SYSPRO is a 35-year-old software vendor that focuses on selling enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to midsize companies, particularly those in manufacturing and distribution. In manufacturing, SYSPRO supports make, configure and assemble, engineer to order, make to stock and job shop environments. The company attempts to differentiate itself through vertical specialization and its years of ongoing development, which can reduce the need for customization and cut the cost of initial and ongoing configurations to suit the needs of companies in these industries, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership. Worldwide its targeted verticals include electronics, food, machinery and equipment and medical devices; in the United States, SYSPRO adds automotive parts (original equipment and after-market) and energy. The company’s development efforts follow a design philosophy that balances its target customers’ need for software capabilities that are on par with larger enterprises with their resource constraints (chiefly limited financial resources and technical staffs). Its software can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
When applying information technology to drive better business performance, companies and the systems integrators that assist them often underestimate the importance of organizing data management around processes. For example, companies that do not execute their quote-to-cash cycle as an end-to-end process often experience a related set of issues in their sales, marketing, operations, accounting and finance functions that stem from entering the same data into multiple systems. The inability to automate passing of data from one functional group to the next forces people to spend time re-entering data and leads to fragmented and disconnected data stores. The absence of a single authoritative data source also creates conflicts about whose numbers are “right.” Even when the actual figures recorded are identical, discrepancies can crop up because of issues in synchronization and data definition. Lacking an authoritative source, organizations may need to check for and resolve errors and inconsistencies between systems to ensure, for example, that what customers purchased was what they received and were billed for. The negative impact of this lack of automation is multiplied when transactions are complex or involve contracts for recurring services.
Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Performance Management (BPM), close, closing, computing, CRM, Data, Data Management, end-to-end, ERP, finance, FPM, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Management, Mobile, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Operations, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Office of Finance, Cloud Computing
Like other vendors of cloud-based ERP software, NetSuite offers the key benefits of software as a service (SaaS): a smaller upfront investment, faster time to value and potentially lower operating costs. Beyond that NetSuite’s essential point of competitive differentiation from is broad functionality beyond financial management, including capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and human capital management (HCM). These components make it easier for businesses to manage processes from end to end (such as quote- or order-to-cash) as well as to have transactions and business data available in a single system in consistent forms and synchronized. This in turn facilitates real-time reporting, dashboards and the use of analytics that integrate a wider set of functional data. Midsize companies are most likely to benefit from this integration because typically they have smaller, less sophisticated IT staffs than larger ones. A side benefit of having a single, integrated data source is improvement of situational awareness and visibility for executives and managers. It also enables organizations to reduce their use of spreadsheets for stitching together processes, doing routine analyses and reporting. These sorts of activities waste valuable time and reduce an organization’s agility.
Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Cloud Computing, communications, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, ERP, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, FPM, HCM, HR, Human Capital, Infor, Microsoft, Mobile, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Plex, Professional Services Automation, PSA, SaaS, Sage Software, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), UI, Unit4, Workday Collaboration, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Office of Finance, Customer Experience, Sales
When it comes to making a business case for software investments, many people fail to recognize that the case itself is just one part of what amounts to an internal sales and marketing effort that they must perform well to be successful. Focusing only on the numbers and assumptions in a spreadsheet is not enough. Making a successful business case requires an understanding of the audience’s perspective and motivations. Since the individuals who will review the business case may not be sufficiently aware of the issues that are behind it and their seriousness, it may be necessary to begin an awareness-building program before presenting the business case. And because the benefits of software investments can be difficult to quantify, executive sponsors are useful in achieving acceptance of these calculations. Unfortunately, many business cases founder because proponents do not realize the importance of taking a sales and marketing approach.
