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"Innovative Thinking" A Newsletter from Innovative IT Consulting In This Issue

June 2010

Continuing with our theme of where ERP Projects go wrong - this month we tackle the issue of software tiers - one of the most common ways that organizations select their ERP solutions. But is it the right way??? Read our lead story to find out.

Innovative in the news (actually in the blogosphere). Paul Sita has been selected as a featured author for the Sage Business Management Blog. Check out my posts by going to http://blog.sageerpsolutions.com/category/sage-erp-solutions/

Special feature. Crystal Xcelsius (Click icon for demo).

Last month we featured Mark Edwards our resident Crystal Wizard - showing off a bit of the capabilities of Xcelsius. There have been some recent changes in the Crystal Product naming, so we're explaining that a bit, and also repeating Mark's demo for those who may have missed. It's worth a look! Don't miss this interactive feature. And read below for how to obtain a FREE copy of Xcelsius for a limited time.

Last month,in his tips column, John Pellegrino taught you the basics of juggling part I , this month he continues with part II. Read how he manages to keep all the plates spinning!

Summer break is here. Look for more ERP wisdom in September. Enjoy!!!

By Paul Sita, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

Pick a tier - any tier. When looking for an ERP system, clients frequently speak of Tier 1 or Tier 2 or Tier 3 – asking vendors what tier they’re in, or checking various industry sources that identify ERP vendors by tier. I don’t blame them for this. They see this as a way of simplifying a complex and daunting task. For those of you considering this approach, I have a few words of advice: Don’t fall for this! Like many old distinctions and old wive’s tales – they are rooted in truth. But also true is that the pace of change in technology – including ERP systems, is very rapid. Many years ago, there were significant and irreconcilable differences between Tier 1 (read SAP, Oracle, Peoplesoft) and the other vendors. But a lot has changed that impacts these differences. Here are just a few.

Tier 1 coming down. The Tier 1 vendors are getting smarter about how to implement their systems faster and therefore at less cost. Industry and pre-configured templates can simplify the task. Don't jump to conclusions about the cost of implementing a Tier 1 solution.

Tier 2 coming up. Similarly the Tier 2 vendors keep adding functionality, broadening their offerings by developing functionality or acquiring other companies, making many Tier 2 (or even Tier 3) systems rival the Tier 1 systems in terms of breadth of functionality.

Vertical market solutions getting better integrated. Traditionally one of the negatives of the vertical market solution providers has been their need to "bolt on" 3rd party solutions in order to provide a fully integrated ERP system. However, with the move to .NET, XML and SOA and other standardized integration approaches, this is no longer as big a negative as it used to be.

Hosting. Many ERP solutions and vendors of all tiers now offer options for having their platforms hosted at certified hosting centers. This eliminates another big worry and problem for smaller companies.

Software as a Service. (SAAS) The SAAS model is rapidly becoming a mainstream option. This takes away even another barrier to implementing ANY ERP solution. Don't worry about buying anything. Just sign up, point your browser and GO!

So where does this leave us? Right where you should be. Your need and requirements should drive your search for the right ERP system. Stop talking software and buzzwords, and really focus on your needs. Think of ERP as a platform for running your business. Many smaller companies have complex needs, multiple business models, complex financial entities, multiple sites, global reach. Don’t be scared off by any vendor’s supposed tier. Instead focus on your needs, talk to vendors who can address those needs today and lead you into the future, listen to people who talk business and speak solutions and then look at the most cost effective way of addressing those needs.

Tiers, not tears. Don't cry over what appears to be a rapidly changing landscape. There is a cure for the ERP blues- Call Innovative IT - where we deliver Excellence in ERP.

By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

For the last few months I've been writing about some time management aspects of project management; utilizing one calendar system, scheduling time for your “alone” work, utilizing wait time before meetings, and when to create your daily to-do list. Last month I discussed how I keep track of all the activities across multiple projects (and, for me, across multiple clients). This month I will address another common question I get from clients, how do you keep all the projects moving?

Use it, don’t lose it. I ended last month’s tip with this sub-title and mentioned using the list of activities you created for each project and maintaining it. There is one key use beyond this that will keep all your projects moving at some speed. Even a slow moving project is better than a “no” moving project. Once you complete a task for a project, and before you move onto another project’s task (or stop for the day) look at your calendar and schedule the next activity on your list.

Today is Monday and you’ve finished task A. Tuesday you have a 4 hour meeting from 9 - 1 and follow up for the rest of the day. Wednesday morning you have another task for another project. Wednesday afternoon is open so put task B for this project in the calendar for then. I know, it doesn’t always work out as planned, but in February’s tip I mentioned this same issue and what to do about it (hint: reschedule it immediately).

Time is money. So why are all of these time saving tips so important? Well, in the manufacturing world a lot of effort goes into reducing waste of raw materials. For those of us in the project management world time is our most precious raw material.

By Mark Edwards, Datareport Consulting, strategic partner of Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Mark can be reached at 347-732-9116 or markhedwards@aol.com.

SAP recently re-branded its line of Crystal Reports related products, one of which is Xcelsius, the product featured in the May Innovative Thinking newsletter. Previously there were two versions of Xcelsius; the more basic Xcelsius Present 2008, and the more robust Xcelsius Engage 2008. The demo is based on the Engage version.

The new names are as follows:

Xcelsius Present 2008 = SAP Crystal Presentation Design

Xcelsius Engage 2008 = SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition

So from now on the product used in the demo will be referred to as "SAP Crystal Dashboard Design". Also for a limited time, SAP is allowing you to download the more basic "SAP Crystal Presentation Design" for FREE free. So for those technical types, if you want to get a feel for the power of the product yourself, now would be a great time! A full list of the re-branded products can be found HERE Try the demo by clicking on the IMAGE BELOW to see Crystal Xcelsius in action! (Requires Flash)

Xcelsius is a great step toward managing by exception and building a Dashboard to monitor critical business metrics. Besides being presented within a Crystal Report, it can also be exported to PowerPoint, Adobe, HTML and more. It can be integrated into your Corporate web or LAN portal. Contact Mark or Innovative to discuss how Xcelsius can benefit your company.

Answer to last month's word scramble.

"One critical attribute of a good ERP Project Manager." (2 words) ( POSITIVE ATTITUDE)

We're taking out well earned summer break. But look for us in September when as always we'll deliver ERP wisdom right to your in box. Please keep checking the INNOVATIVE WEB SITE for useful tips, and our newsletter archives. Amaze your friends and colleagues with your expertise!

ERP Software Tiers - fact or fiction?

Are software tiers really a good way of selection an ERP System?

Tip of the month.

Project management tip. Keeping All the Plates Spinning, part II

SAP Crystal Dashboard Design

Formerly Xcelsius (see the demo!

Word scramble.

 

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