ERP selection has historically been a protracted process.

Extensive face-to-face meetings, workshops, demonstrations, reviews, business-case-adjustment sessions, and site/reference visits usually all taking place over a period of 3-5 months.

Clearly, under the current circumstances this process is impracticable given physical-distancing measures, restrictions on travel, the absence of fully operational office spaces.  As such, both suppliers and customers of ERP are having to get creative!

 

For the immediate future and likely the rest of 2020, for reasons which are self-evident, face-to-face engagements for first meetings, reviews and discovery are off the table. Thankfully, applications such as Zoom or Teams allow for the video conferencing and screen sharing which is required to simulate a face to face meeting. 

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The key to ensuring that the value is fully translated is to ensure that the following elements are implemented:

 

These are general, common sense tactics to optimise remote working but really come to the fore when applied to ERP which is a notoriously detail-oriented topic that tends to rely heavily on extended (2-4hr+) sessions to cover the material required.

 

Next time we will look at the optimisation of project delivery remotely, using more agile delivery methodologies, when you need it most.

 

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If your business is looking for a UK Sage X3 support partner, you will find a number of options on the market.

But how do you choose the right one for you and your business?

To give us a point of reflection, it is worth considering this quote from Mahan Khalsa, a thought leader, “How you sell is a free sample of how you solve”. This is true when selecting an ERP support partner as much as when selecting the implementation partner in the first iteration.

Part 3 Support

Key Criteria to Consider as a Customer

1. Development Capability

 

2. Support Capability

 

3. Cost and Value

 

4. Reasons for leaving vs Reasons for staying

 

The Selection Process

There are some prevailing truths when undertaking the selection process, as this is the opportunity to assess the potential new support partner:

 

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  1. A partner with a high contact and detailed strategy is likely to be taking this support contract migration at least as seriously as you, the customer. Investigation, meetings, and analysis should all take place at this stage and a good measure of due diligence is required on both sides.
  2. The customer should take references from existing customers, recent migration clients, and recent upgrade customers to gain a clearer understanding of the support partner’s reputation in the real world.
  3. Price is always a factor, but as with most things in life there is a truth in the adage that ‘you get what you pay for’. Support contracts and a support migration is not a place to skimp – ERP is integral to business operation so while the quotes may vary somewhat, it is worth bearing in mind the cost to the business of a bad decision.  It is always worth asking the potential partner to explain what their offering includes and excludes, so that a like-for-like comparison is possible.

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Choosing a support partner that is right for you will take time and determination. If both the customer and partner are willing to invest in the journey together, the business relationship can become fruitful and long lasting. This is vital when working with a product such as Sage X3 due to its scalable nature. Sage X3 is enterprise software that will grow with the business, removing the need to progress onto a larger solution at a later date.

 

In the final part of this series we will look at Mysoft as a support partner and our process when working with a potential customer.

 

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It is important not to shy away from the fact that there will be challenges if a business wishes to change their support partner.

But you must remember that there are also solutions.

A plethora of unique solutions that are available to each business’s needs and requirements.

In this blog we will discuss the challenges that a business may encounter on this journey. We will offer some suggestions of ways you can prepare if you choose to explore this option.

Part 2 Support

Intellectual Property

Support of another party’s Intellectual Property (IP) can be challenging. With many variables including the quality of documentation and development, or transparency of source there can also be legal or other restriction on the supportability of IP in an X3 installation.

IP is typically owned by the developing party, not the client – unless otherwise stated within the customer contract. Therefore, any modifications or integrations to the customer’s X3 system may be considered the IP of the existing partner.  The customer will need to check contracts and understand the implications of moving to another partner.

Mysoft has, in the past, been required to undertake support or re-development of existing IP.  As standard practice, where it is possible, technically and legally, Mysoft will offer to support the existing IP.

 

Long Contracts

Multi-year contracts are common in the software industry, although not the standard.  It is necessary to ensure that, before attempting to switch partner, there is no long-term tie-in. And if there is an existing long-term commitment, ensure there are grounds to terminate this before the contract term.

 

Exit Terms

Onerous exit terms can exist in contracts which preclude a support migration. These are rare but will require investigation into the contract.

 

The ‘Sunk Cost’ Fallacy

The sunk cost fallacy is a common cognitive bias where there is the perception that money previously spent will be ‘lost’ if a change is undertaken and therefore the better course of action is to continue spending. If the current contract is not delivering value, then the money is already spent and lost (even if still in contract). Switching sooner may be better.

 

In Part 3 of this series we will explore common evaluation criteria and decision-making factors when selecting Sage X3 support partners.

 

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Finance and ERP are business critical systems, therefore the support for these must be treated with comparable priority.

The nature of ERP is is complex and it addresses the processes of the entire operation; from finance, to customer experience, to procurement.

