Acumen IT is dedicated to providing industry-leading ERP solutions to mid-market companies. Acumen IT specializes in helping companies automate and integrate business processes to reduce costs, operate more efficiently, gain a competitive edge, and manage growth. Acumen IT’s ERP division provides guidance, software and systems that help manufacturing, distribution and service companies increase productivity and maximize profitability.
Acumen IT’s ERP practice is focused on discovering, developing, and deploying process and system improvements that deliver sustainable operational and financial gains. We ask a lot of questions. We take a “deep dive” into every important process, product, and service that our clients plan, produce, and execute. And then we work closely with your staff to architect an optimized set of workflows and business processes that are supported by complementary systems and software that maximize productivity… and ultimately… profitability.
In short… we take the time to diagnose before we prescribe. We don’t propose any products or services until we thoroughly understand the problem or opportunity and we know that we can deliver a solution that will provide lasting, positive, measurable operational and financial impact.
Frequently Asked Questions about ERP
What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software?
ERP software enables businesses to manage and leverage massive amounts of information by integrating all departments and processes into a single, unified “information system” that provides the “institutional intelligence” not only for each department, but for the company as a whole. This “information hub” delivers accurate, real-time information so that each department can efficiently communicate and share information across the entire organization. For example, when a customer places an order for a particular item or items, a modern ERP system enables the sales department to view in real-time the quantity of that item that is Available-To-Promise (ATP) or Available-To-Ship (ATS) based upon unallocated inventory quantities, open orders, and pending inbound shipments that will replenish the item in question. The customer’s credit-worthiness and credit limits are also available to automatically or semi-automatically approve or hold the order. Modular applications are available to support all aspects of business operations including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Engineering/Estimating, Project Budgeting & Costing, Sales Order Processing/Management, Material Control/Inventory, Supply Chain Management, Bills-of-Material and Routings, Production Planning & Scheduling, Manufacturing, Labor Collection, Distribution, Shipping, and Financials.
What are the benefits of an ERP System?
A centralized, integrated ERP system provides invaluable benefits to organizations seeking to reduce costs, manage growth, streamline processes, increase productivity, and maximize profitability. The benefits derived from ERP can far outweigh the costs of the system, providing that the system is selected carefully and is appropriate for your company from a feature, cost, and technology standpoint. An ERP system provides the solid operational and financial backbone manufacturers and distributors need to improve the volume of production and fulfillment of orders while reducing costs. By optimizing your manufacturing and distribution operations with ERP, you’ll also be able to focus on new business opportunities. Some of the benefits realized are:
- A single, integrated information system
- Streamlining processes and workflows
- Reduce redundant data entry and processes
- Establish uniform processes that are consistent with recognized best business practices
- Improved access to information across departments and the company as a whole
- Improved workflow and efficiency
- Improved customer satisfaction based on improved on-time delivery, increased quality, shortened delivery times
- Reduced inventory costs resulting from better planning, tracking and forecasting of requirements
- Turn collections faster based on better visibility into accounts and fewer billing and/or delivery errors
- Decrease in vendor pricing by taking better advantage of quantity breaks and tracking vendor performance
- Track and assign actual costs of activities to facilitate Activity Based Costing (ABC)
- Provide a consolidated picture of sales, inventory and receivables
- Business Process Optimization
- Superior insight and data to drive strategic decisions and future process improvements
- An increase in productivity and efficiency
- Platform for growth and innovation
How much does ERP software cost?
This is a tricky question to answer because estimating the cost of ERP software requires careful assessment of an array of variables that can vary widely from project to project. Small-to-mid-sized businesses can expect the cost of software and services combined to range anywhere from $50,000 to $750,000 depending on number of users, functionality required, third-party add-ons, implementation services, integrations, custom applications, and reports/dashboards needed to effectively run the business.
How do I estimate the volume and cost of implementation services?
Many times, the implementation/training services can make up as much as 60% – 80% of the total project cost. In most cases, these services are proposed as estimates only and not fixed-fee arrangements. Sadly, it is common practice for some system providers to under-estimate implementation/training services. This situation usually leads to a multitude of change orders during the implementation process that results in much higher services costs than originally quoted by the vendor.
Commonly overlooked or underestimated costs include project planning, training, customization, data conversion, integration/testing, and post implementation support.
