What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a series of techniques and workflows designed to help companies reduce costs, increase product quality while improving shop floor efficiency, all leading to improved profitability.

At the center of lean manufacturing are process and production monitoring techniques designed to provide the data needed for advanced analytical techniques, including Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Six Sigma. These techniques and others like them are designed to identify, solve, and remove variation in production processes down to the machine level.

How Lean Manufacturing Delivers Greater Visibility & Control

A lean manufacturing strategy serves as the blueprint for bringing process and quality improvements to every aspect of every plant and production center, delivering greater visibility and control in the process. It guides the defining, deployment, managing, and optimizing of lean manufacturing goals, putting the customers and their needs at the heart of all improvement efforts. The bottom line is that excelling at a lean manufacturing strategy attracts new customers, delights existing ones, and fuels higher gross margins. DELMIAworks ERP helps manufacturers achieve their lean manufacturing objectives, creating end-to-end visibility across the entire manufacturing process.

Lean Manufacturing

3 Core Goals of Lean Manufacturing

Reducing waste using lean manufacturing techniques opens up more time to develop, launch, and produce new products. It is also a proven shock absorber for any manufacturing business, enabling them to continue operating.  The three core strategic goals that often drive manufacturing success and provide a strong competitive edge include the following:

  1. Investing in real-time process and production monitoring to produce the data needed to drive accurate Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Six Sigma techniques.
  2. Re-ordering the flow of information to reduce lag time & lost productivity across shop floors. 
  3. Creating a visibility zone across all shop floors based on real-time intelligence and knowledge.

Combining these three strengths help lessen the effects of disruptions on any manufacturing operating and set a solid foundation for removing the seven types of waste defined below that waste valuable resources, time, and margin:

Lean Strategies to Waste in Production

Lean Manufacturing
  1. Defective products – Scrap, rework customer returns, customer dissatisfaction.
  2. Overproduction – Producing more than internal or external customer needs and producing sooner than the internal or external customer needs.
  3. Waiting – People and machinery waiting for tooling, maintenance, raw materials to be completed across a shop floor.
  4. Non-Utilized Talent – Not providing skilled workers with enough challenging work to keep them engaged and growing in their jobs.
  5. Transportation – Moving materials or people over long distances.
  6. Work-In-Process (WIP) Inventory – Process inventory causes extra handling, extra space, and extra cost.
  7. Excess Motions – Any motion of people or machines which does not add value to the product or service.
  8. Unneeded Processing – Unnecessary (non-value added) or inefficient processing.


Making customers and their needs the catalyst that drives the intensity to improve is the defining trait of all successful lean manufacturing strategies. Manufacturers who emerge to dominate their industries are ingraining quality into every step of their production process. They attain and stay at high manufacturing quality levels by reflex; they become part of their DNA.

The post What is Lean Manufacturing? appeared first on IQMS Manufacturing Blog.

Centrify’s New CEO Has A Compelling Vision For The Future Of Cybersecurity

Centrify's New CEO Has A Compelling Vision For The Future Of Cybersecurity

Bottom Line: Flint Brenton’s vision for the future of Centrify and cybersecurity, in general, prioritizes the need for privileged access management to become core to the multi-cloud architectures and DevOps environments he sees pervading customers’ enterprises today.

Every new cybersecurity company CEO is writing their vision of the future by their decisions and the priorities they are based upon. From tech dominance to sales success, each CEO has their own long-term strategy and idea of what they and the company need to excel at to succeed.

Defining Cybersecurity As A Core Part Of DevOps

It is always fascinating to speak with new CEOs at cybersecurity companies and see what their vision for the company is after they’ve been there a few months. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Flint Brenton, who joined Centrify as President and CEO in July of this year. Flint leads the strategic direction and execution of the company’s vision drawing from an exceptional track record of accelerating growth through product innovation and sales execution. He recently served as president and CEO of CollabNet VersionOne, which pioneered the Value Stream Management market. He previously held president and CEO positions at AccelOps and Tidal Software and has successfully led engineering teams at NetIQ, Compaq, BMC Software, IBM and more.

Flint sees the needs of enterprise developers creating new apps using DevOps as pivotal to the future of Centrify, specifically and cybersecurity in general. A core part of those developers’ needs is securing privileged access management (PAM) in multi-cloud environments while supporting agile development.

My interview with him provided five key insights into why cybersecurity will increasingly be defined by how well it can be incorporated into “DevSecOps,” and how Centrify’s vision for the future looks to capitalize on that demand and drive PAM into the DevOps pipeline to further automate built-in security practices:

