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7 Ways to Save ERP Implementation Costs

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I have been delivering ERP implementations for over 20 years. Until recently, most of these were either Visual Manufacturing (now an Infor product) or Microsoft Dynamics NAV. During the time that I’ve been implementing ERP a lot of things have changed. The old “traditional” way was for very intense training sessions; following by gaps to let customers “do homework”; followed by more intense sessions.

This article is probably as much for my competitors as it is for any end-user company that is interested in implementing ERP. This is the technique that we’ve developed. I help people who want to do this (so long as you pick a different target market) because I believe the market is big enough for way, way more than just me.

It has been a significant challenge for me to figure out a new way to do this kind of implementation. In particular I have wanted to apply LEAN thinking and principles to ERP for many years. It has taken a lot of time but I believe we have created a new and better way to deploy an ERP.

My expertise now is with Dynamics 365 Business Central from Microsoft Outlook Error. I’m going to use that for most of my examples, but these approaches should work with almost any modern ERP. It may be that a cloud ERP system would be required, as there are some elements of this that work best because Business Central is cloud based, but hopefully you can apply these methods to any system.

I’ve been able to refine and remove the waste of typical ERP implementations in such a way that now use exclusively a fixed fee for our Business Central projects. This is pretty radical. The methods I discuss below are the “secret sauce” that we’ve determined make this work.

First a bit of background.

Traditional ERP Implementations

Traditional ERP implementations are extremely high risk, for both the partner deploying them and for the customer. This is why almost nobody offers the elusive fixed fee. The risks are just too much.

The old Dynamics NAV project costs were high because legacy methods are expensive. The typical implementation follows a number of phases originally set out by Microsoft in a waterfall project framework. Waterfall project management has been proven to be more costly than the modern “agile” approach, which is based on LEAN techniques.

The approach that has been used by virtually everyone since ERP has existed is to bill “Time and Material.” This means that customers pay for the time spent by consultants, nomatter how good or bad they are. This moves the risk from the implentor to the customer almost entirely.

The reality is that there are still massive risks for the partner with these waterfall projects. I’ve seen MANY cases where partners were sued or threatened when these projects go very badly.

I started thinking about how we needed to change this after reading a LinkedIn post that shared an article on why “Time and Material Billing is Unethical.” I was really struck by the arguments. The author asked a question that I think summed it up fantastically well:

If a restaurant charged you for the time and material that it took to cook your steak, how would you feel?


This probably sparked my first real thoughts about how to stop being a time and material business.

ERP Costs are incredibly unpredictable

One of the first videos that I uploaded to YouTube was my explanation of why traditional costing of ERP implementations was outrageously inaccurate. I’ve spent the years since figuring out ways to remove that inaccuracy.

Obviously the best way to give accurate estimates was to be fixed fee. The trouble is that traditional approach is so high risk for the partner. It makes it really scary to offer a fixed fee. if you don’t do it right, you’re in a lot of trouble. I have worked very hard to develop an approach that I think is unique.

Applying LEAN Thinking to ERP Implementations

There is a movement to apply LEAN thinking to service activities. In general, LEAN is about removing waste from a physical product, but it can be applied to projects too.

I came up with my own variations of waste in ERP projects.

First – there is time spent by the wrong resource.

This is typically when someone who costs too much does something that someone who is paid much less can do, or can do it faster.

Second – there are unnecessary steps

I find this happens when people perform steps to “cover their butts.” A lot of project management falls into this. It also happens when consultants (compensated on hours billed) push unnecessary work.

Third – there are wasted tasks

Sometimes customers want to do things that we, as ERP consultants, know won’t work. In a traditional implementation we have no economic motivation to stop it.

Lastly – there is a “bleed” of knowledge

This is usually on the customer. Typically it’s when the customer doesn’t remember their training because they don’t spend time working in the system enough.

Why ERP Implementations Have to Change!

When we started doing cloud based ERP implementations with Microsoft Dynamics NAV it was common for customers to pay $100,000 for the software and pay $200,000 for their implementation.

Once you enter the world of the cloud, where Microsoft Business Central is $100 per month per user, things change. It’s hart to tell a customer they are going to spend $2000 a month for software and still pay $200,000 for implementation.

So we did what our customers do. We set a price we thought the market would support, and we worked backwards to control our internal costs and make money doing that. Our customers are manufacturing companies. They need to estimate a cost, and then stick to it. They can’t go to their customer and say “we need to bill you more because we were inefficient in our production process.” They would go out of business over night.