To avoid budget overruns and to ensure service estimates are realistic, companies contemplating a systems change should clearly verify what functionality is included/omitted from the software proposal and ensure that all of the critical services components are identified, defined, and included in the services cost estimate. These critical services components include:
- Project planning & preparation
- Document creation
- Server equipment & software installation
- Create company databases; initial company setups
- Business requirements analysis
- Analysis of GL and other modules
- Chart of Accounts analysis
- Requirements documentation
- Module setups and training
- Training documentation
- Financial reports
- Balance Sheet, P&L, Trial Balance
- Custom reports
- Data migration
- Mapping activities; migration and balancing
- Forms and reports
- Processing procedures and documentation
- Integrations to other systems
- Define, scope, and build integrations
- Modified screens
- Modified reports
- Custom Application Development
- Go-live and post go-live support
- User acceptance testing
- Help desk support
- Project management
- Overall project management, coordination, reporting
- Consultant travel time and expenses
Why do I care if my applications are integrated?
Stand-alone applications – sometimes referred to as “silos” – can’t easily talk to one another. Aberdeen Group research shows that small and middle-market companies spend a great deal of time doing the same task over and over, such as entering the same data in different programs. There are some problems with this:
- It is a waste of time to reenter data over again.
- It is very likely to be entered incorrectly.
- It may look different in different programs (example: two companies in my vendor list – one is International Business Machines and one is IBM.)
- Data that results from very different disconnected applications is inconsistent, so attempts to analyze it yields errors.
- With an integrated ERP suite, there is a “single version of the truth” that only needs to be entered once to be propagated to all parts of the business that need it. All business processes, all employees who touch the application, and all the executives who make decisions for the company see the same version of reality, in real time, all the time.
What are common ERP mistakes, and how can I avoid them?
- Poor planning – Project planning is absolutely necessary if you want your ERP project to succeed. Many organizations do not plan adequately before they begin an ERP software evaluation. This often leads to confusion down the road because they might not fully understand their current processes and how to evolve them to maximize business benefits and efficiencies. To solve this problem, organizations should conduct an internal audit or Business Process Review (BPR) of all of their processes and policies before selecting an ERP system. In addition, form an ERP evaluation team composed of stakeholders from across the business. And, hire an experienced, multi-vendor or vendor-neutral consultant who has experience evaluating, recommending, and implementing ERP solutions within your industry.
- Lack of understanding or poor adoption of important functionality – Many companies do not have an appropriate level of understanding of the breadth and depth of functionality available in their ERP system. Without intimate familiarity of the features and functions at their disposal, companies miss opportunities to automate business processes, complete tasks and activities more efficiently, and meet business and financial objectives. To solve this problem, we recommend that a company create a master list with all features identified. Track usage of the various features, functions, or applications, and periodically review the list to determine which features are being used and which are the most helpful. This knowledge “catalog” can then be used to train new employees, write test scripts, and assist with audit, compliance, and reporting requirements.
- Not having the right personnel on the team from the start – Often times, organizations do not assimilate the right implementation “team” from the very start of an ERP implementation. An ERP implementation is one of the biggest projects an organization can undertake, and consequently, mistakes can be made and plans may get derailed if the right stakeholders are not involved in every aspect of the decision-making process. For example, many organizations focus on obtaining executive approval by minimizing the projected involvement of key stakeholders. In reality, the success of an ERP system implementation is largely dependent upon the assemblage of a working team with gathering key participants from across the organization from finance, operations, manufacturing, sales, purchasing, HR, warehouse, IT, etc. This team must invest significant time and energy to achieve successful implementation and adoption of any new ERP system. The benefit: employees who are actively engaged with the ERP implementation have investment stake in getting it right.
- Not investing in training and change management – A lack of proper training is one of the most common reasons that ERP projects fail, and it can also result in employees resenting the new system because they don’t understand it. Making sure employees have a chance to become comfortable with the new system before it goes live will do wonders for your chances at ERP success. If you don’t make training and frequent communication with users a top priority, you will end up with unhappy users.
- Underestimating the importance of accurate data – Your ERP system is only as good as the data that is in it. So, if you want your ERP implementation to succeed, it is imperative that proper procedures are used to convert your data and create a Chart of Accounts structure and other master data files that “fit” your ideal business process model right from the start to minimize information “gaps” and errors, and improve reporting and business intelligence.
A quick glance at our client list shows that some of the most successful and well-respected companies in the southeast trust Acumen IT’s ERP and Business Management Software solutions to help them keep visibility into their operations, streamline processes, promote efficiencies, manage demand, increase employee productivity, service customers and cut costs.