Women in ERP – February 2023
Lori Anderson, Marina Williams and Dana Lauro
Welcome to our monthly Women in ERP show. I hope everyone is having a great week. I know in the background here we were just mentioning how we can’t believe it’s February 7th already. What is happening with this year? So things are moving fast, as they always do at the start of a new year, but we’re so glad to have you joining us and to be with all of you today. For those of you that are new to Women in ERP, this is a show that Sarah Scudder from SourceDay and I host the first Tuesday of each month to bring women together in our industry to talk about what really happens in the world of ERPs. Hey Sneha, I can see that Sneha just joined us, so that’s great to see. I’m Kris Harrington, the CEO of GenAlpha Technologies and today’s show host. I’ve spent the last many years working for and with industrial manufacturers, leveraging the ERP system to deliver better business outcomes, and I really just love learning from all of these conversations. I’m joined by some amazing women today: Lori, Marina, and maybe we might have Dana joining us. It looks like there’s a little bit of technical difficulty, but if she jumps in, we’re going to bring her on as well. I want to thank you, ladies, for being here with us today. These women have some awesome stories, they’ve got great experiences, and they are going to share their knowledge with us today. Before we get into our conversation, I want to send a big shout out to our sponsors: SourceDay, WBSrocks, GenAlpha Technologies. Thankful. I also want to ask you to engage with us in the comments throughout the show and post your questions anytime. Please say hello and let us know where you are joining us from. With that, let’s get started with our first question, and this question is going to be for all of you.
I’m going to start with you, Lori, today. But what is your earliest memory of working with an ERP system? What was the role? What surprised you? What did you realize you needed to learn? That’s such a great question. It’s actually going to date myself, but I would say my earliest working memory was with AS400, which is an IBM system. It actually has an OS 400 operating system, but I use this in one of my early roles as a supply chain planner. I worked for a major manufacturer in the heavy truck industry. So, as such, this manufacturer had highly complex assemblies, axle suspension components. So obviously, inventory planning with this tool was quite crucial. But even early in my career of AS400, the IBM AS400 was really created to be flexible with the business. So when you ask kind of what surprised me, I would say it drives immediate transparency through the business. So as your business ebbs and flows, or if your organization has seasonality impacts or effects throughout the year, really there must be a process or a trigger or commitment by the business to update some of those things properly. So, for example, the planning parameters that are set, lot size horizons, lead times that vacillate every month or quarter from suppliers, the vital information that’s in the item master, all of these are meant to move with your business, and all these settings that are established for both purchase goods and manufactured goods to properly flow through the system. It’s important to know that they’re not one and done or not set and forget, you know, they need updated whether that’s quarterly or what have you, as the business grows, matures, or even if it contracts a bit. So again, having the processes, the triggers within your business set up and the planning parameters are key. What I learned, I learned a ton with using AS400 early on, but as I stated, this system when, and all ERP systems really need to work for you and the business. While that sounds super obvious, I think a lot of us, both of you on this call, have seen where it’s been the opposite. I’ve done some consulting over the years and seen where companies have selected an ERP system for their business and instead of gaining those efficiencies after implementation, it can become more cumbersome to maintain for various reasons. So I think on the whole, most of us have seen the power of an ERP system when it works well, when that work up front happens during implementation, before implementation, during implementation, which we’ll talk about a little bit through this call, I’m sure, but then also after it’s implemented, really having those business processes to support your business changes. Yeah, love that. You know, it’s amazing when we reflect on those early first experiences with an ERP system, right? So just great information there on all the different things that you learned.
Marina, I was going to turn to you next. Can you please share your experience?
