Tis’ the season for the 12 steps of Fiscal year planning for the 12 periods of the fiscal year. Get these steps out of the way so you can enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.

 

For those in need of a rundown of what a fiscal year (FY) is, it is a period that any company or government uses for accounting purposes. Financial statements are prepared according to the dates that make up that organizations FY. This may or may not align with a standard calendar year. The IRS recognizes that not all companies align their FY with a calendar and allows organizations to file as calendar-year taxpayers or fiscal-year taxpayers. You may hear this term used when referring to budgets, financial performance, and other accounting discussions.

Fiscal Year Period Accuracy

Here’s a brief guide to help you set up your FY period accuracy within your ERP system.

IF

  • At (Financial Management/General Ledger/ Setup/Fiscal Calendar/ Selected Calendar) Latest FY = Current FY+1

THEN

  • Go to the Twelfth Step

ELSE

  1. Add a New Fiscal year
  2. Enter End Date
  3. Save
  4. Check Number of periods and closing periods for accuracy (check for period 13 requirements)
  5. Go to Actions. If a Calendar period THEN Generate Periods
  6. Check data accuracy
  7. Generate Periods
  8. Save and Exit ELSE
  9. at (Fiscal Year/Fiscal Period/List tab)
  10. Enter period date ranges needed
  11. Save and Exit
  12. Have a Happy New Year!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s technical series on ERP tools, particularly the Epicor DMT, wraps up today with a look at all the variables you’ll run into when building your ERP system and how learning about your errors is even more important than learning about your successes.

My actual experience with a manufacturer of fabric belts for large conveyor systems (Fenner Dunlop Americas) saw two uses of DMT: One for a major upgrade, a second for updating their Method of Manufacture/MOMs.  In the first case, we used DMT scripts to upload data from an older version of Epicor to a newer one.  Similar to a new installation, we pulled data out of the source system and formatted it in several dozen spreadsheets for uploading to the new target system. Knowing how the data was structured in the old Epicor system was a big help. For new Epicor customers, extracting and massaging the data from a non‐Epicor legacy system is quite a project; in such cases DMT is an invaluable tool.

Where The Epicor DMT Comes Into Play

In the standard product, an engineer would have to run a “where­‐used” report to determine which part revisions used the raw material; it could be just a few dozen or it could be over 100. Each part revision would require changing in the Engineering Workbench, one by one. It is a time consuming and manually intensive process.  So we developed a process starting with a Business Activity Query (BAQ) which went out and extracted only the MOMs affected by the change. The BAQ was developed specifically for subsequent use in DMT, i.e. column headings matched those required by DMT, we extracted all columns required by DMT (because we already knew the “rules” for MOMs) and only those optional columns we needed to update.  We then entered Excel column formulas specific to the change(s). E.g. if the old raw material was a polyester yarn and the new material was a nylon yarn, unit weights and other factors specific to the textile industry (ever hear of a “twist contraction” variable?) could be entered into a formula that resulted in the new variables for the MOM.

Once the extract and validation of the Excel data was completed, it was simple to format the final output for use by DMT.  Testing a few rows in a copy of the LIVE database, we could easily validate the final updated MOMs.  In fact, we could use the original BAQ extract programs to look at the updated data in the TEST system and quickly evaluate the results. Once we got the process down, we turned what would have been a 100+ hours of manual updates in Epicor to an electronic process that ran in just a few hours.  Once documented, the process could be reviewed, validated (the client was ISO compliant) and repeated as­ needed.

Of course like any software tool, DMT has its quirks. We learned the hard way that despite how illogical a data template may appear, it was critical to supply the required information in exactly the format requested. And interpreting the error logs is sometimes an exercise in the art of editing.  I highly recommend acquiring and using the free “Notepad++” data editing tool; it can help you read a jumbled up error log file and it is essential to always check the final DMT file you create from Excel, prior to uploading it to DMT.  A common mistake is to save an Excel spreadsheet as a comma­‐separated variable file and the resultant ASCII file has extraneous commas and/or columns or just plain garbage. And if your data (e.g. Descriptions) contain commas, you must enclose them in double­‐quotes (or just use a wacky character as the delimiter­‐even safer).

Words Of Caution For Epicor DMT

Just remember that “with great power comes great responsibility…”. So before you change data in a system, make darn sure you’ve chosen the correct target database, since DMT will not issue any warning whatsoever if you update LIVE instead of TEST (not that I’ve EVER made that mistake!) and will merrily chug along, processing the data with the full expectation that the operator knows what the target database should be.

