Tag Archive: Enterprise Resource Planning


It is difficult to find another role in today’s business world that has changed as rapidly as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Only a few years ago, IT heads were there to make sure the basic infrastructure to keep a business communicating was in place and up and running. So while they do have to maintain current and past systems, their new most important role is to drive internal and external innovation. And because innovation is increasingly technology-driven, the CIO is in a perfect position to lead this evolutionary revolution.

Role Diversity

The role of the CIO over the past few years has become more diverse and challenging. CIOs now need to cover a whole lot more ground and stay on top of a rapidly changing field defined by quick shifts and advances in technology, and to incorporate these new methodologies and applications into business.

This fundamental shift in the role of the CIO reflects the changes business environments undergo on many different levels. The single most important factor in CIO recruitment is what new, innovative and efficient solutions they can bring to the company. In stark contrast to the old image of the CIO they are now supposed to ‘wow’ the board with amazing schemes to facilitate company growth,performance, efficiency and collaboration with full user adoption and experience.

Collaboration

Since technology and infrastructure investment have become a central focus, the CIO’s role is becoming more integrated into business process than ever before. In the past, it was the IT department that controlled technology and infrastructure purchase decisions. But with application usability needs such as cloud-based technologies, social media, the abundance of mobile devices, purchase decisions have become more collaborative.

Previously the focus for the CIO was delivering IT solutions and infrastructure, but with minimal collaboration between the IT and other departments across the organization. Now the primary focus is for the businesses and CIOs to work collaboratively and adapt and adopt useful technology with the C-suite firmly on board. Not to mention the need to embrace new employee demands with user-driven technologies, BYOD and social media. Employees are now demanding the usability and mobility in their professional devices that they have with their personal ones.

CIOs need to be a true business partner and support their counterparts in delivering results and differentiation; to help Sales grow the business, to help Engineering deliver a better product to the market, to help our Marketing teams drive new business acquisition.

Bimodal approach

With these fundamental changes to the CIO role and the requirement to deliver both basic IT for an organisation while preparing it for new challenges around big data, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and up-skilling workforces, it may require a “bimodal” approach to IT.

The first accountability will remain as a conventional IT role and manage risk and governance; and the second accountability will be more creative with the need for innovation, agility and new skills.

What is becoming clear is that the mounting challenges at the crossroads between technology and business innovation are leaving CIOs in need of the right tools to enable positive change for their companies.

So in today’s world CIOs need to be agile and innovative to support the growth and performance of the company, they need to adopt a more collaborative approach with their C-Suite colleagues as well as carry out the more traditional tasks around purchasing decisions, risk and governance. So the CIO’s role must shift from protecting and defending the status quo to embracing and extending new innovative capabilities, it needs to transform into the Chief Innovation Officer. In order for CIOs to survive in this ever changing and challenging role they need an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Of course it is not the ERP system in itself that provides the innovation, it is the possibilities it creates through the delivery of better business intelligence that enables better decision making.

 

For more information about ERP Solutions and the changing role of the CIO download our whitepaper: http://www.sageerpx3.com/landing-page-cio

Bold Context was in need of a hosted solution that could also support detailed financial reporting to their customers.  Sage ERP X3 presented itself as the perfect solution to address the company’s needs.

Bold Context simplifies financial management for small and medium-sized businesses through the provision of skilled advisory personnel and robust, scalable and cost-efficient back-office services in a shared service centre format, (referred to as a hosted solution). The hosted services include accounting, debtors, creditors, sales, purchasing, stock, manufacturing, reporting and business intelligence. In essence, SMEs have access to large company systems at small company prices.

Sage ERP X3 enables Bold Context to provide the hosted solution to companies with limited internal IT skills and capabilities. The solution is affordable and manageable. “The Sage ERP X3 application is hosted in a professional environment with full backup procedures and database administration which is taken care of on behalf of our clients.  There is no large capital outlay and businesses can now enjoy the benefits of large enterprise systems without breaking the bank”, says Graham McGregor, CEO for Bold Context.

“The cloud-based ERP offers many advantages, especially for start-up businesses,” says Keith Fenner, senior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa. “Businesses are able to benefit from lower infrastructure costs, easy software deployment and seamless scalability.”

Accounting and business management software solutions specialist Lorge was contracted by Bold Context to implement, service, support and maintain the Sage ERP X3 software. The hosted ERP X3 solution offers Bold Context and its customers a full suite of modules to fully support its needs and drive the business. Developments per customer are made easy with the SAFE (Sage Application Framework for the Enterprise) architecture, and data is securely housed in the respective customer’s folder,” says Jonty Katz, Operations Manager of Lorge’s Sage ERP X3 division.

