Women in ERP – July 2022
Patricia Bennett, Erin Carroll, Kayley Bell and Annabel Briquet
Alright, hello everyone! Welcome to our Women in ERP show. Happy Fourth of July week for everyone joining in the United States. Hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day celebration. For those of you new to Women in ERP, this is a show Sarah Scudder from SourceDay and I host the first Tuesday of each month to bring together women in our industry to talk about what really happens in the world of ERPs. Our initiative aims to bring together, educate, and empower women involved with ERP systems. The main theme of this series is to highlight the contributions of women, create social awareness to enhance women’s representation in ERP teams, and highlight their stories.
I’m Kris Harrington, President of GenAlpha Technologies, and today’s show host. I’ve spent the last 20 years working for and with industrial manufacturers, leveraging the ERP system to deliver better business outcomes. So, I’m intimately familiar with all that can go right and all that can go wrong when utilizing an ERP system to manage different business functions.
I’m joined by Patricia, Erin, Kayley, and Annabel. They have a wide range of ERP experience, and I’ve asked them to share their wisdom and stories with us today. To kick off our show, I want to send a big shout out to our sponsors: SourceDay, WBSRocks, and GenAlpha Technologies. I also want to ask you to please put in the comments where in the world you are joining us from and tell us the current ERP system or systems you are working with. Don’t be shy; please engage with us in the comments throughout the show and post your questions anytime.
So Patricia, I’m going to start with you. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and share one fun fact about you?
Absolutely, thank you so much for having me. So, my name is Patricia Bennett, and I’m the Founder and CEO of PC Bennett Solutions. This is our 20th year in business. We started as a small business financial, which was a little product that Microsoft had just purchased called Great Plains. They took Great Plains, trimmed down some of the functionality, and called it Small Business Financials. I thought that, while being a stay-at-home mom, I could do it all and started a new business. Because it was a small product, I could definitely do it when the baby was asleep. That’s how PC Bennett got started. We then started representing Great Plains and Microsoft CRM. In 2010, I found Acumatica Cloud ERP, fell in love with the product and the people, and added Acumatica to our product line. In 2014, I sold the Microsoft practice and became 100 percent Acumatica. And that’s where we are today.
Wonderful! And a fun thing… Let’s see, I am from Colombia in South America, and I used to belong to the equestrian team for Colombia and represented Colombia in jumping.
That’s great! Are you still involved with equestrian anything today? I would love to, but I don’t want to do it part-time, and I don’t have enough time.
So, that’s been a really fun thing that I started in October of last year. I was getting really bored with the pandemic and really frustrated with the kind of pool of candidates I was getting in terms of hiring for operations. That was a thing that I started, and it got me connected here with you, Kris. I’m excited to really kind of jump into it with you ladies.
Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you, and I will definitely plug Leading Like Her. It’s a great podcast. I encourage everyone to listen. So, Erin, tell us, how do you use ERP as a plant manager today?
Yeah, so as you grow within a company, the use of your ERP system changes, and especially as you kind of get higher up, you get a lot more into the reporting, a lot more into the financials, and a lot more into the overall business system, as opposed to those transactional type executions that you would do on the shop floor as a supervisor. So, for me as a plant manager, I get in the morning and I’m going to run reports. I’m going to run, you know, how many widgets did we process the day before? What labor did we use? Any overtime we used? And kind of get a real general feel for how my manufacturing system is running and therefore can make decisions about today, tomorrow, and the following weeks, and think a lot more strategically in that way.
And you know, as a plant manager, the site is mine. I have that responsibility for the overall execution of the business plan at my site. And so, the ERP system that we use has to be catered to what I need to report out to both my employees that work for me as well as my leadership. And so, it’s an interesting dynamic as a PM because there’s… you’re almost like a funnel, right? You know, you’ve got the corporate folks that all use ERP in a completely different way than the site does. And then you have the site below you that needs to know and understand very specific metrics for success on their side as well.