  • Cybersecurity providers’ cloud-based architectural platforms will define the competitive landscape for the next several years in the industry. Since accepting the CEO role in July, Flint has been spending most of his time talking with customers to gain in-depth insights into their greatest challenges. He is hearing about the challenges customers face when attempting to make different cybersecurity vendors’ solutions work together and function in a multi-cloud architecture. “Having a clear architectural advantage where features can be added quickly is going to be key in cybersecurity for years to come,” he explained.
  • Any cybersecurity company’s vision needs to consider the speed at which infrastructure and workloads are moving from on-premise to the cloud – it’s faster than predicted. One of Centrify’s financial services customers in APAC is launching a virtual bank and wants the new venture to be entirely cloud-based. Like many Centrify customers, they are considering a multi-cloud architecture, including Amazon AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Flint explains they will need a security model and identity management controls that run in the cloud to accommodate their current and future computing plans. The FinTech is relying on Centrify to secure privileged access for administrators to its multi-cloud environment.
  • Viewing every enterprise customer as a software business first helps remove roadblocks to delivering more value faster. Cybersecurity companies need to consider how they can streamline DevOps and DevSecOps cycles by providing enterprise developers with new tools to integrate identity management efficiently. “The developer is now building identity management into apps and frequently those apps are built using container-based models and they are then deployed either into cloud, on-prem, or a combination of both,” Flint said.
  • Design in flexibility for the many different buying communities you’re trying to serve early on and continually monitor them to learn about what’s most valuable to them. DevOps leaders’ buying community is among the most self-sufficient, willing to download a trial, install it and buy it. Enterprise sales are more research and time-intensive. Flint observed that a company’s vision needs to encompass each buying community’s unique nature and be willing to extend platform-level features and DevOps tools if necessary.
  • Buy-in from the DevOps community will become increasingly important in cybersecurity in general and is a core part of Centrify’s vision. Prior to taking the helm at Centrify, Flint was the CEO of CollabNet VersionOne, where he helped define value stream management as a market standard. I asked him if he sees any parallels with value stream management’s success and the vision he has for Centrify. “The key with value stream management is to understand how developers wanted or needed to build software more successfully in the future. So you have to get the buy-in of the development community to include it in what they’re building, rather than making an appetite of adding it after it’s already been deployed. So I think that’s a major focus in the DevSecOps market. Make it part of what is built. Don’t allow it to become an afterthought,” Flint said. The future of cybersecurity will increasingly be defined by how easily Identity Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) can be designed at the beginning of DevOps and DevSecOps cycles.


What I find most compelling about his vision is how essential every person is to breaking apart complex cybersecurity problems and solving them. Flint’s vision of providing DevOps teams with the tools they need to design in identity access management is groundbreaking. No one is talking about design wins in this area of the market today.

Centrify is quickly turning into a company that actively seeks out their customers’ most difficult obstacles and uses them to challenge itself to grow and do excellent work. They are looking for cybersecurity leaders with cloud-based development skills, AI skills and automation skills who are up for the challenge.

Centrify’s New CEO Has A Compelling Vision For The Future Of Cybersecurity is copyrighted by Louis Columbus. If you are reading this outside your feed reader or email, you are likely witnessing illegal content theft.

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Prophix Software Announces Impressive Third Quarter; Strong Growth Fueled by Accelerating Cloud Migrations and Exceptional International Results

Cloud revenue jumps 118% driven by healthy net-new customer acquisition and cloud migrations, along with significant momentum in international markets


NOVEMBER 11, 2020, MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Prophix Software, a global leader in Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software, today released its business summary for Q3 2020, ended September 30, 2020. The company saw its Q3 Cloud Revenue grow by 118% over the same period last year. “I’m really pleased by how strong our results have been, particularly in light of COVID,” said Alok Ajmera, Prophix president and CEO. “The global crisis has underscored how critical scenario planning is, as well as the value of being deployed in the cloud. Similarly, the market is now more than ever looking for an enterprise-strength FP&A solution that can be deployed by mid-market finance teams.”

Prophix saw particularly strong growth in its international markets with YOY cloud revenue growth of 147%. “We’re seeing significant expansion in business coming from outside North America where about a quarter of our customers are now based,” said Ajmera. “We have built a strong presence in various European, African, APAC and South American countries through both our channel and direct sales channels and expect this to be a key part of our growth going forward.”

In September at Prophix’ virtual customer summit, the company announced it would be moving its on-premise offering to extended support in 2022 and would work with existing on-prem customers to seamlessly migrate to the cloud. This news has been well received by the Prophix customer base and resulted in a significant increase in the number of customers transitioning to the Prophix cloud. “We added 60 new cloud customers in Q3,” said Ajmera. “This is in addition to improving the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS – a measure of customer satisfaction), which jumped to an industry-leading 81 in Q3.”

What’s equally impressive is these results came in the midst of a very challenging time, both socially and economically. It’s notable then, that the third quarter not only saw Prophix achieve strong financial numbers but also a company high 91% employee satisfaction rating. “It’s gratifying to feel we’re providing a valuable solution to our customers and also creating a great place for people to work,” said Ajmera.

# # #

About ProphixYour business is evolving. And the way you plan and report on your business should evolve too. Prophix helps midmarket companies achieve their goals more successfully with its innovative Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software. With Prophix, finance leaders improve profitability and minimize risk by automating budgeting, planning, and reporting and puts the focus back on what matters most – uncovering business opportunities and driving competitive advantage. Whether in the cloud or on-premise, Prophix supports your future with a platform that flexes to suit your strategic realities, today and tomorrow.

The post Prophix Software Announces Impressive Third Quarter; Strong Growth Fueled by Accelerating Cloud Migrations and Exceptional International Results appeared first on ERP News.

Choosing the Right ERP Software

The market is full of ERP systems of various shapes and sizes. Each of them boasts unique features that can help companies increase efficiency and touch new heights. Therefore, it isn’t hard to believe that the global ERP software market will hit $78 billion+ by 2026. Although ERP software offers myriad benefits, not all of them serve every business.


