Importance of ERP

How to Choose the Right ERP Platform

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth 2400 900 Xcelpros Team


Imagine your company’s software vendor has just announced it’s no longer supporting a program your staff uses, one that over the years has helped you grow your business. Processes continue to get more complicated with data continuing to expand at astronomical rates leaving older systems behind. Your company is left with no choice: It’s time to pick a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for your organization.

There are two major questions that need to be answered: Which solution best suits your company right now? Is there a different solution that will help your pharmaceutical or chemical company grow from a small or medium business (SMB) to a level able to challenge the industry giants?

Choosing the Right ERP System

Before your company can evaluate products on the market, you need to understand what will work best for you. ERP News suggests that if you do nothing else, it’s important to understand the needs of your business.

Before starting the ERP selection process, it is a good idea to analyze the business processes correctly and reveal the areas that you find incomplete or that need to be improved. Source: ERP News

Figue: 1 ERP selection process

ERP selection process

There are 10 critical steps to selecting the right ERP software package:

1.Ensuring it fits your company’s business needs. It’s important to understand what the needs of your organization are now, and in the future; short, medium and long term.

2.Planning an effective budget. You want to get the most effective business ERP system for your organization. What’s the total cost of ownership? What kind of return on investment (ROI) can you expect? Which is most likely to help your company profit and grow?

3.Verifying flexibility and scalability. Just because a package is a top-rated ERP solution today doesn’t mean it can keep up as your needs grow or as market conditions change.

4.Ensuring it can adapt to new technologies. Can your solution of choice support internet of things (IoT) data? Is it compatible with cloud computing? Does it allow work from any location? Is it usable with tablets, laptops and even mobile phones?

5.Is it compatible with your existing business software? Can the new system communicate with your legacy software and devices? Will your users be able to easily access old data alongside new orders and processes?

6.What do similar-sized competitors use? Is there a standard ERP used in your industry? What do your clients, suppliers and business partners use? What do they like and what would they change if given the chance to start from scratch?

7.Research your implementation partner. How much experience do they have in your industry? How flexible is the software and how capable is your partner? Can your implementation partner customize the software to meet your specific, demanding needs?

8.Will it grow with your business? Can the enterprise resource planning application expand, not only in terms of users but into other areas you don’t need today, but might in the future?

9.Does this project have support from upper management? If not, going through all of the other steps is an exercise in futility. Effective research will make it impossible for top management to say no.

10.Does it have a familiar look and feel? Don’t underestimate the effect changing ERP systems will have on your worker. If you don’t have user support, making it work will be tough. One way to achieve that goal is by using software similar to other programs they already use.

One last question to continuously ask along the way might be “What do we have that works well right now? What do we need to function better?”

Top ERP Systems in the US

All of the software giants have ERP systems. Depending on who you read, different companies will be on top. The dominant players are well-known software companies: Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce and others. In no particular order, the most frequently mentioned top ERP systems are:

  • Epicor ERP
  • IFS
  • Infor
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Oracle JD Edwards
  • Oracle NetSuite
  • Sage X3
  • Salesforce CRM
  • SAP Business One
  • Syspro
  • Workday Financial Management

Researching offerings from each one of these major companies will take time and manpower. At this point, you’ve moved on to the next stage: evaluation.

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Evaluating ERP Software

According to SelectHub, choosing the right ERP system includes evaluating criteria based on your company’s needs. Typically, evaluation criteria includes:

  • Customer Relationship Management / Account Management
  • Accounts Payable Reporting
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Benefits Administration
  • Capacity Requirements Planning
  • Material Requirement Planning
  • Bill/Build of Materials
  • Logistics Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Module Integration
  • Installation Type
  • Network Flexibility
  • Employee Training

Companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries should add:

  • U.S. Regulatory Compliance
  • International Regulatory Compliance

Not included in this list is one other critical criteria that can help determine if your company would be vulnerable to attacks: data security.

Where to Start

A great place to start your search for a flexible, versatile, secure and ultimately valuable ERP software package solution is by connecting with an experienced consulting service with a thorough understanding of highly-regulated industries. This should include upgrades and migration, which are commonly ignored.

There are many partners that can suggest a modern upgrade path including an in-depth migration assessment that is risk-free and cost-effective. Whoever you team with, you’ll want to make certain they have extensive experience in your industry with respect to project planning, risk management and strategy.

