Women in ERP – August 2023
Amber Fourman and Jeanne Chacon
Welcome to our Women in ERP show. This is a show that I host the first Tuesday of every month to bring together women in our industry to talk about what really happens in the world of ERPs, and let me tell you, it is not all pretty. Our initiative aims to bring together, educate, and empower women involved in ERP transformations, and the main theme of our series is to highlight the contribution of women, create social awareness to enhance women’s representation in ERP teams, and highlight their stories and challenges and voicing their opinions with ERP transformations. My name is Sarah Scudder. I am the marketing Maven at SourceDay, and today’s show host. Our platform integrates with ERP systems, so my team and I have lived through many, many of the things that you’ve probably experienced on the panel. And for those of you that are listening today, I am joined by Amber and Jeannie, and they both have extensive experience. So I’ve asked them to come on and share their wisdom and stories with us today. For those of you that are with us live, I’m going to go ahead and encourage you to drop us a note in the comments, tell us where in the world you are joining us from, and a word or phrase to describe how you are feeling today. I am joining from Austin; it is freaking hot here. It has been triple digits for the last two months. Yesterday at 6:30 at night, it was still 104 degrees, so I would describe my day as very hot and sweaty when I go outside. So, Amber, gonna kick off introductions with you. Would like to have you do a super short intro, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Yeah, I have been in supply chain almost my whole life, variety of different roles, and early on, before ERP was even a thing, was very, you know, I guess, lack of a better term, considered a geek. I was always considered the, you know, super user for the very rustic system at the time, was engaged in developing what I would really consider the first ERP system I had experience with and subsequently have kind of always fallen into that super user or a go-to person and been involved in several different efforts to upgrade ERP systems, implement, train, a variety of different roles.
Normally always in a green outfit, I have green toes, but today is my blue jumper day, and we’re excited to have you on the show. Glad to be here. Thank you, Jeannie. Would like to have you tell us a little bit about who you are and then also why you love being in supply chain. I know you’re super passionate about it, and when we’re prepping for the show, you got really excited, so we’d love to have you share that with the audience today.
Hello, everybody. My name is Jeannie Chacon, and yes, I’m very passionate about supply chain. I have been in the field for 10 years, and I love it. I love the problem solving. The stomping out fires. I know my kids think I’m crazy, but the pace, the challenges, and like I said, the problem-solving ability, and it’s just different every day. Yes, we do the same things, but it’s just different every day, and it requires quick thinking, thinking on your feet, and a lot of strategy analysis. It appeals to a lot of parts of me: the strategy and analysis, the fast pace, the challenges with growth and forecasting, and obviously, you need a good ERP system to effectuate all the goals.
So, I must say, Jeannie, I see lots of paper on your desk. Yeah, those are sales orders or purchase orders that I’ve already gone through their process, no Post-it notes, so I’m impressed. You don’t see the other side, the other side here you’re seeing the back in the back, and I didn’t choose the paint, Kelly, so there you go. When I go meet with buyers and people working in manufacturing, I always count how many Post-it notes are at their desk. I feel like it tells me a lot about where they are in their journey and their craziness, a lot of Post-it notes, and you know, and I put them down there and then I pull them off, pull them off, you know, and yes, they have to be quite bright.
So, I’d like to kick off today with having each of you share your most memorable ERP story. So, Amber, I’m going to start with you.
When I first started down the road of ERP, I was very involved in developing the system, the system requirements, what we really had to have, and for me, it was like really capped off when I was asked to join several people that I really loved working with, loved being around in the lab, to try and break the system that we’re several months away from deploying. And you know, going through that and writing scripts for the paces we’re going to put the system through, and when we actually broke it, you would have thought we scored a touchdown or something like high fives, hugs, like we did it. And then really the culmination of it was the first day of go-live, being incredibly bored because the time we spent in the lab trying to think of everything we could possibly think of that would make the system go wrong, give bad data, give the wrong result, freeze, whatever. And again, having go-live just be like the old Maytag repairman commercial, dating myself, where we were literally bored to death, just waiting for somebody to say, ‘This happened, and I didn’t expect it to,’ and we didn’t really get any of them.