There is a
widespread belief that companies should first purchase the ERP software and then adapt themselves
to the software’s functionality. But lack of attention can prove to be a very
costly affair.

ERP software can completely transform how businesses function. So companies have to lay down a well-thought-out strategy before making the final purchase. They must weigh the pros and cons and check whether the ERP software provides them a competitive advantage over other industry players.

Let’s see 5
critical factors that companies must keep in mind while selecting the right ERP
software for themselves.

1. Get a 360-degree perspective of your business

businesses have different needs. If you are a manufacturer, then your primary
need is to process raw materials into finished products. If you are a supplier
or distributor, your principal need is to maintain a good logistics network. If
you provide customer support, your primary need is to have a quick and robust
communication network. Thus, it’s necessary to prepare a list of your
challenges before you start looking for vendors.

2. Involvement of senior management is a must.

Does your company
follow a top-down hierarchy where the senior management takes all decisions?
Does the end-user have a little/no say in decision-making?

Well, you cannot do
much to change how your company functions, but you can give positive inputs in
the following ways:

  • Critical features that an ERP software
    must have as per your industry.
  • The extra benefits that the ERP software
    will provide.
  • A detailed cost-to-efficiency analysis of
    different ERP systems in the market.
  • A list of the best vendors in the
  • Which ERP software are your competitors
  • What benefits your competitors have
    gained after installing the ERP software?

3. Get a clear understanding of all the costs
involved in implementing the ERP software.

Once you begin your
search for the ideal ERP software, you will talk to many vendors. Here is an
advice that you should always keep in mind. ERP vendors, like other vendors,
will try to downplay the costs and risks related to the ERP. Some of them will
also try hiding associated costs — hardware upgrades, software updates,
employee training programs, implementation costs, etc.

Before making the
final purchase, you should browse through multiple vendors and check what
features they provide and the associated costs. The famous idiom
“Precaution is better than cure” applies perfectly over here because
you cannot backtrack once you purchase the ERP software. So it’s better to base
your decisions on data and customer reviews rather than false advertisements
and gut feeling.

4. Develop a realistic ERP implementation plan.

Once you have
selected the vendor and have purchased the ERP software, it’s time to build a
full-fledged implementation plan. The plan should consist of the following:

  • The implementation cost of the entire
  • The time required for the full
  • Functional and business commitments
  • Time and cost required for data migration
  • Significant organizational changes
    associated with the implementation

Apart from the points mentioned above, companies should also conduct end-user analysis to know whether the new ERP software has brought a significant change in their work. You should also periodically check whether the ERP software is performing well as per the set metrics. If it doesn’t fulfill your business objectives, you should call the vendor for assistance and bring the necessary changes.

5. The search for the ideal ERP software never ends.

The business
landscape is like a flowing river that keeps changing. Yesterday’s
“wants” become tomorrow’s “needs.” What appeared like a
revolutionary feature a few years back becomes the norm today.

Improving over the
past is what the future is, right? But the problem lies somewhere else.

Many technical
breakthroughs happen globally, but not all ERP vendors embrace them.
Traditional vendors play safe and don’t change with time, making it all the more
important to search for new vendors that welcome technology with open arms.

Most companies keep
only a handful of attributes while searching for vendors such as:

  • Name and popularity of the vendor in the
  • Which vendors are their competitors working
  • Market share of the vendor
  • The price the vendor charges

The above-described
features are non-essential. Companies should consider them after including the
following essential elements:

  • Relative strengths and weaknesses of the ERP vendor
  • Which vendor provides an ERP software
    that fulfills all your business requirements?
  • Which vendor offers up-to-date ERP software?

Remember that
business-critical attributes change with time. So don’t have the wrong
impression that once you have purchased the ERP software, the search is
complete. It is an indefinite search that only becomes challenging with time.


ERP software will enable your company to become blazingly fast and
efficient. It’s the surest way to increase your production multiple times,
perform transactions at a lightning-fast speed, and provide immense value to
your customers. 

What are the Key Steps for
Selecting the Right ERP Software?

Choosing the Right ERP Software is the most crucial step in the entire
process as it actually decides what you can expect as an outcome towards the
end. Some of the most important steps you would want to focus on at are

1. Doing extensive market research about some vendors that have a proven track record

2. Understand the ownership cost

3. Create a goal aligned implementation plan

4. Set a product demo and ask for a trial

5. Be clear on the pros and cons of On-cloud and On-premise setup

The post Choosing the Right ERP Software appeared first on ERP News.

10 Best Powerful Hybrid Cloud Solutions Providers

Although cloud computing is gaining popularity at a rapid rate, businesses still need to maintain an on-premise data management center. Many companies and businesses are subscribing to private cloud services. But if you have a small businesses that cannot yet invest money in a private cloud solution, yet you want to explore the cloud solution options, a hybrid cloud solutions provider would be an optimal choice for you.

There are plenty of Los Angeles IT consulting companies that are providing hybrid cloud solutions. But if you want to choose the best powerful hybrid cloud solutions providers, here are our top ten recommendations:


1. Amazon:

Amazon is not a new name when it comes to the largest e-commerce marketplace as well as the best web service providers. Amazon web services have a major chunk in the market and their services and customer base seems to be growing by leaps and bounds still. From disaster recovery to public cloud solutions, they offer a wide range of cloud services for their clients and customers.

