The Hidden Beauty Of Failure


There would be no success without some amount of failure. We all miss the mark sometimes; it’s just a part of the process. The power of our shortcomings becomes evident when we view them as opportunities rather than setbacks. Let’s explore how we can transform a moment of human error into a chance to grow.

What constitutes a failure? We all have our own definition of failure, but for the purposes of this article, I wanted to clarify the scope of failure that we’re discussing. It can be any situation in which an alternative outcome would’ve been preferred. Situations like this can be as minimal as an employee dropping the ball on something small. But of course, failures can also be big enough to shake you to your core, such as a mistake that unequivocally derails a project (or even an entire business) beyond immediate repair.

You might think that larger failures require a different reaction than less significant mistakes, but that’s not the case. Each and every case of human error can be met with an attitude of pragmatic acceptance and grace.

The humanness of doing business. In the constant flurry of reports, deadlines, and emails, it’s easy to forget that every person within or interacting with a business is just another human being like yourself. They are all juggling their workload, homelife, and a myriad of other life dramas you know nothing about.

In most cases, we all work through tragedies, transitional periods, and even bouts of mental illness. These can all affect how well we’re able to work on any given day. Knowing this, you can approach failures mindfully with a deep sense of empathy towards those involved.

You can only control your reactions. I like to approach any case of human error with this attitude, “Yes, this is a setback, but the fastest way to get back on track is through understanding, forgiveness, and unified forward movement. We are in this together.” Forgiveness, understanding, and constructive feedback foster unity, while finger-pointing and scolding tend to drive wedges between people.

Which reaction do you think will be more effective when asking your team to band together to right the ship after a setback? Applying empathy wherever possible will always get you further than ruling with an iron fist.

A chance to learn. In addition to being an opportunity for understanding, mistakes present a chance to learn in the process. That’s the essence of the phrase “trial and error.” Without errors, we wouldn’t know what doesn’t work. By revising our actions after a failure, we naturally become better at what we do. With that mentality it could be argued that making mistakes and subsequently correcting them is the only way to truly become an expert in your craft.

Therein lies the often-unrecognized beauty of failure. Each obstacle brings with it the chance to show grace and understanding as a leader, as well as advise your team on how to create greater chances for success in the future.

*This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Create a Purpose Beyond Profit

computers and laptops being recycled

Owning a business gives you the power to do good for the world. That might not be the first thing entrepreneurs consider when running a company, but the truth is the more money you make, the greater the positive impact you can have, and the greater your purpose can be. I’ve made it a priority to use my business to fuel good and give back.

A highly relevant issue that’s come to my attention over the years is the excessive amount of waste created through technological innovation. At my company, we’ve made it part of our mission to work towards solving the rapidly growing problem of electronic waste.

Recognize the Challenge. The tech industry evolves at an unprecedented pace. But this creates a downside that isn’t talked about as much. For every new piece of technology purchased, at least one is discarded. Considering our current rate of progress, that is a staggering amount of waste.

The resources used to create each device get discarded when consumers reach for the newest model. Sourcing materials to create new tech negatively impacts the planet, and with each upgrade, some of those precious resources are mindlessly tossed. This is the design flaw in our current system. Companies must find a way to both be on the cutting edge of technology and advocate for conscious consumerism. Advances in electronics recycling are the only path to sustainability in tech.

SEO data

Create Solutions. Years ago, my company began working with a client in the electronics recycling sector. We learned quickly that the process of recycling old tech is complex, but that this service benefited the earth, as well as every person living here. Since we were hired to help them with their business management software, our first step was to develop an industry-specific software that could help them simplify and organize their business. But I wasn’t satisfied with stopping there. There had to be more that I could do.

Spread the Word. My team and I decided that the first step was education. Electronic waste has a detrimental effect on the environment. Most people don’t understand how severe the situation really is. We wanted a way to inspire a larger audience to take action, so my company created a film to spread awareness. In our documentary, Silicon Mountain, we talk to experts about this highly prevalent challenge we’re up against. Of course, it didn’t benefit our bottom line to fund a film, but it fueled our greater purpose.

Take Action. This is just one example of how a company can look beyond growth and profit to find a deeper, more meaningful purpose. How could you use your business to give back? Here are a few places to start:

  • Volunteer as a team for a local charity.
  • Raise money for a worthy cause.
  • Invest a portion of profits back into your community.
  • Use your platform to educate others about a cause.

