Syspro

Can SYSPRO Put a Genius in a Manufacturing Executive’s Pocket?

Espresso Mobile Solution: a Single Portal to All Your Applications

As Mint Jutras has noted in prior reports, SYSPRO is clearly inspired by the genius of Einstein. Over the years Einstein has influenced many of its initiatives, including its “Simply SMARTER” strategy (an acronym that stands for Strategy, Methodology, Accountability, Resources, Technology, Education and Customer Rewards) and its SYSPRO Quantum Architecture. Back in December 2012 it announced its plans for a new mobile platform (a “wired” Einstein on Espresso) that would bring the customization capabilities of its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for manufacturing and distribution natively to multiple mobile devices including Android, Apple I-OS and Blackberry. Now with the release of SYSPRO 7, more advances to this mobile platform are available. While in the past decisionmakers may have shied away from accessing ERP directly, assuming it was too complex and hard to use, SYSPRO Espresso now puts intelligence directly into the hands (and pockets) of executives with mobile devices.

Making the Business Case for “Mobile”

SYSPRO’s objective in this release is to provide “leading edge” solutions to a market segment not particularly well known for its aggressive and pioneering use of enterprise software. While manufacturers might be pioneers in their own industries, typically they are more interested in spending their capital budgets on new equipment for the plant or shop floor than on hardware and software to run their back and front offices.

In fact SYSPRO recently conducted one of its SNAP (SYSPRO Needs Answers Please) pulse surveys, this time on Information Technology (IT) priorities. The survey found a growing recognition of the impact IT has on a manufacturer’s ability to compete today: 87% said IT has a moderate to substantial impact on their competitiveness. While in the past manufacturers might have chosen to invest in facilities, people and equipment instead of enterprise software and the servers needed to support it, more and more of these same companies are realizing they need to invest in both in order to take full advantage of the new capacity.

According to SYSPRO’s survey, 9% of participants said they fairly regularly choose to undertake both such projects at the same time and 48% say this is a decision they have made at least once or twice. While the SYSPRO team was surprised by this, Mint Jutras is not. Once a manufacturer expands capacity, either through capital investment in existing facilities, or through expansion into new geographies or new markets, the game is changed. These same manufacturers now need new tools to manage that capacity for profitable growth.

While data collected in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has always been important to executive level decision-making, in the past very few executives ever put their hands directly on ERP. Instead they relied on subordinates or super users to collect data and investigate, delaying decisions and sometimes even distorting the view from above. Why? Because the perception (and often the reality) was that ERP was complex and hard to use. Executives simply didn’t have the time or inclination to “figure it all out.” And yet today the pace of business has accelerated to the point where any delay in decision-making can be fatal.

The Mint Jutras 2013 ERP Solution Study first showed executive access to ERP on the rise and that trend continued this year (Figure 1). More and more executives are directly connected to ERP, with the percentage of manufacturing companies saying all have access and regularly use ERP increasing from 47% to 57% year over year.

Figure 1: What level of access does top executive management have to ERP?

SYSPRO figure 1Source: Mint Jutras 2013 and 2014 ERP Solution Studies

And yet we see little progress in putting dashboards from ERP on mobile devices or sending alerts or giving these executives the ability to take action directly from these devices. Whether they want it or not, whether they know it or not, they need immediate and direct access to ERP, and these mobile devices may just serve as the catalyst and the game-changer. But nobody wants to just lift and shift the same old monolithic ERP.

This might explain why even with the proliferation of these devices and the “always on” environment they create, the priority for access to ERP data and functions from a mobile device remains close to the bottom of the list of ERP selection criteria (Table 1).

Table 1: Selection Criteria in Evaluating ERP

SYSPRO figure 2Source: Mint Jutras 2013 and 2014 ERP Solution Studies

In the age of “there’s an app for that” few people equate ERP to that “app.” While only 21% of manufacturers ranked mobile access to ERP as a “must have,” 38% indicated that mobile access to business intelligence (BI) was a “must have.” And 32% wanted access to BI from their chosen device (BYOD). What seems to get lost in the shuffle: many don’t realize most data from which they are likely to derive that intelligence resides in ERP.

We need a catalyst that can bridge this perception gap.

SYSPRO 7 Espresso Mobile Solution

SYSPRO has taken many steps to insure that SYSPRO 7 Espresso is that catalyst. Its goal is to provide a “leading edge” solution without losing sight of what manufacturers and distributors really need.

A Strong Platform

First of all it needs a solid platform that supports the needs of a mobile deployment, including the following:

Device and platform independence: With “bring your own device” (BYOD) rapidly invading the business world, users expect to interact with enterprise data using the same user interface features that attracted them to the device to begin with. Even more importantly, users can easily change devices. Switching from a Blackberry to an iPhone? No problem. Use both an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy 5? No problem. Moving to a Surface tablet? Not a problem. SYSPRO Espresso can be used on all major mobile device operating systems and is compatible on all web browsers that support HTML5.

Users can personalize their user interface (UI): Customization is truly as easy as dragging and dropping different screen components.

Real-time or offline access: This is huge.What happens when you lose your Wi-Fi or mobile signal? SYSPRO Espresso lets you continue working offline. Any transaction made while working offline can be synchronized when you reconnect. Yes you have to press the button, but it really is that easy.

Secure communication: Often businesses ignore the possible vulnerabilities introduced through mobile devices. Either that or this potential scares them from allowing mobile access. Transmission between mobile devices and the SYSPRO server are encrypted using SSL secure communication standards. In addition, administrators of the SYSPRO system can configure menus and applications by company, role and user.

Enable alerts to be sent via push notifications: Receiving alerts on a mobile device is always the top priority for business users. According to our Mint Jutras ERP survey, 76% say they receive alerts based on enterprise data either often (35%) or occasionally (41%). Yet only 18% get alerts from ERP. We conclude that the vast majority of the alerts received are delivered via email or text messages as a result of some manual intervention. SYSPRO Espresso automates this and connects the user directly back to ERP, the source of the data.

Uses active tile technology: This too is huge. If you are monitoring certain metrics, a static image only shows you a moment in time. Using SYSPRO Espresso, an icon or tile is constantly refreshed and dynamically updated every few seconds. You are always looking at the real results.

Multi-lingual support: Supporting the same languages SYSPRO ERP supports.

Mobile applications packaged with Espresso and via the SYSPRO App Store: SYSPRO Espresso comes standard with a growing number of applications. But given the simplicity of developing new apps, and the simplicity of making them available on the SYSPRO App Store (for free or for a fee), SYSPRO fully expects partners to also contribute and this number will grow significantly.

A single app for all applications: Only one app needs to be downloaded from the App Store to a device. Mobile users only needs to log into the menu system once to gain access to any applications they have permission to use. As additional apps become available, they can be pushed to the user’s device, removing the need to download anything else. This brings the process of provisioning to a new level of efficiency.

Development platform that supports deployment to any device: A free plugin to Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 allows developers to build custom applications once, using one set of source code that can be deployed on all major mobile device platforms. This preserves the native operation of a device without a proliferation of code. This includes native device capabilities such as a camera and GPS tracking, both supported by SYSPRO Espresso. An ink component is also supported to allow capturing of signatures or drawing of simple diagrams.