2. IBM:

Since 2017, IBM has merged the different branches of its hybrid cloud services and labeled them as IBM Cloud. They specialize in both public as well as on-premise cloud services. Equipped with the latest technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and serverless computing, IBM offers the best IT services for small business.

3. Microsoft:

If you are looking for an easy to use and hassle-free hybrid cloud service, there is no better option other than the Microsoft Azure hybrid cloud services. Built on the Windows server and .Net framework, adopting cloud services is extremely easy. Plus the services are also quite affordable making them a great choice for businesses that are just starting out.

4. Alibaba:

Alibaba is known to have followed Amazon’s footsteps to establish itself as a renowned e-commerce marketplace that is serving people on a global scale. Following along the same lines, they are now offering hybrid cloud services, database services, and web hosting services as well. The services are mainly based in China but since they have data centers in different parts of the world, you can make use and rely on their hybrid cloud service from any corner around the globe.

5. Cisco:

Cisco itself is a private custom IT support service
provider. But they do have a partnership through which they offer hybrid cloud
services. They cater to both public as well as private cloud subscriptions and
have data centers spread across multiple locations. The fact that they have
partnered up with Google to provide these services alone is a clear reflection
of the quality and the standards of their hybrid cloud solutions.

6. Hewlett Packard Enterprise:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise offers the most convenient hybrid cloud services. The businesses are free to choose the extent of both private as well as public cloud services. Therefore, businesses get the freedom to customize the service as per the demands and requirements of their businesses. Another perk of Hewlett Packard Enterprise services is its excellent customer support. The customer representatives are always available to guide the clients and solve any issue they might come across.

7. VMware:

VMware is a new hybrid cloud service
provider. But despite them making their way to the market very recently, they
still offer one of the best cloud virtualization services. The customers are
free to run their own data centers or leave this responsibility to VMware. The
hybrid cloud services are also compatible with other leading cloud services so
you can incorporate the cloud service that you already have. The infrastructure
of their services is commendable and perfect for both small as well as large scale

8. Dell EMC:

Dell EMC is a renowned data center equipment provider. But they have also started offering hybrid cloud services for their customers. They offer cloud as well as on-premise data management services. Their services are highly scalable so you can easily customize the subscription and change it according to the changing needs of your business. Their services are highly recommended for small businesses and startups. 

9. Oracle:

Oracle is amongst the most popular and acclaimed database and enterprise app service providers in the market. Now they have also introduced hybrid cloud services for their customers. The best thing about Oracle is the ease of shifting. The process of moving apps that are being run on-premise to cloud storage. The changes are minimal and the process is smooth so that the transition can be as simple and hassle-free as possible.

10. Equinix:

Equinix is amongst the best powerful hybrid
cloud solutions providers. They have a total of one hundred and eighty data centers
spread across different locations around the globe. They form a basic network
that connects customers to hybrid service providers like Amazon and Microsoft
etc. Their bandwidth and latency capacity is very fast and impressive.

The post 10 Best Powerful Hybrid Cloud Solutions Providers appeared first on ERP News.

How to Think Strategy Before Function When Selecting an ERP

With the increasing migration of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from costly installs to pay-as-you-go SaaS solutions, more small and mid-sized businesses can now leverage this software to propel them to the next stage of business growth. But SMBs coming to ERP for the first time—and those who have outgrown their existing systems—too often evaluate potential ERPs with a tactical mindset, focusing solely on functional capabilities without an eye toward longer-term, more strategic goals and the potential for business transformation. That means they’re asking the wrong questions during the selection and RFP process.


Avoiding the functionality checklist

RFPs often masquerade as functionality
checklists and lack the strategic context needed to shape both the questions
and the responses.

How does this happen?

In one scenario, an executive is hired from
a similar company where an ERP has been implemented with impressive results. He
will ask his previous ERP vendor for an RFP template and adapt this to his
needs. This approach suggests ERP requirements are generic. They are not.

Often, companies drive the ERP selection process with a single department leading, which can be problematic if the process focuses on current and perceived inefficiencies rather than reaching for larger, strategic advances. For instance, they may look at a group of customer service reps clicking away on keyboards all day and seek to speed the sales order entry process. But in some cases, taking advantage of the benefits of ERP might mean actually adding steps required to enter sales orders, because doing so simultaneously shares useful information with other departments in the enterprise such as accounting, marketing, and sourcing.

Taking it up another level, what if the
same company wants to double sales in the next five years with only a 30%
increase in overhead? The challenge then is not just about disseminating sales
data to all departments, it’s about how to completely streamline the
order-to-cash collection process that enables businesses to collect money
faster as volume grows, and how the ERP system can make this happen with a
process change improvement.

If your ERP selection process myopically focuses on the execution of discrete functions, you will lose out on the organization-wide advantages of changing your business processes in order to send business-critical data all over your operations, generating valuable intelligence that boosts your ability to compete.

