Parsable Podcast

Industry Insights: What Hard-Working Manufacturers Really Need from Their ERP Partnerships

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Cloud-based ERP, you’ve probably heard of it but are you implementing it effectively for your teams?

In today’s episode, we’re joined by Kerrie Jordan, Vice President of Product Management for Epicor’s Data Platform shared the insights on that survey and how cloud-based ERP systems can be effective in solving a significant amount of pain points manufacturers using on-prem and hybrid ERP solutions experience..  

Join as we discuss 

  • Epicor’s manufacturing insights survey and report
  • The power of cloud-based ERP 
  • Common misconceptions about cloud-based ERPs 
  • How to mitigate  disruption during a migration to the cloud
  • Establishing the ROI on migrating to a cloud-based ERP.

You can read the survey results at this link.

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Check out the full episode below:

Kerrie Jordan: Data continues to be a recurring theme when it comes to just how critical the move is, how you leverage data within the organization to create new competitive advantage. It keeps coming back to data. Support in that data migration is a big piece when it comes to making that move. Companies can rely on their selected ERP vendor to help them through that process, and they’re looking for another thing, and that’s transparency.

Josh Santo: Welcome, conquerors. We’ve an incredibly insightful conversation lined up for you today. We’re going to examine data-backed perspectives from manufacturing leaders across the US, UK, AU, and also, NZ. We’re going to be examining that on ERPs. That was a lot of letters to throw out there. That’s right, we’re taking another deep dive with an expert on ERPs in manufacturing. You’ll learn about the state of most ERPs and ERP implementations according to the manufacturers who use them.

You’ll hear some surprising data on what people really think of their ERPs. You’ll also find an in-depth discussion about the power of the cloud for ERPs, the importance of interoperability, and what most manufacturers need to be successful with their ERPs. As always, this is not a monologue. I am joined by an expert on ERP solutions, and I’d like to tell you about her.

Our next guest had quite the career with stints across many different functions of business, like customer success, sales, product marketing, and product management, just to name a few examples. These weren’t just individual contributor roles. She’s led teams and departments throughout her career.

What makes her qualified to speak on ERPs? Well, how about the years she spent at two notable providers of ERP solutions, both of which, by the way, happen to be headquartered in good old Austin, Texas, where yours truly is also headquartered? Those two solutions providers are Oracle and Epicor. Currently serving as the Vice President of product management for Epicor’s Data Platform, please welcome to the show Kerrie Jordan. Kerrie, thanks so much for being here today.

Kerrie: Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’m looking forward to talking with you all today.

Josh: I am, too. I hope I got you hyped with your introduction.

Kerrie: That was pretty great.

[laughter]

Josh: We should think about having some theme songs for our guests. We start out each conversation with the same question. I’m going to throw that question to you. What’s a day-to-day look like in your role?

Kerrie: Thank you so much for asking. Day-to-day, it’s a really exciting place where I work because it’s a really exciting industry that I work in. I should start, though, with personal life. Day-to-day, I’ve got three kids, and they each have to get to where they got to go. I’ve got a high schooler, an elementary schooler, and then one in daycare. Managing the complexities, talk about conquering chaos.

[laughter]

Josh: I’m sure.

Kerrie: Trying to get them to where they need to go every morning, that, in and of itself, is a feat. Once I get that done, then I’m feeling pretty good. Then off to work. In my role, I lead product management for our data platform products at Epicor. I have a wonderful team of product managers, and we all work really closely with the world’s most essential businesses.

When I say, it’s a really exciting industry in which I get to work, that’s because the people that we work with are so dedicated and so critical to make, move, sell economy to the world’s businesses, to everything that’s keeping the world turning in our world. If we think about those different types of companies who work at the– just a couple examples. Vaccine distributors who manufacture the cold pack systems for the medical grade shipping and distribute them worldwide.

Other companies would be your local hardware stores. Ace Hardware is one that we work with. Many of these are family-run. They’re wonderfully vibrant community members. They have some really interesting challenges that we work with to help them solve for, all the way to multi-billion dollar building supply organizations.

You can imagine all of the fluctuation that they have seen in the industry thanks to all of the things that have happened, economic changes, consumer behavior changes, supply chain disruption, sustainability requirements, and how their business systems can help solve for those companies in the automotive aftermarket who when you bring your car to them, obviously, you want to get your car back as fast as possible. They need to figure out how do they get the parts to fix your car as fast as they can.

