The implementation of an ERP system is certainly no walk in the park. It is complicated, expensive, and stressful. It requires months or years of rigorous planning, serious financial commitment, and sufficiency of manpower.
Failure of an ERP System implementation is probably one of the biggest and most expensive failure a business will ever encounter. Sky rocketing license costs, Consult costs, and internal hours dedicated to its planning and implementation are a few of the reasons why failing in this project is a big blow to the head of its proponents and across the organization.
While it is true that the technology behind the system must be smart, it should above all be easy to install, integrate, use, and maintain. The success of the Implementation does not solely rely on the technology bought. On the contrary, a huge portion of the ERP system´s implementation success lies in the people behind it.
Many businesses put the burden of implementation on the shoulders of the IT department and that is not entirely wrong. Implementation, of course, requires software installation, integration, and migration of data. More work to an already overworked team in many organizations.
Needless to say, implementing this system means digging up details which usually does not lie in the hands of senior management, but details that are held in the hands of the front liners. Implementing the system also means deciding which of the existing multiple processes will remain, which between two departments way of doing things is correct, and who will call the shots.
This line of thinking leads us to a reasonable conclusion that there must be a person high up the organization that should spearhead the project. Why so? Because it requires buy-in from a lot of managers in different departments, it requires the mediation among employees before they pull themselves out of the project and sabotage it, and someone needs to explain why things must be done. One person cannot do it by himself, of course, so this lobbyist must be supported by Project Leaders who shall help him/her oversee the implementation and communicate to all affected employees.
It also tells us that since the ERP system will ultimately result in labor cost savings and a more real-time intellectual process, employees must be assured that this implementation is not to get rid of them or to devalue the effort they have exerted through the years in improving the business. They need to understand it is to make better use of employee time so that they can rid themselves of mundane tasks. Employees need to understand that this change is not because they were doing something wrong all these years, but because there is a window for improvement that can be used to improve the business.
While it sounds like plain and simple common sense, many businesses underestimate the impact the people have on the success of this project. People normally resist to anything new and it is human nature to do just that, but like everything else, with proper communication and sincere team effort, a functioning ERP system in place can bring a breakthrough way of doing business.
There are many articles with in depth discussion on how Analytics can help improve business performance, how logical it is, and how valuable it proves to be. The question remains as to why many businesses are slow to adopt this nothing-but-fruitful Analytics.
Certainly, the question of technological difficulties is out as a substantial number of companies are mushrooming offering a wide variety of enterprise performance software packages that promises to collate, import, and transform data such as SAP, OutlookSoft, or IBM solutions or even the smaller companies like Qlikview, Tableau, or DSPanel.
All these articles reveal only one reason for meeting difficulty adopting analytics despite its potential value to the company – resistance to change.
For example, the IT managers want to remain as the go to person for data governance and security. Likewise, his team fears losing control over the data compromising data security and increasing the costs of managing data.
The IT team of course is a valuable asset to a company as they maintain information security across the organization and one cannot lay blame on them if they take on a defensive stance as they endeavor to move forward with the least cost and highest security.
Ensuring that the IT manager remains to be that person in charge of data control and security, explaining to him how he can greatly help with the upcoming projects, and making his IT team understand that security will not be compromised is a step toward ensuring acceptance of applying analytics.
It is not always just about data but also about making people understand why certain changes need to happen. The well-being of the employees is as important as any other key factors decision makers should consider when rolling out changes. These changes affect the people within the organization hence, the employees´ involvement and deeper understandings for the need for analytics are critical factors that must not be taken for granted.
Equally important is the determination of the proponents´ of Analytics within the organization. As one lobbies for analytics, there will always be naysayers. People who tend to stand by the status quo will resist the change despite being proven wrong on a factual ground. The heavier the weight of the opinion of that person is which is directly proportional to the position a person holds, the harder it becomes.
Notwithstanding the intense resistance met, the advocates must not be frail and continue to communicate to these people with stronger than ever determination in order to convince the others why analytics will be a good addition to the company.
