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In my 15 years of leading ERP projects, my common theme for successful project outcomes is to focus on the components of people, process and technology. I have found the best way to utilize each of these components as outlined here.

People

One of the biggest reasons for project failures revolves around people issues – employee opposition, no perceived need for change and organizational cynicism. If not addressed, this can result in confusion, increased project costs/delays and failure to achieve project goals.

To address this component, I recommend the project team performs a Stakeholder Analysis. The purpose of the stakeholder analysis is to interview key individuals and identify their influence and feelings about the project. It’s important to include both individuals who you believe might be supporters or naysayers of the project.

How will you handle the naysayers and engage the champions? For the naysayers, understand their concerns and communicate how the new system will handle their concerns. Turn the champions into a part of the extended team to help get the organization ready for the new system.

The key outcome of the Stakeholder Analysis is the Communication plan which can include:

      1. How you intend to inform the Champions of important project information that they can communicate to the greater company community.
        1. Start with a kickoff meeting with defined roles and plan for next steps.
        2. Meet with your Champions twice a month to keep them informed of the project and it’s a great forum where you can learn new potential user acceptance issues.
      2. Use of the company intranet site to post periodic project updates or create a site if your company doesn’t currently have one.
        1. Post FAQs, highlight business issues to be solved by the project, rollout timelines.
      3. Participation in companywide meetings to share project information.
Process

Many companies take the approach that their current business processes must be replicated as is in the new NetSuite ERP system. My experience is that many existing processes evolved in a certain way due to the constraints of the current application system or were tweaked specifically to a style desired by a former manager who no longer works for the company. I believe a better approach is that everyone should agree that very few processes are sacred and never to be changed.

The most successful NetSuite implementations look to standardize processes and don’t design custom processes unless absolutely necessary. Look to standard NetSuite first. If it doesn’t work for a critical part of your business, look for a third party bolt-on solution that’s integrated to NetSuite.

One of the first steps in your project should be to define your critical business use cases in business language and then define how NetSuite addresses the individual use cases. Make sure you have a Sandbox environment to walk through the business processes with a base configuration. Document process decisions and NetSuite configuration decisions in the use case document. Highlight any gaps in the use case document where standard NetSuite doesn’t address your necessary business process. Get estimates from a NetSuite integrator on solutions to solve the gaps.

Technology

You might believe that you are done worrying about technology decisions once you’ve chosen NetSuite as your ERP business application.

There are still decisions to be made on Project Management tools and the potential use of configuration/customization tools.

The main Project Management tool I recommend is a cloud-based tool like SmartSheet to develop and collaborate on the typical PM documents of Project Plan, Risk Log, Issue Log, and Decision Log.

Use a good integrator like RSM that understands NetSuite business processes and the underlying technical environment. RSM can design solutions for process gaps or recommend third-party solutions that are integrated with NetSuite.

Make sure you have a plan that documents if your staff or another firm like RSM will support/maintain roles, dashboards, workflows and create saved searches after you are live on NetSuite.

The post Keys to Managing a NetSuite ERP project appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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As companies become more globally integrated, their supply chain must become a key competitive differentiator. To maintain their competitive advantage organizations must be able to overcome new challenges quickly, while keeping associated risks and costs low.

For a company’s supply chain, improving inventory management, increasing productivity, improving distribution management, and reducing waste are key areas to optimize. Usually, getting better at forecasting, refining resource management and sales forecasts, monitoring manufacturing processes, as well as analyzing internal and external factors (e.g. traffic data and weather patterns) are ways in which the supply chain optimization is accomplished. However, machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence) is set to revolutionize the way supply chain activities are conducted.

Big data is one of many buzzwords around the industry today, and machine learning is changing the way we can benefit from big data. By utilizing machine learning with the existing data sets as well as adding new data over time, a machine can learn from the data in order to provide deeper insights into the collected data and potentially find hidden patterns that human analysts might never discover. Artificial intelligence needs significant volumes of data to display its full potential, but this also means that the machine learning tools will be able to provide better predictions and estimates of future results.

Technology is changing the way companies do business, and machine learning has the potential to take a business to the next level. When it comes to supply chain, three areas where machine learning will make a big impact are: operations planning, warehouse management, and supplier selection and supplier relationship management (SRM).

