Differentiation, Development, and Bucking a Trend

on Apr 9th, 2012 in Lawson/Infor, | Comments Off on Differentiation, Development, and Bucking a Trend

Ciber’s Lawson Practice enjoys a long and successful partnership with Lawson Software. And Infor’s acquisition of Lawson will generate new opportunities for CIBER and our clients. As with Lawson, Ciber and Infor together can provide solutions to reduce costs and generate efficiencies. The two companies will create a strong technology foundation for customer growth with managed services, cloud computing, product implementation, and system integration.

Soon after the Lawson acquisition, Infor’s CEO, Charles Phillips wanted to find a way to differentiate the company and help customers be more successful. So he began to emphasize product development and innovation. One way he did this was to gather people into disciplined discussions, During these, they identified a number of processes that no one needed. By stripping those processes away, Infor gained a significant amount of development capacity.

With this time gain, Phillips and his team created the ION Middleware. This ambitious product provides prepackaged integration between Infor products, creates visibility into processes by enabling in-flight or historical data analysis, and simplifies integration to Infor applications, compared with other general-purpose integration tools. He and his team realized that building things once, like the localization and reports, means their core application’s functionality can run faster.

Another concept they developed was a product strategy and roadmap that would take advantage of the company’s strengths and benefit its customers. These “build once and done” processes have led to a successful micro-focus on industry sub-segments, like differentiating a butcher’s requirements from a brewer’s needs. Phillips believes industry-unique features reduce the need for customizations and, therefore, costs. He also believes strongly in the growth potential of cloud computing and Software as a Service offerings. These types of products and services provide economies and reduce support requirements.

In an interview with Chris Kanaracus from International Data Group News, Phillips acknowledges that Infor is bucking the industry-wide trend toward analyzing infrastructure, but he believes his micro focus will bring success “The rest of the industry is going toward infrastructure as a basis of competition. Everyone’s looking at analytics and in-memory databases and hardware. We’re going in the opposite direction. That’s great, we’ll take advantage of that stuff, OEM it if we need to, but we’re going to put more of the money into these micro-verticals.” (Infor CEO Charles Phillips Discusses Software Vendor’s Remaking, Chris Kanaracus, International Data Group News Service, 1/10/12.)

All of this brings new opportunities to the Lawson install base. Better product integration, increased functionality, micro-vertical focus, and cloud computing provide better return on investment for our clients. Rapid implementation and improved process redesign will streamline their operations and improve efficiencies. CIBER is gearing up to provide the services these organizations require to be successful.

Ciber and HIMSS

on Mar 5th, 2012 in Healthcare, Lawson/Infor, | Comments Off on Ciber and HIMSS

Today, my usual Public Sector focus shifts slightly to the Healthcare Industry, a closely related area with its government funding and social issues.

Last month, Las Vegas, Nevada hosted the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference, the largest Healthcare Information Systems Conference in the United States. More than 30,000 people joined CIBER and our business partners for our 11th appearance at the conference.

The Annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition offered attendees a variety of educational opportunities. The more than 300 education sessions covered topics that included economic stimulus, globalization, and regulatory compliance. Other sessions and exhibits focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and its meaningful use, quality, certification, and interoperability, as well as effective techniques for negotiating health IT contracts. In addition, the interactive exhibit floor offered help with current industry challenges. This year’s keynote speakers including Biz Stone, founder of Twitter; Farzad Mostashari, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology; and Terry Moran, NIGHTLINE anchor.

The HIMSS attendees represented the entire spectrum of healthcare provision, with exhibits including provider, payer, clinical, management, and administrative solutions. New technology, systems integration, back office, and personnel discussions were evident everywhere. And the Conference offered virtually any and all new healthcare technology for examination.

CIBER’s participation in HIMSS provided us with many opportunities to collaborate among our business units, our partners, and especially our clients. This conference brings important value to our Healthcare clients as we converse with them about their needs and the project outcomes they desire. These client conversations, as well as discussions with our partners and business units, assist us in providing more and better solutions.

Clean up your Small Project Backlog

on Feb 10th, 2012 in Healthcare, Lawson/Infor, | Comments Off on Clean up your Small Project Backlog

Not all technology jobs are large ones. Often, many small tasks don’t rise to the top of the stack, never even getting started, much less completed. Bigger projects seem to get all the attention, and those pesky little ones, while valuable, always sit and wait for “someday.” Small interfaces need automation; new reports need development; workflows need enhancements; procedures need streamlining: the list goes on.

