Tag Archives: ERP

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?

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.

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.


e-Invoicing and Supply Chain Costs Reduction for Private and Public Sector – White Paper

On 17th November the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published the Public Sector Reform plan and a number of its recommendations made headline news: the reduction in headcount and the end of decentralisation.

However, the report contains more far reaching objectives which the reporting media simply did not and do not understand.

In effect, the public sector in Ireland is set to change the way it processes its day-to-day business activities. This change is transformative, it will impact the entire island and profoundly change the way all businesses process business transactions.

This reform plan signifies major change even if you do not deal directly with the public sector. As has been demonstrated in other countries that have embarked on such projects, the change sweeps across the both the private and public sectors. It is irrevocable and to be absolutely clear, it is hugely positive.

The proposed change will give you reason to question:
1. How will my supply chain be affected and what do I need to do to prepare?
2. Is my ERP or back office system(s) fit for purpose?
3. What does e-Invoicing entail?

The appropriately titles white paper ‘Ireland is About to Become a Whole Lot Smarter’ presents a detailed overview of the opportunity at hand for both the private and public sectors in Ireland.

The economic circumstances have to a large extent forced the governments hand on this reform and we must take this opportunity as the benefits are significant and far reaching. Our Nordic neighbours are well down the e-Business journey and derive significant cost savings, and now have a solid e-Business infrastructure that is a competitive trading advantage.

No journey of this nature is exempt from challenges and obstacles.

So, download a copy of the white paper and please remember, here at Celtrino our door is always open and we are more than willing to help you plan to take advantage of this opportunity.


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.


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.


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.

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.


Celtrino investing $1million in its next generation of e-Invoicing services on Microsoft Azure

Celtrino investing $1million in its next generation Smart Admin supply chain management services on Microsoft Azure.


International e-Invoicing and local VAT rules

Electronic invoicing is becoming more and more common in businesses across the world. Despite the enthusiastic uptake however, several so-called electronic data interchange (EDI) standards exist which, when combined with local e-invoicing regulations can cause major problems for suppliers.

One of the largest problems for international e-invoicing is the localised implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) and how it is implemented by a foreign government. In most countries, businesses wishing to import goods are obliged to calculate and pay the correct amount of value added tax. Failure to calculate the correct VAT fee can lead to fines for non-compliance and delays in the shipment and delivery of goods. Presenting invoices in the wrong format can also prevent businesses from reclaiming available VAT rebates, adding further cost to a transaction.

Particularly problematic are countries within the European Union who although encouraged to implement e-invoicing under EU regulations, are also able to implement such directives in almost any way they see fit. Standardisation is therefore impossible as the determination of invoice integrity works on a country-by-country basis.

To deal with such a lack of standards, businesses can choose to adapt their existing in-house systems in the hope that they can cope with the multitude of different e-invoice expectations, or outsource the processing to a third party. Because of the diverse rules across Europe (and South America to some extent too), some companies are choosing to use the services of single country ERP cloud providers.

Such an approach however is far less cost-effective for the supplier who is ideally seeking a single e-invoicing provider who can provide the required interfaces to deal with governments and businesses anywhere in the world. Using a single, integrated solution such as Smart Admin from Celtrino will help to cut the complexity and cost burden placed upon a supplier and allow them to focus on the more important aspects of the transaction, such as manufacture and delivery. Using an outsourced solution, a business should also be able to ensure VAT is paid automatically at the correct point of the transaction and the rebate collected at the appropriate time too.