The Chief financial officer and his team are bombarded with overflowing huge amounts of data every day. It is not a bank of data resources that is question rather a question of how well the team can convert all these data into valuable information able to run the business and drive maximized profit.
While it may seem fairly easy for smaller companies, this is not the same case for a bigger, widely distributed multinational company. The daunting tasks of having to collate the profit and loss reports from varying locations, to consolidate these reports, and contrast it against the corporate budget is just a bird´s eye view of what they have to battle with.
Imagine what it feels like for these teams during month-end reporting. Just moving the entries from being just operational to now analytic is a challenge by itself. As if the challenge is not enough imagine reconciling the ledgers.
Without any doubt, the system of guessing and crossing fingers just cannot do the trick anymore if the company wants to stay afloat in the industry and even more so, if the company has high ambitions of aggressive corporate growth. The home-grown make-do financial systems of companies which used to suffice cannot even be relied on anymore.
There needs to be improved visibility on what drives the inflow of money for the company and what drives its losses. There needs to be an improved ability to see where the money should go and where it should not. A tool which can be used to have a closer look at the real numbers, turn these numbers into analytic information, and these information into concrete business decisions.
Does my tool help me see things clearly?
There are disparate notions about what makes up good financial software but when searching for a new financial consolidation tool, there are certain things that are non-negotiable. Here are 3 of the most important features, you need to look for:
This is always an overly claimed and promised feature by many software-providers but very few of the choices of software out there actually are. In choosing financial consolidation software, people tend to forget that ease in setting it up and maintaining the tool is just as important as what it can do. The tool must be easy enough for the team to be handled but robust enough for the tool to handle all of the demands of consolidation.
2. Intelligent, Real-time Functionality
Can your tool keep up with the modern complexity of your corporate structures and hierarchies while making sure it can handle varying currencies and several account policies? Is it intelligent and quick enough to allow you to view certain financial impacts of certain types of changes in the organization? Can it keep up with the dynamism of your business? Do you have instant access to transaction systems?
3. Rigid Control
The integrity of the numbers you produce in the end is the most important factor you must consider. Does your financial consolidation tool provide you features that ensure the process is tightly regulated minimizing risks? Do you get reasonable numbers out of it?
If you are not convinced by the tool you are using or the tool you are considering, it sounds logical and reasonable to reassess your options, think about your predefined financial structures and goals, and how this tool can leverage you towards fulfilling those goals. The financial software consolidation tool is after all, your binoculars to the future.
Big Data is a concept that has become more prevalent in recent years, as it has moved more and more into mainstream businesses and their decision-making for targeting customers and analysing sales and buying patterns.
However, the sheer magnitude of what is being analysed by firms has left the sector in a weird position. Many people see BI as being something of a creepy entity – a Big Brother style spying tool that companies use in order to ascertain what we buy and when.
But is it really as weird as it is made out to be? According to one expert, it is not the case. Big Data is essential to the strategies of companies now, allowing them to analyse more information than humans ever could through IT strategies to help them target ads and sales at certain groups of people.
Paddy Nixon, vice chancellor (research) at the University of Tasmania, said it is about even more than this though. He said that there are a number of different factors that show Big Data has big implications – driving economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Mr Nixon said that Big Data allows for a more sustainable level of development in regards to businesses, as it allows the studying of the relationships between different groups. By looking at the different interactions between customers, companies, economies and the government.
He said it allows for companies to look at unknown patterns in the relationship between them and their customers, making for a more targeted and sustained growth of their business model than would have been possible by old strategies, under which they would not have been able to see certain trends and patterns.
How to make Big Data less creepy
One of the biggest factors that makes Big Data seem creepy, according to Mr Nixon, is the fact that people are not able to see how their data is used. All they know is that things they do are being analysed, but not how, why or even if their information is being kept and stored.
This is one thing that they can look at if they are trying to make their operation less creepy. Simply offering a little bit more transparency can let customers feel a little more at ease with regards to how their information is being used by companies.
Another strategy is to look at the way consent is achieved. In many cases, customers will be looking at a situation where they are simply giving consent by buying from a certain business, but this should be eradicated if professionals want Big Data to look less creepy.