HVAC and refrigeration suppliers. American Refrigeration Supplies is an example of an organization we work with. They supply HVAC to the Phoenix area. Talk about being essential, and so many others around the world, metal fabricators, aerospace, and defense organizations. Many of these are well-known brand names. Big Ass Fans is another one.

It’s just really fascinating to understand the challenges that these kinds of organizations are facing and work with them closely to gather the requirements, what is it that they are looking to achieve in their business. Many of them come to us with challenges that they need to solve for not just within their business and their business systems but their customers. How can they create really powerful, unique, differentiating experiences for their customers?

For example, many of these, they have complex, wonderfully configurable products that they personalize. How do you, especially in a digital world, turn that over into an experience that is easy for their customers to understand, then that’s something that they can then process through to their backend as an accurate order?

One of the product areas that my team works on is configure, price, quote, just as an example, as well as e-commerce. In our area, we really see ourselves as bringing the data that would otherwise be locked in an ERP and bringing it to life, creating these new and fascinating experiences that really allow our customers differentiate in their industries for their customers.

With a configured price quote tool, for example, when you have that embedded within in a website, then you can turn over that experience to configure the product, to visualize what it might look like. Then once the customer creates that then feeds that into the manufacturer’s shop floor, and they have exactly what the customer is looking for and expects, and they can deliver an accurate, fast product.

Again, it’s all really interesting to understand what are those ways in which our essential customers are looking to achieve things beyond the ERP. I feel very lucky that my team and I get to work with companies like this and tour their facilities, speak with their users. I would say, that’s a pretty typical day-to-day. It’s always changing. It’s always something new and really fascinating. Then I got to get the kids back from school. [laughs]

Josh: The work’s never done.

Kerrie: Exactly.

Josh: You’ve got three kids in very different major life phases, which I can imagine, there’s a lot of complexity there. One of the reasons I’m excited to talk with you is, one, some of the things you just described. We’re talking about technology. We’re talking about businesses that are essential for us to live our lives. That was one of the things that struck me when I first started meeting and working with manufacturers.

When I got to walk the factory floor of a product that I grew up with, that I always wanted, and I got to see not just the product being made but the people behind the product, that’s where I really found a passion. I can tell that your passion is coming through as well. Another reason I’m excited to talk with you is the fact that you are representing product management for a very successful company.

For those of you listening who have not worked with product management, this is a group of people who obsess over customers. I think that came through, Kerrie, with what you were saying. They spend their time working with them, learning from customers, asking questions, like what problems are you experiencing, why are you experiencing them, how is that impacting you, how can technology, whether it’s their own technology, whether it’s technology in the broader ecosystem, whether it’s completely new innovations that are needed, how can that make their lives better?

Just some of the factors that get me excited to talk with you about ERPs today.

Kerrie: Absolutely, you nailed it. It is so interesting to sit down with company business leaders and just hear their story, what it is that they are looking to do, how they’re creating it, and new ways in which they’ve innovated in their business to create these new things. It is so fascinating. Actually, recently toured a manufacturer of float systems for airplanes, the kinds that land on water. Also, these are fighting forest fires, where they’re landing, scooping up water from lakes or nearby rivers, and then going and dumping it on forest fires.

Just to see the way in which all of that comes together, starting with these raw pieces and then these beautiful airplanes, it is so fun to tour these kinds of facilities. I’m right there with you.

Josh: Sometimes you take a moment, and you can’t help but reflect on, “Wow, people made this. Isn’t that incredible?” Well, stories is the best way to think about it because we’re going to be getting into some of the data side of the stories that Epicor put together with their manufacturing Industry Insights Report from 2022. This is something that’s going to be available in the show notes, so those of you who are listening, make sure to check out the show notes for a link to access this survey because it’s pretty insightful.

Just to set the overview, Epicor recently surveyed 630 manufacturing decision-makers from the United States, from the United Kingdom, and from Australia, New Zealand, about Cloud ERPs. The insights that they uncovered in the report paint a pretty interesting picture about the state of current ERP implementations and what manufacturers actually need. The team at Epicor has made these insights available through that report, and that’s what we’re going to be examining together throughout this conversation.

Kerrie, I want to start the conversation by chatting about the state of ERP and manufacturers’ expectations from their ERP solution providers. What is the current state? Talk to us about, is it on-prem, monolithic, et cetera. Give us the details.

Kerrie: One of the reasons why we put this together was because ERP is an interesting category when you compare it to other enterprise software categories, like CRM, HCM for customers, for human resources. ERP is the enterprise resource planning, and that includes your financial information, it includes your product, intellectual property. For many years, and still, for many organizations today, many are concerned about putting that kind of information on the cloud.

