1 man Kinetic implementation in an SMB Beauty Product Manufacturing Biz

Hello everyone!

Firstly, I’ve learned a lot from posts here, thank you to all contributors for the free sharing of your invaluable information! It is appreciated.

Now, sit with me by the fire and have a bit of a laugh at my horror story.

Our company is 40 full time employees, 50 to 100 temp employees, depending on our production load at the time.
We purchased Epicor in late 2020, our consultants really talked up the Kinetic UI, and how it was going to replace classic.
We made a committment at that time to stick with Kinetic, as we felt that educating our users twice on two different UIs would not be a good usage of resources.
Well, Kinetic has been fun :slight_smile: But we are getting close to go live. (At least, that’s how ownership/management feels. Me? Hah.)

I did implementation all by my lonesome for the first 1.5 years of our 3 year contract. At that point I finally convinced management to give me an employee.
I was given a minimum wage, untrained, high school educated temporary employee from the shop floor who “knows computers” - he plays minecraft!
He has done a great job given the circumstances, he has learned a lot! So I don’t fault him at all! But ouch!
Now we are entering year 3 of our implementation process, and ownership is pushing for implementation to be complete before end of year. (That’s 3 weeks for anyone counting!)

The owner is pushing to sell, and is already in the due diligence process, pushing to close the sale by end of year, hey, what a coincidence for the date. I’m sure the buyer has concerns about our existing ERP!

So now for the good part, here’s our current status 3 weeks away from scheduled go live :wink:

  • We’ve stopped communicating with our consulting team as management feels my skillset is sufficient and their consulting fees are too high.
  • The users who have helped me with implementation (AR, Accounting, Management) have learned the system, but their training was a long time ago (over 1 year) - i am confident in saying they dont remember. The training team will likely be me and my employee.
  • We haven’t taken input from any users. Management has been quite insistent that we will implement the system without their input. They treat it as if the users input would be flawed and wrong, and is not valuable.
  • We haven’t done a physical count in over a decade. Our inventory is known to be wildly off.
  • Our Bill of Operations / Materials is not finalized. Management and Accounting originally wanted to run Epicor without labor and without burden. (It’s too hard to calculate burden! We track labor through time clocks and a 3rd party payroll company, why is it important for Epicor?) I’m a nerd, I didn’t even know what COGS was before getting started. After educating myself, I can’t imagine why management would want to toss that away.
  • Our existing ERP is Sage MAS 90 and was last patched in 2008. We are still using this for our production system. It has known bugs with accounting and inventory, so I designed an access/mysql based inventory system to keep a “true” inventory. Most parts are negative quantities in MAS90.
  • My access database reached the same point in implementation that we are at now, and got stuck, because our Laboratory department didn’t want to learn the new system (according to them, all of their work is outside of the system)
  • We do not have a single source of truth for our formulas - Masters are maintained in excel and duplicated in the database. I’ve run into numerous discrepencies. Lab refuses to address the issues. Management has asked me to write queries to massage the data in-flight as we migrate from old to new. You should see the stuff im overriding :slight_smile:
  • Due to our masters being excel, we have parts in our system that point to inactive formulas. I’ve actually run into an open order based on an inactive formula. When I brought it up lab said oh, there’s a revision. Magically the next day it appeared!
  • We purchased Bartender & a dozen barcode scanners. I wanted to go with our ERP Consultant’s recommendation, which was zebra scanners. I was told that is out of budget and I need to cut costs by half. I went with a chinese company Urovo, who make pretty good stuff! They tried to get on my back about customs & import fees after that!!! LOL
  • We don’t like the cost of Epicor Kinetic Mobile Warehouse. For our 12 barcode scanners, we are going to purchase 4 licenses. They asked me to see if Kinetic Web UI works on them for MES. Sure. It does, if you view in desktop mode and scroll and zoom everywhere. It would be really amusing to watch our warehouse staff wrestle this. We’d have a riot on our hands.
  • Speaking of costs, did I mention that our IT department consists of 3 individuals, one of which doubles as human resources and auctioneer, so has about 15% time available to dedicate to IT.
  • Oh yeah, I also have no budget. Everything is on an approval only basis, and since we are selling, the owner says no to everything over $100 pretty much. I’m not sure what $100 would buy me wrt epicor. 25 minutes with a consultant? Maybe I can get them to bill in 25 minute invoices.
  • I’m hourly and not part of the management team. So most employees feel very comfortable simply ignoring my requests. When I CC: management, I still get ignored. Management doesn’t feel like enforcing.
  • Our main server is hand-built by me and one of my guys. We could not get approval for a legitimate server, so we are running as much FOSS linux based software as we can. The server is a gaming rig, no ECC ram, but at least I got enough HDDs to RAID it. The filesystem has errors creeping up but I have no time to address them, as management wants me focused on Epicor.
  • Our current ERP was set up with different part numbers for different suppliers, because for whatever reason we decided we didnt want to use the “Supplier Part #” functionality of our existing ERP. This was fun to handle in formulas that are based off vendor specific parts. My custom queries handle “Genericizing” this.