It doesn’t take much to allow customers to give consent to having their data used, and it can make a big difference in trust.
In 2013, companies in the BI sector enjoyed a mixed bag of fortunes, with growth being spread across a number of different sizes of firms, but mostly being focussed on the smaller ones which could afford to offer the bespoke sorts of solutions that companies are looking for.
What companies will do well?
In 2014, the buzzword will be for usable BI solutions, and this is shown in the predictions for the company that will be the biggest winner in 2014, according to Information Week.
It said that Tableau, which creates data-visualization software that has a reputation for being easy to use will see a large level of growth in 2014. Six per cent of companies are expecting to use it next year.
On the other hand, companies like Actuate, IBM Cognos, and MicroStrategy, which provide more traditional BI, are expected to experience falls.
BI overview 2014
The sector as a whole will do well in 2014. This might seem like a bold prediction, but there is some firm grounding behind the belief that 2014 can be a good year for the business intelligence sector.
Businesses in general will be looking to grow all across the world as economic uncertainty starts to become a thing of the past, and more and more firms are able to grow.
In the UK, for example, economic growth experienced in 2013, which amounted to 1.4 per cent, is set to be built on. It is predicted that 2014 will see the UK experiencing a level of growth of around 2.4 per cent.
What this will mean is that companies will attempt to grow. To do this, they will need to be able to make important business decisions, and this is something they will need BI for. Even in a growing economy, it is vital to be ahead of the competition, and this will leave those working in business intelligence, as well as their products, in high demand.
So looking forward, what should companies in the BI sector be looking to do to make sure that they enjoy a strong 2014?
The answers are quite straightforward actually. It is all about providing something that companies not only need, but what they specifically ask for. Bespoke solutions will be more important than ever in 2014, with businesses looking for things that relate specifically to them and the industry that they are operating in.
In addition to this, it will be about giving power back to firms themselves. Companies will want to use certain aspects of BI, but many will not invest if they feel they are being coerced into taking ownership of a whole strategy, instead preferring to just pick and choose certain elements.
It will be those firms who realise this and allow it to happen that will flourish throughout the year. Self service BI has already become a highly-demanded solution among those in business, and the companies that can provide a “create your own” BI software will be those that do best.
Finally, the age of the non-IT BI specialist is about to descend. Decision makers want to have a hand in BI now more than ever, so companies that provide them with a user friendly option for those without the technical nous will be the ones that perform best.
Business intelligence (BI) is a term that has been on the lips of many businesses and their owners the last year, with companies looking to find solutions that make decisions that little bit easier. It has seemed that uptake of the strategy and software has been picking up pace throughout the year, but just how did 2013 treat the BI industry?
In general, the BI market last year was relatively strong without setting the heather on fire. Growth might not have reached peak levels, but they have been far better than at other times and other sectors across this year.
According to one expert, it has been very middling, with the chief executive officer saying: “I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.”
Uptake in general has been good, but it has failed to reach the 40 per cent growth levels that were experienced back in the mid-90s. However, it is important to note that at this time the market was still new and exciting and it was being brought into firms for the first time.
On the other hand, though, the market has not hit its lowest ebb either. This was experienced in 2008, when growth levels were hammered by the worldwide recession. Companies paring back what they offered meant that growth sat at just two per cent throughout that year.
This is no bad thing though. While other sectors across the globe have seen revenues dropping and have had to make cutbacks, the fact that BI has continued to grow can only be seen as being a good thing for the sector overall, leaving good prospects on the cards for 2014 and beyond.
A tale of two sizes
In 2014, it has been about different types of BI, and growth in the two can be compared on one simple scale – size. While large companies have continued to grow throughout the year, it has been those smaller firms that have enjoyed the best levels of improvement in 2013.
Large BI providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have enjoyed a growth level that has sat at just single-digit improvements in terms of revenue, but it has been a different story further down the ladder.
According to Condi Howson at Information Week, some smaller firms have performed so strongly that many even nearly doubled their revenues throughout the year.