There have been many, many reasons as to why they were concerned, why they are still concerned, and it’s fascinating for us to understand, just like you said, being obsessed with customers, why. What is going on in their organizations that is making them pause when it comes to realizing all the great benefits of a cloud application that many of these other categories have already seen? How can we address those concerns, solve for them so that we can work and partner with our customers as their technology partner of the future to be able to solve for that?

That was the driving force as to why. These manufacturing industries bring, of course, specific challenges, and we wanted to understand why. The state of ERP is definitely in flux, and it depends on what organization or what industry companies are in. When it comes to manufacturing, oftentimes, manufacturers are very comfortable managing capital assets. They have machines on the shop floor, very aware of and comfortable when it comes to protecting capital equipment, heavy equipment from risk.

Also, there is a lot of risk involved in that, so choosing how you focus your time, whether that is securing the servers in a data center, or if it’s securing the shop floor assets. I think many organizations, as we see them making these decisions, many are choosing to allow vendors to take care of the administrative aspects of running the ERP, so they can then focus in on their shop floor, their manufacturing facilities, and solving for their customer needs, it’s what they do best.

When we talk with manufacturers, just like you and I were talking about it, they really want to create things. They want to build things. That is their passion, and it is what sets them apart. We see many organizations choosing to focus in on that aspect of their business now rather than administering the ERP.

ERP is definitely in a state of transition, but we have seen the majority now choose to move ERP to cloud-based applications. That’s what we’re exploring in this survey, is why are you making that decision? How do you feel about running your ERP in the cloud? If there are things that you’re concerned about in terms of, “Now it’s in the cloud. What next, or how do we get there?” those kinds of things. We want to understand specifically what are they, so we can then go address them.

Josh: It’s so important to get the data points behind it. A lot of times, it can be difficult to get those opinions and back it up with data because I’m sure you’ve fallen into the same trap I have, is you run with an opinion, and it turns out it was the wrong opinion. The more you can move it to what are multiple people thinking, that’s great.

One of the questions I wanted to ask, you mentioned some of those concerns about moving to the cloud. When I hear concerns, we could talk about is it really about change management, just the fact that any change is going to be met with resistance, or are there gaps between what manifests with an on-prem approach versus the cloud approach.

Kerrie: There are a few things that when a company is used to running their ERP on-premises, and they’re thinking about going to the cloud that they are concerned about, of course. One of those is interoperability, which I’m so proud that I actually just managed to say that word. Interoperability, that’s a tough one.

Josh: It is.

Kerrie: Interoperability, that means being able to connect your applications together. Simply put, integration, ensuring that the data is going to flow between the systems the way in which you expect, and you need them to flow. Integrations, interoperability, has been an important element that companies have expected their ERP vendors to get right if they’re going to be moving to the cloud. That’s a really big piece of it.

Another big piece of it is security. Just like I said, with companies being comfortable running capital assets, they’ve been comfortable securing, eliminating the risk with their ERP running on-premises. What we’ve seen lately is now most organizations are choosing to move to cloud because of security, because they want to take advantage of the greater security benefits that world-leading cloud providers can offer.

Companies, we all know them really well. Like, Microsoft Azure, Amazon with AWS. There’s Google Cloud. There’s so many out there. They spend billions more than a single organization could feasibly spend on security global, worldwide the best-in-class threat intelligence cybersecurity experts, all the physical security surrounding the physical data centers. We see many organizations choosing to move to cloud because of being able to take advantage of the security aspects.

It could also be just a really simple thing that actually makes you so vulnerable like if it’s on-premise. It’s things like natural catastrophes like a flood or a fire or a hurricane. It could be even something as simple as somebody accidentally clicking on a phishing email, and now you’re hit with ransomware. Especially if your ERP is running on the same local network as your email, that could be a major concern.

Some organizations don’t have on staff that kind of cybersecurity experts that they would want to have in order to create the multiple layers of security within their business. Even just from the sake of configuring a VPN correctly, they can be clunky, and sometimes, those might fail. We see many organizations actually choosing to move to cloud because of the security benefits of a cloud-based type of technology.

Many others, too, like having access to the latest and greatest features. That’s another reason why we see organizations moving. It’s because those are the kinds of features that allow them to compete with other competitors out there. Maybe it’s on the larger side, and they’re looking to have access to the same innovative features that larger organizations might have more resources or the expertise on staff that they could leverage.

