Women in ERP – December 2021
Jill Button, Dyci Manns Sfregola, Jennifer Harris and Joselina Peralta
Welcome to our very first Women in ERP show. This is a show that Kris Harrington from GenAlpha Technologies and I will be hosting the first Tuesday of each month to bring together women in our industry to talk about what really happens in the world of ERPs, and it ain’t all pretty, believe me. Our initiative aims to bring together, educate, and empower women involved with ERP transformations. The main theme of this series is to highlight the contributions of women, create social awareness to enhance women’s representations in ERP teams, and highlight their stories and challenges, and voicing their opinions with ERP transformation initiatives. I’m Sarah Scudder, SMO at SourceDay, and today’s show host. Our platform integrates with ERP systems, so my team and I have lived through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am joined by Jill, Joselina, Jennifer, and Dyci. They have extensive ERP experience, and I’ve asked them to share their wisdom and stories with us today. To kick off our conversation, please put in the comments where in the world you are joining us from and a word or phrase that describes your last ERP implementation or experience. And don’t be shy, please engage with us in the comments throughout the show and post your questions anytime.
So, to kick off our discussion, we’re going to start with you, Jill. So we’d love to have you do a quick intro and tell us a little bit about your background and how the heck you came to be involved with ERPs. Thank you, Sarah. It’s , it’s a pleasure to be here among all these amazingly brilliant ladies who ERP. My background is over 30 years in supply chain and procurement, predominantly in IT, and have done a number of engagements both from a corporate perspective, working for my company. And then nine years ago, decided to leap off the corporate ladder and established my own business. And it just seemed that my expertise from my background was needed and so have spent a significant amount of time helping clients both define their requirements, write technology contracts, and implement ERP solutions here in Canada.
So, Jill, my first question for you to kick us off today is telling us about your role and involvement with ERP from a consultant kind of third party perspective.
The role that I have played is, for the most part, helping businesses who have grown out of their existing sort of startup technology. Most often, it’s a financial system. Businesses generally start with QuickBooks or some other small business finance system that was recommended by their accountant. And so a lot of my clients had outgrown those systems and were looking for what kind of solution would best help them grow and streamline their operations. The clients that I deal with most often are in the range of 100 to 500 employees, and a lot of times these are global organizations who’ve grown exponentially and who have found it incredibly difficult to manage their business with these disparate systems on a global scale. So our job is really about helping them understand what it is exactly that they need, first the requirements, helping them avoid the shiny object that many will ultimately fall for because somebody recommended it, so that they ensure the requirements are clear and clearly defined. We help them then do a competitive bid so that they can actually find what potential options are out there from a market research perspective. We manage the bid process, and then once the selection is made for the best solution, will actually contract and will actually oversee the implementation. So, it’s truly an end-to-end experience.
Awesome, Jill. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. I know you’ve spoken on past panels and shared a lot of wisdom, so looking forward to hearing some of your crazy ERP stories later today. awesome to see you again and great to have you on the show. So, Joselina, would like to have you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background. Thank you, Sarah. It’s a privilege to be here amongst you and also my fellow peers. So, what a great way to actually still kick off the week. So, I’m based in New Jersey. how did I come to be involved with the ERP system? So, I have over 20 years of experience in supply chain operations, primarily in the procurement and supply chain, so B2B or order to cash. And essentially, I started early in my career when I was working in a consumer goods organization, and we were actually going into an upgrade. So, we had already the ERP system, and I was selected to be the manager to really drive the process from design all the way to implementation and also to drive it globally. So, based on my 20 plus years of experience, I have this done this at least for different employers at least five times, and it has been across a consumer goods, pharmaceutical, and also chemicals, and there’s different reasons as to why. So, if it has been a result of a joint venture, so essentially, you want to have one cohesive system where you have visibility of all operations from order to cash all the way to procurement to pay. And also, it’s primarily to make sure that you’re able to, you know, bill people to be able to actually enter the purchase orders. You’ll be able to see your inventory visibility if you have a multitude of warehouses. So, it’s about really increasing visibility, but also operational efficiency and throughput. And also, if you manage third-party contract manufacturing size, how do you make sure that you actually integrate all of that operation in one unit?
You know, centralized system, also later in my career, we were doing in the acquisition world. So, when you actually then integrate different companies, and you got to the point that you already are at the size where you’re comfortable, than now there’s no more activity on the acquisition front of it, then you’re gonna have a mixed breed of legacy systems that you really have to make sure that you unify, and that’s also an interesting fun and games when you really have to put that, as I like to call it, the “Frankenstein monster,” to really put it together in a one cohesive system. So, I’m excited to dive in some of the practices, do’s and don’ts, and some of the stories that were stories where definitely I think that we can all learn together and from each other, and hopefully, the audience can relate and looking forward to their questions as well.
