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For every business organization, the world is changing exponentially. To ensure long-term survivalandmaintain competitiveness, the business organizations need to exhaustively understand theircustomers and stakeholders for example, whatare their behavior, actions,lifestyles, preferences and most importantly their expectations.In the case study of a motorcycle distributor based in Indonesia,the CEO has preferredAcumatica over RetailSoft as an efficientCRM software and used it to gain a competitive advantage since nowtheir month-end closing process can be conducted faster than before and any mismatches in the financial reports can be easily traced which in turn also helped them streamlining their order process, better  manage their  prospecting  and  new  client on-boarding process  and better  handle their scheduling of projects.

In this way,being a CRM software,Acumatica has gained a valuablecompetitive edge over RetailSoft by providing greater efficiency in streamlining the business functions and processes.Computime provides the Acumatica Customer Management module which delivers a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to automate sales processes. Our guest, Mr.  AngeloPickard, is a solutions leader at Computime software.   For the past twenty years, he has been occupied in several positions within the IT sector. His main focus was always on Business Application Implementations.  Mr.

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Pickard has been participating in the University’s ERP discussions for fouryears. The Team ·        Aashish Goyal (TeamLeader):Questions for discussion, Abstract (Report), Fit Gap analysis, Cloak Room BPMN,Brainstorming on BPMNs·        Andrew Saliba: Questions for discussion,Analysis and Learning Outcomes (Report), Brainstorming on BPMNs·        Karl Fenech: Questions for discussion,Abstract cont., Introduction and conclusion (Report), Airport Lounge BPMN,Brainstorming on BPMNs·        Neha Goyal (Event Host): Questions for discussion,Abstract (Report), Fit Gap analysis, Cloak Room BPMN, Brainstorming on BPMNs·        Rikki Greco: Questions for discussion,Notes (discussion with expert), Discussion (Report)  Introduction The idea of ERP solutions arose inthe early 1990s when large-scale companies andbusinesseswanted to remove all the separate modules scattered in various departments and substitute all of them using a single solution which is able to function in all departments.  This ‘new’solution would integrate all the business processes and functions (finance, sales, procurement, production, etc.)together so that the business is able to operate in a smooth and efficient way.

This would beadvantageous to the companies adopting these types of solutions,since now they will have a centralized database which contains all the information which is needed by the company to operate(customers, suppliers, orders, etc.). This will also minimize the risk of having wrong or irregular data, since with the older separate modules it would have been easier to have data which does not match since the systems would not have been synced together.A typical ERP solutionhas an integrated Customer Relationship Management module within it. CRM helpsto capture and maintain customer relationships and also facilitate the overallcustomer experience. Ideal examples of CRM solutions integrated withinbusinesses can be seen in various E- Commerce websites such as Amazon andeBay.

  From the moment that a customerplaces an order, he/she is immediately informed via email that the order hasbeen placed.  From then onwards, thecustomer is immediately informed of any progress that the order makes (forexample when the order is being packed or being shipped).   Besides providing customers with informationregarding their orders, CRM extends to customer support and feedback since thisis another vital part of customer management.

 Acumatica is one of the’modern’ and ‘new’ era ERP solutions. Founded in 2008, this cloud-based system is already a leading ERPsolution within this market since it caters for the new businesses which aremore technologically-advanced. It also offers more flexibility since it can berun on most platforms and only requires an internet connection. Questions Questions which were asked by the teamduring the group activity: 1. How does a company decide on which ERP systemtouse? (not only based onrequirement/cost/market ratings) 2. How do you convince your customers to switch from many singular systems to a centralized ERPsolution? 3.What are the major challenges to switchingfromsingle systems to a centralized ERP? (CURRENT and UPCOMING) 4.

How can we make switching to ERP systems more efficient, less time consuming, etc.? 5. Do ERP solutions provide significant improvements with regards to data safety, backups/recoveries and security? (for example, for banks) 6. What is the next big thing inCRM? 7.Why did you opt to choose Acumatica to offer as a solution for your customers? 8.