Absolutely. One of my first experiences working in ERP was a system called Cost Point Delta. It was a black screen DOS space. Now looking back on it, probably just an archaic type of system, and I can’t actually believe that I could get information out of it. I was the purchasing manager at Chicken of the Sea. So what we did is reload the entire recipe of all the ingredients that would go into your can of tuna, including the label, the can, and the carton that it went into, and create what we would call a recipe at the time. Actually, that is how the Amer in American Samoa, the floor the factory, would make the product. Which these days they’re probably—I’m kind of amazed that it actually happened, but it definitely was a great way to get a real look into an ERP system. You could see exactly what we were short on, what we were building at the time. And the key with that system, it had to be very, I’d say, correct because I was shipping containers of ingredients to American Samoa, and that would only happen twice a month. So if my ERP system, if there wasn’t something loaded correctly or we were pulling too much inventory or we had an issue where we had damaged material or, you know, an item didn’t get there in time, we could put an entire factory down. The importance of the ERP getting what’s in there correct, making sure that you’re not putting junk in because you would be getting junk out. And then I can’t even believe I could run reports out of a system like that. Based on, you know, our current systems like PeopleSoft and Coupa today, seemed like a touch of the finger versus what I was using in the past that you had to extract the data from. But it definitely was a learning experience. I spent a lot of time in American Samoa and actually watching your can of tuna being made, so that was always interesting. And I thought we were, you know, top of the line as far as technology at that time, but literally did I know there was so much more coming than I could even imagine at the time. Right? I mean, you would never have thought that we could be at the level that we’re at now with our ERP systems back then. It seems like—I honestly couldn’t imagine a system as great as what we have right now in a lot of the systems that we’re running.
Yeah, I think it’s incredible as well. I find it interesting because your stories sound so sophisticated as compared to my early story, and I know I’ve shared portions of this on other times that I’ve hosted. But I came right out of university, and I was hired as a financial analyst for a manufacturer, and I remember the first day on the job, they just kept telling me that I would be running reports out of this ERP system. So they kept saying ERP and they kept saying Bond, and I really had no idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know what ERP was, I didn’t know what Bond was, I felt like they were talking in a foreign language. I had just left, you know, Marquette University, spent all of this money, and I was like, ‘I’m coming into this role, and I don’t even know what they’re talking about.’ So I can remember in those early days, I was—I just finally had to say, ‘I’m sorry, what are we talking about here?’ And they had to actually explain to me, ‘Oh, this is the back-end system, it’s where we store all of our information.’ And then, of course, when I started running reports out of that and getting all of that information, if I, I kind of took off from there. But it took me a while to at least understand what were we even talking about.
It looks like Dana has joined us. I’m going to add her to the stream here. Hi Dana, how are you today? Can you hear us okay?
I’m fine, thank you. I had some connectivity issues, so I am on my headset on my phone. So I apologize.
No problem. We are live, and we’re still on the first question here. And actually, you’re up if you’d like to go. Your earliest memory of working with an ERP system, you know, what was your role, what did you learn, what surprised you, anything related to that?
All right, so can you hear us okay? Dana looks like she’s still having some issues, so I’m gonna go ahead and remove her just to make sure that we’re okay, and we’ll jump to the second question. And if we’re able to bring her on, we will bring her back. Second question, you all have backgrounds in sourcing and procurement. Can you share with us your best recommendations for efficiently utilizing the ERP for sourcing activities? And I think this will be really interesting for people listening today. You know, the thing that you teach everyone first or the thing that took you the longest to learn and now you can’t live without. So, Marina, I’ll start with you on that one.
Sure thing. One thing I learned very early on in ERP and working with an ERP system is if you put crud in it, you’re going to get crud out of it. And when you are building an effective ERP system, you need to sit back and think about what you actually want it to do. So, do you know what kind of reporting you want from it, what kind of tools you want to be able to utilize in it, and then go move forward in that direction with a big picture mentality? I think one of the keys is to take the time to look at the data, what you’re actually inputting in and then what you’re getting out. And I’ve had experience where we kept running out of inventory on a product. The ERP system was correctly triggering the right amounts of items to procure, but for some reason, we had a shortage. And in order to get to the root cause of the shortage, I had to do some leg work and see exactly what was going on on the manufacturing floor. So sometimes you have to actually look outside of the ERP system to see what is driving any kind of error. We were running out of olive oil on a regular basis, and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. We were buying the right amount, the ERP system was telling us what to get and how much was being used, but for some reason, there was a constant shortage. And so after a few weeks of actually looking at the system, sitting down on the floor, and watching the build, I realized that they were putting in probably about six or seven ounces more than what the ERP system called in the recipe and inside the can. And so therefore, you’re short. But the ERP system couldn’t tell me that because it was a manually driven process. So sometimes the ERP is definitely your backbone in which you are using to facilitate your manufacturing, but you also have to look at the external drivers for the ERP system. I’ve done implementations of ERP systems where the stakeholders were not the actual stakeholders we should have been looking at. So management and upper management were telling us what they wanted to see and implement it in the ERP system, but the ERP system actually uses the data processors were never interviewed. And so once we finalize and went ahead and went live, what we were getting out of that ERP system wasn’t actually what the day-to-day user needed. So I really think an ERP system needs to not only be viewed as a tool, but you also have to realize that the tool can’t do everything. So if you don’t put in the information you need, if you don’t do the thought process of thinking about what you need the system to give you, it’ll be pretty much a box of rocks. I mean, it won’t give you what you need to its full capabilities for sure.
