Tag Archive: ERP


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

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

The continued pursuit of mobility will fuel the uptake of Cloud solutions and requests for software on a subscription basis in 2013.

The sales of our solutions in the cloud have doubled in the last year, and I believe it is mostly attributable to the decline in bandwidth costs.  This trend has underscored the uptake of cloud in the last year.  A cloud solution can be tailored to meet the needs and pockets of the user, which makes it adaptable to suit the needs of the organisation.

A trend that will certainly continue to stamp its presence into 2013 is the demand for connected services, especially around service, sales and stock.  The days of spending hours to compile data and to debug excel formulas, are numbered.  Clients want to know what their key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the touch of a button and with a host of cloud enabled Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions you literally need an internet connection and a laptop, tablet, PC or smart phone to review your performance.  Slick and easy to use is the name of the game and that is why the uptake of applications for mobility has mushroomed.

Many vendors with modern architecture have easily adapted to the new challenges of mobility, but not all software is architected to allow for a rapid response to changing market conditions and that is something that the industry will need to work on in 2013.

Mobility will continue to gain traction well into 2013, in addition to the uptake of solutions in the cloud from both a consumer and enterprise point of view.  Devices, applications and social media are revolutionising the way that we communicate and it will have far-reaching effects on the South African IT industry going forward.

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 Keith Fenner
Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at Softline Accpac, part of the Sage Group plc.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

Supply Chain Management (SCM) involves the supply of goods or services required by a customer.  The process involves many connected parties that are involved in the goods or services reaching their final destination. APICS defines it as the design, planning, execution, control and monitoring of supply chain activities.

The supply chain management cycle in Africa is vital for our customers to remain competitive with the ability to measure and monitor performance globally.  Planning and visibility is the key requirement in any successful SCM module from a logistical point of view and pre-costing from a financial point of view.  This visibility must extend to your suppliers and all the connected parties in that process in order to land goods at the right time and the right cost.  The visibility will lead to a lower stock holding which in turn will free up working capital to use elsewhere in the business.

How does SCM fit into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Many ERP solutions only cater for a product once landed and costed but this is the first time the costs are known and stock is visible which does limit planning and cash-flow.  Typically goods can end up in stock and then additional costs are apportioned afterwards from a financial costing perspective based on weight, volume or value.  This is a very basic option and can lead to discrepancies when reviewing the gross profit on item level as these additional costs typically alloy across many stock items in a container.  A true SCM solution has a dedicated module where shipping routes, tariff codes, manage rules such as FOB and additional cost categories can be created and used to manage the true costing of goods in detail.  A module like this allows businesses to plan the costings and apply provisionally to stock before the additional cost invoices arrive, as often the stock has already been sold which causes further discrepancies. Once the final costs are known, the module will reverse the provision and add the correct apportioned costs to stock.  Moreover, in a modern web based ERP with SCM, you can simply give access to parts of the module to your suppliers to complete data relevant for shipping again improving collaboration.

When does is the right time to consider an SCM system?

Typically when importing starts to become a major problem in costing is the time to consider this solution.  When the frequency and volumes increase as well as the costs of warehousing, this is the time to review a proper integrated SCM and ERP.  It will massively reduce costs and deliver a better experience and service to their customers.

Advice

The best advice we can give is that SCM is not simple.  A distinction needs to be made between apportioning costs to landed stock which is the most basic requirement for a small business and what an importer looks for in order to better manage costs, improve service and delivery collaboration across the supply chain.  The key to the latter topic is a fully integrated SCM with ERP that has touch points across purchasing, suppliers, stock, warehousing, customers, customer service and costing that also talks directly to the supplier and customer with web based portals.  Luckily Sage ERP solutions have a scalable set of solutions for all sizes of businesses.

 

By Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at Softline Accpac, part of the Sage Group plc.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

Labour issues recently made headlines as one of the major challenges facing the South African mining landscape.  Rising labour costs as well as increasing electricity costs are just some of the obstacles facing the sector.

Many operators in the industry are currently focusing their efforts internally to stabilise the business, with a very strong emphasis on cost.  Effective cost management can however create opportunities for growth when armed with tried and tested business processes and a business software solution such as Sage ERP X3.

During 2011 Deloitte embarked on a partnership with Sage ERP X3 that was aimed at the delivery of a cost efficient Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution to its Mining Shared Services Division.  Sage ERP X3 effectively forms part of a Deloitte service delivery model that allows mining companies to co-source and/or outsource transactional and knowledge processes and take advantage of the cost benefits offered by consolidating and streamlining back office processes.  Deloitte’s mining industry expertise coupled with Sage ERP X3’s sector specific software capabilities are the two core ingredients to a winning recipe.

Organisations within the mining sector utilise ERP solutions for a diverse number of reasons.  Smaller companies may only utilise an ERP solution to manage its finance and purchasing, whereas bigger operators need to structure their business solutions around a more complex collection of needs.  A scalable ERP solution is therefore essential to adapt to the business’ needs however they may expand or change.

