Mobility and Enterprise Software

Whether you are currently evaluating an ERP/CRM solution or looking to modernise and align your current  platforms, mobility will or should be high on your criteria list.

The business drivers include

Higher productivity – of customer facing sales and support staff whilst out of the office

Better response times to customer queries – we expect the same response times of suppliers, wherever they are

Complete information at hand when on the road – if there is any doubt, a customer can order off Amazon and it will arrive at an expected date – you need to at least match that experience

Analyst firm Forrester forecasts that 82 million consumers will own tablets by 2015. That the average smart device owner currently has 30 to 40 apps, and one-third of owners download new apps monthly. These apps are not just small bits of functionality but are increasingly connected to and dependent on a limitless supply of data through wireless technology and the cloud. These Mobile Apps will require significant change within an organisation in order to deliver the high value expected.

The interesting element is that Mobile does not mean phone or email – they are projects already completed. Mobile functionality being envisaged now expects that ERP and CRM projects to be available and complete. The next generation of  Mobility covers:

  • Business Process Management/Automation (BPM projects) – extending out the business process
  • Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) – allowing ‘what-if ‘questions and powerful query
  • Location based services – such as GPS

Just as the web has radically changed some industries and what a successful business model may be, the Mobile worker and device will likely affect the operating models of businesses in the short term before radically reshaping business models.

If you are interested in reading more, download our Mobile CRM Guidebook, or add it as an area in your ERP Checklist.







How mature is Cloud computing?

When cloud applications first came to market, it was mainly through small scrappy software companies. Over time, the natural advantage of cloud applications has meant that established vendors have had to respond. Today, in virtually any software application category you will have a good cloud option, that makes “Why not the cloud?” a valid question.

On our CRM-Guidebooks site, we ask the intentions of CRM purchasers on cloud versus onsite. Across the survey group of over 800, 27% intended to deploy a cloud solution compared to 16% on-site and the largest group undecided at 57%.

When we look at the data by company size it skews a little more towards cloud.  36% of SMB’s are intending to deploy a cloud solution, with only 14% preparing for an on-site system. This 9% difference indicates that SMB’s are already asking “Why not the cloud?”

This was a CRM survey, a relatively simple application – it does not need to ‘touch’ many other systems. It can be a standalone sales or support system, when it does need integration it may be simply to a website or marketing system.

More complex systems like ERP/Accounting will need to ‘touch’ many more systems and have a larger integration need. Our sister site ERP-Guidebooks asks the same question, in this case only 18% looked to deploy ERP in the cloud, and 37.5% would deploy on-site.

ERP and CRM are only two categories of an ever expanding range of cloud solutions. Below is a Forrester chart on various cloud initiaitves thoughout APEJ. Download our Cloud Guidebook for more information.

Forrester Survey

Microsoft ERP Pricing Promotion

A new customer offer from Microsoft Dynamics ERP. Called the Dynamics ERP “Give Me 5” program

The promotion aims at  new customers of Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and Microsoft Dynamics SL who purchase a license for a “Foundation Pack” from participating resellers. For approximately $3,000, they will receive licenses for the first user plus four additional users (5 in total). The exact price will vary according to the amounts specified by the retailers offering the deals.

The promotional offer applies to both Business Essentials and Advanced Management editions of all three software products. Customers are only eligible if they have not previously licensed any version of Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP, or SL. The offer is available now and will remain open until June 22, 2012, just enough time to get it in the budget for next year. You can read the full terms of the Dynamics Give Me Five promotion via this download.



Obviously the equation from the last post SCM = SCP + SCV + SCE was not detailed enough for some readers – hence an even longer equation.


For the experts even this won’t be long enough -and if you do need more then let me know and I’ll recommend some places for you to seek.

We still break Supply Chain Management into three parts, planning, visibility and execution. Let’s delve a little deeper.



Supply Chain Planning(SCP) contains mostly Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) and demand management planning. The system takes into account short- to long-term planning horizons and uses advanced mathematical algorithms to optimise and simulate the business processes from demand planning to production planning/scheduling to distribution planning to transportation planning. The application works as an umbrella covering the organisation’s entire supply chain and manufacturing processes.


Demand Management Planning consists of a range of planning modules including promotions, forecasting, events such as product launches. There may be a number of  forecasts and budgets in a large organisation e.g. a sales budget and an operational budget may be different. Collaboration and forecast consensus tools are included in order to bring together these different budget views



Supply Chain Visibility(SCV) contains all the collaboration, analytics, monitoring, business intelligence, and cross-functional aspects across the supply chain and ties together the point-solutions into a coherent whole. There are analytics and optimisation tools embedded in this group as well as functionality to handle ‘events’ (good and bad) within the supply chain.