The new approach to ERP implentations.

I’m more of a manufacturing expert than a technology expert. Few manufacturing companies think in terms of projects with project managers (Engineer to Order is the exception). They usually think in terms of operations managers and standard work instructions.

I applied this thinking to ERP projects. It helps that all we do is implement ERP for manufacturing companies.

Here’s are the main steps that helped us dramatically reduce the risk (and costs) of ERP projects.

  1. We just do one kind of projectFocusing exclusively on manufacturing, and in small facilities, meant that we could refine and get better with each project. We look at the process as a repetitive, repetable process. This gets rid of the up front design of the project plan etc. The project management goes away, and we reduce that waste enormously.
  2. We offset easy but tedious work to the customerWhen a $200 per hour consultant does what amounts to a clerical task, that is waste. We train the customers to do some of the tedious tasks. It turns out that these are also much better done by the customer. Business Central makes a lot of this easier because it has great tools for end users to do tasks that used to be hard. There are 2 of these in particular that are key: Reports and Data Loading
  3. We train customers to edit forms Customers know what they want their invoice to look like. They know where they want the due date on their PO. It is way easier if we teach them to change these things than do it for them.
  4. We train customers to load data into the system Data loading is a task we assign to a co-op student after a few hours training. The fact is, when customers “get” how this is done – they do a far better job cleaning their data and things go much smoother!
  5. We keep training sessions shorter and Video People forget what they are taught. It’s a fact of life. You have a lot on your plate. Also, the longer a person spends in training – the more they “zone out” and begin to lose focus. We keep training sessions short, and record all of them as videos. People absorb more and can easily review what they’ve forgotten. This means we absolutely must train remotely. Travel time is a killer (and totally waste)- so we can’t travel.
  6. We keep the project tight, and discourage change Traditional ERP partners encourage extra work. Extra work means extra profit. Not for us. When we do a Business Central project, we discourage any changes from the original project. Our projects aren’t super restrictive – but they do limit the features we will implement in “Phase 1.” By keeping the plan tight, there is a lot less “creep” and the boss is usually much happier.
  7. We still bill for customizations, but discourage them too Customizations are the one thing we can’t predict – so we also discourage them. Given this new model, we find customers ask for a lot fewer also. They trust us more to know what we are doing. Occasionally a customization is just a no-brainer, and in those cases we support and even encourage them. Even so – we have less than half the customization we used to.

Conclusion

We do a lot of Business Central implementations, all in manufacturing. For our size, we probably do more than any other partner in North America. This has really helped us practice and perfect these steps. We got the first few wrong, but we honored our quotes and lost our shirts. Now we’ve refined the process to the point where virtually every customer is giving us a testimonal (often as a video).

Hopefully this article can help you work with your ERP partner to figure out how to save costs and improve the project. Even if you are a company doing a time and material project, many of these ideas can still be applied. Get the ERP consultants to teach you to edit reports, solve error and load data. Avoid customization. Insist on short training sessions and saved videos.

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Social Media Marketing Strategies Followed By Agencies

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Insurance Agencies

Social media marketing has become an essential part of any company’s marketing strategy. There are many social media marketing agencies in Kansas City that can help businesses navigate the ever-changing landscape of social media platforms. These agencies can help develop a comprehensive social media marketing plan that will help companies increase their online presence and reach their target audience.

  • Creating a Social Media Plan

One of the first steps in developing a social media marketing plan is to define your target audience. This will help you determine which social media platforms are most appropriate for your business. For example, if your target audience is primarily made up of young adults, then platforms like Instagram and TikTok would be more appropriate than LinkedIn.

Once you have defined your target audience, you can start to create a content calendar. This will help you plan out the types of content you will post and when you will post it. Mixing up the types of content you post to keep your audience engaged is important. This can include text posts, images, videos, and live streams.

  • Utilizing Influencers

Another strategy that is becoming increasingly popular is utilizing influencers. Influencers are individuals who have a large following on social media and can reach a wide audience. By partnering with an influencer, a company can reach a new audience that may not have been reached through traditional marketing methods.

When working with influencers, it is important to find individuals who align with your brand and have a following that is similar to your target audience. This will ensure that the partnership is a good fit and that the influencer will be able to reach the right audience.

  • Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is another strategy companies can use to increase their reach on social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of advertising options that allow businesses to target specific audiences. Companies can use paid advertising to reach a larger audience and increase their online presence.