Supply chain planning is all about balancing supply with demand in order to achieve alignment with corporate strategy at known cost and risk. Using machine learning and intelligent algorithms, the agility and optimization of decision making within a supply chain will be revolutionized by continual analysis. The output would be a recommended, or even automatically executed (requiring no human analysis), plan to meet customer requirements through optimization driven by such data inputs like facilities and their capacities, effectiveness of transportation lanes, customer requirements, and other parameters of success.

In many industries, companies are innovating and leveraging robots to complete tasks that normal workers have historically been assigned to accomplish. Warehouses are becoming more automated, and robots are picking goods to prepare to send them to customers. In the most automated warehouses, robots currently account for up to 70% of the work and can move up to 500 kilograms. They are typically fitted with sensors to avoid collisions with each other, and they are connected to each other (like an industrial internet of things or IIOT) and the warehouse management system by Wi-Fi. The machine learning algorithms that run these robots are improving productivity and efficiency within the warehouse, as well as reducing the risk of human error.

With the help of machine learning, passive data gathering is becoming more active. By generating data sets from supplier relationship management actions, algorithms can continually adapt and make better recommendations when it comes to supplier selection. Typical inputs may include supplier assessments, audits, and credit scoring, as well as any other parameters that are set by the user in order to find the best scenario for picking the company’s suppliers and risk management, while also enhancing the supply chain sustainability.

Machine learning is driving innovation, as it is now making it possible to analyze today’s supply chain as a whole by using algorithms that are capable of analyzing the success of the chain and identifying areas of improvement. These algorithms are capable of forecasting demand and are able to identify errors quickly, effectively, and more efficiently than humans can. When utilizing machine learning, a company can make an impact in its inventory levels, supply and demand, production planning, quality, and transportation management.

To learn more about how to extract greater value from your supply chain, please contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or

The post Machine learning in the supply chain appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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When you were young, you probably experienced various pains as you grew.  Sometimes the pain was slight, other times greater, but chances are you did not address every pain by going to the doctor, you simply pushed through the pain. They did not appear to be serious.  Your business has many similarities to the human body.  It matures as it ages, gets smarter, is fragile, reacts to how you treat it, etc.   No middle market business immediately address every growing pain either, you just push through them thinking they aren’t so serious.

With any personal pain or feeling, at some point, you realize it’s time to see a doctor.  The same goes for your business.  It’s important to watch for signals of real issues that are disguised as growing pains so you can address them and not let them get out of hand.  Here are a few of these signals and some tips for addressing early or preventing in the first place.

  • Revenue is up but profitability is growing at a slower pace or worse
  • You’re adding more new staff to back office/administrative functions than front office/customer-facing functions
  • When you ask for information, data, or reports in order to make a decision, it takes a long time
  • Your people value Microsoft Excel or Access more than your core platform systems
  • Your policies and standards are regularly skirted and you know it but keep letting it happening

You’re probably experiencing one or more of these right now and you’ve simply been pushing through. They span across your enterprise, involving your people, process, technology, and controls. These are the kinds of things you need to root-cause and address or ideally prevent and here are a few tactics to do so:

Preventative tactics

  • Develop an ongoing roadmap with planned analysis and improvements by area on an annual frequency
  • Leverage leading key performance indicators using a balanced approach that goes beyond business unit or departmental outcomes incorporating measures about people, process and controls efficiency, use of technology, etc.
  • Keep core system upgrade current
  • Build a continuous improvement capability at the corporate level – Identify a person or team with Lean and Six Sigma skills to work across the enterprise

Corrective tactics

  • Analyze direct and indirect costs (perform annually as a preventative measure)
  • Use lagging key performance indicators with identified thresholds and take improvement action when surpassed
  • If you’ve had any core system for five years and haven’t evaluated is effectiveness, it’s time. Determine if additional or upgraded modules could be added or if a different system could provide significant improvements
  • Evaluate and revise your policies and standards by area (every two years as a preventative measure)

To learn more about how RSM can assist you with your business challenges, please contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or 

The post Signs your business’ growing pains may require attention now appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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Today, we still hear the mantra of “do more with less” being echoed from the Great Recession. However, there is a twist. Now, it is due to a super competitive job market and an inability to hire enough qualified staff. A bit ironic but true. It is a fact that businesses with well-designed systems, that maximize their people, processes and technology platforms, weathered our Great Recession more easily than those, which did not. It is still true today. Businesses with well-trained staff, honed processes, and an agile technology are doing more with less and it shows on their bottom line. So how should one evaluate the productivity producing potential across the symmetry of technology, people and platforms?