Companies have the ability to change the world for the better. And the more people can do for one another, the brighter the future will be

*This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Why the Client Isn’t Always Right


You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase the customer is always right. And in many everyday situations, the customer can be right without much consequence (a misheard order or a misunderstanding concerning a return policy, for example). But the world of software is far more nuanced. While the client interacts with the software, they often don’t have the technical expertise to diagnose a problem, much less find a sustainable solution.

Let’s take a deeper look into why the client isn’t necessarily always right, and the importance of everyone being on the same team.

No one is always right. Just because I don’t subscribe to the idea that the client is always right doesn’t mean I think that they don’t bring invaluable insights to the table. We as the implementation experts have extensive knowledge of the product, while the client has an indispensable understanding of the business and the necessary tasks a software system must be able to perform. By allowing everyone to bring their best assets to the team, you create a collaborative relationship between consultant and client.

Let the experts handle it. New software systems can be intimidating and hard to understand. Therefore, when a client comes to me lamenting a problem, it’s my job to get to the bottom of it. We’re the experts! But sometimes clients think they understand the issue. This is a prime example of a time when the client isn’t always right. Once we find the true root of the problem, we can then move forward together with technical resolution, user training, and ongoing support.

Some demands can’t be met. Technology is amazing, but there will always be some limitations to what it can do. Sometimes a client request is simply unattainable, in which case a team of implementation experts must work to find a different path to achieve the same goal. Challenges come up in every project, and with each new solution comes a deeper understanding of the system’s capabilities. If there were never any obstacles, there would also never be any growth!

Happy people have happy clients. The client doesn’t come first. Wait, what?! That’s right. I believe that people come first. Sometimes our team will work long hours to meet an important client deadline. But sometimes our team’s quality of life comes before client requests. The relationship you have with a client should be one of give and take. Unreasonable demands should be met with understanding but also firm boundaries. A team that is constantly burnt out will be far less dedicated than a team that is supported and given the time and space needed to create their best work.

Teamwork over everything. I like to approach each new project with the understanding that both my team and the client will have moments where we don’t have all the answers. Approaching the situation with humility, mutual understanding, and appreciation for each person’s unique knowledge and skill set creates a dynamic and trusting foundation on top of which the rest of the project is laid.

*This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining: Shedding Light on Cloud Computing

cloud computing

As a human with internet access, you’ve undoubtedly heard of “the cloud.” Harnessing the power of cloud-based technology is already the standard for the world’s industry leaders, but everyday people constantly use it as well. Hundreds of billions (yes, you read that right) of dollars are spent through the cloud across the globe, with metrics rising every year. Almost every smartphone app is reliant on cloud computing. This means streaming services, shopping apps, and email are all cloud-based.

So how can the cloud serve your business? Let’s shed some light on the benefits of cloud computing.

Be prepared for anything. The past year has taught us that businesses must always be prepared to shift quickly when conditions change. Faced with a global pandemic, companies have pivoted, relying heavily on cloud-based tools to help maintain the integrity of the customer experience while navigating new restrictions and safety considerations.

Scale to your needs. Scalability is one of the most important characteristics of cloud computing, especially for businesses experiencing rapid expansion. With the cloud, companies can continue to grow and thrive while still utilizing the same digital ecosystem. This inherent adaptability saves companies the headache of managing their own servers, which frees up the IT department’s time to tackle other goals. In addition, as demand increases a company can grow without the need to revamp their systems.

Ditch the hardware. Before cloud computing was a readily available option, businesses had to invest in on-site servers that could handle their projected performance. If the system was overloaded with too much growth too fast, servers could crash, bringing business to a halt. Now, you can let the experts handle the server maintenance. Cloud servers are typically off-site. They’re far bigger than the equipment most businesses could afford, allowing companies to reap the benefits of huge servers without all the headaches.

Only pay for what you use. In a lot of cases, cloud services are billed on a consumption basis. This means companies only pay for what they actually use, or licensing fees are tiered based on user count. This saves money by not only negating the heavy hardware investments discussed above, but also ensures that a business doesn’t end up paying for services they don’t need.

Resolve issues quickly. Another strategic benefit of cloud-based programs is that technical issues can often be fixed remotely. Rather than an expert having to physically come to you to diagnose and resolve hiccups, they can access everything they need from afar. In an age where working from home is becoming the standard, remote support is crucial to keep a business going.

