Viewing archives for Automation

3 Common Problems with Systems Integration

Integration challenges can be difficult to identify. In this video, Freeman Clarke Co-founder Graeme Freeman explains three of most common problems created by systems integration and how to get started on fixing them.

You might also find these interesting:

3 Focus Points for Successful Systems Integration (Video)

A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems Part I: How to Spot Them

A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems Part II: How to Solve Them

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

3 Focus Points for Successful Systems Integration

Freeman Clarke Co-founder Graeme Freeman explains the three areas you’ll need to focus on for a successful systems integration project and provides ideas for building on that success.

You might also find these interesting:

3 Common Problems with Systems Integration (Video)

A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems Part I: How to Spot Them

A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems Part II: How to Solve Them

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

ERP Explained: The Basics

At Freeman Clarke, clients frequently ask for our help with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects. We’re not surprised, because ERP projects can take mid-sized businesses to an entirely new level. But they’re also notoriously difficult. ERP projects can be ruinously expensive — it’s often said that 75% of them fail.

With this in mind, in the coming weeks we’ll be developing our ERP Knowledge Centre. It will provide a comprehensive introduction to ERP systems, how best to implement an ERP project, and how to avoid the common mistakes that lead to expensive and frustrating ERP failures.

But let’s start with the essentials.

What is ERP?

Consider all the core processes you need to run your company: finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and others. The most basic function of ERP is to integrate all these processes into a single system. The result is that all these separate parts of your business have access to the same information in real-time.

But new ERP systems are anything but basic. They use the latest technologies, such as machine learning and AI to provide information, visibility, and efficiency across every aspect of a business. And the promised integration may not materialise if the system is not implemented correctly.

Initially these products were targeted at the manufacturing sector. But they have generalised their offers to cater to every kind of business in every sector.

What are the Advantages?

There are too many advantages of a well-executed ERP system to list in one blog post! But we can say that the advantages break down into four main categories:

  1. Reporting. In the past, to generate reports, many companies had to manually merge data from multiple systems (Many companies still operate this way!) ERP automates reporting and provides updates in real-time.
  2. Risk Management and Compliance. Each sector has its own regulatory challenges to comply with; ERP systems can be adapted to the regulatory needs of any particular sector or business, providing automation and transparency.
  3. Automation of Business Process. ERP promises to streamline front-office and back-office processes.
  4. Customer Service. Slick, integrated processes make for a more reliable business with fewer errors, which means that your people can focus on customers. And ERP systems often include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to track and retain customers.

What are the options?

The best-known products are from Oracle, including PeopleSoft, Netsuite and JD Edwards; SAP (the full product and it’s confusingly named versions); Sage; Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Dynamics NAV; IFS; Epicor; and Access.

But the list of options can seem endless, as specific sectors have their own ERPs — you’ll find products for the legal sector, logistics, manufacturing, professional services, and facilities management.

How do I start an ERP project?

An ERP project is a major undertaking for any organisation. If you’re approaching this for the first time or your current ERP project is going south — call Freeman Clarke for a low-pressure, no strings-attached discussion. Our people are experts in all aspects of ERP projects, solutions and products.

We’re also completely unbiased — unusual for the IT world, we have no commercial connections with suppliers. We simply use our skills, knowledge and experience to serve the best interests of our clients.

And look out for content in our ERP Knowledge Centre, where we’ll provide straightforward, useful content on crucial issues like how to start on ERP project, how to implement a successful ERP project, and using ERP to solve integration problems.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Software Robots, revolutionary new tech automating admin tasks?

Look around an office and you will see plenty of people whose main work is dealing with systems and information. Data, requests and instructions comes in from emails and other sources, and go out similar ways. People handle information, organise it, fix it, share it, and ensure that different systems are up to date so that the right things happen. Whether this is product information, contracts, claims, pricing, or just tracking holidays, new employees… a modern office is full of this kind of activity.

Software Robots(RPA) is technology that can replace these systems-based tasks, so it promises to automate much of the ordinary work that many office workers do for a living. Forrester (a well-respected technology research company) estimate that, by 2021, there will be over 4,000,000 robots doing office and administrative and sales related tasks!

This CEO’s briefing explains:

What is RPA?

Is RPA really new?