This is why it is CRITICAL to always test your DMT script before you run it in a production environment. Note that if you don’t have a recent copy of LIVE for test purposes, you should seek out technical services that can assist you (usually by taking a copy of your most recent backup of LIVE and bringing it up on a similar environment) this is something that Encompass Solutions as an Epicor certified partner does on a regular  basis and offers as a managed service.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s series on ERP management continues with a closer look at how the most powerful tool you can get for managing your system, the DMT, works alongside the most important feature, the Method of Manufacture, or MOM. That’s right, love your MOM is stll the best advice ever. 

The Epicor ERP system, like similar systems from SAP or Oracle, contains hundreds of tables in a single relational database.  The database is almost irrelevant; however, the logical “rules” regarding how the data exists in the database is critical.  Generally speaking, ERP systems consist of simple code (e.g. Unit of Measure) tables, then more complex entity tables (e.g. Suppliers) and finally transaction‐based tables.  All these data must follow rules for “referential integrity” and the underlying database engine must keep track of the data and enforce the rules whether we are talking a few dozen rows of data in a single table or millions of rows of data in hundreds of tables.

The Ease Of Epicor DMT

The beauty of these “back door” tools is that they are quick and easy to load and run. And they also provide instant feedback to the user as to the program’s progress. Either a row insert succeeds or fails.  You can test a single row in just a few seconds; it if fails, the Data Migration Tool provides an error log telling you why it failed.  Error messages can be somewhat cryptic, but usually, it is straight­‐forward.  E.g. you are missing a required column (e.g. the “Company” column). And when all else fails, you can always go enter a row via the standard product then look at the resulting data in the underlying table(s) to deduce what the business object requires. Each DMT template lists the required and optional columns with a basic description of the data. As long as you follow the “rules” the data loads from the spreadsheet, just as if you keyed it manually into the system.

Some data relations, however, are quite complex and even the data template from DMT will cause you “instructional anxiety” (that feeling you get when you read an IKEA instruction guide and say, “What the heck?”). Rule­‐of‐thumb:  Just follow the rules, get one data set to load OK, then attempt a larger data set until you get it right.  Big mistake: Run a spreadsheet with tons of rows without testing and end up with garbage in the system, or better yet, a crashed system!

Case‐in‐point:  Method of Manufacture 

Epicor stores the Method of Manufacture (MOM) for a part as a series of operations and materials linked to the finished goods Part and Revision. It is the “how­‐to” cookbook to make something as simple as a screwdriver or as complex as a 747. It may consist of a single Operation with one or two raw material parts or it can be multiple sub­‐assemblies, each with their own operations and materials. It provides not only the “how­‐to” instructions to build something but it also contains estimates for the labor and burden rates to perform the operations.  These estimates are critical to any manufacturer since they provide the baseline for each manufacturing job in determining how well the actual product conforms to the method and whether the actual costs are in line with the estimated costs.

In the Epicor Production Management module, before a single MOM is created, all dependent data must be loaded into the system.  Example, all raw material parts must be entered, each with a given unit cost. All machine resources used in the manufacturing process must be loaded and activated.  All labor resources (Employees) must be entered along with their labor and burden rates. All operations must be defined and assigned one or more resources. It is an enormous engineering task to get these data entered and all the relationships established properly so that the Epicor ERP system’s production jobs can begin tracking and documenting each step of the MOM, including capturing all related costs for management review.  When done correctly, a company can then take advantage of the “Holy Grail” feature of ERP: MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning, where the system can analyze demand and forecast part, labor and machine requirements for meeting that demand).

Of course just as in life, “things change” like the cost of raw materials, labor rates and then you always have “Acts of God.”  For example when the earthquake off the coast of Japan struck in 2011, the resulting tsunami wiped out many manufacturers along the western coast of the country, leaving companies like Toyota in a serious bind as their “just­‐in‐time” processes ran out of parts and sub­-assemblies needed to manufacture cars and trucks. Imagine the sleepless nights that production managers must have had, re­-engineering their MOMs and seeing their MRP rules flushed down the proverbial toilet!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Industry veteran Patrick Miskill is bringing us a series of three blog posts about the nuts and bolts of the ERP system, namely what the deal is with data migration tools. For those of you who have been craving pure technical detail, these are for you. For those of you whose eyes glaze over in the face of phrases like ‘logical hierarchy’ or ‘object‐oriented‐design,’ don’t worry! Patrick lays it out as clearly as you’ll ever read it. 