When creating a paid advertising campaign, it’s important to set clear goals and test different ad formats to see which ones perform the best. This will help you optimize your campaign and get the best return on investment.

  • Measuring Success

Finally, it’s important to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts. This will allow you to see what is working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly. Some metrics to consider include the number of followers, engagement rate, and conversions.

  • Leverage User-Generated Content

Another strategy that companies can use to increase their reach on social media is to leverage user-generated content. This is content created and shared by your customers or followers on social media. By sharing and promoting this content, companies can increase their reach and build trust with their audience. This is because user-generated content is considered more authentic and trustworthy than the company itself.

Another way to increase your reach is to engage with your audience. This can be done by responding to comments, direct messages, and reviews. This will help build a relationship with your audience and make them feel more connected to your brand. Additionally, it will help you to identify which post is popular among your audience and will help you to create more similar content.

In conclusion, social media marketing is essential to any company’s marketing strategy. By working with social media marketing agencies in Kansas City, companies can develop a comprehensive plan that will help them increase their online presence and reach their target audience. 

Utilizing influencers, paying to advertise, and measuring success are all strategies that can help businesses achieve their goals. It’s important to stay current with the ever-changing landscape of social media platforms to ensure your strategy is up-to-date.

 

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Overview of the Belize Real Estate Market

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Belize is an undiscovered gem nestled in Central America, offering both beauty and opportunity. With its pristine beaches, lush tropical rainforest, and a wide range of cultural and historical attractions, Belize is an ideal destination for travelers, ex-pats, and investors alike. It is also home to a rapidly growing real estate market that is becoming increasingly attractive to foreign investors.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the Belize real estate market, including information on the types of properties available, the cost of real estate in Belize, and recent trends in the Belize real estate market. We will also provide tips for investing in Belize real estate, including the importance of research and due diligence, financial considerations, and working with a real estate agent.

Overview of Belize

Belize is a small country located in Central America, bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It has a total area of 22,966 square kilometers, making it the second-smallest country in Central America.

Belize is known for its tropical climate and diverse wildlife, including jaguars, manatees, and hundreds of species of tropical birds. It also has numerous Mayan archaeological sites, as well as some of the best dive sites in the world.

Benefits of Investing in Belize Real Estate

Belize is an attractive destination for investors due to its low cost of living and excellent investment opportunities. The Belize government has introduced many incentives to encourage foreign investment, including tax incentives, land grants, and special economic zones.

In addition, Belize has a favorable foreign exchange rate, and its geographic location makes it a great gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. The country is also home to a growing tourism industry, which is driving up the value of the real estate in the country.

Belize Real Estate Market

The Belize real estate market is booming, with an increasing number of foreign investors looking to capitalize on the country’s potential. The market is still relatively young, but it is growing at a rapid pace and offers great potential for both short- and long-term investments.

Types of Properties Available

The types of properties available in Belize range from beachfront villas to condominiums, townhomes, and luxury residences. In addition, there are a variety of commercial properties, such as office buildings, warehouses, and retail stores, that are available for investors.

Cost of Real Estate in Belize

The cost of real estate in Belize varies depending on the type of property and its location. Beachfront villas can cost anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million, while condominiums and townhomes start at around $200,000. Commercial properties typically range from $200,000 to $1 million.

Recent Trends in the Belize Real Estate Market

The Belize real estate market has been on an upward trend over the past few years, with demand for properties increasing significantly. This is due in part to the country’s booming tourism industry, which is driving up the value of real estate. In addition, foreign investors have been drawn to Belize due to its low cost of living, favorable foreign exchange rate, and great investment opportunities.

 

Tips for Investing in Belize Real Estate

Investing in Belize real estate requires research and due diligence. It is important to understand the local economy, the property market, and the legal requirements for foreign investors. It is also important to work with a local real estate agent who can help to identify potential properties and provide advice on the best investments.

Financial considerations are also important when investing in Belize real estate. It is important to have a budget and a plan for financing the property. It is also important to understand the local tax and legal requirements for foreign investors.

Conclusion

Belize is a great destination for investors and expats alike, offering a low cost of living, great investment opportunities, and a booming real estate market. The types of properties available range from beachfront villas to condominiums, townhomes, and luxury residences. The cost of real estate in Belize varies depending on the type of property and its location, but is generally quite affordable.