One such company was Tableau, which saw its revenue figures jump by 75 per cent throughout the year 2013. Other companies that enjoyed revenue leaps far in excess of larger competitors included TIBCO Spotfire (30 per cent) and QlikTech (23 per cent).
So why are smaller BI companies performing well? The answer is simple – they are much more malleable and ready to adapt.
Most small and medium firms cannot afford the very largest BI solutions, so they look towards those that can provide just what they need – self service and bespoke software that just ticks all of the right boxes.
Of course, they cannot get these from the larger companies around the globe, which means they will increasingly turn to smaller BI firms, giving these a boost throughout 2014.
Business intelligence (BI) is something that has been used by more and more companies across the globe in the past few years, as they look to grab the initiative and get a head start on their rivals.
However, thanks to its development as a very IT-centric notion, it has been the case since BI became a big trend for the tech people within firms to be more involved with its use than those who actually need it most.
According to Anna Young at Business2Community, BI up until now has been centred around technical uses, with IT professionals sending their BI reports to IT bosses. She said this is an issue that leads many businesses to not get the most of their investment.
To solve this, Ms Young said, companies need to realise that they should be bringing the business back into BI, allowing those who make the big business decisions within companies to have the final say on how it is used and how the results are utilised.
So just how can the trend be reversed so that BI works for firms and gets them the most for the money they have put in?
Because of its basing in IT, one of the biggest hurdles that many companies will face is the fact that the tools are not user-friendly for those who are not tech-savvy. They can be hard to work with, and are often discarded or passed on to someone else. This shows the need for tools that are easy to understand and straightforward to utilise.
For small companies in particular, the full scope of BI will not be needed to get the desired results. However, it can often be true that they need to have ‘all or nothing’ when investing, and this can turn many away.
Allowing companies and buyers to only purchase things that they want and need can be an effective strategy in allowing them to have a BI solution that works for them at an affordable price.
Unlike the majority of BI specialists, decision makers in firms may not strictly be office based, or they might at the very least be out and about at some point during their working week.
However, big calls will still need to be made, and often these can’t wait. By permitting use of BI via mobile channels, developers will make it easier for companies to implement the strategy in the modern world, and uptake could be greatly improved.
Companies will often nowadays also want to have the chance to collaborate on ideas, and this is something those without the technical nous might not have the ability to do themselves.
Professionals in IT need to make sure that the data created is not only usable by people who are not savvy, but also sharable and easy to collaborate with in conjunction with other departments within the firm.
This year could be a good one for business intelligence (BI), with companies across the sector looking to grow as businesses in other industries do.
But with this in mind, what will be the biggest trends and differences in 2014?
The rise of the decision maker
According to many experts, this will be the year when the BI market finally moves away from being one that is primarily IT-centric and becomes a lot more user friendly.
Over the past few years, IT professionals have created, used and produced the reports that are associated with the software, but there are now more companies looking to get involved at the ownership level so they get a feel for what they are using.
This will mean that BI becomes more user-friendly and usable throughout the year, as opposed to being the very technical solution that is has often been criticised as being in the past.
BI in the cloud
With the fast-paced way modern business has developed over the past few years, one of the biggest trends that has emerged has been that of cloud storage. Now BI and the cloud be set to merge throughout 2014.
The cloud allows companies to store data and software without needing physical hard drives, making it cheaper and more convenient, and this is something that BI firms will need to capitalize on.
In addition to this, companies will also be able to share data between different offices within their firm, allowing for better collaboration and a smoother operation, another thing BI can become involved with.
Mobile solutions are now one of the most important developments in any BI strategy. It has become more vital than ever, given that people can work on mobiles when they are away from the office, on transport or even at home.
This, of course, means that they will need access to BI while they are doing so, so having the solutions and software available to them on their devices will be vital to ensure that they are always connected and able to do their job to its fullest.
It’s important that BI companies provide this as well to make sure they can maximise their potential revenue streams in the new year.
Self service/bespoke solutions
This is a trend that has already been quite prevalent in BI over the past few years, but it is set to become even more so in the next few months as companies start to grow.