Be everywhere at once. Incorporating cloud computing into your business opens doors. You’re no longer bound to one office, region, or even country. The cloud allows you to tap into the global economy, giving you an endless customer base and fuel for exponential growth. This technology also allows your employees to connect with other team members and consumers from wherever they are currently. In short, cloud-based technology is the only way to keep up in the modern era.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and the Benefits of a Service Provider

two people developing code on an Apple monitor

Updating your business’s software systems is a huge undertaking, but it can feel relatively seamless with the right people on your side. In my decades as an ERP service provider, I’ve supported many teams through some of the more challenging aspects of implementing a truly great ERP system. Today I’m going to discuss this process and the benefits of partnering with a service provider.

The Planning Stage. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a great plan. That is, if you want to get to your destination! At my firm, all projects begin with “Phase Zero.” During this phase, we meet with the client to discuss their current processes and what they’d like to prioritize in their new system. Then we create a model for their implementation.

Both the service provider and the client bring immense value to the planning phase. Clients know the company and give insight into what’s working and what’s not. The provider has (hopefully) worked with similar clients before and can advise from experience. Together, these two teams can create the ideal system.

Implementation. Bringing in a whole new ERP system is a big undertaking involving a lot of change. A service provider can be the difference between this part of the process being unbearable or merely a necessary growing pain. Notice I didn’t say a provider could make this journey a breeze, but they will definitely guide you every step of the way.

Before an implementation, a provider should work with you and your staff to get you acclimated to the new system. The more training provided on the front end, the more seamlessly your staff will be able to adjust after go-live. A service provider can also ensure the smoothest transition possible (less downtime, more technical and emotional support, etc.).

After Go-Live. Once a new ERP system is in place, companies often go through a short period that I refer to as “The Valley of Despair.” This is a transitional period of adjustment, and during this time, it might feel like your new ERP isn’t living up to your vision. It’s in these moments that having a team of experts to support you is incredibly valuable. Remember, a provider has gone through this “valley” with other businesses before, and they know what to do to ease your fears and resolve issues as they arise.

After you’ve gotten through the initial “valley,” your day-to-day will run more smoothly, but it’s still vital to have an experienced team to turn to when you have questions or run into roadblocks. I recommend choosing a provider that offers support for their clients long after go-live. A service like this means that your provider stands by the work they do even years after your initial go-live date.

Implementing a new ERP system is not a DIY project worth undertaking. With a provider on your side, you will come out of your implementation with a tailored system, a trained staff, and a partner to turn to in the future.

This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Is Technology Making Your Employees’ Lives Easier?

Man Researching on Macbook

The past few decades have brought on a flood of new technology, the likes of which the world has never seen. The smartphones we carry in our pockets are more powerful than the supercomputers of just ten years ago. In many ways, these technological advances have made our everyday lives easier, but that’s not always the case.

In terms of business software, the technology you choose for your company can either streamline processes or add layers of complexity. Do you know if your current tech system is making your employees’ lives easier? Or is it actually slowing processes down?

Let’s take a look at how the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help your employees (and your business!) succeed.

Survey your current system. A modern and efficient business software system ensures a streamlined workflow for employees. Conversely, outdated or ill-equipped software systems require more work, such as extra steps or manual computing. Which one sounds closer to what your team is currently using? If it’s the latter, it might be time for a systems upgrade.

If you can’t pinpoint why the system you’re using right now is inefficient, don’t fret. Upgrading your systems will intentionally bring those problems to light and force a review from a fresh perspective. It may sound like a daunting process, but waiting to fine-tune your systems prolongs the inevitable.

Find the right system for you. The diversity of businesses in the world is staggering, and each company presents a new set of needs. Not every ERP system on the market today will fill the unique needs of every company. While a highly customized system may seem like the way to go, they are expensive and have more potential to cause issues later on.

Most of my experience with ERP software has been with a program called NetSuite. This software can successfully meet the needs of almost any business, but it doesn’t require a lot of complicated customization to do so. Additionally, this type of system allows you to make changes in the future as your business grows. When shopping for new or updated business management software, consider the versatility of the system rather than getting hung up on customizing each element.

Give your team the resources they need to succeed. Even the world’s best tech isn’t worth much if the people using it don’t understand how it works. This is why providing training and support for your employees is critical when introducing new technology into the company.

With any new ERP system, there’s usually a period of adjustment. While this can be frustrating, with enough training and technical support, users will become accustomed to the new system and come out on the other side as more efficient and satisfied employees.

