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5 Tips To Avoid ERP Failure And Turn 2020 Disruption Into Success

ERP

5 Tips To Avoid ERP Failure And Turn 2020 Disruption Into Success

The trials of 2020 have put many businesses in a mode of transformation. For some, that can mean changing anything from their internal operations to the services and products they offer.

Due to advancements in digital technology, massive change was well underway in numerous industries before the pandemic. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) has been a central part of those changes as companies learn to organize and analyze data and use software applications to automate business functions.

But while the main goal in acquiring ERP is to streamline processes and increase productivity, it can be difficult to implement without the right combination of people, training, and technology. Failure with ERP implementation happens for many reasons, and knowing how to avoid those pitfalls is critical to a company’s growth and survival in these trying times, says Joel Patterson (www.JoelPatterson.com), a workplace culture expert, founder of The Vested Group and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation

“Many businesses are aware they need to adopt digital technologies to compete in today’s market, but the fear of failure holds some back,” Patterson says. “Often, the barriers to successful ERP implementation have less to do with the software and more to do with communication- and employee-based issues.

“A change of such magnitude in a company requires solid and consistent change management, in which company leaders work well with outside consultants, but more importantly appreciate the importance of their workforce as much as the need for change.”

Patterson offers five tips on how to avoid failure in ERP implementation:

Tie ERP into long-term planning. One reason for engaging in an ERP project is to improve processes for the long haul. Therefore, an organization’s leadership needs to have a vision for the timeline that makes sense for their industry, typically at least 5 years. “It’s a key question for many businesses, especially in terms of selecting and implementing ERP,” Patterson says. “For example, it would be a big mistake to choose a product that doesn’t allow you to easily add new companies or service lines if expansion is a component of your strategic plan. Create a roadmap and share it with your IT partner.”

Put people first. Patterson says that having a solid work culture in which employees, their treatment and their betterment are prioritized is necessary for any ERP implementation to succeed. “You can have great ERP software,” he says, “but your employees are your greatest asset. Listening to them helps the overall effectiveness of the system going forward. If your culture is a mixed bag of nay-sayers and disengaged managers, projects of this magnitude are doomed to fail.”

Get buy-in across the organization. It’s common for people to fear or resist change, especially employees who have been with companies the longest. “When an organization is made up of people who understand the reasons behind what is being done, then they are more likely to be on board with the changes,” Patterson says. “How will these changes not only benefit the company, but more specifically, how does it impact their daily lives? These details need to be clearly laid out.”

Cut out bureaucracy, delegate responsibility. “The consulting team needs to be allowed to play the role they were hired to play, and you need clearly defined decision-makers on the project team,” Patterson says. “Otherwise, too many people wrestling over decisions can bottleneck projects. Your project team should walk you through each stage, and your company needs to establish a good governance structure in which each person knows their role.”

Prioritize aftercare. The next set of challenges comes when the company is running the new system on its own. “You can’t overlook the potential for problems,” Patterson says. “That’s why you want a partner who offers ongoing support. Assign teams to gather data about how employees are using the software, what issues they are encountering, and how to make it more effective overall.”

“In any ERP implementation,” Patterson says, “leaders need to stay connected with their employees and keep departments aligned while encouraging them throughout a sometimes challenging process.”

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Joel Patterson (www.JoelPatterson.com) is the founder of The Vested Group, a business technology consulting firm in the Dallas, Texas area, and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation. He has worked in the consulting field for over 20 years. Patterson began his consulting career at Arthur Andersen and Capgemini before helping found Lucidity Consulting Group in 2001. For 15 years he specialized in implementing Tier One ERP, software systems designed to service the needs of large, complex corporations. In 2011, Patterson founded The Vested Group, which focuses on bringing comprehensive cloud-based business management solutions to start-ups and well-established businesses alike. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baylor University.

 

change

How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Changes In The Office

In order to solve problems at work, you often have to make policy changes. Unfortunately, a policy change doesn’t always work out how you hoped it would.

Below are some suggestions for measuring the effectiveness of a policy change and what to do once you’ve determined whether it’s working or not.

Ask Two Simple Questions

There are two, simple questions you should ask yourself when trying to determine whether or not a policy change is effective.

The first question is, “Are we still noticing the problem?” At some point, someone saw there was a problem with the way work was being done. There was either a bottleneck in someone’s workflow, mistakes were frequently being made, or something else was happening that caused problems. Eventually, someone noticed, brought up the problem, and worked on a solution.

The question is, are you still seeing that problem or has it gone away? It’s possible that the problem has been reduced, but isn’t totally gone yet. That may require some simple tweaking instead of a complete policy overhaul. But either way, you should be able to get a quick idea for how effective the policy change was by simply looking at the task that inspired the change in the first place.

