From an IT Perspective: Global Go-Live of Epicor 9 and Looking Beyond to Epicor 10

Marlon Grigsby, Senior Director of IT, Vernay Laboratories
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Marlon Grigsby, Senior Director of IT, Vernay Laboratories

In many ways IT is all about system availability, performance, utilization and delivering value to the business. Many IT executives have their have own opinion of Epicor good, bad or indifferent. From my perspective, the latest installment of ERP with Epicor 10 is the path of least resistance when it comes referring back to KPIs that we frequently measure compared to previous versions. The question that now needs to be asked, is it worth the time, effort and resources needed to do a successful migration, let alone the risk.

For us, going through a global roll-out of a new ERP system is not something you do every day. In fact many companies may only switch to a brand new ERP every decade and major upgrades to existing ERPs every few years or so. Our organization is fortunate enough to do both within two years of one another. When I came on board it was to help with the implementation of Epicor. Coming in to aid an existing plan, the path had already been decided, business process owners established, less than stellar pre-planning followed, timeline severely behind and the project was already over budget. Sounds like any typical ERP go-live for an IT leader.

We went through a complex and demanding global roll-out. We had to convert our various locations across the world, who for years prior were comfortable using and running their own ERP system in a decentralized environment. Migrating them to our new centralized Epicor and having the end-users fully understand and embrace it was no small feat. During this process it was very difficult to really focus on problems and give excellent IT support outside the go-live event, as we were busy planning and preparing for the next location’s go-live. I liken it to a hurry up offense in football. We see the play clock ticking before us, so we have to think fast, be agile and certainly get the ball down the field and into the end-zone. There is no time to talk to coaches on the sidelines, no player substitutions and fans in the crowd, “the end-users”, are either going to love you or blame you for the end result. Everyone leans on IT, the quarterback, to lead, to execute against what was planned and hopefully meet the goals of the business, both in the short and long-term.

“Many companies may only switch to a brand new ERP every decade and major upgrades to existing ERPs every few years or so, our organization is able to do both within two years of one another”

After the smoke cleared and the dust settled for us from our world wind of Epicor go-lives we could sit back and see what we really have in this product. Was Epicor going to live up to the hype and our expectations of what we believed we bought and had been working tirelessly on? Were we sold on a bill of goods that Epicor can do pretty much everything we needed it to? Well from our experience Epicor can do just about anything we needed and more from a business side. There were some limitations in the fact that somethings we needed additional modules or 3rd party integration, but most things worked. From an IT perspective, the stark reality for us was that Epicor, version 9, falls short of optimum performance. There are great things about the program itself that really enables us to run our business and run it more effectively. Let’s face it that is why Epicor was selected over the other vendors. However, there are things that have kept Epicor 9 from being a great IT solution for us. One major drawback that we have experienced has been their dependency of the progress layer. From an IT administration point of view, the progress layer is very slow, takes a lot of computing resources on the back-end, is highly vulnerable to getting bogged down and it offers unfriendly error messages making issues more challenging to debug.

Just like any system or company for that matter, there is always room for improvement and we are quite impressed with the effort we have seen and the changes made in Epicor 10. Epicor has recognized the inefficiencies of their ways and have gone leaps and bounds to make Epicor 10 the path to optimal utilization of their program. They say you can do more in Epicor 10 with less. Having had this in our test environment for some time and been able to use and compare side-by-side, I can attest to that fact, yes it can do more with less and a whole lot faster!

With this major overhaul of the back-end, Epicor has pretty much stepped into Web 2.0 by having Epicor now being written in .NET and having a SQL backend, completely speeding up the application and making development much easier. They did not focus on too many changes from a functionality stand point which is good. In life and business there is the Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule, that basically states 80% of the benefits will come from the 20% of vital work. Epicor has just done the vital work needed to prepare themselves and their customers alike for success in our respective businesses. It all starts with us falling the path, not always of least resistance, but the one that is best for our organizations and speaking with bias, our IT departments. This path for us is straight through Epicor ERP 10. What we have seen are major improvements of the bottlenecks that we experience today around speed, performance and reliability. We really like what Epicor has done to take their path to optimum utilization of ERP. They realized there is a better way and for us, we recognize that way is Epicor 10.

I’m sure you are like me and want to be successful in your role and be a part of a successful organization. With that you have to think of the evolution of your ERP as always continuously moving and forever evolving. Having just completed my first marathon I know you can’t run like a sprinter and expect to finish the race. You must pace yourself with the end goal in mind, making it to the finish line 26 miles away. There is also a lot of preparation and training that it takes to run a good race. The same things hold true in our organizations as we prepare and embrace the change that is offered with Epicor 10. Our IT departments need to have endurance, stamina and the mental fortitude to be able to trust in our vendor, processes and people for a successful upgrade and transition to version 10. Trust your preparation and enjoy your Epicor ERP journey. 

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