After thirty years in the IT field, it becomes a lot harder remembering all of the software you’ve laid your eyes and hands on. I have used databases from Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and other companies—some that don’t exist today, or have been swallowed up by the others, or some that no one remembers at all. One thing has remained the same though: Input‐Process‐Output.  Support tools come and go, getting relabeled, or “improved”, or put out to pasture, and I’ve learned to not believe the hype about some tools: anything other than Input‐Process­‐Output is usually lipstick on a pig. If it’s fancy with fancy words and it’s supported completely by the vendor it might be the real deal; otherwise, it’s junk and a complete waste of your valuable time.

Encompass, Epicor, And Data Migration Tools

Encompass is an Epicor Certified Platinum Partner because Epicor and its Data Migration Tool (DMT) live up to the hype. It’s used for not only loading data but for also updating and deleting existing Epicor data, and makes transitioning and overhaul incredibly easy. In a nutshell, the DMT uses spreadsheet templates that work just like the way data is organized within the Epicor ERP system. If you can use Excel (and who can’t?) you can load thousands of thousands of lines of information into the ERP.

Outside of the nutshell, well…

The DMT is designed in a logical hierarchy that mimics the data relations in the ERP system. It also takes advantage of the object‐oriented design of Epicor ERP and calls the very same programs (“business objects”) to complete a transaction, whether it is loading a single row into a simple code table, or loading thousands of rows into dozens of related tables. A user loads the raw data into an Excel spreadsheet following the “rules” for data formatting then runs the specific DMT program for that relation.  DMT reads the rows of Excel-based data and one‐by‐one, loads the data into Epicor ERP.

The bottom line: DMT is fully supported by Epicor and over the past 4 years I’ve worked with it, it gets better and easier to use. Nothing else in my thirty years has come close. DMT is absolutely essential to any Epicor ERP customer.

For my most recent real-world example that shows how flexible DMT is, I helped a client that had an on­‐going need to update their Method of Manufacture/MOMs based on business decisions related to the raw materials they used to build fabric belts. Let me know how fun this sounds: Imagine manufacturing a fabric belt 84 inches wide over 3,000 feet in length; the raw materials (giant spools of nylon and/or polyester thread) can weigh over two tons and can consume 100 times the length of the final product.

As market conditions changed and different raw materials were chosen to build the belts, the MOMs would have to be updated to reflect that change.

The nightmare I’m sure you’re imaging never came to be, thanks to the Epicor DMT. From loading open invoices to performing regular updates, data migration tools vastly simplified this time-­‐consuming and manually-­‐intensive task.  And, as more systems move to the cloud and IT resources become more of a commodity, it is inevitable that a company relies upon a technically savvy user (yes, we all know how many hats management expects us to wear!) to take on the role of “Dr. Data.”  DMT is built for exactly this purpose; it allows any user to easily insert, update or delete data in the underlying database without having to use the standard product programs.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Database Health Check: Epicor Data Scrubber Utility

It’s good practice to check that your database health is at an appropriate level on a periodic basis. Over time, it’s possible to build up orphaned records, detail records that contain values that do not total to summary records, and other things that can cause performance and data integrity issues.

As long as you are current on maintenance, Epicor supply a tool that lets you check that your database is in tip-top condition, and will provide programs to resolve any issues that are uncovered. This is recommended not only before an upgrade to ensure things go smoothly but on a periodic basis for optimal database health.

The data scrubber utility is a collection of commonly applied data fixes, which the support technical team has gathered together into a package to do a “health check” of a customer’s system. They are continuously adding to it as they find additional opportunities.

The process:

  • The customer would log an issue requesting from support, we can do this under our customer’s site ID
    or Run the program against the database of choice
  • Each sub-routine will stop when it finds an invalid record and create an entry in a log file, then move on to the next routine (no tracking of the specific errors at this point)
  • Generates a log file which gets sent back to support.  Support will then send the relevant fix programs back to the customer
  • The customer runs each fix program, which will show all the relevant records and provide a chance to fix all, some or none of the records. This gives the customer enough information to troubleshoot the cause of the data problem and to fix it at source

This collection of assessment algorithms is new in the last few months, but the ‘fix it’ programs have been available individually for some time now.