Investments in technologies can be a mechanism to differentiate. In many cases, technology is a strong catalyst for improved performance. However, it is important to keep in mind that technology alone does not hold the key to business success. Technology alone will not offer creative insight into new service or product ideas, it will not seize opportunities for improved customer service, and it will not develop personal relationships with business partners. However, technology plays an important role as an enabler. It can substantially enhance connectivity and support organizational standards, which ultimately aid every enterprise’s most valuable assets, its employees.

When considering the impact of business technology on people, the focus should be on how employees, vendors, and customers connect. Improving the means and abilities of a company’s staff to easily communicate and collaborate internally with peers and across departments as well as externally with vendors, customers and prospects fuels a company’s income-producing capabilities. Access to the right information, at the right time, and by the right person, drives productivity.

Well defined, documented and adhered to standard operating procedures produce dependable results and where consistency resides there is an opportunity to measure, assess, and tweak procedures to extract further value. At some point, it can even make sense to automate these additional efficiency gains to lock in the new value. This is a common practice in many manufacturing facilities, which leverage robotics to generate consistent results on the plant floor. Did you know there are software robots too? They are capable of automating key processes across business applications, performing the same data workflows consistently without fatigue, without distraction, and without fail.

Achieving your business goals within the ever-growing complexity of daily operations, limited resources and growing competition is difficult, but any company with a flexible and dynamically engineered technology environment optimized around a properly trained staff, and thoughtfully designed processes will simply do more with less leading to more profitability.

To learn more about how to extract greater value from your people, processes, and technology investments, please contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or .

The post “Do more with less”, The Great Recession’s legacy and relevance to today’s business environment appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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Financial Institutions are adopting new and improved digital services to meet consumer expectations. Innovative financial technology (fintech) companies focus on leveraging technology to offer financial services to consumers. Fintech companies are driving the evolution of digital. Financial institutions look to fintech partnerships to keep pace with digital offerings but must be diligent to avoid disappointment from their fintech providers.

A simple definition for fintech is “An innovative technology designed to disrupt traditional financial services.” Many view fintech companies as small, agile, tech-savvy young people developing solutions that offer services utilizing a website, smartphone, Alexa, Echo or another connected device. However, increasingly the dominant financial institution system providers are creating or acquiring technology to compete directly with fintech companies. For example, five of the country’s largest banks formed Early Warning Services LLC and launched Zelle to compete with Venmo and other payment platforms.

There are varying degrees of risk with a fintech partnership. Implementing Zelle for a P2P solution has a different set of risks than working with a startup on a new deposit acquisition product. The most critical step you can take is to clearly define your business goals and align your training, monitoring and overall risk strategies with the goals you have established.
Ask the following questions about initiatives that you are evaluating:

  • Where are the biggest opportunities in my market?
  • Which of my current strategies have the best chance for success?
  • Which of my current strategies best align with potential fintech partners’ strategies and capabilities?
  • Which potential partners have the best prospects for success?

Use a clearly defined set of goals to evaluate potential partners. As you go through the selection process be sure to consider monitoring and reporting needs:

    • Measurements should be aligned to the goals of the partnership
    • Include volumes, impact on revenue, incident reports, customer complaints as appropriate
    • Ability to obtain data needed to track performance must be addressed up front when considering the partner

Finally, assign ownership for the relationship to an executive in your organization. An executive level owner is necessary to promote the services provided to customers and within your financial institution. Educating associates so that they are better able to explain, support and promote the product to customers is essential to success.

Financial institutions face challenges to develop a digital strategy that effectively leverages rapidly evolving technology and fintech relationships. RSM helps financial institutions develop a comprehensive digital strategy encompassing technology, products, peer analysis, and support. Click here to download the Digital Banking Rapid Assessment overview or contact us today to learn more.

The post Avoiding disappointment with your financial technology (fintech) relationships appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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The ability to not only manage the work within the framework but to also facilitate a project in a dynamic environment is critical to the success of any project. Projects are structured with key deliverables based upon agreed-upon time, cost and quality constraints. The goal, of course, being to deliver to the scope of work, on time, on budget and with approved change management to meet the objective.

The framework to accomplish these initiatives promotes a structured environment to provide a strategic roadmap which will guide the transformation of the business with evolution of the project. The delivery of the project is typically handled in five parts or phases:

  • Pre-Engagement
  • Mobilize
  • Execute and manage
  • Close
  • Operate

This framework will help drive the progression of the project to manage the people, process and technology to create a vision and culture to support the future state. A critical component to managing projects is not only the framework but also the facilitation of it. A project manager owns the deliverables or objectives but the scope is not limited to only the framework, rather a project manager must adapt to the environment and client to facilitate the project to completion.