Bigger projects seem to get all of the attention and these little ones, while valuable, only sit and wait for “someday”. Would you like to clean up that dusty old pile of work? CIBER’s Lawson Practice maintains a highly skilled team of technical developers that can help you. Our Technology Leadership Center (TLC) in Chicago can provide superior technical consulting and development at a very reasonable cost.

In addition to custom development in all facets of Lawson technology, the TLC offers a large number of solutions provided in 40 hours or less. We call them GIBER Packaged Offerings. For example, Self Service Password Reset, Smart Console, Complex Password Policy, and User Load Utility. Many others are available. We also have developed a number of the most requested workflows to allow automation of various processes. Each of the ProcessFlow CIBER Packaged Offerings has increased efficiency, shortened total procedural time, and eliminated redundant and manual process in our client organizations. Some examples are:

  • New Hires and Terminations ProcessFlow
  • Employee Review Notification ProcessFlow
  • Contract Review Notification ProcessFlow

Many other solutions are available, and our hourly and/or fixed price rates are low. Plus, we can perform most, if not all, of this work remotely so there is no travel expense.

Let the CIBER Lawson TLC clean up your dusty old pile of small projects that will not rise to the top of your list. Contact Derek Cheairs, office: 972.538.4325, mobile: 314.706.6787, or at dcheairs@ciber.com

CIBER is one of Lawson’s largest, most experienced and knowledgeable business partners.  Lawson provides the applications and technology; CIBER provides the services to assist clients with all components of their Lawson projects. For more information about the array of technical services we provide, visit http://www.ciber.com/us/index.cfm/technologies/lawson/

The Value of Managed IT Services

on Jan 13th, 2012 in Enterprise Integration & IT Strategy, Lawson/Infor, | 1 comment

In challenging economic times, any solution that can lower total cost of ownership and operations is worth considering. Managed Services, the practice of transferring the responsibility of managing day-to-day Information Technology (IT) to an outside organization, accomplishes both. This approach can also improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT operations, production support, and lifecycle maintenance activities.

Keeping systems operational and performing as intended, fully maintained with updates and patches is a big job. Add to it the need to introduce new functionality, implement changes, provide Help Desk support for new employees, and manage disaster recovery and business continuity can challenge any staff. And that is assuming internal staff has deep expertise in the software applications. Rather than overwhelming staff, consider managed services; it can help.

Beyond helping IT support staff, Managed Services can also reduce capital expenditures. The option of cloud delivery reduces the need for internal infrastructure. Also, using the cloud allows software and infrastructure experts to constantly monitor application performance, ensuring the proper maintenance and continuous system updates. Quality service providers render end-user support quickly and accurately.

Managed services consists of three distinct components, Application Management, Infrastructure Management, and Service Management. Types of service delivery include:

  • Virtualized cloud infrastructure model
  • Dedicated hosted model
  • On-site, remote managed model

The managed services approach provides the advantage of an elastic, variable user-demand support model that can grow or shrink depending on your need. The services components include data center infrastructure and hosting, operations, security, technical, functional and help desk support, as well as virtual resources such as servers and storage.

CIBER Managed Services for Lawson Software can:

  • Manage your whole system’s life cycle from initial planning all the way through daily Operations
  • Provide you direct access to a dedicated team of CIBER-Lawson experts to ensure your organization makes an easy transition to our services
  • Using industry best practices, adapt the services to meet your unique business needs or organizational requirements

Through CIBER’s continual investment, our team consistently maintains our Lawson certifications so our clients do not have to. And our resources and deep experience allow customers to focus on strategic initiatives. CIBER’s Managed Services solution delivers guaranteed-up time, and we provide an extensive network of redundant data centers.

CIBER is a recognized expert in Lawson software and applications. Our partnership with Lawson began in 1995, and our innovative approach to client support has been growing ever since. CIBER won the Values Award for Service Partners from Lawson Software. Lawson honored us, recognizing us as the partner that most closely aligns with Lawson’s vision, mission, and execution expectations.

Look for a CIBER Lawson Managed Services Webinar announcement soon or visit http://www.ciber.com/erp/lawson/

Successful ERP Implementation in Local Government

on Dec 12th, 2011 in Enterprise Integration & IT Strategy, Lawson/Infor, | 13 comments

Successful ERP Implementation in Local Government

Local governments are turning to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to provide business support and reporting. ERP implementation may become a necessity to compensate for reduced funding and government that is more efficient.

