Operational Agility: What does it actually mean for your business?

operational agility

Blog Written By | Lawin Ileto, NETRONIC

An outsider’s perspective on Operational Agility

Operational Agility sounds like one of those “buzzwords” such as Big Data, Freemium or Snackable Content, which keep reappearing on PowerPoint slides that typically baffle half of the audience. In the beginning, Lawin took the term Operational Agility as it is – quick and easy operations. By taking the simplest dictionary meaning of Operational Agility, it posed more questions than answers. What does it mean to be quick and easy? How does a firm achieve this? And if this exists, why aren’t all companies practicing it?

Lawin Ileto joined NETRONIC in February 2019. “Operational Agility wasn’t a word that I’d normally come across in my past jobs. On my first day at the company the word Operational Agility greeted me during the first presentation given to me”, he said. The slide read “Our mission is to empower every SMB organization to gain operational agility with visual scheduling”, this is the goal of NETRONIC. Typically you see B2B companies using the term profitability in their goals, but what did Operational Agility have to do with profitability? “As a new member of NETRONIC, it took me a while before Operational Agility’s textbook meaning stuck to me. I had to read The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and other literature to give me a better idea of the terminologies in manufacturing,” Lawin said. “So far, from what I have picked up, Operational Agility is the key for organizations to operate and grow in unpredictable environments,” he said. Three key characteristics emerge when talking about Operational Agility (Ismail, Poolton, & Sharifi, 2011; Dahnardeh & Ali Banihashemi, 2010);

  1. Robustness – the ability to address or limit the effects of uncertainty
  2. Responsiveness – the ability to respond to market needs
  3. Flexibility – the process of achieving different goals with the same facilities

It is normal for businesses to experience a lot of unpredictable changes caused by both external and internal factors, which make the business vulnerable. For small and medium businesses, this is especially true, given their limited size and resources. In order to limit the effects of uncertainty for companies to be proactive by being strategically ready (Ismail, Poolton, & Sharifi, 2011).

The key is anticipating these unpredictable changes and being agile enough to limit their effects by tweaking internal things such as organizational structures, resources and information systems, etc.

NETRONIC and Operational Agility

“I tried to reflect on what I’ve been reading and looked at my current situation in NETRONIC with an outsider’s perspective at how operational agility was being practiced in this business,” Lawin said.

NETRONIC has been around for more than four decades. The company has been focusing on providing its customers with visual scheduling software, whether it is in the form of customized solutions or via established platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV & Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. “When we say visual scheduling, this comes in many forms; for NETRONIC this is in planning diagrams and Gantt Charts among other things,” Lawin said. The company’s products allow the visualization of resources and time-centric data into something easier to understand. The visualization gives a high-level perspective, instead of trying to read between the lines, you can make assumptions by seeing the big picture. “So my question was, what does visual scheduling have to do with operational agility? Are these two terms even related to each other?”, Lawin stated.

“Over the past months of working here at NETRONIC I have come to understand why and how visual scheduling enables operational agility”, Lawin said. As mentioned earlier operational agility is all about coping with unpredictability, by using visual scheduling software companies are able to strategically plan what is in front of them, make changes on the fly – allowing them to be more flexible and responsive when unpredictability strikes. 

“If I zoom in on NETRONIC and see how they have faced uncertainty, they have done well. For an IT company to be in the business for 40+ years, given the rate of technological advancements, this is something that my colleagues, who have been part of the company for much longer than myself, can be very proud of,” Lawin said. “When we talk about robustness the company has proven to be just that, in such a fasted paced market the company has successfully been able to limit the uncertainty surrounding the industry and even establish themselves as a leader in this niche,” he said.

“This said robustness coincides with their ability to be responsive. As I’ve come to be acquainted with the internal processes and applications, I notice that these were put in place for the developers to complete tasks quickly and respond to the different continuously changing needs of the customer. By being quick, our turnaround time and SLA are shortened and we have the ability to service several customers simultaneously,” Lawin said.

The same applications and processes also provide ultimate transparency and perspective, which makes it easy to collaborate on projects. NETRONIC software developers typically work on various tasks and projects simultaneously, so planning and resource management are very tricky and important. By being flexible the company is able to stretch its resources but assure quality in their delivery and efficiency in their output. 

“This is what I thought of Operational Agility and how I made sense of it,” Lawin said. If you are still looking for the right solution to help your company to achieve Operational Agility by becoming robust, responsive, and flexible then NETRONIC and allonline365 may have the right product for you. NETRONIC offers solutions that are fully integrated with different modules of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central that allow companies to easily make drag and drop changes to efficiently manage their orders and resources.

For companies using the manufacturing module, NETRONIC has two products available. For companies using the Jobs module, they have the Visual Jobs Scheduler and for the service module, they have the Visual Service Scheduler. Contact allonline365 on info@allonline365.com or +27 (21) 205 3650 to discuss which NETRONIC application suits your business needs best.


Which ERP features should small businesses consider?