When investing in Belize real estate, it is important to do research and due diligence, understand the local economy and property market, and work with a local real estate agent. It is also important to understand the local tax and legal requirements for foreign investors. With the right planning, Belize can be an attractive destination for investors looking to capitalize on the country’s potential.

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Get to Know the Reasons Why You Should Use Poly Mailers

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Poly mailers are a great way to protect and store your products. They’re lightweight, waterproof, and sturdy. They’re also eco-friendly!

Unwrapping a gift with a poly mailer is fun!

Opening a gift is exciting. The anticipation of what’s inside, the tearing off the paper, and finding out what you got are all part of the fun. Suppose you’ve ever received a package containing custom poly mailers. In that case, you know that it’s also possible to have that experience when receiving a package without opening up your gifts!

Poly mailers are a great way to store and protect your items and ensure they’re safe during transit. They’re also helpful if you want to surprise someone with a gift but want them to know what it is when it arrives at their doorstep!

Poly mailers are lightweight and sturdy.

Poly mailers are lightweight and sturdy. They can hold up to 30 lbs, which is perfect for mailing items that weigh more than a few ounces but not so heavy that you need something sturdier. If your item is delicate, poly mailers are also a good option because they’re strong enough to protect it from damage during shipping but not so tightly packed that they create pressure points on the product.

Poly mailers are also water-resistant and tear-resistant, which makes them a good choice for mailing items that might get wet or damaged during shipping. They’re also easy to fold and stack so that you can store them more efficiently than other packaging materials.

Poly mailers are waterproof.

Poly mailers are ideal for shipping liquids and food items because they’re waterproof. You can ship things like this without worrying about getting wet or breaking. If your packages are exposed to water, poly mailers will keep them protected.

Poly mailers are also great for protecting other types of items as well. If you want to send something fragile but don’t want it damaged during shipment, poly mailers can help keep your item safe from harm so that when the recipient receives their package, they’ll find it intact and ready to use.

Poly mailers are recyclable, eco-friendly, and made from recycled materials.

A poly mailer is a polyethylene bag. Poly is short for polyethylene, which is a type of plastic. Most plastic bags are made from petroleum and take hundreds of years to break down. Poly mailers are made from recycled materials and are environmentally friendly to nature. 

They’re easier to recycle than paper, so you can feel confident that your poly mailers will be used again in some form after they reach their destination (and then returned to you).

Conclusion

This post has convinced you to use poly mailers for your next mailing! Poly mailers are environmentally friendly, recyclable, and made from recycled materials. They’re lightweight, sturdy enough to protect your items during transit, and flexible so you can quickly wrap them around a gift. Plus, they come in many different sizes for all kinds of products. Whatever reason you have for sending out mailings (whether personal or professional), poly mailers will be perfect for the job!

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Get To Know the Importance of Tracking Your Brand

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Brand tracking is a way to measure your brand’s performance over time. It’s essential for any business, especially for those with a product or service with a long sales cycle. You don’t need to be an expert at tracking your brand; just knowing where you stand and what works will help you improve over time and make smarter decisions about how to grow your business.

How can you know if your brand is doing well if you need to track it?

When you’re not brand health tracking, it’s hard to see how it’s doing in the market. You will need to determine if you’re meeting your goals or if your brand is growing or shrinking. With data, businesses can make informed decisions about what content works best for their audience, which should be involved in creating that content, and how often they should publish it.

Tracking your brand is a way to tell what’s working and what isn’t.

Tracking your brand is a great way to tell what’s working and what isn’t, and it can help you figure out where your brand stands in the market. Let’s say, for example, that most of your customers are male. You could track their age ranges and then use that information to target future advertising campaigns accordingly.

You can also use tracking data further to refine your website’s user experience (UX). A common practice among marketers is A/B testing—creating two versions of a page or ad and then seeing which one performs better based on user behavior (for example: did people click through more often for version B than for version A?). 

Using this method repeatedly, companies can determine which features users find most helpful or interesting about their websites and make changes accordingly.

Knowing where your brand stands in the market is key to success.

Knowing where your brand stands in the market is key to success. It’s essential to use data to help you make decisions and track your brand and understand how it compares with other brands in the same space. You can then use this information to guide future marketing campaigns, advertising, product development, and more.

You don’t have to be an expert at tracking your brand.

Tracking your brand doesn’t have to be complicated. Plenty of tools and resources are available to help you track, analyze, and improve your brand’s performance. Google Analytics is a free service that provides a variety of reports on how people interact with your website – including how they found it, what they did while there, and how they got there in the first place (i.e., via search engine optimization or social media).