Obviously, you can’t ignore the need for ERP systems to support day-to-day tactical requirements, most usefully by deploying the MoSCoW method—must have, should have, could have, and would like. But the strategic approach forces you to think about how the business will be run differently in a year, three years, and five years out. If you then learn that keeping up with these future requirements will require customizing 40% of one vendor’s product, you know you’re on the wrong track. 

What’s the business challenge?

The best way to generate meaningful
dialogue with potential ERP providers is to provide strategic context. Your
business has a vision; your partner needs to understand that vision to enable
your journey.

Let’s say you’re a consumer products manufacturer shifting, in the wake of COVID-19, to support primarily direct-to-consumer shipping. Your challenge, until recently, has been shipping thousands of pallets to a multinational corporation and staying compliant with the retailer’s shipping guidelines to avoid fines. Now, you’re gearing up to drop-ship hundreds of thousands of individual products direct to consumers on behalf of the retail giant.

Your would-be ERP providers need to understand
the functional and business process requirements for the transformation, and you’ll
want to understand how well their systems can manage this seismic shift.

Another common trigger for seeking a new ERP system is that the existing one is not well-suited to your industry. In such cases, your selection process will need to explore how providers will handle specialized processes like managing regulatory compliance in the pharmaceutical distribution or tracking food products by batch and lot in case of a recall. Today, SMBs have many more choices when it comes to industry-specific ERPs. Aptean, for instance, provides a family of specialized ERP solutions for the mid-market in several significant verticals such as food and beverage, industrial manufacturing and distribution, and retail.

There are advantages to working with an industry-specific
ERP provider that has demonstrated success in your industry with other customers
who look just like you. You’ll avoid the steep costs and time involved in customizing the code to support specific industry
functionality. Further, you are likely to benefit from
improvements made in response to other customers in your industry that are then
made available to you.

Think strategy, think change

ERP implementation will inevitably involve new business processes that require change management across the business. That’s why everyone in your company must be on board, right from the beginning—from the boardroom to the end-user. Before you approach any ERP vendors, your first question needs to be: am I willing to change processes? If the answer is no, you’re wasting your time and company resources.

Choosing an ERP solution is one of the most
important decisions your business will make. Take your time and think through
all the strategic issues before rushing to market with an RFP that’s nothing
more than a functionality checklist. Think of the RFP as an invitation to ERP
providers to partner on your company’s journey of growth and change. The best
partners are the ones who have the reliable resources to innovate and continually
scale the solution as your requirements evolve, to get
you where you want to go. 

The post How to Think Strategy Before Function When Selecting an ERP appeared first on ERP News.

Xero Bolsters Platform Automation by Building Hubdoc Machine Learning Technology Into Next Phase of Xero Expenses

WELLINGTON — 5 November 2020 — Xero, the global small business platform, today announced the next phase of its integration with Hubdoc — embedding Hubdoc’s technology to supercharge machine learning in the Xero platform and rolling out a new update to help small businesses process bills and receipts faster.

New advanced automation technology in Xero Expenses, with embedded machine learning, can speed up the time it takes to transcribe and submit some receipts from minutes to seconds. The technology updates launch in mid-November and will enable Xero Expenses to extract relevant information faster.  This means employees can quickly submit expenses into the app and check for accuracy. Xero Expenses connects directly to the small business platform, making it easier to reconcile expenses against their accounting ledger.

Xero is also launching one of its most requested features in Hubdoc — duplicate detection. In the coming weeks, Hubdoc will be able to automatically identify and highlight accounts payable documents that have the same supplier, date, and amount, and notify users about the duplicates before submitting into Xero, minimizing accidental errors.

Together, improvements in Xero Expenses and Hubdoc will mean small businesses and their advisors can spend less time on the manual data entry tasks and hours spent collecting and managing bills, expenses, and other documents each month, and focus on helping grow their businesses.

Anna Curzon, Chief Product Officer, Xero said: “Every minute saved on collecting, transcribing, or reconciling documents is valuable time small businesses and their advisors can spend on actually running or growing their business. We’re always looking for ways to help give our small business customers time back in their day, and are excited about leveraging this advanced technology to improve the accuracy of this data in Xero. As the integrity of this type of data grows, we can provide more powerful business insights and analytics for our customers.”

Since Xero’s acquisition of Hubdoc in 2018, it’s made the technology available to all of Xero’s business edition global subscribers. The next phase of the journey includes continuing to make the integration more seamless and embedding the technology into the infrastructure of Xero’s broader small business platform. 

Kendra Vant, EGM Data at Xero leads a growing team of data, AI, and machine learning experts and says her team is making significant strides in bolstering the machine learning capability on the platform. “Though much of this work happens ‘under the hood’, it’s exciting to release updates that will make a significant difference to our customers’ everyday lives. These improvements make it easier to find the right insights needed to run and grow their business”.

The post Xero Bolsters Platform Automation by Building Hubdoc Machine Learning Technology Into Next Phase of Xero Expenses appeared first on ERP News.

Shifting Priorities in ERP Selection

If there’s one thing manufacturers want in the near future, it’s stability. However, with COVID-19, a global recession, and political uncertainty, a steady-as-she-goes outlook isn’t in the cards any time soon.


Even before COVID-19, manufacturers faced significant challenges, including global competition, fluctuations in the supply chain, shifts in consumption patterns, and a shortage of skilled workers. Today, the pandemic has exacerbated these issues and brought new challenges to the forefront, including the need to safeguard employees against infection through remote work and social distancing.