An assessment should be considered as a maintenance routine and should be run for database health for all customers periodically, anyone going through a Business Process Review and anyone considering an Upgrade.

We will consider using this utility to get ahead of any E10 upgrades for database health and troubleshooting. We want to ensure that our customers upgrade with ‘good’ data. For larger databases, it may take a good couple of days, but it is really worth it!

The utility was discussed in several sessions at Epicor’s Insights 2015, so many of our customers will have heard about it and maybe asking themselves questions.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Change management is a term that is broadly used in the Information Technology realm. It’s also a concept that often drives an organization, a group of people or a process from one stage to the next. In order to comprehend the complexities of change management, the concept of change must first be understood.  Change is a period of inconsistency that reflects on the realm of evolution.

Change is human nature, it occurs in all environments-professional, personal, political, and emotional. Change is an inevitable part of life. Therefore, there is a need for a structure that will organize and categorize the vital processes of change that must take place.

In the business world, project managers are often tasked with the implementation of change management. Answering the questions- How will the change be implemented? Who should be involved with the change? What critical changes are taking place? When will this change occur? Lastly, who will be directly impacted by the change?

an image of business managers discussing change management

Change Management From A Theoretical Perspective

From a psychological perspective, change can be perceived as a positive or negative mode of thinking, a mandatory adoption from a business perspective or the determining factor in the completion of an engineering methodology. Despite the varying perspectives for the concept of change, in order for it to take place in any environment, it must be managed; henceforth the term ‘change -management’.

Change Management From A Project Perspective

At the start of most project environments, a project manager is designated to oversee the totality of the project from start to finish. The beginning stages of the project are at times outlined with milestones, deadlines, needed accomplishments, number of staff members assigned, and other information vital to reaching the project’s success. Although this occurs in many organizations, there are some cases in which the finite details are not outlined. The Complexity Theory defines the methodology of how a structure is implemented when change management is not clearly defined (Flum, & Grohe, 2006).

The Complexity Theory is described as a conceptual study of how order and structure are achieved after the occurrence of chaotic phenomena (Flum, & Grohe, 2006). The Complexity Theory was utilized and enhanced by the leaders involved in the task management of the horrific events of 9-11 (Curlee & Gordon, 2011). On a day of mass chaos, various leaders were called to order when the first airplane collided into the Twin Towers of New York City, NY. In a collaborative effort, all in-flight airplanes were forced to land at their nearest hub, due to the uncertainties of this terror attack. As various organizations scrambled to derive what was going on and how to effectively and efficiently handle the situation at hand, a theory evolved in order to bring structure and allegiance to this chaotic series of events nationwide (Curlee & Gordon, 2011).

Just as the leaders of the 9-11 attacks responded to their individual tragedies, bringing stability and direction to the many teams of firemen, police officers, air traffic controllers, and other personnel – as project managers, team leaders, consultants, and IT team members – we have a responsibility to one another to direct, structure and embrace the change that we face daily in our professional and personal lives. The blueprint to our ever-changing lives and projects may not always be mapped out for us- with the right perception and attitude, managing change can be a gift, rather than a challenge.

Curlee, W. & Gordon, R.L. (2011). Complexity theory and project management. Hoboken, NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons.

Flum, J. & Grohe, M. (2006). Parameterized complexity theory. Editors: W. Brauer, G. Rozenberg, and A. Salomaa. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Does It Make Sense For IT To Own Your ERP Project?

Would you let your IT team lead your company’s next marketing campaign?  Would you let your IT team lead the installation and setup of your newest production machinery?  The answer is no. That’s because IT has little responsibility for increased sales or increased production. If that’s the case, then why are IT teams often placed in charge of leading the implementation of a business application that needs to be integrated into the processes of your company? An important question to ask yourself is: does it make sense for It to own my ERP project?

Why is it that most companies immediately assume it’s IT’s responsibility? Is it because it is software and IT is responsible for all software?  Is it because the application must be installed on a server or must be hosted at a remote location?  Is it because the application must be installed on user’s desktops or configured to connect to the internet?  Is it because they have the most available time to lead the implementation?  Even if all that is true, the fact remains that ERP is a business application and not an IT application.