Few companies work in a vacuum, and very few are still vertically integrated to the point of not having suppliers. So Supplier Relationship Management(SRM) is a set of modules to help a company procure products, ERP hooks for fulfilment and manufacturing, reconciling deliveries and paying suppliers.


The execution element covers the physical goods, their transport and keeping a check on what you exactly have when you correspond with a customer.


Warehouse management systems cover warehouse configuration, bin location and product setup, inventory control, tracking, quality control, picking, packing and shipping. There may be a range of automated and manual processes built that manage stock, as well as the control of robots that can locate and retrieve products.


The Transport Management System includes applications to enable to create profiles for all your contracts, carriers, and trade lanes for inter-modal and multi-leg moves via your own and 3PL systems. It supports regional as well as international transportation movements.


In summary – if you place the order, can you supply? Available-to-promise (ATP) systems work across multiple databases,and systems and integrate with demand and replenishment systems to calculate whether an order placed now can be supplied. It needs access to a range of data and other systems, often with suppliers.

Tools and Resources

Download the ERP Checklist for more functional SCM details and time saving checklists

ERP Supply Chain Solutions


Supply Chain is probably the most mathematical of the ERP functional areas. Its right that we should represent it then as an equation. But what does it mean?

As enterprises get bigger and business globalisation becomes the norm, the need to orchestrate your supply chain with that of your suppliers and customers increases.

What is SCM?

SCM is the management of multiple business processes starting from product planning and ending with delivery. A SCM system helps organisations develop processes that integrate their manufacturing activities with logistics.

What is SCP?

Supply Chain Planning(SCP) contains mostly Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) and demand planning. The system takes into account short- to long-term planning horizons and uses advanced mathematical algorithms to optimise and simulate the business processes from demand planning to production planning/scheduling to distribution planning to transportation planning. The application works as an umbrella covering the organisation’s entire supply chain and manufacturing processes.

What is SCV?

Supply Chain Visibility(SCV) contains all the collaboration, analytics, monitoring, business intelligence, and cross-functional aspects across the supply chain and ties together the point-solutions into a coherent whole.

What is SCE?

Supply Chain Execution(SCE) contains domains such as Warehouse Management Systems( WMS) which are closer to execution than planning in nature.

Different industries need different capabilities in  their Supply Chains – and some SCM packages will be stronger than others. You can buy an SCM system from a different vendor than the ERP system.

Tools and Resources

Download the ERP Checklist for more functional SCM details and time saving checklists



New ERP Vendors and Trends drive Growth

Typically, as markets mature they tend to see a slowing in growth and a consolidation. ERP seems to be bucking that trend with a ‘mid-life’ revamp due to new technology and market entrants.

The global ERP market will reach $45.5bn in 2011, and to $50.3bn by 2015, according to a new report from Forrester Research. “The State Of ERP In 2011: Customers Have More Options In Spite Of Market Consolidation

The market will continue to grow in 2011, but will gradually shift from a licensed to a subscription model over the next five years, as SaaS ERP gains momentum, growing by about 21% annually through 2015.

It appears that now is the time to for organisation’s to revisit current ERP application commitments and future ERP plans. Companies will face a wider choice of ERP offerings than previously available in terms of deployment models, where the number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options and managed cloud offerings is increasing rapidly.

As usual, vendor consolidation, industry specialisation, and the introduction of newer technologies that improve business process flexibility will further change the vendor landscape.

For more hints and tips on buying the right ERP, download and review our Choose the Right Vendor Guidebook.

How to Choose Between Accounting and ERP Software

We have developed a new Guidebook that helps you understand whether you are ready for an ERP package or best served by staying or upgrading an Accounting package.

As you come into the final stages of the financial year and plan for next year, is the software that runs your business maximising:

  • Your Business Opportunities
  • Your Staff Productivity

We have identified 5 drivers that help you understand your current status and the best way forward. The new Accounting or ERP Guidebook is available for download now.


NetSuite New 2-Tier Strategy

NetSuite will tie departmental and divisional implementations of NetSuite’s cloud-based OneWorld suite with a core on-site ERP system from the likes of SAP or Oracle. It will utilise a connector from Informatica.

Interest in two-tier ERP is growing significantly, according to a report from Constellation Research. Forty-eight percent of respondents to a recent survey the analyst firm conducted said they were considering such a strategy, up 27 percentage points from a 2009 survey. More details and Graphs.

A single monolithic ERP does not work for many companies. This is often due to Global companies having different businesses in different parts of the world eg some countries may have their own warehouses while others outcource to a 3PL company.

