abas USA

November 02, 2015 08:00 ET

abas Expert Series: Nicolas Dormont

STERLING, VA--(Marketwired - November 02, 2015) - Nicolas Dormont began as an intern at abas over 10 years ago and now heads up development in North America for abas ERP. In his time with the company, he's lead major technology initiatives, consulted with clients, worked on solutions for industry trends and made an effort to stay ahead of the ERP curve by examining what his customers need the most. Nic spoke about his role in abas ERP initiatives and what he's excited about going forward.

Q: Can you elaborate on how you got started in the industry and how you operate within abas now?

A: When I started over 10 years ago as an intern, I got exposed to the ERP world right away, and that's something that immediately attracted me. I like the interaction of customers, process flow, and data control -- that's what ERP is about, and I really like that idea. One of the benefits of joining abas as a firm was the ability to be a consultant and work with customers to resolve their issues. As the years went by, I became better able to advise people on the best way to do things with their ERP systems. I became less reactive -- taking information directly from the requirements without truly thinking about them -- to somebody who actually made suggestions to processes that had been defined but maybe not fully, or had been fully designed but were not the most optimal solution.

I recently had a call with a customer, and they were asking us about the proof of concept we had when they were a prospect. I re-explained my idea, and they had some new requirements to add, which led to a discussion about how I would change the system to make the process better. At the end of the call, they were telling me, “Okay, this is different from what we did before because our old system had constraints, but we really like the way you guys are thinking and the new suggestions you are making now. Even though it's going to be a change in process, it might be more efficient, easier on the users, and we can get even more out of the process flow.”

That's one of the best strengths of ERP -- we are able to bring value by optimizing processes for customers.

Q: Is that a typical interaction with a customer -- they have a process in place and you develop new ways it could be different and more effective?

A: We have many types of interactions with customers, but helping them improve their processes is one of the most important because it brings so much value to their businesses. I also train abas ERP users on how to customize their system so they can make changes independently.

Q: Are you also able to discuss with customers what changes they may need to make in the future?

A: That's a very good point. The only way to do that is to see what they are thinking about and also what the repercussions might be, not only in the directly affected process, but in other processes that would be indirectly affected. ERP is a fully integrated system that links many different worlds together, typically the finance and logistics worlds. Being able to know and see when changing something in one area is going to affect something in another area -- this is critical.

Bringing these points to the customer and saying, “Okay, you want this, but have you thought of these other things and the consequences of these actions? Maybe there's a better way to do it that will reduce the impact on other areas of the company.” Yes, that's definitely something we do very often.

Q: Can you talk about some of the initiatives that you're heading up in response to trends or changes you're seeing in the industry?

A: ERP was meant to be one platform that centralized information in a single core application, and the best way to do that was to have a unified user interface for everybody. It's a great idea, a great concept that worked for many, many years. The problem we face today is the increased complexity and diversity in company processes, which causes the product to become very complicated as we support more and more scenarios, and different types of transactions and modules within the system. So the system inevitably becomes less user-friendly because there are just too many options.

One definite trend we're seeing is people want things to be simple. Businesses don't want to have to train the users for several weeks before they can use an ERP system. They want it to require almost zero training. This is the experience on tablets, phones using iOS or Android -- a lot of the apps don’t even have documentation. The apps have very limited functionality with a very specific purpose, which they do very well.

If there is a big trend right now, I'd call it the itemization of the ERP modules. It's like the Big Bang -- everything went back into one single space and now we are re-expanding and exploding that interface into many different satellites. Now people are smarter about it -- they realize, we need to keep the data centralized in one system, but the satellites should just be able to operate on their own. They're just acting as slaves with the one master database in the middle that will then process the information from one system to the other.

Q: What are some examples of that itemization or simplicity?

A: Basically anyone requesting new mobile apps. We have several web tools or portals used to push information to your customers or to your vendors and mobile apps for internal use or external use. Customers can report issues with their service items, or manage contacts directly from their tablet or phone so you don't have to log into the full-blown ERP system to have access to those contacts. It's limited information but it's the information you need on your device. You can work outside of the ERP system, which will sync information with the devices themselves and make sure all the devices will exchange data properly between each other or with the central system.

It's ease of use and it's data accessibility, so you don't have to be connected to your main system to use it. You can work on your phone, and the phone stores some of the data locally so you can access it anywhere, even if you're not in the office of if you don't have Internet access. It's having access to simple information in a simple and accessible way but also being able to access that data anywhere.

Q: Are there any other trends happening in the industry, or initiatives of yours that could push your customers in a new direction?

A: One of the leading trends we see is the ability to easily control the workflow within the application. Any ERP system has a basic workflow programmed in its core. For example, there is a logical link and flow of information between sales order, which then is released into a packing slip which then goes to invoicing. This is something any business needs to have. But what most ERP systems don’t have is the ability to easily put additional logic on top of this core workflow to really individualize the workflow tailored to each company unique requirements.

Of course you can customize the application to do it -- putting programs in place, adding new fields, etc. What we want people to be able to do, without creating new fields, new programs, is to customize their workflow and add more logic on top of it using a graphical editor so that you can basically draw what the flow of things should be on top of the standard workflow and have the system interact with that workflow designer to then guide the users throughout the system.

There are many facets to that and many advantages to doing so -- one is you can control your processes in a better way and really guide people so they cannot deviate. And it also involves less training, because the whole idea is that the system informs the users what they need to do and when. It's like someone leaving breadcrumbs on the path just to guide whoever's next to let them know where they should be going and just follow the trail.

Q: To finish up, what are you most excited about going forward?

A: abas is really one of the coolest systems I've ever been exposed to. You can really do anything you want with it and develop cool concepts on top of it. As a customer, I like the idea that you can keep that system forever. Whether you customize it one percent or 99 percent you can still go to the next release and take advantage of the newest features that we offer without locking yourself into a corner, which is the case with many of our competitors.

It's been a strength of abas for 30 years and it's most likely going to be one of the strengths against our competitors for the next 30 years to come. It's nice to be working with a system that allows you to continue improving on other things on top of it while keeping the integrity of the system intact.

abas is an innovator of ERP solutions for mid-size businesses aspiring to be leaders in their industry. We use our 30+ years of experience to deliver exactly what our customers need -- software that is agile, intuitive, sustainable for the long term, and that works anywhere around the world.

Find out more about abas ERP on the web at, on twitter at abas USA, or on Facebook at abas-USA.

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