So, what, what, so you quote broke the system, right? That was the goal. What happened after that? What did the team do in action because breaking a system can be a very important milestone?
You know, basically again, it was in a lab in the test environment. We would develop what were we going to do this system, what paces were we going to put it through. There were people kind of watching, it was literally like being in a lab, watching what we were doing, the keystrokes, everything. And then when the system gave an unexpected result or froze, they would peel back the code and see kind of where in the code it went wrong, correct the code, and then we would redo the exact same script and see if it passed on to the next phase as expected or was it still broke.
Interesting story from your career. Well, that would be at a major company. When I started, this was back when I was a tactical buyer, but nonetheless, it’s a major company, corporate manufacturing company, and I’ll leave the name out of it. But when I turned on the computer and they had the old black screen with green letters, I mean, that’s pretty old, right? You know, and I was like, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this,’ and that was only about maybe six years ago. Anyway, I was quite shocked that it was like that. And actually, then I went on to another, that was the first experience, and I asked the regional director, you know, ‘Hey, what’s essentially what’s up with this? This seems really old,’ and he told me, he said, ‘Well, this is a proprietary ERP system, and their idea was, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, don’t spend the money.’ And you know, there’s some merit to that, but it was a shocker, it was a shocker, but it wasn’t the only shocker. Another corporation I went to, a big medical company, they also had a black screen ERP system with green letters, and, well, actually theirs was white lettering, but I was quite surprised at the oldness. It wasn’t new. The last company that had the old system, which was three jobs ago, it’s, anyway, they did switch to actually SAP, and they made the transition right about the time I was leaving. And I have to say, yeah, you know, you know, maybe I would have loved SAP, but the other one seemed simpler, I gotta say.
So, the black screen with the green letters makes me think of watching old movies, right? Everything’s on-prem, right? Nothing in the cloud, which is an interesting combo for us to have later in our discussion a day about shifting and pivoting, right? When you have a system, when should you upgrade, when should you look at finding a new solution, which I think probably both of those companies, Jeannie, have done it or hopefully have done a business case about why we’re continuing to use this ‘older school’ ERP versus doing some sort of upgrade. And to your point, the one company, the first one I told you about, they stayed with that. The other company, they did move into something more modern, cloud-based, and so they realized they had to, you know, it was modernity, you know, we have to move, we have to grow, we have to modernize if we’re going to progress in the future and keep up with the pace of growth.
So that brings up, I think, a good topic for conversation, to kind of get us started around why should a company change an existing ERP system, and by change, that could mean doing an upgrade, so using the same system but upgrading, or completely going out and implementing a new ERP. So, Amber, I’ll, I’ll start with you and kind of have you walk us through your thought process about what a company should evaluate and go through to make a decision like that.
