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At TGO, we work with a lot of businesses that are new to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The name alone can be overwhelming, and when you start looking at what an ERP system can do and handle, that overwhelming feeling can get a lot worse.
As any CFO knows, time is money – and implementing an ERP can require a good deal of both of those resources.
If your own IT staff is working on your ERP project along with their regular daily tasks, their time and attention will be split. They can’t neglect their regular daily tasks, which are integral to keeping your business running. Therefore, it’s likely that the ERP project will be the one that gets placed on the backburner simply out of necessity.
You may think you’re saving money by not hiring an outside consultant. However, if you take into account the extra time that you’ll spend waiting for your ERP project to be completed, it’s highly likely that you could have saved both time and money by going with a consulting firm. (At TGO, our value-based pricing means we guarantee our price upfront, so with us, you’ll know the price you’re paying from the start.)
Consulting firms have the expertise and experience necessary to not only customize your software to fit your needs, but to figure out what customizations are needed in the first place.
At TGO, for example, we work very closely with our clients to learn about their organizations and business gaps. We will sit down with them and conduct a deep dive into their requirements to provide a solution blueprint. This is to ensure that the client receives a guaranteed fixed price for the project. Each client is different and has different needs. No two companies will require exactly the same things from their ERP.
Our business model is based on embracing this reality, so we approach every ERP project knowing that the system will require some customization. Once we’ve made those customizations, we’re able to work with you and your staff to make sure the implementation goes as smoothly as possible. We also provide employee training and our own in-house support team for when you need help along the way.
The bottom line? Just because a system is “out-of-the-box” it doesn’t mean that it will work for every business without some changes. In fact, that’s really one of the advantages of these systems: ERPs like Sage X3 and Microsoft Dynamics GP, can also be quite flexible, capable of growing and changing with your organization’s needs.
Building a relationship that offers support and follow-up
CFOs and business owners know that no software system is completely fool-proof. Unfortunately, issues are bound to arise at some point.
When this happens, being able to contact a consultant who knows you and your business, not to mention your software, can be indispensable. TGO is different from many companies in that we have our own in-house support team. This allows us to quickly respond to clients’ requests and get their systems up and running again.
While we love helping companies find the best solutions for their particular challenges, it is helpful to at least have an idea of what ERP and CRM do before you begin a consulting engagement. So with that in mind, here’s a quick primer on the differences between ERP and CRM.
CRM is focused on the customer, while ERP is focused on the business itself.
It’s not called customer relationship management for nothing. CRM systems manage all the data related to customer interactions. That includes simple things like names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses to more complex information, like records of customers’ comments or complaints, purchase history, and more.
ERP, on the other hand, is designed to help you streamline and improve your business processes. By improving the way your departments communicate and pulling all your data into one single software system, ERP systems allow you to get an integrated view of your entire business.
CRM can help you increase profits, while ERP can help you cut costs.
Both CRM and ERP can help make your business more profitable, but through different tactics.
With CRM, your salespeople will have easy, quick access to a wealth of information about their customers. This will naturally make it easier for them to target the right customers with the right products, help customers solve their problems, and just generally serve those customers better.
This increased effectiveness can result in more success, and therefore larger profits.
With ERP, you get a bird’s-eye view of your business’s processes, departments, profits, losses, and more, better allowing you to spot areas of strength and weakness.
ERP also allows businesses to streamline the way departments talk to each other and share information, which can increase your entire business’s productivity.
For example, let’s say you have a company that sells bicycles and bicycle parts throughout the country. An ERP system could help make sure that customer orders went quickly and accurately from the sales department, to accounting, to fulfilment. These processes could be automated partly or completely, saving time for both you and your customers.
If implemented correctly, ERP will allow your employees to spend more time on tasks that matter, and less on cumbersome, outdated, or tedious processes for data entry, budget updating, etc. That will make both you and your employees happier!
Many small businesses can use CRM, while ERP is generally appropriate for larger enterprises.
Where ERP really comes in handy is with businesses that have many departments, are spread out across various locations, or that have a long list of different service or product lines that they need to keep track of.
However, CRM can be useful for businesses of various sizes, including smaller ones. If you have more customers than you can easily keep track of on your own, then you may want to consider CRM.
For small businesses – and large ones, too – the biggest appeal of CRM is that it allows you to integrate all your customer data into a single place. So rather than having a spreadsheet with your customers’ contact information, plus additional documents or spreadsheets detailing their comments, purchase history, and the like, you can instead see all of that together, often side by side or in a single browser window.
Upgrades can present some issues for businesses, so it’s important to do as much up-front planning you can to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Here are a few tips we’ve come up with throughout our years of helping organizations implement and upgrade GP.
First, decide whether upgrading to the latest GP version is the right choice for your business.
Even though every GP upgrade comes with improvements to the system, that doesn’t mean that every company needs to upgrade each time a new version comes out. The way to determine whether or not you should upgrade is to look at some key factors, including:
How old is your current system? Is it still covered under Microsoft’s support plans? If not, you should upgrade, as new service packs will no longer be released for unsupported versions.
What new features does the upgrade offer? Are these of value to your company? The GP 2016 upgrade offers some highly useful new features, most importantly a full GP experience on all mobile devices. This means that an upgrade to 2016 could offer you some incredible added value – but you still want to weigh the value vs. cost factors before committing to an upgrade.
Time your upgrade carefully.
A typical upgrade may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, in addition to testing and training. Therefore, you’ll want to schedule the upgrade for a time when you can afford to have that downtime (i.e., probably not at year end). Talk with your team about when might be best, taking into account that some of your key staff will be tied up in the upgrade process for some or all of the time it requires.
Put together your upgrade team.