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. We’ve talked so many times with different people on this show and certainly, you know, the garbage in garbage out that you mentioned is something that, you know, we hear people talk about how important it is to have the right information go in the system. And then, as part of that, it’s not a system just for leadership, right? You need to have the entire team involved in setting up the ERP system to get the best automation and usage of the tool that you’ve invested in. You’ve got to have the voices of all the people. So I think you’re bringing up something really important points there for sure.
Lori, what do you think?
The other thing I was going to add on, Marina, that you brought up a really good point. I kind of spoke about which so I spoke about in the last question, the having the triggers or the process in place to make changes to the system. So I really love that example because you noticed an outlier for a particular component or ingredient, if you will, and then you were able to isolate what the issue is. So whether and that using your example, the correct measurement wasn’t set up initially the right way or if during the evolution of production, if you will, if there was a change request or something. So I was just my other point was going to be to add on to Marina’s point was about managing change through the organization and making sure again going back to that garbage in garbage out, whether that’s your bill of material, the integrity of your bills and material, and making sure that those are updated appropriately when there’s changes within the business. But to answer your question, Kris, I would like to speak a little bit about, you know, things we can’t live without. I’ll, I’ll, I guess I’ll attack that angle with ERP. It becomes super valuable for, you know, obviously cost tracking is huge in the sourcing area, making sure that we manage our purchase price variants effectively. So I would say initially, like procurement automation and then overall cost tracking go with your purchase planning. You know, giving, getting that visibility into the cost through the system and the inventory which will help with your, you know, purchase planning, whether it’s a one-time buy, seasonal needs, or recurring purchases. The requisitioning capabilities, so when you go through the RFP process, then you can look ERP can leverage that RFP process and store quotes and help you, you know, get the most optimized solution, if you will, for your situation. And then kind of the third thing under under that category, I would say is just in general, sourcing procurement can leverage that log into ERP, they can look at what their past buying behavior has been compared to what their, you know, current state is. So like ERP can do the math and compare the quotes and help manage that overall cost piece of it in, in potential variance.
Yeah, the second piece I would I would like to illuminate when we talk about can’t live without is the ability for the system to then notice I’m talking now about contract management or long-term agreements, which in our business, I work in manufacturing, and so we have a lot of long-term agreements with our top and some of our core suppliers. So just, you know, getting that automated proactive trigger, again set up by the parameters that you’ve established, whether that’s 30 days, 60 days, six months, or whatever ahead of time notice that contracts are expiring, which can help you, you know, plan your work and make sure you have that continuity supply and that relationship with that supplier partner. And then kind of the last thing I would say, which this is actually my favorite, I should have led with this, is the ability to really take supplier performance to the next level through, you know, tracking their on-time delivery versus lead time, their actual delivery versus lead time for your top and core suppliers and the output of that would be a supplier scorecard. So your purchase price variance for that supplier, your on-time delivery, and of course, any quality infractions that they have. So leveraging ERP for that to, you know, better manage your supply base as well. So those are kind of my three things that I think it really helps, you know, change the game on.