I would say one of the indicators is any time we’re out of something, whether it’s, you know, room space for people, so you’re looking at investing in buying a bigger building, buying more buildings, getting maybe an off-site warehouse, to hire more people. Is that really where we should be investing, or is it our system? And with the more efficient system, we could run a leaner inventory, we could do more with the same amount of people. So again, it’s kind of, if we’re going to make a significant investment, is it really in bricks and mortar, is it really in people, or is it in the system? And I will say, invariably, the system becomes a pretty big answer to that question. Jeannie, what about you? What should somebody think about when they’re evaluating their system, and then why should somebody make a change if they do decide, okay, I’ve got a couple of thoughts on that? First of all, this company I just started with as a purchasing manager, they just recently switched ERP systems before I arrived here, like it was six months, eight months before I got here. So I took that in light of this panel to ask them what made you change. I asked the owner of the company, and he said because the other system they had was too old, it didn’t accommodate Cloud base, it wasn’t versatile. This company is growing rapidly and it’s just expanding, it wasn’t servicing their needs and it’s certainly not for growth, you know, it just, it’s just old, it’s just not working anymore. And the system that they have, I don’t know, is it okay to say the system that they have? Absolutely, the more detail, the better, because we may have, oh sure, well, they’re using, they switch to NetSuite, and I worked with NetSuite when I was working with Biblioteca, and I loved it because you can do so much customization, and that’s one of the things he stressed, he goes, you can customize it to your needs, you know, delete things, add things, you can really, it’s like a menu, and so you can really tailor it to what your company needs, and, you know, even since I’ve been here, there’s cues that we have for sales orders and drop ships and things, and I made the suggestion, I think we need to have this column and this column, and the CEO was like, done, boom, boom, boom, and now there’s visibility throughout the company when you look at these reports, the cues, which can be a report, but so that was one of them. And there was another question, oh, what was the other part of your question, sorry. So what should a company look at and assess to determine if they should make a change or not and, okay, I’ll just back up then. If it were me and what I would suggest to a company, what is failing, what’s not working, and I would ask the different departments that integrate, that interact or interface with the current ERP system, how is it working, you with the people in the warehouse, the shipping and receiving, how is it working for people in purchasing, how is it working for the customer service people, get an assessment, so you have the people who are essentially boots on the ground who are utilizing it. What, what, what’s not working, and what would you like to see if we got a new ERP system? I would generate all those ideas and find out where the problems are. So it’s not just a director or a vice president or whoever makes a unilateral decision based on price, you know, cost, you know, oh, this one’s cheaper than that one, no, you really gotta speak to your people and find out what kind of options they would like to see in an ERP system, what would make their job more efficient and hence, you know, things moving along better. Amber, from your perspective, that your ERP system may not be quite there, so Jeannie talked a little bit about some things to look for, but how do you know if, like, you know, our ERP system is not going to be able to cut it, we need to do something else.
“I would say if your teams are spending an inordinate amount of time doing the same thing repeatedly, I tend to be simplistic, and to me, a robust system should automate the routine and let people do what they do best: critical thinking. So if we’re spending more time on the routine and our teams don’t have enough time to spend in critical thinking, there’s probably an issue with your system. I would say if your teams are spending a bunch of time producing reports out of diverse data sets and cobbling them together, and again, that’s a fair amount of their day, there’s probably a shortcoming in your ERP system. And I would say if people are kind of doing the same mundane thing like during a semi-line, enter your location number, enter your user number, or whatever, if they’re doing that repeatedly, add up the seconds, you know, and if it only takes a second, but they’re doing it 300 times in a day, that’s 300 seconds in a day, multiply that out by multiple tasks that they’re doing the same thing that the system should know and pre-populate. I mean, we’re in an age where your computer knows your credit card number, you know, all you have to do is put in your security code. So why do we have our teams entering information that, quite frankly, our system should know and pre-populate?
I was just going to say, I concur, Amber. The way that it, there are certain fields that suggest the minute you put in a sales order, it should just populate, and you’re just putting what’s germane for that order, whether it’s a sales order or PO or what have you, just the things that are needed for that specific order. But all the general stuff, I was just like smiling when you’re speaking, it’s like, oh yeah, that’s true. All right, sorry, Jeannie, who should be consulted? So we talked about some of the things to look at when you’re looking at potentially making an upgrade or investing in a new ERP. Amber talked about when do you know that you need to make a change? Then there’s also the factor of who should be involved prior to choosing an ERP system, because if you don’t have the right people, change management becomes very, very hard.
I would refer again to my previous answer/statement that I believe that all the departments within a company that are going to be using, which let’s say they’re all going to be using the ERP system, get input. Have a meeting where the heads of these departments, and not just the heads as well, maybe the heads of the departments ask the people, the workers, yeah, the people who are actually using it, not just overseeing it, to get their actual feedback. You know, I’m a big proponent of hearing what our people have to say and not just management making decisions. So maybe the management of the departments could solicit the ideas and the experiences of their people within each of those departments. Then management can distill that information. Then you can have an interdepartmental meeting and find out where the holes are in the existing system, what needs to be improved in the next ERP system. Then you’ve got some real meat to make a decision. It’s just not a salesman’s representation and how great their product is, how great their ERP system, because they indeed might have a good ERP system, but if it’s not going to meet and enhance the working experience of the people who are going to utilize it, well, that’s a great ERP system for somebody else but perhaps not for us. Jeannie, if you wanted to pick out and highlight key departments that should be involved in the decision-making process, what specific departments have you seen be critical?