Other great resources include Facebook Insights for tracking fan activity on Facebook pages, Twitter Analytics for following tweets, and even LinkedIn’s analytics platform. And remember YouTube Analytics!

If you need help figuring out where to start or if you’re nervous about diving into some new software programs or platforms, don’t worry! Most tools offer easy-to-use guides that will walk you through setting up an account and tracking your brand’s performance data.

Conclusion

Tracking your brand is a great way to know what’s working and isn’t. You can also use this information to make marketing decisions and increase sales.

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Running a Small Business? Here’s How to Manage Stress & How to Cope

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Manage Stress

Small business ownership and operation can be rewarding and stressful at the same time. On top of dealing with the competitive marketplace, the demands associated with running a business, whether you’re offering massage therapy in Ajax, car repairs in London, Ontario, or any other specialist services, may lead to burnout and stress. You might worry about meeting deadlines, keeping up with financial obligations, and ensuring your customers are satisfied.

Small business performance might suffer due to a stressed-out owner having trouble making decisions, dealing with issues, and communicating with staff. While it’s common for small business owners to suffer from stress, discovering coping mechanisms is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental well-being and the efficiency of your business operations.

Looking for strategies to manage your stress and become the effective boss you were meant to be? Here are some tactics:

Select Work Tools and Software Properly

Small business stress is frequently brought on by the mountains of work you have to do. Make sure the software and tools you choose for work help you do your tasks more quickly and easily. They should help you manage the project effectively, whether as simple as taking notes or using a spreadsheet to track your progress.

You must also remember that you can only do some of them, so take it slowly and complete each assignment in small increments. Before working on challenging activities, concentrate on 1 or a small number of them.

Using trusted business apps, web management tools, and hosting services will pay off when they help you take away the stress and speed up your processes.

Find Ways to Delegate Tasks

Being the boss makes it easy to want to stay in control, especially when handling complicated duties. However, you must accept that you cannot do everything at once, especially when you are alone.

Consider outsourcing some of its operations to ensure your business’s success. Your business will be able to expand through outsourcing. You’ll also be able to collaborate with people who have the skills and knowledge necessary to address issues.

Manage Your Time Well

Feeling overwhelmed and perpetually behind schedule due to having too much on your plate and not enough time to complete it might raise stress levels. Efficient time management can help you feel more in control of your responsibilities and less stressed and anxious.

For instance, when managing a tutorial centre or a spa business like Clarity Medspa & Laser, it will be easier to manage stress when you know which activities should be completed first.

Effective time management can also improve your productivity and efficiency, reducing the time and energy you need to devote to your work. Use techniques like setting priorities, creating to-do lists, and breaking larger tasks down.

Set Realistic Goals

Stress levels can rise due to striving for unattainable goals that can leave you feeling like a failure. On the other hand, setting realistic goals compatible with your resources and talents can result in achievement and progress, which can help lower stress. Setting realistic goals can also aid in effective time and energy management. With realistic goals, you can better prioritize your time and energy, which can help to reduce stress and improve your overall productivity.

Take Breaks and Find Time for Leisure

Don’t let seemingly endless meetings, networking events, projects, and interviews overwhelm you so much that handling them becomes overbearing. Find time to take a break and enjoy moments away from work.

Your version of taking breaks and enjoying leisure time may be reading a book in a cafe alone, going to the movies, or having a pampering day by scheduling an appointment for a body and face massage in Waterloo. Do something that will help you recharge and come back more efficiently.

Seek Support from the Right People

Having a small business also means enlisting the help of reliable people around you. With their help, you can achieve your business goals, decreasing stress levels. You can employ an accountant and bookkeeper to oversee the financial department and meet your tax obligations. You may also need a lawyer to handle the legal aspects of your firm. In addition, you may need to work with an IT specialist to keep your network and computer systems running in peak condition.

Having the right team will also help you spot loopholes in your business and create the right strategies to help you overcome them. You may also seek the help of a business mentor that matches your needs and objectives.

Focus on What’s Going Well

Just because you’re stressed doesn’t mean everything’s heading downhill. Dwelling on the negative aspects of running a small business will only add to your stress-induced problems and may negatively impact your operations.

To improve your stress management, remind yourself of the things that are going right. You can start by listing them and any milestones you’ve reached over the years. You’ll never know how many accomplishments you have already achieved. This will help you get inspired, especially when you’re stressed out about all the demands of handling your business.

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