Join us for this complimentary webinar to learn why you should upgrade to Infor VISUAL 9.0.8 and learn about our VISUAL upgrade services.
In this webinar we will review:
Changes in Infor’s release policy starting with version 9.0.8
The most beneficial features in the VISUAL 9 series (including the entire list of enhancements in versions 9.0.7 & 9.0.8)
The process for upgrading
How VISUAL and Synergy can help you improve your business performance
Upgrade tips & tricks
If Cloud hosting is right for your company
Not sure why you should consider upgrading now?
Infor VISUAL 9.0.8 provides greater visibility over your entire operation with new graphical views, dashboards, and drill-downs to help manufacturers like you overcome complexity, increase productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. As Infor VISUAL 9.0.8 was just released, and will be the last version before VISUAL 10.0, it will be covered on mainstream maintenance until at least 5/31/2022.
Let us help you!
Our Technical Services team is comprised of the largest group of technical experts in the VISUAL community. Our team members have achieved outstanding results dating back to the first versions of the software.
Our proven methods and techniques for applying VISUAL upgrades take the risk out of what is potentially a challenging task for a company. Our process takes you from the initial planning to the ‘go live’ day with a complete set of procedures that are focused on minimum business disruption and maximum uptime.
Join us for this free webinar or contact us to discuss your upgrade plan so you can take advantage of the new features and technology of VISUAL 9.0.8 and get the most out of your ERP investment!
Unable to join the live webinar? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.
Sakichi Toyoda invented a loom in 1896 that not only operated automatically but also stopped when any of the threads broke. This idea revolutionized the industry! Instead of needing an operator for each and every machine, one operator could now watch several machines. Sakichi called this autonomation. The impact of his work on productivity, quality and profit was substantial and the industry was dramatically changed forever.
Autonomation is part of Jidoka, Jidoka being a simple set of rules that were inspired by Toyoda’s first loom.
Discover an abnormality
Fix the immediate problem
Investigate and correct root cause
The success of the loom provided the cash that the Toyoda family required to start their new business, the Toyota Motor Corporation! Reducing Waste and Non-Value-Added activity became one of the main pillars of the Toyota Production System (TPS) or what many refer to as Lean.
Fast forward to today and we see that the new smart manufacturing industrial revolution, or what some call Industry 4.0, is once again revolutionizing the industry. But this time it is the computer systems equipped with ERP systems and connected to software with machine learning algorithms that are changing the game.
On the shop floor, the ability to predict potential quality issues or machine downtime are increasing productivity and profit. Data related to quantities produced and actual run time are driving machine optimization and simplifying labor reporting and job costing. These predictive analytic platforms integrated to ERP systems are driving significant productivity improvements for discrete manufacturers.
In the front office, procurement automation and supplier collaboration platforms connected to ERP systems are transforming communication with suppliers and improving supply chain performance. And automating the PO lifecycle is making the job of a buyer easier, faster and less stressful. Companies are quickly finding that these tools are effectively lowering risk to the business, increasing front office efficiency and delivering improved supplier performance results.
As Sakichi Toyoda discovered, the elimination of waste and non-value-added activities significantly increases productivity and profit. Smart Manufacturing is happening around us now. On the shop floor and in the front office, companies are moving quickly to deploy these intelligent programs. Your ability to compete and be successful may depend upon the decisions you make today, so don’t be left behind!
Michael P. Canty, Executive Vice President
Register for the second session of our “Digital Transformation for Manufacturers” webinar series:“How Napoleon Products Achieved a Strategic Collaboration with Suppliers”.
Future sessions will feature additional best of breed products and expert recommendations on how to leverage your VISUAL data to help identify new and profitable lines of business, while enhancing the current and future customers’ experience.
The roles of procurement and supply chain teams are starting to evolve. By using technology and better processes organizations are able to help digitize the supply chain. Are you leveraging this unique position to drive a bigger impact or drive greater efficiency?
Come hear how Napoleon Products has been able to unlock the purchasing potential of VISUAL ERP and achieve a strategic collaboration with suppliers.
In this webinar, you’ll hear how, with a strategic relationship between buyers and suppliers, Napoleon Products gained more efficient PO management. You will also hear how they solved issues like:
Lack of supply chain visibility
Inaccurate data in VISUAL
Broken communications with suppliers
And how they are looking to SourceDay for supplier quality management as well
SourceDay seamlessly integrates with VISUAL, and is the only procurement management software that solves the challenges manufacturing and distribution face managing direct spend. Learn how to bring greater visibility into the procurement lifecycle while reducing risk and improving data access and visibility.