Purchasing, supply chain, definitely. You want good record-keeping because supply chain is going to affect your inventory. I want to know what the actual account is, I would like to know where it is, and the sales order, that’s your revenue coming in, and then essentially your revenue going out with the purchasing. So those are sales order, customer service, sales orders, customer service. They say because they’re generating the sales orders and the sales team, but it’s like this funnel that’s going, customers on the sales rep, they’re going into it, and then they get those orders and purchasing, either for me, I’m either going to approve those sales orders, you know, based upon what my ERP signals are, do we have it, do we not have it, whatever, and if not, then I have to order, there’s my also the signal for that, and then I can follow that through to the shipping and receiving end of it, so I can actually have visibility with NetSuite from the beginning to the very end, and I love it.
So, Jeannie, we are a Built for NetSuite partner and do a lot in the NetSuite ecosystem, and we’ll be at their big conference actually in October at Sweet World in Vegas. I think I have used Sage, SAP, some proprietary stuff, I found NetSuite to be the most user-friendly, absolutely without a doubt. I would recommend them, well, obviously, I am.
And for her saying, no, she knows she’s giving them a plug as an ERP system that she’s found to work that works well for her needs, yes, in two companies, the repeat customer is what we like to call that. Yeah, believe me, when I started this new job and as a manager, I was like, yes, NetSuite. So, it was an easy transition, again, it was a lateral move with the customization, so it’s perfect.
So, Amber, another factor that I want to throw in is talking about, so Jeannie talked about internal departments and people that should be involved, I’m also a huge proponent of bringing in a consultant or expert from outside the organization to help with change management and implementations. What are your thoughts on this, and when should somebody consider bringing in a consultant or third party to help?
I think, you know, one of the factors in that decision is how well do we know what we don’t know, and the likelihood, in most instances, we don’t, and we’re so close to the process throughout the organization that we miss a lot of the important ‘aha’ moments that an outside entity coming in will find readily apparent. They’ll ask the questions, the ‘why’ question, that really gets you thinking about, well, why do we do this, why is this important? And so, again, it’s kind of if you really think you have it nailed and you really understand what you don’t know, and you have kind of a good foundation of internal consultants, you might be able to kind of go it alone. But if you’re not confident that you don’t know what you don’t know, then you really want to invite somebody in to help you through the process.
And I just want to tag on to your question, Jeannie, because I was thinking back when I first got started, you would have said, like, who do you need to involve, and it would have been kind of inside the walls, like, you don’t need to involve truck drivers, you don’t need to involve sales reps. Now, it is literally, you want to involve customer, supplier, everybody inside the walls and everybody outside the walls, truck drivers, everything. We’ve just become that kind of a data-centric work environment in most companies that if you don’t invite one of those pieces in, you’re probably going to miss an important ‘aha’ and really miss getting the most out of your system. And if you really think you want to understand the impact on a customer, impact the supplier, what you need from the supplier, it’s another area a consultant’s going to help tremendously with.
Jeannie, what about you? What are your thoughts on consulting? I know for a fact that Horizon Commercial Pools, where I’m working, did have a consultant, and they had a consultant for some time working with the implementation. I mean, many months, many months. And I would totally agree with you, Amber, on that the need for a consultant because I love what you said with the ‘aha’ moments. They’re going to say, ‘Well, what about this?’ They are going to ask questions that we might miss. We might think we know what we need, but they’re going to fill in that gap. Well, I think you’re thinking of this and give us the options and the people that the owner worked with highly involved, and they were, they didn’t just sell it to them and drop them. They were on call, and they used them for many months in each department. We had the ability to ask questions. There were also training, additional training if you needed it on different systems.