And those two things can look very, very different on a day-to-day basis. And so, it’s been an interesting challenge to make sure that the reporting all looks the way that it needs to look to make sure that all metrics are hit across all different levels. And it’s a really fun problem, and it’s a really interesting project, especially moving now from a Seattle branch into an Indianapolis branch. It’s a whole different set of people, it’s a whole different set of dynamics, and it’s a different business model. And so, I’m going through right now and making sure that the ERP system that we have in place actually works for them the way the business needs to function.
Oh, I just love you sharing your experience because I think there are… well, first, for sure, you’re the first plant manager that we’ve ever had on the show. And I do think it’s really important that we remember that there are all different business areas that are using the ERP, and it has to be useful for everyone. So, you bringing that experience to the show is just awesome. Thank you.
Alright, Kayley, we are gonna move to you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and one fun fact about you, please?
Absolutely. So, Kayley Bell, I’m the CEO of DSD Business Systems, and we sell and customize ERP systems, similar to Patricia. And we have been in business for 38 years, so we have been doing this a long time. I have been here for the past 18 years, and even though we’re headquartered in San Diego, our company serves businesses nationwide. There’s a saying that I wanted to say that is, “You don’t get into ERP, ERP finds you.” And I actually went to school for electrical engineering, and after I made my first elevator controller, I said, “This is really boring, and I don’t like this.”
So, internet here—I’ll date myself—the internet was born when I was in college, and so I moved to a more computer science background and started as a web programmer, but then got on the business side of things. I started doing accounting, and then I said, “Well, how do I marry business and technology?” And so came to DSD. So, a fun fact about me is if you are lost in the mountains or deserts, for me around California, but I volunteer for mountain rescue. So often people think that we’re paid when you see us on TV, but we are all volunteers.
That’s awesome. Well, thank you for your service because I think for those of us that can get lost in the woods or in the mountains, we really appreciate knowing that you’re there. And I like your saying that ERP finds you because I think everybody that I’ve met would probably agree with that. We never sought out ERP; it just kind of finds you. So, oh, what a great saying.
So, Kayley, what changes in your business made you realize you needed a different ERP?
Sure. So, for us, I’ll say the first is talent. This is pre-pandemic, but the talent pool in San Diego, like I said, we were headquartered there, we were more localized to San Diego, and as we branched out, the talent pool in San Diego, you know, is small. It’s a very specific market. So, we needed to cast a wider net and we needed to be able to not, you know, have just localized systems. We needed to go to a more cloud-based so that we could expand where we find talent.
The other piece was we had too many different systems. So, we had a time and billing system, we had CRM, we had Access databases, we had all of these different pieces that sometimes created double entry and different things. And so, we really needed that one system or one truth place where all of our information is. And then, definitely remote work, you know, the pandemic just made that even more important. But remote work was a big piece and something that people don’t think of sometimes but security as well. Sometimes we feel that having our servers in our offices, etc., is more secure because we’re looking at it and seeing it, but, you know, it’s not the case, and having something more cloud-based is definitely more secure.
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, we’re hearing that more and more often that security is a big reason why people are making a change and looking at alternatives. So, thank you for sharing that experience.
So, Annabel, please tell us a bit about yourself and one fun fact about you.
Alright. So, I’m Annabel. I am currently working as a product owner and responsible for the customer success team at GenAlpha, a digital solution provider. This is a new endeavor for me, well new in the sense from what was done before. I’ve a long time working in manufacturing. Like Kayley said, I drank the ERP Kool-Aid, the magic potion at some point and never left me.
Fun fact… A lot to pick from. When I think something the people that know me would never have guessed that when I was working in Spain, I would go back and forth on a little moped. I’m not adventurous or crazy like that, but for some reason at that time, that’s what I did. I went in front of everybody at the stoplight, and the real… you know, the Italian or the Spanish people, you’ve seen them in their little mopeds. They go crazy in front. Well, I was one of those. So, that was me.
Interesting, helmet or no helmet?
I have to get the picture here in my mind. Yeah. So, I started with a helmet, and then the summer came in, and you’re at 95 or 100, and you’re at the stoplight waiting for the thing to turn green. That’s when you drop the helmet, so you get… you got more comfortable and hot, yeah.
