Category Archives: IT Management

TOP 10 KEY CRITERIA WHEN SELECTING AN ERP

erp-selection-process1

It is already known that ERP solutions are mission critical systems for the company or organization. They support the organization’s core business processes and store very valuable information that will be key input for the management team when taking important decisions.

Like any software, ERPs have a limited lifespan and, on average, every 7 to 10 years the system will need a replacement. However, implementing a new ERP solution is a complex process that will require an initial investment, an external expert help from an implementer and a project that will take several months of work to fully complete the system configuration and customization according to business requirements. In addition, the new ERP software will also have a big impact on the organization, as users will have to learn how to use it to be productive in the shortest time possible.

Bearing all this in mind, it is clear that selecting the right ERP software is a strategic decision for the company that will have a huge impact on the business’ or organization’s performance. Below is a list of the 10 key criteria we recommend taking into account when choosing a new ERP solution.

  1. Meet functional requirements. The first analysis to do is mapping the functional requirements with the system capabilities. When doing this exercise, it is important to distinguish must have from nice to have needs and prioritize them accordingly. ERP implementations are usually phased and it is recommended to focus on must have requirements in the initial phase, leaving more advanced or complex needs for later phases.

  2. Platform flexibility and scalability. Although we might have a clear list of functional requirements that need to be addressed during the implementation, the reality is that some of the current organization’s needs probably won’t be fully covered with standard features or new needs will appear in the future. We need to be sure that it will be possible to address them. Software flexibility and scalability will remove possible limitations in the present and in the future.

  3. Ease of use and intuitive user interface. Usability is a very important criterion that needs to be taken into account. In the end, the easier the system is to use, the greater return it will provide. Users need to be productive and self-sufficient when recording new transactions and searching for the information they need. This will even have an impact on customer service quality.

  4. Innovative technology. As ERP systems have a long lifespan, it is important that their technology is innovative enough to not to become obsolete too early. Technology evolves very quickly and what can be enough today, might be a bottleneck in the future. Currently, cloud-ready solutions that can be accessed from anywhere and any device are a must.

  5. Competitive pricing and flexible financing. The ERP implementation will be an investment that will provide a return. As with any investment, it is important that costs are properly distributed over time. If possible, it is advisable to avoid big upfront investments and go with a model that allows you to pay a similar amount every year.

  6. Similar customer references. Certainly, your company or organization will not be the first one in your market segment willing to adopt specific ERP software. Another proof of having made the right selection is knowledge of other similar companies or organizations using the same solution.

  7. Local implementer and support. Choosing the right software is important, but working with the right partner is key. In an ERP project, there are 3 elements that are equally important: product, implementer and company involvement. Make sure your implementer is experienced in both the business and technology areas and can provide local support when needed.

  8. ERP vendor backup. An additional guarantee that the implementer will be able to provide the right support you need is having ERP vendor support. Working with an official vendor partner is essential. Ask for the SLAs the vendor has agreed with your implementer when receiving support.

  9. Freedom to access source code. Once you are sure you will work with the right implementer and vendor, make sure you will have enough freedom to change them if needed. Being able to access the source code and using standard languages will be a guarantee of freedom in case you need to find another partner.

  10. Compelling product roadmap. Finally, it is also advisable to look at the product roadmap for the coming years to check if the vendor’s vision is aligned with yours and your future business plans. Make sure the ERP software will also evolve from a technology perspective so that you can benefit from future innovations in this field in addition to new features.

If you have already gone through this process, we invite you to comment on this blog to find out how your experience has been.

joemalone

USER EXPERIENCE: WHAT ARE THE REAL BENEFITS OF A WEB-BASED POS?

Deployment

Traditional stand-alone POS systems need specific hardware, or at least a specific operating system and require an installation process. Any update requires the terminal to be online, but the POS system must be stopped. Retailers seldom welcome a call from their IT support staff. No shop managers like to stop selling for 20 minutes for an IT upgrade.

When a terminal breaks down, the POS system must be installed on the new hardware and the local database must be restored, or regenerated. This process can take up to one day, providing spare hardware is available.

The story is very different with a Web-based POS. The Openbravo WebPOS requires no physical installation; the server distributes the upgrades automatically, and it takes only a few minutes to activate a new terminal. When a piece of hardware breaks down, a shop assistant can grab any smartphone, tablet or computer lying around and restart sales in a few minutes. The consumer may even not notice any delay.

Operational disruptions

Per one hundred terminals, 20 minute upgrades can account for four days of technician work, and sales that cannot be processed. Without remote access, if a technician needs to go shop by shop, the cost increases a hundred fold.

Out of a hundred terminals, one or two will break down per month. Big retailers have automated the installation of their POS system, but it may take 1 or 2 days to ship the new equipment to the shop.

Web-based POS upgrades are available from the deployment server, and create no downtime in shops. There is no installation in a shop, just 1 or 2 minutes of activation.

Training

A traditional client-server POS system, or character mode POS, has limited space and components. Relying on codes, it is often difficult for new employees to get used to them.

A well designed Web-based POS makes use of touch-friendly components. The Openbravo WebPOS gives immediate access to the most common features. Fully graphic and responsive, it is intuitive and easy to use. Only advanced features are available in menus. Training is eventually not necessary. Shop assistants are operational in less than an hour. A training mode makes the system itself the trainer.

First level support

Stand-alone POS systems use synchronisation to centralise sales data, stocks, customers, and to update product and promotion information. Synchronisation is aFirst level support bulk process, which means a day’s worth of sales and other updates. For different reasons, this process fails from time to time. Very often because of an unstable connection. A bulk synchronization does not suffer from interruptions.

In that case, one day´s worth of sales data from one terminal is not consolidated. New products are not available in the POS system, stock is unavailable, and new customers are missing.

A Web-based POS uses constant synchronization. When the shop internet connectivity is down, a few sales are stored, together with their customer records. Sales, stock updates, and customers are synchronised when the shop comes back online. Sending transactions one by one is reliable even with unstable connections.

Businesswoman Running On Line Fashion Business With Digital Tablet

Businesswoman Running On Line Fashion Business With Digital Tablet

For every hundred terminals, 2 to 5 synchronisations may fail on any given day. A member of technical support staff spends half to a full day fixing this problem. With the Openbravo Commerce Suite, retailers have access to real-time sales and stock information from all their shops, with a few minutes delay in case of connection issues. Besides that, a hundred terminals will create 2 to 5 individual sales to recycle per week. These will require half an hour to fix and recycle.

The benefits of Web-based POS software scale upwards with the number of terminals. An efficient technical support team can manage more shops. and the availability of services in shops increases. Retailers can further take advantage of all the real-time information, for stock optimisation, and real-time pricing and promotion adjustment.