Too often a company purchases an ERP application, expecting big returns and then place the success of the implementation in the hands of the IT team.  Too often, this assignment leaves the company ultimately frustrated with the results of the implementation.

an image of an IT professional frustrated with an ERP project

Why IT Shouldn’t Own Your ERP Project

There is a reason you are implementing new software and it is likely because your current software is not capable of doing the business processes your company currently performs.  Do not make the mistake of believing that the software will be installed and set up to work as your current ERP application.  The most successful ERP implementations are the result of hard work by a strong team of company leaders that span all of the company’s departments and have responsibility for the final results of the implementation.   That team-first must understand the current business processes and current company needs.  Next, the team learns how the new application performs business processes.  The team must then determine the gaps between existing processes and the functionality of the application to design a plan to overcome the gaps.  Afterward, they construct the new business processes and the manner in which they are accomplished in the new application.  Lastly, only after all business units have properly validated the application performance with company data is the application deployed.

In order to achieve a successful implementation of your ERP application, IT will be heavily involved in the rollout of the application and today many IT professionals have a very a strong understanding of the processes their company is seeking to achieve.  But the responsibility of the success of the implementation should be placed with a company leader that has the best project management skills, the greatest understanding of the company’s processes, and has a significant stake in the results of the implementation.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Where To Begin With the Transition To ERP

Few things strike fear deeper into the hearts of people more than change. It doesn’t matter if they know the change will be good—“This system has never worked for us and a new, better one will improve our business,”—or bad—“We need to expand beyond our current system and it’s going to be very expensive and time-consuming.”—it’s still just changing. That means the whisper of the unknown growing louder and louder into a yell of “STOP!” Here’s what you can do to prepare for the transition to ERP.

Of course, the rest of the world isn’t stopping, no matter how loudly you ask it to. Your growing need to expand or improve will only keep you behind the rest of your industry if you don’t get to changing and leaving your legacy system behind. You can’t do too much planning or preparation before the transition, so the sooner you start the smoother your change will be. Here’s a general idea of what you can look forward to.

an image of making the transition to ERP

Examine Needs and Appropriate Software

First things first, ask yourself is the transition to ERP appropriate for you? The larger and more intricate a company is will increase the need for the cohesive organization and company-wide integration. Alternatively, a smaller company may do just fine with standard office software combined with strict processes and organization. Since you’re reading this on our website, we’re guessing you’re going beyond simple and have kicked around the idea of a transition to ERP territory. While we stand by Epicor as a flexible and robust system that can become a tool for any company, you owe it to your company to consider all options available (before you come back to us, of course).

Get Everyone on Board

Many business decisions are unilateral, but when it comes to the software that every one of your employees will be using every day, all day, you’re going to need their opinions. You’ll also need the backing of all of the shareholders as well, and to be blunt, the relationship between the software vendor and the people paying for its implementation can be quite rocky. Many of these partnerships are mediated by a third party project manager, and they can help the shareholders understand the scale of implementation—which can be expensive and take years to complete—and the software developers understand the specific needs of the company, often through employee feedback which a third party can keep anonymous.

Define Goals and Channels of Communication

Now that everyone is ready to move forward, it is time to define exactly where everyone will be moving to and when they should be there. The software vendor will need to work with the company on tempering realistic dates and achievable goals, and the company will need to work with the software vendor on providing information and process transparency, as well as ensuring employees are receptive and ready to be trained. Establishing clear avenues of communication between the project management, the company executives, employees, software vendor, and engineers are of paramount importance.

Expect Chaos

Everyone will be putting forth their best efforts to be clear and concise, to meet deadlines and goals. And despite everyone’s intentions and efforts, things will probably go wrong. It’s stressful and upsetting and the urge to point fingers and yell is going to grow, but it’s important to maintain some perspective: your company is being taken apart and put back together and when it’s over, it won’t look or work the same. It’s a major invasive surgery, it’s a complete overhaul. Be prepared to roll with the punches: the pain won’t last long!

Eliminate all Aspects of the Legacy

No matter how well a preexisting system might have worked beforehand, it has no place in a brand-new ERP system. Information needs to be transferred or archived and every aspect of its usability needs to be transferred to the new system. Having an old system remaining open or employees creating informal workarounds defeats the purpose of an ERP. The solution to any problem should never be having redundant systems, duplicating data entry, or wasting time reconciling the two differing systems. The company needs to make sure all employees are ready for the transition and have hopefully been listening to employee input so that the form and function of the system work for them.