Another important thing to remember is to periodically review your configuration to ensure it’s keeping up with business growth and change. It’s not uncommon for your business to require more automation as it grows. For example, it might have been okay to manually create invoices when you first implemented but now that your volume has doubled, you need the system to do more of the heavy lifting.

Work with a long-term partner. Implementing a new or updated ERP system is less of a one-time event and more of a long-term journey. It’s important to work with a team of experts who will be there to support you and your team long after go-live.

This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

What Does It Mean To “Give Them Your Shirt”?


Unfortunately, many large corporations have a history of placing higher profits above contributing to the greater good, often giving back minimally, if at all. Luckily, a more conscientious and ethical way of doing things is becoming the norm, and I believe it has the power to create waves of resounding change. What does it mean to apply a “give them your shirt” mentality to your business?

Is it at your core?

“Give them your shirt” is one of the core values of my company, The Vested Group . This phrase has been around for many years and can be applied to almost every aspect of life, particularly business. This mindset is essential to how our firm operates. Side note: if you are an entrepreneur and your business doesn’t have a clear-cut set of core values, it’s time to define those! If you have a set of established core values, ask yourself if there is one that highlights giving, both internally and externally. Forward-thinking leaders understand that business has purpose beyond profitability.

Are you giving back to your community?

Your community supports and fuels your business, so it’s only natural to make it a symbiotic relationship. At The Vested Group, we give back to our community in many ways, including volunteering with area charitable organizations, contributing to fundraisers, and participating in charity races, as well as through conscientious investing. We also just kicked off a new program called TVG-U, which stands for The Vested Group University.  This is a consultant training program for young people in our community who show potential in technology or business consulting but did not follow a typical college to career path. There are so many ways that companies can give back to the community and the world at large. From partnering with charities to setting aside billable hours for volunteering as a team, it’s just a matter of finding a way to help others that aligns with your core beliefs and values.

Do you hire others in alignment?

Alignment is one of the key factors to building a successful and compatible team. One of the “tests” that potential employees must pass during our hiring process is the Sunday Test. If a potential team member were to ask for your help with a tight deadline or an unforeseen problem on a Sunday, would you be willing to go out of your way for them? More importantly, would you feel good about giving them your time? If the answer is yes, they are much more likely to fit into our “give your shirt” culture. Great teams rely on mutual respect and alignment of values to operate seamlessly.

How well do you serve?

Lastly, let’s look at how you can “give your shirt” to your customers or clients. I want to be clear; this does not mean that you prioritize the client’s needs over everything else. Doing so will result in a burnt-out team, higher turnover, and eventually a lower quality of work. The key is to create a relationship of mutual understanding and respect with clients in the same way you’ve done with your team. When every person, clients and team members alike, share a “give them your shirt” mentality, projects have a far greater likelihood of success and continued solid relationships down the road.

This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.


Watch Your Business Bloom: Digital Transformation Via An ERP


If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that you must be ready to adapt to whatever comes your way. Having the right digital tools can mean the difference between a company falling behind or thriving in these unprecedented times. So, how can a truly great enterprise resource planning (ERP) system allow a business to bloom rather than wilt? Let’s take a look.

Be ready for whatever is in store. As in nature, you never know what can happen in business, so you have to be ready for anything. And while humans are known for their enduring adaptability, software systems are historically not known for adjusting gracefully over time. Highly customized ERP systems can seem like the perfect fit at first, but fluctuations in demand (such as adjusting to run a business during a global pandemic) can reveal rigidity that affects overall productivity and profitability.

By investing in an ERP system that can fluctuate to meet a large breadth of needs, you ensure that your digital tools support future growth rather than hinder it. I’ve built my career on helping companies create seamless digital ecosystems using this software. The ERP systems we implement grow with the business, even if their customer base doubles or they are suddenly thrown into a new industry.

Make true alignment possible. If you’re still dealing with a collection of disparate systems all trying to communicate with one another, you have to face that the different silos of your business are not as aligned as they could be. A patchwork of software systems trying to do the job of one comprehensive ERP system will result in inefficiencies, miscommunications, and productivity obstacles; no matter how hard you try to make it work.

While your current systems might “get the job done,” they simply aren’t as seamless as a holistic system designed to help a company’s different facets work together. The goal is to create a digital space primed for company-wide collaboration. This sort of overarching alignment allows everyone to work together towards the same goals in an efficient, quantifiable way.

