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Make Sure “Lean” Does Not Mean Inflexible

The wider financial crisis has forced many businesses to cut back in order to secure their future. Cost savings through efficiencies have been a high priority for many. Some of these cost savings have  initially been realised through reduced headcount but as the downturn continues and growth remains delayed, businesses are looking at supply chain effectiveness to maintain the downward pressure on costs.

Undoubtedly most supply chains will benefit from some degree of rationalisation and consolidation making good use of the cost savings that arise as a direct result. However when it comes to making cuts, it is very easy to get carried away creating a supply chain that is efficient but inflexible.

As we have discussed previously, uncertainties relating to the supply of raw materials and potential disruptions caused by natural disaster or civil unrest require a company to be agile in order to adjust to the unforeseen. If too many resources are stripped and the supply chain becomes so inflexible that there is no slack or room for adjustment, the results could still be catastrophic even in the face of tiny fluctuations.

Ultimately, your business will need to decide how best to adjust your supply chain, which parts to improve and which to remove whilst leaving your business in an operational state. The ERP system used to manage your supply chain will also need to be equally flexible and customisable to mirror accurately the changes in structure.

Using a period of rationalisation also allows decisions to be made that will define the future of the supply chain. Many companies are taking the opportunity to invest in strengthening their core systems; those tackling the challenge with a long term view are investigating off-site, cloud-based solutions with the capability to shift in line with the company’s own changing needs.

Celtrino’s own Smart Admin platform provides all the flexibility required to remain competitive regardless of the wider financial environment. To find out more, why not give us a call?


Posted on March 28, 2012 in ERP, Smart Admin, Supply Chain by
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Two Supply Chain Management Predictions for 2012

As seems to have been the case every year for the past half decade, 2012 is predicted to be the year that cloud computing finally takes off.  Analysts believe that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has finally reached the requisite level of maturity to ensure that manufacturers will finally be able to outsource many of their ERP functions.

Supply Chain Management Predictions for 2012

SaaS providers have managed to extend the functionality of their systems to mimic and replace those available in onsite equivalent ERP platforms immediately negating many of the concerns of business decision makers. Attention to improving platform and data security has also led to increased customer confidence further helping to boost uptake.

Ray Wang, principal analyst for the Constellation Research Group reckons SaaS for manufacturers will also need to demonstrate a high degree of interoperability to facilitate integration with existing on-premise systems. By hooking directly into the existing computer systems, manufacturers can extend and expand their systems without the usual costs associated with an in-house deployment or upgrade. As a result Wang believes that SaaS will reach a natural tipping point this year leading to an explosion in uptake.

James Leibel of technical consultants Cap Gemini is also expecting to see an explosion in embedded wireless tracking throughout the supply chain. These tracking devices, such as RFID and Near Field Communications (NFC) smart tags will help manufacturers keep an accurate inventory at every point of contact with minimal manual intervention, thereby reducing the potential for human error creating stock level issues. NFC and RFID tracking does however require additional investment in hardware for tracking the tags but Ray Wang reckons “Manufacturers will be applying sensor data to anything from predictive maintenance to improved demand forecasting.”

Finally all of the analysts appear to agree that manufacturers will make “healthy” investments in technology to underpin their operations and provide future-proof capacity. Analysts have been wrong in the past, but this year their claims seem highly credible.


Posted on February 17, 2012 in Cloud Computing, ERP, SaaS, Supply Chain Management by
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Boeing Prove Direct Integration Is Not Everything

During late 2011, Boeing finally began shipment of their latest aircraft, the 787 ‘Dreamliner’. Three years late and massively over budget, the Dreamliner has had a troubled route to market but Boeing executives are convinced that the changes the technological and manufacturing advances made during the project, coupled with their new approach to supply chain management will reap major benefits in the future.

Prior to the Dreamliner, Boeing bought parts from suppliers before assembling the finished aircraft themselves. The 787 project however required suppliers to design and build major sections of the aircraft before delivering them to Boeing. The ultimate goal was to reduce the final assembly time by Boeing to just three days.Supply Chain Management in Boeing

To make this ambitious plan a reality, Boeing implemented a collaboration hub which would bring together all 34,000 suppliers involved with producing parts for the Dreamliner. The system allows suppliers access to real time data to ensure that every single part is assembled in the correct order and delivered on time; with a three day assembly window, timing of deliveries is critical so that everything is in place at the right time.