In the past the clients of Bold Context also experienced difficulties with the level of detail available in the reports delivered from their various systems and they had to start to purchase and develop 3rd party applications to fill the gaps their current systems could not cover. This created a complicated IT environment which increased the costs of servicing.  Businesses started to become reliant on certain key individuals and were exposed to large amounts of risk should this individual depart the business,” says McGregor.

However, with the hosted Sage ERP X3 solution Bold Context can simplify the creation of reports dramatically.  Once the customer has transferred key financial accounting information, Bold Context starts a systematic system improvement & development process. This can be broken into phases to support rapid initial system setup and then focused development thereafter to achieve high levels of ROI for the ERP take on.

The companies utilizing Bold Context hosted Sage ERP X3 solution now have access to more detailed financial information supporting business analytics through the extension of multiple dimensions.  The customers can also map a long term system development strategy knowing full well that they will not outgrow the system.

One of Bold Context’s hosted clients is CSS Tactical, a professional security services company, providing mainly armed response and dedicated proactive patrols as well as the installation of burglar alarms and CCTV cameras.

“Sage ERP X3 has allowed us to manage our key customer billing information and customer master file data in a controlled and efficient manner. We have also managed to improve our business profitability analytics through the dimension levels supported in Sage. We have also been able to map a long term ERP strategy involving all the benefits of Sage including CRM & EDM module utilization,” says Ricky Croock, CEO of CSS Tactical.

By: Christophe Letellier, CEO for Sage ERP X3

Christophe Letellier

Christophe Letellier

When approaching the subject of the Cloud, there is a choice between being strongly positive or enthusiastic. The wave in favour of the Cloud is so strong that views which attempt to even mildly address the need or even the relevance of the Cloud could make you look like a supporter of the past. But this has always been true with new technologies or business models; just look back to the early 2000s.
Cloud technology is not a revolution; it’s an evolution that materialises the maturity of the Internet. By definition the evolution will take time, a long time, when in contrast a revolution could change our world in weeks or months. As customers and suppliers, it has already taken us 15 years to get to where we are today with the Internet. I would bet it will take even longer before everything runs from the Cloud
The Cloud, in my opinion, brings many good things to the software industry. It means solutions can be developed more quickly, agile development becomes standard and seamless upgrades a given. Software vendors are changing and the Cloud is the trigger, but the change is embraced because it creates value for customers.
On a similar note, the Cloud implies a different business model that is based on usage. The ‘per month, per user’ pricing model is the first step that will evolve into fully consumption-based pricing. Once again, it’s good for our customers. The Cloud will also open the ERP world to many more users than today. Because it’s more flexible and web based, we can expect that the Cloud will provide much easier access to an ERP system. C-level executives will, at last, benefit from the mine of data that is created by their ERP system. This is particularly true in mid-sized companies where the CEO is in the operational driving seat and today drives almost blind! Casual users will also be more at ease and will be able to contribute more. This is true for occasional internal users, but also for external users like partners, suppliers or customers. The 25-year-old concept of an extended enterprise now becomes a reality.
All these changes can bring great value to our customers and it’s important that we aim to deliver on these promises. The Cloud is not the means to get there, but only the trigger. It has changed mindsets and offers a technical solution, but we can deliver the very same value to our customers via other delivery mechanisms. If I look at the ERP world for instance, there are many examples of strong adoption of financials in the Cloud when manufacturing, that requires significant customization and close connection to shop floor control systems, looks less attractive. Does it mean that our customers should be put on the side of the road? Today a vast majority of mid-sized companies do use their ERP systems on fat clients without web access, when such systems have been available for over 10 years now. Why should we expect that adoption of full cloud solutions will be that much faster? And does this mean that our customers shouldn’t have access to the benefits listed above?
Adoption of the Cloud is a long journey. Cloud will become a standard in one or two decades. What do we do for our customers in the meantime?
My conviction is that although the Cloud will not dominate for some time in the ERP space, it will profoundly change mindsets and drive software vendors in a new direction. Having sold web-based products like Sage ERP X3 for over 10 years, Sage is not afraid of this evolution. On the contrary, we welcome this change towards flexibility and openness. This has always been our motto. Building hybrid systems and leveraging the best of the on-premise and cloud worlds will help the transition, drive adoption, and create true value for our customers. Our customers are pragmatic so we have to be inventive.

By Himanshu Palsule: Sage Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Strategy,

Himanshu Palsule

Himanshu Palsule

There are two distinct global trends shaping the technology landscape. Although the Internet has disrupted the value chain and workflow, as we know it today, it has created immeasurable opportunity and is shaping customer requirements.  Choice and flexibility top the list of most users today.  We no longer have a classic business model within a structured workday.  Customers are often remote and disconnected, thus demanding access anywhere, any time and on any device.

This has lead to a significant transformation strategy for the Sage group, if not the entire technology industry. It has also accelerated innovation and brought about a new way of thinking.  We get accounting and we get ERP. The challenge we set for ourselves was to understand our customers even better and what they wanted going forward.