I’m thinking of things like, we talked about being able to create a website in order to compete in the online marketplace. It could be wanting to create a mobile app and having access to that kind of technology to grow in the mobile space and having a platform in place that you could build upon, that is modern technology, that features all the latest and greatest APIs. Again, still very secure, but you can actually build upon that and plug and play maybe some new modules that could address some pain points that you’re feeling in your business.

Being able to get access to latest, greatest features, that’s another reason why we see companies choosing to move to the cloud.

Josh: Really, what I’m hearing with what you said is that there’s actually a lot of risk to having on-prem. Even though the conception or the idea right now is that that is the secure option, what you really just brought up was there’s a significant amount of risk, particularly on the security side. Like you mentioned, even the physical aspect of the security.

It’s not just cybersecurity, but it’s do you have the right backups in place, whereas if you work with these major providers who, like you said, spend billions just on this topic with backups located in different countries, in different regions, so you are secure no matter what. I think that’s such an interesting point, that idea of, “Well, this is safe. This is what we know. This is what’s reliable,” and really highlighting the fact that not as much as you may think. I think that’s really interesting.

Now, also, kudos for saying, interoperability.

Kerrie: Thank you. Hey, you did it, too. [laughs]

Josh: I know. I practiced. I practiced a lot. You mentioned how that’s such a critical part. In your experience with the on-prem side and the non-cloud-based approaches to ERP, is that an area in which there’s some struggle?

Kerrie: Yes, I do think there is some struggle in this area. It’s because there are so many different ways in which you could create connections across your business, and not only that but outside of your business. That’s where, I think, the most opportunity really is. There’s so much whitespace and some interesting ideas out there that, I think, we’re only just starting to see some organizations take advantage of. That’s the stuff of the future.

That’s the stuff when we can start to create these digital ecosystems where we’re sharing industry data, and we’re sharing data beyond our industry, and starting to learn from each other to make predictions about supply chain disruptions, make predictions about how prices are going to fluctuate or change or should change, how we can make predictions about weather and climate impact, and being able to work together to create entirely new technologies to solve for these kinds of challenges, that’s really where we’re going to see the most change and excitement here in the next few years.

We have to get there. I think ERP today is too often inward-focused, where we’re sharing data within the organization. Don’t get me wrong. There are still some challenges there as well because every organization is different. Every organization has different challenges, and they invest in different types of applications in order to solve for those challenges, but then they want to share the data.

When it comes to cloud-based or SaaS-based applications, you typically need to leverage APIs or other kinds of standard communication protocol to share information and to ensure that when you’re sharing that information, you’re setting up the right events, and then different ways that data is flowing, that it’s all secure, and the right people are getting access to the right information. Are you looking to make a bi-directional communication? Is it a one-directional? Where’s the single source of truth?

All of these are definitely challenges that have to get worked out. Once you do, you can create really high-value levels of efficiencies within your organization, and then data within your company becomes almost– it’s a competitive advantage because you have better insight into the way your business is running. You can make changes, you can drive improvements, you can focus in on some areas that are doing really, really well, and you can address others.

The people who have the knowledge of how data is shared within your organization, those people are so valuable. Typically, a lot of those folks come from the IT side, who as we think about the move to cloud, historically, IT personnel and professionals initially were concerned about that by automating some of these administrative tasks.

Now we see their role transforming into almost the most important role within an organization, helping the leadership make these technology decisions, and really helping to navigate change, and take advantage of technology to create competitive advantage. Again, there’s so much that’s happening within the organization and now, in the future, looking outward. Now we’ve figured out how we can manage the information flows through the data, get insights within the organization. Now, let’s lookout.

Who are our partners, who are our suppliers and our customers, and maybe industry players or those that we didn’t even necessarily expect, and how can we share information to improve our business and again, create these new technologies that could solve our future problems that our world sees?

Josh: There’s so much about what you just said that I love. I wish I could recap it all, but I want to really echo a couple of key points. One of the things you said, treating data as a competitive advantage, I think that that is such a powerful way to look at data. I think that also helps really drive home the point that you made about that ecosystem approach. These ERP solutions, they’re great, they contain a ton of data, but they’re not going to be everything.

There really is a bigger strategy that’s needed on how to make data your competitive advantage, which sources are you getting that data from, and then what becomes that general source of truth, and everything has to work together. It can be quite complex. We see it all the time with our work here at Parsable. One of the focuses, and you called this out, is how do we make sure that the right people get the information that they need, get the data that they need?