The centralised data system means that every member of the supply chain is immediately aware of any potential delays and can adjust their assembly and delivery schedules accordingly. As the primary buyer, Boeing are able to gain an instant overview of the entire supply chain, so that parts are only ordered as requested and helping to speed payment of invoices between suppliers.

One of the most notable aspects of Boeing’s new supply chain management platform is that it is not reliant on every supplier having the same ERP systems in place in their businesses. Instead of using a proprietary EDI format to join inventory and accounts systems, the new Boeing platform collects and retains information in the online hub.

Although Boeing’s new cloud-based supply chain management system has revolutionised the way that the business operates in terms of efficiencies and future cost savings, there remains room for improvement. Using a platform which allows for transparent data transfer between ERP systems would further reduce complexity and potential data duplication between onsite systems and Boeing’s portal. Time will tell whether Boeing’s supply chain management system undergoes such an evolution.

 


Posted on January 17, 2012 in Cloud Computing, ERP, Integrated Supply Chain Management Platform, Supply Chain Integration, Supply Chain Management by
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The rise of “social” ERP

In the same way that email revolutionised the way we do business from the mid-90s onwards, social networking is set to me the next major game changer. Previously regarded as a novelty, or consumer communication method, provisions by major ERP and CRM vendors, such as Salesforce’s Chatter product, have seen the concept embraced by businesses across the world.

Admittedly social networking is still normally used as an additional communications channel between the brand and its consumers, but deployment of private social networks are also changing the way business ‘talk’ internally. Many businesses using internal social networking have begun supplanting the traditional corporate intranet with short messaging systems.

Social ERPWhere company announcements may have been posted on internal bulletin boards, forums, intranet pages or even disseminated by mass email, some businesses are now broadcasting the same information using social networking. On the ERP front, social collaboration tools allow departments to stay abreast of relevant information or to pass on specific project-related data to ensure all staff are fully informed. A quick ‘tweet’ like message can inform all stakeholders of production delays, sales figures or performance data quickly and simply.

Social collaboration tools allow for quick and easy communication both within businesses and with each member of the supply chain without having to rely on integrated messaging systems or email. The immediacy of communication via social networking allows for instant updates to be transmitted to relevant parties effortlessly. Corporate social networking tools also allow for archive and retrieval of messages, ensuring an accurate audit trail of communications can be created and referred to at a later date, or in the event of a dispute.

Social networking for business, particularly within the ERP arena, remains something of a curiosity at present. Those companies already using such tools swear by the efficiencies created by instant communications, whilst others are somewhat suspicious of mixing business with informal communications techniques. Regardless of an individual business’ position on the debate however, enough ERP vendors are getting behind the technique to ensure its future in the workplace.

 


Posted on December 16, 2011 in CRM, ERP, Supply Chain by
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ERP Automation

ERP – It’s all about automation

Regarded by many as a must-have application for the modern business, Enterprise Resource Planning systems have become ever more common, helping companies to assume control of their day-to-day operations with a high degree of accuracy. Whether deployed at a single site organisation or a multi-national corporation, ERP has become an essential part of those businesses.

Despite the prevalence of ERP however, the major benefit of such systems is often missed. Much is made of potential cost savings, but few understand that these savings are not based on methodology or concepts, but on a reduction of duplicated effort and automation of common tasks. A business’ greatest cost is always its workforce, which is ultimately where the greatest cost savings are found.

Automate for savings

ERP automationMost business processes contain inherent inefficiencies, but it is only during analysis and benchmarking that they come to light. Unfortunately many businesses only carry out process analysis exercises during major projects. At these times resources to address such issues are often unavailable. An ERP implementation provides the ideal opportunity to not only identify inefficiencies, but also implement changes to reduce or minimise them.

ERP systems have the added benefit of not only highlighting inefficiencies, but also providing a way by which automation can completely negate them. Legacy systems typically involve the same information to be entered and manually updated several times throughout the manufacturing or production procedure. ERP platforms can reduce much of this manual data entry, progressing virtual paperwork through the production chain automatically.

This use of automation immediately reduces the amount of time spent by employees on administration, allowing them to focus on carrying out their core duties without worrying about burdensome paperwork. Eventually automation of enough common tasks will create efficiencies sufficient to allow for workforce redeployment and/or reduction. It is at this point that cost savings increase from minimal to significant, finally realising the cost savings promised by ERP vendors.