In December of 2017, my blog titled “A New Industrial Revolution is Already Underway” spoke about Smart Manufacturing and Manufacturers need for speed! If you were not listening, then it is even more important now to understand why every manufacturer must get involved in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Your ability to compete and be successful may depend upon it!
The new industrial revolution, or what some call Industry 4.0, is fundamentally different from all previous industrial revolutions. Prior revolutions were mainly driven by advances in technology. Industry 1.0 introduced steam and the first machines that mechanized some of the work. This gave way to electricity, the assembly line and the birth of mass production. Industry 3.0 came about with the advent of computers and the beginnings of automation.
Industry 4.0 is an industrial revolution in which the computers and automation of industry 3.0 will come together in an entirely new way. The ability to connect these computers and automation with robotics and then connect them remotely to computer systems equipped with machine learning algorithms are changing the game. These advanced machine learning algorithms can learn and control the robotics and even make proactive corrections with little to no input from human operators. This provides the manufacturers with an ability to optimize their operations quickly and efficiently.
These new “intelligent” advancements will impact all disciplines, economies and industries. The health and safety of human workers could improve dramatically. Supply chains should be more readily controlled when there is data at every level of the manufacturing and delivery process. Computer control will produce more reliable and consistent productivity and output. And the results for many businesses will be increased revenues, market share, and profits.
The future is happening around us now. Early adopters will likely be rewarded and those who avoid change will risk being left behind. If you have not begun to question everything around you and rethink traditional strategies and business models you will likely find yourself at the back of the pack.
Need help or advice getting started on your Industry 4.0 journey? Contact us to speak to one of our Digital Transformation Experts.
Michael P. Canty, Executive Vice President
You are invited to the first session of our “Digital Transformation for Manufacturers” webinar series. Future sessions will feature other products and advice on how to use your VISUAL data to transform your business.
We have partnered with Bezlio to offer you a platform which provides real-time data access, push notifications, accessibility to cloud and on-premises data, read + write capabilities, all within a powerful no-code/low-code development platform!
If you have workers who spend time off-site, you understand the problems they face trying to access critical VISUAL data when they’re away from their desk.
Join Synergy and Bezlio for this complimentary webinar to learn:
How enterprises can scale up data resources and capabilities available to non-desk workers with thorough evaluation of BYOD security, data synchronization, and scalability.
How the upcoming class of no-code/low-code mobile app development platforms make VISUAL data mobility easier, while saving time, energy and most importantly, money!
Unable to join the live webinar? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.
Merger & Acquisition: Manufacturers Accelerate their Time to Value with Help from Synergy Resources
Part 2 of a 2-part Q&A series with Michael Canty, Executive Vice President at Synergy Resources.
Q: How often does Synergy Resources do this kind of work?
Michael: It’s a regular part of our business. Over the years we have worked with dozens of companies that were involved in mergers and acquisitions. We are proud of the expertise our staff has exhibited and the value they have provided to the organizations we have worked with.
Q: Can you talk about when Synergy Resources engages during the acquisition process?
Michael: On several occasions we have worked with investment companies during the assessment phase, but Synergy Resources usually engages around the midpoint of the acquisition phase or after the acquisition has been finalized. It’s a confidential process.
When a time frame for the acquisition becomes better known, the investor will ask Synergy Resources for advice. What should they prepare for? How can the business be brought in line with the other businesses that are owned by the investor?
Synergy Resources does what it can in advance so that we can go in and do an assessment as soon as the deal is done. We look at the kind of business and the business processes in place as well as the performance reporting tools. We then make recommendations on how to bring the acquisition in line with the other businesses that they own. Once we are all on the same page, we help to execute the plan.
Q: Do investors focus their investments on specific industries or do they venture across industries?
Michael: Investors do both. Synergy Resources works with some investment firms who prefer to acquire complementary companies within specific industries. Then there are those that are strictly investment. They might own five to ten different types of manufacturing companies in different industries.
Q: How does Synergy Resources accelerate investor’s time to value from their acquisitions?
