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Maximizing Your ERP Investment 2

 
In the world of Manufacturing and Distribution, many CEO's and CFO's are convinced they are simply too busy managing daily business operations and finance to find the time to critically review their company's day-to-day ERP system processes. While it's a fact they are busy, there also tends to be a vague resistance to initiate this study, as if it is too big of an initiative for them to successfully manage.

Nothing can be of greater value to your company to save time, work more efficiently and put you on a path to greater profitability than to increase the firm-wide utilization level of your technology investment.  Higher efficiencies lead to reduced costs, higher profitability, greater client satisfaction, increased internal controls and a happier staff.

 You may feel there is never a good time for this review, but the perfect time to assess whether or not you are taking advantage of all the features relevant to your business (many just a mouse click away), and learning how to utilize these features, only occurs when you make it your high priority.

There are many leading enterprise software and information solution for M&D companies, and their products are packed with features right out of the box. Unfortunately, many users are simply unaware of these tools and/or have not received adequate training on how to use them. Hidden features are currently available at no additional cost. To unleash the functionality of these features, it is often a simple matter of learning that they exist and how they work. Other times, a configuration can be changed so that these features become available. The result is a more efficient, profitable, and happier organization.

Take the quick test below to see if your ERP system is up to speed.
  1. Are you behind on installing software releases?
  2. Are you inputting the same data more than once?
  3. Do you input all time and expense entries through the core application?
  4. Are you using spreadsheets to analyze your system's data or use spreadsheets as a data repository?
  5. Do you have to tell your employees how much vacation time they have left?
  6. Do you wish your billing process was easier?
  7. Do you approve vendor invoices manually?
  8. Do you manually input credit card charges?
  9. Are your dashboards set up for different user types?
  10. Do you use your system's general ledger function, or are you double-entering important information into third party software like Quick Books?
  11. Do you prepare your financial statements, including cash flow statements, in Excel or another third-party program?
  12. Do you ever wonder if there are things you do outside of your ERP package that can be accomplished using your ERP package?
  13. Do you wonder if your customers are profitable?
If you answered YES to any of these 13 questions, chances are you are not working at peak performance. An easy way to determine what is required to work at peak performance is to undergo a utilization review. This is a small investment that will revitalize, or even resuscitate your ERP investment. These utilization reviews result in a high degree of immediate user satisfaction, as well as an agreed-upon plan on how to best restore Level 1 utilization (the most basic, fundamental incorporation of system features that control your entire business process), and build to Level 2 utilization (the use of advanced features that increase company efficiency beyond Level 1 features).

A Utilization Review has a few key components:
  1. A kick-off meeting with executive management. This is your opportunity to discuss what's going right or wrong with the current installation, and what's important to you.
  2. An evaluation of your current configuration. This is necessary to discover the system's current capabilities, as well as identifying the easiest upgrade path to achieve greater system functionality. This can be accomplished following the kick-off meeting.
  3. You will identify a select group of users, each from a different area of your organization, to participate in this review. Each person will be observed as they work with your software. Questions will be asked about what each person is attempting to accomplish. Easy shortcuts and fixes are pointed out during the process. Users are delighted to learn that an icon, sitting on the top of the screen that went unnoticed, can be used to save them several clicks and precious time. The time saved throughout the work week, work month and work year add up.
  4. Our professionals will meet with you to report findings and recommendations. The report will discuss required functionalities, others that are available that we discovered to be useful to your operation, and a reasonable method of delivering them to you.
Utilization reviews are a fraction of the cost of your initial ERP investment and the ROI is heavily in your favor. Individuals have been known to show short cuts they learned to other users almost immediately. Our report will provide you with a larger view of increased utilization and you will find enthusiasm for the system-building among your user group as they learn more effective ways to get things done. They will embrace the bigger changes involved when unused functions are implemented during Level 2, and become a bigger part of the solution you are aiming for: increased utilization that leads to more satisfied clients, happier employees and increased profits.
 
For more information about your company's Deltek system processes, contact Bruce Latman, Business Advisory Senior Consultant at Grassi & Co., at blatman@grassicpas.com.

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