But I do want to comment on something that Amber said. It’s interesting that you talked about bringing people outside, the truck drivers, the customers, and the truck drivers. Very novel, and I appreciate hearing that. So because I wouldn’t have thought that. So I’m thinking, well, we gotta use it in our own sandbox. Yeah, who’s playing in here, but that’s a different perspective, and I appreciate it, so thank you.
We’re kind of working our way through the ERP process all the way from awareness to assessment. So the next part of the process is around managing, selecting an ERP. So we built out a business case, we know we want to make a change, whether that’s an upgrade or selecting a new system. We’ve gone out, we’ve got the right parties involved. Tips and best practices, Amber, on how to actually manage the process of selecting the right ERP.
I think, to your point, we’ve kind of culminated to get here, but it’s everything we’ve talked about so far, really having good line of sight to our business. And you know, one of the process questions, and it comes down to who you involve, is there’s always three processes going on. There’s how it’s written, so what does the procedure say or the book say, ‘This is how the process works.’ There’s how we think it works, and we usually have some form of leadership at that level. And then there’s how the work actually gets done, and understanding all three of those, and understanding where they don’t line up, so it says we do it this way, leaders think we do it some way different, people doing the work are actually doing it some way completely different. Knowing that we understood that is kind of the foundation to being able to ask the right questions and determining which system is going to meet the right needs, not the needs the reads of some book or some procedure says, ‘This is the way the process works,’ or some need that people in, whether it’s a corporate structure, home office, leadership structure, think the process works and needs to work. And again, not just how the people doing it actually do it. It’s answering all those questions that gives us the foundation to ask the right questions and lead us down the path of what system is the right system. It helps us not select a sledgehammer to kill a fly, but also not using a fly swatter to try and swat an elephant. It’s all those different questions, the things we’ve discussed and several others, that get us to the right questions that we need to ask ourselves and then ask the companies we’re entertaining of whether or not they’re the right solution.
Jeannie, what about you? And maybe you have, I don’t know if you’ve directly been involved in selecting an ERP, but if you have or colleagues maybe if there’s like a trainwreck story or something that stands out that the team totally missed and now you’ve learned never to do it again.
you’re on mute
No, I haven’t had the experience as of yet to be involved in choosing an ERP system, but as I’ve already relayed, there are things I would ask and want other people’s input for, sure. I love the sledgehammer and the Fly, and it’s so apropos and amusing at the same time. As far as a story, no, I don’t have, I haven’t had that input. I’ve just had the painful processor or experience of that switch, the transition which was from, in this one company, from that black screen with the white letters in a major medical company to the SAP system. And it was just a Herky-jerky, very bumpy ride.
What made it so bad? What made it so bad was the lack of training, the lack of, “Hey, you know, maybe first of all, a broad, we’re gonna change, an announcement,” and there was none. They didn’t ask purchasing, I can tell you that. They didn’t ask purchasing, “What do you think? Do you think this would work well for you?” No input. That’s why I stressed the input from everybody who’s going to work with it. None, they didn’t ask us. All of a sudden, it was, “Hey, we’re switching to SAP,” and here it is, the next thing you know, it was getting implemented, and there was no input.
And we’re looking at this in really no training whatsoever. There’s some, like, here, you can go to these videos, but not talking to a person, not having maybe a group training session where the people, all for that particular department, would go and be able to feel questions, “Well, what about this?” kind of like what you were saying earlier, Amber, where you were trying to break the system. You know, “What if I do this? And what, what is the remedy if I put in the wrong information or what have you?” We just, here it is, there’s the training, and pretty much, “See you later.” So, I was working with this guy, and we’re like, “Oh my goodness, we’re trying to get through this screen in the afternoon. When do you go to that script?” It was not pleasant. It was very, it took what was the idea, you think you’re going to go to a new ERP system, and it’s going to be all great and it’s all going to be good, and it was so laborious and so, like I said, yeah, hard to maneuver because it took away from the job of getting the task done because you’re going through, either clicking online or going through a text and trying to figure out where you’re going to find your answer to this problem you’re experiencing right now in the system. Very, very time-consuming, not productive.