Easy Movement Between Devices: Perhaps a sales rep begins entering an order in the field, but has not completed the task when it is time to pack up and head back to the office. Upon return, the sales rep can log onto a laptop or desktop computer and pick up exactly where he or she left off.

A Library of Pre-Built “Apps”

Part of the lack of urgency in providing access to ERP data and functions from mobile devices is likely due to the monolithic approach used in delivering legacy ERP in the past. ERP was this massive application, touching many different functions of the business. Figuring out how to navigate through the pieces and processes that impact any one particular user was hard. Contrast this to the typical mobile app. Because these mobile apps are purpose-built for a very specific function, they are intuitively easy to use.

SYSPRO has taken the same approach to delivering Espresso apps. There are a number of pre-built applications, which are free to any licensed Espresso user. Below is a list of apps that are immediately available with the initial release of SYSPRO 7, but this list will continue to grow over time and is also likely to be supplemented by others added to the SYSPRO App store by users and partners.

  • Aged Sales Orders
  • Bank Query
  • Customer Maintenance
  • Customer Query
  • GIT Reference Query
  • Inventory Maintenance
  • Inventory Query
  • Inventory Valuation (chart)
  • Job Query
  • Lost Sales Orders
  • Price Query
  • Purchase Order Query
  • Quotation Query
  • Ratio – Asset Turnover
  • Ratio – Leverage
  • Ratio – Liquidity
  • Requisition Query
  • Sales Analysis
  • Sales by Month
  • Sales Dashboard (charts)
  • Sales Order Commitment
  • Sales Order Entry
  • Sales Order Query
  • Sales Order Taken
  • Supplier Maintenance
  • Supplier Query

Summary and Conclusion

While more and more executives today are looking for answers and a return on their investment in ERP, many still struggle to connect through the same mobile devices that keep them “always connected” to the business. In spite of using these mobile devices to receive alerts, many still respond by turning the smart device, on which they receive the alert, into a dumb device. They call or text. They turn to others to further investigate, to track down answers. They won’t be able to take direct action until they are easily connected directly back to ERP.

Any kind of knowledge worker today needs new ways of engaging with ERP, ones that make the connection easy, ones that answer their specific questions and address their specific issues.

Just lifting and shifting a massive application like ERP to a mobile device, without these new ways of engaging is useless. Instead, workers need “an app for that.” Yes, that app is ERP, but it needs to be disguised as something else, something that is purpose-built to answer questions and resolve issues. The savvy executive today should be looking to put a genius in his or her pocket. For a SYSPRO customer, that means SYSPRO Espresso running on the mobile device of choice.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Einstein Inspires SYSPRO USA Brain Trust

Boosting US Manufacturing In 4-Part Partner Program

In December 2013 SYSPRO USA launched a program targeting US manufacturers. The four-part program has ambitious goals, designed to be facilitated by the company’s extensive partner channel.  While SYSPRO has been committed to supporting the global small and mid-sized manufacturing and distribution community for over 30 years as a provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), this program reaches far beyond the usual objectives of an enterprise software company. Labeled as a new Brain Boost program, it consists of four “trust” initiatives focused on:

  • Product trust
  • Deployment trust
  • Micro-vertical trust and
  • Economic or community trust

While the first three components are fairly straightforward and less unique-sounding competitively, the fourth “trust” initiative extends beyond the aspirations and scope of most ERP providers. Yet SYSPRO has always emphasized its customer, hence community, focus. Unlike many other enterprise software vendors focused exclusively on increasing market share and share of the customers’ wallet, SYSPRO has always genuinely cared about making its customers both happy and successful.

Now it is stepping beyond the customer, to the manufacturing community at large. This economic trust initiative is all about creating an environment that protects intellectual property, supports job creation and keeps US-based manufacturing companies strong and profitable. Can an ERP company really have this kind of impact? Certainly not all by itself. That’s why it needs a Brain Trust.

Inspired by Einstein

SYSPRO is clearly inspired by the genius of Einstein. Over the years Einstein has influenced many of its initiatives, starting with its “Simply SMARTER” strategy (an acronym: Strategy, Methodology, Accountability, Resources, Technology, Education, Customer Rewards). SYSPRO also built out its own theory of ERP relativity: S=MC2, where M stands for material, and C2 is cost and cash management. S, of course, stands for SYSPRO. Then came the SYSPRO Quantum Architecture, followed by a “wired” Einstein on Espresso, fueling the “always on, on-the-go” mobile (wireless) customer.

The latest inspiration is based on what made the brilliant physicist so special: his brain. Einstein’s brain has long been the subject of speculation and research. At one time, many believed his genius to be a result of his brain being larger than normal, stemming from the observation that he was born with an unusually large head.

However, you might say the child soon grew into his head, which ultimately, for all outward appearances seemed a normal shape and size.  Although clearly “special” in terms of its capabilities, actual measurements proved it to actually be a bit smaller than average. For the role Einstein would play in life, it was clearly built better, not bigger. This is one of the reasons SYSPRO loves to draw these analogies. While not the biggest vendor in the ERP market, SYSPRO fancies itself and its products as “better, not bigger” for the markets it serves.

Yet not being the biggest also means it must build trust in its product and its ability to deploy easily and reliably in the markets it hopes to serve.

Product Trust

SYSPRO is one of only a few remaining ERP vendors that offers a single product suite and therefore it enjoys the luxury of a singular, focused development effort. That focus happens to be on manufacturing and distribution. In addition, SYSPRO, as a privately held company can also afford the luxury of concentrating on satisfying the customer and reseller community, as opposed to the investment community (Wall Street).

This “Product Trust” is based on SYSPRO’s latest Release 7, which represents a time-phased delivery against requirements collected from over 750 small to mid-size manufacturing companies. The SYSPRO ERP product is almost exclusively sold through channel partners. This collection process combines the power of the SYSPRO channel with the relationship SYSPRO enjoys with its customers directly through periodic “SNAP Surveys.” SNAP, short for SYSPRO Needs Answers Please, is the mechanism SYSPRO used to bring features such as enhanced user interfaces, with active tiles and touch capabilities, custom configurability and mobile access to its latest release (Release 7).

The Product Trust is formed through collaboration between its trusted partners (users and resellers) and its own development staff. Not content to rest on its laurels, SYSPRO is constantly strengthening its capabilities both from a functional and technological perspective. Yet the combination of standards-based technology from Microsoft (standards like .NET framework, XML, HTML5) and multi-tier architectures keep it affordable and suitable for a small-scale environment.

But continuous change, even when linked to continuous improvement, can be a challenge for small to mid-size manufacturers. Even though technological advances allow software vendors to bring more innovation to the market, updates and upgrades can be costly and disruptive. While ERP can generate cost savings and other improvements, many manufacturers wind up squandering those savings on the care and feeding of the systems designed to save them money.

Which is exactly why SYSPRO is delivering the innovation of Release 7 in a new way. You might call it “drip feeding” innovation, allowing customers to accept enhancements in smaller, more digestible chunks. This is just one of the ways SYSPRO is helping manufacturers become stronger and more profitable. By making product features and technology easier to consume, manufacturers are able to divert budget from the typical maintenance-related IT spend, freeing up cash and working capital to innovate their businesses. Features, functions and technology that are easier to consume can be deployed faster and more efficiently.