What can be predicted is ongoing,
fast-paced change. To cope with this volatility, companies need ERP systems
that enable them to swiftly adapt to emerging conditions. This requires an ERP
with unrivaled flexibility and highly customizable capabilities. Due to these factors,
we’ve seen priorities shift in the ERP selection process with five criteria emerging
high on manufacturers’ requirements:  

Real Cloud

Believe it or not, companies are still attempting to navigate between “real” cloud solutions, and those only masquerading as such. This is because some legacy ERP vendors cloaked their solutions to look and sound like a cloud system when it’s really just a hosted version of an on-premises system.

In actuality, these “mock”
cloud solutions have not made any architectural changes to satisfy the
essential characteristics of cloud computing. Instead, they’ve self-proclaimed
their hosted offerings as “cloud” or “SaaS,” hoping to entice those shopping
for a cloud option.

Some legacy ERP
providers have gone a step further, cloud-enabling some portion of their
solution. For instance, they may have added cloud-based point solutions, such
as travel and expense management or time reporting.

Further complicating the
matter is the fact that there is a range of cloud ERP solutions. Some are “more
cloud” than others, meaning they more fully exhibit cloud computing

As a result, the choice
between cloud ERP and hosted ERP is not binary—there’s a range of options, and
a buyer must beware and discern where along the spectrum a vendor’s cloud
offering actually falls.

A Platform Approach

While the benefits of
on-demand, low-maintenance cloud solutions are clear, some companies have
simply gone overboard with too many cloud-based point solutions. The resulting
mish-mash of systems, coined a Frankencloud, can create chaos.

Companies end up with
each cloud solution having different tools for reporting, workflow, and customization.
The clouds have different user interfaces and aren’t easily integrated with one
another. Worst of all, databases are siloed, making reporting and analytics
more difficult. Concepts like a “360° view of the customer” and a “single
version of the truth” are difficult to attain.

To avoid this scenario, companies are now establishing a cloud-platform strategy upfront. Years ago, companies did this by deciding on a technology stack comprising of hardware, operating system,s, and database technology for a unified approach. Similarly, companies today must standardize on a common cloud platform and implement apps on that platform when and where possible. This will minimize integration, data fragmentation, system administration, and the need to manage various toolsets.

For instance, ERP should
reside on the same platform as CRM, so then they can share the same data model.
This works well for manufacturers, as they naturally have a need to share sales
and production information for better forecasts and planning. Combining ERP and
CRM on one platform goes a long way toward simplifying the cloud stockpile,
especially if additional apps and capabilities can be leveraged on the same

Low-Code Technology

started by discussing the importance of customizations to adapt to today’s
volatile conditions. Customization is critical in this environment, especially
as consumption patterns change, supply chains are disrupted, and customers still
demand quality and service. ERP systems can help in all
these areas, but only if it’s fine-tuned to a company’s specific needs.

The trend is that companies want to put more customization in the hands of business users, who are the ones with firsthand knowledge of what’s needed on the front lines to optimize processes and improve customer experience. This is why low-code technology has been emerging as a solution. It gives users customization power because it requires little to no knowledge of software code. Instead, system administrators, power users, and business users can be deemed “citizen developers” within a company. In this role, they can turn a generic system into an ERP uniquely designed for their businesses.

With low-code customization capabilities, they can create screens, mobile apps, workflows, analytic capabilities, and more. Citizen developers can perform these functions because low-code ERP offers a visual approach and drag-and-drop ease of customization. The graphical interface allows citizen developers to draw from a library of tools, data, and process steps when assembling their desired ERP configuration.

For example, low-code lets companies embed predictive analytics and AI into apps and business processes. AI-powered analytics enables business users to automatically discover relevant patterns in the data – without having to build sophisticated models. Within apps, AI can help users determine the next best step to take in a process. In this way, users might spot opportunities, predict outcomes, and get recommendations to improve business outcomes.

Mobilizing ERP

Manufacturers are realizing that mobile apps can help them put ERP capabilities into the hands of frontline workers, customers, and suppliers, and they can even address the need for remote work required during COVID-19.

First, with the low-code customization discussed above, companies can more easily build tailored apps and workflows. Mobile apps essentially make an ERP operate more like a consumer banking app than a complex legacy system. Companies can roll out apps to support a specific function, and these apps are so intuitive that users don’t require much if any, training. For instance, companies can implement the following capabilities via mobile apps:

  • Provide sales reps with a
    smartphone app with one-tap access to their customers’ most recent orders.
  • Give warehouse managers
    detailed order information when they’re out on the floor.
  • Guide quality-control staff
    through an incoming materials inspection.

A low-code ERP vendor delivers mobile app and process flow
templates “out of the box” with the solution. These starter templates can be configured
to a company’s needs and quickly rolled out. In this way, templates become
tailor-made, and companies essentially take an off-the-shelf ERP and make it their
own. Of course, companies can also create their own apps from scratch, but they
have the benefit of business rules and governance guardrails to create within certain
constraints. In this way, they have flexibility, but they also won’t make a
mess of the system.

