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How Cloud-Based ERP Software Saved Christmas

December 22, 2011 by Alan Jurysta
Alan Jurysta

Each year millions of children throughout the world take it for granted their Christmas presents will be delivered accurately and on-time.  Every Christmas morning everything goes off without a hitch. Kids are happy, families embrace each other, the world takes a day off. Nobody ever seems to care how Santa manages to pull off this logistical nightmare year after year.

Many years ago, at the dawn of the pc age, an astounding thing happened to me. I was dashing through the snow on what was then a state of the art sled. The sled hit a branch and off the course I veered. I must have been going 60 mph as it took almost a minute to come to a full stop. Fortunately there were no injuries but the sled was damaged beyond repair.

I started hiking back to the main road. After ten minutes or so I passed a modest cabin. Inside I saw a large red and white figure slumped over in his chair and what sound like “oh no no”. I let myself in to indeed find a large man dressed in red and white with a long white beard. Only this man was not jolly. He was stressed. I asked if I could help to which he responded “ho ho no. I wish you could.”

I took a seat near him and just came out with it - “Are you Santa?” I asked, to which he responded “what do you think Einstein?”. I couldn't believe it. It was really Santa Claus (I grew up with low self-esteem and always dreamt if I ever had an encounter with Santa he would take a jab at me and sure enough he did).

I replied “Santa, why are you so distressed?”. Santa went on to explain how Christmas used to be pretty straightforward when his operation was smaller but suburban sprawl and population growth was taking its toll on his operation and he was deeply concerned he could no longer deliver to his customers expectations.

I said to Santa “Today is your lucky day”. Santa perked up and said “ho ho what do you mean?”. I explained to Santa that I was a consultant for a top software vendor and I may have a solution that could help him tremendously. Santa was a jolly and wise old man but very computer illiterate. We talked some more about his operation and I walked him through my proposed solution.

Santa then became very excited. “Ho ho long will it take to get me on this software?” he asked. “Not so fast I said. I have a few more questions for you first”.

“Would you be the decision maker or would someone else, say Mrs. Claus?”. Santa explained he ran the show, but I shouldn't tell that to Mrs. Claus.

“Would you be able to budget for this project?” I asked. Santa assured me the funds would be there if I could address his pain points

Ok I had pain points, a project sponsor and budget. “Santa” I said, “Tomorrow I will hand you a statement of work and you will be jolly once again. Santa was elated and could not wait to get started.

With a signed statement of work in hand I assembled a team and set off for the north poll. We implemented a supply chain solution for Santa that greatly improved efficiency so that Santa could once again meet his customer obligations.

The project was not without its challenges though. Implementing the solution required some changes to the way the factory had been doing things for thousands of years. After some initial resistance the elves did come around once they realized they could make more toys through improved efficiencies. The other large challenge was incorporating the naughty and nice list into the system. This challenge was overcome as well and the north pole became a model of efficiency.

The solution worked great for many years until a series of events necessitated a re-evaluation of the system architecture. Santa and I sat down and reviewed the situation. His system was slowing down as more and more transactions were getting processed. To make matters worse, Lord of the Rings was filming and he was losing a lot of his workforce. I pointed out to Santa that y2k was coming around and what it potentially meant to him. I also explained that technology had advanced quite a bit and recommended he do an upgrade to a client-server based solution. I suggested he add a Human Resources module to his system so he could manage his workforce better.

Once again we implemented the new system and once again his problems were solved.

A number of years passed and Santa developed a new problem. With the continued population growth and ever increasing computing capacity needs, Santa was beginning to melt the north poll due to all the servers and power requirements. He was also finding it increasingly difficult to find the right houses and match the presents with the children. He needed access to the information at the north poll to make sure he got everything right

Once again I explained to Santa about the latest innovations and how they could help him. I told him how cloud computing could reduce his power consumption needs and he could free up elves from doing backups and monitoring his systems so they could make more toys. I also told him about browser based SaaS solutions, mobile computing, and completely integrated software that would give him 360 degree visibility of his operation from his suppliers to the the children. He'd be able to take orders and send them to the north pole while on his merry way. The solution was called SAP Business ByDesign.

