung, who said, “The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you.”

Here is what I call “Litzenberg’s ERP Software Corollary to Carl Jung’s Statement”…

“The world will ask you what you want in new ERP software, and if you do not know, you’ll likely be sold something you don’t really want, can’t really use, will spend a lot of time, effort, and money trying to get it to do something it was never intended to do, and ultimately, won’t achieve the desired results.”

ERP for Small Businesses: Taking Advantage of all Your ERP System Has to Offer

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 by Alex Smith

Many small businesses with whom I speak, generally, want the same basic functional features in an ERP system. Fully-integrated order management, inventory control, warehouse management, purchasing, manufacturing, financials, CRM, and business intelligence are critical elements to any ERP selection project. That being said, many small businesses also question how they can take advantage of all the software functionality a small business ERP software solution has to offer given their relatively limited internal resources and their desire to complete ERP implementation in a timely, cost-effective manner. How, then, can small businesses take advantage of the complete set of software functionality inherent in their ERP system while still completing ERP implementation in a relatively short time frame?

When going through ERP implementation, a small business should work closely with its project manager in determining the project scope, which consists of those core functions, rules, and processes that the system must deliver by the project go-live date. At the conclusion of the implementation process, the business must be able to perform all necessary transactions in the ERP system to conduct business on a daily basis in a manner that is faster, easier, more cost-effective, etc. than prior to implementation. The small business, should, in turn, begin to realize a return on its ERP investment.

Following software implementation, the small business should continue to work closely with its project manager in developing a post-go-live plan to roll out additional software functionality, such as leveraging wireless warehouse management with RF and barcode scanning devices, paperless AP functionality to operate the AP department in a completely paperless environment, and/or using automated supply chain processes to continue to streamline the organization’s purchasing, inventory, order entry, and manufacturing departments. Again, this will allow the small business to continue to realize a return on its ERP investment in the months following ERP implementation while taking advantage of incremental software functionality that is already built into the ERP system.

As mentioned in a previous article by Dave Litzenberg, TGI conducts six-month ROI workshops with our customers. These workshops, which consist of the customer’s core team and a combination of TGI’s executive, project management, and sales teams, are designed to initiate plans for the customer to take advantage of additional functionality in Enterprise 21 so the customer can continue to realize an increasing return on its investment in TGI and Enterprise 21.

By closely working with the ERP vendor in the months and years following ERP software implementation, small businesses can develop post-go-live plans to take advantage of additional software functionality and continue to realize ROI without having to purchase additional software, modules, features, functions, or bolt-ons at a later date.

New ERP White Paper: Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by Alex Smith

We just released a new white paper in the TGI Resources Library, Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability. Given the rise of increasingly stringent FDA and USDA regulatory requirements, companies in the food, beverage, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries are being forced to change their internal business processes and leverage new technology to help them meet evolving industry compliance requirements for product safety and lot traceability. TGI’s Five Critical Software Requirements for Improved Product Safety and Traceability white paper details the necessary ERP software features and functions required for organizations to ensure the highest levels of product safety while simultaneously gaining real-time access to ingredient and finished good lot information. To download the white paper from the TGI Resources Library, please click here.