As well as NetSuite, some of the larger vendors are themselves developing 2-tier strategies. SAP for instance has both BusinessOne and Business ByDesign as options for 2-tier markets.

When and Why You don’t need an ERP

An Enterprise Resource Planning System(ERP) aims to deliver in a single system the capability to manage and automate most if not all of a companies business processes. But let’s be frank – sometimes you just don’t need an ERP – it can be an overkill.

Firstly, let’s look at why ERP was initially built and why they are very useful. ERP systems are made up of a range of functions such as finance and accounting, manufacturing, supply chain, warehouse and human resources. In many businesses these were separate systems and moving information between them was difficult(if not impossible). Interestingly, some industries just didn’t buy in to ERP eg Banking was very early into CRM but quite late to ERP, only now starting to implement.

ERP systems were designed to:

Deliver a single system with all of these functions, by creating a Central Database, where information is held, integrated and shared easily.

Herein lies the great strengths and weaknesses of ERP systems:

  • Sometimes a business does not need a single system – it sometimes needs a number of systems
  • The functions of an ERP are usually described as “best in class” or bench-marked – this can mean that ‘everyone’ does things the same way, so there is no differentiation or competitive advantage
  • A central database is a great idea, until you want to add a new field ( and then see the potential impacts and costs to that small change)
  • Often the different functions only use a very specific parts of the database, and share little data.
  • Integration was strong within the ERP system but often weak when working with other systems
  • Sharing of information was rarely as good as it was marketed.
  • These systems are implemented by consultants – but many projects were just too big for mortals to manage

In recent times there have been a range of technology changes that have resulted in a different world:

  • New web-based  technologies have made integration much easier
  • Businesses have to be much more fluid than they were – being more nimble
  • Custom development is back in vogue – building the software to your business exact needs 
  • A Best of Breed strategy is also back in vogue – choosing the best solution for an area and then integrating with another system
  • End-users have become used to using Social media tools like facebook and linkedin – so want their business tools to work in the same way

ERP vendors have realised many of these are happening and now sell their solutions separately or integrate better using Business Intelligence tools and Integration platforms.

So where are the break points, when does it make sense to be running a single system and when many. I think it somewhat depends upon the size of the business but the following could be separated:

  • Accounting – can be stand-alone
  • Manufacturing, Warehousing, Logistics, Purchasing
  • Supply-Chain( only if you are big)
  • HR ( although payroll often outsourced)
  • CRM (keep Sales, Marketing and Service together if you can)
  • BI/Analytics

For more information, read our Do you need ERP Guidebook and ERP Checklist for features and functions whichever route you choose.

BI in ERP – Gartner’s View

As I wrote in an earlier post Trends in BI for ERP there have been many mergers and acquisitions in this product area in recent years. There investments seem to have now paid off with acquiring companies SAP, Oracle and IBM now firmly entrenched in the Leader’s Quadrant.

When buying an ERP(or CRM) you will need to also buy some BI Products. You can either buy from your main system vendor or you can buy via another supplier. MicroStrategy, SAS and to a lesser extent Microsoft provide tools that integrate well with ERP/CRM systems to provide alternatives. New vendors include Tibco’s Sportfire which provide innovative SaaS tools and pricing models (very cheaply until you have lots or users – I have a friend who raves about it!).

Below is the quadrant image. We think that key areas to consider are reporting and collaboration, including reporting, management dashboards, KPI monitoring and sharing to MS Office or Intranets/SharePoint –  add your BI specific needs to our ERP Checklist.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence- January 11

BI Magic Quadrant

Why you need ERP – “The Office”

After his performance at the 2011 Golden Globes – here’s David Brent’s views on why “The Office” needs ERP – not too serious.

An introduction to SAP Business One

Here is an introduction to SAP Business One. This is SAP’s solution for Small and Medium sized businesses. Medium sized businesses tend to move up to the All in One product and then the full ERP platform for large companies.

ERP Options for Cloud/SaaS/On-demand

I came across this good summary slide on the options available. Different vendors have different capability and positions on each – this is often because of the way they built and designed their applications.

Identify your preferences and put them into your ERP ‘must have list’. Our ERP Checklist will help as a template for your needs and to evaluate vendors.

Double Click to enlarge the table.

Microsoft Dynamics “Cloud” Challenges

Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM for the Cloud is soon to  announced publicly – although its current beta testing is pretty broad and promotion has already begun with cross-sell offers to Siebel and users.