Phew, I think that covers the bulk of it. There’s lots more but that’s all that jumps into my brain at the moment.
I’m currently engaged with seeking employment, as I can already feel the impending stress from attempting to support this system.

I thought you guys would enjoy a laugh at my expense! :wink: Have a great day.

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You seem to have a positive/realistic attitude.

  1. Get your company live.
  2. Put the experience on your resume.
  3. If you like the work, seek out a consultant position.

Willingness to learn and good attitude can go a long way in this business.

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WOW yeah I’m not laughing I’m crying for you and your users. This sounds like a huge mistake in the making. Implementing ERP (any ERP) as you describe above is a great recipe for disaster

I am sorry you are going through that, I would recommend you speak up and let management know this is a huge mistake (though it sound like they don’t care)

Good luck friend

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Thanks for reading my rant, and the replies! I did spend a lot of time studying the best practices of ERP implementation, and have been pushing them from the beginning. However, since I am not management, it takes a team effort to implement those things, and my management team has not shown any interest in getting my back.

@zwilli526 : That’s the plan. I do enjoy the work. I have interest in continuing with a company that isn’t quite so intent on simmering itself in the pot. I’ve treated the project since the beginning as a path of self education. I’ve already gone through the interview process for another ERP provider who has shown interest in hiring me, but is a little hesitant due to my self-education (I am high school educated, with partial college) - I haven’t gotten a declination from them yet, but it’s been a while. I imagine they are trying to source more well trained/educated people.

@josecgomez : I have an email that I reply to all on, every 7 days, including all members of our implementation team… Saying exactly this, and each time going in to a different set of details on why this is a terrible, horrible, really really not good idea. I don’t get replies to those emails. Despite my feedback, ownership pushes for go live.

So much for my 1 potential client :smiley:

I totally am in line with @josecgomez - I didn’t get four bullet points in and I started to shed a tear. Ironically, I was hired to save just this exact implementation after the IT department quit because management forced a GoLive date against everyone’s advice - and everything you are saying here is exactly how we were.

My 2 cents - don’t kill yourself over this. Do your best work, keep everyone FULLY informed, but don’t be the doomsayer. The users are all scared to death they won’t be able to do their jobs, or it’ll be so hard/confusing/frustrating/impossible that they won’t like their jobs anymore. Keep up the positive attitude with them. Fix the most you can, and at the last minute give management a chance to say no.

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Gabriel,

Wow. I really hope it goes smoother than it looks for you. Have you done a conference room pilot, where you do a quote to cash, and each process owner does their part? That’ll hopefully identify any show stopper issues that would prevent a go-live.

The process owners need to be the first line for their department on day 1 of live. Have they trained their team on how to use Epicor recently? One person (you) can’t possibly train an entire company on the first day of live. You’ll be busy the first week(s) putting out fires, and won’t be available.

What you don’t want on day one is a system that wasn’t tested, and now that everyone is in it, you’ve got 20 critical requests that are preventing the floor from mfg and shipping…

Do you have a back up plan if go live isn’t successful, like manually entering transactions after the fact?

It’s good that finance is on-board. Hopefully they’ve tied out the before/after numbers and it makes sense. Often ownership listens to finance, maybe they can help be your voice.

Good luck!

EDIT - Is there a punch list with time & dates needed to accomplish the tasks, along with responsibilities (i.e. convert spreadsheets into MOM’s)? That could be used for your core team meeting, showing management what is ready for LIVE, and what isn’t… And if someone decides to push something off to phase 2 (or never), get it signed off or documented so it’s clear that was a conscious decision, not something your team overlooked.

