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NGR's Blog

A weblog is an online, semi-personal journal offering the opinion and commentary of the authors.

Our blogs feature thought leadership on a wide range of business issues, with a particular focus on helping companies grow. Here you'll also find blogs about emerging technologies and career experiences from select employees. The opinions of the writers do not necessarily reflect the position of NGR on these subjects.

Introducing New Milk Procurement Functionality

One of the single biggest challenges dairy producers face is the set up and maintenance of how they pay their milk suppliers. As part of our ongoing commitment to the dairy industry, we are releasing new milk procurement functionality that is fully-integrated with the NGRERP platform.

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Maximizing value and ROI from ERP implementations

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have come a long way in accelerating business growth. ERP empowers organizations with real time access to information, and enables them to take quick decisions to boost growth. However, these applications are not routine software applications; they directly impact how the business conducts itself. In most cases, existing business processes have to be re-engineered and mapped to the business process as defined in the ERP system. This has many implications – the approach to crafting solutions, implementation and eventual system sustenance have to be carefully managed to reap the full potential of an ERP implementation.

While ERP implementations are successful, they have their share of failures as well - to minimize the chances of failure; organizations should adhere to a set of principles, beginning with a clear business case and an effective ERP software selection process.

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Streamlining Manufacturing, Distribution and Financial Operations through Quality Packaged ERP Solutions

A quality Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software package positively alters the way a company manages its back office, enabling it to enhance planning, execution, management, and control over a wide range of critical processes. It is this ability of ERP to organize and integrate core business areas such as manufacturing, distribution, financials and human resources that makes it popular among small and midsize manufacturers. ERP also boosts a company’s productivity and helps it meet business needs with appropriate levels of automation.

With an ERP solution, what was thus far a manual and error-prone process among distributed individuals and departments now gets connected into a collaborative process which enables greater real-time visibility.

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ERP - the foundation for an efficient organization

Would your brain be as powerful in controlling your body’s different parts, if it had no information on their strengths, weaknesses, and abilities? The brain is powerful as it receives and interprets numerous signals that are sent to it from different parts of the body. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is similar to the brain as it integrates different departments or functions across a company in a centralized manner.

An ERP software solution like NGRERP can maintain information and business processes for a variety of business functions such as Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management (SCM), Financials, Human Resources and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Prior to the concept of ERP systems, every department within an organization had its own customized computer applications. For example, the human resources department, the payroll department, and the financial department all had their own computer applications. Typically, this resulted in silos of information and delayed decision-making, as information or data had to be integrated from different computer applications. As an ERP is based on a common database, it allows every department or function to store and access information in real time. A typical ERP can provide solutions related to accounting, production, materials management, quality, sales and distribution, HR and project management.

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Design For Change

Complex software projects like NGRPulse, NGRERP, etc, have a long development cycle. You are passionate about technology and someone has to nudge you to start the project. Then you start understanding the domain a bit. The first people who you talk to will sow seeds that will go very deep and will form the genesis of the project. You start giving form to your ideas.

Then you start finding "how" to execute the ideas. You learn about software development, you learn about databases, you learn about web servers and web frameworks. Somewhere down the line, you don't like the frameworks out there so you start to write your own. After a while a prototype is emerges. You are forced to implement it immediately because the legacy software has crashed and the original developer has left the country. You work on your prototype, fixing bugs under pressure and veiled threats from users.

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How Supply Chain Leader Wal-Mart using Technology

It is hard to talk about supply chain management without mentioning Wal-Mart.

In its relentless pursuit of low consumer prices, Wal-Mart embraced technology to become an innovator in the way stores track inventory and restock their shelves, cutting costs and passing the savings along to customers. In the process the company became synonymous with the concept of successful supply chain management.

"I don't believe there is a university in the world that doesn't talk about Wal-Mart and the supply chain," said James Crowell, director of the Supply Chain Management Research Center at the Walton College of Business. “They are just so well respected because they do it so well, and certainly I know a lot of peer institutions around our country … will bring a Wal-Mart guest to speak.”

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Can eProcurement Benefit YOUR Company?

eProcurement can be of enormous value to companies of all types, and particularly to manufacturing companies. eProcurement provides numerous benefits to companies that employ this strategy, including the reduction of costs, the elimination of paperwork, as well as reduced manual labor and errors. eProcurement, when fully implemented in all departments, can also lead to a total visibility of spend, which leads to the ability to conduct spend analysis and to manage spend as well.