That’s one of the things that we echo a lot here at our company because we focus on that idea of, “Look, if you can get the right people, the right information, at the right time, they can make the right decisions.” That’s actually a quote from one of our past episodes with an individual named Brian Piotrowski. He talked about, that’s his goal. Data is a key piece of that.

I love that you brought that up and really establish that as it being a competitive advantage as well as that ecosystem approach because that is what we’re seeing in the industry from the conversations that we’ve had with, like I said, Brian, with Don Meyer from Deloitte talked about the ecosystem approach for building the smart factory that they have in Wichita. There’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying, and I love that that is just being reemphasized and still coming back to here’s how you can best serve your customers.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about some of the findings from the survey. One of the first things that stood out to me, and I’m going to phrase this in the form of the question like we’re on Jeopardy! or something, is, Kerrie, from what you found in the data, how loyal are manufacturers to their current ERP solution provider?

Kerrie: It’s pretty interesting. 90% said that they are loyal to their current ERP solution provider, 90%. I actually thought that that was fairly high, but then you think about just how ingrained an ERP is to the company. It really becomes the way in which you manage your every day, and it has implications across all organizations within a company, all functions.

Replacing an ERP is a monumental task. For any listeners out there who have gone through that experience, it can be hard. I think people generally take that decision initially on which ERP they’re going to go with very, very seriously, knowing just how large of an investment and how much of a time commitment that will be for the organization.

Josh: I was surprised by it, too. Like you said, 90%. To really break it down, 41% strongly agree. 48% somewhat agree. That is a huge amount of people saying, “Oh, we are loyal to our current ERP provider.” I’m going to ask for your opinion on this, Kerrie, because I think you hinted at some concepts in explaining some of the results.

Do you think that loyalty is out of appreciation, or is it out of that, “We’ve invested a lot. I can’t imagine undergoing this process again”? What do you think that is driving the loyalty?

Kerrie: That’s a great question. I know, and I feel like we could talk about this all day. It’s interesting. I feel like it’s a bit of both of those aspects, where it is a pretty large investment and time commitment to make a change. Also, ERP has been around for so long, and organizations, companies have pushed ERP providers to understand that they need to be technology partners.

I think while it’s surprising that 90% have said that they are loyal, I do think that ERP providers have gotten to a point where they realize, “If we’re going to exist, we need to be more than a technology provider. We need to be a technology partner to companies.” Especially, I was talking about earlier, essential industries, we all rely on those kinds of organizations.

It’s very, very clear just how important they are to the world’s economy. They expect a lot out of their ERP providers, they expect a lot out of their own people, and we all need to work together towards these common goals. I think ERP providers have gotten a lot better over the years around understanding their customers and partnering with them.

Josh: Any solutions providers should be held responsible for being a partner to their customer. Customers can be demanding, and they should be. A good partner is the one helping you predict the problems that you haven’t even thought of yourself. I completely agree with that point. What I found really interesting about the findings, so 90%, they agree that they are loyal, but in the survey, the data also shows that there’s a significant number of manufacturers who are actively researching or considering a new ERP every one to three years.

When I saw that data point, that didn’t scream loyalty to me. What’s happening there?

Kerrie: I know. I agree. That, I thought, was a really interesting contrast. What I think might be happening is, so they could be looking for other applications to add on to their current ERP, and very much, we have a hybrid world, like a multi-company, a multi-cloud world. They could be looking to add an ERP maybe to an additional company that they had recently acquired, or should they take their current investment in this ERP and apply that?

What I’m getting at is there has been a lot of change in the industry. Many companies are making acquisitions. Many companies are spinning off subsidiaries, especially within these essential industries that have seen so much change. What I think we see happening is these business leaders are looking to see, what is the best investment that I can make for this company that I have, be that an acquisition, if it’s a spinoff, if it’s a new subsidiary, what is going to solve for my problems?

Many are looking to determine whether or not they’ve already made the right investment, or do they need to add on, or is it something else entirely? Do they need to break down into modules, their ERP, and then just like we were talking about previously with the integrations within a business, should they be creating a more modular approach? We do see many larger, especially enterprise companies, have multiple ERPs that they invest in, and then they use. Some of them are connected, and some of them aren’t.

Again, I think we all need to acknowledge that it is a hybrid world. There are many different solutions providers out there and multiple different categories. As we look to this multi-cloud world, we do need to enable those connections among them. I think it’s important to realize and acknowledge that one company might have multiple ERPs.