I was like, “Damn, you should have just kept the whole system, yeah, okay,” because we were able to move. But we said, “First to change, it’s not like, ‘Oh, I just want to stay with the old thing because I know how to do it.’ No, I like to change. I embrace change, but the change has got to be presented in a manner that people can receive it and utilize it.”
Amber, Jeannie mentioned something that I think is really important around training. Change management is really, really hard, and if you don’t have solid training, it makes it even worse. So, what does good training look like to you when you are teaching your team to either use an upgraded ERP or a new ERP entirely?
Yes, just jump in.
I would say good training starts well before you actually get to the point you’re gonna do the training. It’s, you know, foundational to having very good communication. And when I say very good communication, it’s not just, “This is what’s coming in the future.” Key elements of communication is listening. You know, I think Jeannie hit on the antithesis of what lays a good foundation for training – the, “Here it is, now go use it.” It’s, “Here’s something that’s on the horizon, whatever it is, a year away, a year and a half away. Alright, here’s what we’ve done so far. We’ve now made a selection. We think this is the company we’re going to go with. Right, here’s some snippets of some differences that you’re going to see. And, you know, while we’re throwing that out there, asking questions of, you know, what are your concerns? Is there something we’ve missed?” That’s gonna all end up being packaged up into your training program. But it doesn’t happen, a good training program doesn’t happen without paying the dues of very good communication leading up to the point where you actually do the training. If you do a good job, you’re going to know who has the biggest concerns, who, I guess, the potential naysayers are, the people that are most afraid of it, all the different kind of things that you want to be able to speak to in your training, you have learned along the way just by having that routine, by design, communication leading up to it. Maybe I add to that, excellent, excellent, the pro being proactive with the communication well before the implementation.
And I would like to also add this, what I think would be what if what would have been very helpful in that situation, and even in any situation when you’re going to transition, is to show how it lateralizes. You know, this is a lateral move, this is how we did purchase orders in this system, now just the lateral move in this system, so where people see there’s a nexus, oh, this is what, but look at it, it’s very similar to this. So if you can show that lateralization with the nuances of the new system, people are going to be able to move and into the new system a lot better than just, “Here, there’s a whole basket of information now, you gotta root around and try to find it,” you know. No, you don’t want to hide the ball, that’s for sure.
So, question to both of you which you touched on a little bit, but I want to expand on this, how do you make change a good thing? Because I know for me, for example, if I’m used to using a certain system and I have my process, the thought of changing it makes me absolutely cringe and immediately be uninterested and not as open-minded as maybe I should be.
You want us just to jump in? Yeah.
Okay, so so for change, again, I like the idea Amber has with you do it way in advance, you start getting people just used to the idea that there is a change. And I think change, and to your point, yes, there are going to be people who are going to cringe and have an anxiety attack if you will, or, you know, that could be in different different levels. But I always want to stress, and I’m glad you brought that up because we got to be mindful of people, and they are people, we’re just not a bunch of just workers. We all have feelings, we all, you know, have different levels of stress and things, and I think that’s an important thing to, to be mindful of how change affects your people. So I want to say that first of all. And again, that when I think when people have a say in what their needs are, change is going to come in because you feel heard, you feel heard. If you feel heard and you feel like people are listening to, you know, how this is going to improve, oh, you know, in the process, when we were talking about, you said you’d like to see this, that, and the other in a new system, well, let me tell you, this system is going to address this, that, and the other. And that person, you might see a big smile, you might see a big sigh of relief that finally, we’re going to have a system that’s going to help me do my job better, you know, where I can do critical thinking and I’m not just being, you know, I’m a, you know, doing rope mechanics, you know, although there are, you know, some positions that are necessary and necessary for that. But it’s being mindful of the human being that’s going to be doing the work, and that we’re all at different levels. And here’s another thing that, you know, my, my, I have an education background in my bachelor’s, and is that people have different styles of learning, and to be aware that there are different modalities for learning. Somebody might be great in hearing a presentation and how to do the work, somebody might be an on-hand learner, somebody might be a visual, just they want to read the instruction manuals, and I would even go so far as to do a survey of the people who are going to use it, what is your style? You know, get to know how your people learn, you know, what is your style of learning, and then you could kind of like tailor the training for the visuals, the auditory learners, the hands-on learners. What about you, Amber?