Training, Responsibility, and Refinement

As the system creation and installation draws to a close, the team should look back on their progress and realize how far they’ve come in building and implementing the new system. If everyone has done their part they should feel a sense of ownership in the ERP system and this positive feeling will aid in the training and maintaining of the new system. This extends to the software vendor and the engineers as well, who will be providing a lifetime of IT support and will be aiding in the modification and refinement of systems in the future. Like any system, your ERP will work for you right out of the gate but as it is used over the months, your company will discover the parts that work better than others and processes that can be made more efficient with tweaking.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Is your reading list looking a little thin these days? Haha, right, sure: as if there were enough hours in the day and days in the week to read every book you needed, let alone wanted to read. We put in our best efforts but the list grows and grows and nothing is quite so frustrating as realizing a few chapters in (or, heaven forbid, at the very end) that the book you’re working on is Just Not That Good. Here’s some good news for you: We’ve got a list of the top 10 manufacturing technology books that are definitely worth adding to the top of your list. If you have any role in the manufacturing technology sector, are wanting to improve performance in any business, or even do a little bit of personal organization, you’ll find great advice and information in any of these.

Are you looking to continually improve processes and cut down on wasted resources like time and money, whether it be in the back office or factory floor? Get in touch with the expert analysts and consultants at Encompass Solutions today.

Here Are those Which We Believe Make The List Of Top 10 Manufacturing Technology Books

top 10 manufacturing technology books

Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno

In this classic text, Taiichi Ohno–inventor of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing–shares the genius that sets him apart as one of the most disciplined and creative thinkers of our time. Combining his candid insights with a rigorous analysis of Toyota’s attempts at Lean production, Ohno’s book explains how Lean principles can improve any production endeavor. A historical and philosophical description of just-in-time and Lean manufacturing, this work is a must-read for all students of human progress. . .

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?” (Amazon.com -2015)

 

Good To Great  by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.  But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Give and Take by Adam M. Grant

Named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, the Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal as well as one of Oprah’s riveting reads, Fortune‘s must-read business books, and the Washington Post‘s books every leader should read. For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Dealing With Darwin by Geoffrey A. Moore

The Darwinian struggle of business keeps getting more brutal as competitive advantage gaps get narrower and narrower. Anything you invent today will soon be copied by someone else—probably better and cheaper.

Many companies thrive during the early stages of their life cycle, only to fall slack during periods of inertia and die out while others surge ahead. But as Geoffrey Moore shows, some notable companies have figured out how to deal with Darwin in their mature years—making changes on the fly while fending off challenges from every quarter.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike

“An outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.” — Warren Buffett

. . .
Named one of “19 Books Billionaire Charlie Munger Thinks You Should Read” in Business Insider.

“A book that details the extraordinary success of CEOs who took a radically different approach to corporate management.” — Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation

“Thorndike explores the importance of thoughtful capital allocation through the stories of eight successful CEOs. A good read for any business leader but especially those willing to chart their own course.” — Michael Dell, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Dell. 

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Anti-Patterns  by Brown, Malveau, McCormick, and Mowbray

Are you headed into the software development minefield? Follow someone if you can, but if you’re on your own-better get the map! AntiPatterns is the map. This book helps you navigate through today’s dangerous software development projects. . . .

While patterns help you to identify and implement procedures, designs, and codes that work, AntiPatterns do the exact opposite; they let you zero-in on the development detonators, architectural tripwires, and personality booby traps that can spell doom for your project. Written by an all-star team of object-oriented systems developers, AntiPatterns identifies 40 of the most common AntiPatterns in the areas of software development, architecture, and project management. The authors then show you how to detect and defuse AntiPatterns as well as supply refactored solutions for each AntiPattern presented.

 (Amazon.com – 2015)

 

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Yes, And by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton

Executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation—reveal improvisational techniques that can help any organization develop innovators, encourage adaptable leaders, and build transformational businesses.

For more than fifty years, The Second City comedy theater in Chicago has been a training ground for some of the best comic minds in the industry—including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey. But it also provides one-of-a-kind leadership training to cutting-edge companies, nonprofits, and public sector organizations—all aimed at increasing creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise, based on the popular blog of the same name.