Josh: I think what you talked about there, in tying back to our conversation about are people actually loyal, or is there a fear of change, or is it just the cost that they’ve put in there, but to know that they are looking at a significant amount every one to three years, I think if I were to summarize some of what you’re talking about when we’re talking about what’s triggering these reevaluations, it’s really around our business is changing.

We might be growing, we might be experiencing this difficulty, this disruption, and we need something that now has evolved or is changed that meets our needs, and part of that is looking elsewhere, but what is this company building and developing how are they doing? I think that’s super healthy as a buyer.

As the customers we seek to serve, you need to be looking out in the market to understand yourself what’s going on, even if you’re completely satisfied with your current provider because you do need to really drive towards, “Am I getting what I need to help me make those best decisions?” to your point. What are some other factors that you can think of that are triggering reevaluations of the ERP solution?

Kerrie: I like what you said there, too. It is all really important. I think some of the reasons why people are also thinking is some of the workforce change that we’ve seen so predominantly in the last few years, a lot of change among staff, among leadership, and oftentimes, there could be a mandate from a particular leader who’s comfortable with the ERP that they’ve used previously, and they’re joining the organization and mandating that they move to this other ERP. That definitely happens.

Other reasons could be maybe they’re looking to, we talked about acquisitions, make acquisitions, and they have an outdated technology that doesn’t allow for growth or the browser-based type of remote work, where you don’t have to be running it from a server locally. You could just dial into the cloud. That makes it easier if you have a growth strategy in order to have a cloud-based system.

Other things that we see is we talked about the IT leadership and a lot of maybe staff changes. It could also be that maybe you want your current IT staff to instead focus on maybe something else. We talked about how important it is to have IT staff really help the C-suite navigate technology decisions.

If you have a limited IT staff, and you want to make the most of that team and make sure that they’re having the most strategic high value that they could have at the organization, that might be a reason to choose to move to cloud to get them out of that day-to-day administrative type of work.

Josh: You mentioned this a couple of times, especially when we start talking about the idea of moving to a cloud-based approach for your ERP solution. Looking at the data, one of the top triggers for reevaluating, so a third, and this was the top-rated one, was better functionality from another provider. I think it’s super interesting that that’s one of the triggers.

It highlights the need for, like we talked about before, to make sure that the provider that you’re working with is keeping up with the customer with their own interest and demand. Like you said, one that’s growing increasingly important is the cloud. We talked about some of the benefits there of moving to the cloud, the interoperability, there, I said it again, the security, both the cybersecurity as well as just the investments that are made by these providers, as well as getting those updated features pretty consistently.

I would love to hear from you, in your experience, and what you’ve learned from your customers, let’s say someone has made the decision, even though they’re loyal to their provider, they reevaluated, they’re moving to the cloud, what are some obstacles that manufacturers face during this process of moving or migrating to a fully cloud-based ERP?

Kerrie: I think when it comes to making that move, companies typically look for a couple of things. One is support in the data migration. We talked about just how important data is to the business. What happens when you have a ransomware attack? It’s get the data back. We need the data. Data continues to be a recurring theme when it comes to just how critical the move is, how you leverage data within the organization to create new competitive advantage. It keeps coming back to data.

Support in that data migration is a big piece when it comes to making that move. Companies can rely on their selected ERP vendor to help them through that process, and they’re looking for another thing, and that’s transparency. When it comes to the move, what does the move look like? What happens to my data? What are the backups? What’s the security of the system? What’s the roadmap? What are the future technology enhancements that are coming?

Companies definitely look for transparency in the move. They also are looking for partnership. Partnership comes in many ways. Transparency and trust is a big part of that. Also, I thought this was interesting. It’s detailed but consistency with the people that they work with. Consistency with the person who you originally spoke with as you learned about the new technology that you’ve chosen maybe during the sales process.

That person, or that team, shepherds you through the migration, so you have a consistent person that you can work with or a group of people that understands what it is that you originally sought this technology for, why it is that you chose to make this move, the expectations that you have in your business, and how long or maybe the budget or what you expect that implementation project to be like.

That consistent person or team helps you through the buying phase, into the implementation phase, and through to go live. It’s funny, we’ve talked so much about data, we talked a little bit about kids, but people continue to be so important. People continue to be a critical piece of any technology investment. We talked about how great it is to see the people behind the manufacturing, who’s actually creating these technologies, why they thought to do it, how they work together, and companies expect the same partnership.

To know the people behind the technology that is so important from a concept of transparency and trust. People continue to be an absolutely important element of technology decisions. That actually extends beyond the implementation as well onto support. Support might be another reason why we see companies choose to make a change.