Building Online Communities for Real-time Communication and Collaboration 

Many companies want the ability to quickly launch and bring to life distinct communities of suppliers, customers, distributors, or other trading partners. Low-code can quickly facilitate this type of community online, which is connected to the ERP’s data model. As a result, it’s easy for manufacturers to share appropriate information – such as orders, invoices, or cases – with designated community members.

For example, high-tech products, such as
electronics or computerized devices, are intricate to manufacture – and
managing the supply chain is equally complex. A supply chain organization (SCO)
for such products might require materials from dozens of suppliers around the
world. To efficiently manage interactions and coordinate logistics, the SCO could
use a community builder, which is part of a low-code toolset, to quickly erect an
online supplier community.

The SCO could configure data security, so suppliers
wouldn’t be able to see one each other or one another’s orders. So, supplier A could
only view its orders, not the orders for supplier B, and vice versa. This type
of security is easily configured on the backend, as the SCO defines who sees
what – and what data is kept confidential.

Through the online community, the SCO can also enable suppliers to access dashboards, so they can monitor their own inventory levels and performance. For example, suppliers can see their rate of on-time orders and late shipments, as well as the next orders they should be preparing. Similarly, the SCO can view the health of its overall supply chain.

A Custom-Fit ERP

Manufacturers have been under pressure to do more with less and to satisfy increased customer demands, all of which have been complicated and intensified by COVID-19. Obviously, the needs of a confections company will be different than that of an aerospace manufacturer. A sophisticated ERP vendor recognizes this and has built-in the agility to allow such companies to tailor the system to fit their businesses.

Real cloud ERP built on a common platform offers a single solution to meet today’s challenges — while low-code customization enables companies to more easily roll-out mobile apps, streamline processes, embed AI, and create online communities. Altogether, these capabilities maximize a company’s return on investment. And as market and COVID conditions continue to evolve, companies can adapt accordingly, as they’ll have the technological flexibility to help them do it.

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The Adaptive ERP Imperative for GHSP

In today’s manufacturing environment, the need for digital transformation is paramount. It is vital to the viability of today’s businesses, serving as a blueprint for growth and ability to stay ahead of the competition, implement advanced technologies, identify and capitalize on strategic market opportunities, and message and communicate with key stakeholders in the best (and worst) of times.


The Many Hats of Adaptive ERP

At the heart of digital transformation lies adaptive enterprise resource planning (ERP). ERP is foundational, representing the first and most important step in the digital transformation process. To take it one step further, using adaptive ERP, manufacturers can rely on data to drive their product development, identify industry trends, and enhance their operational efficiency. In addition to providing basic platform functions, such as data entry and reporting, an adaptive ERP system supports the strategic direction of the company by allowing it to respond quickly to change in the business environment. With the pace at which the world is progressing, speed is now one of the most important business core competencies. It’s the job of the ERP solution to be agile enough to align with the business, to enable new technologies, and improve the company’s chances of success. An adaptive ERP must:

  • Simplify the adoption of advanced technologies
  • Enable the company to deploy rapidly and allow for faster upgrades
  • Have real-time data visibility to enhance operational efficiency
  • Enable companies to quickly adapt and implement industry best practices
  • Allow for global scaling and the future growth of the business

A few things to consider
for creating an agile and adaptive ERP system to pave your digital
transformation journey:  

Choosing the Right Partner

Long gone are the days when companies suffer through lengthy implementation projects with monolithic software suites that come with high project costs, business disruption, and IT frustration. More and more, CIOs want their ERP solution deployed rapidly to mitigate costs and boost time to benefit. Manufacturers now realize how vital implementation speed is in support of their ability to minimize costs and risk to the business.

For GHSP, a global supplier in the automotive, high-end appliance, and innovative technology industries, selecting an ERP partner with a proven ability to rapidly deploy a global adaptive ERP implementation was critical. The ability to discover, align, and deliver complete solutions in a manner maximizes value for customers is a part of GHSP’s heritage.  The company started out as a stamped metal components company early in the 20th Century when stamped metal was the best way to build things. It then moved to precision injection molding when the cost and design advantages of composites began to shine. GHSP adopted systems thinking because it allowed them to solve more problems and create more value for its customers.  To this day, it continues to lead integrating mechanical, electronic, and software elements into solutions that meet 21st Century demands for products that anticipate the needs of the people who use them.

As an innovative company with the need to be nimble and move quickly, GHSP executed against an ambitious 18-month timeline for its adaptive ERP global deployment. Selecting a partner whose company’s values, strategic and operational mindset aligned with theirs was key to the program’s success. The collaboration enabled GHSP’s employees to participate in the integration efforts and get comfortable utilizing adaptive ERP on a day-to-day basis, resulting in modernized processes and IT capabilities that were heralded across the business units, corporation, and even up to the board level.  

Upgrading to a More Adaptive Enterprise  

For manufacturers, visibility into the business is no longer a nice to have, but a necessity. Rapid access to business data and analysis enhance business efficiency, deliver operational performance improvements, and ensure industry regulatory requirement compliance.  Making the right decisions at the right time based on the right data and analysis is achievable. With greater access to real-time production, financial, supply chain, and other data, manufacturers and their trading partners are in a better position to deliver innovative products, drive critical manufacturing processes and provide a positive customer experience.