Therefore, it requires a distinct set of skills both internally and externally to ensure the smooth operation and consistent delivery of support to the business. 

Support of these systems is not the place to cut corners on a contract. System support should be a primary driver in the selection of a business partner for an ERP project as you will be looking to work with the partner for many years to come after the implementation.

Unfortunately, these business relationships don’t always succeed, or stand the test of time, for various reasons. Over the course of the project or thereafter, businesses change – both the partner and customer – and these changes can necessitate a move from one implementation and support partner to another.

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Key drivers for a customer wishing to review the market can include:

Technical Knowledge Gap

Typically, this is a shortfall on the part of the partner. Being unable to support the customer with either the products in use or the market specific environment that the customer is operating in e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Food and Beverage, Financial Services, etc.

 

Internal Requirement Change

A change in the customer’s team (rapidly growing business, leavers, etc.) that means that internal knowledge is lost and the previously adequate support arrangement is no longer sufficient.

 

Development Capability

Not all support partners have the longevity with a product, the mono-focus, or the development experience to be able to modify and customise the solution to the extent that the customer may wish.  Expert consultants and developers are the backbone of any reputable professional services partner.

But each partner has a priority on the types of projects that they can deliver. Not all partners can deliver complex integrations, bespoke development, or detailed configurations of the Sage X3 solution. So, be mindful to research this if this is something your business requires or may require in the future.

Some businesses choose to use their own development resource to customise their Sage X3 solution. At Mysoft, we are able to offer full support to customers that prefer to programme their solution inhouse. This accommodating factor sets Mysoft apart from other UK support partners.

 

Service Quality

A common reason for migrating partners is where a customer does not feel as though they are being treated with adequate priority. Or that the service level from their incumbent supplier has dropped below an acceptable level.

 

Cultural Fit

As with all business relationships, a good level of compatibility within the teams is important to ensure that the right outcomes are reached and all parties are content with the relationship.  Some customers will want to work with larger corporates, some will want to work with smaller, more niche providers who specialise in a particular set of verticals.

 

In Part 2 of this series we will explore some of the complexities of moving Sage X3 support partners.

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Project Management is a service that is not always understood.

However, it is critical to the success of all workstreams that are delivered by a professional services organisation.

If you are about to embark on an ERP journey, you will most likely have a project manager, or a team member nominated as the project supervisor, within your organisation to manage your own team. However, obtaining a project manager from your ERP supplier should not be overlooked. Mysoft deliver two types of Project Management during an ERP project: ‘In-Project’ and ‘Out-of-Project’.

 

‘Out-of-Project’ Project Management

Firstly, what is this and why would you need it?

This covers the work that occurs outside the framework of a formal project. This can be a request for bespoke software delivery, an integration with a third-party piece of software, or the delivery of a series of consultancy activities. All of these tasks require a degree of Project Management.

Project Management for these activities is important because it ensures that all services delivered to your business are correct and bring value to your business, as well as guaranteeing that the resources from your supplier are in place.

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‘In-Project’ Project Management

This particular type of project management is key to the success of your ERP project. ‘In-Project’ Project Management ensures that:

A Project Manager will be there throughout your ERP project to navigate the ups and downs and quickly resolve any clashes or catastrophes that may occur. They will allow your business to fully benefit from the resources that both parties are providing.

There are 7 key phases that Project Management are involved in during a project:

  1. Project initiation phase
  2. Project launch phase
  3. Initial build phase
  4. Workshops phase
  5. Post-workshop phase
  6. Pilot phase
  7. Go-live

Each area has its own set of sub-activities and a Project Manager provides the resource to be able to carry out these vital tasks, bringing team members from both the customer’s business and their own business, together to work efficiently.

A Project Manager provides a key point of contact for your business and helps to ensure continuity and clear communications for all of the parties involved.

The crucial activities that apply to all of the phases listed above are:

 

It goes without saying that the snapshot of benefits listed in this blog, far outweigh the cost of Project Management.

Please contact us to discover the complete list of Mysoft Project Management capabilities.

Change is continuously occurring in your business.

It can be both exciting and daunting, but how you prepare for it is always important.

Moving to a new ERP system is no small feat. It is one of the larger projects that a business will face, but once in place can last a lifetime. One of the most crucial aspects to address during this time is your team. Your team is the end user after all, and naturally, they will be opposed to change – it’s only human nature!

Your workforce is directly impacted by changes to an ERP system, so you need to make sure they are on board with the new plans as well as achieving a positive mindset. This is where change management comes in.

 

What is Change Management?

Change management is a structured approach in preparing, equipping and supporting your organisation and its individuals to successfully adopt change in the future. In this blog we will discuss the strategies around managing your workforce during an ERP project.