So, Joselina, my first question for you, I think you’ve been involved in three major implementations throughout your career at different companies that you’ve worked for, and a big challenge that organizations often have is how do they even select the right ERP? There are so many different solutions with so many different kind of quirky things that service certain areas or certain types of businesses better than others, so what advice do you have for people that are listening today that are in this phase where they need to find an either a first-time or a new ERP for their business and they don’t even know where to start in the selection process?
Absolutely, this is a great question, Sarah. So, the first thing is that you really have to understand who you are as a business, right? So, where are you in your journey, operating model, and where are you in terms of your growth journey? So, if you’re a startup company and you don’t have a multitude of locations, so it may not be reasonable to invest in a SAP, for example, right? So, if you’re not gonna have a multitude of warehouses, a multitude of sites, a multitude of locations, so that may be probably more a cloud-based solution. So, I think you first need to understand your size of the business, your scope, where are you operationally, right? And what your graphics are, you look operationally and also how quickly do you project that you’re going to be growing your business, right? In what level of functionality do you really need to be fully operational and that may not necessarily cap your growth over the next three years? I think going in a horizon beyond three years is honestly wetting your finger in the air, so it’s very difficult to really predict. So, to stay practical, to stay really focused and to stay also, you don’t want to give people fatigue of having a lot of functionality that may become obsolete with technology, so you really want to keep yourself in a horizon that is probably no longer than three, so then you’re gonna have enough functionality that is going to be really put into good use. Otherwise, you’re buying, you know, a Ferrari but perhaps you needed a Toyota. So, you need to really adapt yourself as to what is really going to be used. that’s that’s one thing I will say, the next thing is that you really need to map your requirements, really what is essential for you to run your business and what is essential for you to have contingency and what is essential for you to protect your organization and your business partners from risk that is probably at a very, you know, 50 feet altitude basic level. Some of the things that really you need to do for your customers, for your partners, and also internally for your organization to remain fully operational and to avoid disruptions. And then the other part is that you need to, early on, even if you’re the manager, even if you’re talking to the c-suites, even if that decision is being driven from the c-suites, you really need to spend your time talking to the people who really run the operation day to day. What are the pain points? What actually is not working? What is broken? What in reality could make your work a bit better, more effective, easier, and it’s not going to add an extra layer of complication that, quite honestly, you may not need. And also, how does that connect with the universe and you actually surround your business, your field of industry, so who your partners actually do business and what in what ERP system and your customers, right? So, you also don’t want to necessarily come with something that it may not only be you, so a critical mass is also very important, critical mass on your operation, critical mass to your interdependency operations, right? So, at this at the end of the day, you’re putting an investment where the ROI that you’re going to see is something that not only is isolated to you, but it’s also part on how you present yourself as part of your value offering, right? So, if you’re saying to somebody that you’re connected to a system that only you has, which is very unlikely, right? So, what’s the level of impact that it’s gonna have on your business partners or your potential customers and also the learning curve, right? So, when you’re recruiting people, it’s far more different than when you have people that already are common, you know, used or knowledgeable in a system that is more mainstream than something that they will have to come in and you know, kind of get an encyclopedia of learning or figuring out how to dive into your system. So, practicality and also the critical mass of that system, and last but not least, you have to define the resources for inputting outputs, right? So, you have to work with your SMEs at the ground level to map the pain points, but also who’s going to be at the receiving end of those outputs, and you have to get an external bias, also perspective, that it’s not just you, you may have an idea of what you want, your team may want to have an idea what they want, perhaps your you know, c-suite team may have an idea, and your shareholders, your investors, but educate yourself, do a benchmark, look what solutions companies of your size in your industry are actually using.
And the beauty about this day and age is that so much information out there, probably too much, but it’s important to really scale that back to what is practical. I think practicality and common sense should be guiding principles in this process of selection, if that makes sense. And we got a question in from Rachel Hassell, joining us from the Bay Area. Rachel, so we will get to your question here in a few minutes. I think it’s really relevant, and I want to make sure we give the panelists some time to think about this as well.
So, Jennifer, great to have you on the show today. I know you and your team have been growing like crazy and doing a lot of awesome work in the ERP space. So, we’d love to have you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into this crazy world of ERPs. Thank you, and thank you for having me and listening to you, ladies. It’s very resonant, resonates with me, and I’m sure with our audience.
I am the CEO of Technology Management Concepts, and we’re a Microsoft partner. We specialize in Dynamics ERP, CRM, Azure. But originally, I got into this business just doing financial software in the ’90s. There was a multitude of platforms from Great Plains, Platin Macola, Mass90. And through the years, you know, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, grown my team, and we are now exclusively Microsoft. But I’ve had many, many implementations. I’ve gone through three different, I would say, digital transformations in my career.
You know, we went from everything being sort of personal computers on-prem. I was going into companies, telling them, ‘You could actually print checks, that kind of thing. Automate your warehouse.’ It was, you know, very, manual back in the day. And then, you know, when we went onto the internet, we went, you know, we were web-based. There were a lot of things that would happen differently. And now, you know, fast forward to 2021, where everything’s in the cloud.