Is RPA part of the AI revolution?

Where is RPA really working? What are the benefits?

How effective is RPA really?

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about RPA’s. All of which can be found on our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Knowledge Centre.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Introduction to office automation using Software Robots

Look around an office and you will see plenty of people whose main work is dealing with systems and information. Data, requests and instructions comes in from emails and other sources, and go out similar ways. People handle information, organise it, fix it, share it, and ensure that different systems are up to date so that the right things happen.

In this short video we discuss how this data handling can be replaced by office automation using software robots. A number of our clients are using this technology – and although there can be challenges the benefits and efficiencies far outweigh these.

This is a hot topic right now so you might find the following interview (and audio) worth a read/listen too.

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about RPA’s. All of which can be found on our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Knowledge Centre.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Using Software Robots to eliminate admin – really?

The consultancy, McKinsey, claim that 60% of jobs could have 30% or more of their constituent activities automated. Forrester (a well-respected technology research company) estimate that, by 2021, there will be over 4,000,000 robots doing office and administrative and sales related tasks. That’s just 3 years away!

Tech companies are promising revolutionary reductions in administration costs using software robots built from products like Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath.

It’s often called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or Intelligent Automation (IA). The techies are going mad for this shiny new thing!

But what’s really going on? I interviewed one of our Regional Directors, Andrew Hart, to hear more about the reality and what we’re actually doing with mid-market businesses.

You can read a summary below or listen to the conversation here.

 

Graeme Freeman: What are software robots and what do they really do?

Andrew Hart: We’re doing a lot of work with our clients using software robots to take over repetitive system tasks previously done by admin staff.

It’s potentially a game-changer. The idea is to use tools to eliminate the kinds of jobs that people in offices do all the time…. pull data from documents, emails and systems; get things from the web; update other systems and documents; read and send emails. That kind of thing.

Graeme Freeman: This sounds very impressive. Is this all about cost-saving?

Andrew Hart: Well, actually, this normally starts with the idea of saving costs but generally the objectives change. Many of the people bogged down with repetitive tasks are experts in the business, systems and data – if they have more time available then they can make a real difference to enabling growth.

Graeme Freeman: So if it’s not really about cost-saving, what are the hard benefits?

Andrew Hart: Well, it is about cost-saving. But it’s not only about cost saving.

Fundamentally, using software robots allows clients to simplify and standardise their business and to free up their experts.

Lots of companies are really complicated, especially if they’ve grown through acquisition or if their customers or suppliers impose annoying processes and systems on them. Software robots can allow companies to automate a lot of this.

Also, for our clients who are in highly regulated sectors these tools are very useful from a compliance point of view – reduction in errors, imposing controls and processes.

And a company with more software robots is well placed for growth. Directors know they can scale up far more simply and easily.

Graeme Freeman: Well that sounds great. What are the pitfalls?

Andrew Hart: There are plenty of pitfalls! Most importantly, our experience is that these projects are complicated and difficult to plan. IT experts and business experts need to be heavily involved and committed (rather than fighting to protect their jobs). So the entire project needs to be well supported, well communicated and part of a strategy.

The project should be driven on an incremental 80/20 approach all the time. Some ideas will work well, some not so well. It’s a gradual process of improvement rather than a quick win.

And once you have a large number of tasks automated then there will be frequent issues and you need people on hand to address them at affordable cost.

Graeme Freeman: So this is sounding like a mixed picture? What’s our conclusion?

Andrew Hart: Yes, the picture is mixed and (of course) the upsides are not as simple and clear as product vendors would claim!

Software robots are a way to transform businesses, but that’s never going to be easy. We would advocate this kind of project in particular circumstances and not in others. It’s not suitable for everyone.

It is vital to have inhouse expertise in the tools or to have a good relationship with a provider who can help at a reasonable day-rate. So, yes, the mundane tasks can be shrunk, but they are replaced by a new technical maintenance task. This task is smaller, smarter and more value-adding – but, make no mistake, this is a complicated technology that needs maintaining (by well-paid humans!).

We also filmed a short video that talks about the types of roles that software robots are replacing. This then frees up people to execute other roles. To watch the video follow this link. 

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about RPA’s. All of which can be found on our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Knowledge Centre.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.