The second question is, “Has our solution caused other problems?” Just because you solved one problem doesn’t mean you didn’t accidentally create another problem. What problems are people having with the policy? How hard are those problems to deal with? Are they bigger or smaller than the problems you were trying to solve?

Digging through your work processes and talking to involved team members about these topics will help you figure out if the solution is better or worse than the cure.

Take Advantage Of Employee Surveys And Interviews

One-on-one interviews and employee surveys are good ways to encourage your employees to tell you what is slowing them down at work and what parts of their workflows need help. Be sure to emphasize that the company is looking for problems to fix in order to make everyone’s life at work easier.

Otherwise, they may be afraid to speak up in case they look like they’re complaining.

Approach the questions in such a way to get them to talk about the new policy. Ask them what is working, what isn’t working, and what problems they’re still seeing.

Take this feedback into consideration when you’re trying to determine whether you should keep, alter, or remove a policy.

Ask Managers About What Problems They’re Seeing

Managers generally have a higher-level view of what’s going on with their team. Be sure to lean on them for information that you’d otherwise miss if you focused on talking to people who may not always understand what their coworkers are doing.

Managers are probably best able to answer your questions about who’s affected positively by a given policy, who’s affected negatively, and what they think could be done to solve any other problems that have popped up.

When You Get Your Results, Take Action

Once you’ve analyzed everyone’s feedback and you’ve looked at the related KPIs and whether they have improved or declined, it’s time to act. Acting might mean scrapping the policy entirely, optimizing it to make it better solve the problem, or it may mean enhancing an already successful policy to make it even better.

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Katie Casaday is a marketing content writer at eFileCabinet where she specializes in computer software and document management topics. She graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Global Communication. She has experience writing about B2B technology companies and besides enjoying writing, she loves nature and taking hikes with her companion, a Border Collie named Margo.

remote work

Should Companies Rush Headlong into Permanent Remote Work?

New research from Stanford shows 42% of US workers are working from home full-time. After a successful transition for COVID-19, more and more tech companies are allowing their employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future. Twitter recently announced that most of their employees may continue working remotely as long as they want to. And 4,000 Nationwide Insurance employees recently became permanent telecommuters.

The benefits of an all-remote workforce are considerable and fairly easy to measure. But are we losing something equally important by ditching the office and in-person work?

The four benefits of all-remote work

When real estate startup Culdesac announced they were giving up their San Francisco headquarters, co-founder Ryan Johnson tweeted: “Remote work is going great for us.” Google, Facebook, and Zillow recently told their employees that they could continue to work from home until 2021. Google recently abandoned more than two million square feet of planned office space. “Our bias against working from home has been completely exploded,” Dan Spaulding, Zillow’s chief people officer, said. Zillow is “not seeing any discernible drop in productivity.”

Here are four reasons companies are ditching their offices for all-remote workforces.

1. Offices are expensive

According to commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield, companies have been pushing more workers into less office space for years. Packing everyone in came at the cost of minimizing distractions, which is consistently the top driver of employees’ ability to focus on their work.

Not only that, but until there’s an effective treatment and/or vaccine, these uber-dense offices aren’t going to cut it. Spacious offices with thermometers, hand-sanitizer stations, phone sanitizer stations, new HVAC systems, touchless systems, and more they need to be safe are going to cost even more.

As we enter a COVID-led recession, Kate Lister, president of consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, predicts that investors are going to insist that firms cut costs. Letting go of office space accomplishes this without cutting headcount.

2. Offices are distracting

Going all-remote not only saves companies money on office space, but also can lead to fewer distractions and more focus for workers.

A few stats:

–The average company sees a 10% to 43% increase in productivity after going all-remote.

–In a recent survey, 54% of workers said their productivity had improved since working from home full-time.

–64% of workers said their work quality has improved.

3. Commutes are terrible

Americans spend 30 billion hours commuting every year. Long commutes are one of the main reasons workers say they want to work from home. Research shows longer commutes are associated with obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, divorce, depression, death, political disengagement, poverty, absenteeism, lower productivity, and even pregnancy complications. Long commutes also exacerbate pollution and climate change.

4. Talent is distributed

Firms that hire remotely can access far more talent and may be able to offer lower salaries. Currently, Facebook is paying employees based on their geography’s cost of living. It may also make it easier for teams to meet their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. For example, it’s easier to employ people with disabilities when you don’t have to worry about office accessibility. Companies with greater gender diversity are 15% more likely to be high performers, according to one study. Companies with greater ethnic diversity are 35% more likely.