Yes, by the time I got comfortable, then I threw the helmet away. Don’t tell my mom; she’ll go crazy.
Yes, I’m sure. Alright, your question. So, in your opinion, should the ERP drive the business process, or vice versa?
Both. So, an ERP system is a tool and has to be considered as such. A tool is there to support the existing processes, but it’s also there to drive new and improved processes. So, an ERP has many capabilities, and I think from the experience I have, in many cases, users utilize maybe 5, 10, 25% of the capability of an ERP system and never to the full extent. So, when you are using an ERP system, initially when you implement a new solution, it’s in the service of existing processes.
But as you grow and you get to learn that ERP, you can find that there’s new features, there are new fields that could be helping you improve the process, improve the process, improve your analytics, improve your metrics. There’s a lot of things that you can do. The thought is the ERP is a tool and has to be used as such, but it’s also the driver to make change in your processes. Yeah, I really like that. I know that when we go through the process of integrating with an ERP system with our business, oftentimes we ask our customers what is the current process, and even those in the room are very surprised by the current process. And that’s when they also learn that there are alternative ways to utilize the ERP and therefore make people’s job easier. We’re always uncovering these manual workarounds that have been created when it, in fact, they did that to be efficient and effective, thinking they were efficient and effective, not realizing that there was an alternative. So, I really love that point.
Alright, so Patricia, back to you. You specialize in the automotive aftermarket industry, something I just love. Anybody that does aftermarket makes my ears pop up for sure. What would you say to someone who is thinking of focusing on a specific industry?
First of all, I would say getting into an industry that you can get passionate about because probably the most important thing is to be able to immerse yourself into that industry. So, you join the associations that pertain to that industry. You need to be able to start in fully understanding what are the ins and outs of that specific industry.
In my case, in general, all the ERP vendors are kind of pushing the VARs, the value-added resellers, to pick an industry and focus on something like that. So, when I was looking at industries to focus on, I said, “Well, fine, you know, I like speed, then that’s what I’m gonna do.” And I started going to the SEMA show, which is a huge show in Las Vegas specifically for the aftermarket industry. And since then, you know, it’s just I start joining meetings, associations, you know, our marketing is all focused on the automotive aftermarket.
We still sell to other industries. We’re not, you know, but all of our marketing efforts go into the automotive aftermarket. So, if you’re going to start a vertical, immerse yourself in that vertical, and then make sure that your website also is reflective of that vertical. Because that’s, people are now, by the time they come to you, they’ve already done a lot of research online. So, you need to reflect whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. And yes, once you get a couple of customers in that industry, make sure that you build some kind of IP or something that makes you different from everybody else that’s selling the same product as you. So that you can say, “Okay, this is how, in our case, PC Bennett Solutions is different from, say, DSD in the automotive aftermarket, because we have built all these IP that’s specifically for your industry.” And at that point, you know, other vendors cannot compete.
Yeah, great advice. I think finding something you’re passionate about and then, you know, I think in the research we’ve done, over 70% of the research is done online before anybody will contact you. So finding a way to separate yourself is really, really important. So, that’s great.
Erin, back to you. What are the benefits of using an ERP system in a manufacturing environment?
I mean, I’ve only known manufacturing, and I don’t know that I could live without an ERP system. I mean, the benefits are huge. It’s your single source of information, or at least, in a really good functioning company, it will be, right, or at least very close to that. And in manufacturing, when you’re producing something or repairing something, especially in aerospace, you know, traceability is such a huge part of that manufacturing process. And so being able to go from, you know, a raw material and a heat lot and being able to put that into your ERP system all the way to the finished part maintains that traceability through the entire production process.
And with all the audits and all of the quality management that needs to go on, there’s a huge kind of weight off the shoulders that your ERP system can do that for you. And when you look on the financial side of things, you know, again, making something costs money and it’s the labor, the materials, you know, all the overtime, anything that goes into that. And so being able to trace that and track that and measure that and then report it out to someone like me or to the CFO or the financial analyst, things like that, so that we can go ahead and measure productivity and make improvements, all of those things can come out of your ERP system.
And it’s, again, to go back to, I think, what Patricia was saying earlier, maybe it was Kayley, like, no, actually, I think it was Annabel, sorry, Annabel. You know, I think a lot of companies don’t use the full scope of what their ERP system can be. And I’ve seen it even within a company, right, that one site uses their ERP in a different way than another site does, and that’s mind-blowing and also eye-opening. You know, I’ve had these certain reports, I had these certain things within the same ERP system in one area of the business, and then to move to a different area of the business, and those things either aren’t set up or they’re used differently.
So making sure that your whole company or your whole team understands how the ERP system works and how to use it the most effectively and efficiently is a huge, huge deal in manufacturing, especially across multiple sites. And now, you know, post-pandemic, where everyone’s on Zoom and Teams and LinkedIn Lives and things along those lines, there’s really no excuse for anybody to be siloed or have little pockets of information in different areas of the business. And so I really connected with that comment because I was like, you know, I’ve worked for several different companies where it has been like, “Oh my god, like did you know that our SAP system had this module in it that we paid for but we haven’t used for seven years?” You know, we’ve had situations like that in the past. And so, you know, for any type of manufacturing environment, be it aerospace or any other type of manufacturing, if you know and understand the ERP system that you’re using, you’re going to be light years ahead of someone that doesn’t.
Oh, so many great comments there. Traceability, we don’t often talk about the whole quality control process. I love that you brought that up. And then yeah, you know, you’ll be able to share some best practices coming from one site into another site, I’m sure. You’re just going to be uncovering and surfacing some things that you’re going to find that are new that you could teach your old team and then are new that you’re gonna teach the new team. So it’ll be interesting for you, great stuff there.
So, Kayley, what role does ERP play in managing the way your organization operates remotely nationwide? We’ve talked remote a couple times here now, so I think it’s a great question for you.
Sure, so it plays a vital role. You know, when the pandemic hit, we had already changed in 2016 to a cloud-based system that enabled us to do more remote work. But we only had about three people in accounting that weren’t set up to work from anywhere, and our transition was seamless when the pandemic. It was, you know, pretty much I told everybody in March 2020, when they were telling people to stay home, I said if your mental health is being in the office, then come to the office. And if your mental health is staying at home, then I want you to stay home. And about a week into March, we had five people in the office, and everybody else had gone home, which worked perfectly. And we got the last three people that wanted to work at home, and we got them set up. And like I said, it was seamless. We were servicing our customers, you know, next day.
And there were a lot of businesses that didn’t get to do that, and we also had some customers that same thing. We had just moved them to a cloud-based system, and their transition was also seamless. And they were they were kind of doing the, “Whew, glad we made that decision.”
So, like I said, it’s vital. Also, it allows options for employees, because not only can they do remote work, working from home, but they can also move around now. So, whether that’s just being another location, whether that’s choosing where they want to live, that’s a huge, it’s open opportunities for our staff as well. So, lots of things.
Yeah, I think you know, all of us are thinking about that flexibility. I know we are certainly at our organization, and the ability to source talent from other places when you have the flexibility to be remote and know that your team is going to do great work and that they are still fully functional and effective and serving customers and stakeholders, it’s really, it gives you, it opens up your mind to all these new opportunities. And I think that’s true for your employees as well. So, I think, you know, certainly after five years or so of this, we’re all going to come back and say was it good for business, was it good for everybody, was it good for employees, was it good for customers, and we’ll have to answer those questions. But for now, it seems like it’s certainly opening up new opportunities for sure.
Annabel, talk to us about how an ERP implementation can go wrong.
The ugly, let’s talk about what wrong it means, because there are different flavors to it. There is the it’s not at the deadline that we expected. There is the it’s too much money. There is the after go-live, we can’t pay vendors and we had to go back to the previous ERP. So that’s like the, the wrong. And then there is the, well, I thought I was going to be able to do that with this ERP. So there’s a whole bunch of flavors to why it goes wrong. But I would say I would narrow it down to three reasons why it goes wrong.