I would say that for me, the biggest change has been, particularly for ERP and supply chain. Everything was very manual in somebody’s head in the warehouse. You know, to get people to really take that information, it followed behind finance in the other operations part of the organization. It’s been the slowest people to adapt. So, change management, working with teams, change is hard. People have been doing it a certain way for a very long time. They like the way they do it. And even though there’s pain, they still like it. They’re comfortable with it. And so, to Joselina’s point, you know, a lot of times we’ll go in as the partner, the software’s been selected, everybody says we’re all on board, but really the stakeholders, you know, you need stakeholders, you need internal people.
And so, in my career, building a team, my sort of strategy has been, you know, as I built my team, we’ve grown a lot, as you said, you know, we’re up to about 50 people, which in a partner and a regional partner is getting large, but really making sure these people all have empathy for our clients, what they’re going through. This has changed. So, not just being good technology people, good ERP skills, and subject matter experts, but also being able to really work from a psychological standpoint with the people at the customers and realize that they have their job to do while we’re in there trying to change their entire life.
And that has been really something that, in recent years, I think is fast forwarded very quickly. As I said, as things have changed to be automated, integrated processes can be done with much fewer people and intensity. That’s hard. You know, you still have widgets that are being manufactured on a line in a warehouse with people. How do we take that real-life scenario and look at it and see what can be automated?
as Shell and Joselina said, what makes sense? You know, we can’t go in and do a nuclear explosion and redo everything all at once. It may not make sense financially; it may not make sense for the type of people and the size of the organization. So, you know, for me and my career, it’s been very fascinating watching the changes in software and technology.
So, Jennifer, my first question for you is more on the team-building side. So, Joselina talked about some of the things that people should consider and think about as they’re selecting the ERP, but there’s also the people component as well. So, I’d like you to talk about what are some of the red flags that companies should look to be aware of when creating an internal team to run the ERP implementation.
Yeah, that is the number one reason that we see success or failure on implementations: internal teams that work with a partner. We come in with a scope and a budget that’s been determined on a sales process, and so it starts there. Who’s the team that’s selecting the software, and will those people be part of the implementation? Quite often, it’s a totally different group of people that are doing the implementation than were part of the selection process. Our product, you know, sometimes you’ll have a team that’s worked with SAP or worked with Oracle, and now they’re buying, as you say, they don’t have the Ferrari; they have the Toyota, but it’ll do the job. So, their expectations, so create a team from the very beginning that’s part of the selection process with realistic expectations. Have stakeholders; you need to have people in management that aren’t afraid to make decisions, to say we’re going with this product and this is the change that will happen and know that this is going to be filtered down to their management.
And then have an internal project manager. There must be, whether it’s somebody within the organization or that is a consultant that’s been hired in, there must be an internal point person, and that person must have authority. They can’t just be somebody who’s like, ‘Yeah, we didn’t get that done because, you know, John went on a three-week vacation.’ and you know, they have to be a person who has accountability and access to that stakeholder.
And then lastly, you have to have subject matters on the experts on the employee side. No one knows a business better than the team there. They can’t expect the partner to come in and have more subject matter expertise on their business, even if we’ve done multiple implementations. They can’t use the software implementation as a way to redo all of their processes. We get paid so often to sit on calls with internal meetings. We’ll have four consultants, thousands of dollars on calls on internal meetings where they’re sort of hashing out what are the bin numbers going to be now, or you know, something like that that should have been thought of up front. So you know, the three things are stakeholders that are really involved on board, willing to take, you know, the hard make the hard decisions, an internal project manager that has got everybody’s buy-in, access to the executive stakeholder and can pull it together and keep people on track internally. And then lastly, the people that actually understand the business and can think of the things that might happen and not happen in that company. And I guess there’s one last thing culturally, every company is different. There’s a corporate culture, some companies are very into change and great at doing it, and jumping in, and others require lots of handholding and nobody knows that better than the internal team. So you can have a fantastic software selection, you can pick the absolute best software, but if you don’t have the right team in place to make this happen on both sides, the right fit from the partner to this organization and the right team internally, that is the biggest reason that we see implementations not successfully move forward. Thank you for being with us today, Jennifer. Thank you for having me.
Dyci, you are up next. Would love to have you share a little bit about yourself and your ERP background.