Our Recommendation: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solutions are easily expandable, extremely secure, and backed by Microsoft’s Azure platform. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) modules include Finance, Supply Chain Management, Business Central and other related—and integrated—products. D365 can be customized and enhanced with other functionality, including products specifically designed for chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Integrated Chemical Management is a perfect example as one of Microsoft’s preferred solutions for these industries.

As a Microsoft product, Dynamics 365 has an advantage over every other competing product: a familiar look and feel. Office 365 and its many predecessors are used by millions of people worldwide. This familiarity helps your staff learn new software without having to learn an entirely new method of working.

Final Thoughts

For every business, selecting the right ERP system starts with an honest evaluation of your company and its needs. Determining where you are and where you want to go are the first steps towards ensuring your investment ultimately turns a profit and helps your organization grow.

It’s a big job, selecting the right partner along with the right software package. Thorough research and proper planning will be key to a smooth transition, but the result will be a much better implementation of a much better product. Are you ready to get started?

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit

dynamics 365 implementation

Making your Dynamics 365 implementation successful

Making your Dynamics 365 implementation successful 2400 900 Xcelpros Team


Your chemical or pharmaceutical company has an outdated, outmoded, clunky legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Finance is complaining that Inventory is unable to produce the right numbers. Sales is wondering why nothing ships on time. Departments and executives are angry at each other because their individual systems work just fine but nothing works together.

It’s time for a change. Your company decides to modernize with Microsoft System Dynamics 365 Finance to automate and modernize your financial operations.

How do you make D365 work the way you want it?

Installation of D365 ERP is a Process

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365—or any other ERP system—is a process. It takes time. It’s not a matter of just downloading some software, letting it run and then “boom,” your company is up and going.

There are as many as three tiers and four production stages.

Tier 1 looks at the “out of the box” Dynamics 365 solution. Is it going to work for your company as is? For existing companies, especially those with legacy systems, the odds are that your D365 will require some customization. At a minimum, your staff will need at least some training on Dynamics 365 to be able to successfully perform their jobs.

Tier 2 is known as “the Sandbox” because this is where your staff gets to play with Dynamics 365’s wide array of features. Sample customer data—purchase orders, sales orders, etc.—is loaded. This tier is also where your experienced employees examine the product closely. For example, a person who inputs purchase orders can see how D365 performs this function. Is something you need missing? Let an implementation professional know so they can modify the program.

The final environment is Production – a live environment where business will perform its functions.

Typical ERP implementation has 4 major phases (which could still change based on the implementation):

Figure: 1Primary Phases of Dynamics 365 Implementation

D365  finance supply chain management

  1. 1.Scoping and blueprinting: This is where Xcelpros SMEs help your company determine which Dynamics 365 features and modules are best suited to achieving your goals. The topics you’ll want to discuss include:
    1. a.Your pain points
    2. b.The issues you have now
    3. c.What you would like to accomplish
  2. 2.Design and development: This phase involves configuring Dynamics 365 to install the features you need to run your business. For example, there may be specific fields—like part of a formula—that aren’t currently a part of D365. This field needs to be programmed and added to the software. Other fields may be worthless. You want them removed to avoid confusion.
  3. 3.User acceptance testing (UAT): This is where your employees get to work with Dynamics 365 in a hands-on environment similar to the Sandbox but configured for you using generated test data. This is used to determine:
    1. a.What questions do your employees have?
    2. b.Do the modules behave the way they are designed?
    3. c.Is something you need missing?
  4. 4.Going Live: D365 is now ready to go. The production environment is fully set up and the master data is loaded. Actual sales orders, purchase orders, production orders and inventory data are ready. It’s finally time to make the change.

Implementations Take Time

Dynamics 365 implementation timelines can vary greatly from organization to organization –

  • 0 days: The amount of time a company is effectively out of business during the implementation process
  • 3 – 9 months: The time for a rapid implementation involving three entities: two chemical and one pharmaceutical
  • 10 months to 2 years: The time a typical full implementation takes when a company converts from a legacy system

Selecting an Executive Change Champion

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful implementation is having too many people making the final implementation decisions. Being known as “the person who brought our company into the 22nd Century” is a glamorous title. Many executives may want to assume the Change Champion role or at least give their input.

