Tag Archive: CEO of Sage ERP X3


Christophe Letellier

Christophe Letellier

 

Christophe Letellier, CEO – Sage ERP X3

On my way back from a great Sage ERP X3 Global Convention in Berlin last week, I was wondering what makes an ERP solution the right one for mid-market customers. During the whole week, we’ve presented and demonstrated Sage ERP X3 at length: the solution today, with its breadth and depth of functionality and exciting customer testimonials, as well as the future of Sage ERP X3 with its totally new user experience that will increase return on investment. We have shared all this with our employees and partners. Of course, excitement was high and a good product is an important part of a good solution, but it’s not enough.

My take from last week in Berlin is that the community makes the difference. I’m not speaking about size or numbers but about commitment and collaboration. What showed strongly last week is the ability and the willingness of Sage and its partners to collaborate, share and work together for the benefit of our clients. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to paint a picture of a perfect world, but what I describe is the reality of what I’ve witnessed. I received so much feedback from our partners, and no matter where they came from, they all mentioned the fact that probably the best part of our Convention was the opportunity to engage transparently with Sage and the other partners.

I’ve always believed that the split between “direct” and “indirect” was a figment of the past. What counts now is gathering the skills and competencies that will make our customers more successful. Good sense says that it’s better to have a small slice of a big cake than a big slice of a small one. In business it’s not small or big, in fact, it’s “deal” or “no deal”. Sharing value makes sense when you have won! I think that together with our partners, we’ve got that mentality. Winning means giving our prospects and customers the confidence that they will have the solution they need to succeed, putting together the winning team that will fully address their needs.

This is what I’ve seen in Berlin: a great collaborative spirit. I know that our customers and prospects, who joined us on the last day, felt the same.

Even if this was a great outcome from our Sage ERP X3 Global Convention, it is not new to us. From day one we always have favored a selective approach when recruiting our partners. We could easily have 2-3 times more partners if we wanted, but the level of commitment and engagement behind Sage ERP X3 has always been the priority. Looking back, I’m happy we made this decision. Only committed partners can be open and mature enough to work as part as a community. Only the ones who are engaging their own business behind Sage ERP X3 can understand and accept that they will be stronger collaborating rather than working in isolation.

What’s true for our partners is also true for Sage. In all regions we have developed very collaborative models that leverage both the strength of our community and give our customers the choice to contract with who they want in order to access the best skills and competencies. We’ll keep developing this model; it’s not a dual model, but a hybrid model. At the end of the day, mid-market companies have the last say and they will tell us if we are right!

By Christophe Letellier, CEO of Sage ERP X3

Christophe Letellier

Christophe Letellier

Choosing an ERP system is one of the most strategic decisions for mid-market companies and their CEOs face a significant dilemma. Should I choose a system for today, or for how my company may look in five to ten years? Should I go for a full system or start small with a limited number of functions? Should I try to cover 100-percent of my needs or only aim for a fraction of them? Do I have to cover all my requirements with one single ERP system? Should I go for a comprehensive, full function system requiring a 12-18 month implementation, or for a simpler system with fewer functions that could be implemented in weeks? What balance will get me the best return on my investment?

I could go on and on with questions that are all relevant, but instead I would suggest reversing the thought process.  Rather than trying to solve all your outstanding issues with a new system, which will usually replace something that you are currently using, I would suggest thinking about how to improve what you already have. All of us would like to aim for the best in terms of ERP software, but in doing so we often ignore the ‘better’ solution.

The value of an ERP system lies in its integration across a company and the data gathered when using it. Start with a modern solution that is well integrated and covers 80-85-percent of an organisation’s functional needs. The last mile is by far the most costly and often the one that has the most problematic ROI.

Why look for perfection when 85-percent would help you make a giant leap in efficiency?  Go with as standard a system as you can to start with. Implementation will be significantly reduced, both in terms of cost (three to five times cheaper) and duration (up to ten times faster, in a matter of weeks). A properly integrated system will immediately make your processes more fluid, improve cross-functional collaboration, reduce operating costs; and most importantly, help you understand what you really need for the next step.

I encourage you to have a look at what our customer, Omega Refrigeration, did. They chose to go standard and not only did the company’s ERP system go live in just 44 days, but it started to see benefits just a few weeks after the implementation. Very soon after deployment, Omega Refrigeration was able to plan the expansion of the system.

One of the biggest mistakes often made is attempting to replicate existing business processes within a new system. It implies significant tweaks in the ERP system through customisation. On top of making life miserable for future upgrades, it also changes the way an ERP solution behaves, severely curbing the benefit that is derived from all the best practices that has led to the development of the built-in processes. Performance can also be dramatically reduced and future evolutions will be more difficult to leverage.

Implementing a new ERP system is a great opportunity to re-think processes. We love to think we are different, and guess what, it’s true! But being different doesn’t mean we are totally unique. Step back and try to honestly define what makes you better and more competitive than your competition.  This is what counts at the end of the day, and you will probably end up with two or perhaps three processes that are really distinctive. At most five percent of your system will recognise this difference, not 50-percent.

This past April, I had the privilege of visiting the Marussia F1 Team in Banbury, England, one of Sage ERP X3’s customers.  I spoke to Kevin Lee, their Operations Manager, and he lives by an expression that I often use, ‘walk before you run’. He applies this principle to everything he does to improve the team’s competitiveness in Formula 1.

Lee enacted this principle when he implemented his new ERP system and succeeded:

  • Implementation time – Eight weeks
  • Number of specific developments to address F1 needs – Zero

Go for standard solutions and after a period of usage, say 9 to 12 months, you will be able to make informed decisions on where to channel your investment to differentiate yourself in the market.  Once that is done, make sure you have as many people as possible using your ERP system.  ERP software is not a specialist play and it is certainly not only for accountants or plant managers. Everyone, one way or another, should use the system, starting with you. This is important because your ERP system will be your decision-making tool and based on the collected data, you will run reports, analysis or even simulations.

These activities will really add value if your database truly represents your business. To get there you need to ensure everyone contributes to it – the experienced and the non-technical alike. You can even open your system to those outside of your own organisation who also contribute to your business. Your customers, your partners and your suppliers can definitely enrich your data set, which will help you make better decisions.

Integration is key.  Integration means encouraging people in different functions to work together. This will open up a new field of efficiency through collaboration. ERP software will help you organise the social nature of your business and support a better, more natural and organised way of collaborating for greater efficiency, better problem solving, but also to promote innovation.

Before running like Usain Bolt, make sure you can walk.

Five tips to choosing the right ERP system:

  1. ‘Start small’ with a standard solution across your company
  2. Progress quickly within a few weeks,
  3. Learn through experience
  4. Encourage usage across and outside your organisation
  5. Make informed decisions for additional investments that will make you more competitive.