A project facilitator ensures the client, stakeholders and suppliers are aligned on objectives and assists them to meet or exceed these objectives by not only managing the framework progression but by providing hands on expertise when needed to advance the project. Resources can be restricted within some projects, a more hands-on approach is needed to achieve or exceed the desired result. The project manager should maintain the pulse of the environment to be able to adjust accordingly to ensure productivity. This type of expertise will not only align efforts, but also collaborate across the business to provide a sustainable product or service in the future.

There are many different tools and methodologies to choose from as a project manager to track and communicate the development of the framework and facilitation for a project. Regardless of the method or tool, communication is always key with clients and stakeholders.

To learn more about how RSM can assist you with your business challenges, please contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or 

The post Framework and facilitation for project management appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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It is very common for management teams to become fixated on profitability. After all, EBITDA is a key metric for investors, banks, and potential buyers to determine the value of a company. Managers in a well-managed company understand how their actions affect the bottom line. The often-overlooked issue is how their actions will affect cash flow.

Even a profitable company can experience cash issues ranging from, pushing out accounts payable for a short period, to the more critical, missing payrolls or loan payments.

The first step in solving a problem is knowing that the problem exists. A simple cash flow statement incorporates income statement and balance sheet information that can alert management to cash flow issues before they become critical.

With regards to operating expenses, look for rising expenses especially in:

  • Production supplies
  • Utilities
  • Payroll

With regards to assets and liabilities, look for increasing:

  • Accounts receivable
  • Inventory
  • Fixed assets
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Accounts payable
  • Current liabilities

If you have a line of credit with your bank, be sure to monitor balances and available borrowings. Extreme movements or sustaining trends in these accounts are warning signs of potential cash issues.

We always want to be in control of cash and never let cash take control of us.

Understanding the order to cash cycle gives management a better understanding of the impact their actions can have on cash flow. The order to cash cycle considers total days and cash expenditures from the receipt of an order to when the cash will be collected from the customer.

A good order to cash cycle will consider:

  • When material is delivered after purchase order placement
  • When material must be paid for
  • How long the product will be in production
  • The payroll implications of the production cycle
  • Timing differentials between product shipment and shipment invoicing
  • The average days for a customer to pay

The order to cash cycle clearly shows that cash flow is more than an accounting or financial issue; it is a supply chain, operations, and sales issue. Made to stock manufacturers must pay special attention to the order to cash cycle as it begins even before an order is received and is sensitive to sales forecasting. In an environment where sales are increasing, the order to cash cycle can predict the impact of increasing cash needs.

RSM’s management consulting practice has resources that can address issues in supply chain, operations, inventory management, and accounting. You can be in control of your cash cycle even in the most challenging environments. To learn more, please contact us at 800.274.3978 or .

The post Profit is necessary but cash remains king! Considerations for cash management. appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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During the lengthy process associated with an acquisition, whether or not it is an outright purchase of another entity or a carve-out of a larger organization, priorities usually drift towards financial considerations directly affecting the profitability of the exercise.

Nonetheless, many more factors affect the success or failure of an acquisition than just financial considerations. Process analysis, improvement and integration; as well as compliance considerations pertinent for not only the associated domestic operations but also the international entities taking part in the transaction, more often than not take a secondary place among the long list of tasks to be completed as part of a merger and acquisition (M&A) exercise.

If the acquisition is completed through a stock transaction, it then becomes the responsibility of the new owner to take over the compliance obligations for the new entities, involving the following:

  • Getting an understanding of the compliance obligations per jurisdiction applicable to the entity
  • Determining the current status of the compliance obligations in each jurisdiction
  • Obtaining assistance to bring non-compliant entities back into compliance
  • Identifying a process by which to handle the compliance requirements going forward

Furthermore, if it becomes necessary to secure entities in order to absorb the assets acquired, the list of tasks grows to account for the incorporation of the new companies as well as the necessary registrations to enable them to operate and to perform the necessary jurisdictional filings in order to remain in compliance.

In short time, the challenges associated to the compliance efforts for the foreign jurisdictions involved in the acquisition may become overwhelming, syphoning resources from more value add activities as well as generating a significant technical hurdle to the teams involved.