Can you mention some advantages that Acumatica has when compared to its competingERPsolutions? 9. How does Acumatica integrate CRM in itself? Discussion The discussion took place on the 6th of December 2017 with Angelo Pickard a solutions leader at Computime software, the format of the discussion was mostly question and answer where the teamprepared a list of questions for Mr. Pickard beforehand.

After the Q unstructured questions wereasked and a more free-flowing discussion was held. Mr. Pickard started off by tellingusabout how he got introduced to ERP on the client side as he wasthe IT manager for Coca-Cola in Malta. Mr. Pickard then went on to describe the process in which most companies go through before switching to an ERP solution. Most companies start small andalong the years they start toaccumulate a lot of data in which a lot of satellite applications start beingused from different departments in the company, these satellite applications tend to be small databases with inconsistent data between the departments.

At some point the company realizes thatit is not being efficient and that their competitors have an advantage, these satellite systems havehidden costs and an ERP solution would help to streamline the business process. The next question was regarding how Mr. Pickardwould approach clients and convince them toswitch from satellite programs to a centralized system. His first step would be to ask the client what its main points are and what they would expect to gain from having a centralized ERP solution, thesewouldthenbecome the objectives of the company and ifthese objectives could be accomplished through ERP then the client definitely would need a centralized system.However sometimes clientsare not ready to switch to an ERP solution, this is because the company might not have the resourcessince a lot of time and money is required. The group then asked whatthe major challenges of switching from satellite systems to ERP are. According to Mr. Pickard convincing people is the hardest challenge since people could cut cornerseasily with manual systems, he gave us an example of when the Maltese government implementedpalm scanner time clock systems in their offices totrack when workers would be in the office however the system did not work as the workers would not use the scanners.

  Another majorchallenge faced with implementing ERP’s is scope creep. This happens whena company’s goals are poorly defined and documented, it is also very important to check the requirements of the system when implementing it to check if the system satisfies all requirements. Managing expectations is another problem faced when implementing systems, Mr.

Pickard says he has encountered companies that believe implementing an ERP solution would solve all their problems and could increase profitsbya large margin, however ERP solutions are designed to increase a company’s productivity andefficiency and notcompletely change the way the company is run. Suppliers must understand the requirements of the customer, they mustalsobe true to their word and tell the clientabout any weaknesses present in the system. According toMr.Pickard there are three aspects of implementing anERPproject, these are time,money and quality, and managing these three elements is what makes the difference between afailed project and a successful one.

Projects can fail for many reasons, requirements could have notbeen documented properly before designing the system, clients could not allocate enough resources towards the project however one of the most important aspects is user acceptance testing beforegoing live. This is because if a system isnottested it could have major bugsandnot function asintended or at all.The group then asked Mr. Pickard what he thinks could make switching to ERP solutions more efficient andlesstime consuming.

Inhis experience he has seen many clients struggle with maintaining two systems at once when switching systems therefore he believes that most of the time a ‘big bang’approach where users switch from one system to another entirely tends towork better than aphased approach where users switch to the ERP gradually and have both systems running atonce. Mr. Pickard then told us about some important points to keep in mind when switching to an ERP. Having a backup plan is very important because if there is none and something goeswrong whilst implementing the system then the company could lose a lot of profit and negatively affect customerandsupplier relationships. In the first few days of the implementation it is important to keep manualrecords since the system is unproven and unpredictable even thoughtesting has taken place, however he has never encountered a situation where he has had to revert to the old system. Mr.

Pickard believes that it is very important to approach different companiesin their own unique way since no company has the same requirements and expectations. Our next topic of discussion was regarding Acumatica’s advantages and disadvantages.Acumatica is relatively new to the market and it is growingat afast rate. It was designed for the cloud and this isoneof the main advantages ithasover competing software where the software is adapted to work on the cloud. Advantages of it being builttowork on the cloud are that it is a very lightweightprogram and it can be run in the web browser of any computer, it also integrates well with other systems. Another advantage it has over customers is that is requires a single license for the companyandnot a license per individual user as required by some other competingsoftware. CRM is given a large importance with Acumatica and it can integrate with other aspects of the ERPsuch as Sales and inventory easily. CRM can be split into two aspects,newcustomers and existingcustomers and these are both taken into consideration with Acumatica.