As an addendum, it is also at this point that we must delineate between those tasks that the ERP system is best placed to automate and those tasks that are best automated outside the ERP – the tasks associated with supply chain management. A common failing of many ERP projects is loading the ERP system with tasks that it was not designed to automate.


Posted on December 14, 2011 in Business Process Automation, ERP, Supply Chain Management by
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ERP and SME

ERP and the SME

Once regarded as the preserve of enterprise-level organisation, the advent of cloud-based computing and the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model has made powerful, and previously expensive, enterprise resource planning platforms available and accessible to smaller businesses. Known by some as “democratisation”, outsourced ERP has made enterprise functionality available to companies as small as sole traders.

Great idea, but why bother?

Your business is unique, and so too are the processes underpinning it; no one knows your business like you do. That said, an ERP outsourcer knows enterprise resource planning better than most, allowing their customers to rely on their expertise. Using an outsourced ERP provider also removes the need for employing an in-house ERP expert. The SaaS provider assumes responsibility for hosting the ERP application, maintaining and managing it, and providing support to the end user.
Outsourced ERP allows smaller businesses to enjoy all the benefits of an enterprise class system without having to pay traditional enterprise-level license costs or for the staff traditionally required to maintain and support such a system. Outsourced ERP allows SMEs to focus on running their business, without worrying about the underlying software.

But wait, there’s more!ERP and SME

Traditional Enterprise Resource Planning systems certainly create cost-savings and efficiencies but often only over a significant period of time. By outsourcing ERP SMEs can significantly reduce the time usually associated with such a deployment; the outsourcer assumes responsibility for the implementation, leaving the buyer with a fully functional ERP system from day one.
SMEs using outsourced ERP systems also stand to gain from fringe benefits such as free-of-charge software upgrades, and bundled support services all of which would potentially be very expensive. These additional benefits contribute to reducing the on-going running costs which can be incurred when running ERP software in-house.
Outsourcing has therefore made ERP not only available to the small or medium business, but also affordable. As a result, businesses failing to take advantage of ERP functionality and its associated efficiencies stand to lose out to their competitors in the long run.


Posted on December 12, 2011 in Cloud Computing, ERP, SaaS by
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Supply Chain Management: 2011 Smarter Business White Paper Available Now

Today more than ever, organisations are looking for more efficient ways of doing business. Use this new Celtrino white paper to understand how your organisation should prepare to take advantage of the proposals contained within the recently published Public Sector Reform plan.

The proposed changes will give you reason to question:

  1. How will my supply chain be affected?
  2. Is my ERP or back office system(s) fit for purpose?
  3. What does e-Invoicing entail?

There may be pockets of expertise in your company that has the knowledge to answer these questions but in our experience it’s more likely that it doesn’t. We are pleased to offer this white paper to provide perspective on Celtrino’s leadership position within the supply chain management industry.

Download your copy of the white paper ‘Ireland is About to Become a Whole Lot Smarter’ by clicking here.

 


Posted on December 1, 2011 in ERP, Public Sector, Smart Admin, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Management, White Paper by
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Supply Chain Integration Part 2 – Why?

Following on from our last article outlining what supply chain integration is, this time we set out why it should be of interest to your business.Supply Chain Integration - part 2: Why?

Companies using supply chain integration have to overcome a number of complicated obstacles in order to recognise their goal of a unified management system. Significant planning and investment of time, as well as money, are required for the transition to be successful. Because of these initial demands, many smaller businesses shy away from taking the leap, choosing instead to do things they way they always have.

It is well known that in order to create efficiencies and cost savings within a company’s own processes, they usually need to invest in infrastructure before they are able to reap the benefits. Once a business has successfully streamlined in-house processes, it is then necessary to work on those which affect the company but which are not necessarily owned by them.

At this point, the second hurdle of inter-company politics raises it’s ugly head. In order to reform the wider supply chain, a company needs to convince the other businesses involved of the benefits of doing so. Tradition and ignorance are both significant obstacles which will need to be overcome in order for the merging of processes.