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** big hugs ** That’s a lot to go through. Good luck!

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Sounds like your management team needs a copy of this book. Which is industry standard for implementations.

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they won’t even read his emails , do you think they are going to read a book!! :tired_face:

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Sometimes they have to hear it from a “consultant” or “outsider” not sure why… But happens alot, where you are not heard until you bring someone off the streets and tell them “Repeat exactly what I said” :smiley:

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I feel exactly like Gabriel. I will also vent and say how I have tried to tackle it so far.

Probably around 60 employees to 80 employees as a standard practice. Products involve lots of metal fab both steel and aluminum. Highly engineered units, by May we will have 10 people involved in engineering roles. I am a mechanical engineer that works on the production side and am probably considered a part of management.

Epicor installed on new server in December 2021, but we did get a new server.

We decided that we would do initial work outside of Kinetic because our consultants were more comfortable with it but would train all employees in Kinetic only.

I have done 95% of our implementation by myself. Other 5% by our IT, HR, Paint, Press Brake, Warranty, Accounting manger.

I will give them credit that they did pull my two biggest lines/departments that I managed off my plate but I still have 2 under me, do trouble shooting on fabrication department machine problems, inventory counts for another line, welding wire inventory and QA inspections for another production line that I do not supervise.

We currently do not have complete boms or boos for the product lines, except one. The old philosophy for engineering was to only model the bare minimum and production will figure out the rest.

I did take one of the production lines that I supervise and create the boms and boos related to it because it is not fully modeled in solid works and will not be as it is hopefully end of life in the next five years.

Our products our very large in size (think 8.5 feet by 50 feet as a footprint) with lots of customization and contain 400 to 800 parts each. This means indented mom configurator is a must, which our legacy system couldn’t do which is why we haven’t done any of this in the past. The models that do exist do not match how the unit is manufactured at all, think fabricated parts are modeled on the unit prior to paint, but are painted by themselves and installed on the unit after it is through paint. This means our current drawing are not really accurate for production use.

Two of our production lines with a configured product do not have an individual person that could tell you exactly what would be required to build that unit.

Engineering is redoing part numbers and descriptions as we did not have any documented procedures previously, so each production lines engineer came up with their own part number and description methods and purchasing their own on top of that. Think some lines had three letters to start and others had two. Some lines had 3 numbers after the letters, and some had four completely decided on by the engineer initially designing the product. This has led to the belief that we will make a purchased part and manufactured part configurator that will auto generate the part numbers and descriptions based on the new procedure. Not end part configuration but the parts going into it. The engineers will only enter the final words in the description.

We also had previously purchased pdm to manage solid works but never finished implementing it, so this has forced that to get completed. This is our biggest hang up to the implementation currently as they are still having to model for current production and do this at the same time. We have only trained one of the engineers so far. The thought is if he understands it, we can both be resources for the other engineers.

We do not have any costing values for our manufactured or purchased parts. We do not know what our burden should be.

We have not had any other departments (sales, purchasing, accounting, engineering besides me) involved because ownership is afraid they will forget by the time we go live. The plan is I will train all these employees and production on how to use the system, I have never been a part of most of these departments.

Purchasing maintains all vender contact information in a rolodex. We do not have any minimum or max on-hand information, days supply, order quantity information in our legacy system. We also don’t have consistent units of measure in our legacy system.

Since our legacy system was so poor for our use case, we developed google sheets to manage daily production and scheduling for the sales floor (I guess that means we are currently cloud based). We also use these to generate inventory count sheets as we don’t have the boms to know what to remove for sure for each unit because of customizations. We pretty much use the legacy system to create quotes/sales orders, create po’s to send out, do AR/AP, receive product and payroll/monitor operation times.

We have not done a true physical inventory in 20 years, and according to people who were here at the time we did not complete it because ownership thought it was taking too long.

Ownership is pushing for our implementation to get completed because Epicor told us 11 to 12 months was all it would take when we purchased it. I did express that I did not think that was accurate from the beginning due to our bom/boo situation.