Yeah, I mean those are great, and I think they’re needed by everybody that wants to run an efficient purchasing department, right? Purchasing, sourcing, and then as it flows into the warehouse and even your ability to deliver according to what you’ve promised customers. So often our promise dates are backed in according to the dates we’re getting from our vendors and holding them accountable through a supplier score card, I think, is really critical and kind of pulling out some of that data. I remember when I was in a past life, I was a product manager and I loved understanding that there was a purchase price variance because our company hit a lot of dollars in PPV. So when I understood because I had to be competitive on pricing with the products, but when I understood that our purchase price variance was that we were making additional margin on the PPV, I was like, wait a minute, we need to manage this a little bit better. It’s important that it’s in the right direction, but at the same time, I have to have the right margin targets, and I want to maximize our market potential. So sometimes you, you know, for anybody that’s out there that doesn’t know about purchase price variance or PPV, it’s always something interesting. If you’re a product manager, make sure you’re talking to your purchasing department and understand what that is, how it’s calculated, how often is it calculated, what direction is it moving in. I think that’s a really good one. I haven’t heard that come up too often in this call, so great.
Kris, the other thing I, the other thing I would say is certainly the last two years, purchase price variance has unfortunately gone the opposite way in a lot of organizations. You know, you talked about it being in your example, but the last two years have managing variance has been almost a full-time job in itself.
So yeah, yeah, great point, great point, Marina. Were you going to say something as well?
Yes, I think one of the newest tools I’ve seen in a lot of ERP systems, which when I started was not even part of the process, is the sourcing tool being able to take your competitive bid and take it all the way from award to contract and then manage that contract to the point where when it expires, you can go ahead and roll that into a new competitive bid. So that’s one of the things that I’ve seen in a lot of systems like Jagger and Coupa that were not there 10 years ago, 15 years ago. You had to do your sourcing kind of as a separate module, and now everything is in one, which I think is fantastic.
Yeah, what a great point. I’m not even sure that I was aware that there were systems out there that were automating that for you, so that’s very interesting. And I think it goes back to Lori’s point as well about having those dates in your system so that it triggers the activity to, in this case, you’re talking about a competitive bid, right? But you would hate to have something expire and then you’re past a point and now you’ve got demand for something and really your vendor has the leverage then. So you want to be ahead of those things for sure. Great stuff.
Alright, let’s move on to the next question and talk about what’s… What are the most important KPIs you are using today? They can be KPIs that are calculated from your ERP or it comes from data that comes out of the ERP, the ERP, and then you calculate something. What are the most useful metrics that you have? And Lori, why don’t we start back with you again?
Yeah, so certainly the evolution of procurement has really gone into, or you know, buying is not anymore a transactional source-buy-pay, you know, there are so many layers to it today. It’s really, you know, that piece of the business really plays an important role in the overall business that you play in. So obviously the KPIs for all functions are important, but the essential ones for procurement, again hitting on cost: purchase price variance, cost reductions, they go hand in hand, right? Managing that variation variance based on the standards that are set annually and then projects that drive cost reductions, whether that’s through contractual levers, if you will, or through changing suppliers if you need to, make versus buy or leveraging increased business with a particular supplier, maybe you have new product development that’s going to add to the portfolio, those types of things which will drive potential cost reductions that could be returned. So certainly variance and cost management like we spoke about. The other one we also spoke about is supply relationship management. Most sourcing and procurement teams are 100 percent responsible for the performance of their supplier. So again, that quality, cost, delivery, API, as well as availability. So monitoring what the existing lead time is, and much like I spoke at the beginning of the call, you know, business cycles ebb and flow, and again, we saw a lot of changes in supplier throughput and overall lead times in the last few years as well, you know, whether that be because of COVID and workforce being impacted one way or the other, or the supply chain challenges we have that have driven a larger lead time, of course, just depending on where your supplier is located. But throughput and supply chain constraints have certainly been impacted the last couple of years, so managing and monitoring lead time and its deviation, if you will, is an important KPI. So those are the three main ones that are critical to my space. Great.
