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ERP – The User Conference 08/27/2012

Posted by TBoehm30 in ERP.
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This month I went to the User Conference for the ERP system that I have been implementing.   It is incredibly important to network with other users of the same software.  I met numerous people who have struggled with the same issues I have, and had great conversations about their insights.  I learned about other ways the software can be used, and workarounds for known problems.  I traded contact information with people who might be able to help us in the future, or whom I might be able to one day give a hand.

The conference was huuuge; there were around 4,500 people.  Apparently we trended on Twitter twice during the week.  They included partners who sell and support the software, they had customers, and they had vendors who make bolt-on products.  There was a trade show with booths for companies that work with the software.

I loved walking around the trade show area, where I could learn so much about the possibilities for the IT department.  I viewed demos of scanning equipment which could improve the manufacturing process and integrate seamlessly.  I had a discussion with the people at a company who have a better alert system that reads data right from SQL.  I saw several great BI products to make dashboards or reports.

They had presentations running all day covering all kinds of subjects.  Obviously, the software was a main topic, but they also had generic business presentations to talk about creating a vision, or managing technical people.  I went to all the presentations that I could possibly get to, but there were more than any team of people could cover.

The presentations were great for talking about using the software in new and unique ways.  I had an interesting discussion with an IT director on why he bought some software to automate sending out invoices.  The ERP system could be made to do it, but it would have taken the IT department quite a bit of time and opportunity costs to get it done.  The automation company came in with consultants, talked with his sales staff, trained them on the software and got everything setup. He and his team then got some quick training later to be able to support it.  While all of that was going on, he could concentrate on other more important projects.  It was a win-win for them.  I kept thinking about how I could get the ERP system to do the same thing, but realized how much time it would take to support.

I did a presentation on security that was well received.  I talked about how I helped a company create a very complex security system within the ERP system without customization.  I showed a group of around 80 people what was possible when using the software to its fullest potential.  Hopefully some of them got some good ideas from the hour-long talk and will be able to implement them easily.  One person even surprised me and asked about setting up even more complicated security.

After the official activities were concluded each day, there were cocktail ‘parties’ hosted by companies who wanted our attention.  These were not only fun, but included people that I would not have otherwise gotten a chance to talk to.  These were some of the movers and shakers at their own companies.  They were the IT people who really understood the software and could easily discuss issues and problems.

I saw plenty of people skipping out on a presentation or activity to use the Wi-Fi to dial in to work and fix a problem or two.  I thought about how sad it was that their company couldn’t let them alone for just a few days to participate in this amazing experience.  Instead of learning about new possibilities, they were stuck dealing with the status quo.  But at least they were there and got a taste of the future. 

I have worked with people who couldn’t justify the cost for an out-of-town trip and three to five days out of the office for this kind of event.  I say to them that the cost is higher when no one goes.  An ERP system from a large software company has so many people with good ideas that they shouldn’t hide from them.  They can’t operate in a vacuum and ignore the possibilities that exist.  They have to learn that it’s a global world out there and technology makes it happen.

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