Resource Credit | ERPFocus

ERP features for small businesses to consider

While there is a large degree of hyperbole when it comes to ERP these days, when it comes down to it ERPs are still ultimately resourcing management systems. It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘things’ and ‘people’, but how those resource elements interact and combine to enhance overall small business efficiency, or in short, more money on the bottom line.

To achieve this goal, one must leverage several core feature sets, since these are the bedrocks that business is based on. These include:

Streamlined process applications

  • Project management
  • Production control: essential for manufacturers
  • Inventory control
  • Logistical management
  • System security

You could also consider integrated HR and CRM functionality, if you have the budget, your company is big enough to warrant it, and you don’t already have a system in place.

Integrated financial applications

  • GAAP Accounting
  • Consolidated Financial Management

Direct reporting

Reporting, preferably with real-time data, is a major benefit of implementing an ERP. Alongside the broad-level feature-sets outlined above, here are a few reports to look for when shopping for systems:

  • Sales: for example, quotation list, list of sales orders
  • CRM: for example, contact list
  • HR: for example, personal FTE information, emergency contact
  • Project management: for example, functional timelines
  • Production control: for example, product line counts, finished goods tallies
  • Inventory control: for example, bin counts, distribution logs, shipping logs
  • GAAP accounting: for example, GL, AR, AP, payroll
  • Consolidated financial management: for example, divisional reporting
  • System security: for example, failure/recovery reports

Everything else; and we mean everything.

In this area, we identify various follow on tiers that can be applied to a small business ERP platform. Some of these elements include:

  • In/outbound business intelligence – the goal is to allow the enterprise to ‘see and respond’ to the totality of its market in real-time.
  • In/outbound mobility – the goal is to directly bind the customers to the enterprise, buy means of a host of communications mechanisms.
  • In/outbound social networking – the goal is to create a virtually-persistent channel between customers and business.
  • Automated operational scripting – the goal is to alleviate manual processing throughout the system, and the enterprise at-large.

Each of these requirements sections applies the same value sets ranging from the elimination of process waste to reduction cost, ultimately leading the enterprise to achieve enhanced revenues over time.


What to focus on when you’re receiving an ERP demo

erp demo

ERP demo scripts: guide and examples

Today’s enterprise software systems represent a host of challenges to commercial operators. This assertion is particularly true when it relates to ERP platforms, since as resources platforms begin to target and subsume within a company.

Consequently, to ensure that users start on the right foot, it is best to apply various ‘knowledge-maps’ that establish clearly stated operating requirements, thereby leading to solid decisions when they’re needed most – like the moment when an enormous check is about the be written. One of the most fundamental maps involves the design and application of software demo scripts when selecting ERP systems.

It should be understood that this kind of guidance should be driven by an inside out perspective, rather than the other way round. Many enterprises fail to adhere to this decision bias when buying new systems; and instead, end up settling for product demo script samples that are provided by salespeople.

As a core principle, this is a bad idea, and should never be applied. The enterprise itself is the entity that is going to have to accept a system once in it’s in operation, and that same entity is going to have to overcome, and/or pay for, any subsequent problems if the whole thing goes wrong, so  beware, since this requirement must be adhered to at all times.

Here are some tips to help you move toward your own tailored demo script for your business.

What do you include in a demo script?

As a matter of efficiency, scripted demonstration templates should be as granular as possible. Consequently, any module or task within a targeted ERP platform should be included. For example, here’s a very short sample of the information typically included in a comprehensive ERP demo script:

  • Global overview
  • Global functions

Individual module investigations should be added accordingly including:

  • General Ledger
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash management
  • Inventory

Within each major script heading, individually defined subordinate and individually defined tasks are typically included such as:

  • Specific feature sets
  • Related functions
  • Processed integrations
  • Individual security necessities
  • Utility operations
  • Report needs

Bear in mind, the aforementioned list represents only a small sampling of what a complete demo presentation script entails.

What to exclude in a demo script

For all the detail necessary to craft a proper vendor demo scorecard template, there are other elements that shouldn’t be applied at all. Here are a couple of ways to avoid these areas of weakness:

  • Direct product comparisons – every product is different in the same way that each enterprise is different. Focus on what you need, rather than what one or more vendors want to sell you.
  • Avoid the easy stuff – it’s pretty simple to build a software demo script that only applies to system features that involve current operations; but what about particular elements that apply to growth? The latter question is usually more useful, since considering future-proofing during a demo script round is a solid hedge against obsolescence later. if you always think forward than backward, you’ll be a lot happier later.
  • Don’t look for commonality between systems, look for diversity – when you’re defining ERP demo script examples ensure that you’re looking for sure ways to delineate differences between one system and another, rather than trying to re-validate the same wheel time after time. Literary sources suggest that Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing time after time while expecting a different result’.

At allonline365 our focus is determining your current and future needs, and that is what we focus on in our demos. What are your biggest challenges? What can we show you that will help stabilize issues and promote efficiency? We look past all the ‘fluff” and show you what really matters to you. Contact us on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650.


Resource Credit | ERPFocus

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