Government environments face unique and complex challenges in the successful implementation of integrated systems.  Public sector structure, mission, accountability, and independent tactical delivery of services create challenges.  Few organizations in the private sector experience similar complexity, diverse service provision, revenue generation, auditing, and transparency requirements inherent in local government. 

ERP implementations are complex, highly visible, and vital to an organization’s success. It is easy to be buried drafting requests for proposals, evaluating responses, and installing technology. Government leaders, both administrators and elected officials must keep an eye on the big picture as well, and this means paying attention to external factors that will affect the project. Some of these key areas are:

Funding – An ERP project is a multiyear undertaking, crossing budget cycles. It is essential that funding be committed for the duration of the project. Issuance of a bond or other dedicated financing vehicle may mitigate potential shortfalls.

Leadership Changes – In government, there may be an election or other reasons for change in leadership over the course of the project. The project design should consider such timelines, completing major system components before a potential administration change.

Statutory Considerations – Some laws may have been on the books for years and may need review. Validation that the system design meets the current and planned legislation is mandatory.

Union Contracts – ERP implementation may quickly become a focus for employee unions. Considering the existing contracts and planning for future renegotiation can be vital to a successful implementation.

Government organizations with leaders willing to make tough decisions and make it clear that failure is not an option will reap benefits. Some major considerations are:

  • ERP projects will set your operational direction for at least the next 10 years.
  • ERP projects are complex, resource-intensive and risky.
  • Strong leadership, communication, stakeholder participation, and good project management are keys to success.
  • ERP about transforming the way a government does business, not software installation.
  • An ERP project requires departmental cooperation in ways never imagined.
  • If processes do not change, little or no benefits are achieved.
  • Process changes require changes in roles, responsibilities, and activities.
  • Benefits are realized over time, not on day one.
  • ERP transformation is an organic process; correct implementation enables benefits to continue to accrue as the system grows and matures.

A successful ERP implementation in local government begins with the recognition of the complexity of the environment.  Strategies for elimination, avoidance, and risk mitigation must be developed in project planning and design, not during and after implementation.
Additional information about this and related topics may be found at http://www.ciber.com/erp/lawson/

Talent Management in Public Sector

on Sep 28th, 2011 in Lawson/Infor, | 1 comment

A large metropolitan school district must attract, enrich, and retain quality teachers and administrators in order to contribute to the community vibrancy and economic performance. One key area of focus in today’s education reform is the improvement of data systems to track and support teacher performance.

Clearly, a modern ERP Human Resource Information System provides the basis for improved data management. However, school districts may require the ability to track additional data points and perform sophisticated data analysis provided by a rich personnel management solution. The Lawson Talent Management Suite provides these capabilities and more.

Implementation results:  Continuous improvement to human capital acquisition, enrichment, and reward

Having pushed for process improvements in recruiting, hiring, development, and retention of exceptional talent, districts need information systems to aid in facilitating these processes. To achieve these goals, an LTM implementation includes the following modules: Global Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Performance Management, Goal Management, Compensation Management, Succession Management, and Learning and Development. This solution was designed with these HR initiatives working as integrated business processes which helps enable the district to meet their objectives.

Data Management and Integrity
Prior to an LTM implementation, employee and applicant data records resided not only in Lawson, but also in many other software applications and databases within the district. In some areas, such as recruiting and learning management, there were multiple systems for similar business processes. Data accuracy among systems can be compromised where interfaces do not exist. This situation was aggravated by inefficiencies and errors caused by manual data entry in multiple locations. 

CIBER’s fully integrated talent management implementation can improve data integrity across the district while reducing the overhead of maintaining multiple systems. This solution ensures a single source for all human capital management data. The result is accurate, timely, and consistent information to support better teacher and, subsequently, student performance.

Workflow Processes
Lawson Talent Management enables and supports workflow automation. LTM modules provide recruitment, pre-hire, hiring, performance management, evaluation, and developmental tracking process efficiencies. A comprehensive and integrated approach to process automation provides visibility and consistency to these activities. As a result, the district experiences better employee attraction, performance, and satisfaction resulting in better student performance.