Deployment Trust

While today many narrowly associate “deployment options” with Software as a Service (SaaS), in this case Deployment Trust is more about rapid implementation than it is about cloud versus on-premise deployments. Yes, SYSPRO can be deployed either in a traditional on-premise environment or in the cloud, although cloud implementations are more akin to hosted models than a multi-tenant SaaS solution.

The SYSPRO Deployment Trust has been formed to battle against the bad rap ERP has gotten in general based on potentially long and difficult implementations. Failed implementations are frequently blamed on the software itself and yet often the software attributed to a failed implementation is the same software powering one that is wildly successful. Success is often less about the software, and more about the disciplines and business processes the applications are intended to model.

SYSPRO has long had its own implementation methodology suitable to small to mid-size businesses (SMBs), but it is now investing in new industry-specific business process workflows, account structures, executive dashboards with pre-defined key performance indicators (KPIs), industry roles and reporting. It recognizes the typical SMB faces many of the same pressures as its larger counterparts, but can’t afford to start from scratch and re-invent wheels. So it builds best-practices into the data and process models.

SYSPRO has worked diligently to make sure these templates, structures and process flows are not static. Not only must they be adaptable and configurable to each individual business, but also reflective of the reality that business change is inevitable. Therefore the software must continue to be agile and flexible, able to evolve and change.

Micro-vertical Trust: The Food Industry

The investment in micro-verticals is a natural by-product of the Deployment Trust initiative, since much of the content provided is indeed industry-specific. The first micro-vertical selected for this Brain Trust is the food industry, which provides a unique opportunity for SYSPRO USA. It is an industry that is not only recession-proof, but also faces a very specific and pressing set of operational challenges. The food industry across the world faces rising commodity prices, but in the US, it also faces increased pressure from large retailers like Walmart, added complexities of trade promotions and deductions and intense scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But perhaps top of mind has been the growing concern over food safety. Over the past six years the US has seen some of the biggest food recalls in history, impacting both fresh produce like lettuce, spinach and peanuts, as well as meats (beef, ground turkey, chicken and other poultry) and all sorts of processed foods from cookie dough to frozen dinners and salad dressings.

A result of these growing concerns has been the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011. The goal of the new law is to better safeguard the US food supply and therefore compliance is mandatory, even for small to mid-size companies in the food industry. The law will radically change how many do business. The FSMA gives new legislative power to the FDA, including the ability to mandate a recall and close plants where there is a “reasonable probability” of potential threat. But perhaps most game changing of all, managers can be held personally liable and face the threat of criminal prosecution. The FSMA will be to manufacturing executives what Sarbanes-Oxley was to the accountants. So achieving regulatory compliance and food safety has become an absolute necessity.

Like other manufacturing segments, the food industry must deal with growing supply chain complexities, the need to improve forecasting, reduce inventory and improve customer satisfaction. In addition, it needs to comply with food safety regulations, including complete forward and backward traceability, manage recipes and formulas, replacement ingredients, co-products and by-products. And yet, throughout, it must not lose sight of efficiency, accuracy and profitability, often with razor-thin margins.

Economic Trust

So can SYSPRO build economic trust by addressing the stringent requirements of the food industry and perhaps others? Can a software company help…

  • Protect intellectual property?
  • Modernize processes that lead to profitability?
  • Free up resources wasted now on IT support that adds little value?
  • Stimulate US manufacturing innovation?
  • Facilitate creation of the best kind of US jobs, those based on creating real opportunity for business growth?

This is indeed a tall order. And perhaps software alone can’t achieve these goals. But one thing is certain. Manufacturers cannot compete and contribute to strengthening the US economy today without adequate supporting technology.  ERP has been both a boon and sometimes a burden to bottom lines. Many manufacturers have seen cost savings gained through ERP implementation eaten away by the cost and disruption of upgrades, or even worse, have left money on the table by not taking full advantage of software innovation. Today’s US manufacturing/distribution community could benefit enormously from having a partner focused on reasonably priced ERP technology, innovation that is easy to consume and operational coaching. That is why SYSPRO is committed to turning its channel partners into these dedicated resources.

As a result, SYSPRO is revisiting its Einstein Strategy and turning its Simply SMARTER acronym into the basis for a new SMARTER channel program:

Strategy: While SYSPRO has always sold almost exclusively through the channel, there is a renewed focus on recruiting, not just “life style” partners, but those not only interested in growing a significant business, but also with the knowledge and business acumen to truly add value to manufacturing operations.

Methodology: new and revised implementation methodologies for rapid deployment. This approach also extends back through the selling process, with heightened collaboration and standardized sales methodology, including special bundles and pricing.

Accountability: with program deployment incentives and the measurement of customer lifetime value.

Resources: pre- and post-sale assistance with the addition of ecosystem experts, particularly in food and safety and even assistance in factory layout.

Technology: continuous feature, function and technology innovation that is easily consumed.

Education: in strategy, marketing, sales, implementation, support and application development.

Rewards: customized partner-tailored goals, KPI measurement and management.

Thus far, SYSPRO has been able to bring 37 new partners to close. By concentrating on coaching these partners to success, SYSPRO hopes the channel will be able to “pay it forward’ and in turn coach their customers to the same level of achievement, creating an environment of growth and profits.

Summary

Most ERP software companies would be happy just to sustain or grow their own revenues. While this is important to SYSPRO USA, its executives have a long history of participating in civic, government and economic development. Being focused exclusively on manufacturing and distribution segments, this community holds a special place in SYSPRO USA’s executives’ hearts and minds, as does the desire for a stronger US manufacturing economy. Focus on product innovation and ease of deployment are important elements, particularly in support of the food industry, which feeds the country and helps fuel its growth. By also contributing executive services and educational programs, along with program incentives, SYSPRO USA stands squarely behind and in support of economic growth and job creation. A worthy goal of a Brain Trust? Yes. Genius? Perhaps not. Simply smarter? Definitely.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ERP, The Next Generation: The Final Frontier? Part 1

Turning Your Business Into a Starship Enterprise

As the latest movie of the Star Trek franchise comes to a theater near you, let’s go out on a limb here and draw some parallels between Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and this entertainment phenomenon that began in 1966 by chronicling the interstellar adventures of the fictitious starship Enterprise. Like the USS Enterprise, whose five-year mission it was to explore new worlds and “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” early versions of ERP charted new territory for enterprise applications. It evolved from MRP (material requirements planning) to MRP II (manufacturing resource planning) and then boldly set out to conquer the “final frontier” of ERP, managing not a small piece of the enterprise, but the enterprise itself. And like the Star Trek franchise, after playing on both large and small screens for more than two decades, a “next generation” was born: faster, more technologically enabled and more in tune with the evolving needs of the galaxy.

This is the first post of a series on Next Generation ERP that will be unfolding over the next few weeks addressing the questions: Are you evolving with it as this next generation of ERP continues to evolve? Or are you stuck in the darkness of the 20th century?

The first several parts will be excerpts from a Mint Jutras paper of this same name, to be followed by individual posts about specific vendors. The inclusion or exclusion of a vendor in this series will be largely based on the relationship I have with the vendors and therefore how deeply and thoroughly I have been briefed on their solution(s). At this point I have no intention to insure that every major vendor is represented and the order in which they are presented has no particular significance. In fact I have already posted two of these:

But before you click on these links, read on for an introduction of our Star Trek themed series.

Star Trek: The Series, The Movie, The Software

Like the voyages of Star Trek that tested the nerves of the captain and crew of the USS Enterprise, ERP has often been an adventure, testing the nerves of CIOs and line of business executives at the helm of the enterprise. As the USS Enterprise explored the far reaches of the galaxy, it encountered alien cultures and new and different life forms. Traditional means of communication and familiar methods of interaction became ineffective. As businesses began routinely expanding beyond international boundaries, distances increased by orders of magnitude and they too experienced new cultures, new languages, new regulatory and reporting requirements and new ways of doing business.

The USS Enterprise had at its disposal amazing technology that allowed the starship to change course and even reverse direction immediately. It could travel at warp speed, using a hypothetical faster-than-light propulsion system. Star Trek was, and still is science fiction. In contrast, next generation, technology-enabled ERP solutions are very real. They help us cope with the accelerating pace of business, growing volumes of data and higher customer expectations. Yet, few can turn on a dime and unlike Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, ERP can’t operate at warp speed. Or can it? We are now entering a new phase of ERP’s evolution. New in-memory databases and technology are now dramatically speeding up run times and eliminating the need for batch processes.

But few are taking advantage of this new technology. The entire gamut of different generations of MRP and ERP are still in operation across the planet today, producing a wide range of value from very low to very high.  To many, modern technology-enabled solutions might still seem the stuff of science fiction when in fact they are in production environments, producing results that are nothing short of amazing. What generation of ERP are you running today? Have you explored the world of very real possibilities recently? If not, are you missing out and losing ground in terms of competitive advantage?

ERP solution providers: If you are interested in obtaining more information on this series and briefing us on how your solution is “next generation,” please contact Lisa Lincoln (lisa@mintjutras.com).

Tagged , , , , , , ,

SYSPRO’s Next Generation ERP: 7-on-7

 

SYSPRO 7 Addresses 7 Manufacturing Market Demands

In a recent report, Mint Jutras described the next generation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in terms of better technology to deliver a new customer experience, custom configuration without programming, more innovation and better integration. You might think that ERP vendors must reinvent themselves or their products in order to offer up a next generation ERP. Companies reinvent themselves by acquiring other companies and technology, and/or scrapping the development of legacy applications in favor of writing new ones from scratch, new ones that take years to mature.  But if you think these are the only ways to deliver next generation ERP, then you don’t know much about SYSPRO. SYSPRO has been around since 1978, but unlike most of the rest of the ERP world, still offers a single ERP which it has evolved to meet all the requirements of next generation ERP, but has done so using an approach that is unique to SYSPRO.

In the aforementioned report ERP, The Next Generation: The Final Frontier? we had some fun comparing ERP to the successful entertainment franchise, Star Trek. Like Star Trek, SYSPRO ERP is a long-running classic. Star Trek, The Next Generation debuted 21 years after the original series first aired. SYSPRO’s next generation ERP took a little longer, 24 years after the company was founded.  It was introduced in 2001 in response to what SYSPRO calls the “Extended Enterprise.” And the parallels don’t stop there.

The original Star Trek crew had a five-year mission to explore new worlds, travelling on the USS Enterprise. Early ERP often was viewed as a five-year investment. The new and evolved starship Enterprise in The Next Generation had an open-ended “continuing mission” to explore “space: the final frontier… to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” ERP investments today are also seen as a “continuing mission” and SYSPRO views itself on a mission to make its installed base customers for life, helping mid-market manufacturers and distributors to explore new worlds and seek out life after traditional ERP in what has certainly become a strange new world.

SYSPRO 7 is the most recent of many steps along SYSPRO’s continuous journey, more a constant reinvention than the sudden birth of a new generation. While many limit beta testing to a very small sample of customers, a community of 600 early adopters has now tested this release.

Let’s take a look at the SYSPRO “7-on-7” approach to meeting new market demands. The seven categories of advances cited by this community align quite closely to the next generation requirements in ERP, The Next Generation: The Final Frontier:

  1. New personalized customization and role-based optimization
  2. New advanced functionality (like rapid sales order entry)
  3. New device agnostic mobile capabilities
  4. New industry templates for vertical markets (food, medical devices, electronics, machinery/equipment)
  5. New data integration and toolsets that address the “big 3” issues of big data; volume, velocity and variety
  6. New extended scalability to increase transaction throughput and transaction values including (optional) expanded field sizes
  7. New and more powerful server side reporting solutions that speed processing and simplify the embedding of external data

Defining the SYSPRO Customer Experience

When most software vendors talk about the customer experience, you find them talking about the experience of using the software. Today that discussion starts with the user interface (IU) and then goes on to include web-based and mobile access. This “experience” is influenced heavily by the supposed “consumerization of IT.” Certainly with the introduction of so many consumer applications, largely offered on smart phones and tablets, we have all become more demanding of user interfaces. Nobody has to read a manual to figure out a consumer app and we all make the assumption that we shouldn’t have to read a manual to figure out ERP either.

So many solution providers of next generation ERP have redesigned how their customers engage with ERP, making it a “social” (or “Facebook-like”) experience, typically taking a “Gen-Y” perspective and often guessing at what their customers and prospects really want. But here’s the challenge: ERP is not a consumer app. ERP runs your business. And quite frankly, there aren’t too many mid-market manufacturers and distributors that are run by Millennials of Generation Y. So sometimes these approaches don’t resonate with those making the business decisions.

SYSPRO takes a completely different approach to “the customer experience.” Instead of focusing exclusively on how its customers engage with SYSPRO ERP, it looks first and foremost at how those customers engage with SYSPRO, the company.  Many companies talk about customer satisfaction and listening to the voice of the customer, but for SYSPRO, this is deeply embedded in its corporate culture. As a result, the customers have a profound influence over what SYSPRO then delivers by way of the user experience with the product. No guesswork is involved; no wondering how new engagement models designed for Gen-Y folks will be received by the Baby Boomer and Generation X executives at the helm.

This distinction is not lost on its customers. Vann Spices of Baltimore, MD has been a SYSPRO customer since 2009. Being in the food industry, the company had a long list of system requirements including lot sourcing and product traceability. Because it differentiates itself with custom mixes, it needs to be agile and have a firm grip on available ingredients, ordering, scheduling and billing. It has a variety of direct and indirect sales channels in premium markets like New York, Washington DC and San Francisco, plus website sales.

Mick Whitlock, Vann Spices’ president sums it up well: “It’s not just the lot traceability, reporting, UI and food safety certification controls that matter – as good as they are at SYSPRO.  What’s equally and potentially even more valuable to us, is that I always know the SYSPRO team has my back.  The company executives and its service partners consistently show that they have my best interests at heart and will do whatever is necessary to keep my business running efficiently, no matter what happens.

“You ask a small company what that is worth – and they will tell you:  everything.  It’s worth everything.  Because without a technology partner like that, software is just software.“

That said, the software is still important and if the software isn’t easy to use, employees will spend more time and effort working around the system than with it, and executives will avoid it completely. They will rely on subordinates for data for decision making because they don’t have time to figure ERP out. Yet as executives carry more and more mobile devices, expecting to stay connected wherever they are, they become more impatient waiting for data.

New options for the user interface provided in SYSPRO 7 reflect this growing impatience. Custom-configured dashboards, including a choice of graphical representations of key performance indicators (KPIs) are presented in one or more tiles on the screen, much like those provided by other software vendors. But SYSPRO has gone one step further and made those tiles active (they refresh dynamically as data changes) and touch controlled (touch a bar or a wedge on a pie chart to drill down for more detail). They can be presented on any device, using any mobile platform and can be extensively personalized or customized.

These not-so-subtle differences are supported by the Microsoft standards on which the software is based and the use of HTML5 and XML, which might not mean much to your average business executive. But more importantly, these differences come from its intimate relationship with its customers, knowing how they think and what they want.

Customization versus Configuration

“Customizing” ERP can mean many different things and today configuration is often confused with customization. As noted in ERP, The Next Generation: The Final Frontier, customization used to mean mucking around in source code, resulting in hard-coded logic that was difficult to change. Source code modifications also made it difficult to keep up with updates and upgrades offered by your ERP vendor. If you couldn’t take advantage of innovation delivered, you were essentially letting some of your maintenance dollars go to waste. And as ERP (and your competitors) moved forward, you were stuck.

But SYSPRO has long stayed ahead of the pack when it comes to configuration rather than customization. SYSPRO introduced the concept of UI-centric power tailoring several years before this type of configuration capability became mainstream.  It knew its customers didn’t have big budgets for customization and didn’t want to leave them stranded on older versions as new innovation was delivered.

In spite of being a relatively small company, Vann Spices serves very large customers and hence has the same ERP requirements of a large manufacturer. Yet it doesn’t have the deep pockets of a large company. Mick Whitlock believes this is one reason why SYSPRO ERP can satisfy those needs. “The user interface is incredibly easy to use and tailor to our specific needs. It feels just like we built it specifically for our own company and our own purposes.”

More Innovation, Easier Integration

More innovation implies more features and functions. But an extended functional footprint isn’t what makes any ERP “next generation”. The underlying technology infrastructure does. While business executives often know little and care less about the underlying technology, they do care about the value it brings. And it is that technology that also aids in accelerating the development of new features and functions.

When SYSPRO first introduced its next generation ERP, it also introduced the concept of business objects, modern component architecture and a separate presentation layer. It is not important for the typical business user to understand this from a purely technical perspective. The crew of the Enterprise didn’t necessarily understand how chief engineer Scott’s transporter beam worked. But each and every crewmember knew what it did and what “Beam me up, Scottie” meant. Every businessperson using ERP needs to understand what technology can bring to the ERP party or the potential will remain vastly unrealized.

Presentation Layer

By separating the presentation layer from the source code, modifications can be made without impacting the rest of the system (think different languages, company-specific terminology, adding removing fields from a screen, etc.).

Business Objects

If you are not sure what a business object might be: In the context of ERP, a customer is a business object. But as a business object, a customer isn’t just a record in a master file. It also includes the maintenance functions, validation and controls.

Component Architecture

SYSPRO has coupled business objects with modern component architecture in order to be able to develop reusable building blocks on which additional SYSPRO modules or even custom applications can be built. If you need to add a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to SYSPRO ERP, you don’t need to create an entirely new (and different) customer master or programs to maintain it. You simply re-use the existing object. And you bolt the new CRM solution onto your existing ERP in such a way that it all looks, feels and behaves like a single integrated solution. Indeed SYSPRO offers CRM and it looks and behaves as an integral part of the broader solution.

But if you don’t need CRM (yet), ERP will not suffer from its not being there. You still have your customer master file and all the functions necessary to maintain it. Or perhaps you already have a different CRM. It is not unusual for small companies to invest in CRM even before a full-blown ERP solution. If you need to integrate with another third party application, as long as that other application can map to standard business objects, it too can be easily bolted on, data is synchronized and redundancy is reduced or eliminated. The same is true for any new custom-developed applications.

SYSPRO Release 7 includes new functionality, beyond the added features and flexibility of the new user interface. Release 7 builds on this flexibility by also including industry templates. Those in medical device industries might want to see the lot and/or serial number on every screen.  But unless you are in the food industry, you don’t want to see specific gravity or fat content. SYSPRO partners can pre-design the layout for an electronics manufacturer or a food processor. Or customers can fashion their own “customized” screens.

Achieving Warp Speed

To conquer the final frontier of ERP you need speed. The USS Enterprise had at its disposal amazing technology that allowed the starship to travel at warp speed, using a hypothetical faster-than-light propulsion system. While SYSPRO ERP can’t travel faster than the speed of light, the installation and upgrade processes have been re-engineered to move customers to this newest release faster, often in “one click”.

Once there, Release 7 has been enhanced for faster transaction throughput, supporting large transaction volumes and massive amounts of data from sensors, mobile devices and other external sources. Today these massive volumes must be structured but SYSPRO intends to include unstructured data (think Hadoop) in the future.

Summary

Star Trek was and is science fiction. To many, modern technology-enabled solutions might still seem the stuff of science fiction when in fact they are in production environments, producing results that are nothing short of amazing. What generation of ERP are you running today? Have you explored the world of very real possibilities recently? If not, are you missing out and losing ground in terms of competitive advantage?

Next generation ERP from SYSPRO is very real. If you are faced with the accelerating pace of business, growing volumes of data and higher customer expectations, but your current ERP solution has you stuck in the 20th century, maybe it is time to explore the final frontier. Consider joining the federation of SYSPRO customers for a new and improved ERP experience.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

What Analysts Want: Content with a Clear Message, JRocket Marketing Style

A couple of weeks ago I attended my 7th JRocket Marketing Grape Escape®. This year the theme was “Bewitched Grape Escape -2012” complete with a fortune teller, a living statue  of a witch, a reenactment of a Salem witch trial and a mock trial of our own with analysts as prosecutors pitted against enterprise application vendors SYSPRO, UNIT4 Agresso and CODA as defendants, with Judge Judy presiding.

As an analyst I have been to my share of analyst/influencer events, but I have to say this one is quite unique and one most of us wouldn’t miss. After all the wine, the food, the entertainment, the attention to detail… all top notch. Judith Rothrock (aka Judge Judy for the evening) is the mastermind behind this annual event and her event planning is legendary. In fact she does such a good job planning it that when she had a devastating accident and emergency surgery to reconstruct her hand a week before the event in 2011, it still went off without a hitch, even though she couldn’t attend.

OK, so I do like the wine and the food and the entertainment, but that’s not the only reason I make sure I get this on my calendar every June, as well as the roadshows that she plans every December. You see: she runs these events and roadshows on behalf of several of her clients – usually two or three enterprise application solution providers. Judith provides services including complete positioning, market planning and training, but among the analyst community she is best known for her JRocket Marketing Nitro™ 12-month analyst program.

As analysts we deal with “analyst relations” all the time. We also sit through a lot of presentations, summits and briefings, both over the phone and in person. What analysts actually do varies from firm to firm, as does the business model we operate under. But there is one consistent theme for any analyst. Our time is our most precious commodity. And the sub-theme is: Please don’t waste it. What we see and hear at summits, events and briefings runs the gamut from “well planned, with lots of content” to “why are we here?”

We wonder why we’re here when there doesn’t seem to be any real content, when there always seems to be an inconsistent “message du jour”, when the message is unclear or when the conversation strays off course. Of course, on the other hand, some analysts are pretty good at steering the spokesperson off his or her charted course… but not with Judith in the room. Judith runs a tight ship when it comes to staying on message and if her clients start to wander, she engineers a course correction immediately.  The messaging is clear and targeted; announcements are well-planned, clear and concise and spokespeople always stay “on message.”

That’s what analysts want – even better with the flair of a JRocket Marketing event.

Tagged , , , , , ,

SYSPRO: Changing the Way Products are Bought and Sold

 

By Manufacturers, Distributors, Retailers & SYSPRO Too

On June 28, 2012, SYSPRO, a developer of award-winning enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, made two announcements, seemingly unrelated, but both driven by an undercurrent of change. The change is in the way products are bought and sold. More and more today manufacturers and distributors have at least one sales channel where they eliminate the middleman, by-passing the retailer and selling directly to the consumer.  This places new demands on the business at the point of sale, demands typically not addressed by ERP. SYSPRO’s response is a fully integrated Point of Sale (POS) solution that will provide manufacturers and distributors a single solution to manage business information, store operations, customer-focused POS, inventory optimization and merchandizing along with ERP.

At the same time, SYSPRO itself is engaging in a new way of selling. In a world where you hear more and more, “There’s an app for that” SYSPRO is opening its own SYSPRO App Store: an open marketplace where eventually thousands of solutions will be available to extend and complement the value of its ERP solution. Partners benefit from a broader reach with minimal investment in infrastructure and customers benefit from the easily accessible added value.

Two Worlds Converge

When it comes to managing the sale of goods, retail and manufacturing are typically worlds apart. In retail, at the point of sale you deal with cash, check or debit/credit card; the customer walks away with goods in hand and inventory is depleted. In manufacturing you process your customer’s purchase order, create a sales order and subsequently ship and invoice, relieving inventory and creating accounts receivable. Later you receive cash and apply the cash receipt against accounts receivable either on an open item or a cash balance basis.

Receiving cash in a traditional point of sale (POS) system in a retail environment is easy. Managing an open account is more difficult. For a manufacturer or distributor using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, managing accounts and accounts receivable is standard practice. Processing a cash sale is more difficult.

In a retail environment, the cash in the drawer is reconciled against the sales recorded at the end of the day. In a manufacturing or distribution environment shipments, invoices and cash receipts are reconciled at the end of the month. Yet in all cases, everything must be posted to the general ledger in order to create a balance sheet and profit and loss statement.

So what happens when a manufacturer or distributor sells directly to a consumer? It happens more and more today in showrooms and factory outlets, as well as online. In eliminating the traditional retailer, does the manufacturer need to invest in both a retail POS solution, as well as a back office ERP solution and interface or integrate the two in the hope they will one day all work seamlessly? Not if you are a SYSPRO customer.

SYSPRO is not the first ERP solution provider serving manufacturers to offer a retail POS solution. Yet typically these are two separate products. Most often when POS is part of an ERP solution provider’s product portfolio, that solution provider is targeting retail with its POS solution and manufacturing with its ERP solution.  SYSPRO isn’t going after the traditional retail sector. It is still focused primarily on manufacturers and distributors, but offering additional features and functions to support these companies as they reach out directly to consumers.

SYSPRO Point of Sale for Manufacturers & Distributors

As a result, the SYSPRO Point of Sale solution offers features specifically designed for manufacturers that might not be available in a POS solution designed first and foremost for retailers. These features include support of a “make to order” environment, complete with complex product and pricing configurations and supply chain transfer, a feature that supports tracking of shipping and in-transit inventory. It also includes support of lot tracking and serialized products and inventory locations down to the bin level. And yet these manufacturing-specific features are blended with features necessary to fully support a retail environment. Features like:

  • category and catalogue browsing
  • customer and loyalty programs
  • store management
  • exchanges and returns
  • touch screen interface and mobile access from a tablet
  • scanner and cash drawer functions that allow the use of any personal computer with a “locked” cash drawer
  • credit card limits for individuals in addition to an overall account limit
  • end-of-day cash reconciliation (“cash up”)

To make the solution more scalable, SYSPRO has uncoupled the ERP and POS user counts. A manufacturer might have 10 named users for ERP and 1,000 POS users. Or a SYSPRO Point of Sale user might also be linked to an existing SYSPRO ERP user. While accessible through a web-based interface, the system has been designed to be “always on.” This means the store can continue to operate even if the connection back to the central server is lost, a necessity because you can’t afford to have a customer walk out the door for lack of service. When the connection recovers, data is synchronized transparently and seamlessly.

The goal is to provide manufacturers with retail operations a single solution to manage business information, store operations, customer-focused POS, inventory optimization and merchandizing along with ERP. It has several customers currently running both SYSPRO Point of Sale and ERP including:

  • Coricraft Furniture, a fully integrated furniture retailer in South Africa. Its manufacturing facility produces a diverse range of high quality, full grain leather and fabric couches in a variety of styles and colors. Coricraft has 80 SYSPRO ERP users ad 370 Point of Sale users
  • Lesel Research, a beauty product manufacturer and retailer with 48 SYSPRO ERP users and 40 Point of Sale users

SYSPRO is Preparing for Change Too

But manufacturers aren’t the only companies experiencing a change in the way product is bought and sold. Consumers today are quite accustomed to hearing, “There’s an app for that.” In response they go online to purchase and download those apps, and they start using them immediately. Many of those consumers also work for manufacturers and distributors. So why not bring the same convenience and buying experience to the corporate world?

The SYSPRO App Store is SYSPRO’s response to its customers’ growing appetite for expanded functionality and the consumerization of Information Technology (IT). It is an online marketplace for the global SYSPRO community where partners can offer new products and customers can search for solutions. In fact it is a public site, so anyone will be able to browse and search, but a secure login will be required to either purchase or publish.

So the SYSPRO App Store is a way for partners to add value to the SYSPRO solution. Any registered partner can publish to the site, making applications or content available using one of three licensing models:

  • free and unlimited usage
  • perpetual license with one-time payment
  • protected license with an initial payment, followed by a recurring annual fee

Publishers can make a free trial version available in addition to a full commercial version. This feature and the App Store in general will be a very cost-effective way for the partners to market their products globally, potentially reaching a far broader audience than their own immediate sphere of influence. And they can use SYPRO’s licensing technology to protect their intellectual property (IP) while also generating recurring revenue.

SYSPRO Takes Control

SYSPRO will evaluate and must approve all products, but as the volume is likely to grow over time (SYSPRO ultimately expects to host thousands of apps), this may wind up being rather cursory.  But there are two additional factors that will make the site somewhat self-selecting. First of all, the publisher of the app will be required to provide support and issues are logged right in the “store.” So SYSPRO would be able to monitor all. An unusual number of open tickets will help identify apps that might not be up to snuff or partners that are unable to provide adequate support. The risk of course is in giving SYSPRO a black eye before the problem is identified and corrected.

So perhaps even more appropriate is the consumer-like five star rating available for each app, along with customer reviews and comments. Poorly performing applications will not be able to hide, and will likely not produce many sales. In a reference-based business like software applications, the insight these ratings and reviews will provide can be priceless.

Managing the Process

SYSPRO will manage the eCommerce aspect, collecting payment from the customers and distributing payment to the partner on a quarterly basis, after taking its cut of course. This leaves the partners free to concentrate on the products themselves, leaving distribution, payment and sales tracking to SYSPRO.

The buying process is simple and straightforward but it is also a controlled environment, which will prevent purchases from individuals at SYSPRO customer organizations that are not authorized to buy.  And an administrator at a customer site can monitor what products have been downloaded. The App Store handles version changes and will inform consumers of the product when an update is available, one less thing for the publisher to worry about.

A full ERP solution still requires the due diligence of a comprehensive evaluation, careful planning and commitment from top management, right on down through the rank and file. But once an ERP solution is in place, companies continue to change and grow and many seek continuous improvement. Having the ability to easily expand ERP’s footprint to satisfy changing or expanding needs is a huge plus.

Key Takeaways

We live in a world of change. The way we buy and consume products is changing as fast as the technology that has infiltrated our lives. We demand instant and direct access to products and we expect the companies selling us these products to evolve and adapt to our demands.

SYSPRO Point of Sales, together with its ERP solution blends the manufacturing and distribution of goods with retail, providing a direct selling process in a single integrated solution. The SYSPRO App Store provides a direct purchasing process for SYSPRO customers, while maintaining control over that process. And it has the potential to aggressively expand the footprint of the solution.

It would appear SYSPRO has both ends of the spectrum covered.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Einstein Continues to Inspire SYSPRO Quantum Architecture

 In June 2011 SYSPRO USA announced its Einstein-inspired theory of ERP relativity: S=MC2. This was a continuation of the theme introduced in December 2010 by its “Einstein” strategy of “Simply Smarter” ERP. In keeping with this theme, in December 2011 SYSPRO USA launched its new Quantum Architecture. Although “architecture” implies technology and this framework embeds four key components for managing hardware, software, data and workflows, the real message here is not a technical one. It’s about delivering a mechanism by which customers can easily “architect” their own customized solutions without being bogged down with technical details or introducing roadblocks for continued enhancement.

Quantum?

OK, so what is the connection between SYSPRO’s architecture and either Einstein or quantum mechanics? Einstein’s theory of relativity attempts to explain the relationship between matter and energy. Classical physics started out explaining laws of motion of particles of a certain size: those things we can see. But it couldn’t explain the behavior of particles that were too small to see – particles like electrons and neutrons. Back in Einstein’s day, it was assumed an electron didn’t know where it was and didn’t know where it was going and therefore motion was entirely random. But Einstein balked at the idea that the outcome couldn’t be predicted. Hence Einstein and a group of “doubters of uncertainty” gathered to explore another explanation and to develop quantum theory. Quantum, by the way, is a measure that is defined as the smallest amount that can exist independently.

Many small independent business owners of SMBs (small to midsize businesses) can relate to the early assumptions of classical physics. SMBs are not exactly the electron equivalent in that they are big enough to be seen, but do often struggle to be seen by prospects and the market in general. And without the proper tools to manage their businesses, often feel as if they don’t know where they are, much less where they are going.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can provide the transactional system of record, which can at least tell them where they are. But many smaller companies are scared to death of the process of implementing ERP. And even if they do embark on such a journey, they often simply don’t know how or where to start.

This is what SYSPRO Quantum Architecture is meant to address. Every company, large or small, needs an ERP solution that fits. In fact many may yearn for a custom fit, but we all know that customizations can build road blocks to future enhancement and upgrades. How do you build the best fit possible, one that “feels” like it is home grown and specifically built for your company and yet stay within the confines of upgrade-ability… and  be confident that processes modeled make sense and are efficient? Let’s face it. Many SMBs simply do not have processes that are well-defined, and those that are may be less than ideal and hardly “best practices.”

The typical ERP implementation (perhaps even the selection) starts with a discovery process, spanning functional requirements, people, processes and technology. SYSPRO’s implementation methodology and its Systems Process Modeling (SPM) software have always been important components of the company’s offering.

SYSPRO Quantum Architecture now puts that discovery and implementation process on steroids, so to speak. The SYSPRO development organization  has automated the discovery process with a simple question and answer format, where the questions are all business questions, not technical. If you can’t answer these questions, then you either don’t know your business well, or you need to rethink the fundamentals on which it is based. These questions are designed to capture what the SMB does today, but to also suggest best practices where appropriate.

Keeping with the inspiration of Einstein’s theory of matter and energy, SYSPRO lists six business “matters”:

  • ERP implementation
  • Communications reporting
  • Workflow processes
  • Security issues
  • Regulatory/Financial requirements and change
  • Mobile and cloud requirements

The advantage lies in aligning these “matters” with the organizational energy that powers the business. The process starts as early as the SYSPRO sales cycle and is often delivered as a ten day consulting engagement. Using the SYSPRO Quantum Architecture, the SYSPRO team (or a trusted partner) walks the prospect through this series of questions. The result:

  • A fully documented model of the business, including all processes, systems, integration, employee roles, security and data
  • Communication issues identified and resolved (early)
  • Monitors and metrics defined: Key Performance Indicators and reports are defined by role, along with menus, processes and functions
  • A streamlined implementation plan

This process produces a report which gives the prospect a comprehensive view of its own organization’s uniquely modeled processes. This is theirs to keep even if SYSPRO is not chosen as the ERP solution.

As to the mobile and cloud deployment? A series of apps for the iPad and iPhone are currently available which can be downloaded for free. More importantly, using these apps does not “use up” a user license for SYSPRO, a significant budgetary consideration since many of the potential users of these mobile apps might not be current users of ERP. This has the added benefit of giving these non-users direct access to enterprise data instead of requiring them to go through a surrogate or a subordinate, which improves efficiency.

SYSPRO ERP today is available both as a traditional on-premise license, as well as through a subscription. Today the subscription delivers Software as a Service (SaaS) through a single tenant architecture, but can easily coexist with other multi-tenant SaaS partner offering (for example Avalara and Vertex for tax accounting). The single tenant approach is actually appealing to some SMBs and others simply don’t care. However SYSPRO plans on introducing a multi-tenant SaaS offering in 2013.

Key Takeaways

SYSPRO Quantum Architecture can be summed up easily: it is called “architecture” because you are creating a blueprint of a custom-configured solution. This should be appealing to those small to midsize manufacturers who, like those early “doubters of uncertainty” are looking for predictable results.

Tagged , , , , ,

Marketing Inspired by Einstein?

Einstein inspired marketing and messaging? Who would have thought that Albert Einstein, recognized for his genius in physics, would inspire so many marketing messages? In December 2010 SYSPRO USA introduced its “Einstein” strategy, a clever association with the genius of the world’s most reknowned theoretical physicist. This Einstein strategy was the brain child of Judith Rothrock, president of JRocket Marketing. Judith has been helping companies boost awareness, bringing visibility and recognition to software solution providers for more than 20 years, including companies like Lawson Software, Hyperion, Ceridian, UNIT4, Deltek, SYSPRO and Meridian Systems, to name just a few.

So if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Judith should feel flattered right about now.  Last December Judith helped Syspro introduce the theory of ERP relativity, S=MC2  where M stands for material, and C2 is cost and cash management. S, of course, stands for SYSPRO. Since then I have seen Einstein referenced in marketing by two other companies.

The first time I noticed it was at the Sage Summit in July 2011. I was walking the show floor and saw a picture of Einstein on a pillar sign. I did sort of a double-take. Of course I knew Syspro wasn’t anywhere to be seen at a competitor’s user conference. But sure enough, there he was near the booth of one of Sage’s largest partners, Blytheco. If you Google Blytheco and Einstein together, it will lead you to their blog posts on “Leadership through the Eyes of Einstein.” You will see some very interesting quotes from the great man including a couple of my personal favorites:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one has ever thought”

The second time I heard it was just yesterday. While I didn’t manage to get up in time to watch the opening keynote of SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW Madrid (it started at 3AM my time) I did manage to watch the replay. There he (Einstein) was again, right in Jim Snabe’s opening remarks, this time with yet another rendition of his famous equation. Mr. Snabe’s definition managed to include all four pillars of SAP’s innovation strategy:

e = mc(imc)2 where e = Enterprise, m = Mobile, c = Cloud, and imc = In Memory Computing

Of course I can’t say for sure that either Blytheco or SAP saw (and perhaps were inspired by?)  Judith’s and Syspro’s original Einstein strategy, but I can say I saw it there first.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SYSPRO USA Defines the Theory of ERP Relativity S=MC2

In December 2010 SYSPRO USA introduced its “Einstein” strategy, a clever association with the genius of the world’s most reknowned theoretical physicist. The goal of this strategy was simply to make Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for the small to mid-size manufacturer smarter by listening carefully to its customers, perfecting its implementation methodology, focusing resources on education, technology and functionality in order for SYSPRO users to maximize business benefits. Albert Einstein is best known for developing his theorey of relativity (E=MC2). In keeping with its theme of “Simply Smarter” ERP, SYSPRO continues to deliver on its strategy by introducing its own theory of ERP relativity: S=MC2.

S=MC2: Relativity Theory Explained

Einstein’s theory of relativity is based on the concept of mass-energy equivalence, recognizing that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content. In Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2, E is energy, M is mass and C is the speed of light in a vacuum. In the equivalent equation for the theory of ERP relativity, M stands for material, and C2 is cost and cash management. S, of course, stands for SYSPRO. Apart from sharing a common equation however, that is where the similarity ends.

To fully grasp the concept of Einstein’s theory of relativity requires a thorough grasp of physics. The phrase, “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist” does not apply. Indeed you do need to be some sort of scientist to fully understand the meaning and implications of the theory. Not many business executives have the need or desire to understand the relationship between mass, energy and the speed of light. Conversely, every line of business or Information Technology (IT) professional in a manufacturing company needs to know the relationship between material management, cost savings and cash management.  And unlike Einstein’s theory of relativity, SYSPRO’s theory of ERP relativity is quite simple.  The value of SYSPRO ERP is derived largely from better material management, cost control and cash management.

Einstein’s theory is also based on the laws of conservation of matter that says neither mass nor energy may be created or destroyed, but only moved from one location to another.  SYSPRO’s theory of ERP relativity implies just the opposite. Cost savings can indeed be both created and destroyed. True, in the universe of all fiscal entities (companies and banks included), the law of conservation might apply to cash. But better management of materials and cash is truly additive in creating value.

Expanded Materials and Inventory Management

All manufacturers must play a balancing act when it comes to materials management. The goal is to reduce inventory to minimum levels without negatively impacting customer service. This is rarely easy. Having enough inventory available is only half of the equation. Having enough of the right inventory, just in time, is the goal. That means you need visibility into what you have, what you are planning to have (either through making it or buying it) and what you need.

Expanded Cost Controls

Globalization, outsourcing and the volatility of energy costs all play a significant role in presenting new challenges. Visibility in real time has become table stakes for operating globally and yet many companies today suffer from blind spots because of lack of access or timing.

While vigilance and visibility are paramount, it is also necessary today to exert control while nobody is looking. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) need to be established and tied to operational controls. Business rules must be defined in order to raise visibility when certain conditions either occur or fail to occur. ERP is often cost justified by anticipating a Return on Investment, but all too often those cost savings are not monitored and measured post-implementation. Not measuring cost savings typically results in money being left on the table.  

Expanded Cash Management

The “other” C in S=MC2 stands for cash management. The age-old phrase “cash is king” has never been more relevant than it has been since the credit crisis in 2008. At the lowest point of the economic downturn, the only companies that could get credit were those that didn’t need it, making the ability to forecast and manage cash even more important. While we are seeing positive signs of recovery, small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) need to continue to keep a tight rein on cash and credit.

To read my full report, click here:

SYSPRO USA Defines the Theory of ERP Relativity S=MC2

(registration required)

Tagged , , , , , ,

SYSPRO USA Defines the Theory of ERP Relativity S=MC2

 In December 2010 SYSPRO USA introduced its “Einstein” strategy, a clever association with the genius of the world’s most reknowned theoretical physicist. The goal of this strategy was simply to make Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for the small to mid-size manufacturer smarter by listening carefully to its customers, perfecting its implementation methodology, focusing resources on education, technology and functionality in order for SYSPRO users to maximize business benefits. Albert Einstein is best known for developing his theorey of relativity (E=MC2). In keeping with its theme of “Simply Smarter” ERP, SYSPRO continues to deliver on its strategy by introducing its own theory of ERP relativity: S=MC2.

SYSPRO’s Simply Smarter is actually an acronym (Strategy,Methodology, Accountability, Resources, Technology, Education, Customer Rewards).

S=MC2: Relativity Theory Explained

Einstein’s theory of relativity is based on the concept of mass-energy equivalence, recognizing that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content. In Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2, E is energy, M is mass and C is the speed of light in a vacuum. In the equivalent equation for the theory of ERP relativity, M stands for material, and C2 is cost and cash management. S, of course, stands for SYSPRO. Apart from sharing a common equation however, that is where the similarity ends.

To fully grasp the concept of Einstein’s theory of relativity requires a thorough grasp of physics. The phrase, “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist” does not apply. Indeed you do need to be some sort of scientist to fully understand the meaning and implications of the theory. Not many business executives have the need or desire to understand the relationship between mass, energy and the speed of light. Conversely, every line of business or Information Technology (IT) professional in a manufacturing company needs to know the relationship between material management, cost savings and cash management.  And unlike Einstein’s theory of relativity, SYSPRO’s theory of ERP relativity is quite simple.  The value of SYSPRO ERP is derived largely from better material management, cost control and cash management.

Einstein’s theory is also based on the laws of conservation of matter that says neither mass nor energy may be created or destroyed, but only moved from one location to another.  SYSPRO’s theory of ERP relativity implies just the opposite. Cost savings can indeed be both created and destroyed. True, in the universe of all fiscal entities (companies and banks included), the law of conservation might apply to cash. But better management of materials and cash is truly additive in creating value.

Click here (http://erp.syspro.com/SYSPRO_Mint_Jutras.html) to read the full report (registration is required) and learn how expanded materials and inventory management, as well as expanded cost controls and cash management combine in this clever play on words to relate Einstein’s theory of relativity to the world of ERP.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,