It Takes Effort to Move the Dial
Change Your ERP, Change Your World!
“I have tried for YEARS to get the CEO to agree to upgrade our ERP!” lamented the CFO to a systems advisor who had called to ask if there was a project in the offing.
Herman had been with the company for eight years and had yet to see an upgrade applied to the systems at Smelicious, a flavoring company that sold its highly prized flavorings to manufacturers in food and beverage, from ice cream through cookies!
“Our current system is more of an accounting system with add-on features for warehousing. I don’t think we can change because we can’t imagine how our data could possibly fit into a new system. It’s not worth your time to try and get our attention on an ERP selection project.” Herman was despondent.
Herman wished that the CEO would give him approval to look at a new system. The current one was ridiculously hard to use and had been selected by a long-gone employee who'd taken the initiative to ‘upgrade’ from QuickBooks. It was a proprietary system from a company that was no longer supporting the software.
“Are the reports generated directly through the system or do you export and create them in Excel?” asked Ophelia, the systems advisor.
He usually didn’t reveal the company’s shortcomings, but today he was frustrated and wanted some ammo to get the CEO’s attention. “Great question. It’s our biggest time waste – you see, all our reports flow through an integrated but clunky report writer. After that, we download to Excel spreadsheets and do them again to make them look prettier. We are awash in unreconcilable Excel spreadsheets!” Herman let out a sigh.
The systems advisor was quiet, so Herman continued to fill her ear. “I spend so much time preparing financial reports outside of the system that I haven’t been able to get a process going to get other departments to put all their information into the system. It's crazy, but our top-line revenue is really the only thing that we look at, and it's large enough to make the details not as important. Truly, I often wonder if the Gross Margin calculation being done through the system is even close to the real number.”
The systems advisor knew immediately that Herman needed help in showing the CEO how the selection process would work and, more importantly, how a new ERP system would benefit Smelicious. She asked if she could show the CFO and the CEO just a few of the reports and dashboards that would be available with ‘modern’ ERP solutions so that he could get a taste of the result of the effort in selecting and implementing a new system.
Herman glanced at the CEO’s calendar. The weekly meeting with Adam, the CEO, was on Thursday afternoon. Herman could use this hour to have the systems advisor give them a quick briefing on what a state-of-the-art ERP could accomplish for a company today.
“Could you show us a dashboard showing on-time shipment statistics, our receivables associated to each salesperson, and our revenue by customer month over month?” Herman asked, thinking that these alone would motivate the CEO to approve a project to change ERP systems.
Ophelia, quickly said, “Yes!” She knew that these functions were not only critical knowledge for management, but she could easily talk about other rich features that a company like Smelicious would love to have and should be using. The ERP evaluation and selection process would pull it all together for the company, and a well-managed implementation would change their world, both for Herman and for Adam. Ophelia could smell a success was about to happen.
Ophelia, the systems advisor, was an energetic and knowledgeable consultant who knew her stuff.
Understanding that she had under an hour to show, convince, and close, Ophelia started the meeting with a question:
“What are three things you would love to know every morning about the company’s performance?” she pointedly asked the CEO.
Adam, the CEO, was not going to be ‘played’ by this charming pro. So he threw back a tough response: "Sales of our top SKUs by customer for the prior day as well as comparing that to total sales to each customer by month for the past year… with percentages!” Ha!, he thought, she’ll never be able to show me that because no one here can get me that information every day!
“Great choice," Ophelia said with a smile. "Let me show you how that could be an instant report in full and in summary on your dashboard."
Adam’s smugness started to melt as she pulled up an example on her computer screen.
“OK, how would a system alert me to the status of a blanket PO with the number of units yet to go until we get to a price-point change?” Adam knew his company worked so hard at selecting the right supplier with price breaks on volume, and yet way too often his purchasing folks selected an alternate supplier because they found a better price, without paying attention to the contract in place.
“Another great question.” Ophelia grinned and talked about the procurement modules and how they integrated within ERP.
Herman jumped in and repeated his request from his first conversation with Ophelia; he’d been dying for her to answer it in her presentation. “Please show us a dashboard showing on-time shipment statistics, our receivables associated to each salesperson, and our revenue by customer month over month.” Herman felt in his bones that these features would super motivate the CEO to approve a project to change ERP systems.
Ophelia gave a wink to Herman, remembering their earlier conversation. She showed examples of dashboards while speaking to the topic of linking critical elements across systems to be able to get multi-dimensional views of performance from the vantage point of HR, Sales, and Receivables. She showed how a salesperson’s bonus calculation based on sales milestones achieved and associated customer receivable collections could be viewed all in one report. No spreadsheets needed.
The hour passed quickly, and Adam turned to Ophelia with one final question. “What will all this cost us?”
Herman was delighted to hear Adam engaged. He was ‘almost’ in!