Yes, definitely. Thanks for having me. I do not have the decades of experience of all of these wonderful ladies here in ERP. I actually am fairly new to the ERP side of the house. I started with technology implementations with point solutions for supply chain, so inventory management, supply planning, demand planning. As you venture into larger organizations, you obviously, at some point, start to interact with the ERP as it relates to integrations. as companies are getting more into the cloud and trying to understand how to break down silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration, they start to understand that at some point, finance needs to understand what the supply chain team is doing with inventory and what is this new tool and how should it be connected with our system. so very similar to what Jill was speaking about earlier, where the financial system is, you know, whatever was recommended at the beginning, which from my experience very often is Quickbooks. , we were doing these supply chain implementations and they were cloud-based, and the companies were very excited about, you know, having some connection and a source of truth between the departments, only to realize that, “Oh, Quickbooks isn’t going to support that. They need an ERP system in order to really bring everything together.” so I did that for a while, and then I started, Nugent Architects. so we just celebrated our first year, so a little baby, but things have been going very, very well. As Jennifer said, everything is changing, and I really love panels like this because what I have seen is that there is just a really big lack of understanding in the practitioner community of what the systems do, how they work, how implementations actually work, or should in order to be successful, in order for companies to get the ROI that they’re expecting, and then what the business needs to do in order to make that happen. since I started implementation years and years ago, it was no secret, it was the first thing that I was told, you know, a vast majority of any technology implementation does not yield the results that the company expects, which is a euphemism for saying it failed, you know, many times. Many times, heads will roll, you know, someone’s had roles, millions of dollars, years and years, you know, go by and these systems still aren’t working. And, you know, I came from it kind of as a newbie, saying, “Okay, well, if everyone knows that what is happening now isn’t working, why isn’t there more effort to do something else?” And like the other ladies have said, it’s because change is hard, and especially if you think about what we’ve been thinking, what we’ve been living through for the past, you know, almost two years now, everything in your life is different. And then to also say, “Now we’re going to change the ERP system,” which affects every piece of the company, so not only is everything in your personal life different, but everything in your work life is now different. That’s a really heavy psychological thing to accept, and what I saw that a lot of companies were forgetting is that at the end of the day, we’re all people, and you have to consider the people element. So I won’t go into that because everyone else has. I don’t need to echo and parrot, but it’s definitely a very refreshing conversation, and it’s good to see a lot of interaction also. I see the comments coming through, because it does give me hope. You know, there are a lot of times actually my team and I, were just talking internally yesterday, and we were like, it just seems so heavy. Like, it seems like there’s no end in sight. but like I said, just as an industry, it’s a, it’s a strange time. Everything is changing. There’s data, there are all these new tools, there’s all the marketing, all the publicity, the sales guys, you know, there are 15 different systems. What do I do? How do I make it happen? And everyone’s just doing their best. At the end of the day, everyone’s trying to move forward. but there is a, a space for, you know, this conversation definitely.
So, Dyci, a question for you, and then if you have kind of a train wreck horror story, would love to hear that. Big fan of stories. I think we can learn a lot from each other.
So, my question is, what pre-implementation considerations do you think people should take into account that often don’t, and then maybe an example of a company that didn’t think about these things and had a complete disaster happen because of it? I am thinking about the best one because there are many, there are many. And, I’d like to not say team-building in people just because that’s what Jennifer just spoke about, but I mean, at the end of the day, it is what it is, you know what I mean? I don’t want to sound cliché, I don’t want to, you know, beat a dead horse, but at the end of the day, I have seen it done well one time. And not that I’ve done this 50 times, but I’ve done it because I started in technology implementations with a tool that was not as robust as ERP. So, you, it’s a shorter, you know, implementation life cycle. So, you know, five over the course of two years versus 20 years because it’s just a couple of months. But from the ERP side, from the other technology side, there’s just always this lack of understanding what the level of effort really is from the team. So people have their day job, and then they’re now giving their night job to run this ERP. Your SMEs, your managers, your project managers, your program managers, whoever that might be. Very often there is a resource capacity issue because there is a lack of understanding of the level of effort that is truly required to interact with the implementation partner and to prepare so that you’re not on a two-thousand-dollar call trying to figure out what the bin numbers are going to be, which happens. Like these are things that you should be thinking about beforehand before you even interact with an implementation partner. You should understand what are your data flows, what are your workflows, and not just internally, your external partners as well. So you should not get to the point to your where your ERP is implemented and your external 3PL partner is like, ‘Oh, this item number doesn’t work, we’re not going to redo all of the item numbers, you know, right now.’ So, you know, those types of conversations, and also with your customers, understanding how the system actually works, understanding how your business is going to change or need to change or will stay the same, even just to have disaster recovery plans or if you expect something to work a certain way and then it doesn’t, what do you, how do you pivot, how do you let customers know in advance? Joselina talked about all of the points that your ERP touches, the operational efficiencies. Think about if any of that breaks down. If you can’t bill, if you can’t get paid, if you can’t, if you don’t know where inventory is, these are all very critical points of your business, and your ERP touches all of that. So you have to understand what do we do if the billing piece breaks down, what do we do if we can’t get paid? So are we gonna be printing checks like it’s 1995? You might have to, but that shouldn’t be a thing that like no one knows is a possibility until someone has to go to the office and print checks all day. So you really have to understand what your workflows and data flows are. I’ve seen so many times where we come in, we say, ‘Oh, you know, give us, do you guys have process maps?’ and they say, ‘Yes,’ and it’s literally a data flow of like, ‘This is what an invoice is.’ Like that’s not what I was thinking about, but I appreciate your effort. So there’s just always this very superficial understanding of what is actually happening. So, I think that companies really need to understand that there is a lot of pre-work, there’s a lot of pre-work involved internally, and there’s a lot of pre-work also with your implementation partner, because if you don’t understand your business and you don’t have visibility into your business, your implementation partner doesn’t either. You know, and they’re leaning on you having been on the side of configuring the software and having to be the person hands on keyboards. If you can’t communicate to me what you’re trying to do, then I can’t build it properly, and you also can’t communicate it to me on the fly when we have go-live in three weeks and you forgot about this, oh, so critical thing. If it was oh so critical, how did you forget about it, but now we’re like at crunch time and you’re pressuring me to configure it? And then once we go live and it doesn’t work, everyone’s like, ‘Oh no, who’da thunk that that wasn’t gonna work?’ You know, so it really is a come-to-Jesus moment of, ‘We’re going to have to spend six months if that’s what it takes so that people aren’t working 15-hour days.’ Vacation, I think I heard Jennifer say that, hahaha, like who’s gonna be on vacation without someone calling them because again, the resources don’t have capacity but you’ve underestimated the level of effort that it’s going to take to understand who is the supplier of this information, what is what are they doing with the information, what is the output of what they do, and who is going to consume that downstream. I, I would say my, my biggest, just horror story was probably all of those points not met, like every single one of them. So you can think of the recipe for disaster, you can imagine what that is, of literally people didn’t they don’t they didn’t understand what they were doing. Like my job, do something, I finish, Jill does it next, she finishes, Joselina does it next, but if I don’t know what Jill is doing, what Joselina is doing, then like I might do some stuff that’s going to make Jill’s life a nightmare but it made mine okay. I think that I kind of got through it but it slows down the process and they didn’t talk to the external partners, they didn’t even talk to all of the internal stakeholders. So, it was something that was supposed to take three months and it’s a year and a half and it’s still happening, you know? It’s a hundred thousand, hundreds of thousands of dollars is the estimate and then you’re millions of dollars into it and it’s just a matter of, you know, you’ve… I’ve… I’ve been in implementations where, oh, the resources didn’t have capacity, but everything else was there, or, you know, the processes were very well documented but there was no change champion or project manager, program manager that had not even the buy-in from everyone but they were empowered to make decisions to not hold everything up. But, I mean, the current situation of all of those things being missed has been very interesting. It’s been a great learning experience, to say the least.
And it’s interesting also because, you know, Jill mentioned the size of the company that she works with. We work with a much smaller size, we work with startups and then small businesses. I would say 300 million and less, normally 50 to 100 employees. So, from my experience in working with larger companies, there is a much better understanding of what everything should look like in order to kind of at least get halfway to where you need to be. But smaller companies have a lot fewer resources, resources as in physical people, but also financially. So, it comes down to a lot of, ‘Oh, well, we can’t afford that,’ but on the back end, you can’t not afford it also, you know, from the time perspective, from the financial perspective. Um, and I mean, small business owner, when you’re in, I get it, but I also understand I have to even say, you know what, this money has got to come from somewhere, because otherwise, it’s going to be a complete dumpster fire on the other side of things. Awesome, Dyci. Thank you for that. You’re always such a fun storyteller. You get very animated and I feel like I’m a part of it. I’ve lived in Milan for years. Actually, I just got back on Sunday, so I’m still feeling it. My son is two, and he’s just learned to say ‘die.’ Yeah, I remember when we did our prep call for this, you were, I think you were in Italy when you signed up. Yes, so we have some questions coming in from the audience, so I want to make sure we have time to get to these. So, Jill, I’m going to go ahead and start with you with Rachel’s question. She’d like to hear your thoughts on singular ERP systems versus multiple. Pros and cons for both singular and multiple.
That’s a great question, Rachel. I think that the most important thing is that you have to look at your business and deciding what kind of system, whether it’s multi-entity or multiple systems, best in suite versus best in class. There’s a tremendous amount of options that are out there for you. I think that you need to first and foremost look at your business, decide and document the requirements of your business, and then from that, the results will actually inform what kind of system you need, whether it’s multi-entity, best in suite, or best in class. So, that may not be a definitive answer, but it’s certainly the direction that I would suggest you take first, rather than again making a decision that doesn’t necessarily meet your requirements from a long run.
Great, thank you. Joselina, your thoughts as well on singular versus multiple ERP systems and pros and cons. I will concur with Jill in terms of, you know, you have to know your business model first and also if it’s multi versus one single operation. I also will say you have to know other interfaces that you have also working in your landscape of your systems, right? So, how that’s going to connect or play with versus multi versus, you know, single because often times other interfaces get overlooked and they don’t communicate to the selecting ERP system and boy like Dyci said, ‘Oh, we have a problem and we didn’t know that we actually needed to figure that those two systems need to speak to each other.’ So, you kind of have to put as part of your spec requirements to really know and then that will help you also narrow down your selection of what system really communicates with what other interface you need to run. It could be for, you know, QA, it could be an interface, it could be outside for R&D, it could be another interface that you may have also for how do you manage third-party warehousing. So, there are other things that, even though are covered within the functionality of a regular ERP system, that you may have either because it’s legacy, because you may have already paid the money, it could be a multitude of reasons why you cannot completely switch that off, and you kind of have to factor that as well. I hope that that’s helpful. So, Joselina, another question for you, and then we’ll get to Jennifer.
So, I’ve had, I’ve had friends lead implementations and they’ve had very, very different strategies. So, in some cases, they’ve done what I call the big bang. It’s, we’re turning it on on this day and it’s going live and that’s it. And there’s a big buildup. And then I’ve had other friends who have done what I would call more phased implementations. So, would like for you to talk about both of those and maybe some of the pros and cons or what you recommend. Absolutely, no, that’s an excellent question, Sarah. If you are a single facility with a, you know, country-specific joke location and geographic-specific focus as an organization, definitely you can afford to do a big bang, right? Because it’s something that, um, it’s probably manageable. And as long as you do all the testing and all of the preparation beforehand, um, you’re going to be probably in. And I will also stretch something that Dyci also said, there’s also a lot of things that you can do to buy more time as you actually do in the implementation, meaning you can pre-sell, you can actually ship product and sell product ahead of time, you can have a strategic stock someplace else, so there’s so much available information as to how you can put a disaster recovery but actually a plan that will enable you to at least have three to six months of already covered ground with your 80/20 rights of revenue generator business that you can put if, if you have, of course, resources to do it to that extent and the cash to actually support that financially, that you can then buy more time as you implement if you’re gonna go for the big bang. So, the cons of the big bang, of course, is that if you didn’t do the right level of preparation, then you’re fully exposed, right? So, there’s no like now we switch it up a little bit and go back, no. So, the problem with that is that this is it, like you know, Michael Jackson said, so there’s nothing else that you can go back to, right? In-the-face approach, which is my favorite and the one that I’ve done more throughout my career because you have more wiggle room, you have more contingency, and also you can course-correct as you do it by, say, you know, company affiliate site country, right?
So, you are actually going to develop more pilots, and there’s also going to be different aspects that you have to consider if you’re a global organization. Taxonomy, you also have to think about reach if you’re a chemical business, so there are different levels of compliance that you will need to also embed in your process, right, that they are really country-specific. And if you do it in a big bang, if you’re really a global organization, you’re not going to be able to be covered for everything at once. And if you’re going to have an issue, you’re not going to have the capacity to troubleshoot it. It’s going to be impossible. As if you do it in a phase approach, you’re going to be able not only to gain a lot more learnings, but also you’re going to free up, to certain degrees, some resources that can help to shadow when you’re then deploying in the next selected location, facility, country that you’re actually doing that.
So, and also, you’re going to be able to do a debrief and capture some of the lessons learned and then use that in your implementation plan as you are deploying into the next location, facility, country, affiliate that you’re actually doing that. So, that’s the reason why it’s better for the implementation team, it’s better for the end users, so you avoid fatigue in the company because imagine if we’re all with our heads on fire, it’s very difficult to actually keep the calm, right, so and actually have a clear-cut vision as to how you’re going to troubleshoot this. Plus, you have to have meetings, you know, with the three regions and it’s one core team, so talking about, you know, fatigue, right. So, you’re going to have to probably provide a cod to people in the business, IV fluids, right, so it’s impossible to sustain.
Um, and ultimately, it’s the risk of brand impact, your customers’ disruption, your business partners’ disruption, so it is, we’re talking about something that will have a more negative effect and potential long-lasting that if you do it in a step-by-step phase approach, where not only you gain from the process but your business partners, I’m sure that they’re going to appreciate that you’re not dumping issues on them too.
So, I think it’s just again going back to what is practical, what is actually common sense, and also what is something that you can repeat and then you can measure and monitor that. That, I think, is important and you’re going to have measures at every step of the way to keep yourself honest and accountable, but also there’s something that you can show for to the organization. As we’re talking about change management, you want to rally, you want to encourage, you want to invigorate the team, and this is going to be mental and physical.
So, the more that you actually do it in a step-by-step fashion with how we are tracking in progress and we’re getting used to the lingo, we’re getting used to the transactions, we’re getting used to the fear of going into the system, right, so to actually being able to have circles of continuous improvement where people are talking about it, the experience of it. The more that you’re actually going to alleviate the fear of somewhat unknown, right, because for some people, this will be great new functionalities, like when you get a new phone, like 3G, 6GB, whatever.
So, people, you know, they just give it to them and in one minute they know everything that they need to know. Some people, they only stick to the three or four functions that they know. The same happens with an ERP system, you have your many of your favorites go-to transactions, right? So, in order, if you have like this, you know, Lamborghini with all of these things that maybe you’re like, ‘Oh my God, overwhelmed, so do I need all of this to do my job? If I’m doing, you know, MRP, DDMRP planning, supply planning, demand, why do I actually get to see all of these other transactions that maybe I don’t need to?’ So, you kind of have to manage also how the end user is going to receive this and provide them with the right level of guidance in forums to be able to build this community of practice and to be able to build this learning vocabulary but also to be able to measure and see the outputs of how this has been done.