GHSP updated its nearly 20-year-old ERP system rapidly by aligning processes and creating efficiencies across its business to help drive global innovation, product design, development, and manufacturing.  A few key elements instrumental to the initiative’s success included:

  • a successful project design phase relying upon key decision documents
  • engaging key SME’s in process/data decisions
  • setting pragmatic timelines and a particular focus on third-party involvements
  • team management and routine check-ins
  • focusing on the testing of data and processes and ensuring the finish line objective was in sight

Throughout the entire scope of the upgrade, there was no business, EDI, customer, or supplier disruptions resulting in zero missed shipments.

By developing an adaptive ERP, GHSP can now view its
manufacturing capacity globally as opposed to at a localized regional level.
Automating accounts payable systems increased productivity and enhanced
reporting. With its implementation of QAD workbenches, GHSP’s material planners
have seen a reduction in about 5% of their daily work in efficiency
gains.  With adaptive ERP, GHSP enhanced its EDI capabilities to its
supplier base resulting in a savings of about two hours per day for a material
planner.  GHSP was also able to benefit from visibility into its
inventory and supplier environments during the current pandemic business
environment which is absolutely crucial in a successful restart.

For companies like GHSP, information technology has to be adaptive. Without the ability and agility, companies can be hamstrung when attempting to enter markets, take on different process models, and embrace the industry of tomorrow.

The post The Adaptive ERP Imperative for GHSP appeared first on ERP News.

6 Steps for a Smooth Cloud ERP Selection

Many of us have
been forced to change the way we work due to COVID 19 and huge numbers are
choosing to keep it that way – working remotely from wherever they happen to
be, even while some return to the office. This has required businesses to think
differently and has resulted in many digital transformation plans being
accelerated. At the very least it means all staff must now have access to cloud
technology as without it remote workers will struggle to access shared
databases and collaborate on tasks.

So, with this in mind, businesses may need to change the way they approach the task of selecting ERP software. For our money, this makes the cloud a no-brainer – even more so if you are in the small to the medium-sized business bracket. For large complex enterprises there will always be people who favor on-premise solutions – in which case there are products out there for you – but let us proceed on the basis that you are looking at cloud for now.


1. Scope

Ask yourself what
you need your ERP software to do? A clear understanding and breakdown of your
company’s needs and existing processes will give you a good start. Out of the
box cloud, ERP software is designed to run your day-to-day business processes
based on best practices so you may have to adjust what you do now to fit the
best practice approach.

2. Customisation

Are you happy to fit your standard business processes to this model or will bespoke changes need to be made? Talk to your potential software providers and find out how long it would take and what the costs are as it can really bump up budgets and wipe out the gains of going out of the box in the first place. At In Cloud Solutions we think this is a moment for honesty with customers who reflexively want to make the solution bespoke without realizing the real benefits of making changes now – with the prospect of greater efficiencies in the future.

3. Control

How much/little control
are you comfortable with when it comes to your ERP? A cloud-based system will
not live on your own servers and your IT people won’t need to get access to it.
Ask your partner/vendor about any automatic updates, how often they happen, and
how much support you will get with learning about new functionality.

4. Features

Out of the box, ERP comes with a range of standard modules like financials, projects, CRM, and supply chain management. Some basic ERP has the option of opening up the financials module only to start off with before expanding as time goes on.

In addition to
all the basic modules, you will want to investigate extras like analytics which
either come built-in or can be bought as an extra. Then there are other
features like the hugely popular automatic invoice recognition function which
learns as it goes using artificial intelligence.

The only warning
here is that it is wise to select on the basis of basic functionality first –
rather than shiny “toys”. Get the basics right and don’t get distracted by
bells and whistles. 

5. Pick the Right
Implementation Partner

implementation partners can make or break your ERP project. Here are some questions
to ask when deciding who to work with;

Does your
implementation partner:

Have experience
in your industry?

Understand your
end goals?

Have values that
correspond with those of your company?

Have expertise with your chosen cloud ERP software?

Meet your needs regarding
service delivery? Your partners don’t only help with the system implementation
but can also help you get the most from it afterward.

experience, skills, and previous case studies all need to be taken into account
to ensure that your implementation partner is the best choice for your company.

6. A name you can

When it comes to software selection you will want to know about the company that has designed and created it. How big are they? Are they new or well established?  What is their reputation? Don’t get swayed by prejudice and rumor. It is worth remembering that cloud software for smaller companies is still relatively new and a given vendor’s reputation in that sector may not yet be well established. If you associate some well-known names with huge projects like SAP or Oracle it may surprise you to know that they now make very good products for small and mid-sized businesses. By the same token, the well-known names in small business solutions are setting their sights on bigger companies and have a growing portfolio of more complex offerings – it really is a busy market out there!

Still, confused?

Make sure your
internal management team gets involved in meeting the potential candidates. At
the end of the day, it is the implementation team that will help you to make
your project a success. Go with the team you like – in our experience it really
is the key. You need a team that you can trust to give you the best advice. The
actual software is not going to differ that much between brands but a team that
delivers will make all the difference.

 Time to be bold

Now is not the
time to wait it out, as cloud solutions are conferring advantages on your
competitors now. This is an opportunity to be bold and pull ahead while others delay.
Digital change is not going away but many businesses sadly will not survive the
continuing uncertainty. Which one do you want to be?

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