One of the reasons why, or one of the things that they expect when they do go live is better support, great support experiences. When they have a problem, they know who to reach out to, it’s a clear process, they get a fast response, and that extends through to training as well. Having access to really clear training materials, very helpful ones, and beyond the go-live, too. Not just initial training, but training on demand or like YouTube University, right? [laughs]

When you need something right away, you can find it quickly, learn it, and get on with your life [laughs] or your job. That’s an important element as well, making sure you have access to great training materials and the people who can help.

Josh: Common theme of this show, people being the most important asset of any operation. I couldn’t emphasize that enough. I’m so glad that you brought it up because, at the end of the day, it really is about how are we making people’s lives easier. When we’re talking within manufacturing, one of the things you mentioned a little while ago was talking about how sometimes there’s concerns when you’re essentially automating parts of the job.

In the case that we’re talking about, when we’re talking about data, there’s so much work and activity that goes into just transferring data from one spot to another, whether that’s from a sheet of paper that you’re doing your inspection, or you’re checking off that you completed this element of a line changeover. You’re creating the data there, but then you got to take it and put it into another system, or you give it to somebody who puts it into another system.

I love that there’s an opportunity there to really empower people by alleviating them from that burden so that they can focus on the thing that, what we talked about earlier, what the professionals in this industry love to do is create. No one wants to spend their time reporting on what they did. They want to do the work. They want to take the action. I love that you brought that back to really talking about the people.

You mentioned in the challenges of data migration. How do we make sure we’re not losing any data in this move and that we can continue to use and get insights and use that to power whatever programs we have in place? You talked about the challenge on the implementation side and really the need to make sure that there’s someone there who can essentially take care of those burdensome tasks on your behalf as well.

The market that we are in is not an easy one right now. Everyone is having to do way more with way less. To ask someone to take on the responsibility of implementing an ERP solution, my goodness. I’m loyal to my provider. I don’t want to go down that route. The need to really have that strong and structured and supportive expertise with regard to implementation is critical in overcoming that challenge.

Then, like you said, the ongoing support whether that’s direct customer support or the training the materials needed to be enabled. I think that those are such great points to bring out and really highlight not only the importance of investing in people but finding the people that you want to work with. One of the questions I have, I saw in the survey that 88% of respondents see migration to cloud ERP as disruptive.

I’m assuming that the term disruption, in this case, is not being used in the positive tech disruption way. Very buzzword, disruption. No, we’re talking about concerns that business will be negatively impacted in some way during a migration. That fear as well might play into some of the loyalty that we discussed earlier, that many manufacturers feel towards their current EPR solution provider.

Like I said, we’ve got these demands. We might be struggling to meet production demands. I can’t do anything that’s going to take away from me doing that, and implementing an ERP could do that. From your experience, what kind of disruption to the business could there be when migrating to the cloud?

Kerrie: That’s a that’s a great question. I know that that’s an area that does concern people. I think it’s really similar to any kind of change management project or transformation project that an organization would go through. It’s ensuring that you have your vision that you’ve painted for your organization, that you’ve identified the team to help drive this, that you have champions within the organization or advocates, ambassadors that understand the value and will help you go through this process.

When the team is feeling overwhelmed or maybe disheartened in some way, they can remind the team of the value that they’re working towards. I would encourage you to chunk it up, phase in the implementation so that your team does experience quick wins. ERP providers can help through this change management process. If you don’t want to want to work specifically with the ERP provider, there are many implementation partners out there or consulting agencies and different consulting firms that you could potentially work with to help you through this process as well.

They can help with ways to keep the teams motivated through the rapid implementation process, where there’s maybe like agile sprints, where there’s a two-week focused efforts, and you sit back and look and see what you’ve achieved, then move forward with learning, so you’re always making incremental progress. That could be a way in which you keep this moving quickly. I do think that the disruption is probably similar to any major transformation or digital transformation investment that you would make in your business.

Josh: I completely agree. I think that, from a realistic perspective, you will have to accept the fact that there may be taking a step back or two. You just will. You mentioned some good ways of approaching it, like a phased approach to really mitigate how many steps back you take at a general time, but just in general, when you are changing something, there’s going to be an awkward phase of figuring out, how to go from, “This is our vision, and this is our plan to put it in place,” to actually executing that.

I think that’s just a reality that we are going to have to accept, is we are going to experience some type of disruption. However, this gets to your point about vision, what we also have to understand is, or at least ask ourselves, if we keep doing things the way that we’ve been doing, are we going to be able to accomplish our goals within six months or the year or the following year after that?