So, in short, I will probably lean more towards to the phased approach, given that it gives you more control environment. I cannot emphasize probably more an end-user testing, acceptance testing, and testing acceptance. That’s probably going to be triple quadruple important. And the more that you do the end-user integration testing, the better that you’re going to be able to anticipate the problems that might come your way.
And last but not least, dirty data, dirty data. Let me tell you, this is in addition to the team and resources, right, that often gets underestimated, and it’s almost like the peanut butter effect that you think the people, you can spread them to eternity, and that is not sustainable. Same thing.
I will say, with dirty data, when you decommercialize a product and you’re going into an ERP deployment, oftentimes you discover all these skeletons of that product that nobody ever knew that they had or somehow they didn’t realize that that was not completely dead from the system, and it’s a lot, especially if you’re talking years and years, and it has been a transition of people leaving the organization and you didn’t have necessarily a proper off-boarding that also bleeds into this with dirty data parts that if you make a change in equipment in a line that you didn’t actually take that off from your bill of materials and then somehow, why do we have this equipment listed here and what are the parts actually critical parts for that equipment? Or vice versa, when you’re talking about recipes and raw materials, that if you change your formulation you upgrade and nobody then remembers why we changed this for this active ingredient or inert or whatever it is. It is critical, critical. I cannot stress enough diving into your data, archiving, getting rid of what you’re no longer using, what is no longer fit for business, for the purpose of risk, and let it go, clean that, and make sure that you have data that is going to be usable.
So we’ve got a pretty active chat going, so if you haven’t weighed in, would love to have you say if you prefer the big bang or phased implementation. So we would like to gauge our listeners today. So far, it definitely looks like Joselina, you with the phased implementation, is definitely looking like that’s winning so far, but we’ll see if we have any advocates for the big bang coming in. Jennifer, a question for you that I get asked a lot is about subject matter experts, and especially at smaller organizations, a lot of times there isn’t necessarily a subject matter expert in-house on the team. So does a company need a subject matter expert within their organization to have a successful ERP implementation?
Yes, let me take a step back to what every all the ladies, first of all, it’s really, you see in the chat and listening, we all know what should happen, but in real life, like it’s very, you know, we’ve been doing this a long time, and Dyci, just in your time, you know, we know we need to have planning, we need to test, we need to go in and have people that know what they’re doing on their side, we need good data.
This is all stuff that’s been, you know, we’ve learned and we’re all professionals and, and this is our life and we are passionate about it, and it’s something that we do all the time. But when you get into companies, the companies have businesses they’re running, real live businesses. And to your point, Dyci, you know, small companies versus large companies, you know, have different things that are important to them. So, I just wanted to weigh in on the big bang versus the face. Sometimes you have to do the big bang because that’s their only system, right? And they’re never going live. They’re gonna just, you know, wait and wait and wait. And so, I think, you know, as long as the customers know the risks, there are some customers that’s their only system. And to the disparate systems, the integrations are big. So, we do quite a lot where, you know, they’re integrating to their healthcare system, they’re integrating to their website, they’re integrating to a 3pl, whatever. They can’t go live without those integrations, and they can’t do that in a phased approach. So, there’s so much, you know, that we have to always remember: a business is running, and they have a business to run.
And that’s from the what we were saying. Of course, we would all love to be able to do it in a perfect faced approach, all planned out and tested perfectly, and in real life, how often does that really happen? But to your point with subject matter expert, that’s a, there are many different ideas of what a subject matter expert is. When I’m speaking of it, I’m not speaking that it’s somebody particularly who is an expert at the supply chain. I think it’s really someone who’s an expert at that organization’s business. So, if you’re, don’t, you, it’s imperative that you have someone that knows, ‘Oh, we work with Amazon, and if we don’t have this integration and the ability to do EDI and returns because Amazon requires returns and they require it in a certain time frame, and they require certain part numbers, and they require us to have certain stock,’ you know, in that way. And then, you know, as we’ve said, and you know, as the ladies have been saying, and then all of a sudden you’re in the middle of the implementation, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot, you know, we can’t ship, we can’t, we literally can’t ship to Amazon because we didn’t take this into account.’ That kind of thing, and their business is stopped, is so important. So, when I say subject matter expert, I mean subject matter expert of the company, of what they actually do for a living.
You must have somebody there.