When conducting eProcurement, it is possible to obtain items from a catalogue of approved items, making the procurement process very streamlined and efficient. When conducting eProcurement, time is saved such that staff can work on high value transactions, and can concentrate on strategic sourcing and on improving supplier relationships. In short, eProcurement can be of enormous benefit to your company. In this article, we outline the various ways that eProcurement can lead to reduced cost, increased efficiency, and overall strength for your company.

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Marketing Automation As Mainstream Solution

For years marketers have taken prescribed actions immediately upon observing particular triggers, in most cases some form of customer engagement sort of a phone call, purchase or direct mail inquiry. Of course, before the general public introduction of the internet  these kind of automatically approved activities took some time to reach the customer often weeks or more as we were conditioned to “permit 6-8 weeks for delivery” of our rebates, rewards and perhaps particular products and services. Today we're much less patient as customers and are demanding that even our small, local businesses react to our demands immediately.

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What Sets Procurement Masters ahead of the Rest

On a global level, procurement organizations are evolving with the ever-changing world to continue to deliver value to their business. Today, the goals of procurement departments go well beyond simple monetary advantages, despite facing numerous thresholds such as: supply market volatility, supply chain disruptions, rising costs of raw materials, and talent shortages. These challenges are only increasing in volume and strength, forcing procurement organizations to continue to transform and help power their business through the setbacks.

According to a study by My Purchasing Center, research put out by consulting, technology service, and outsourcing giant, Accenture, procurement leaders are changing their strategies. The study says these forerunners are “transforming procurement from a cost-focused function to one that adds new levels of value, reflecting the mastery they have achieved across six measures.” The study focused on mastery behavior in strategy, sourcing and category management, supplier relationship management, requisition to pay processes, technology enablement, and workforce and organizations.

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Three Strategic Reasons for Moving To Cloud ERP

Product companies are facing significant challenges. Complex global supply chains have become the norm. Social data has changed the way people communicate. Supply chain velocity has exploded. Shorter order runs, compressed innovation cycles, faster decision making, on the spot judgment calls: companies have no choice but to move faster.

Most companies understand that cloud services can save money and provide good service levels.  Nucleus Research found that cloud applications deliver 1.7 times more ROI than on-premise applications.  So if you haven’t moved your ERP to the cloud yet, it’s for reasons other than ROI. But three other strategic capabilities should get you thinking:  the ability to collaborate, greater operational agility, and deeper visibility.

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Generating Demand For Complex B2B Sales

The complex B2B sale has some unique characteristics: higher average value, longer sales cycles, and a number of participants in the purchase process. And it is increasing in complexity. Buyer behaviour in B2B has changed dramatically in the past 5 years as the internet redefines how companies buy goods and services. Buyers are doing most of their initial research online before initiating conversations with vendors and are better informed at an earlier stage. Buyers are also more difficult to reach because of the increasing volume of electronic communications they receive. Traditional marketing and sales techniques are less effective for these reasons. We're moving from a focus on 'outbound' techniques like press advertising, mail shots and cold calling, to 'inbound' techniques based on websites, online ‘pay-per-click’ advertising and ‘content-based’ marketing. The changes present a threat to companies who don't adapt quickly to the new environment, but they offer a huge opportunity for those who learn how to use their online presence to generate demand effectively. The real promise of the new era of marketing and sales is the ability to use automated, repeatable processes to scale up the generation of high-quality sales leads - what we call 'demand generation' – leading to corresponding increases in sales conversions and revenue.

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The Benefits of CRM

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, as a technology solution and application is not simply a product to be purchased with associated benefits enjoyed. CRM, in this light, is a business system that integrates and enhances a customer centric business plan of a given organization. A precursor to gaining a quality CRM application is the complete understanding of HOW the organization operates and interacts with customers. Most businesses have a clear picture of how they are supposed to run, but with a complete process review (the initial stage of any successful CRM implementation) often shows that the “what is” is separated from the “what was intended.” In many instances, this helps companies realign themselves or see better ways of accomplishing goals. Either way, productivity increases and management gets a better view of the actual corporate operations and a 360 degree view of the customer relationship.

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Marketing Automation Implementation

A client recently requested me for a quick example of ways I implement marketing automation with a representative example, or case study. Here's a version of my submission to his compilation…

Over time I've enjoyed designing, deploying, measuring and improving numerous automated marketing initiatives for brands and businesses of all sizes. Due to this fact, I’ve begun to frame these initiatives in a number of simple strategies, allowing me to quickly develop automated marketing campaigns to develop customer-brand relationships and drive revenue. These automated campaigns form a baseline of activity personalized for every customer to drive revenue each and every day, automatically and without manual intervention or having to “reinvent the wheel” with ad hoc campaigns season after season. Here's the general framework for the marketing automation designer.

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An Evolving Technology for B2B Marketing

Lead generation is an integral part of all B2B marketing teams and they are facing increasing pressure to address the complexity and fragmentation of marketing efforts.

Conventional marketing techniques are rapidly becoming ineffective. Marketing teams are constantly under pressure to deliver more qualified leads. Increasing marketing complexity, mandate to do more with less and converging pressures is pushing marketers to increasingly look for the technologies and tools to address these challenges and automate marketing operations. But most often organizations lack standardized marketing processes resulting in mis-alignments and inconsistencies. Coupled with frequent change of people in marketing departments companies routinely lose key lessons learnt and corporate memory. All this makes adoption of Marketing Automatons an imperative for marketing departments.

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Permission Is Not Optional In Email Marketing

Permission is not an optional extra, but is the basic apparatus in email marketing. Permission is the key component in gaining recipient trust, optimizing deliverability and getting investment returns. It is practiced by all legitimate email marketers. But many new email marketers, especially those from print, television, radio and direct mail background resist the idea of taking permission. They fail to realize that email is different from the rest as it is a personal medium, similar to telephone. And the result of decline in telemarketing is a clear proof of this malpractice.

Email marketing isn't about smacking the recipient with one email after another nor is it about list size. Initially some do get okay results when they do not take permission. These kinds of marketers send out floods of email to email list gathered in trade shows, from white paper downloaders and visitors. But for most of the marketers, mediocre result is not the goal. When subscribers give permission for emailing, results such as increased response rates, better deliverability, and increased brand affinity and trust can be seen. It does take time to build a list based on permission and to send out relevant messages to targeted readers. This list will become shorter by the day if this list is an unsolicited email list. In simple words, permission helps in achieving better results and it is the only method to build strong relationships with customers via emails.

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B2B Email Marketing - It's all in the timing

Use the five buyer decision stages to optimize your message.

We B2B marketing professionals think about our target audience practically every minute (It’s kind of an obsession). We know their revenue, number of employees, titles they hold, their budgets, their hobbies, and most importantly, their decision roles. This is static lead info, and we try to know as much as we can.

But what about dynamic info, that changes over time? For instance, when are people ready to buy?

That’s where decision stages come in. A decision stage is a unique point in time a B2B prospect is in during the lead cycle. It’s another way to segment leads, because they have such different needs in each stage that we may as well treat them like different people. This affects how we find them, how we evaluate them, and how we craft our message for them.

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EMail Marketing: Is email the new Direct Marketing?

B2B marketing has a reputation for being austere, traditional, somehow more serious and - dare we say it? - a touch too stuck in its ways. Most of the techniques used, from CRM to Direct Marketing, incentives to conferences, are well established. Most business-to-business practitioners agree on the best strategies and there exists a happy consensus of opinion.

Frankly, consensus is boring.

With everyone in agreement with each other, the garden may be rosy but it is also terribly dull.

Rejoice then for new technology. Rejoice even harder for marketing challenges brought by new technology. And rejoice till your head hurts for email marketing.

Email marketing is a nascent medium that B2B marketers are struggling to conquer. Around each corner lurks a new problem and in each agency a novel approach as to how it may be solved.

This is all perfectly normal. Email marketing is new, the technology keeps on evolving, the marketers are continually learning and the recipients are becoming more mature, more cynical and harder to win over.

What this means is that there is everything to play for. And in B2B marketing terms, that is exciting.

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Why Email Marketing?

​​Many companies in the marketing field spend a lot of time and money in generating leads that create sales, but in most cases their efforts do not result in the outcomes they desire. Why? The answer lies in the fact that not all leads are sales ready. It has been estimated that only 25% of new leads are sales ready, 25% are straight away disqualif...
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