First, one is you have the wrong expectation of what you’re going to do with your ERP. You are buying modules that don’t fit your process. You’re going to do some module on Erin talked about the SAP stuff that you’ve never used in seven years because it doesn’t fit any of your current activities. So you’re spending money on something that you’re never going to use, and none of your users understand it.
The second thing is having the right people from the core at the beginning, the master users, the different organizations call them different ways, but having the right person, not the political one, not the person that stands the manager, but the one that’s actually days in and days out in the trench, knowing and understanding how their current system works or how their current process works, either way works. And those would be the one that after go-live will be able to explain, train, convey, not only in terms of how their ERP works, like press F1 and then enter, and then these and then magic happens, but actually explain why things are happening in a certain way.
So, for me, setting up and also because they are the user, they’re going to be able to set up the expectation to the rest of their team. No, you’re not going to be able to have these going by itself. There’s still some things that’s going to be required for you to do. Having the right people, establishing the right scope of what’s needed will address the pricing and the deadline on those elements.
I think for everything in business, in manufacturing, having the right person is always the cue, right? It’s not a magic recipe. It’s so evident, but it’s so hard to accomplish. Making the determination of removing a person that is critical to a process today and is going to be moved away from their day-to-day, where we know that they’re a really important part and from a strategic or an organization, to make the decision that person is important but I’m going to take her away and move her to a process that is not easy to do. And I think that’s why a lot of businesses fail to accomplish that. Either they don’t want to take the risk.
So that’s my two cents on it. Is it disrupting? Is it pulling somebody into the ERP team, and that disrupts the way things are working, and their vital information gets missed in the scoping of the project? Is that where you think is the biggest challenge, or what exactly are you referring to when you’re removing somebody?
When an ERP implementation happens, technically there is a choice that needs to be made, say who’s going to be on the team. So each division, say, “Well, I’m going to pick this guy.” And it’s not unusual to say, “Oh, we can’t touch that person. They need to stay where they are because they’re critical.” And I would say that’s the one you want in, and it’s a really hard decision to make to remove somebody that you know that is essential to an organization. But I think even from a motivation standpoint, it brings so many elements by taking that one person that you say, “Oh, this one is it,” and moving it, it brings a lot of things. But it’s difficult to make that decision.
Yeah, I could see how that would be a very challenging decision. I do think if you’re brave enough to make it and bring that person in and they’re involved in the implementation of the ERP, a lot more people will trust it around because they’ll know that person was involved. So yeah, such a great point. Thank you, Annabel.
Alright, Patricia, back to you. What do you like about working in the ERP industry? Talk about an industry where you cannot get bored, because every day is a different thing, you know? For one, every customer is different, even if you’re specializing in a specific industry. Every automotive aftermarket customer does something different. It’s the reflection of somebody’s dream, of somebody thought of a business and then they came up with these crazy ideas and now you’re in there trying to figure it out. I often tell my prospects or customers that implementing a new ERP system in your business is like open-heart surgery for your business, and if we’re the surgeons, we get to see everything about that business, and to me, that’s fascinating. That is absolutely fascinating. So, like Kayley says, ERP finds you. So, I didn’t choose this; unlike I’m gonna go and well, I when I started this event I did, but I was in the ERP industry before I started PC Bennett. And actually, I was working for a company, and I was doing some data entry for them that was still in school and I put all the debits and the credits and the credits and the debits because I was a computer science degree I had no idea what debits and credits were. So, you know, and then once I started working with that, it was like, oh, this is kind of interesting. I kind of like this accounting stuff and then you go from there. But to me, it’s just the diversity of all the different businesses and to get to see what other people come up with. To me, that’s fascinating.
Is there any one single story that you can think of that was your favorite? You don’t have to name them, but the type of industry they were in that made you really curious.