A lot of times, that’s what’s driving these changes. We’re already experiencing disruption. We’ve got workforce disruption. We’ve got supply chain disruption. We’ve got industry 4.0 and digital transformation, like a technological disruption, and implementation disrupt– Things are already disrupting your business as is, but in order to be able to adapt, you have to go through that awkward growing pains phase of struggling a little bit, having some issues, encountering some problems, figuring out, as an organization, how to get past it, and then moving forward.

It’s one of the reasons for the podcast, is we want to help people understand what are these obstacles and how do they move forward. Back to that idea of a vision, one of the most compelling components, besides the story that you tell with the vision, is the results. Kerrie, from your experience, what kind of results could a manufacturer achieve by migrating to a fully cloud ERP?

Kerrie: Sure. There are a couple of things. I think, first, is that access to new innovations. If you are currently running on an older technology, and you feel constrained in terms of you can’t execute on the vision that you have, or you have like these great ideas, and you just can’t make them come to life, it could be because you are constrained by the technology, the platform that you’re currently running on. Getting access to the latest and greatest industry features and advancements, I think, is the number one benefit to moving to cloud.

The second is around cost savings. There are so many favorable economics around moving to a cloud-based system. One of them would be predictable managed costs. We talked about many companies’ manufacturers are comfortable with the capital assets. That requires a major upfront cost. Moving to a cloud-based is typically an operational expense where you have a regular cost that you can predict month to month or year to year, depending on how your payment terms, but a predictable, manageable cost, I think, is another great reason.

Another thing is, you talked a lot about disruption in the industry, supply chain, workforce, consumer behavior driving product shortages, and just so, so many changes, fluctuations that are happening in the industry. Having a cloud-based platform allows you to better respond to these changes, even anticipate them. We talked about having access to new technologies. Imagine if you could better predict or sense changes in the supply chain or your customer behavior, so you could be ready to adjust pricing, be ready to adjust to different suppliers.

Having the flexible cloud platform with technology like that can really help you respond better as well as scale. If you need to extend to a new location, if you need to dial back, or you’ve spun off some subsidiaries, and you need to scale down, having a cloud platform will help you respond to those kinds of changes, so more flexibility.

I think it also really helps companies better compete. Having access to the latest and greatest technologies and really democratizing access to innovation. It’s not just the larger organizations with the bigger pockets that can afford artificial intelligence, predictive analytics that have natural language processing within their ERP or within their businesses. Any organization now has better access as well as security.

The security piece is another major aspect, where you can, rest assured, that you have cybersecurity experts, IT experts monitoring the status and thwarting any vulnerabilities or cyber criminals on your behalf. That, in and of itself, is such a great benefit because it gives you such peace of mind. There are many other reasons as well, adapting and thriving in a mobile world where you can enable remote work if your business requires that.

Sometimes even having access or having these newer technologies within your business helps to retain employees because people want to work with the latest and greatest technologies that are familiar to them. We’re all using technology in our personal life, and when you go to work, if the technology application resembles your mobile phone or something you’re used to working with, that’s just a great benefit to your every day and helps you retain high-quality talent, your qualified talent.

There are so many varied reasons and benefits that we see organizations really enjoying once they make that move.

Josh: Well, talk to us, Kerrie, about how Epicor can help.

Kerrie: Oh, thank you. Happy to. Epicor is a provider of industry productivity solutions. I mentioned we serve the make, move, sell economy, those in the world’s most essential businesses, and we really have the industry expertise and the technology partnership to help these kinds of organizations achieve greater productivity levels, generate more revenue, cost efficiencies, create really outstanding customer experiences for their customers.

We work with many of these organizations that are looking to grow their business and do so with a technology vendor that they can trust, one that has the industry expertise and the power, and the know-how to take them through to the future.

Josh: You talked about, especially on the implementation part really being able to understand what have people gone through, what are the challenges being that expert, that trusted advisor, very critical. As we wrap up our conversation, how can our listeners continue the conversation with you?

Kerrie: Of course, find me on LinkedIn, Kerrie Jordan. Pretty easy to find out there. That would be great to connect with you all.

Josh: For everyone listening, just a reminder, be sure to check out the Manufacturing Industry Insights Report and find out what hardworking manufacturers really need from their ERP partnerships. Then let us know if you agree or if you disagree. We’d love to hear from you about what your opinions are on your ERP provider in the state of your ERP implementation. Kerrie, thanks so much for joining us today.

Kerrie: Thank you.

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