You’ll need someone from your finance department as well as IT staff to work with the ERP consultants who are installing your upgrade. While they most likely won’t need to be with the consultants throughout the entire upgrade process, they will need to be present and available to answer questions that come up.
These people should be able to make the upgrade their priority project, so make sure they’re available should the ERP consultants need their input. That may mean shifting some projects around or even postponing a deadline – but this is preferable to having your upgrade process drag on and on, which can slow down your entire company.
Consider any applications, customizations, integrations, etc. that may also need to be updated.
If your system has add-ons or customizations, these will most likely need to be upgraded as well. You may have to budget additional time for these.
Open communication between your company and your Microsoft Partner is vital when you’re planning or considering an upgrade.
At TGO, we work closely with our clients to ensure that every detail is considered before embarking on the upgrade process. The last thing any company wants is to have its operations slowed down for days, or even weeks, because of a glitch or an unforeseen compatibility issue. We’ve shepherded countless clients through the upgrade process, so we know what details tend to get overlooked and where issues are most likely to arise.
Is your company upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016? If you need the help of engaged, experienced ERP consultants, contact us at TGO.
“Business Process Management (BPM) is a discipline involving any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows, in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.”
In other words, BPM involves analyzing and optimizing your workflows and business processes in order to increase efficiency and make your business more successful.
There’s no denying this can be a highly involved process. Going over each and every business process to identify the weak spots is a huge undertaking, not to mention looking for processes that might have become obsolete.
Another aspect that makes BPM complex is that each process must be looked at as part of a whole – processes can’t be optimized in isolation.
Many people initially think of BPM as something very similar to ERP, or enterprise resource planning.
However, that’s not really the case. ERP is designed to help organizations become more efficient by streamlining business processes and automating repetitive or simple tasks. ERP can be invaluable for enterprises that need to manage complex back-office operations or advanced distribution needs.
While BPM also increases an organization’s efficiency, it does more than that. BPM offers additional capabilities including:
The ability to host and manage multiple versions of a process
Process performance reports
Error identification and waste reduction notifications
These, as well as other features of BPM software, can help your organization go beyond efficiency, improve your product or service quality, and reduce business risk.
The benefits of BPM software
In addition to improving efficiency, quality and reducing risk, BPM suites can help businesses not just reduce costs but also increase revenue.
Because BPM suites facilitate the creation of smart, human-centered workflows, organizations can experience a surge in workforce productivity within a matter of months.
These software systems allow for increased accountability and transparency among departments. This means that deliverables are easily tracked, expenses are accounted for, and everyone spends less time figuring out who posted what, or who missed which deadline.
Organizations that use BPM suites can reap various benefits that contribute to an increase in revenue.
For one thing, BPM software allows for improved customer service. Well-defined, transparent workflows throughout the organization mean that employees can communicate more clearly across departments.
This, in turn, contributes to better customer experience management allowing, departments to work together to create a more cohesive, effective customer experience. In addition, performance reports and dashboards allow managers to identify trouble spots and improve them before they turn into crises.
The ability to adapt more quickly to change
Finally, BPM software can increase a business’s agility, allowing it to pivot quickly or modify its processes as needed, and in real time. Since those processes will have already been streamlined and optimized, changing direction or rerouting a process can be relatively quick and easy.
Read more on "CFOs Beware: Hackers Targeting Payroll and HR Staff" »
Tax season comes with all kinds of unpleasant tasks: late-night number crunching, endless spreadsheet reviews, lots of back-and-forth with your company’s accounting staff.
But there’s something else that comes along with tax season, too. Cybercriminals are just as busy as CPAs this time of year, constantly trying new schemes to get their hands on taxpayers’ personal information.
And they don’t just target you at home – they’re targeting staff at your business. In early March, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service released an alert to consumers warning them of a phishing scheme that’s targeting HR and Payroll employees specifically. These schemes are, unfortunately, just as popular across Canada, as well.
What the phishing scheme looks like
The current phishing scheme that’s targeting these employees generally consists of an email that purports to be from the CEO. There are a few variations in the text, but all request the recipient to send the personal information of employees to the sender.
Specific requests have been:
“Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.”
“Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (name, social security number, date of birth, home address, salary) as at 2/2/2016?”
“I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees’ wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me ASAP.”
They’re hardly sophisticated asks, but they could convince a harried HR employee who’s already dealing with a large number of information requests from various departments. That’s the reason these schemes go up in number during tax season: scammers rely on the fact that payroll and HR employees will be busier than usual, and more likely to give out personal information when it supposedly has to do with tax filings.
To prevent this kind of scam from doing serious damage to your employees and your business, make sure all employees know that they should always confirm the veracity of any email that requests personal information.
How else can CFOs protect their finance departments from cybercrime?
It’s not surprising that business financial departments and CFOs are popular targets for cybercriminals – after all, they’re the ones with the most access to the money.
Take this phishing scheme that also targets finance employees. A hacker wants to impersonate a vendor, so he hacks into that vendor’s email and reads the exchanges the vendor has had with your company. Then he uses that knowledge to pose as the vendor and send a fraudulent email to someone responsible for making the vendor payments.
In the email, he simply tells the recipient that their payment system, which he is by now very familiar with, has changed, and that the business should start making payments to a different bank account – his own, of course.
One way to increase your financial department’s security is to undergo a full assessment of your financial systems – a Financial Systems Quality Assessment. This process will identify any potential points of weakness or failure in your software, hardware, and implementation, as well as offer recommendations to improve your systems’ performance.
Another benefit of undergoing an assessment and working with a consultant like TGO is the ability to streamline your financial workflows. This also effectively ups your security. By removing any unnecessary steps or individuals from a financial process, you’re able to minimize the number of points at which information could be stolen or leaked.