There, we’ve had some customers that are fascinating. Actually, probably the one that I was the most shocked about, there is a company in Western Washington that does laundry service, so they go around restaurants and hospitals and stuff and pick up dirty laundry and then they wash it and send it back. That includes uniforms and all kinds of things and, you know, laundry service, how boring is that? You know, oh my god. You go to their production facility, it’s gigantic, it’s totally automated, it’s amazing how they can keep track of, okay, this belongs to customer one and this belongs to customer two, and it’s fully automated. That, to me, was probably one of the most shocking ones.
On the other hand, we had a customer that built cranes, like the kind of cranes that you put in your garage to lift up your car or something like that, and very manual processes. They have not done an inventory count in like 10 years, and I basically forced them to do an inventory count, and their books were about half a million dollars off. So, stuff like that is like, oh my god, you know? So you go from something that’s totally sophisticated and amazes you to, oh my god, how are these people still in business? You know, but it’s just you see everything. It’s pretty amazing.
Yeah, it’s funny, people that get bored easily, you will not be bored in the ERP industry. I can’t guarantee it.
I think you’re definitely right there. I always tell somebody not to worry, though, nobody’s going to die. But now you’re saying that it’s open-heart surgery, so I have to kind of rethink how I talk about these things.
Well, if you think about it, you’re getting to every corner of that business, every business process, every transaction, every action, and you try to improve upon those processes. So yeah, yeah.
Yeah, and I’m sure that’s the fun of the work, right? Is to help them improve. I’m absolutely confident you’re doing a great job there, so that’s great. Alright, Erin, we’re going to move over back to you. What benefits are there to using a good Manufacturing Execution System or an MES, as many people know, along with an ERP system? So, if you could please tell us about how MES and ERP work together.
Yeah, so a lot of ERP systems have, like, an MES function, at least a few of the ones that I’ve worked with have, and a few of them haven’t. And the ones that haven’t, I have jumped on my chair, on my desk, screaming and yelling until we got one, because, you know, a Manufacturing Execution System is really the nuts and bolts, I guess pun intended because that’s what I used to make of it, of your manufacturing process. Right? So we talk about inventory control, we talk about traceability, we talk about the shop floor. That’s really what your shop floor, your production employees, are using to input data into your ERP system.
And sometimes, and you know, I’ll be the one to say it, sometimes these screens in the ERP systems aren’t the most user-friendly. And when you have a lot of folks of different backgrounds and different levels of the business looking at something, you want to make sure that your user interface is as simplified as possible. And that’s what MES tends to do, is really simplifying your data entry. Because if you put in bad data, you’re not going to get good data out of that, right? The whole “garbage in, garbage out,” or that’s the PC way of putting it, so…
But really, that’s what the MES system allows, is for your production process, your production employees, to really be able to error-proof their data entry, to then link that MES to your ERP, to then make good business decisions. And again, I have worked in ERP systems that didn’t have that, and it makes it just a little bit more challenging to error-proof your data entry. And so, any time that I get in front of a crowd of manufacturing folks, we always kind of start talking about some of those horror stories that everybody has with ERP, right? Of going back to things that go wrong. And a lot of that starts with, you know, someone fat-fingered a 10 when it should have been a 1, or not using scanners and using handheld devices and things like that. And so, it’s, for me, it’s almost not negotiable to have a good MES when you’re producing something, especially at a large volume. Because, again, the quality system, the inventory system, the financial system, all depends on making sure that that data is accurate. So, that’s my soapbox moment for this conversation, is make sure you’re using a really good MES.
Yeah, no, I think it’s so true that I do not think ERPs are intuitive, right? I think you have to be trained to use them, and it’s only with using them for a long time that if you go to another one, do you know how to ask the right questions and get curious and move around? But it’s never that it’s so intuitive, the paths are usually not very clear, especially for a brand new user. So, if MES is improving that, I think that’s a really important feature, especially on the factory floor, right? Absolutely, I wasn’t aware of that, so that’s great. Thank you for sharing that.
Kayley, what level of involvement would you advise other CEOs to have in their ERP process design?