Michael: Typically, we’re first looking to stabilize the business. Limiting risk while keeping a sustaining business flowing is very important in the early stages of integration. So, we work to understand the people who are running the business. During this phase we are looking to determine if it is a process driven or people-driven company. People-driven companies are at higher risk during the integration period. If you have someone in the company who understands critical process steps or is in possession of tribal knowledge about the company’s operations risk is immediately interjected in to the business. And if that person leaves the Company, the risk becomes a reality.
Synergy Resources can help manufacturers implement processes that lessen their dependence on the judgement of one or more people in order to minimize this risk.
Then we look to standardize operations and reporting across all locations to gain efficiencies and consistency. A business process cannot be improved until a standard exists from which benchmark data can be established.
And finally, we look to improve business processes to drive even greater efficiency and higher profits.
Here we are looking for redundancies or gaps in the manufacturer’s business processes that might cause errors or mistakes. We work with the investment company to act on our findings and improve performance.
Q: In your experience, what might be frequently overlooked by the investment-owned company?
Michael: The gap between the investor’s due diligence and the acquired company’s reality is usually not huge, but quite often inventory is an area that requires greater scrutiny. Inventory is a financial asset, but Synergy looks at inventory as a liability. Here’s why.
You might know the value of inventory but you might not know when that inventory is going to be used. For example, let’s say that inventory has been valued at $3 million. Depending upon how frequently the inventory is consumed by plant operations, it could be that, say, 10% is obsolete. That’s a $300,000 problem!
Inventory is often a challenge for the investor because you can’t really get the whole picture until you dig deeper into the manufacturer’s operations. That’s what Synergy Resources does. We take a very close look at the inventory including Work in Process on the production floor.
Q: What else do investors look for?
Michael: Investors want to know how sustainable the business might be. Is it efficient? Is it scalable? At the end of the day, investors want to grow their investments. Synergy Resources can look at entire operations and find innovative ways to help manufacturers scale their businesses.
Q: How long does the typical engagement take?
Michael: Depending on the size of the business, Synergy Resources can usually complete the onsite assessment in two to four days. However, there’s a fair amount of work we do after the assessment and before we review our findings with the investment company.
Q: What else should investor firms know about Synergy Resources?
Michael: The people doing the assessments for Synergy Resources have been in manufacturing a long time. We know what to look for, we execute with the speed needed and we stand behind our work.
Does your company plan to acquire a manufacturing business in the future? If so, do you have a plan to accelerate the time to value from your investment and to scale the business?
Contact us to learn more about how we provide guidance during the Merger & Acquisition of Manufacturing companies.
Ten Ways Real-time Data is Revolutionizing SMB Manufacturing
Manufacturing is becoming more and more data-driven. New tools have made it easier than ever to get real-time data out of your ERP and into the hands of decision makers. The goal is to turn data into timely, actionable information and gain competitive advantage for your business.
Ten ways that real-time data is revolutionizing small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) in the manufacturing industry include:
Gain quick access to meaningful data for making better decisions. New reporting tools no longer require arcane IT skills to use. End users can set their highly personalized reports during setup and go. Users should retain the flexibility to make modifications to filters, etc. on the fly as circumstances change and their individual needs evolve.
Focus actions on exceptions as they happen. An exception report is defined by those instances in which actual performance deviates significantly from expectations, usually in a negative direction. Access to real-time data empowers you to react quickly to changing conditions before it becomes problematic to your business.
Reduce overhead costs by empowering employees with live, actionable information. For example, your shop can set up a monitor to display the dispatch list on the shop floor. Workers can see what they need to do without any supervisory intervention.
Improve communication by defining workflows based on rules that are kicked off by real-time data triggers. You can define a logical path that includes instant message notifications and task assignments to take action quickly and decisively. Using a single data source ensures consistency across the organization.
Lessen reliance on IT staff to provide end users with reports. Individual end users of all skill levels can define the data set to best suit their individual needs. Real-time data means these reports are perpetually kept up to date.
Improve efficiency by assigning activities or tasks on the fly. This helps eliminate non-value added tasks such as sending separate emails and texts outside the ERP system.
Improve the strategic decision making process with relevant, up-to-date information. Managers can explore strategic issues such as, ‘Which suppliers do we spend the most with?’ ‘Who is struggling with delivery performance?’ and so on. Managers on the supply chain team can spend less time crunching data and more time making the best possible decisions.
Make better sense of complex information using visualizations. Dashboards can provide a high-level summary of information from multiple sources in a single graphical display. Decision makers often prefer to view live data that is configured in such a highly useful, efficient and intuitive manner.
