5 Added Challenges for Life Sciences Post Commercialization

You’ve made it past the biggest challenge that faced your Life Sciences company – FDA approval. However, now as you take on manufacturing, sales, and fulfillment that come with your commercialization, there are a new set of system challenges that need to be addressed. Are you prepared to comply with the Sunshine Act, manage more rigorous expense reporting, and properly recognize revenue? How you choose to efficiently address these challenges can impact your bottom line.

Tridea Partners and Microsoft Dynamics can help you reach further success by providing the right combination of technology solutions.

5 Added challenges for Life Sciences companies need to address post commercialization

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This post was written by Andy Collins, Partner at Tridea Partners. Tridea is a Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, and CRM partner focused on providing solutions for the Life Sciences industry.

Dynamics CRM 2013 First Impressions

Here are some of our first impressions on the newest version, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, that was released last week. More information will follow in later blogs and videos.

Navigation Enhancement

The Navigation has Windows 8 “Metro” look and feel, complete with tiled navigation bar and chevrons.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Navigation
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Navigation

 

Additionally, the number of clicks and pop-up windows is greatly reduced by the introduction of:

  • In-page experience with inline editable grids
  • Quick-create forms
  • Auto-save feature

Inline Editable Grid

The inline editable grid feature is especially helpful when entering product line items on an opportunity or quote. In the past, customers have had to use 3rd party add-ons to take advantage of this feature.

Dynamics CRM 2013 Inline Editable Grid
Dynamics CRM 2013 Inline Editable Grid

Quick-create Forms

The quick create forms allows users to quickly create records with minimal/only required fields. This feature is especially useful when creating activities from right within the record form.

Dynamics CRM 2013 Quick-create forms
Dynamics CRM 2013 Quick-create forms

Auto-save Feature

The auto save feature can be turned on globally for all forms by selecting yes/no in the system settings.

Dynamics CRM Auto-save
Dynamics CRM Auto-save

When enabled, there is no longer a need to click the save icon – the system automatically saves your changes every 30 seconds. In fact, in most forms this icon is no longer visible in the top navigation. When changes are made to the form, the message “unsaved changes” occurs at the bottom of the form next to a small save icon.  Once the changes are saved, the message disappears.  The user can also force save by clicking on the small save icon, but that defeats the purpose of not having to worry about clicking on save.

Dynamics CRM auto-save status
Dynamics CRM Auto-save status

Overall, our first impressions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 are very positive.  For existing Dynamics CRM customers upgrading to 2013, the above new  features will make for a more pleasant user experience.

This post was written by Var Galpchian, Dynamics CRM Application Consultant at Tridea Partners. Tridea Partners is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner serving Southern California, Utah, Colordao and surrounding regions. For more information on Dynamics CRM 2013, contact info@trideapartners.com.

 

How to Address a Functionality Gap in Dynamics GP

When you have a functionality gap between what Microsoft Dynamics GP offers and what you need the software to do, you will need to pick one of three ways to address the issue. The first is to adjust your procedures such that standard Dynamics GP functionality can address the requirement. This “work-around” approach is the least amount of out of pocket money upfront, and is a good approach as long as it doesn’t cause procedural in-efficiencies that can come at a price tag over time. The second option is to explore having a customization written to address the functional gap. Dynamics GP Customizations can be pricey but are justified if the added functionality is essential to the software ultimately meeting the company’s needs.  The third option for addressing a functionality gap is to look at what are called 3rd party products. These products are designed by independent firms, and exist specifically to enhance the Dynamics GP offering. 3rd party products most of the time will have the same look and feel as your version of GP, are upgraded in line with Microsoft’s scheduled upgrades of GP, and are usually priced affordably.

On a recent project we were faced with 2 functional gaps that we addressed with 2 different 3rd party products. The customer wanted to account for all 20 of their companies in one Dynamics GP database. Putting the companies under one database allows them to share vendor and customer accounts, centralize cash disbursements, and stay in one database file instead of constantly logging in and out of the different databases all day long. One requirement they had was the need to book transactions between companies that would result in automatic intercompany postings. This was a challenge with all companies being in one database. Dynamics GP has a module called Interfund that came close to meeting their needs, but ultimately fell short. We ended up deploying Nolan Business Solutions 3rd party product called Intercompany Postings. It comes with functionality that addresses what they call “Intra-company” postings when the companies are in the same database. This module gave our customer the functionality they needed to get the correct intercompany entries booked automatically.

The second challenge we faced was that their customers could buy from the different companies in Dynamics GP, and they wanted GP to book all debits and credits for the sale to that locations general ledger accounts (sales, accounts receivable, inventory, and cost of sales). Setting up Inventory Sites for each company, and assigning the appropriate company code to the site, gave them all the right general ledger postings for sales, cost of sales, and inventory, but not accounts receivable. The accounts receivable account didn’t default to the correct company code. We deployed a 3rd party product from KTL Solutions called SOP/POP Advanced Distribution that allowed us to default the correct company code to the accounts receivable account.

The products from Nolan and KTL Solutions mentioned above were reasonably priced, easy to deploy, and met our customer’s business requirements.