Improved, integrated, and enhanced information systems and streamlined business processes build the foundation for this kind of continuous and even quantum improvements. School district and other public sector organizations need to improve personnel systems and reduce support costs. Better reporting capabilities improve decision-making and increase productivity. Employees empowered with tools and visibilities into the organization tend to work harder and smarter which in turn increases employee satisfaction.

Why CIBER and LTM

In combining CIBER’s core expertise with Lawson Software solutions, we bring the best in technology implementation practices, human capital and talent management software and public sector experience together to help you drive organizational excellence.

In coming days, my new colleague, Diana Van Blaricom will be providing more detail about this and other talent management topics. You can also learn more at http://www.ciber.com/erp/lawson

Lawson Deployment at the City of Boise

on Aug 8th, 2011 in Lawson/Infor, | Comments Off on Lawson Deployment at the City of Boise

BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — CIBER, Inc. (CBR, Trade), a global information technology consulting and managed services company, signed an eighteen-month contract with the City of Boise for a multi-application deployment of Lawson Software’s Human Resource Management, Enterprise Financial Management and Supply Chain Management suites. This project, dubbed “Vision 2020” by the City of Boise, will help streamline operations, eliminate redundant systems, and reduce liability to make operations more efficient and cost effective.

The City of Boise is home to more than 211,000 residents. It has been named three times as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance. Boise is home to Boise State University, the state’s largest university with an enrollment of more than 19,500 students, as well as 34 grade schools, 9 junior high schools, and 5 high schools.

The City of Boise was exploring a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, because of limitations of its existing system, which is not integrated with all of the city’s systems and has proven challenging and expensive to maintain. The city completed an analysis that determined the implementation of a new ERP system could save more than $3.8M over a 10 year period. As a result, the City of Boise selected Lawson software and chose CIBER to perform the implementation – due to the depth and breadth of its experience with ERP implementations in the public sector. Lawson Professional Services will provide project team training and other select services.

“This project will help improve current business processes and enable improved decision making city-wide. With the new system we will save money and institute operational improvements, which will ultimately help us better serve constituents,” said Garry Beaty, CIO of City of Boise. “We chose CIBER as an implementation partner because of its focus and proven experience with process improvement and change management in ERP implementations in both the public and private sector.”

CIBER ERP Practice Leader Paul Robson said, “CIBER’s ERP expertise in the public sector, combined with our collaborative and disciplined approach to implementation, will help ensure that the city of Boise and its constituents have an efficient and robust system that provides a solid foundation for operations at a lower cost of ownership over the long term. CIBER looks forward to working with the City of Boise and leveraging our strong partnership with Lawson to make the project successful.”

Capability Transfer

on Jul 28th, 2011 in Lawson/Infor, Project Management, | Comments Off on Capability Transfer

One of the key goals in execution of a large scale IT project such as an ERP implementation is achieving self-sufficiency post implementation. However, that kind of independence must have a clear path and plan to achieve it. It is far more valuable to the client to transfer capability than to simply transfer knowledge. Knowledge transfer focuses on conveying information from one individual to another, producing comprehension and understanding. However, capability transfer imparts practical skills and abilities. CIBER’s proven approach integrates both knowledge and capability transfer because we recognize that comprehension and understanding are valuable assets. Each aspect of the project must focus on transferring capability from consultants to the client personnel.

The CIBER Team’s approach to capability transfer focuses on the following objectives:

  • Involving client staff in the design of the capability transfer plan
  • Addressing both functional and technical capability transfer
  • Involving the client staff in the process from the beginning of the project
  • Instituting integrated CIBER and client work teams throughout the project
  • Utilizing both formal and informal training opportunities to effectively and efficiently transfer capability
  • Measuring progress periodically and consistently

CIBER believes that capability transfer should occur over the life of the project, not just within one specific timeframe. However, it is imperative to consider such factors as project milestones, impact on staff, and delivery risk when designing and delivering the components of the capability transfer program.

The challenge of capability transfer is to proactively manage the transformation to allow maximum organizational learning and rapid self-sufficiency. This challenge requires five key commitments:

  • Executive management teams must understand independence is a requirement of the project and that capability transfer is paramount to the successful transition to the new system.
  • The implementation team must balance and plan for capability transfer time within the project plans. Although day-to-day project activities will continue, time must be allocated to capability transfer
  • Consultants must meet their responsibilities for creating a learning and working environment in which their counterparts can work to achieve their capability transfer objectives.
  • Client participants in the capability transfer program must be active participants and take ownership for their own development.
  • Periodic assessments must be built into the process to update team leaders and the executive management team about progress achieved and any recommended process changes.