Slower data analytics have less accuracy than real-time analytics. An autopsy of what went wrong in the past has limited use because business conditions may have changed. Your company risks working on the wrong fixes when it views data through a rear-view mirror. Real-time data analytics ensures that your thinking stays in step with evolving business conditions.
Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and take corrective actions in a timely manner. Access to real-time data virtually eliminates time-wasting meetings. Both individually and collaboratively, managers can drill into data to discover root causes and define timely solutions to your shop’s critical business challenges. All levels of the organization can be engaged to improve business performance and achieve organizational goals.
To learn more about the real-time data analysis and reporting solution that may be right for your manufacturing business, contact us.
About the Authors:
Katie Farrand is a Continuous Improvement Team Leader and Merri Hoffman is a Business Solutions Consultant at Synergy Resources. To get in touch with Katie and Merri, call 866.896.6347.
What’s the Key to a Successful ERP Software Implementation?
Bill Seymour Shares Lessons Learned from Manufacturers
Bill Seymour is a ERP business consultant specializing in Infor VISUAL ERP. Bill has decades of experience implementing many dozens of ERP systems and related applications. We spoke with Bill about the software implementation experience including what he’s learned from his customers.
Download our “12 Questions to Ask When Selecting an Implementation Partner” whitepaper.
Q: What’s the key to a successful software implementation?
Bill: I believe the key to a successful software implementation is having full commitment from upper management. There need to be goals set and a plan put in place to implement the change that needs to happen so that the result can be a new and better way of doing things. Evolving to this point took commitment so getting to the next level does as well. If the company continues to do the same things they’ll get the same results.
It’s important that the entire team becomes part of the newly developed processes. Every employee in every department of the company needs to learn the part they play that contributes to the company’s continued success.
Q: What do you discuss with management?
Bill: When I go into a project, I have a little mantra. Twenty days, twenty weeks or twenty years: how hard do you want to work?
If you don’t want to work hard for the next twenty years, then commit to supporting us for the next twenty days. Synergy Resources’ implementation methodology has been proven at hundreds of companies like yours. The system is very powerful and flexible. It allows you to set up rules that govern how the system will work for your business model. Then, instead of managing by every little detail, you can manage by exception to the rules. Stay committed to the process and you’ll be successful.
Q: How does the engagement begin?
Bill: The first thing is to look at the customer’s current practices so that we can write up our observations with an assessment and recommendations for improvement. We review these observations with the customer and set a path that we develop together. We call it, ‘A System of Controlled Performance’.
It takes about one or two hours to walk through the entire ‘Future Processes’ with all key steering committee members. We walk through from 30,000 feet how the system can work for them from estimating all the way through to invoicing. We’ll take them through a process and say, ‘Here’s how the system can work for you. Does that make sense?’ Then we take them down to 10,000 feet to get a little bit more into the details. Lastly, we pilot at the ground level and repeat.
Ultimately the objective is to write Business Process Designs (BPDs) for the customer for each Area of Responsibility (AOR). BPDs are similar to PowerPoint slides with step by step procedures that are illustrated with screen shots. The BPDs explain what’s required from each person in each department in the company. BPD documents the process from quoting all the way through to invoicing. When the BPDs are approved, the customer can rest assured knowing that it has a process that works.
Q: Can you talk about end user training?
Bill: The level of training depends upon each customer’s wishes, but often we’ll train the lead person in each department. That’s usually done first.
The department lead will take the Business Process Designs (BPDs) we’ve created and proofed for them to train their subordinates. The BPDs are an evolving tool. As we get a little more in depth with the customer’s particular business model, we’ll refine those BPDs with updated screen shots and text that best suits the customer’s training needs.
We should also mention that the BPDs can help the customer get ISO certified. That’s because ISO basically boils down to, ‘Say what you do, do what you say’. We’ve had a lot of success with customers who choose to pursue ISO after their implementations have been completed.
Q: How do you test the training’s effectiveness?
Bill: We teach to Critical Control Points (CCPs). A CCP is, ‘Ok, your intention was to do this. Can you prove that you’ve accomplished the objective?’