 

This post was written by Andrew Warner, Solutions Consultant at Tridea Partners, a CA, UT, CO Dynamics GP Partner 

Dynamics GP – Business Portal & Requisition Management Webcast

Join us October 16th, 2013 for our monthly 30 minute “A Better Look at Dynamics GP 2013” Webcast. October’s session will dive-in to Business Portal & Requisition Management providing instruction on how to:

 

–   Set up role/user based approval hierarchies for purchase requests

–   Customize role/user securities with approval/purchase limits and rights

–   Generate a GP purchase order within the web-based Business Portal

 

Our webcast series offers monthly insights into product capabilities of Dynamics GP .

This webcast will be hosted by Renee Leung, GP Application Consultant for Tridea Partners.

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Upcoming Sessions:

Wednesday, November 6, 12:00-12:45pm – ISV Spotlight: eOne Solutions – How SmartList Builder and Extender can simplify Dynamics GP

Wednesday, December 4, 12:00-12:30pm – Year-end Close Training

7 Factors for Ensuring a Successful ERP Implementation

If you are reading this, it’s likely you are about to begin an ERP implementation and want to avoid the common pitfalls. It’s possible you’ve already suffered a failure or are in the midst of a setback, and are hoping to recover.  A web search on ERP implementation failures will contain dozens of hits, mostly to useful articles, some available for free and others for a fee. My objectives for this blog post are to:

  1. Focus on the claims supported by actual research.
  2. Provide you with a concise list of the most common pitfalls identified and ways to avoid them.
  3. Wherever possible, provide links to source data.

The Problem:

Before jumping into the list, it helps to understand the magnitude of the problem and establish the necessity for managing the risks involved in ERP and other enterprise systems implementations. A 2008 Gartner Group research publication identified that between 20% and 35% of all ERP implementations fail1. A 2013 publication analyzing results of a survey conducted by Panorama Consulting Solutions indicates that:

  • Although 81% would select their chosen software again, 30% still classify their implementation outcome as a failure
  • The average ERP implementation cost over $7 Million
  • The average ERP implementation took almost 18 months
  • 53% went over cost budget
  • 61% exceeded their planned implementation duration
  • 60% reported that they are experience 50% or less of the measurable intended benefits2

In short:

  • ERP implementations represent a significant investment in direct cost and consumption of resource time
  • The majority of projects exceeded their cost and time budget, and
  • The majority of companies fail to receive the benefits they expected.

Given the costs and inherent risks of implementing ERP, managers need to enter into implementation projects with a proactive plan for avoiding and overcoming the common pitfalls.

Defining ERP Implementation Success:

First, we define ERP Implementation Success as:

  1. The system implemented delivered the measurable benefits intended
  2. Implementation was within budget
  3. Implementation was completed on time

The 7 Factors for Assuring ERP Implementation Success:

Following is Tridea Partners’ compilation of the 7 key factors for assuring implementation success, followed by a more detailed treatment of each factor:

  1. Provide adequate executive management sponsorship and commitment
  2. Assure adequate scoping by involving the expert user community in needs definition and product selection.
  3. Provide experienced project management resources and project team members
  4. Use a proven methodology
  5. Provide sufficient budgeting of cash and internal resource allocation
  6. Anticipate, embrace, and manage change
  7. Avoid extensive modifications and use proven 3rd party products when available

Details:

#1: Provide adequate executive management sponsorship and commitment

Companies invest in ERP systems because they believe the investment of cash and other resources will provide a greater return than committing those resources in a different manner. The first role of executive management is to define the key metrics of measurable value the system should provide and the budget for achieving the expectations.

Next management assigns the selection team and the implementation teams and communicates the expectations to those teams. When appropriate, executive managers may participate directly in the teams.

Additionally, executive management needs to provide consistent support and reinforcement throughout the entire implementation by:

  • Requiring that timelines, project plans, and methodologies be implemented
  • Requiring consistent follow-up and reporting of status and progress against the plan
  • Assuring that promised cash and other resources are available when required
  • Providing special incentives where warranted to motivate
  • Remaining positive – not poisoning the well by expressing opposition to the project in front of the selection or implementation team. Any expressions of opposition should be kept in the executive conference room. Organizations resist change, and the resistance should never find an executive sponsor.
  • Assessing the success of the project for each expectation, and following up with the rest of the organization to recognize success and assess the need for continued improvement.

#2: Assure adequate scoping by involving the expert user community in needs definition and selection.

Management’s main top level role is to define the expectation for increased productivity, increased sales, increased service levels, decreased expenses, and other quantifiable performance indicators. However, there is generally a group within the user community that understands the nuts and bolts of how a system can actually deliver those objectives, whose perspective is more valuable than managers that are not actually hands-on with the systems. It’s important to involve this expert user community in the scoping and selection process both because of the practical expertise they bring to the table and the increased user adoption experienced when skilled end-users feel their voice was heard.