An old proverb says, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” This can be interpreted as letting too many people make requests and changes will:

  • Add confusion
  • Add costs
  • Delay the implementation

Confusion occurs when departments are not aligned on feature requirements or if there is change resistance. Some standard phrases of change resistance are – “The old way of doing things is just fine” or “This is what we are used to”

A Change Champion is a single point of contact, not a committee. They act as a relay and buffer. They relay information and requests from other executives and employees to the implementation team. They also relay requests from the implementers to the company. They act as a buffer between the legacy users who are resistant to change and the people working to improve the company through modernization.

A Change Champion:

  • Is a proponent of change in the company
  • Supports and defends the Dynamics 365 implementation
  • Is able to make difficult decisions
  • Is accountable and fully involved

They understand and are able to explain how Dynamics 365 will undoubtedly make the company more efficient and profitable, and how it stands to make everyone’s lives—from the chief executive officer to the people unloading truckloads of supplies—a whole lot easier. They’re able to explain how change will come whether people like it or not.

The Champion explains how Dynamics 365 can eliminate bottlenecks and remove redundancies.

This person is ultimately accountable for ensuring the right features are selected and installed. They are the ones with the authority to sign change orders to be able to spend money where it provides tangible value to your firm.

They make the call whether or not to add a customization or use what is already supplied. Is a feature a “must have” as in it’s required for the company to work properly or a “used to doing?”

“Used to doing” features are ones based on how the legacy ERP system operates. Employees are “used to doing” a particular task in a specific way. They resist change even without understanding that D365 makes their lives easier overall.

Training is Critical

The most successful ERP implementations occur when training teams are involved from the start. Some companies ignore it, expecting their employees to figure out the new system on their own. Others start training after the implementation process is well underway. Both of these scenarios delay getting Dynamics 365 running smoothly. They also increase resistance to the new product and its new way of doing things.

As employees begin using D365 starting in Tier 2, Xcelpros’ trainers are able to show them how to perform basic steps, and then build on what they learn. For example, have trainers use Step-Action tables to document the steps for adding a new customer. Which fields are completed first? Which are done automatically? What does someone do if an automatic field is blank?

Starting training early pays big benefits later. Employees learn that their ideas count. As they begin to use Dynamics 365 in a Sandbox environment, they become more comfortable with it without the risks involved in a live production environment. Documenting a regular process and then having employees perform it lets the trainers see what they need to update for your staff. Maybe an employee spots an unnecessary or confusing feature or a critical one that needs to be added. Getting this done early on can save your company valuable time and money.

What’s Next

Understanding the ins and outs of Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a big step towards a successful implementation. As is understanding the importance of a change champion, and the role they play. In an upcoming post, we’ll take a look at common implementation problems and some of the best ways to either avoid them or reduce the impact they pose.

Book a free consultation with our D365 experts for a successful Dynamics 365 Implementation.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit

Homegrown systems to modern ERP System

From homegrown to modern ERP System: Transforming your business

From homegrown to modern ERP System: Transforming your business 2500 938 Xcelpros Team


Homegrown enterprise resource planning (ERP) programs were created to use businesses’ information technology (IT) infrastructure to help grow and manage companies.

In the 1990s, the early adopters of homegrown ERPs spent millions of dollars to modernize their technology. Their goals were making it easy to run daily operations, increase competitiveness and find ways to be more efficient. The cost of developing such an ERP system was high, making Homegrown ERP systems a prized possession for larger corporations. Only those with a strong inhouse IT team and deep pockets could build and maintain them.

For some companies, the issue of deciding whether to use an ERP system and then picking one was deep rooted. Organizations that grew through mergers and acquisitions added ERP systems as part of the package.

Other companies dealt with classic cases of “Software Snowballing” where an ERP was mixed with other software, none of which was designed to share information. This method of mixing stand-alone products drastically raises the cost of integration. It makes sharing data more complex while also adding expensive software licenses and product maintenance costs.

The good news is that was the old day. Older ERP systems lacked the flexibility and rich features of today’s modern ERPs.

Industry Speaks

During 2019’s CPhI North America 2019 Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients conference held in Chicago, Xcelpros staff met with decision-makers from organizations who are neck-deep in older homegrown ERP systems. These companies find themselves having vital resources slowly but steadily drained.

The people we spoke with unanimously agree that ERPs of the past are adding inefficiencies and straining existing resources. These companies recognize the importance of an effective ERP. They want to convert their investments into a program that promotes growth, collaboration and efficiency.