We’ve developed many CCPs to test the success of the implementation and as a continued daily routine. CCPs help assure each department, ‘Ok, we’ve accomplished the objective’. For example, how do you make sure that you have closed out customer orders so that you’ll get paid? How do you make sure that Work Orders have materials issued to properly maintain Inventory integrity? How do you make sure that labor was applied for Work Orders which maintains the accounting integrity? And so on.
People seem to like CCPs a lot because they work. CCPs ensure that end users are not leaving something important out of the process. CCPs also validate that the customer has accomplished what they had set out to do and that the entire process is complete and accurate.
Q: When do you engage with the technical staff?
Bill: It’s important to work with the IT person early in the process. VISUAL is a very versatile system that can support many different business models. However, you need to set the system parameters using the rules that work best for your particular business model. That’s what we call ‘Database Configuration’.
We do that first because we’re challenging the company and a set of rules. How can they become a more efficient and effective organization? The system should help the customer improve their business processes, On Time Delivery (OTD) and profitability. This is critical.
Q: What do failed implementations have in common?
Bill: We know that MRP and ERP systems work mathematically but sometimes, customers can get in their own way. When an implementation fails, it’s usually because the customer doesn’t stay committed towards the kind of change they need to make.
Some companies have a DIY mentality. They’ll try to save money by implementing the ERP system on their own. It’s a shame. It’s much more cost-effective to invest in getting the proper training from a consultant who can demonstrate how the ERP can change the customer’s daily routines and practices for the better. A skilled, experienced consultant is an asset who can make all the difference between success and failure.
Q: One of your areas of focus is Planning/Scheduling. What kind of issues can throw off scheduling?
Bill: A salesperson might have an order on the hook that he or she wants to reel in. The salesperson wants to jump the line! (The current planned workload.) This could create a scheduling problem: you probably don’t have unlimited capacity and you won’t know if you can get materials delivered on time. Like it or not, when you jump the line you may have made a salesperson happy but, in the meantime, you’ve pushed someone else out of their confirmed delivery time.
Jumping the line is not the problem per se. The problem is with not knowing the outcome of jumping the line. What’s the consequence of that move? Who did you push out? That’s the problem.
I make an analogy with travel. Imagine that you had scheduled your family’s flight and hotel reservations for Hawaii six months ago. You’re due to depart next week. Now suppose that someone has just pushed you out. Your family’s not going to be happy when you fly there only to find your hotel room has been re-booked for someone else.
Jumping the line compounds the problem and makes it worse the longer the practice continues. Your customers are unhappy with the lack of on-time delivery service.
That’s exactly what happens. You might have just one machine to fit certain jobs on at any given time. The new order may have displaced a customer who’s waiting for their order to be filled. That customer is going to be upset with you.
Q: You’ve worked with many manufacturers over the years. What do manufacturers often overlook?
Bill: One common problem I’ve seen over the years is when design and manufacturing engineering staff doesn’t collaborate like they should.
Too often, individual engineering departments work independently which increases the risk of redundancy. Whether the engineers are located on separate floors in the same building or separated by partitions in the same room, the problem is not the degree of physical separation. The challenge is to reduce redundancy by getting everyone in engineering to work together as a team which is more effective.
Frequently companies feel they has become very efficient over the years of their evolution. Being a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt, we learned the difference between ‘Efficient’ and ‘Effective’. I.e. While you evolved in your business over the years you learn and taught others how to repeat to become very ‘Efficient’ at a twelve-step process to reach that objectives (learned behaviors). We help you (with the help of using the ERP tool correctly) to develop a process with two/three step to obtain the same objective therefore becoming more ‘Efficient AND Effective’.
I’ve found that improved collaboration within engineering can reduce turn-around time from months to weeks. It’s something I’ve learned through the years working with many manufacturers. It can make a significant difference to the time factor!
Q: Are there software solutions that can help with the engineering collaboration issue?
Bill: Engineers use tools like CAD/Solidworks etc. software to do their design work. Our ERP products have a tool called ‘CADLINK’ that can make a significant difference to get design work exported from CAD into ERP. Without CADLINK, the process could take weeks. Proofing that all has converted to ERP takes time. With CADLINK, the import/export might take just 20 minutes. The ROI on that tool is like the day before yesterday!
That’s why we come in and do what we do. We help our customers achieve world-class levels of performance.
Contact us to learn more about our ERP Implementation services.
How do you test the effectiveness of software training? Do salespeople ever ask to ‘jump the line’? Are you satisfied with the level of collaboration among your engineering staff? Submit a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!