We are on our 3rd project manager from epicor as the previous 2 left the company/retired, we are on our 3rd accounting consultant as 1 left the company and 1 got promoted. We had three different configurator consultants as 1 kept missing the meetings and the second left the third party epicor contracted with to have him work with us.

I have gotten some feedback from end users when I can show them how it functions. Ownership’s biggest concern with their input is we want to move to more best practices and with our legacy system a lot of what we were doing is “I figured out I could do something” but it really isn’t the right way. For example, what it did have for a configurator is a total disaster because we figured out how to put things in, but they don’t make any sense for anyone except the person that creates the jobs. Even how we did something from one line to the next is different.

It also comes down to how that person views the software situation and how you need to manage them. Some people will be excited because they want their job to be easier, they are easy to get the information from but tend to be harder to get constructive feedback from as they just want anything that is better. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the person that is afraid the software is going to eliminate their job which makes getting the needed information out of them hard, but they will give you lots of feedback why they don’t like the software. I find with the first person I am best to show them what it can do then ask them what else would you like it to do or what is hard to understand. With the second person the key is getting them to understand that you are not going to eliminate their job and that ownership doesn’t know what they don’t know, so with there lack of involvement they don’t know that we have now built it into the system. I then explain to them that it will allow them to do there second and third tasks and people development much easier. The scariest part of the second person is in the next 5 to ten years we will lose we will lose 8 people with at least 20 years’ experience and tribal knowledge.

We also have a third type of person. Those who were here for last implementation to see how poorly that went. They saw how we just forced it to go live and took ten years to get it to even decently operable. They are of the belief that we do the exact same thing again because that is how most projects go here. We are very good at just pushing through and figuring out how to get something done just maybe not the best way.

I don’t send emails as our ownership group is rather old school and most of them don’t use email frequently but if I need documented proof of the conversation I will as a follow-up to a meeting or phone call, think meeting notes.

The exciting part is you can see where this can take us when we get it operational.

wall of text over

Do you mean the legacy product configurator? How close are you to having that part working? It might make sense to switch over to CPQ (i.e. KB Max) now, instead of the legacy product configurator. The MOM/BOM concepts will be the same for both.

This is all kinds of FUBAR. My recommendation: the ejection handle.

The Zebra printer is, for whatever reason, particularly galling. The networked models are like…a couple hundred bucks. Fedex will literally give you a free USB one if you ask nicely.

All the other bullet points are, admittedly, worse problems. But it’s the small things that tell you why things went sideways in the first place.

We are doing the legacy configurator for now. I have all 6 production line configurators done in concept. I still need to do the purchased parts and manufactured parts configurators; they are just started. Since the design side of engineering is having to fix the models and boms I used fictitious boms for each line based on my knowledge of them and the legacy system configurator. When I get the correct boms I will change out the parts, but I would guess 80% will match what I have as a concept and the other 20 will need to be added. The company made the decision early that we are going to have solidworks be our driver of boms so that is why we are waiting on design engineering to move forward.

We have talked about CPQ but at this point I think that is more likely 5 to 10 years down the road. They also did not have it when we were originally getting started so it was not an option. Our training for the configurator at this point is done unless we have any questions pop up when I get the final boms but I can’t for see any at this point. I can take a configured fake bom from quote to cash without any problems.

The pressure at this point seems to be how do we get the system live as soon as possible and do the rest of the setup once we are running. Things like we purchased the maintenance module and have learned the basics for it. We know we want to use it for preventative maintenance. We are waiting on finishing its setup as we need to dig out the manuals for all of the equipment and create the template jobs and trigger points. We also need to create some of the pm ourselves as historically we have built many machines ourselves.

The hardest part of the implementation for me is our previous struggle with documenting/enforcing procedure. A close second would be making a decision as a company on a new process/procedure. For example, the head of engineering believes all the engineers should learn engineering workbench and completely own their product lines in Epicor. Ownership doesn’t think we will do a good job of making sure they are all using it right so they don’t want to teach them all and would rather teach one of them and use me as the backup to that person. I can see the reasoning behind each side but at the end of the day I just need a decision, but we still have not made one.

The real sad part here…

I’m hourly

Unless that’s hourly as a consultant, you are doing too much. Get paid your value or just say no.

Carthartic to read… but ouch brother!!