What do you think, Marina? Any different ones or things that you want to add, or something to build on top of Lori’s? Definitely the same as Lori’s, but also I was thinking that one of the big changes I’ve seen with the ERP improvements is kind of my customer internal satisfaction. So, their ability to kind of look at supplier usage, the data that I can give them, just that overall customer experience. With every improvement within the ERP system, I see kind of an improvement in internal customer satisfaction. Me being able to give them more reporting, me being able to have that interaction with them in the system, automating things like requisitions and allowing that to turn into either a strategic sourcing buy or just a purchase order, the reviews of them being able to see contracts. I’ve seen as a great tool for that end user, being able to know when their contracts expire, seeing the details. I definitely think that overall customer experience is a big one. And then also, the ability to schedule, knowing something as far as how many inventory turns, what you actually have in inventory is another big one. Every time I see a new rollout or a new module in our ERP system, I see things that not only improve my overall job but also the jobs of my co-workers, even those not in our same department. So, my experience is also improved with every betterment of an ERP system and the productivity of your business. An ERP system can bring so much productivity that you never even could imagine being out there for your overall business: demand forecasting, margins on your projects. It can give you details and then history, so there’s not so much paper anymore, there’s more electronic files on your computer. You can keep everything, all that data within an ERP system, which I think is fantastic. Your strategic sourcing events, your contracts, all your evaluations, everything can be now stored in an ERP system. And when I worked in Cost Point Delta, nothing like that was even capable. So, those kind of KPIs as far as our revenue and growth can be projected through your ERP system, your inventory turns, your scheduling activities, and then also all the demand forecasting is a wonderful tool for an ERP system. And then also, everything Lori said.
Yeah, no, I love it. I love talking KPIs because I think you know, obviously, we’ve got to measure things in order to improve things. I can tell you back in my sales day, quote-to-order hit rate, that’s what we called it, was a really important metric for us. It helped us understand if maybe we had a price problem, an inventory problem, you know, if people would come and just order things from us and not ever quote, that meant there was a high demand and people came to us for that. So, we had an opportunity, especially if it was something that was already on the shelf for us and turning, potentially we could raise the price for something like that. If we were having a lot of quotes and we weren’t getting orders, then we had to review how often it is on hand when we’re getting those requests for quotes, maybe we adjusted our inventory levels. If we had inventory, they were quoting and still not ordering, then maybe we had a price issue and we needed to understand better how we could be more competitive to make that part turn. I do remember quote-to-order being something and today in the digital environment, it’s kind of search-to-order, right? So often, they’re not quoting anymore, they’re searching from your website through your search tool and ordering. So, you have to pull some different metrics together from your website analytics and your ordering analytics to identify that. But that’s the kind of stuff I love. I love getting into these KPIs, for sure.
Yeah, there are a few people who joined us here. I’m just going to pop up on the screen. So, Stephanie’s here, and she was excited for this to get kicked off. We also had Sneha who said hello from California. Sonia is here from Canada, Toronto, Canada. And then we have Dee from Atlanta. So, welcome, ladies. We’re so glad you’re with us. And also, we had Sneha who had an interesting comment here. I’ll just pop it up on the screen. You know, she recently met a company that went from a pretty older version of an ERP to SAP, and she said, ‘Now, that was a big jump, and it’s been eight months, they’re still not done integrating.’ So important to know your why when looking for an ERP and which ERP do you really need. Just because NetSuite, SAP, and Dynamics exist and are well-known names, doesn’t mean they are right for every business model. It costs money, time, and upskilling for any digital transformation. So, doing pre-work homework is super critical. So, I think a great comment here from Sneha. Any comments from you two ladies on that?
I definitely think she’s on point. Doing your homework, interviewing everybody from the bottom up. I’ve seen a lot, and we’re going to go into this with your next question, but I’ve seen a lot of ERP implementations where you have upper management pushing for an unrealistic timeline to implement and go live, and that tends to give you the inability to do your research, to interview the people who are actually doing the job, because they’re so rushed on trying to get the system implemented and do the testing. So, you’re not looking at what the system is actually doing for you. Definitely, the drive I see from management is, ‘I heard that the system was great, it’s the one that’s on the news, or the one that other companies are working with.’ I’ve seen municipalities and state entities implement a system that would not fit them, but because of the name brand, they went with it when it was much more tailored to a private industry instead of a government-type of industry. And thus, you had modules that were not available, did not help with what we needed, and it wasn’t researched thoroughly when there was something else out there that would have been a much better fit.
Mm-hmm, great points. Anything to add there, Lori?