Yes, I think it’s very important for a CEO to be involved. Some people may bite their tongue on this, but, you know, I have that perspective not only, as I said, we sell and customize ERP, and I watch our customers making the transition, but I’m also responsible for the infrastructure here and making sure we’re getting the data that we need. And, you know, our last major ERP transition, I was heavily involved in the overall piece of it. And I think, as Annabel said, I had my project manager doing the project accounting piece, I had my operations manager doing some CRM and inventory pieces, and I kind of headed the financial pieces. And then, we utilized our ERP consultant, but we really owned that implementation. And it was, you know, three months, and we were up and running, and it was seamless.
So I think it’s very important for the CEO to be involved, and they can be more involved in whatever, you know, their strength is. But someone needs to be watching that overall picture that, even sometimes when you’re working with companies like us, we’re focusing on your people. So you can focus on the business, so I think it’s very important.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if I was freezing, but I missed the last part of that. Could you just repeat right at the end there? No, I just said that I think it’s very important for the CEO to be involved.”
“How often does the CEO get involved? You know, you’re suggesting that they do. I’m curious, is it 80 percent of the time or 50 percent of the time or something less? I’m just curious how often they truly are getting involved because the CEOs that I’ve worked for in the past, they have typically said no, that’s for a different team, and they really don’t get involved. So I’m curious.”
“I would agree that it’s probably less than 50 percent, oftentimes, when we’re in a sales cycle, it’s the CEO that definitely derails it. So they got something… Are they not going to be involved? Honest talk here, but, like I said, they can, depending on the size of your company, etc. You know, and they should be involved on some level that makes sense, that they’re watching that overarching because your team is definitely focusing on the different pieces, and so you want to keep that bird’s-eye view. So we really try to pull them in and we do.”
“I think it’s a great idea. I personally believe that they have to be a strong supporter and cheerleader, and everybody has to understand how important it is because they’re setting the example of what it is as a priority for the organization. So, if at least they can come in and do that, I think it helps significantly. So, that’s a great point.”
“Alright, Annabel, what’s your best advice for people who may be working within an ERP system for the first time in their career?”
“Okay, so I have more than one, and I’m going to start with the usual… The usual thing we recommend to anybody that starts in a new position, whether they’re young or not, is ask why. Ask why and ask why multiple times. And, you know, when somebody is showing you, we talk about the fact that an ERP is not something that’s intuitive. So when somebody’s showing you and they say, ‘You enter five, and then you enter five, enter five times,’ because there’s all those pop-ups coming in and you need to pass those, that’s when you need to stop and say, ‘Wait, what are those pop-ups? What do they say? Why are we skipping those, right?’ And this show is about ERP and also about women. Being a woman in an organization surrounded by men, asking why is usually threatening, and it’s not intuitive, and it’s not natural to us, so we usually try to figure it out by ourselves. No, just ask, ask the question ‘why’ and multiple times.”
“The other thing you can do is, ‘Who owns the data?’ Because then it’s a different way of asking the same question, but who populates that piece of information in the ERP? Who’s the owner of that thing? Why is there a drop-down that says this, this, and that? Why? What do those mean? And then you can go to the other department and say, ‘Oh, that’s finance, they own that. Why do they own that?’ Because there are auditors that come in and ask those things. Who owns this? Or, well, that’s engineering because they classify the product in a certain way. Oh, I can use it this way, etc. So asking who owns that piece of data usually is going to give you a whole bunch of information.”
“The second thing I would say is Erin was talking about earlier, measuring in metrics and analytics. Maybe at a high level managers, those reports are necessary to get a pulse on how the business goes and when things go south or are we on track or get a good feel. But when you’re starting, knowing what are the goals of the team, the metrics, what is it that is being measured, usually when you start extracting the data, then you look at things and getting not just, ‘Oh, 25 percent of the things.’ No, give me the data, give me the raw thing so you can get and that’s where you can see the thing. So, the don’t, Patricia was talking about not being fearless, going against, taking risk, and somebody new in your team taking your risk, sometimes just asking, ‘Hey, why is this this way?’ and stopping the conversation about somebody that needs to go through training. Just ask those questions and don’t get stopped by the language.”