I have quite a few of your “type 2” people. And they have gone as far as emailing me cc: the VP that their work is outside of Epicor and they WILL NOT train until after go-live, as they are too busy / do not need that training.

I managed to convince the VP to reply all CC: Owner and let everyone know that participation isnt optional, and to communicate directly with him any questions comments or concerns.

Lets see if that gets me anywhere with those type 2s… :slight_smile:

I think I might be the type 3 person myself. lol

Ownership is oldschool here too, so all my emails go to the VP and Controller. Owner doesn’t care, only wants results.

@jtownsend: Regarding Zebra, I meant barcode scanners vs. printers, but ironically, we have the same problem with printers too!!! :slight_smile: We have two free Zebra printers that we got from UPS, and funny enough both are shared on the computer they are connected to, with a little sign on front “Do not turn me off, I am a Label Print Server”… :slight_smile: We also abused the free labels UPS offers to the point our account rep asked us how we could possibly be using so many labels when our account doesn’t ship that much. Management threw a fit when I started submitting PRs for Labels after “They used to be free” - We ordered Rollo thermal printers… because they are a good sight cheaper than Zebra. Also equally more difficult to work with, and probably will fall apart soon…! But hey lets cut some short term costs to increase our long term spending. Sounds greeeeatt! I forgot to mention that when one of the free UPS zebras broke, we bought a refurbished one to replace it. Got denied approval on a new one.

@DSMJET: Yup. My bosses want to do the same thing. Get the system Live ASAP and do the rest of the set up once we are running. “Phase 1” vs. “Phase 2” - except all the phase 2 stuff really really need to be phase 1 stuff. I feel your pain regarding not being able to get a decision from management so much. It really sounds like we work for similar management/bosses. how fun!

My implementation deadline is Jan 1, and I am still getting requests to change the process from management. Meanwhile, Validation is scheduled for friday. Sounds like a good idea to do sweeping process changes right before, yes? :wink:

@zachg: I know. I’m interviewing for other places. Redeeming quality for working for this manufacturer is they accommodate my WFH needs as I am caretaker for 3 disabled/elderly family members in my household. So at least there’s that.

@hasokeric: Ironically, hearing it from outside the organization is what caused them to form the opinion that our consultants didn’t know what they were doing, and drop their input. I did exactly what you suggested - walked them through the situation/setup. I didn’t really have to explicitly ask as they went ahead and voiced it all anyway. And were promptly ignored by management.

@MikeGross: I have been following your advice, and today I brought it up to the VP that it is definitely too late to make our Jan 1 go live (again, I didn’t talk to the Owner, because he is already checked out on this process, and doesn’t care.) - He asked me to give him an ETA, i literally gave him infinity. Right now our problem is that our VP doesn’t trust our users - so there is no delegation. Everything is waiting on one pivot man, and he is busy doing other things. Production must go on…

@josecgomez @hasokeric: Hah. Read a book!!! I make it a point to write very detailed emails, clear and concise. I don’t like to leave room for ambiguity to encourage follow-up questions, rather receive a direct answer the first time - I was literally told that I write emails that are too long, and the VP doesn’t read them. Success rate at suggesting a book would be a rounding error!

@askulte: I’ve documented all that out in various emails, and I have a tracker that our consultants were updating along with me. In the tracker, tasks are assigned to various departments, IT, Finance, etc. - We have 4 people in the implementation team, Me, VP, AR, AP. All of the others have not even once looked at that document, aside from when i’ve had it on screen during conference room discussions. I will take your advice and put together a spreadsheet of tasks remaining and who’s responsibility it is for go-live. The big problem here is that I cannot decide who’s responsibility is what - that falls to the VP - who refuses to delegate and has no time to review that list. So the responsibility column will largely be empty and the VP has to fill it out. Let’s see how that goes!

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Can you make it easy for him to agree to the people? Sounds like everyone is running around with their head cut off, fighting fires. Take a stab at filling out the spreadsheet, get 5 minutes to sit down and review it with him, and make the adjustments. Then you can say ‘The VP assigned these folks’.

If he’s your highest level (sort-of) advocate on the project, probably don’t want to put his name as the responsible person for all the rest of the processes (Sales, Engr, Mfg, Purchasing, Fulfillment & Shipping).

I wish you the best!