Agreed, yeah. Kris, I do. I agree with the comment that was sent in. Setting clear expectations on what your business needs, just to mirror what Marina said, is so key. Because it isn’t a one-size-fits-all. There are some offerings that have strengths in one area of the business and others that have strengths in other areas of the business. So, it’s so key to get clear before you really start that vetting process on what success looks like, what your must-haves are, what your nice-to-haves are, and the outcomes, and making sure all levels of the organization are clear on that and agree on that before taking the next step forward. So yeah, yeah. I would definitely agree with everything you ladies shared, and great comments now. Great for discussion as well.
You know, we often like to say with any technology that you’re thinking about, make sure you ask the question: What problem are we trying to solve? Obviously, most businesses today are doing something or they’re in some system, and if you’re going to move, in this case, she’s talking about an old version to a new SAP version, and you know, in that transformation, what problem are you trying to solve? I love the idea of the must-haves and the nice-to-haves because if you’re on an old system and you need to go to a new system for a reason, make sure those reasons are really clear and everybody understands them, and validate that the new system is going to give you that future state that you’re really looking for. So love all the comments. Let’s go ahead and move to our next question. I understand both of you have been through ERP launches and ERP implementations, so I think Sneha’s comment is a really good one in here. But what was the most important lesson you learned going through a new ERP launch or new implementation process, and what advice would you give to our audience who may be a part of this process in their future? And Marina, I’m going to start with this one. Wonderful.
So, to actually hit on the comment that was made, is the research. I definitely think when I was doing an implementation for a city I worked for, it was a rush process. They didn’t take the time, and looking back on it, the most important things I learned are: do the research, go and talk to other customers of the vendor that you’re procuring the ERP system. See what they have, see what they were implementing it for. Is it on the same line of what you’re going to be using it for? Do that back-end research, talk to the people that are actually using the system at other cities. At the time, it’s one of the things that we should have definitely done. And then do the research again with the people who are actually going to be using the system on a day-to-day. And not only just the management who is looking at it from a reporting level, but will this work as a tool on a daily basis for the needs of the company or the entity that you’re working with? A lot of times, I’ve seen, almost every time I think I’ve done an ERP implementation, it’s always been rushed. It’s never taken the opportunity. I think there was some front-end research done by maybe a higher up executive level, the conversations with sales were usually done at a higher level than the actual people that were using the system on a daily basis, and then the decision was made without involving those people that were actually your key stakeholders of the ERP system. There’s a lot of systems out there; they have a lot of capabilities, but there’s also a lot of systems that don’t have the capabilities for every business, and I think you need to really talk to other companies, talk to other users of the software, and make sure that you’re going to be getting a system that’s going to work for your entity and not just an out-of-the-box because it’s a name brand, just like she said. So, I think one of the keys I learned is: do the research.
Excellent, thank you. Lori, what do you think?
I think, Marina, you brought up some really good points. I think there’s a lot of merit in checking with other companies that have undergone an implementation with that brand, and see what went right, what went wrong, what did they learn, anything they can share from that that is going to be highly valuable. So, we talked a lot about planning, you know, what does success look like before you embark on it, what are you trying to solve, which I love that, Kris, but don’t underestimate the overall implementation process. You know, it could be fraught with some resistance to change, even though initially people were on board to do that. You might, you know, gain more knowledge, like I stated, but then you’re going to have more insight into what the next set of risks are and how would we manage through those. So initially, you’re going to have a full risk review plan, but then make sure that’s part of the implementation process as you get wiser during that. So maybe that’s regular check-ins along the way. I think we would all agree that making sure that stakeholder commitment is there at all levels, just emphasizing at all levels, because sometimes you get an excited C-suite group. Sometimes the push for change becomes organic through the folks in the working levels throughout the organization. But it’s so important that once you kick off and agree that that support is from the top down, not only from a strategic commitment to that organization, but of course the financial piece of it. And Marina touched on that. Sometimes there’s misalignment on the timing, so you know there should be a clear understanding going into it with eyes wide open on what the timing is going to be for key milestones and the actual implementation itself to be completed. Another thing I would say is, and this is a little bit more in the details, but I have an issue tracker because again, just like risks will evolve during the implementation process, make sure that you’re monitoring, acknowledging, tracking what those issues are so that you can work with your supplier partner to remedy those going forward. Because again, there might be things that you plan for upfront that you’ll have to account for, and then things are going to pop up along the way that you’ll learn about during the process. So making sure you’re capturing those. And then also, we spoke earlier in the call about change management, and just as it relates to ERP, will change management change will happen during an implementation. So again, you’ll plan for it on the front side. When it does happen, what is our process to triage it, execute it, and what have you. So, planning for that upfront so that along the way, those surprises are driven less strain through the implementation. The last thing I would say is having some funds set aside because part of the business case, you’re going to have an overall cost to implement, but there’s going to be pop-ups along the way where you’re going to need contingency funds. So maybe planning for that ahead of time so there’s maybe it’ll ease the explaining when it happens.