Whether you’re deciding which smartphone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic. But here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us—but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


The ERP Consultant: Delivering Support And Expertise

When it comes to being an ERP consultant, nothing substitutes for experience and reliable references. At Encompass, our ERP consultants have been delivering solutions in business process improvement, ERP system maintenance and upgrades, and complete ERP implementation projects for a combined 200 years. Our consultants have first-hand experience with an array of systems, including Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Accumatica, and Oracle+NetSuite. Many of our ERP consultants come directly from these vendors to work at Encompass as ERP consultants, project managers, developers, and managed services professionals. Our experts ERP consultants are certified in their disciplines and maintain the most current training on the products and services they provide.

The Difference An ERP Consultant Makes

Each ERP project is as unique as the business it will transform and our years of experience are what make the difference in each case. It is an ERP consultant’s job to form a practical plan of action that will achieve a client’s goals within the capabilities of their ERP system and business processes. In some cases, this requires a fair amount of customization when it comes time to implement ERP software. Helping businesses to get a grip on organizational change management in the face of often rigid business requirements is another aspect of digital transformation that isn’t brought up enough. Our ERP consulting teams excel in mitigating the potential pitfalls these changes can bring. At Encompass, we offer practical and proven guidance designed to ensure the highest rate of success when it comes to ERP implementation projects of every size and scope.

Here’s What A Day In The Life Of An ERP Consultant Looks Like

It’s 6:47 AM. The hotel shower doesn’t always wake you up all the way so I started the coffee maker going before I was even fully dressed. The warm plastic smell rising from the maker as the hot coffee winds around inside of it reminds me of that one injection molding company I was at last year. That was an impressive operation. They had good coffee, too. You’ll have a lot of insight into good and bad coffee as an ERP consultant.

I pour myself a cup and open up the computer. Technically, the day began about thirty minutes ago, but everything starts now with the morning deluge of emails. I’m totally awake now. There’s plenty for me to respond to, but I flag those requests for follow-up later: I’m on site today, and that is what I’ve got to focus on.

I’m at the client for a training class long before my future students arrive, and I talk with the Project Manager while I set everything up, ticking off the mental checklist as I do so: Projector hooked up and on. PC has access to the Training Database. List of who is attending and their roles is in my hand. So far so good. Time to find the restroom and get rid of the coffee.

This is the peaceful time of the morning when rote and routine gets you up and going and into the rhythm of the day. I finish setting objectives with the Project Manager and soon, the training class begins. I was up late reviewing the details last night; this should go off without a hitch. I’m a bit less confident about the Process Workshop coming up afterwards. I slept on one of their problems last night and a solution didn’t present itself in the morning, so now it’s time to drill down. This is where my fellow team members will lend a hand: technology keeps us ever connected so I am never on my own at a client’s. I feel like I carry our entire company’s knowledge base around in my pocket. It’s good to know we can always work as a team.

In the training class, we review standard, best practices in using the EPICOR software. Since this is our main objective, we listen just as often as we instruct. This is when I identify disconnects—real or imagined—and make connections. Since it’s often that I’m meeting these people for the first time, I need to learn their names and start to really understand them.

After training is lunch. There are a few minutes of respite from the busyness of the day but when I can, I’m responding to my morning emails and filing away even more for later response. Hardly any time seems to pass before the Process Workshop starts up, but this is the part I enjoy the most. We’re working on how to make EPICOR work for them. My questions come first: What are your issues, what information are you capturing, what metrics do you control your business by? If I get a clear answer they’re surrounded by their questions: Can we do this? How do we do that? We need to do this…?

Information spreads out across the meeting, and another consultant offers a solution to that tricky issue I had to sleep on last night, and it’s accepted by the company. Yet work has only just begun: there are a few new gaps in the process that need to be filled, and the working day is already over. I review the activities of the day with the Project manager, and then, as I’m off to the dinner and hotel, there’s just one final checklist: What’s on the agenda for tomorrow, what do I need to do tonight to get ready, and in the coming months, after I’m long gone, who can I expect to be speaking to?

After all, it never ends after the training and process workshops and implementation: I’m now a point of contact for that client and their support. While our implementation and planning and procedures are cutting edge, tailored completely to the customer’s needs, there is always room for more efficiency. Who better to advise them than the person who helped them set up and build their system?

It’s not just a day in the life of an ERP Consultant. It’s the first day of a lifetime of support and teamwork.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.