Unmute has happened sooner or later, right? Yeah, I would say, you know, coupled with what I said earlier about communication, to me, it’s, you know, investment is really critical. If you’re the leader and you’re the only one invested in the change, it’s probably not going to go real well. So, our challenge is how do we get our teams at least as invested as we are? Again, communication is very important. Understanding that people sit on a different spot on the continuum of change. Some people’s like, “Yeah, whatever, show me what to do, I’ll do it.” Other people are at the other end, “That’ll never work. It’s never going to work.” Understanding where people are on that continuum and how we can get them invested and making sure that we’re spending our time wisely in that investment. And, you know, it’s kind of varying thoughts like some people think we need to spend all our time at the far end, the kind of, you know, Debbie Downer and/or the naysayer, and very little at the end that, you know, people are all with the punches. And I had a very good mentor early on in my career that convinced me it’s actually the opposite. If we invest our time on the people that are going to embrace the change and get excited about it, they’re actually going to help us get the next people on the continuum excited about it. And then you have a larger group of people that are excited about it, and the people at the far end of the continuum, ultimately, you need to make a decision. Everybody else is excited about it. I either need to get on board and embrace it, or this isn’t for me and probably isn’t going to be the place for me. But it again, if you have 100 people and you migrate through and you get 95 of them excited about the change, that last five become somewhat insignificant in the whole scheme of things. Again, it starts with investment. If it’s my way or the highway, we’re doing this, y’all are going to love it whether you love it or not, coming tomorrow, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you spend the time on getting people invested in the solution, getting them to understand why it’s important, what the benefits to them are, with the long-term effect and impact and benefit is, then change is going to just kind of happen naturally. The other thing I’ll throw out there too is we need to challenge ourselves to make it fun. A lot of people change and drudgery seem to go hand in hand. The better we can do to challenge ourselves to think of ways of just interjecting fun into the process, it doesn’t have to be drudgery, it doesn’t have to be just, you know, all you know, hard and difficult and challenging. It can be fun too. And that’s our challenge. If we’re going to lead the change, that’s one of our challenges: get investment and make it fun.
I love that as a marketer, we’ve really infused fun and creativity in our culture here at SourceDay, and I think it’s a big miss for companies who don’t realize that everyone’s a person and a human and has feelings. And if we’re fun and smiling, it can make things that are a little more awkward and uncomfortable a little more palatable, and people become more open-minded.
So, as we’re walking through the process, let’s say we’ve nailed the change management piece, which doesn’t happen very often, but let’s say, you know, you’ve figured that out. To me, kind of the next step is optimizing the ERP. So, there are organizations that spend significant time and resources on an ERP, and then they’re not using nearly as much of the functionality as they should or could be. So, Jeannie, what can an organization do to optimize and get more out of their ERP? Have a good consultant for one. Yeah, and I shared with her earlier that in these certain cues is to your hope that somebody has, but I know that the owner and the CEO has more knowledge on the system than I do. And when I had those different cues, I’m operating out of, and I’m going to say I was, so I thought I had to go back to an Excel and make a sheet, and then this he always said, “It’s like, okay, he goes, we can do this.” And that’s when I’m like, “Cool, you know.” So, he knew more. I would like to see somebody with a broader knowledge, more of the big scope of it, of what’s available. So, I gave them my ideas, which he was able to readily implement. Now, when I have spare time, which is very little right now because it’s the full season, and we are extremely busy, but when things slow down in the winter months, I am going to take the time and look at a lot of the features. I noticed the NetSuite, they have pivot tables and write in NetSuite, and I’m like, “Oh my God, how exciting!” I mean, it’s like really, I was super stoked on that. And generating metrics and creating supplier scorecards within a NetSuite. The previous company I was at, the director used everything in Excel, and it seemed again a backward, we’re not moving forward. So, I’ve just been poking around in NetSuite, seeing what they have, just opening up different screens, and that’s how I discovered the pivot tables. And just keep curious, stay curious to see what your ERP system can, what you can explore in your ERP system. And a lot of that was, you know, generate the ideas, brainstorm what other things other people might need or want in an ERP system, and they might very well have it, we just didn’t know, you know. So, what about you, Amber?