Drawbacks to all-remote

Remote work isn’t without its drawbacks, including loneliness and boredom. In addition, we found that many workers are having more meetings and working longer hours after going remote. There’s evidence that full-time remote workers have a harder time problem solving and being creative than their in-office peers. Many contend that it’s easy to overlook the value of the spontaneous ideas and networking that in-person coworking facilitates.

“Many companies are jumping into ‘remote-first’ too head-on,” said Can Duruk, Product Manager and co-writer of The Margins newsletter. “Once people burn through the accrued social capital you will see productivity drop as relationships decay, new hires not gelling well, etc.”

Futurists have long predicted that as telecommuting became technically feasible, firms and workers would abandon high-cost cities. Research shows that physical co-location is still valuable enough to justify the rents.

One interesting criticism of all-remote teams is that trust and social capital are hard to establish and maintain over distance. As trust and social capital are measurably associated with higher performance, will we see performance dip as they erode?

“We are operating under the assumption things won’t deteriorate and we are making these sweeping changes without much data,” Can said.

More broadly, some fear that widespread adoption of the all-remote model will finally lead to the long-predicted de-urbanization. A move away from large cities would have negative impacts on the environment. Urbanites use less electricity, drive less, and spend about $200-$400 less on electricity each year compared with suburban dwellers.

Plus, people who live in cities have more access to health care, employment, and education.

Alternative models to all-on-site and all-remote work

Workers tend to be happiest and most productive when they have the freedom to live where they want and choose how to organize their time.

This is in line with a Gallup poll showing that just 40% of Americans who are currently working from home are excited to go back to working in their office full-time. Nearly 60% would prefer to work remotely “as much as possible” going forward.

Within a couple of years, Kate Lister from Global Workforce Analytics predicts that 30% of workers will work from home a few days per week.

“I’m partial to what Stripe is doing,” Can from The Margins said. “Treat remote as a hub to position it to succeed, ensure people are available in the same time zone. Seems gradual enough to be low-risk, discrete enough to measure and tangible enough to support.”

The major downside to the split-office model happens when some workers are working from home full-time. Those workers are going to have a different experience than workers who come into the office, even occasionally. Remote workers may have trouble establishing relationships, getting put on the right projects, and getting promoted.

“It’s important that we are conscious of this situation if we want our high performers, wherever they may be, to be recognized for their excellent work,” writes CIO Contributor Dan Mangot. “Similarly, we need to make sure that those who are struggling, get the support they need so they can continue to be valuable members of our organizations.”

Going forward

While the benefits of going all-in on remote work are considerable, it’s also worth considering the drawbacks. For many workers and many companies, a staggered or split-office approach may work best.

To learn how to transition some workers back into office work, check out 6 tips for transitioning into a split office setup.

fear

How to Take Fear Out of the Workplace During COVID-19

Fear. Uncertainty. A growing sense of panic every time the president delivers a national address about the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus.

Chatter around the workplace these days is filled with questions like: Will I get sick? Will I have a job tomorrow? Can I afford to pay my rent?

What can you do when you’re facing fear in the workplace? The good news is that you can turn to four key principles: transparency, financial discipline, trust and respect for people, and a forward-focused approachIf you want to take fear out of the workplace, consider the following steps:

Embrace transparency. “Open-book management” is the idea that everyone inside your organization will be taught to understand the numbers that drive its success. Many growing business owners can be reluctant to share the truth about the financials inside their business. But they don’t realize the kind of risks they take on by doing so. They take on the burden of keeping the business alive — solo. In many cases, CEOs and owners are forced to shut the doors of the business to the shock of their associates, who are then left to wonder if they could have done something to contribute to a different outcome.

That’s why it’s amazing what happens when you have the courage to share the news — good and bad — with your people. Treat them like adults. Get their attention directed toward what they can do to help — versus panicking. Plus, the more eyes you have on a problem, the more ideas you’ll have to solve it. It’s an automatic check-and-balance on the security of your business.

Discuss your cash position. It’s been frustrating over the past few years as we’ve watched startup companies under the guidance of universities, incubators, and even investors embrace the idea that the only way they could grow was to take on debt. Some of you may find yourselves in an over-leveraged position, but that can also be an opportunity to engage your workforce and tell them the truth about the situation. If you do find yourself in trouble, ask your associates for ideas about how they can contribute to cutting costs — and increasing cash flow to the point where you can actually cover your debt obligations. You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you teach your people the rules of the game.

Protect jobs. Attracting talent and retaining it can be tough. We don’t have a future without people. In the not-too-distant past, executives sometimes became idols when downsizing jobs became the new mantra, laying off people at a time they needed those jobs the most. Something similar could happen today. Difficult times can convince companies to resort to layoffs to survive. But it is wise to think differently. Whoever has the most talented workforce will dominate their markets as soon as 2021. The time to get your organization ready for the next upturn is today — not when it’s already arrived. By then, it may be too late.

