People. Process. Systems.

Lee Ann Healy
24th March 2017


A couple of the Optimum PPS team attended ConnectERP in Cheshire this week – it’s important for us to keep up to date with what’s happening in the ERP space for the manufacturing sector.  The event is organised by The Manufacturer and is designed to provide a forum for business leaders across the manufacturing industry to share their experiences of ERP implementations, provide insight into how they achieved a successful ERP implementation and also highlight the pitfalls to avoid. In addition to this there is also the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with a range of ERP solution providers to find out about their offerings and discuss your requirements.

In the past 6-9 months we’ve noticed a bit of an up-turn in organisations starting to look at replacing legacy ERP systems or indeed implementing ERP for the first time.  As opposed to Optimisation projects – where the focus is more on making better use of the systems the business already has.  This is quite a common cycle over the long haul for ERP, but it feels like the start of another cycle.

We’re not exactly sure why this might be.  No doubt the technology shift has a big part to play. The fact that cloud and SaaS have finally permeated the ERP space has meant a focus on vendors redeveloping their solutions and a big shift to the ‘platform’ approach.  Evident with the likes of the recent Microsoft Dynamics 365 offering and Infor’s ION technology.  And likewise businesses are more willing and able to adopt these new technologies to leverage the new opportunities and capabilities that the legacy systems just can’t deliver.

One of the headline speakers are at the event was actually an example of exactly this – in this case they are a relatively new business going through rapid growth.   Julian Rose, Operations & Supply Chain Manager at Trunki, talked openly about implementing ERP for the first time. He discussed how the rapid growth and expansion of the company caused a perfect storm of business challenges. He highlighted the strain on the supply chain to ensure the required levels of stock and components we availabl.  He also touched upon how the existing processes in place were breaking under the weight of demand and as a result customers were at risk of either not getting their order on time, or were getting incorrect orders delivered.  

Where Julian really engaged the attendees was when he explained how they approached their first ERP system implementation. In a detailed and compelling talk, he discussed how they had hurried the implementation and as a result problems in the process alignment, reporting and data management had left them dealing with even more problems. However, after a long term strategy was put in place to resolve the issues and make best use of the functionality of the NetSuite package the eventual improvements and operational efficiency were clear to see. He summarised by saying that they had moved from 29% customer order issue rate to 1.2% in an 18 month period post initial implementation. He wrapped up stating that if they had initiated robust project scoping, planning and targets from the outset then the benefits would have made an impact on the business far sooner.

The Connect ERP event also offered a further chance to talk to manufacturing organisations about where their current thinking is in relation to business systems, business priorities and the challenges they face.  A vital component for us to keep abreast of what our customers really want and need is getting out there and talking to people.  Interestingly, The Manufacturer has been doing some research and the feeling is that manufacturing companies are tending to take a more holistic view across the whole business systems suite rather than a siloed approach to ERP, CRM, BI etc.  This aligns with our approach too and so we were encouraged to hear that future events could potentially have this sort of focus.

The ConnectERP event was insightful and engaging. Being able to simultaneously check the pulse of the manufacturing industry whilst checking in with the vendor developments and learn directly from other organisations ERP implementation experiences is an opportunity not to be missed. If you are looking to invest in a business system such as ERP seek out events like this to facilitate your decision making.

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