Recommendations for Performing an Annual Business Review on your ERP System

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In our previous article, When did you last perform an Annual Review on your ERP System, we highlighted the reasons for performing an Annual Review on your ERP system. Next, we would like to outline our recommendations for performing the analysis and expectations for each stage. Here are six recommendations we suggest when performing such a review; each of these recommendations is discussed in more detail below:

 

  1. Document a plan in the form of a project charter to ensure a maximum return on your ERP investment.

    Collaboration throughout several departments within an organization is critical to the success of our ERP system.
    Collaboration throughout several departments within an organization is critical to the success of our ERP system.
  2. Include subject matter experts across multiple departments who will highlight areas for collaboration improvement.
  3. Make sure business changes are reflected in your ERP system processes.
  4. Analyze recurring questions to the support team to highlight areas for improvement across your organization.
  5. Upgrade out-of-date systems to reduce maintenance costs and advance business processes.
  6. Review system utilization to drive higher efficiency.

Let's dive deeper into each recommendation:

1. Document a plan in the form of a project charter to ensure a maximum return on your ERP investment.

 

Do you have a documented plan for success? Western Computer highly recommends to always have a strategy in place that has been agreed upon by your team. Also, the plan for your ERP investments should line up with the strategic plans for your company. Your organizational growth plans for the next two to three years should be reflected in the project charter, which will map to initiatives such as e-commerce fulfillment or Automated Warehouse Systems.

 

“Pay attention to making sure users leverage the capability in the solution that you have already invested in. New capabilities are continually being added which gives the organization the opportunity to eliminate external systems from their infrastructure. Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers deep functionality built into the core applications as well as new industry-specific applications that can be easily created via Microsoft PowerApps and consumed via AppSource. For example, the Retail application has been enhanced and a new set of Dynamics 365 functionality called Talent has been recently added for HR capability,” says Tony Castellano, Director of Client Services at Western Computer. “Our team was very impressed with the new Talent functionality in a recent workshop. Microsoft’s collaboration with LinkedIn is starting to shine through.”

 

It takes time to implement these workloads within a company. Therefore, it is important for these strategic objectives to be included in the project charter. This ensures that the stakeholders throughout the business are all aligned and moving in the same direction. Change management is crucial here to ensure that the capability is fully understood and that the hard and soft costs are managed into the business.

2. Subject matter experts across multiple departments who will highlight areas for collaboration improvement.

 

Western Computer recommends interviewing subject matter experts throughout the organization. It is key to include those who not only have a good understanding of their areas of the business but also those with an in-depth knowledge of how each of the departments interacts with each other. The point of interaction, between both functional roles and departments across the organization, is a great place to dive into for identifying key areas for business process improvements.

 

Interviewing subject matter experts often reveals ‘ah-ha’ moments. “Oh, we did not know that you are using the PO number in that way. That would have saved us so much time had we known we did not need to manually capture the data,” is an example from Purchasing to AP.

 

The annual review process will also help to identify areas where data is being tracked outside of the system. This is caused by users being unaware that the capability is available within the system. Or by their lack of experience with the functionality. Once this data is brought back into the system, it enables better visibility, collaboration, and integration of data across the organization as opposed to being used in a siloed manner.

 

Collaboration through several departments within an organization is critical. Sometimes companies have internal communication difficulties so the Annual Review process can help break down some of these barriers.

3. Make sure business changes are reflected in your ERP system processes.

 

To adapt to changing market forces, your business is in a constant state of flux. For example, you may have recently moved to a direct sales model and are thus selling to customers that you have not sold to in the past. Your fulfillment process will need to reflect this change.

 

Purging historical apps, legacy systems, and data that is no longer required due to changed business processes will ensure a more efficient running of your ERP system.

4. Analyze recurring questions to the support team to highlight areas for improvement across the organization.

 

Performing a review of the support requests received from the business will provide a good indication of where potential system improvements can be made. For example, a recurring number of ‘how-to’ questions from a specific area of the business could indicate that additional training is required for that workload or business process. Taking this step during the review should also decrease the number of support requests that are directed to the support team. This will enable your support team to be focused on delivering more proactive, value-added support to the business areas that can help drive product utilization.

5. Upgrade out-of-date systems to reduce maintenance costs and advance business processes.

 

We are all creatures of habit. When we have utilized a particular ERP system for a long time, we get very comfortable with the way that it works. Thus, we sometimes find it hard to move away from what we know. At some point, however, we need to review the opportunity cost of not making the move.

 

Look to help motivate your company to invest in an upgrade.

 

In many cases, companies have made very costly modifications to their system; modifications which are now standard in the more recent version. With an upgrade, these modifications will no longer be an added maintenance cost to their system. The modification code can be retired, making the pathway for future upgrades a lot easier and less costly. Most companies are already paying software maintenance costs for the standard software which covers the licensing costs of new releases. This should provide incentive to ensure that they can keep on the latest version and get better returns on their investment. Any opportunity to remove costs associated with keeping modification code updated should be considered.

6. Review system utilization to drive efficiency improvement.

 

Interview business areas to find out why they are not using specific workflows within ERP. Perhaps it is for historical reasons, but implementing these changes could remove manual processes that are currently being used.

 

In our previous article, we discussed what steps organizations can take to get more than 70% utilization out of their Dynamics systems.

 

Western Computer is uniquely positioned in offering these Annual Reviews to their clients to help you get the most from your investment. Contact our team of Microsoft Dynamics experts if you need help getting started.

by Western Computer

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