LawsonGuru Blog

Thought-Provoking Commentary for the Lawson Software Community

Are You Recession-Proof?

The economy is on practically everyone’s mind these days.  We know we’re in for a bumpy ride over the next several months, and perhaps even years.  Everywhere we turn, organizations are “battening down the hatches”, learning to do more with less.  One way to do that is to evaluate our tools as well as our approaches to some of the routine tasks that we perform.

In other words, one way to do more with less is to do it faster and better.  By applying a process mindset to routine tasks, you can indeed become more productive, and therefore become more valuable to your organization.

I know I’m always harping on transforming your organization into a “process enterprise”.  Understand though—”process” is not a technology—or even necessarily a product—it’s a mindset, a philosophy.  One of the keys to becoming process-driven is to use the processes and best practices that you already have—that’s why you implemented Lawson, right?   Are you really using Lawson (and the other tools you have available) to its fullest potential?

If you’re like most clients I meet, you’re probably only exploiting about 50-60% of Lawson’s functionality.   A lot of the “out-of-the-box” horsepower sits unused. Michael Hammer said most ERPs fail because “these companies did not appreciate the nature of ERP.  Because its modules are so tightly integrated, an ERP system is, in effect, a tool for supporting end-to-end processes”.

Do you continue to use your current tools and processes without thinking “isn’t there a better way?”  And, even if there is a better way, why do we always just immediately assume that it’s too cost-prohibitive?   Think about some of the routine tasks that you and your staff perform.  In a lot of cases, I’ll bet there are at least 5 tasks you perform on a routine basis that you can automate, or at last semi-automate.

Here are some ideas:

  • Microsoft Add-Ins. I use them on an almost daily basis these days with clients,  in ways that I had never even considered. If you and your staff can save an hour or two a week by using them, doesn’t that easily justify their cost?  If you do use them, are you using them for journal entries?  How many of you create Excel files as “backup” for journal entries only to have someone rekey it into Lawson?
  • Automate routine processes using multi-step jobs and recurring jobs (this doesn’t cost a cent)
  • Use a Lawson ProcessFlow to send the SysAdmin an email when a job goes into recovery
  • Route invoice and journal entry approval processes using Lawson ProcessFlow
  • Integrate other systems with Lawson with Lawson ProcessFlow Integrator
  • Harness the power of LBI dashboards to monitor processes and metrics before they blindside you
  • In Procurement, Analyze stock-outs and adjust re-order points
  • In HR/Benefits,
    • Use Personnel Actions to structure your employee-related processes.
    • Use Manager-Self-Service/Employee-Self-Service for routine tasks, like address changes, without requiring HR.
    • Track dependents in HR and Benefits enrollment to avoid duplicating the effort of entering them into a provider’s system
  • In Finance, use Allocations to spread overhead-type expenses efficiently and accurately
  • In IT, employ server monitoring so that you’re alerted before an outage becomes a crisis

You get the idea.  The approach I take in my consulting is to provide my clients with the ability to re-think an approach that isn’t working efficiently and help them devise a better solution. I’m continually amazed after I work through the problem with them, and show them some different alternatives, how often we devise a better approach, sometimes even after just a few minutes.

In this ever-fragile economy, with layoffs by the thousands, the way to persevere is to continue to improve your skills and streamline your processes, through innovation and creativity. Think of it as an investment in working smarter.  Become the value driver for your organization.


2 responses to “Are You Recession-Proof?

  1. MTFF January 31, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Upon first look of the title, I felt a chill. It seems these days, no job is safe! Especially in software, where lots of work has been outsourced.

    Digging a bit into the article, I understand and completely agree with suggestions. Then, I began to think more about it from different people / role’s point of view.

    A low level AP clerks, would NOT appreciate IT automating and finding more efficient way to their work for them, in fear of losing their jobs. This would create resistance to implementing “anything” that would make the process more efficient. I have observed this personally at various places.

    From the point of view of a mid/low level manager that’s close to the folks that works for them. With all the inefficiency, even incompetence, managers do not have the ‘heart’ to improve the process; in fear people will lose their jobs. So, they will also “resist” change. I have also observed this personally at various places.

    From the point of view of a high-level manager, they will be happy, perhaps even excited, to run an “efficiency” project. However, the cost savings from these projects are not axiomatic. Sadly, I have observed failures too many times because the human factor was not accounted for.

    The companies that can’t streamline and reduce cost during the hard times, will go out of business, and “the market should let them”.

    For efficiency projects or tips to work, there needs to be a mind set change from the ground up. The workers NEED to take responsibility AND pride in the product / service they produce. Then, give / train those employees to use efficiency tools; the entire company will prosper. What is my point? Utilize efficiency tools, utilizing existing software functionalities are all good, BUT, you need the right people with the right mind set to utilize those tools.

    For an executive that wants to secure his/her job, focus on cutting poor performing workers, managers, and train your first string performers. For a self-confident and pride taking worker, ask for guidance on how to do your job better. One tip, suggest to your AP dept, start using on-line bill pay for business instead of processing all those paper bills!

  2. Phil Simon February 11, 2009 at 7:49 am

    There are so many things that clients can do. Aside from some of the things mentioned in the post, I recommend regular audit reports run every payroll or month to avoid issues from spiraling out of control. No system is perfect and ever reports that show no data are valuable to run. These can often confirm that no problems exist in the database at that point. Especially with new users, it’s not hard to schedule Crystal Reports or MS Access audits to run at 2 a.m.. Looking out their results for ten minutes every two weeks, for example, might save ten hours of work down the road.

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