The Combined Project Team must be jointly responsible for capability transfer. It is a “push/pull” process: the plan provides structure, checkpoints, and direction, but the only way to accomplish capability transfer is if the providers are pushing and the recipients are pulling. The Consultant Team must provide the means for the Client Team to learn how to successfully maintain new systems and processes. It is also critically important the client organization make an equal commitment: assigning both adequate time and staff resources to training and identifying those areas that require additional emphasis so its staff can understand the new system and processes. The resources the implementing organization assigns to the project and joint work team approach are key foundations for effective capability transfer.

Cloud Computing

on Jun 23rd, 2011 in Servers, Storage, and Software, | 2 comments

In the mid 1970’s, online or interactive computing consisted of non-programmable desktop devices that connected to large (and expensive) “mainframe” computers. The big boxes handled the of running software and storing data. Later, computing power shifted to the desktop in the personal computer “revolution”. This provided flexibility in terms of access to more varied software programs and data stored locally.

In a way, with the cloud, we are returning to the old model. Software and storage are moving to a central location, away from the desktop. Due to the Internet, this centralized hardware and software complex may now be far away, in another state or country, not down the hall in a computing facility owned by the using organization.

By now, many businesses have begun using the cloud to run key software and store data. The following advantages will drive a continued ramp up in business spending on the cloud over the next several years:

  1. Lower capital costs – Before the cloud, companies had to invest a lot of money for hardware and software before they even knew if the equipment supported desired business functions. Large technical staff was required to support the computing facility and upgrades to the technology were frequent and expensive. Now these costs may be “shared” among multiple enterprises thus reducing cost and the need for support staff

  2. More agility – When companies rent computing capability, software, and storage space in the cloud, they can quickly add capacity. This type of elasticity is not available in traditional corporate data centers. Additionally, this capacity can support disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities that would otherwise require large capital outlays.

  3. Better data mining The cloud gives organizations access to massive computational resources that would otherwise be tougher and more expensive maintain. This computing power provides the ability to run complex simulations and modeling programs.

  4. Support for the mobile workforce – Increasingly, man jobs are performed "in the cloud." Work resides there. Employees go there to collaborate with co-workers in other cities. We work from the road or from home. Organizations hire employees who work from remote locations.

The cloud provides many advantages, is cost-effective, and ultimately may mirror the electric utility infrastructure of today. Computing continues to evolve and to me it seems to oscillate as it does so.

Benefits of Human Resources Self-Service

on Jun 15th, 2011 in Lawson/Infor, | Comments Off on Benefits of Human Resources Self-Service

For much of the last decade, human resource professionals have had to address two different kinds of challenges.

  • Their traditional role as gatekeepers and administrators has required increased attention and time.
  • Senior management expects human resource professionals to make strategic contributions to the organization’s success.

Companies that have experienced consolidation, mergers or acquisitions have added another level of human resource complexity to the mix. Human resource departments must accomplish their missions yet grow at a slower rate than the organization itself.

The solution? Applying technology to automate routine administrative tasks.

The rise of Web-based technologies such as browsers, intranets and the Internet itself has provided the means to deploy human resource functions creating cost savings and improved employee satisfaction. These “self-service” functions help employees and managers perform routine activities themselves, greatly reducing the need for human resource administrative time and allowing human resource professionals to play a strategic role in their organizations.

There are other apparent benefits to this approach. Employees are empowered to self-manage their personal data. Change-of-address information, reporting life events; e.g., marriage, children, etc. and even monitoring benefits. Managers have convenient access to relevant human resource data for their direct reports and can direct their human capital more effectively. Everyone from employees to executives gains 24/7 access to the data they need to do their jobs and make informed business and personal decisions.

A question remains. Can these self-service human resource applications produce a documented appealing to senior management?

In fact, implementing the Employee and Manager Self-Service applications include both hard and soft savings. Additionally the organization uses its resources more productively. Human resources staff is able to spend more time training, addressing organizational goals, providing analysis to management and implementing new initiatives. Employees and managers have fast, easy access to their data – they can get information when they need it, not just when human resources staff is available.

For additional detail about the quantitative and qualitative benefits of self-service implementation, please contact CIBER’s Lawson Practice at  http://www.ciber.com/erp/lawson

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