September 29, 2015
ERP migrations move classics onto clouds
The largest company that's moved its ERP onto the cloud sells pet foods. Pets are one of the fastest-growing industries, and so demand agility and scalability. When Kenandy hosted a webinar today, the $2.3 billion Big Heart Pet Brands was at the top of the company's customer list. But there's also a family-owned sewing machine manufacturer in the Kenandy lineup.
That sounds like a mirror of the 3000 manufacturer community — companies large like Big Heart, a division of the JM Smuckers. And privately-held firms that have devoted followings. Everyone would like to be leaner in the IT department. If your reaction to that statement is "Well, not me," then you might be representing a view that won't sync with company directors and owners.
Cloud ERP promises to take the IT plumbing off a to-do list, but it can't carry business intelligence to outside applications running on web-connected hosts. ERP applications are notorious for being fine-tuned program suites that have been tempered and shaped by decades of insider business practices. From the invoice to the bill of materials practices, ERP touches every aspect of work.
Kenandy's Director of Client Services Rohan Patel dove deep into the particulars of what Kenandy can do to match a migrator's business intelligence. There's a whole new level of functionality in a modern ERP system. Patel mentioned that Kenandy (the name of the product is the same as name of the company, like Adager) can optimize sales order aggregation, "to combine orders to maximize the stuffing with trucks, define transit routes so you can have distance-based decision making -- in terms of if can you fulfill that order so it will arrive on time."
A manufacturer which hopes to sell to Wal-Mart will have to work around a delivery window the retailer sets. There's a fine at America's largest retailer if you deliver late. The next generation of ERP is supposed to give its users the tools to manage this new commerce.The Kenandy demo today started with sales and moved through leads to opportunities to cash. These are the classic features of a Customer Resource Management toolset, and they represent the power of Salesforce underpinning Kenandy. But a site could migrate its ERP to Kenandy without a commitment to becoming a Salesforce customer, Patel said.
"You can use our ability to create sales order lines quickly," he said. "There's a lot of hyper-search features that allow users to quickly input the data. Our system is tweaked around usability and speed."
That last sentence is as old as software sales itself. But integrating the functionality with available-everywhere cloud services, plus the delivery of reports to mobile devices using iOS and Android, is the reason for an ERP migration. Not the lifespan of vendor support for an OS, or the age of hardware, or the decline of the size of experienced IT personnel pools. People migrate because their companies need to do more to integrate with a more complex world of business.
Not that everything has changed. Paper documents are still part of nearly all workflows. The Kenandy app includes "a nice friendly toolkit that allows you to configure all the printed source documents," right down to disclaimers and company logos on pick and pack lists.
Sales orders can be processed automatically as well as manually. Batch jobs provided by Kenandy can automatically release sales orders and process validations. Orders can move from draft to open to allocated. "In all of these cases, if the system finds an exception, it will log it and stop that sales order, so someone can evaluate how to address that exception. You can get an automated end-to-end system that really is touchless."
Ever since enterprise-level companies have been moving their 20th-Century apps to commodity platforms, the effort has required intense energy to map existing processes onto the new apps. SAP was the first of many, followed by Oracle's software, that became legendary for presenting thousands of switches to set. Where Kenandy seems to have an edge is that it's built upon Salesforce, and this implementation was launched by the founding partner for ASK Computing, Sandy Kurtzig.
There are other features that manufacturers have integrated in an era where credit flows from Visa rather than lines of credit. Kenandy can be configured to process a credit card payment for any order. Outside PCI-compliant credit card processing is the only way a 3000 can integrate this kind of feature with orders. Making credit cards native to an ERP app will become a necessity for plenty of audits, and soon. Authorize.net handles this feature in Kenandy, so it's not like the app has its own certification, though. But Authorize does work with Chase PaymentTech, eBay and Wells Fargo.
One newer piece of functionality lets a user custom-configure a product on an order. A large list of SKUs can be combined to build out a sales Bill Of Materials. "The configurator helps the sales agent put that order together," Patel said.
Can requisitions be multi-line? Can they be converted to one or more POs? For one or more suppliers? The string of questions relayed to Patel during the demo never seemed to stump him. This is the payoff for the hard work of migrating away from a system that has served a company for several decades. The things you've done for your business can be replicated. Those things you've needed to add are now within reach, too.
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