Customer history is availablewith this ERP and it could be useful since it can give information such as when the last time the client called and what the topic of thephone call was. The system can also be programmed to send emails automatically for example it can send a customized email to a client when a sales order is confirmed. Itis functions like this that improve customer relationships efficiency. Acumatica also has a userportalwhere clients and suppliers can login to see allthe information they would need such as pastorders or the status of their current order. Analysis & LearningOutcomes In the first question, Mr. Pickard showed us that an ERP system, although costly to install, would actually be saving you money. This is due to the fact that the ERP system would be eliminating what wecall hidden costs.

These might not be direct money costs, but rather disorganization which leadsto many misunderstandings, inefficiencies and waste of time. All these in turn make the businessprocess difficulttomanage and co-ordinate,especially if the company is notofa small size. Thelearning outcome is that as soon a company’s start toexperience symptoms of these difficulties,oneshould consider adoptingan ERP system as soon as possible, before it is too late.

 Hard-headedness is commontrait amongst business ownersespecially oneswho started the business themselves and aren’t just a manager. They tend to be overly cautious and suspicious when it comes to changes things in their business model.Due to this, ERP solutions might need a little bitofextra convincing in order to sell.

So,it is important that the business owner knows what are the benefits of making the change to a centralized system, and how will this new system of work help his business grow into a better and more successful company. So, what does it take to make an ERP a success in a company? Accordingto Mr. Pickard the reasons are threefold. The first is time. Time is needed to make sure that the system is is running correctlyandwithout any flaws. Also, time is needed to make sure that the company’s employees fullyunderstand how to operate the system to the extent that they can handle any difficulties they might encounter ona daily working basis.

The second thing is money. ERP systems are quite expensiveandin order to have the best system for your needs quite some money is needed.Just as they say, you get what you pay for. Lastly, quality.The quality of the systemis very important.This willavoidcertain mishaps like crashes,freezes and loss of data. If the elementofquality isn’t present,theERP’s inefficiencies makes the entire system seem worthless since it will be failing its main aim; to streamline he business process.Switching between twosystems can be quite stressful for an organizationdueto the confusion caused.

Welearned that the best way to minimize this is through the use of whatMr. Pickard called a ‘Big Bang’. This the opposite of the phased approach. In the phased approach the new and the old systems work simultaneously for some time and gradually removing the old system. Mr.

Pickard’sexperience advises against this, and recommend that the old system is cut off as soon as the ERP isfully implemented. He also mentions that during implementation itis as important that the oldsystemis still at work to ensure a backup plan, should the system fail.Computime’s Acumatica stands out when it comes to ERP even though itis relatively new on the market. This is because of its cloud based technology.What does this mean for the system? Acumatica’s cloud technology entails theadvantage that it can be integrated. For example, it can be used in conjunctionwith the popular website survey monkey and this could be a very good aspect ofCRM where the company could automatically collect information from its clientswhich would be entered into the ERP. Customer relation can be enhanced through the use of Acumatica. Thisis due to its complex customer relation management system.

It makes sure thatno customer is forgotten or left with any unanswered questions or unresolvedproblems. After our discussion with Mr. Pickard we outlined 4 important pointswhich would then be discussed with the rest of the class. 1)   The importance of overcoming the resistanceto change2)   Defining customers objectives are veryimportant for a successful implementation3)   2 systems running in parallel are notrecommended4)   Having a set of CRMfunctions integrated directly into Acumatica can greatly improve customerrelationships.

       Conclusion During our discussion with Mr. Angelo Pickard,we were able to discover and better understand theprocess of switching to andimplementing an ERP system. Speaking witha professional was veryadvantageous for us team members since besides the theory-based learning that we do in class, now wecan also relate to best-practices which are used in the realERPmarket. As mentioned in the previous section,the key learning points throughout this debate were theimportance of overcoming the resistance to change, correctly defining the customers’ objectives, two systems running in parallel are not recommended by professionals and having a set of CRM functions integrated directly into Acumatica can greatly improve customer relationships. Overall this has been a great experience for us since through Mr.

Pickard and the other guests,we have managed to learn a couple of tricks of the trade and better understand the concepts behind ERPsolutions.