Finding a good partner to navigate from start to finish the international compliance challenges originated because of an acquisition is key to alleviate the initial hurdle as well as to secure peace of mind for the handling of the related obligations well into the future.

To learn more, please contact us at 800.274.3978 or .

The post The often-overlooked hurdles of international compliance with mergers and acquisitions appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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All too often, clients share stories regarding supplies arriving with poor labelling, parts being stored incorrectly, operations halted by manual cycle counts and carriers waiting idle for shipments that are not ready. However, the focus for warehouse operations traditionally has been on efficiencies and error reduction in order picking. This focus overlooks the potential to make improvements throughout the process, from receiving through shipping. Whether you are responsible for a large or small distribution center, below are four methods to ensure your warehouse processes are under control and efficiently managed.

  1. Inventory control – Control of inventory, enables management to accurately view stock levels and ensure on-time delivery to customers. It is the heart of warehousing. These processes include the racking of items from suppliers, sales and order processing, delivery, returns, and picking and accounting. By reducing manual work and the associated risk of error, effective inventory maintenance allows you to keep customers accurately informed regarding their order information.
  1. Evaluate your process before implementing software – Once stable warehouse operations have been accepted, maintenance and operations divisions should work to improve their pre-planning efforts. Initially, this appears to be a difficult task. Organizing, storing, identifying and properly managing thousands of disparate warehouse items can create issues when preparing for software implementation. Creating a strategy that is simple, straightforward and thorough is critical to a successful maintenance repair and operations (MRO) warehouse.
  1. Safeguard your facility – Prohibiting unauthorized people near inventory protects both your property and employees. Displaying signs in areas where only warehouse personnel are permitted, and installing physical barriers are two recommendations to increase security. If not already in use, consider requiring badges and uniforms to identify warehouse workers easily.
  1. Real-time inventory visibility – With an ever-growing collection of internet of thins (IoT) enabled devices from which to browse, as well as ever-increasing efficiency of shipping operations, consumer expectations are at an all-time high. That typically includes immediate service and a seamless customer experience. The key to meeting and exceeding these expectations is to improve your company’s omni-channel fulfillment performance, starting with inventory visibility.

From integrating and automating processes, to adopting the multiple functions of technology, there are numerous ways to increase warehouse inventory visibility and operational efficiency. Not every warehouse assessment must begin with a software inclusion. When deciding how you can optimize changes, list all of your processes, and methodically analyze each one. Determine if that part of the operation is required, and if it is, ask why it is required and if it is as efficiency as it could be. Employing these practices is a great starting place. As you gauge these functions, evaluate how your productivity is improving. Our operations and supply chain team at RSM is ready to help you move forward with establishing a strong visibility to your warehouse and inventory functions. To learn more, please contact us at 800.274.3978 or .

The post Maximize visibility with warehouse improvements appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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Global compliance and reporting is often overlooked and expensive in both financial and time commitment terms. Regulations vary widely and are constantly changing which adds significant complexity and heightened compliance risk.  Too often companies are faced with significant financial penalties or are not allowed to enter or operate in a foreign country because they were unaware or misguided about a country’s local business regulations.  In keeping pace with the complexity of new rules and regulations in countries you are operating in, how do you reduce noncompliance risk and add value in a cost effective manner?

RSM’s global compliance and reporting services (GCRS) operates at the center of finance and tax departments with an integrated approach that spans across key statutory reporting processes within the record to report and tax processes.  This helps to deliver convenience, efficiencies and risk mitigation across a company’s global operations through real-time dashboards, providing visibility into a company’s compliance status worldwide.

The ‘record to report’ process, for many companies, means trying to coordinate with multiple service providers in each market you operate to produce accurate and timely deliverables.  Other companies may attempt to carry out statutory reporting tasks in-house using resources that are not likely local country subject matter experts.

Through all phases, RSM’s GCRS team proactively stays ahead of new rules and regulations by using a globally standardized approach and methodology along with a globally approved technology platform.  Accurate, reliable data begins with GCRS’s accounting, bookkeeping and payroll with compliance reporting obligations and reliable delivery of filings by GCRS’s tax and statutory reporting services to your worldwide operations.

These elements of global compliance and reporting services are only a few of the things your global organization should consider.  To learn more, please contact RSM’s global compliance and reporting services professions at 800.274.3978 or .

The post Getting a handle on managing global compliance and reporting appeared first on RSM Technology Blog.

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