I would say there’s almost a prevalence that people view go-live as the endpoint on the journey. It’s like the silver bullet. We’re going to implement this system, life’s going to be good, birds are going to be chirping, and, you know, we’re going to be so much better. And I think if we go into it with really, that’s the halfway point on our journey, it’s just an intermittent destination. And before we even get to that halfway point, having a well-thought-out plan of what comes next, at that point we’re going to do polls to see what people like about the system, what they don’t like about the system, where you get an understanding of what they don’t really understand, what they wish the system had that it really has, they just don’t know. We go back to training. You know, we tend to think the training leading up to go-live is the be-all, end-all. Most people don’t absorb everything they need out of that training. They’re not actually using the system. So, by design, planning a follow-up training at this point, whatever it is, two months later, three months later, but by design saying we’re going to do a next-level training, we’re going to do a refresher, this is what the system has available, and we’re going to layer on another level of it. It appears these processes are not being used. We want to make sure you’re aware they’re out there and what they can do for you. But again, it really starts well before go-live, putting as much planning into your post-go-live optimization as you did actually getting to that go-live date.
I love it. I love the additional layers of training, like a phase one, phase two, and even the phase three, because I mean, I certainly would love to explore those other levels, you know, and maybe we maybe they have that implanted, I haven’t, but I’m going to ask the owner if they have another training level when the season’s over and we have that time to learn. But that’s an excellent idea, I love it. Jeannie, what about upgrades and communication between you and the ERP provider? I’m using you as an example to start because I know NetSuite does several rollouts throughout the year.
Well, I would go back to what Amber says, and I’m going to ask the owner if there’s going to be after this meeting, this has been enlightening for me because like I have poked around and looked around in NetSuite, and there are other things I’d like to learn personally myself, and I’ve already had that as personal goals. But to know and to ask if there’s going to be a second level, I’m thrilled that you brought that up, Amber, because I really want a second level of training. Now, this is the second company I’ve used NetSuite in, and I know NetSuite has a way more to offer than I know right now, and I just feel like I’m underutilizing a system that could make my life be a lot easier and more efficient, more streamlined, and, you know, be through with Excel sheets. You know why, why so that’s where I’m going to take this after this meeting of this week. I’ll be having that conversation, what’s the next, what’s the next level? I know it that additional consulting costs money, but I think that they would be on board if it’s going to where I can make my reports, I can do my scorecards, I can’t do it because I’ll make the pitch of all the things I could be doing if I had the know-how and densely. Amber, did you have something to add as well?
Yeah, I was just going to kind of tell on that. It’s not a matter of getting a hundred percent of your people to some predefined point. It’s getting enough people that have that next level of understanding because you want to develop super users and make sure people know who they are so that they’re the people that everyone’s going to go to when they hit a stumbling block or they want to do something they don’t think this system can do. And that’s something that’s going to become evident in your planning and in your go-live. You’re going to be able to see kind of the absorption rate, who really, really gets it, who nails it, and that should be one of your initial tiers of getting them to understand it better, be able to run faster, jump higher, so they can be the support system for the other 90 or 85 percent of the company that hasn’t gotten it quite as good as them. If you are not yet connected with Jeannie and Amber on LinkedIn, I encourage you to reach out to them, send them a note, let them know that you saw us on the show today. We will be back next month on Tuesday, September 5th at noon Central for our next Women in ERP discussion.