However, it line up of Dynamics ERP products (AX, GP, NAV and SL) don’t have short-term solutionsnto enable cloud versions. Basically the issues are:

  • The products were not built for the Cloud – they were designed some time ago for one copy of the software for one company. Web applications are more flexible, allowing many companies per copy and allowing moving of workload between systems
  • There are lots of products(AX, GP, NAV and SL) and they are all different ‘under the hood’
  • There may be a nagging doubt within Microsoft as to whether Cloud is a trend for the long term or a trend that will disappear
  • What to do with partners trained to sell products when most cloud applications are done through subscriptions and sold directly( eg Netsuite and,
  • ERP implementations are generally more complicated than a CRM implementation for example. There are more interfaces and systems that need to be integrated – and some of those no doubt will never reach the cloud!
  • Along the same lines, many Dynamics ERP implemenataitons may need other Microsoft technolgies to move at the same time – Azure, MS Office, Exchange etc.

 If you need a more technical view of this discussion,then the article by SoftwareAdvice is worth a read.

For more information on  Dynamics CRM 2011 product  visit our sister site CRM-Guidebooks.

2-tier ERP

Here is an interesting web post looking at 2-tier ERP. It identifies 2-tier ERP as a trend as single instances are not as important as they were due to

…… forces, a move to adopt new disruptive technologies, slow pace of innovation from incumbent vendors, and high maintenance fees have changed many organization’s perspectives.

Drivers include

  • High maintenance fees/Upgrade costs
  • Purpose built fnctionality of packages is better than that of the central system
  • Geographic requirements
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Need to innovate.

For the full post by R “Ray” Wang of Software Insider

ERP as a Finance & Accounting Solution

Companies use  ERP solutions to manage critical business processes, to respond quickly to change, and make the most of  assets and resources. These ERP solutions were originally aimed at very large companies but over the years have become simple to use and deploy—and easy to customise and adapt as business needs change. Just like cars the features aimed at the top of the market gradually perculate down.

Typically, ERP systems replace accounting packages that have been in place within a business for many years. They deliver the accounting functions needed AND they reach into other parts of the business and deliver more information to run the company.

ERP systems deliver benefits in a number of Finance/Accounting areas:

  • Financial Management
  • Planning & Budgeting

These are also typically found in an Accounting package – download this Guidebook if you want to decide when to move from an Accounting Package to an ERP Package.

Financial management

We have broken down the finance functions into 25 areas – download in the ERP-Checklist Guidebook to find the right system for your business.

ERP systems deliver greater visibility into finances and give people across your organisation the tools they need to improve financial management, financial forecasting, and accounting throughout your organisation.

Financial processes can be streamlined, analysis simplified  by automatically presenting formerly disparate sources of information in a single view, that can be tailored to roles eg distribution manager, CEO, CFO, Sales Director.

Share reports in a business portal on the company intranet, or publish data on your extranet with enhanced security to promote privacy for auditors.

Monitor business performance and spot trends with key performance indicators (KPIs), export information into a spreadsheet for further analysis, and access flexible reporting capabilities to present business information in the best format for your audience.

Generate real-time reports, close books quickly, and share data with multiple ways to report, analyse, and share information.

Expand into other geographies, markets, and industries, and support multiple currencies and languages.

Planning and Budgeting

Monitor, measure, and manage organisational performance with planning and budgeting applications that work with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to measure business results and provide flexible reporting capabilities. Depending on your business needs, you can:

  • Deliver basic planning and budgeting with simplified, template-based planning and budgeting functionality
  • Take advantage of powerful analysis and reporting capabilities—including creating and publishing financial statements such as Profit and Loss (P&L) statements, balance sheets, and cash flow reports
  • Create boardroom-quality reports without IT help, enhance security for report distribution, and help support regulatory compliance
  • Build custom reports based on GL data, and slice data into rows, columns, or hierarchies
  • Manage complex consolidations and multiple currencies

Find the right ERP Vendor for you small, medium or enterprise business today!



Plex Online are one of the leading lights of Cloud/On demand and SaaS ERP.

This video presentation held be Plex and including an Aberdeen analyst looks at the trends.

It loads a page that you click on to launch the video.

Top ERP Predictions

Here are some predictions from IDG, a publisher in the IT industry on the ERP market.

Read this in association with our Top 10 ERP Trends Guidebook.

  1. ERP gets serious in the cloud – follows CRM and HR applications
  2. 3rd party maintenance in limbo – so vendors will continue to charge highly
  3. ERP gets Social – adding Social media type tool to ERP to help with collaboration and real-time information
  4. Mobility – extending business processes out
  5. Mergers and Acquisitions to continue
  6. Oracle Fusion arrives – when Oracle bought JD Edwards and People-Soft it mapped out a new product set called Fusion – so here it is at last
  7. Microsoft Dynamics has CEO focus – Steve Balmer is focussed on this area like never before, so expect some aggressive moves

The full article is available on Yahoo!