Over the past few months, I have covered what innovation is, where innovative ideas come from, how to build a culture of innovation, common pitfalls and measuring success when implementing innovation.

But as PPAI’s director of digital transformation, I think it’s time I brought all that together and explain how the Association has actively put those philosophies into action – how we put our proverbial money where our mouth is.

In those same months that I’ve been preaching about the foundations of innovation, PPAI was preparing for a logistical undertaking that requires some degree of cooperation from basically every department: the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system.

The biggest motivation was somewhat simple: PPAI had an aging financial system. At some point, something was going to have to change. We looked at migrating to the suggested replacement software solution but felt a thorough search of alternatives would be wise.

Why Choose ERP?

Eventually, we looked beyond financial software – which focus specifically on managing financial processes and transactions – and expanded our search into ERPs, which provide a comprehensive suite of integrated applications that cover a wide range of business functions. ERP systems offer a more holistic approach to managing resources and operations, making them better at streamlining processes and improving efficiency across departments.

That comprehensive nature that ERPs aim for makes choosing the right one crucial. In that decision-making process, an organization has to factor in a potential ERP’s strength, what the organization most needs and also what other software might be needed to complement or integrate that choice.

PPAI’s final selection was Oracle NetSuite. Some of the key advantages we gravitated toward include:

  • Comprehensive business management.
  • Real-time visibility and insights.
  • Scalability.
  • Cloud-based deployment.
  • Improved efficiency and productivity.
  • Enhanced collaboration.
  • Customization and flexibility.
  • Regulatory compliance.

NetSuite has amazing promotional product industry-specific solutions tailored to the needs of various promo companies, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale distribution, professional services and more. It also supports multi-currency, multi-language and multi-subsidiary operations, making it suitable for businesses with global operations or expansion plans. Its global capabilities enable businesses to manage diverse operations efficiently.

Innovation Partners

The implementation of NetSuite – or any ERP – can be a daunting task. There’s no way around it. To ensure the best integration and customization of NetSuite for our needs, we partnered with eXtendTech. They were extremely professional and efficient, having 30-plus years of experience with NetSuite and specializing in the promo industry.

My colleague, digital transformation manager Nick DiNicola, likes to say that things run more smoothly and efficiently when everything can talk to each other. That’s where Celigo was a huge asset for us. It further enhanced the capabilities of NetSuite by enabling seamless connectivity between NetSuite, our customer relationship management software and SAGE. Celigo’s integration platform as a service (aka iPaaS) allowed us to integrate third-party applications, facilitating the flow of data across our entire software ecosystem.

An outdated financial system led PPAI to consider a new ERP, and that process can make shopping for a new car look like picking out a new pair of shoes. It takes careful planning, and the less tech-savvy members of your organization should be warned of the incoming changes and the possibility of brief hiccups.

But big-picture changes inevitably have innovative solutions. The integration of Oracle NetSuite with the help of eXtendTech, and the implementation of Celigo, were significant factors that streamlined processes, enhanced operational efficiency, improved decision-making and are now driving sustainable growth.

We couldn’t be more satisfied with the seamlessness of the execution – although my team specifically is glad to exhale and be on the other side of a brand-new ERP.  

Karstens is PPAI’s director of digital transformation.