Taking complexity out was a key requirement.  A testament to the new way of doing business was our customers asking us to stop doing things.  There is clearly a case of feature fatigue and despite having asked for the numerous features, customers now want simplicity.  Whether this is a result of a slowing economy or global complexity is unclear, but customers want simpler workflows and we will give it to them.

In Sage we have brought together a team of product design and experience professionals hailing from companies such as Google and AOL.  We didn’t need this level of innovation in design before, but the world has changed and we do now.

Tasked with bringing the required innovation, consistency and simplicity to all Sage products, the team spent four months interviewing hundreds of CEOs and it was clear that it was time for a change. There were two obvious trends: mobility and cloud computing, both of which have already had a positive impact on our current product roadmap.

In North America smartphone usage went from 49% to 77% and the same trend exists in South Africa with 75% of companies in South Africa using smartphones.  From a cloud computing perspective, IT budgets went from 10% to 24% in 2012. This not only shows a distinct shift, it is also proof that we have indeed entered a cloud-first culture.

In going forward, all Sage products will be built with a mobile and cloud strategy in mind.   This is not a trend with an end in sight; it is a new way of life. There are industry-wide predictions that by the end of this year, there could be more smartphones on the planet than humans, and that by 2016 there could be 10 billion smartphones.   We cannot underestimate the impact of mobility, nor can we see it as a technology.  The simple truth is that technology is just an enabler to a connected, simpler way of life.

Parity Software celebrates three decades of business success by being awarded the Sage National Solutions Provider for the year 2012.  This is the highest recognition awarded by Sage for excellence in development, sales and technical expertise.

The award was given at the Sage Insights 2013 conference, held from 7-10 February. This annual conference serves as a platform for players in the industry to network with the purpose of providing some insight into 2013 and what to expect in terms of trends and product developments in the fields of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI).

“We are extremely pleased by the fact that after 30 years in business we continue to receive the highest industry accolades and that we still provide top quality business solutions for Sage and other business partners.” said Parity’s managing director Warren Williams.

Parity Software also received recognition for Highest Sage ERP X3 Sales, Best Performer of Sage CRM and for achieving Premier Status as a Sage ERP Africa Solutions Provider.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, with branches in Cape Town and Durban, Parity Software provides and supports Sage CRM, Sage ERP X3, Business Intelligence solutions, as well as third party products including Cashbook, AP Recon, Parity Report Server and Debit Clearing, within a wide range of commercial and industrial enterprises worldwide.

“Our focus continues to centre on the provision of best in class business solutions that cater for the expanding and ever-changing needs of modern businesses, using our proven methodology that has advanced over the past 30 years, together with excellent staff” said Williams.

Parity Software operates in a wide range of business sectors including finance, manufacturing, distribution, agriculture, automotive and hospitality.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners and customers who have supported Parity over the last year and previously, since the synergy we have with them has allowed Parity to receive this acknowledgment,” concludes Williams.

By Jeremy Waterman, the Managing Director of Sage ERP

Jeremy Waterman

Jeremy Waterman

The Sage Insights 2013 Conference was a resounding success and a true celebration of the mobile revolution and the challenges it poses for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  More than 250 Sage ERP Africa’s business partners attended, which included 32 partners from East and West Africa.

The opening address focused on the mobile revolution and the challenges it holds for software vendors. It is not really the concept of mobility that is revolutionary, but more the reality of the delivery mechanism that has undergone an evolution.

Himanshu Palsule, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Strategy at Sage Group said in his keynote address that in going forward all Sage products will be built with a mobile and cloud strategy in mind. This is not a trend with an end in sight; it is a new way of life.

Benoit Gruber, Vice President of Product and Alliances Sage ERP X3, Product Marketing Europe and Sage mid-market, spoke about the road ahead for Sage ERP X3 and the planned release for version 7.0. This new technology update will make native thin client access to Sage ERP X3 a reality from any device, desktop or mobile.

Sean Mooney, the Head of Research and Development at Sage CRM assured partners that Sage CRM will remain at the heart of integrated business.

A strategic sales summary was delivered by Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President for Sales at Sage ERP Africa. He spoke about the Group’s extraordinary year and said that the success of Sage ERP x3 in Africa continued with triple growth digit growth in 2012. It is an ideal fit for many of the larger companies in Africa.

Another highlight of the conference was the announcement of Parity Software as the winner of the Sage National Solution Provider award for 2012. This is the highest recognition awarded by Sage for excellence in development, sales and technical expertise.

Parity’s managing director, Warren Williams said they are extremely pleased by the fact that after 30 years in business they continue to receive the highest industry accolades and that they still plan to provide top quality business solutions for Sage and other business partners.

By Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at SAGE ERP Africa.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

This years’ annual Sage Insights 2013 Conference is taking place from 7-10 February at Misty Hills in Johannesburg and brings together local and international Sage staff, solution providers and third party developers.  The conference serves as a platform for players in the industry to network with the purpose of providing some insight into 2013 and what to expect in terms of trends and product developments in the fields of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI).

An opening address from Managing Director of Sage ERP Africa, Jeremy Waterman, will kick the event into gear on Thursday, 7 February 2013.

Himanshu Palsule, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Strategy at Sage Group will address the roadmap that is planned for the launch of Sage 300 ERP, formerly known as Sage ERP Accpac, which is in line with Sage Group’s directive to consolidate its brand name globally.

Keynotes will be delivered by Sean Mooney, the Head of Research and Development at Sage Group, on developments that are expected for Sage CRM in addition to Benoit Gruber, Vice President of Product and Alliances Sage ERPX3, Product Marketing Europe and Sage mid-market, speaking on the road ahead for Sage ERP X3.

The launch of Sage ERP X3 Version 7 is also one of the big announcements scheduled for Sage Insights 2013.  This new technology update will make native thin client access to Sage ERP X3 a reality from any device, desktop or mobile.

For more information visit:  www.sageerp.co.za

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.

by Michael Brennan

Sage has been carefully listening to its global market for Sage ERP X3 with regards to feedback and requests on the topic of Financial Reporting and is already making progress on integrating a powerful and flexible reporting technology based on cutting edge BI technology. The Sage ERP X3 core product team in France has embarked on a strategic partnership with our team with the intention of providing a modern Excel-based financial reporting designer and tools.

We have been in the business of offering robust Excel-based business intelligence tools for 11 years and have been working on Sage ERP products since 2005. Sage France’s move to collaborate closely with our team, mainly based in South Africa, is well aligned with Sage Group’s core strategy of consolidating group assets across regions and presents an exciting roadmap of consistent product and service offerings globally.

As global market BI market trends continue to evolve we have been investing heavily in new advanced technologies to power our next generation offerings and are pleased to announce Sage ERP X3 version 7 will include fully integrated financial reporting capabilities based on its next generation In-Memory Database BI Platform codenamed ‘LIME’. This new column based database platform has been engineered from the ground up to cater the needs of tomorrow’s businesses with a core focus on high performance, flexibility and great user experience. The new platform is able to accelerate performance by pre-calculating financial logic and place the results into its in-memory BI database to dramatically improve real-time query performance.

Expectations on this new offering include report design automation to cater for novice Excel users as well as flexible drag and drop formulas for capable Excel users. This approach allows both types of users to pull financial and analytical ledger data directly out of Sage ERP X3 v7 and arrange it within Excel using their existing Excel skills and save your Excel report securely back to the Sage ERP X3 server. In addition to utilizing cutting edge technology, we are also including major usability and modernization changes to our  report designer tools as we ramp up to deliver on ever increasing market demands for simpler BI and reporting software. This is great news for users who are already using Sage Intelligence Financial Reporting for Sage ERP X3 v6 and v6.5 who can look forward to substantial business value increases when moving to the integrated report designer within Sage ERP X3 which will be available as an option to all users using version 7.

Both French and South African teams are excited about the extent of new business value planned for Sage ERP X3 version 7 as a result of their collaboration and having a dedicated BI team focus on the Excel financial reporting capabilities of Sage ERP X3 allows the French team to ship more value to market each release.

By Aruna Ware, Regional Director for Africa at Sage Accpac, part of the Sage Group plc.

Aruna Ware

Aruna Ware

Sage Accpac recently opened an office in Kenya.  Due to its location, Kenya presents itself as a growth hub for East Africa.  The addition of a Sage Accpac office in this dynamic landscape therefore makes a great deal of sense.

Accpac has been distributed via a number of qualified and highly skilled business partners to mid-sized companies in East Africa for more than twenty years.  In addition, we have a large number of companies successfully managing their businesses using Accpac as their core ERP system. Sage ERP X3 is relatively new to the market and is ideally suited to large companies and companies with complex financial, distribution and manufacturing needs. Our recent launch of Sage ERP X3 Standard Edition into the East African market enables rapid implementation following predefined methodologies.

The social and physical infrastructure within Kenya is well-developed, which lends itself to positive economic prospects.  The workforce within Kenya is a large, technology savvy entity that comprises of graduates who display a high level of IT skills.  Several international technology and hardware companies are already present and established in the country, which will provide a large pool of potential business partners that we can collaborate with to expand our footprint into the region.

Our Kenyan partners will benefit tremendously from having a local Sage office to assist with sales, marketing and product development.  The product range that will be available includes Sage ERP Accpac, Sage ERP X3 and Sage CRM.  Customers will now have direct access to local Sage representatives in addition to product support and development that will be specific to the Kenyan market.