Early adopters were encouraged by what their ERPs brought to their companies. They kept adding more resources to the system. Over time, some critical functions started unraveling. For example, the accounting module could not keep pace with global standards such as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or international financial reporting standards (IFRS). This inability to keep up leads to non-compliance issues.

From a maintenance standpoint, vendors of older systems started focusing on newer technologies. Companies with old programming tools and operating systems were left high and dry. In some cases, key personnel were tasked with maintaining an ERP on the verge of retirement. Most of our guests realized that updating a legacy system wasn’t practical since the technology is dated. With challenges outweighing the benefits, most of our guests at the CPhI were looking for a newer alternative.

Cost of Staying in Denial

One major issue for companies with homegrown legacy ERPs is the stack of standalone software. Each piece handles one part of the organization’s business processes. Licensing costs to maintain these programs often results in expensive bills at the end of every fiscal year.

The result, or what we call “the cost of staying in denial,” is severe. It grows with every passing day. Some of the common challenges faced by enterprises using homegrown ERPs are:

  1. 1.High costs to benefit ratio in maintaining legacy systems compared to modern products.
  2. 2.Incompatibility with popular business applications such as Microsoft Office 365, stifling collaboration.
  3. 3.Expensive integration required to perform regular tasks such as sales visualization. This often leads to high latency.
  4. 4.High people costs to maintain older tech that is already retired or will hit its end of life soon. In addition to the tech, the people who know to maintain it may also be leaving, putting pressure on newer staff who are hesitant to learn outdated products.
  5. 5.High costs of using a private datacenter to run the application, which is expensive. Many telecom firms worldwide are selling them to private companies. This includes Verizon and AT&T in the US.
  6. 6.Disruptions to normal business operations caused by upgrading the older ERP system. It is a time-consuming, expensive process.
  7. 7.Lack of collaboration because stand-alone applications limits growth opportunities and competitiveness.

To sum up the challenges, it is a typical case of application explosion with disjointed data sources also known as “the problem of too many.” Randomly applying partial solutions over time sucks up computing resources, increasing the overall cost of ownership.

It’s Time to Retire Legacy Systems

The companies Xcelpros spoke to at CPhI agree that their legacy systems are eating into their productivity and their limited resources. We wondered why, when chief executive officers and other top managers were aware of these issues, they had not already moved on to a modern ERP system.

Our research uncovered these issues:

  • Replacement costs and other economic considerations
  • A regressive mindset of, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”
  • Resistance to change management
  • Emotional attachments

It’s Too Expensive to Replace

We found comments about the perceived cost of a new ERP system were interesting, mainly because they were inaccurate. However, costs associated with switching to a new system were the most frequently cited reasons by our guests at CPhI’19.

This mindset and myth challenges years of ERP systems providers showing that new ERP systems typically save them money.

A current ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations actually costs up to 50 percent less than an on-site legacy system for a 100 employee company, business application provider Skyward Techno states.

When ERPs were first introduced about 30 years ago, their main feature was a uniform database that could sync information across business functions. It would ease decision making, the manufacturers claimed.

It was true … briefly. After ERPs came other targeted business applications. They include human resource management (HRM), customer resource management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM) and supply chain management software. Each program had its own unique database promoting “best of breed” software for their respective functions.

Companies that bought into that mindset then are now facing the problem of too many competing programs. A major issue is that specialization denies these firms the opportunity to harness the power of insights gathered by shared data.

A 2016 survey by Panorama Consulting found that nearly 65% of the organizations who implemented an ERP cited replacing outdated ERPs as the major driver for the change. The findings cited in the study matched with what we uncovered at the CPhI conference.

Figure: 1ERP Replacement Statistics

ERP replacement Statistics

With changing trends, best practices have morphed into more optimized processes that promote efficiency and shed workplace complacencies. At a time when profitability is stressed and finding a newer market is challenging, the right technology for your business can be the edge you are looking for.

Combating Resistance to Change

The adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is as archaic as legacy ERP systems. Delaying key technology decisions is costing companies every day they wait. Modern ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 lowers operational costs especially when compared to older software.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the wage for skilled labor is $17 to $25 an hour per worker. Using a median wage of $21/hr., production managers responding to sudden demand spikes need additional man hours to meet the demands. Not including overtime required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the labor costs of dealing with these demand spikes can quickly exceed projections.

