Women in ERP – June 2022
Mandy Huff, Allison Ellis, Canda Rozier and Colleen Shea
Welcome to Women in ERP. This is a show with Kris Harrington from GenAlpha Technologies, 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, and it ain’t all pretty. Believe me, I’ve seen some rough things in my career. Our initiative aims to bring together, educate, and empower women involved in 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, voicing their opinions with ERP transformation initiatives. I am Sarah Scudder, CMO 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. Today, I am joined by Colleen today.
So, to kick us off, I’d love to have you tell us where in the world you are joining us from. It’s always fun to see our global audience and share with us something you are most excited about for your week. So, where in the world you’re joining us from and something you are most excited about for this week. Colleen, I’m going to go ahead and have you kick off our introductions. We’d love to have you share a little bit about your personal story and a fun or personal fact.
Love it. Thanks for having me, Sarah. It’s nice to meet everyone virtually. So, I am Colleen Shea, and I am a Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Big Commerce. And those partnerships include all ERP back-office partners. You mentioned where I’m located. I’m in Orange County, California, so on the Pacific coast. Something I’m excited about this week, gosh, my… So, I’m a mother of two. I have a two-year-old and a three-year-old girl, and they just started swim lessons. So, it’s one of those experiences where one’s really good at it, the other one is very reluctant, and I feel like that has a lot of similarity into sometimes ERP projects, right? You have some stakeholders who are excited, they can see the vision, and others are a little reluctant. So, I feel like I’m kind of using my mom cap and ERP cap when it comes to talking her through it and coaching her, because that’s such a huge part of what we do with our clients.
Colleen, I know that you do a lot of work in the e-commerce space, as does my company. We do a lot of work with NetSuite, and they have a large e-commerce system. And you have some experience integrating ERP systems with e-commerce systems. So, I would like to have you start by talking about the benefits of having an integrated ERP and e-commerce system.
Yes, so for some background, I’ve always been on the business development side of ERP and now e-commerce. So, I guess going to answer your question as far as what are the benefits of integrating these two, it’s really simple: the need for speed. If I’m a business owner and I want to empower my teams, that means making them do work that they find value in. So, the last thing anyone wants to do is to be updating information in two separate systems. So, you think of your ERP as the back office and the e-commerce as the front office, and so much of the same data, whether it’s price lists, customer information, inventory, it’s going back and forth, and that flow needs to take place. So, when you have a truly integrated solution, you are remaining profitable as a company, your team members are excited about their work they’re doing because they’re efficient and not working on manual processes. And then, if you look at the end consumer, the person that’s actually buying online, you’re elevating their buying experience because the quicker they submit that order and it gets fulfilled within your ERP, it’s only going to drive higher conversion rates, customer loyalty amongst other value ads. So, I would say those few things, as well as to sum it up, the total cost of ownership is favorable when they’re integrated.
And we’ve got people joining us from all over the world. So fun to see all the different countries and states represented. And we’ve got some people who are excited about planning vacations, looking like they’re going to be visiting France, Spain, and Italy. So again, if you’re just tuning in, please tell us where in the world you’re joining us from and something you are most excited about doing this week.
So next up, Mandy, I would like to have you introduce yourself and share your background. How did you get into this crazy world of procurement and ERP? And I know you’ve got a new role, so maybe talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing, and then share a fun or personal fact about yourself.
Sure, thank you, Sarah. For me, my background, I actually started my career in supply chain. I have been client-facing my entire career, starting in supply chain and managing clients, and then transitioned into more procurement-focused and on the consulting side. So I’ve been on practitioner and on the consulting side for my 20 plus years of experience. I think that a fun kind of interesting fact I know I shared is that I still have a scar from being hit with a can of Pillsbury pop biscuits when I was three months old. That’s a long story to share, but luckily, an eyebrow fills that in. So, that’s that. My new role at Nitor Partners is really allowing to assist our clients and customers with being prepared for transformation. And transformation, obviously, our main focus is around procurement, but holistically looking at it across any technology. We’re technology agnostic and really want to help our clients prepare and kind of avoid those hiccups that I personally and those of us that I’ve worked with across these two decades have experienced.
So, Mandy, I know that you’ve done a lot of work in the implementation space. So, when somebody selects a software, that’s one part of the process, but there’s a huge uplift and change management piece about actually implementing. So, what would you say is the most common misstep in an ERP implementation?
Well, I think you said it right there. It’s the change management aspect. A lot of times when we talk through our process and we’re getting ready to do an implementation, we think change management is something that we do after the fact, after we get everything ready. And I think that change management is vital to start before that. We have to understand what that change is going to be. So, truly understanding the ins and outs of the larger organization and how where we may see it is a project. You know, there’s not… This is a holistic technology project. It’s really going to impact our entire value or supply chain in some way. So, it’s really thinking about change management beforehand and how we’re going to make sure that we’re changing with our organization and fitting all of the things that we’re doing to make sure that we’re aligned to that.
Mandy, do you have a change management story that you could share with us? Sure. So, I had the opportunity to work with a very prominent retailer years ago and spent some time in Bentonville, Arkansas doing so. And we were going through a very significant transformation, and they came to us and said, ‘We’re ready to do this. We are ready to go ahead and go live.’ And what we realized is that they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and neither did we know what they didn’t know. And so, we went live, and everyone started to scramble because at that point, we really were in a place where we were live and we were not prepared. So, that’s why I think when you asked me that first question, it’s so important to think that change management has to happen or an understanding of all of the things that are going to be impacted in the beginning to really know if you are truly ready to go through such a dramatic transformation. And so, that was a big learning for me, is to not make an assumption that when someone says they’re ready, that they’re really ready. So, it’s really doing that due diligence to make sure you’re on the same page. Awesome, Mandy. Well, congrats on your new job, and excited to have you here with us. Thank you.
Canda, my long-time dear friend, so excited to finally have you on our show. We’d love to have you tell us about your background. You have a ton of experience. How did you get into this crazy industry? And would also like to have you share a fun or personal fact about yourself. Okay, well thanks, Sarah, and it’s great to be on the panel with everybody. I’m a former Chief Procurement Officer at multiple global companies. Currently, I’m the founder of Calabra Consulting, which is focused on procurement transformation. In terms of a fun fact, I’ve been to all 50 states and more than 60 countries. So, I guess that’s a fun fact. And in terms of how did I get into the industry, I would say it was not by design, but I sort of meandered into it. I started life as a systems analyst programmer back in the dark ages of mainframes and computer punch tape and all kinds of stuff that nobody even thinks about anymore. And some place along the line, the company that I worked for at the time realized, as I like to tell people, that I could walk, talk, and chew gum all at the same time, which meant that they could put me in front of customers or in front of their technology partners to give presentations. And that sort of morphed into negotiating partnership agreements. And the next thing I knew, at the next company I went to, they asked me and one other person who was an attorney to, quote, leverage the purchasing power of the company and see what we could do to save money. And that’s been gosh over 25 years ago, and I loved it, and it seemed to be the perfect place for me.
Canda, do you remember what was your first ERP project that you worked on? I do. It was an Ariba Implementation when Ariba was still a standalone company. And it was sort of like dragging a horse to water who didn’t know what water was, didn’t think they were thirsty, and really didn’t want to be dragged. And it was quite the experience. Now again, it’s been a long time ago, and certainly I think the approach to implementations has changed, thank heavens, and the ERP landscape has changed in that same time.
So, Canda, you’ve worked on a lot of implementations. What would you say are some of the top things, the key things that are really important to have a successful implementation? We have some first-time listeners, people that are new to the space. Maybe you can provide some guidance and insights, so people have some best practices to think about. Sure, it’s a great question, and I think you’re probably going to hear a lot of the same input echoed from everybody on the panel today. I know that Mandy’s already mentioned one of the things that I think is super critical, and that’s change management. But before you even get to change management, I’d say it’s really evaluating where you are and where you want to go. There’s been, I think, so many solution providers, and a lot of companies likewise naturally gravitate towards, ‘Let’s just automate what we’ve got.’ And there’s not a focus on what is our opportunity to change, and it’s not about the system at that point; it’s about your own processes and policies, and sometimes even organizational structure, and really starting with that and then letting the system be how you support that transformation. So, I think that’s one of the key things. You know, there’s an old saying — well, I’ve heard it my whole life; everybody else on this panel is a lot younger than I am — but it’s, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ And I think that that is sort of one of the things that I would say is almost an adage to live by in an ERP implementation. Don’t just automate what you’ve always done. And then once you’ve really assessed your processes, your policies, what it is you want to achieve, then making sure you’ve underpinned it and probably overarched it with a really, really good change management and with a really, really good communications plan. I think those are some of the key things that I’d list, Sarah.
And, Canda, you mentioned communication plan, and unfortunately, I’ve seen that sometimes be the first thing cut when somebody is looking at budgeting for implementations, and I completely disagree. And I think that it should be prioritized more than other things when somebody’s looking at budgeting for a project. Completely agree with you, Canda. Thank you for being with us today.
Allison, you are up next. Would love to have you introduce yourself, tell us how you got into the world of ERPs, and share a personal or interesting fact about yourself.”
Allison, you’re on mute still. There we go. Thanks for letting me go.
Alright, hey Sarah, thanks for having me and excited about being here and a part of this great panel of women. My name is Allison Ellis. I have been in the ERP world for about 20 years in a variety of different roles. I actually started as an ERP user, hopped over into the implementation world, and then have kind of been on, I will call the sales end of the house for probably the last decade. So, currently, I’m in the sales role and Executive Vice President of sales at Godlan, which focuses on manufacturing transformations leveraging IoT and ERP, specifically in the Infor ecosystem if everybody’s familiar with that. But in terms of interesting facts, I’m based in Greenville, South Carolina. Our big excitement this week is Hamilton, the Broadway show, is in town, so we’re going to get to go to that. So, we’re looking forward to doing some fun stuff there. And you know, the only interesting fact I could come up with is I really hate vacuuming, and so I have an electric leaf blower, and I leverage the electric leaf blower. For some reason, I don’t mind leaf blowing in the house and get all the crumbs and all the stuff in the corner, and then kind of sweep just that little part up. And so it drives my teenagers and husbands crazy because I think I’m nuts, but it’s very effective. Highly recommend it.
Allison, I see a TikTok video in your future. Oh yes, here we go. There we go. I have to get help on how to do that, but there we go.
So, Allison, my question for you is: how do ERP implementations influence corporate culture?
No, I think that’s a really interesting question, and I think where corporate culture is always a hot topic. We’re talking about it all the time within our organization. You know, we have this term that we coined, ‘Beyond the Norm,’ and the concept is: how do we go beyond the norm for our internal employees, for the clients that we’re interacting with? How do we make it a better experience so that then they can go home and make their family lives a better experience, and then go out and make their communities a better experience? So, this ‘Beyond the Norm’ thing is just kind of at the cornerstone of everything that we try to do within, in essence, the Godlan family.
And so, the idea of corporate culture when we’re engaging with clients and helping them through an ERP transformational process, I think really kind of comes down to the basic foundation of why people do ERP transformation projects. And I think at its very core, it’s around communication. So, I love what you were saying about the communication plan, and I think sometimes you can really oversimplify ERP to think about, right, how do we do it in a way that makes it easier to communicate internally and externally, in a way that’s fast, reliable, and relevant. Right? So, how do we work on the communication thread throughout everything that we do to really change the way we treat each other, the way we handle each other, both internally and externally? And so, I think it’s a funny thing to think about, but I think ERP transformation projects are a huge way to enhance, build, or even repair corporate culture.
Thank you, Allison. Glad to have you with us. And sometime we’ll have to get that video shot and posted on LinkedIn.
There we go.
Colleen, question for you now, back to kind of an… I know your world is in the e-commerce space. How has the B2B market impacted e-commerce over the last few years? I know there’s been some pretty significant changes with the rise of COVID and people really pivoting to online ordering.
Yeah, so I think, you know, if we look at the past, call it, two years, COVID has forced B2B businesses to think differently about their business. So, to take it back to e-commerce, we view e-commerce as about 33% of the overall e-commerce platform, and it’s expected to grow up towards 43% over the next five years. So, it’s on the rise. You know, I think what I see a lot when working with ERP partners is they don’t necessarily, sometimes, understand how ERP is connected to e-commerce because they immediately think of e-commerce as, ‘Hey, that’s for B2C or that’s D2C.’ But now we’re seeing so much advancement in e-commerce as it relates to B2B buyers.
So, to break that down even more, 90% of buyers expect the same online shopping experience when they’re shopping on B2B as compared to B2C. So, think of, you know, a distributor, and they have sales reps taking orders. That end user, that’s not necessarily the best experience for them. So, they want to be able to have the flexibility to do orders at the beauty of their fingertips or from their own laptops or their phones, their smart devices. So, I think that’s changed a lot, and I think to stay competitive as a business owner, you have to start thinking about these two as one, as one and the same. So, again, we’re seeing the shift of companies who never thought that they should sell online. They’re finally kind of rethinking that strategy. Also, on that note, you know, kind of a buzzword in our world is omnichannel. So, think of these marketplaces, right? Amazon, you mentioned TikTok, Instagram. People are starting to invest more in these strategies, and again, ERP is the backbone of those products being sold in these other marketplaces, then they’re being filtered back into the e-commerce and then fulfilled in the ERP system.
So, I think we’re going to see a lot more of omnichannel in the next couple of years.
Yeah, and Sam said on Colleen that he agrees. Even when e-commerce is connected with an ERP, it’s not connected. Welcome to the world of fake inventory. Oh, I like the challenge.
Well, can we bring up a good point? And again, on that note, there’s a lot of ERPs that have native integrations, and there are others that have custom. And those are a different subset of challenges within both.
Mandy, back to the kind of change management discussion. Why is putting a continued emphasis on people and process so important?
So, I think that for me, I see any kind of technology implementation as a three-prong or a tripod approach, right? So, there’s your people, your process, and your technology. And any of us that have tried to set up a tripod knows that it has to be equal and level across, and we often think the technology is the solve. And I think that we forget sometimes that we have to have the right people and we have to have the right processes in place that are going to make the technology successful.
And you know, the old coin phrase is, Canada said, there’s sometimes a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ approach. And if we’re not ready by understanding, we may have the best people, but if they’re not in the right place or they’re not necessarily in the right role and prepared for what’s going to come down the pike, that’s one of the things. We could have the greatest policies, but if they don’t align to what our technology is going to be able to deliver, it’s not going to work in unison. And so, I think we have to look at all three of those things. They’re fundamental, and we have to also consider that we can work together to achieve those. And a lot of times, there’s the hesitation of saying, ‘Well, that’s going to take too long.’ And really, that’s not the case. If you work in unison and in tandem and can get everything together and maybe you don’t have the resources, and this is one of the things that I’m proud to be part of a company like Nitor that is there to help our clients that don’t necessarily understand what they need to know for the people or the processes, that we can really come in and help them fill that gap. To say we’ve done this, we do this, this is what we do, and some of those blind spots we can help you avoid. And definitely making sure that all everything’s cohesive and that we’re considering all of those elements.”
Another question for you, Mandy, and then Canda would love to have you weigh in as well. How do you assess the talent of your team to know if they are the right fit for your implementation or new software?
So, I think that one is, first of all, are they even aware of what their current responsibilities are and how that’s going? What their processes are. And then what do they have the vision? Are they able to see the larger vision and help move that and not be afraid of change? Right? They have to definitely be willing and open to seeing the benefits of technology and what can make their lives easier. And also reassuring them is something I think is responsible on our side. Anytime you’re doing a transformation is making sure that we’re asking them the right questions and making them feel that they’re still part of the solution. And assessing someone’s ability, I’m a firm believer that everybody can… you know, have something of value to add. It’s just making sure, do we have the right people and what they like to do? And not necessarily putting someone in a role that they’re uncomfortable with or not giving them the tools and resources. We have to give them the tools and resources to be successful. But I have found very few times that we are unable to find a skill set that someone can bring to the table that will make it a successful transformation. It’s just finding where they like to do things. Are they one to really want to be part of the technology implementation, or would they prefer to build policies or processes? So, I think it’s making sure that not necessarily we have the right people, because I think everyone comes to work wanting to do their best. It’s just making sure that they have the opportunity to be in a role that they can do their best at.
Canda, what about from your perspective? How have you been able to assess and determine if you have the right team in place?
You know, I think that one of the key things is, and it goes back to communication, and which, you know, it’s a fundamental, I think, aspect of leadership, but it’s start by communicating with the team. And it’s not just telling them what the journey is that you’re going on, but helping and making sure they feel like they’re part of that process. Because one of the things that I found is that almost every team member knows something that isn’t documented elsewhere in the organization that will impact the outcomes of the implementation. They know about some interaction, some flow, current flow of information, or some current problem with the flow of information in the company. Something that has never been brought up, maybe because it didn’t rise to the level or maybe because their voice wasn’t loud enough or because when they raised it, it didn’t get taken seriously. But trying to gather that input, and even if you can’t act on everything that everyone provides you in that process, number one, they start to feel part of the process. And you can then start to see who can be… you know, it takes that expression about it takes a village. Well, it takes a village for an implementation, and you need lots of people championing the journey, the process, the outcomes, and helping you champion and communicate the change that’s going to occur across the organization. And again, some of your team members may know parts of the organization or external constituents to the organization that you haven’t even thought of that you need to bring into the process, bring into the change management, and ultimately into the communications plan.
Canda, for your most recent ERP implementation, what’s the top thing that you wish you would have done differently?
Pushed back on the rest of the organization a little bit harder about the thing I just talked about. Things that might need to be changed that were adjacencies to the ERP implementation but ultimately were creating um part of the foundation that the implementation was built on. And I think that sometimes it’s easy, or maybe it’s the path of least resistance, to at some point say okay, I’m going to pick my battles, and I’m not going to push as hard on a couple uh points, particularly with other functions within the organization that have an indirect impact on procure to pay, on source to pay. And I wish, as I think about it, that there were two or three cases where I just wished I would have pushed harder and said collectively we need to change a process, collectively we need to think about, is there not a better way to do this, let’s not just do what we’ve been doing. So, I think that would be my… if I had if I had a mulligan for the for the last implementation.
Allison, do you see clients working on Internet of Things projects, and maybe explain a little bit about what that means?
Yeah, I mean, I think I think IoT, right, is is quite the buzzword, and I almost almost wish we’d throw it out and simplify it to some extent, because we all kind of do it already. It’s just we’re able to do more. So, you know, I think I think the Internet of Things is is really this whole concept that was developed and I think five years ago, it it kind of was a futuristic thing or only for the enterprise market. I think maybe three years ago, the SMB space, which is what we’re typically focused on, really started thinking about it, but they were thinking about it in terms of how do I connect the machines on the shop floor to maybe my ERP system or to the shop floor itself to be able to present data from the machine. So, the lens of IoT, which was just showing what was going on with the machines on the shop floor, was really around like preventative maintenance, machine health type concepts. So, I think fast forward to today, I think um IoT is absolutely very relevant in all of our SMB projects. We do try not to use that word too much because it’s kind of daunting to some extent. But I think instead of really thinking about preventative maintenance, machine health, all of those kind of things, while they’re important and still part of a project, really what we’ve flipped it to is really thinking about, hey, how do we simplify that operator’s experience? And that may be right presenting machine data to them in collaboration with ERP data in a way that they can quickly enter information or quickly react to problems and quickly kind of simply enter key in whatever they need to do as they’re operating the machine that they’re on.
And I think why this kind of concept of IoT is really about simplifying that operator experience is important is because, in today’s market, there’s a labor shortage, there’s high turnover, and we’ve had a couple use cases recently where we’ve been able to save an operator up to like 25 percent of their week in terms of time, just by not making them shuffle back and forth from place to place. They know what job they’re working on. If there’s a quality issue, it’s one button, and that automatically sends, you know, the WREX out into the ERP and has the maintenance crew come over. So, I think IoT is really important. I think it’s relevant today, but I think we need to reframe to think about how do we simplify the interaction and the operator engagement, you know, in order to make it effective. And then one more thing I’ll say about IoT: I think the other thing is we’ve really kind of focused in our overall ERP projects on, you know, of course, time to value. I know that’s a hot topic for all of us, but one of the ways we’ve done that is actually focusing on some IoT kind of quick-hit wins in the beginning of an ERP project. So, we know that an ERP project is going to take six months, nine months, whatever it is, but you can do some pretty quick, fast things with IoT on the shop floor, you know, within the first 30 days to show wins and get everybody on board and get everybody excited. So, we’ve done a lot of that recently, that seems to be working well and resonating well. So yeah.”
Allison, we had a question come in from Sam: ‘Would you call fake connections to machines Industry 4.0? I have seen some companies do that. My understanding of Industry 4.0 is that we need a real connection and not a fake one. Am I close?’
I mean, I think yes and no, right? I think if you can get to the actual core machine data, I think that is best, but there are some scenarios, right? If you think about maybe it’s just a count, right? So, I think I assume you’re talking fake connections, you’re thinking like a light sensor and just being able to count the parts off the line or some other ancillary device that we’re attaching to the manufacturing unit in order to get some data, and I think it can sometimes be simple data. So, I’m actually okay with some ‘fake’ connections because I think if that gets you the answers that you need more quickly, I think that’s fine. I mean, I think certainly it’s better to be able to connect to those machines directly, but I also think some of those machines have proprietary MRR blocks, there’s all kinds of kind of crazy issues with trying to get to that core data and some of those machines. So, leveraging those ‘fake’ connections works.
Alright, Allison, thank you.
Colleen, where do you see the future of ERPs going for the world of e-commerce, particularly?
Yeah, I think we’re going to continue to see trends like BOPUS, so buy online pick up in store. And again, something like this, you need the structure of an ERP to fulfill those orders quickly.
Other things like European e-commerce during the evaluation process… I think at times people, you know, might have this perception that it should be an afterthought, but really, like, if you’re looking to re-platform or to restructure your digital transformation and you’re a business owner or user who is selling any type of good, you need to think about these things at the same time, whether or not they both go live at the same time. You still need to be thinking about these things so you’re not getting yourself in this situation where your ERP may not support your e-commerce growth. And lastly on this, I think I mentioned this previously, but we’re gonna see more B2B-like buyer user experiences. So, you know, people wanting to place orders and know exactly how much inventory is on stock. They’re going to want to understand that the price they’re seeing is specific to their company. All these types of trends are going to continue to rise as our world is online.
Mandy, there’s something I’ve heard people mention before, and it’s called a re-implementation. So, would you like to have you explain what that is, and maybe what your experience has been with that, and then where is time best spent for teams who are preparing for a re-implementation?
Sure, so re-implementation is a fancy word to say, ‘We did it the first time and it’s not working right. No one’s using it. The utilization is down. Everyone said this technology is going to come in and it’s going to save all of our time and all of our effort, but we’re not seeing that engagement.’ So, a re-implementation is an opportunity to say, ‘What didn’t we do in the first place that we probably should have done to get us to utilization and this really working as we wanted to?’ Also, a re-implementation is often like I said when you buy the full ERP and you realize, ‘I have not used any module but two,’ and so it’s really looking at that across the board. And for me, a re-implementation, you can take a look and almost look at it as saying, ‘Okay, so what’s working, what’s not?’ You have an advantage where you know you’re not necessarily getting the engagement that you want. And for me, I think one of the most valuable pieces to re-implement or to implement or increase your utilization is making sure that you have strategies and methodologies to support the technology you have acquired. Now, you may say that this technology is not the right fit, I need to find something else, and luckily in our industry right now, there are tons of opportunities, yours being one of them, that you don’t have to, you can get something very niche that will support you. And I think that the main thing is to keep, if you have your strategies and your methodologies and thinking across that, it’s an easy word to say, ‘Well, I have a strategy, I have a methodology,’ but does it align to not only what your goal is but can it fit with the technology you’ve implemented? And if not, you have to take a second look at that and say, ‘How do I get it there?’ And I think that those are the things, and it’s similar to having the right people and the right, you know, processes in place. You have to have the right strategies and methodologies to get there, and you have an advantage when you’re re-implementing, you have an advantage when you’re trying to increase your utilization because you can see what didn’t we do that first time and then find, you know, those strategies that will work.
Mandy, do you have any insights in regards to a re-implementation that you think would be relevant for sharing? Because I know this is something that happens, I think more than most people care to admit. Right, so without, you know, being too specific, we have our technologies that offer everything, and across ERP, and especially because I focus mainly in the procurement and strategic sourcing space, I think that we have an opportunity to realize that some of these larger systems that are across everything are maybe not fit for what we do internally. So you have two choices: you can either adapt to the technology in place, which we often see that there’s not a lot of adaption there, it is not set for the culture, it’s not set for the way that the business runs, so it’s looking at what are some supplemental or systems that will integrate well and allow us to really fit what we do, and really understanding what your ultimate goal is and how you plan to use the system. That, for me, is has been the best advice I can give, saying take a pause if it’s not working, there’s a reason why, and maybe there’s something out there that’s going to support you a little bit more seamlessly and proactively, without necessarily trying to fit, you know, this square peg in a round hole. It’s just not going to work. So, for me, one of the stories I had was definitely a client that had bought, you know, all of these processes and procedures, and then all of this ERP, and then realized they’re not really even looking to utilize those things. So, it’s knowing what you want to do and what you’re trying to accomplish, and then go out and find those right partners, and that’s how I think we’ve been able to be successful at that, is finding the right partners, the right fit for what your culture, your organization, has the tolerance and appetite for.
Canda, I know a lot of my friends that are in digital transformations or IT-focused supply chain or procurement roles struggle with determining if they should manage an implementation in-house or use a third party. Should you use a third party to help with the implementation or rely on the ERP provider?
I definitely think you need a third party. Now, I guess I would make a distinction, Sarah, and say, not necessarily for the technical implementation, not for the functional implementation itself, but from a program or, if not program, at least project management perspective. I think you need a third party. In my experience, most companies that are taking on an ERP implementation, well, most companies in general, don’t have a really robust PMO approach. And I think particularly over the last few years, maybe PMO, like a lot of things, as companies have gone through, what do we need to do to be a little leaner, PMO has maybe fallen off the radar screen for some companies, and I think it’s so critical. And we’ve all touched on the aspects, I think, that are needed, the aspects for success that a PMO approach can really help drive. And it’s things like organizational change management, communication strategy, understanding what your corporate objectives and your corporate culture and your corporate strategies are, and then trying to figure out where do you want to go, what do you really want out of the implementation. And in my experience, the ERP solution provider, and this is not meant as a knock on any of them, large or small, that’s not what their objective is. Their objective is to get the system installed and have it work, so they can create an ongoing revenue stream from you. I mean, let’s just be very practical about it. And they’re really not looking at how can they help you as a company transform your business, your processes, maybe your culture, maybe your whole approach to a certain aspect of the service delivery that you’ve got. And I think that the third party lets you do that. The other thing, in my experience, is that I’ve heard some companies say, ‘Yeah, but we have a PMO department, we can do this ourselves.’ You know, it’s sort of, you use the example, you know, and I don’t know how many people I know, Colleen, I think you referenced having children, if it, how many of you have kids, but I can tell you, as a parent of a now adult child, still my child, however, that I could talk sometimes till I was blue in the face with some advice, with an observation, with some guidance, and simply because it was coming from mom, it carried less weight than if the neighbor who was sort of like, you know, a de facto uncle, gave the same input, wow, it was taken in a different regard. And I think that same thing applies to having the objectivity and the lack of bias or perceived bias that you get with a third party.
Allison, why are you excited about the future of ERP?
Oh man, well, I’ve enjoyed this conversation, and I like what you’re saying there around bringing in a third party because I do think it helps stretch you in new ways. You know, I think, I think why I’m excited, you know, I think there’s really two things that are really cool in the space. If you kind of step back and think about it, I mean one is the actual technology itself, right? So, the platform technology that you’re now getting embedded in a lot of these products, are so cool and allow you to get so far ahead of the curve. You know, there’s now AI embedded in the toolset, there’s document management enterprise-wide, not just for ERP, there’s analytics that you can connect any sort of third-party sources, right? So, there’s so much opportunity that’s now available to you on that platform layer that’s amazing. But also comes with, it’s kind of this new set of challenges, which is like, how do we consume all of that, right? And how do we stay current and keep embracing all the new things that are coming into the solution? You know, one example is AI is included in the subscription of the solution that we typically are involved with, and we’ve started actually publishing all of our customers’ AI collateral that they’re putting together, right? The infrastructure of their AI, so that anybody can kind of subscribe to that AI and leverage it for their own system. And we’re doing that to try to help everybody out because, you know, it’s sometimes you forget that it’s real and it’s there and it’s available to you. So, I think, I think what gets me excited is we’re able to problem-solve every day and challenge ourselves every day on how do we enter a way forward in adopting everything that’s available to us. So, I think that’s kind of one bucket, and then I think the other bucket for me is all the cool things that are going on around implementation, right? Like, how do we accelerate with implementation accelerators? How do we increase time to value? How do we consume the product in a way that’s faster? How do we make it easier? And I think all of the work that’s being done in that realm is transformational and going to be the big story over the next, probably, two to three years.
Awesome. Mandy, same question for you. What are you most excited about from an ERP perspective?
I personally think that I’m excited to see the industry start to get more niche and more specific and more adaptable to what our true needs are and less bogged down, and I’m really excited to see that there’s a lot of change coming and thought-provoking ways of looking at things differently. And it’s taking insight like all these ladies have shared and continued to that I think that is broadening that for us, and we’re not necessarily having just one or two options, and we really can see a lot of growth happening, and it can solve all of these wonderful little problems that we have to make that difference and to make it quickly.
Awesome. Well, ladies, I want to thank all of you for coming on the show today. I encourage those of you who are in the audience to connect with these women and follow them on LinkedIn. They’re doing some really cool and innovative work in the space. I want to wish everyone a wonderful afternoon. Our next show is Tuesday, July 5th, at noon central. Hope you’ll be able to tune in and listen to our next group of panelists.