Get ready for the upturn. As bad and as uncertain as things look today, here’s a secret: it’s actually harder to get a company ready to take advantage of an upturn than it is to prepare for a downturn. Downturns can actually be opportunities to fix things inside your business that you can’t afford to invest the time and resources in when the economy is booming. While it might seem counter-intuitive, the current down market comes as a kind of short-term relief.

It’s giving us a chance to catch up — to make investments in our people and facilities — and to prepare ourselves to capitalize on the economic uptick that we expect to hit in late-2020, early-2021. By then, our workforce should be more stable and productive — and ready to take full advantage of the available opportunities. They have every incentive to do so, because, as owners of the business, they have a true stake in the outcome.

We know how painful things are today. But there’s no reason you can’t also dare to be successful. And learning how to build a culture based on transparency, financial discipline, trust and respect for people, and a forward-focused outlook, is a great place to start removing the fear that’s pervading your workplace.

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Rich Armstrong (www.greatgame.com) is the president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and co-author, with Steve Baker, of GET IN THE GAME: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change. This book is the how-to application of Jack Stack’s 1992 bestseller, The Great Game of Business. Armstrong and Baker co-authored the update of Stack’s book in The Great Game of Business – 20th Anniversary Edition. Armstrong has nearly 30 years of experience in improving business performance and employee engagement through the practice of open-book management and employee ownership.

Steve Baker (www.greatgame.com) is the vice president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and is a top-rated, sought-after speaker and coach on the subjects of open-book management, strategy, and execution, leadership, and employee engagement. Baker is a career marketing and branding professional and an award-winning artist.

KC SmartPort

KC SmartPort Shares Leading Differentiators for its Ecommerce Surge

Known as the “hub for food logistics” in the Midwest, the Kansas City region boasts a unique approach to economic development. KC SmartPort – a nonprofit economic development organization – focuses on attracting freight-based businesses to the region through its streamlined efforts in workforce development, real estate opportunities, and thriving logistics-focused operations. The Kansas City region recently reported substantial growth in ecommerce and distribution companies establishing operations in the area with these companies planning to invest $1.3 billion and aiming for the creation of seven thousand jobs. KC SmartPort president Chris Gutierrez and his team attended the Dallas RILA/LINK 2020 conference as exhibitors and shared the latest and greatest developments emerging in the Kansas City region.

“With online sales increasing every year, companies have really been focusing on their omnichannel strategy. The Kansas City region is centrally located and offers a robust transportation infrastructure from road, air, rail and water, ultimately supporting the ability for businesses to reach 88-90 percent of the population in about two days. This really lends itself as a successful strategy around ecommerce,” said Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort.

“Since 2012, we’ve had over 40 million square feet of industrial buildings built primarily on spec because the ecommerce companies will go through a peak season and if they hit their numbers, they need to be in the next building within a certain time frame to hit next year’s peak. If they don’t have a building to move into, then the opportunity is lost. That’s something our region has been very successful in supporting,” he added.

Among big-name ecommerce and distribution companies that made the move to the Kansas City region in 2019 include Wal-Mart, Hostess, Amazon, CVS Pharmacy, Overstock.com, Tool Source Warehouse, and more. Part of this surge in ecommerce, automotive, and retailers is dually supported by the region’s balancing of business and workforce development efforts.

“What we are doing locally is a three-step process. First, we create an awareness buzz at the elementary and high schools and community colleges around supply chain jobs that serve as career opportunities with great benefits and growth options rather than just filling a position. The second part of local efforts involves public transportation, rideshare, and other mobility solutions to support getting the employee to the job site.”

“The third leg of this approach is encouraging employers to critically think about workplace culture. We take it a step further and educate employers of the importance of the first week during onboarding, eliminating the desire to go to the next company offering a quarter more in pay but offering a potentially more satisfying culture. If the company offers a healthy culture, it makes a huge difference, specifically with non-tangible things that add value to the employee experience.”

These multi-layered efforts not only support the existing workforce and growth in economic development but serve as proactive solutions for future workforce generations in Kansas City. More than 2.3 million people in the region rely on the unique economic development team covering both Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) serves as a bi-state authority covering a broader regional area while addressing large-scale concerns. This partnership serves as a major differentiator in the region for businesses seeking a myriad of options in amenities, incentives, and transportation.

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Chris Gutierrez is the President of KC SmartPort, Inc., a KCADC affiliate organization focused on attracting freight based economic development to the greater Kansas City region and providing thought leadership to the supply chain industry in Kansas City. Chris has been active in economic development and logistics for over 30 years. He joined KC SmartPort in 2003.