Modern ERPs such as Microsoft System Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management let companies forecast trends. This software helps plan resources, track jobs plus manage materials and scheduling. The result is a more efficient operation.

Panorama Consulting estimates that modern ERPs ability to integrate data and create accurate forecasts can lower labor costs by 20%. Reducing labor cost is just one of the many positive ways a modern ERP benefits your business.

Managing Change Effectively

Change is inevitable even with technology. Change Management has been underestimated when adopting ERP. The result is implementation failure.

Change management includes designing the right framework for transitioning from unlearning the old and accepting the new way of working. Applying change management requires careful planning, making the role of ERP consultants more critical than before.

Part of this was mentioned in the 2019 Panorama Consulting report. It states that 68% of poll respondents had intense to moderate focus on Change Management during an ERP implementation. The overwhelming response shows the importance of organizational change management. It must include key leadership buy-in, effective communication, a robust training strategy and hiring consultants.

Figure: 2Importance of Change Management in ERP Implementation

Importance of change management in erp implementation

At least 50% of ERP implementations are intended to make employees more productive. The importance of change management in erp implementation cannot be undervalued as it impacts nearly half of your organization’s strength. It is something that needs meticulous planning and must not be pushed as the last item on a long list.

Break the Emotional Attachments

Emotional attachments were never documented as reasons to stay with legacy ERPs. However, some of our CPhI guests defended them even though they also agreed that the cost of maintaining them outweighed their benefits.

Some of these people are averse to change. When an older system can’t scale up, they customize it without knowing what will happen. That method may have worked years ago. Today? Modern companies want optimized processes that promote efficiency. Having a complacent workforce is no longer acceptable.

Older ERP systems have hidden costs. Once they require that actions be documented and stored somewhere. If that information isn’t recorded, inefficiencies cannot be detected during a year-end performance review.

Old Systems Cost Money Today

Companies spent huge sums to develop or license a homegrown ERP a decade or two ago. They are paying more for its maintenance today than a modern system costs.

Newer, younger developers don’t know how to update older systems to meet modern needs. The technology in them is too old. This causes companies using them to be less efficient, reducing their ability to compete with modern firms. Older companies using stand-alone systems are unable to leverage analytics and consumer insights. They also lack collaboration between modules such as finance and inventory. Modern ERPs have these connections.

What can a modern ERP System mean to your business?

Modern ERPs are much smarter and efficient than their predecessors. They connect and unify processes and information across business functions such as Finance, Human Resource, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Logistics, Procurement and Sales. Their connected d esign makes the system more agile, providing benefits that stand-alone systems cannot.

Some of the benefits are:

  • Making informed decisions
  • Driving collaboration and innovation
  • Increasing transparency
  • Promoting efficiency
  • Reducing dependence on human workers
  • Increasing productivity
  • Complying with quality and other government standards

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation is one such ERP. It comes with cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Prescriptive Analytics and powerful visualization. Everything is unified under a single ecosystem. The ERP drives business results by integrating data across an organization. It provides meaningful insights easily accessible from a cellphone or handheld device. Backed by Microsoft, it is not only secure but flexible and scalable.

Most companies own at least one Microsoft product since Windows operating systems are on 87 percent of the world’s computers. Business applications such as PowerPoint, Excel and Word are a regular tool for most organizations.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a similar look and feel to popular products such as Windows and Office 365. It’s ease of use and familiar look which makes switching over a much easier task.


ERPs have undergone a metamorphosis. They are no longer backend record keepers. Instead, they provide a versatile powerhouse that aids in making impactful decisions accurately and quickly. Modern versions cost less than what many firms pay to keep older systems running.

Break the myth that ERPs are an all or nothing solution. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can pick and choose the right modules for your business, adding more features and scaling up or down when situations change.

When updating to a modern ERP, consider using an established vendor whose product vision caters to your present-day requirements and your future needs. Firms that are part of Microsoft’s Independent Software Vendor (ISV) network have the extensive industry knowledge to guide you through your ERP journey.

Ask yourself a question: “Is my ERP system a roadblock to profitability?” If the answer is remotely “yes,” contact Xcelpros. We’ll bring the coffee.

Planning to transform you business with Modern ERP, book a free consultation with our experts.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit