Optimizing M3 right now to prepare for the future

May 26 2020

 

There is no doubt that ERPs are going through a profound shift. Whilst companies make medium and long-term plans to transition to a future version of ERP, what can you do right now to optimize M3 to prepare for this future? In this pragmatic article, Jason Levick, MD of ComActivity takes you through your options…

Prepare to pivot

With current challenges it has become even more apparent than ever that ERP’s need to change. I was recently impressed by some comments from Rag Udd, a technology leader from one of the worlds leading resource providers, BHP, who stated recently ” Businesses that are more digitally capable will be able to respond quickly and thrive in the future.” He continues to say that the recent crisis has “provided a timely reminder that we need to accelerate our plans”. He believes that “the next wave of productivity will come from digital innovation including process digitisation, artificial intelligence and automation”.

I do think it’s true for all of us – we all need to find ways, quite quickly, to accelerate our move to digitisation so that we can all survive and thrive into the future.

What is the future of ERP?

The future of ERP looks very different from what many business have traditionally operated :

Agile and Auto scalable – and there is no work to be done on the infrastructure side – it’s all delivered to you.

Always updated – The need for upgrades is removed because it’s continuously updated

Automated – back end processes augmented and automated with AI

Extensible – It’s fully extensible – you will be able to extend it without the requirement for modifications

Highly integrated – both at the application level and your business technology eco-system – e.g. Microsoft 365

Agnostic – to platforms and technology stacks – avoiding proprietary software

Fully digital – documents, workflows, social, mobility and e-commerce

Fully blended data sources – enabling data mining from enterprise, public and 3rd party data, and utilize data science to source business advantages

Digital Twin – to be able to see the ERP and Supply Chain in a digital manner to give insights and optimisation

Infor M3CE has made big leaps forward and have a very positive road map to achieve this future.

What Infor M3 businesses can do right now to shift

Whilst many businesses using Infor M3 are on a digital transformation path, everyone is at a different point on the journey, with different versions of M3. With this in mind I have put together a list of pragmatic things you can do now to optimize M3 so that you can pivot to that future. Not everything on the list will apply to you, but I hope that much of it will resonate:

Avoid/unwind ODBC/SQL

After years of directly connecting to ERP databases, it’s time to start unwinding your ODBC/SQL calls, and consider investing in APIs and webservices.

Document the usage of SQLs

If you can’t change your SQLs, then document them. This means when you come to make this change, you will have a documented idea of what the SQL are doing.

Archive your data

Clean up old data, tune your master data. At the end of the day, M3 is a business engine, which like any engine needs cleaning and tuning. The better shape your master data is in, the better your system will run. This is a step that will give you immediate benefit.

Remove point-to-point integration

Consider loosely coupled technology – and remove those “single points of failure”. If you are on later versions, ION will enable this, but if you are not there are options on the market to consider without necessarily moving into an upgrade at this stage.

Consider bespoke platforms for digital acceleration and the use of workflow and mobility

There are plenty of platforms out there that integrate into M3 and enable you to benefit from the digital world advantage and move into better places with mobility, especially with the onset of ION APIs etc.. If you have later versions of ION and Infor OS, you can already start working through those workflow needs.

Utilise data warehousing technologies and techniques

Use these technologies and techniques to blend data with your enterprise so that you can get quick business advantages, using Snowflake and Redshift for example, or if you are on the later versions of Infor M3 on the cloud you can take advantage of Infor Data Lake.

Process review and readiness

Regardless of your version of Infor M3, you can document, measure, compare your processes with best practice. So, get a process document tool, like 2C8, record your processes, compare them with best practice. This will highly likely drive immediate improvement in efficiency in your current environment and will certainly set you up better to shift in the future.

Adopt cloud technologies

Cloud technologies deliver availability, disaster recovery security and continuity. If you aren’t on the Infor Cloud yet, you may want to consider dipping your toe in the water by moving to a cloud-hosted situation which will give immediate benefits around disaster recovery, availability and security.

Digitize your document management

Move to a document management solution. Infor has document management solutions available even for on-premise M3, and a move to this means you can start incorporating digital documents in workflows and interactions with customers.  In addition, with products like Ephesoft, you can take advantage of document capture automation.

Create a supply chain digital twin

Work towards, defining, measuring and optimising your supply chain – there are software package available for you to start doing this today, like Optimity, which will deliver very clear bottom line benefits immediately.

Embark on Ecommerce initiatives

Utilise solutions like Infor Rhythm, or a tool like Comestri which enables you to connect with multiple channels, which even without being on the latest version give options to work towards a digital future and work with your customers on an Ecommerce platform.

We all need to accelerate our digital transformation, but it can be easier said than done. Hopefully this checklist has given you encouragement and ideas for what you can do right now, regardless of which version of M3 you are on to pivot to a digital future, and reduce the time to achieving value of that future. If you would like to understand more about anything I have talked about here, or what your options might be you can reach out to me via linkedin, or send me a message and I will be sure to get back to

 

 

 

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