Risk aversion will be a thing of the past in 2014 as more and more firms instead look to grow and expand rather than shirking away, but this will not mean reckless spending. They will still look to buy software that allows them to pick and choose the most relevant functions for them and gets them the best price.
This means that 2014 will be another year in which self service and bespoke BI is important.
Big Data is an ever-evolving and changing marketplace, but just how will it evolve in the future, and how will it meet the needs and demands of the ever growing volume of data that the market and its related software is asked to cope with?
With the fact that there is now more and more data created all the time, and the sheer volume rising at an exponential pace, there has been a need for it to be processed and analysed quicker and quicker.
According to one expert, massive amounts of data must be analysed on the spot. This has meant that companies across the globe have invested somewhere in the region of $14 million into the in-memory processing market.
This means that terabytes of data can be processed and analysed within just a few seconds. One company, according to a popular technology blog, recently realised the importance of speed when it comes to the analysing of data when its sensor data ballooned to a full 5 terabytes per day.
The expert added that it is now the case that almost every single Big Data vendor is having to create and release products that are specifically linked to making sure data is analysed as fast is as possible.
Another factor that will become more and more important across the next year and beyond is the quality of the data that is being processed. Because of the sheer volume of what is being analysed and acted upon, it is vital that the data is of quality that means it will produce results and not just take up valuable time and space.
Because of the fact that data analysis is now so fast it is far outside the realm of the need for human minds, it is now the case that many decisions are made without a person being involved at all, with data cleansed, analysed and acted upon on. This has caused problems though, where a stream of bad quality data can lead to viruses, data loss, financial losses and even fines.
What some companies have started to do, and what will become more of a trend moving forward, is to deploy a system that combats poor data quality by making sure that any issues created are flagged up instantly rather than having to wait for problems to occur. It allows bad quality data to be wiped out very early in the process.
In the age of everyone wanting to use Big Data, it has become more and more common for people not au fait with Big Data to want to be a part of the process. But this has led to issues with usability and compatibility.
It is a problem that will be combated moving forward, with apps specific to certain industries becoming ever-more prevalent to help companies harness Big Data even at the most basic levels.
Across the globe, companies are always looking for ways to make sure they are as effective as they can possibly be, making the best decisions and giving themselves the greatest opportunity to get things right, and crucially, more right than their competitors.
This has meant that more and more has been spent in the last few years on business intelligence (BI) software that gives an insight into companies’ data and allows them to make the most measured decisions to get ahead of the competition.
However, according to one expert, investing in this will be pointless if companies are not also ensuring that they are exercising correct working practices. Vijay Govindarajan of Harvard Business Review said there are a number of stages that companies should undertake to ensure that their business is operating as a well oiled machine and that BI delivers the results and returns they are after.
Companies should always have a clear understanding of their business at its starting point before they use BI.
Before they go anywhere, they need to know the reality of the here and now so they can see where they want to go. It is impossible to build a strategy and set final goals in any way if you haven’t an idea where you are starting from.
Next thing that needs to be laid out is the destination. Before employing BI, you need to know what you want from it. What is the final goal in terms of revenue. This should always be laid out so that you have something to aim for in the long run. Without an idea of where a company should be headed, any new IT strategy such as the use of BI can seem a little aimless.
Once you know where you are and what you want to achieve as a business, you need to work out how you are going to get from one reality to the other. Set up quarter by quarter sales targets, and look at how you will achieve these to hit overall goals. To set a target without ever looking at how you will get there can be a disastrous strategy that ends in rash decisions and money lost in the long run.
Expect the plan to have some variants throughout the time you are making use of it. No plan will ever go exactly as you thought it would, no matter how well thought out and reasoned it may be. The important thing is to be ready for this. If you have to work off plan, don’t panic when it happens. Simply take a step back and make a new route after assessing the new situation.
This ties in with the idea of variation. If you do find yourself off plan as a business, it’s important to make sure you deal with it and get back on track as soon as possible. If you take a wait and see approach, it can often mean the problem is exacerbated and takes far longer to rectify. Instead, you should tackle issues head on from the earliest possible opportunity.