Topics: Analytics, budgeting and planning, Business Performance Management (BPM), business plan, capital spending, CFO, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), ERP, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Planning, Research, ROI, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SCM, Software, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Office of Finance
Finance departments don’t immediately come to mind in conversations about social collaboration technology. Most of the software used for social collaboration that I’ve seen demonstrated focuses on the sales process or for broader employee engagement. The Facebook-style interface may cause finance department managers and executives to roll their eyes, especially if they’re over 40 years old. Yet business and social collaboration is an important set of capabilities that has been taking hold in business. Our benchmark research shows it ranking second behind analytics as a technology innovation priority. It will gain adoption over the next several years as software transitions from the rigid constructs established in the client/server days, which force users to adapt to the limitations of the software, to fluid and dynamic designs that mold themselves around the needs of the user. Perhaps because most of the attention so far on the benefits of collaboration has focused on front-office roles, there’s less awareness of the potential in back-office and administrative functions. Indeed, the same research reveals that those in front-office roles five times more often than those in accounting and finance roles (21% vs. a mere 4%) said that business and social collaboration are very important to their organization. However, I assert it’s just a matter of time before the finance group understands that social collaboration has substantial potential to improve its performance.
Topics: Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Collaboration, communications, CRM, ERP, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Customer Experience
For the past couple of years I’ve been pointing to the importance of in-memory computing to the future of business applications. It’s an integral part of Ventana Research’s business and finance research agenda for 2013, and it’s one of the core technologies that senior executives should have an appreciation for because it can transform all core business processes, especially those that are analytic in nature.
Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Suite, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), ERP, finance, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), HANA, In-memory, Mobile, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Predictive Analytics, Real-time, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SAP, Social, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)
It’s clear that certain customers generate more profits than others, just as some products offer greater economic returns than others, as I’ve noted before. For this reason, efforts to improve customer profitability are not a new trend. Good managers have always looked for ways to achieve the highest sustainable margins. However, at some point, almost all businesses realize that increasing sustainable profitability can’t be achieved simply through increasing revenue or cutting costs. Those straightforward approaches are fine for tactical, one-off decisions, but they’re too simplistic for designing and implementing business strategies.
Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Profitability, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Office of Finance, Business Intelligence
SAP is planning to acquire e-commerce company Ariba in a transaction worth about US$4.3 billion expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Ariba provides cloud-based collaborative business commerce through a Web-based trading community that enables companies to find, connect and collaborate with a global network of partners. Its Commerce Cloud is a platform that businesses can use to buy and sell goods. Currently, Ariba counts more than 700,000 companies worldwide attached to this network. The purchase follows SAP's acquisition of cloud-based HR software vendor SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion. In the past SAP had been reluctant to make large acquisitions, but these two large purchases and the naming of Lars Dalgaard, former SuccessFactors CEO, to the SAP executive board indicate the strategic imperative SAP puts on quickly gaining a solid cloud presence. The acquisition also complements its 2011 acquisition of Crossgate, an electronic data interchange (EDI) service provider, which enables companies to exchange documents with customers, suppliers, supply chain partners, financial institutions and government entities, streamlining transactions and cutting administrative costs.
Infor described this year’s Inforum user group meeting as a coming-out party for a large startup company. Such a debut was necessary because Infor had been operating in something of a stealth mode for the past three years: a limited marketing presence, no unified message and a weak, sometimes inconsistent brand identity. It also needed to formally introduce Infor to customers of Lawson, the ERP supplier it acquired last year. The “startup” designation is meant to signal that Infor has been able to render a decade-long consolidation of dozens of smaller companies into one cohesive entity.
Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Epiphany, ERP, expense management, finance, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Human Capital Management, IBM, Infor, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Lawson, Marketing, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Oracle, Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Salesforce.com, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business Intelligence
I recently received an update from ERP software vendor Epicor, my first since it was acquired in May 2011 by Apax Partners, a private equity company, and simultaneously merged with Activant, an ERP and point-of-sale software company serving midsize retailers and distributors. In my view, taking the company private is a good idea since it will have to make ongoing investments that would not have been treated kindly by the stock market. Bringing Epicor and Activant together (and perhaps adding other companies to the portfolio) could allow the entity to spread some development costs over a broader base of revenues, but software combinations are difficult to execute well.
Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, CRM, Dynamics, Epicor, ERP, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Microsoft, Mobile, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Oracle, Sage, SAP, Social, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Analytics, Big Data