Sage ERP X3 was designed with the mid-to-upper end business in mind, which makes it a great match for the mining industry, among others.  The ERP solution excels at streamlining all operating and processing aspects of single or multiple business operations.

The product is essentially a complete web-based integrated management suite that covers all operational needs in terms of production management, distribution, logistics, asset maintenance, finance and human resources.  It is a multi-legislative, multi-lingual and multi-currency solution that can be seamlessly integrated on both a national and international level.

One of Deloitte’s first major clients recently went live on Sage ERP X3 with a further three mines showing satisfactory results being very comfortable with the product.  Sage ERP X3 does not come with the hefty price tag that some of its bigger counterparts presents, which makes it the ideal solution in a tough economy.

Cost of ownership is a focal point and with that in mind Deloitte introduced a software finance plan option, to stagger the initial implementation cost.  The return on investment makes the implementation of a Deloitte Mining Shared Services offering well worth it. The package comprises of an ERP solution, financial co-and outsourcing services in addition to information technology outsourcing services.

The ability of Deloitte’s Mining Shared Services Division to drive the back office productivity levels of its clients, delivers tangible results.  It is not just a system, but a comprehensive solution that leverages the industry expertise provided by Deloitte and the robust applications delivered through Sage ERP X3.

On August 23, 2012 a contingent from Sage Alchemex, developers of Sage Intelligence Reporting software, returned to South Africa from Sage Summit 2012, Sage North America’s annual partner and end-user conference, last week. This year, Sage Summit was held at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, from August 11 to 17. Sage Intelligence was showcased extensively, with seven Sage Alchemex team members in attendance running a total of 32 Intelligence learning sessions over 6 days and manning a busy Sage Intelligence tradeshow booth which allowed demonstrations to groups of 10 and more at a time.

 

Sage Summit attendees congregating around the Sage Intelligence booth.

Sage Intelligence Reporting is a business intelligence module for a number of Sage ERP and accounting products, which promises richer insight into a business. Using the familiar Microsoft® Excel® interface, it enables more robust reporting and easier access to Sage ERP and accounting data, providing affordable, intuitive business intelligence for small to medium businesses.

Sage Summit 2012 saw the attendance of Sage Alchemex, not as an OEM partner, but as a Sage-owned subsidiary. Alchemex was acquired by Softline, a member of The Sage Group plc, effective October 1, 2011. Charles Teversham, Sage Alchemex MD, says that attending Sage Summit 2012 as part of the Sage Group was “the culmination of a number of exciting developments over the last few years and the launch pad for several exciting initiatives which will take us into the future”.

Sage Summit provided the platform for the launch of these initiatives by the Sage Alchemex team, including:

The Report Designer Add-In for Sage ERP 100 Intelligence Reporting

An addition to the existing Report Designer module, a report layout generator which allows for easy-to-use drag-and-drop financial report design, the Report Designer Add-In presents an alternative method of report design to empower Sage 100 ERP Intelligence Reporting users to take full control of all design aspects of their reporting layouts. It provides drag-and-drop Excel financial formulas which communicate with a new In-Memory processing engine promising excellent performance, maximum control and greatly enhanced flexibility. It promises to provide business partners and consultants in particular with the flexibility they need to create bespoke reports for customers.

Free Report Templates

The vision of Sage Alchemex to fuel a proliferation of report templates, beyond the standard report templates that ship with the Sage Intelligence module, was shared at Sage Summit 2012 and a platform for sharing additional report templates was launched. Report writers can use these templates as a basis for quickly and easily providing customized reports, and thereby added value, for their customers. A number of free report templates were launched on the Free Report Templates Group on the BI Community for use with the Intelligence Reporting module.  Sage Intelligence partners or customers can help themselves to these templates or post reports themselves for sharing amongst the Sage Intelligence community.

 

Stephen Coull, Sage Alchemex Sales Director, says “Sage Summit gives us the opportunity to connect with Sage colleagues, partners and customers and show them the power of Sage Intelligence. This was our fifth year at Sage Summit, but our first as a member of the Sage family, and our product continues to be well-received. Apart from all the focused activity around showing and teaching the product, the Sage Alchemex team heard overwhelming feedback from partners and customers about how much they had seen added to the product in the last year and how they were really excited about the future of the product following the ‘road ahead’ sessions where the new in-memory Add-in grabbed the most attention. Many Sage ERP 100 delegates stated that this provides a good reason to move off FRx to the Sage Intelligence solution.”

Teversham says, “Our longstanding and very successful partnerships with Softline Pastel and Softline VIP entrenched the use of ‘BI in Excel’ in South Africa via Pastel’s Business Intelligence Centre and VIP Payroll’s Business Intelligence Manager during the last six to seven years. An OEM agreement signed with Sage North America in November 2009 set us up to proliferate the use of our software globally. Then in 2011 we were acquired by Softline, providing us with the opportunity to, together with Sage, address the burgeoning need for business intelligence in their small and mid-sized customer base worldwide. Given the feedback from Sage Summit, and the positive response to our initiatives, Sage Intelligence is poised to become the business intelligence tool of choice for SMMEs world-wide”.