So with so many hurdles to implementation, why should a group of companies seek greater supply chain integration? Simply put, the efficiencies which can be recognised by defining and integrating systems along the supply chain result in significant cost savings for each partner. By creating a way by which the ERP and accounting systems of each supplier in the chain can communicate, each immediately benefits from a reduction in duplicated effort.

Instead of having to manually pass purchase orders and invoices between companies, the accounts system at the supplier can automatically present invoices to the buyer’s account system for payment. Both companies are no longer held back by delays in the post as they trade endless pieces of paper. Nor are accounts clerks required to enter those same pieces of paper into each of the systems up and down the supply chain.

De-duplication and streamlining of processes inside and outside the enterprise, yields significant savings. And that is why Supply Chain Integration is a worthwhile investment.

 

Supply Chain Integration Part 1

Supply Chain Integration Part 3

Supply Chain Integration Part 4

Supply Chain Integration Part 5

 


Posted on October 7, 2011 in Accounts Payable, ERP, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Document Automation, Supply Chain Integration by
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ERP: Extract the maximum value out of your business systems

For many businesses undertaking a major business process outsourcing project, several questions arise as to how the changes will affect interactions with other suppliers and customers. Taking a holistic view, Celtrino can assist in implementing changes which will not only benefit your business, but also provide your partners with potential savings as a result.

digital worldOn a more basic level, Celtrino’s Smart Admin service provides a method by which a company can integrate its internal accounting and ERP system to produce a fully automated, transparent EIPP (Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment) system. Essentially all of the paperwork traditionally associated with the accounts department is rendered and presented electronically to the relevant customer or supplier. Businesses outsourcing their processes in this manner reap immediate cost savings through increased automation, a reduction in duplicated effort and a low total cost of ownership.

Celtrino’s Smart Admin e-Solutions also include the ability to create B2B supply chain management portals, allowing multiple suppliers to integrate ERP and accounting systems via the cloud. Smart Admin features support for a wide variety of popular back office applications, including Sage, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, converting any file format into a version readable by the receiver. Using EDI, the supply chain documents are sent from supplier to buyer and vice versa, with a speed and ease unavailable through traditional supply chain management channels.

Businesses forming such a strategic partnership immediately share the benefits of being able to present and pay invoices electronically and submit the relevant remittance advice directly into each others accounts systems via the Smart Admin platform.

As well as the technical know-how, Celtrino can also offer extensive experience in trading community onboarding by helping suppliers and partners recognise the many financial and procedural benefits available through the use of a B2B supply chain management portal. After all, when it comes to reduced costs through business process outsourcing, what is good for your business is also good for your suppliers.

 

 


Posted on September 23, 2011 in EDI, ERP, Smart Admin, Supply Chain Document Automation by
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Why outsource EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is one of the oldest methods of system-to-system communication still in use today. EDI relies on creation of standardised text files which are set between businesses in a specific format so that it can be automatically imported into the computer system of the receiver. One of the most well-known users of EDI is the BACS bank transfer system used for sending payments automatically.

Despite being a standard industry format, the encoded text files require specialist knowledge and expertise to create the export template to extract data in the correct format for submission. Worse still, when a partner changes the EDI data mappings for import into their system, each of their customers must reconfigure their exports to match the new import routines.

All of this manual reconfiguration comes at a cost. Businesses must either retain the services of their own EDI expert, or hire an equally expensive consultant to make the changes. Replacing internal systems also attract additional costs. A software upgrade, or a shift to a new platform requires reconfiguration of the EDI translator to ensure that EDI communications between customers and suppliers continue unhindered. Worse still, every system change takes time, which in turn costs the business money.

Clearly any solution which removes the burden of EDI management should result in time and cost savings.

Software as a Service (SaaS) EDI translators provide the obvious solution to many of these conundrums. With outsourced EDI solutions, configuration changes and data export tweaks becomes the responsibility of the service provider. Immediately the requirement for an EDI specialist is removed as is the hardware required to support an EDI translator system. IT staff are then freed to focus on the other aspects of their roles to the benefit of the business.

A SaaS EDI system, such as Celtrino’s Smart Admin provide data interfaces and translators for many industry-leading accounts systems as well as the expertise required for a successful implementation. Their abilities and services are guaranteed to reduce EDI TCO by at least 25%, giving businesses an immediate reduction in costs and allowing them to focus on their customers.


Posted on September 8, 2011 in EDI, ERP, Smart Admin by
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