“An ERP system has its own language. I, myself, talk Japanese because I’ve learned how to use SAP and I’m fluent in Japanese, well, I think I am. So, don’t get stopped by those terms that you don’t understand. You’re not stupid, you just don’t know the language, and you need to learn it. And in some ERPs, they call it Table 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And in those other ERPs, they call it a different way. You just need to learn that language. Just get to know it, and you won’t know it unless, first, you use it, and second, you ask what that means. So, those are my two points.”
“Great advice. Great, great advice. And I know we have a few minutes here, so I’m gonna ask one question that I know we didn’t plan for, but it’s just really… If you were to leave people with one piece of advice from your career in working with an ERP system, you know, a one-minute answer, I’ll go around one more time and just say, you know, what was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I’ll start. As you guys are thinking about it, but I’ve said it on the show before, but I was, and I think somebody, Annabel, might have said it earlier today, the best advice that I received on day one when I arrived, and I did… I didn’t even know, I just got out of college and I didn’t know what an ERP system was, but somebody told me to use it as a tool. It was the tool that would be in my toolbox for the rest of my career with that employer. And when they did that, it basically opened up for me that there was something new I had to learn and this was the tool that I had to learn if I was going to be successful. So, I always appreciate that somebody told me to use it as a tool.”
Patricia, what would you say is one piece of advice you would leave people with?
Well, I guess all of my advice and all of my questions are guided towards people that may want to start a business in the ERP industry. And if you have that burning desire to start the business, then go for it. Don’t hesitate, just do it. You know, stop trying to figure it out, just go for it. You will not regret it.
Love it. You’ll learn so much, right? So, don’t hesitate to go on, and you know, you’ll have ups and downs, but just keep going, never give up, never give up.
Erin, what do you say, in your role, what’s your favorite advice?
Yeah, I mean, I think this is for anyone in ERP and especially for women, it’s over communicate, you know. Make sure you can’t fix what you don’t know about, right? And so, you know, going back to what Annabel said, be curious, ask those questions, and if you don’t have an answer, go find someone that does and make sure that you know, you’re scratching all those different areas of your business, knowing, you know, knowing that there’s more to learn. And communication is key to any really any level of a business and especially, you know, as you learn and grow and get into leadership, that becomes even more important. So, be curious and make sure you’re communicating.
Great, communicate and be curious. Okay, Kayley, some advice you want to leave people with today?
Absolutely, if you love technology and you love making businesses better, ERP is for you. And we need more women in ERP. Yes!
Annabel, one last piece of advice?
Well, Erin kind of stole the one I was gonna go for, but I’m gonna still repeat it. In an organization, there is always the one that knows the ERP a lot. You need to find it and just shadow and go ask questions to that one. It might not be the person in your department, but usually, the one that really knows the ERP, they know all the features, whether it’s in finance, in warehouse, in production, in quality. They know it, and they could be a good start. The second thing is, you mentioned it, Kris, you know, this is not brain surgery. I know you don’t want to put a 10 in set instead of a one and get 10 pallets delivered to your warehouse when you only want one because then people are gonna ask you things. But take some risk, controlled risk, don’t go crazy, but take a risk controlled, and that’s how you’re gonna learn. Hey, what if I press F4 here? What’s gonna happen? You’re not gonna turn off the ERP, so just try things and see what happens. I learned my best shortcuts by trying things. So, yeah, just be adventurous, don’t fear again, back to that.
Yeah. Well, awesome. You guys are truly the badass women in ERP that we want to bring on the show. Thank you for making this so special. We have come to the end of our show, and I want to extend a special thank you to everyone in the audience for joining us today. Thank you to these fabulous Women in ERP for sharing their wisdom and stories with us. Our next show will be August 2nd at 1 pm Eastern, and my lovely co-host, Sarah Scudder, will be hosting that show. So please join us again in August. Have a wonderful week, everyone. Thank you. Thank you.