 

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

In order to achieve success amongst change, you must develop a Strategic Workforce Plan as the ERP project starts. A plan will ensure that you are aware of how you need to organise your team in order to achieve the best results during the ERP implementation. A Strategic Plan allows your business to assess opportunity and risk in order to plan for cultural changes and mitigate risk.

Try to focus on assessing current skills, abilities, experiences and capabilities within the team. From this information you can determine how the project may impact different departments and individuals.

A secondary step is to identify and evaluate the attitudes of the individuals that are most resistant to change. Ask yourself:

The answers to these questions offer a good starting point to further develop the plan of how you intend to tackle this. For example, some users may raise a concern about their computer illiteracy. A good solution for this would be to offer additional training sessions to make them feel more comfortable about the new ERP system.

Before go-live ensure that you develop and implement training strategies to close learning gaps. It is important to involve the whole team, from end users to leaders, by understanding how their processes and work will be impacted.

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2. Start from the Top

Managers, supervisors and leaders play a key role in managing change. If those at the top of the organisation aren’t prepared for change, you can’t expect the rest of the workforce to be. Ultimately, a manager has more influence over an employee’s motivation to change than any other person. Unfortunately, managers can be the most difficult group to convince of the need for change and can be a source of resistance.

It is the job of the ERP project team to convince those in higher management positions that embracing change will bring a host of benefits to both them and the rest of the team. They will need to provide training and guidance strategies to equip managers in coaching their employees through the change.

During this process it is also important to educate leaders on Resistance Management as persistent resistance can threaten a project. Resistance Management is the processes and tools used by managers and executives, with the support of the change team, to manage employee resistance. It is vital to address this in order to progress successfully in the ERP project.

 

3. Everyone Matters

It is vital that employees across all levels of the business feel involved. One way of achieving this internally is tailoring training programs to suit different departments. This will likely make your workforce less resistant to change as their needs are being understood and ultimately, they will feel more engaged.

Don’t forget about your other stakeholders too though. Communication is key during an ERP implementation project. You should devise a detailed Communication Plan that lists:

The answers to these questions will provide you with the basis for your Communication Plan. Planning for the transition process, through implementation to post go-live, will allow you to fully understand your requirements, including the human resource you might need and how the change could impact your workforce structure.

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The above tips will help you and your leadership team to anticipate the impacts of change and therefore create strategies around this to minimise disruption to the team. With meticulous planning, your workforce should feel more receptive and positive towards any ERP transitions.

 

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Announcing a new software system can send ripples of panic throughout an organisation.

People are naturally resistant to change and a whole new ERP system sounds like a scary beast. Earning your employees support is one of the most important things to an ERP implementation. Ensuring everyone is using the system correctly and is enthusiastic about the solution will enable the full company-wide benefits of ERP to be realised. Reluctant and negative users could spell disaster for an ERP implementation, no matter how good the solution. But there are some simple ways you can ensure a happy and accepting team.
 

Be Clear About The Benefits

If your team are unsure why you are enforcing such a big change then they are going to be even more resistant to it. So be clear and explain exactly how the new software is going to improve their working day; how it will save them time and make their department more efficient. Leverage your internal systems of communication; include it in your internal newsletter, post about it on your company blog and send out regular email updates about the project. Try to spread a positive, exciting message about the project, rather than it being a daunting change. Be specific to the individual’s role rather than emphasising overarching benefits that sound a million miles removed from the everyday. Once your team realise that the software will actually benefit them personally they will be much more enthusiastic when it comes to training and implementation. It’s also very important to set project objectives at these early stages. By stating clear objectives your team understand what you are working towards and you have a way of measuring the success of the project when the implementation is complete.
 

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Early Involvement

Change is always a lot harder to accept when it has been forced onto you. Try to avoid an atmosphere of resistance, involve all departments at very early stages, even before you’ve decided on the software that you are going to implement. Ask them about their daily struggles, what limits they face in their roles and how they think efficiency could be improved. You could even set up a suggestion box so staff can make anonymous comments. By including wider opinion, staff will feel more involved in the decision process. 
 

Training, Training And More Training

 

Introduce everyone to the system as early as possible. Involve everyone in navigation training where they can get to grips with the general look and feel of the software. Again, it’s good to show people the system they will be using early on to build excitement about the implementation. We then suggest identifying ‘key users’ in each department who can be trained in more detail and pass their training onto others in their team. You can then start running short workshops for all users, these could even just be ten minutes at the end of the day. You don’t want to overload people with too much information and by keeping things short they are more likely to actually take in and remember the information.
 

The Right Mentality

People underestimate the importance of goodwill to a project. It cannot be emphasised enough how essential it is to have your whole team approaching a new ERP system with a positive mindset. People will be nervous and anxious about a new system, the best way to deal with this is to keep everyone informed and involved. Encourage people to be excited about the project, about the benefits it will bring to them, so they are actually looking forward to the implementation rather than dreading it.
 

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