Yeah, yeah, those are just some things top of mind I would offer up as advice. Yeah, wonderful both of you, you know, very, very good, and Fred Richards, thank you for being here. He said issue tracker, love it. I was thinking the same thing when you mentioned the issue tracker. I think that’s so critical, you know, when you’re going through, again, any technology change or even any change management, as things come up, make sure you’re putting that in a place that people have visibility so it doesn’t get lost. And it does, you know, you come back and correct it. Something else that Fred gave us was a quote from John Gleason at PNG that says rewards drive behavior, and I think that’s really critical as well. It’s a great reminder to everybody, you know, when you’re going through a new ERP implementation, what can be some of the rewards at a team level or at the entire company level that you can be shooting for, that will guide people, that will unite people, that will give a vision for where you’re headed. And, you know, maybe it’s milestones, maybe it’s different things along the way, but, you know, what are the rewards for achieving those, and are they things that can help you with that timeline? But I love the idea as well about having contingency funds. I know most companies aren’t going to want to hear that, but anybody who’s been through an implementation before is gonna know that this often comes up. I don’t know very many ERP implementations, and I’m not an ERP implementer, so I can say this, but, you know, I don’t know how many have achieved the timeline within the original budget, and I think we’re all aware of that. I think that’s why so many companies fear making these changes, even though they’re necessary to get to the Future State, especially in this new digital world. So, you know, it’s necessary, but taking lessons here, I think applying some of this feedback that you guys have just provided with your knowledge and your experience and your understanding is excellent. So thank you for that. To anybody, go ahead.
One thing I just wanted to piggyback off of your comment, based off the submitted viewer comment, was it is, I think, it’s so important to celebrate. A lot of companies will wait till the end or what have you, but I really think it’s important to build in those milestone acknowledgments because it really helps people, because it’s a journey. It is a journey, it can be an arduous one, and as you’re building those in, you can at least say, ‘Yep, we still have, you know, eighty percent to go, but I’m gonna turn around and look at the back of what we’ve just completed,’ and that really serves, keeps people focused, because otherwise, if they know, ‘Hey, I’m on this 18-month journey or what have you, 12 months,’ it can just be, you know, people will lose focus, they’ll lose energy, it’s not sustainable. So, really building those in, I think, is key. So, great point.
Yeah, yeah, the grind is real, right? So celebrating along the way, most people are getting through a new ERP system while they’re also maintaining their day job, most all of us have been through that process, and a little celebration along the way does not hurt, and it can really unite the team and make it an enjoyable experience in the end. So, Marina, any last thoughts from you before I close this out today?
No, I definitely think that with any ERP system, it’s a great tool. Just make sure that you are utilizing it for its full functionality, which means that you need to be careful of what data you’re putting into it to begin with, and then also who’s maintaining that data is another big aspect with an ERP system. But I definitely don’t think I could live without one. I would agree with that, and it is interesting how just saying ERP and having a conversation with people can really unite you right away. So, I think we would probably all agree that we don’t want to live without one, but yeah, it takes work, and the more enjoyable we can make the work and the easier we make the process, the better off we all are. So, thank you, ladies, for being here. We’ve come to the end of our show. I want to, of course, say thank you to anybody that has attended in our audience today, and for those of you that have commented, excellent. Our next show will be March 7th at 1 pm Eastern, and my lovely co-host, Sarah Scudder, will be the host of that show. So please join us again in March and have a great rest of the month, everyone.