We have one of our, you know, war stories or whatever, is where we were doing an implementation and they did not have anybody who knew it. And I’m in a meeting with one of the owners and they’re like, ‘Your inventory system didn’t keep track, my people didn’t keep track of our, you know, something.’ And I was like, ‘Well, first of all, it’s not ours, it’s yours.’ And so, you know, that sort of mentality of taking ownership of their system, understanding inside and out how they do business and their processes. And I think that if you’ve been doing this for any length of time, it is just unbelievable how many people don’t understand their own processes or have them documented. Maybe one person did a while ago or, you know, and it’s, you know, really a good exercise for them to force them, prior to an implementation, to write down all the processes and to write down, you know, just, it’s more than a flow chart, Dyci, but write down actually, you know, the critical processes, what it means to do business in their business, as you said, just leaving, you know, do we have compliance issues? Do you know we have pharmaceutical companies? You guys have to have specific shipping, you know, documents. Why did we just hear about this, like, you know, two weeks into the implementation? You know what those are, but quite often it’s, you know, lost in the translation and they just assumed somebody told you, and they didn’t. And so, you know, it’s very, very important, the disparate systems.
So, we come in and a lot of the time we’re, we’re just doing the ERP, and they’ve said, you know, they tell us, ‘Oh, we have a system that does this, we have a system that does that,’ but they haven’t really talked about the integrations. And from, as a solution provider, from our standpoint, we’re told quite often by the client, ‘I’ve talked to them, they interface to Dynamics 365 Business Central, there’s already one written.’ This is what I hear, we hear day in and day out, ‘There’s already one, you don’t even have to scope it.’ And we’ll say, ‘Can we talk to that vendor?’ ‘No, no, we’ve got it.’
You know, and then we’re there, and we’re like, they’ve, they say that on their website they’ve never interfaced before to this product or they have a file we can grab. That’s not the same as saying that you already have an interface to the ERP system. So, you know, be very, very careful of people talking about interfaces, people talking about, you know, or the in the disparate systems. Like we’re an ERP system, that’s what we do really well. We’re not a real estate system, you know, so don’t try to make your ERP system just because someone says, ‘Oh, it has a little bit of, it might be able to do that.’ That’s not what it’s good at. Get thing, make sure you have the system for what it’s good at. Yes, a native integration is very different from an API, you know, very, very different. And so, these are things that if you have a subject matter expert within the organization, they’re going to have already thought of all of this. They’re going to know these are the things, the critical processes that we have and software that we need to work with, and be able to really give you the do or die. They’re going to be able to tell you, ‘Yes, we can do a big bang, no, we need to face this because our other vendors aren’t on board.’ You know, all those kind of things. So that you know in the end you’re successful. But you know, to sort of circle back, we say we always try to sell planning, planning, planning. Please pay for some planning, and everybody budgets for the implementation. And I think Sam said in the beginning, the it’s really the after the implementation that the work really starts. So that’s the other thing, when you’re budgeting, budget for planning, whether it’s with your partner or these other kind resources that are so needed. Budget for your go-live support, ongoing, and your phases so that you don’t sort of burn out and get done and use all your budget in this first phase, in the first part of the implementation, because it’s so much more than that. If you really want to save money and see optimizations of your systems, you’ll do the, you’ll realize that the software implementation is just one cog in a much larger process.
So, Dyci, we’ve got three minutes left, so I’m going to throw the last question to you. So we’ll, we’ll need a nice short concise answer so we can get people on to their next meeting. But I think this one’s really important based on the conversation we’ve had today, and it’s: when should companies use an implementation partner? Very concise. You should always use an implementation partner in my opinion. You should always use an implementation partner.
I have spoken with a lot of companies. I think Sam also put a comment where they, he said the team wanted to do it internally or something like that. That’s not new. I’ve spoken with a couple of tech startups or companies that are very technology digital heavy, very data heavy, and they say, ‘Oh, well, we can do that internally.’ If I actually sent the business users out, I kid you not, to talk to different system implementation partners and vendors to understand what the tool does so that they can go build it themselves. Like, why? Like, I don’t even know. You should always use an implementation partner because everyone has their expertise, and it will be done better. It will be done faster. It will. You should lean on them and their experience, and you should listen to them.
You shouldn’t just pay them to be ‘yes’ men and say, ‘Okay, we’ll build that out.’ They will ask you, ‘Why do you want to do that?’ And sometimes it is to say, ‘I want you to think about what you just said because that doesn’t make sense.’ But sometimes it’s also just to understand how to improve and make that business process better. Lean on your implementation partner, let them answer the right questions, listen to them. Not blindly, of course, you know, not blind trust, but have a trusted advisor, thought partner relationship with them and not a ‘go do what I say, build this out’ relationship. It’ll save a lot of headache. So, you, you, you fit it into two minutes, Dyci. You probably see that we had a few more questions come in and we’re not going to be able to get to those today, but great way to end our show is that this is going to be a monthly conversation. My team and I, and our sponsors feel that this is so important. We’re going to be actually hosting a panel every single month. So, our next show is actually going to be hosted by Kris from Gen Alpha Technologies. She is a rock star in the industry, a friend of mine, and her and I are rotating hosting every other show. She’s going to be hosting the next show on January 4th at 1pm Eastern Time. You can register online and again, it will be livestreamed from my LinkedIn profile. So, if you got value out of today, we’d love to have you join us in the new year. And with that, I’m going to wish everyone a wonderful afternoon.