"Ho ho could I afford such a solution?" Santa asked. I explained to him how affordable the software was.

"Ho ho could it be ready in time for Christmas?" Santa asked. I explained to him how he could be up and running in as little as six weeks.

Santa was impressed and we implemented the new system. Once again Christmas was saved. Don't tell your kids but Rudolph has been replaced by an ipad2 with real time access to the north polls system.

As you can see, even Santa has Christmas wishes, as do I. I've been asking Santa for years now to give me a video testimonial and he just won't do it. Something about industry secrets. He told me to stop bugging him or I would end up on the naughty list.

Happy holidays everyone.



Ready to Grow Your Business? Get Started Quickly – with All the Software Tools You Need

December 15, 2011 by Alan Jurysta
Alan Jurysta

In order to grow your business, a few things are imperative. You need to know:

  • That you are in a financial position to grow your company – that your books are in order and you have ample cash on hand.
  • That you are working with suppliers that can provide additional materials when – and where – you need them.
  • That you are reaching your customers effectively – and advertising in the right media outlets and your messaging speaks to your target audience.
  • That you are taking steps that bring you closer to accomplishing the goals that you’ve set for your company.

Many businesses have tools available that let them look at one aspect of their business or another, but often seeing the big picture remains challenging. Some complete software solutions that are available are cost-prohibitive. Getting started with them would require all of the resources that you have to put into expansion.

That's why you should consider SAP Business ByDesign. The solution is cloud-based, and as a result you won’t have to buy additional equipment or worry about whether or not your systems will be able to share and access all of the same data. Instead, you’ll be able to easily connect all of the parties that need to be in the know. Data will be available to you and your team in real-time. You’ll be able to monitor financials, as well as customer and supplier relationships, and you’ll be able to gain insight into your company’s performance.

Whether you need to track sales, lower costs, or meet certain projections in order to sustain growth, SAP Business ByDesign makes the tools that you need available to you and lets you get up and running quickly. Additionally, getting started with this solution lets you act now, without limiting your future options. As you begin to grow your business, you’ll be able to increase the number of reports available to you, to add user roles, and make customized dashboards available to your staff.



Supplier Relationship Management - What is it and why is it important?

December 09, 2011 by Tami Young
Tami Young

A typical business has relationships with many stakeholders, including employees, customers, prospects, suppliers, shareholders, and perhaps regulators. Each of these relationships are vital to the success of any company. For some businesses their corporate values evolve around some or all of these relationships.

Fortunately the IT world has developed solutions for each of these relationships so businesses can manage them effectively.

By now most of the free world has heard of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which, in a nutshell, is a way to maximize the value of your customer and prospective customer relationships. HR systems are available to manage employee relationships. Shareholders receive financial information. Regulators get what they want. Typically a company has systems in place to work with suppliers, such as purchasing or sourcing. What about managing the supplier relationship though?

A solid supplier - customer relationship is all too often overlooked as an actual means to improve company performance. For some businesses, the focus is mainly on the cheapest supplier, the most reliable supplier, the most responsive supplier, etc. There is nothing wrong with these approaches if they fit into an overall corporate strategy. Walmart is hugely successful with very specific objectives that drive their relationships with suppliers, employees, and customers.

A typical small to medium sized business may have hundreds of suppliers and, while their intentions may be grounded in developing strategic relationships with suppliers, the reality is that most companies simply don't have systems or processes in place to maximize the value of their supplier relationships. This is unfortunate because it is a natural area a company can look at to improve performance.

How do you improve supplier performance? There are Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) products available. Some, such as SAP Business ByDesign, are fully integrated into their supply chain, financials, HR, and CRM modules. Just having the software, though, does not assure supplier performance. You need to define processes and metrics and share information both internally and with suppliers. There is a great Software Advice article on best practices for improving supplier performance that hopefully one day every company can adopt.



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