#3: Provide experienced project management resources and project team members

Project management is a skill that requires training and experience. For implementation of core mission critical systems, qualified Project Managers (PM’s) more than pay for themselves. The PM:

  • Serves as the primary intermediary between executive management and the implementation team
  • Is the primary provider and enforcer of the project plan, implementation methodology, and project execution and communication infrastructure
  • Should have the experience to spot early warning signs and risk indicators
  • Should have the respect of executive management and the implementation team members
  • Should be impartial and not have an individual departmental agenda. PM’s that serve dual roles as IT, Operations, Finance, or Accounting Managers tend to place emphasis on their own departmental needs.

#4: Use a proven methodology

Do not reinvent the wheel. Most companies only implement new core enterprise systems a handful of times during the lifetime of the company; therefore, internal experience may be thin in systems implementation and team members may not even realize there are proven methodologies and project management disciplines that they can adopt. Tridea Partners practices Microsoft’s SureStep Methodology for its Dynamics ERP and CRM products, and most other ERP vendors have their own methodologies. Additionally, a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) will be knowledgeable in various generic methodologies.

Additionally, outside consultants that are certified on the ERP system spend their careers implementing systems and can assist in the use of the methodology best suited for your implementation. Tridea Partners ERP and CRM consultants are trained and experienced in the use of Sure Step for Dynamics GP, Dynamics AX, and Dynamics CRM implementations, as well as other common best practices, and can assist with use of the Microsoft’s proven implementation methodology.

#5: Provide sufficient budgeting of cash and internal resource allocation

Once a company has scoped out its needs, determined the value that delivery of those needs will provide, assessed the amount it’s willing to invest to meet those needs, and identified the system that best meets those criteria, executive management needs to make the required cash funds and resources available to the implementation team.

Cash budget issues arise when projects go over budget. Management should create a budget risk management plan prior to implementation so that they are not faced with making decisions in the heat of crisis and springing surprises on the board of directors or investors.

Resource allocation issues mostly originate from management underestimating the amount of time that will be required of the implementation team and the end users for process design, implementation, testing, validation, and training. Everybody on the staff at the beginning of a project already had a 40 hour job, and management must anticipate the need for additional human resources or lower their expectations of productivity during the implementation.

#6: Anticipate, embrace, and manage change

People resist change. Often the users that are being given a new system emotionally own the legacy system (or it owns them), and experience fear of the unknown. Even users that are frustrated with the legacy system, if left out of the loop on the requirements analysis and selection of the new system, will resist adoption of the new one, favoring the known evil over the unknown.

Management has a key role in creating an environment that fosters continuous improvement and rewards reasonable experimentation. Managers can foster user adoption by recognizing and rewarding successful process reengineering as much as normal operational performance.

Finally, organizations need to avoid the classic trap of simply re-creating the legacy system procedures and business practices in the new system. Many of the legacy practices exist due to the need to contort the workflow to fit within the constraints and limitations of the old system. Managers need to learn to separate the desired end result from the path leading there, and be willing to look at the best new path exploiting the strengths of the new system.

#7: Avoid extensive modifications and use proven 3rd party products when available

This factor comes in two forms. The first was largely addressed by factor #6 where we encourage companies to adopt the best business practices using the features of the system selected, and not try to customize the new system until it is a re-deployment of the legacy system.

Sometimes, however, even the best fit lacks some special feature that is a critical requirement. In this case, first priority should be given to finding an existing 3rd party product that integrates well with the new system, before considering major customizations or developing a custom bolt-on. This means that part of the selection criteria for any system should be that it is deployed on a widely supported stack (operating system, database, application architecture) and that the system has a good ecosystem of 3rd party products available.

The main advantage of a well-established 3rd party product is that you can purchase and begin deployment immediately without going through an extensive design, develop, validate, deploy cycle. Your company likely already has its hands full with the core ERP deployment.

 

Conclusion:

The top tier ERP systems have all been successfully deployed in thousands of organizations of every shape and size. The most common reasons for failure are all within the power of management to control. Success starts with top management and flows downward, and ultimately success comes when management puts the right resources in place and keeps their eye on the ball. I’ve provided links to the excellent source articles by the organizations that performed the actual research cited. I hope that this overview opened your eyes to the risks inherent in ERP implementations and your ability to manage them. I offer my thanks to the professionals and scholars that performed the original research.

 

Sources Cited:

1 Denise Ganly, “Address Six Key Factors for Successful ERP Implementations”, Gartner Group Archive, 24 March 2011, http://www.gartner.com/id=1603415

2 Panorama Consulting Solutions, “2013 ERP Report”, The Prescott Group, LLC, Copyright 2013, http://Panorama-Consulting.com/resource-center/2013-erp-report/

Panorama Consulting Solutions, “Clash of the Titans | An Independent Comparison of SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics”, The Prescott Group, LLC, Copyright 2012, http://panorama-consulting.com/resource-center/clashof-the-titans-sap-vs-oracle-vs-microsoft-dynamics/

 

 

This post was written by George Sagen, Senior Application Consultant for Tridea Partners, a Microsoft Dynamics GP
and Dynamics AX consultant serving Southern California and the Salt Lake City
region.
For more information on Tridea Partners’ ERP implementation methodology and how we can ensure a successful project for your company, contact Sales@trideapartners.com.