Know how to grow! Another benefit of a single, company-wide ERP system is its ability to collect and present up-to-the-minute analytics across all areas of your business. Since all departments can communicate with one another, their data can be viewed in one central location. Rather than waiting hours or even days to gather a comprehensive view of all of your operations, you can see what’s going on anywhere right away.

Tools like this give you extremely valuable insights that can quickly advise your strategic decision-making, giving you a competitive edge. By being able to collect current and accurate data across all silos of your company, you can react quickly to any circumstance that may arise. This simply isn’t as quick or easy when dealing with multiple stand-alone software systems.

Invest in your business’s growth with an ERP system that works for you rather than against you!

This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Show Your Employees Some Love: Company Culture And Great Systems


I’m passionate about many things, but I’d say that intentional workplace culture and beautifully tailored ERP systems are at the top of my list in my professional life. I believe that creating an environment in which employees feel valued and giving your staff the tools to do their jobs well is vital to a business’ long-term success.

Intentional workplace culture and well-designed systems benefit both your employees and your bottom line. Let’s dive into how you can achieve these for those who work hard for you.

Beyond the Company Happy Hour

Many people think of workplace culture as company outings and office perks (ping-pong table, lounge area, complimentary snack bar, etc.). But the culture of a company goes far deeper than that. There are so many elements that play into a business’s culture, including:

  • Benefits you provide for employees.
  • The type of communication you encourage between employees and leadership.
  • Whose needs you prioritize (clients, your staff, your own).
  • Professional and personal development opportunities.
  • The working environment you provide.
  • Extracurricular activities and outings.
  • Philanthropic efforts and opportunities.

The way you treat those who work for you is a direct factor in your business’s long-term success. Employees who feel valued, supported, and fulfilled are far more likely to dedicate themselves to their work, as well as stay with a company for longer. This results in a more skilled team and a lower turnover rate, both of which enormously benefit your bottom line.

Better Systems Result in Happier People

A frustrated staff works less efficiently than a content staff. The systems you provide to your teams can be the defining factor in their overall attitude and satisfaction level. Imagine you go into work every day and have to fight with the tech provided to you to get anything done. By the end of the day, you’ll likely feel defeated and far less productive than if everything ran smoothly.

For many people, less than ideal technology is a staple of their workday, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Excellent systems and the tech to support them make all the difference for those who have to use them day in and day out. An ERP system that elevates a company will have the following features:

  • Seamless workflow tailored to the unique needs of each department.
  • Collaborative capabilities for those working in different departments, locations, time zones, etc.
  • Enough automation to make employees’ jobs easier, freeing up time for other duties.
  • The ability to collect data insights that guide when and how a company makes changes and improvements.
  • Adequate training and support when frustrations do arise.

The right systems allow your staff to grow into their full potential, rather than drudge through obstacles to achieve base level goals. The saying, “you’re only as good as your tools,” rings true—your staff is only as productive as the technology you provide them allows them to be.

This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Evaluating Your Business Growth Goals And How ERP Can Help

I’ve worked in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) industry for over two decades and have learned the immensely important role business software plays in sustainable success. Every company leader has goals for the future, and the right ERP system can be the difference between meeting those goals consistently or constantly playing catch-up.

Past, Present, and Boundless Future. Every company has a vastly different set of needs. Because of this, I’m going to start this article with a series of questions that can help you assess the current state of your business processes and whether they are helping or hindering.

  • Learn from your past. What were your past business goals? Were you able to achieve those with your current systems and processes? Identify the elements of your business that have previously held you back.
  • Analyze the present. Take stock of your current system. Is it equipped to handle your growth goals easily? What will happen if you make a strategic decision to acquire a business in a new industry? Is your system scalable and capable of supporting new processes and/or products? Does it allow you to quickly access data from across all silos of your business, giving you a birds-eye view of your operation with up-to-the-minute accuracy?
  • Dream for the future. Once you’ve assessed the situation, it’s time to look towards the future. What are your goals for the coming years? Is your business prepared to grow into its potential?

This may seem like a lot of questions to consider at once, and planning for your growth potential can be an overwhelming process. That’s why it’s crucial to have the right team behind you.

Partner Up. If your business needs a new system to handle your growth goals, it’s vital that you choose a team of experts who can understand your unique needs and support you through planning, implementation, and beyond.

Adjusting to a new ERP system can be a trying process, so it’s essential to work with a team that can offer analytical, technical, and emotional support through every phase of a systems overhaul. The firm you choose should be a trusted, long-term partner dedicated to your business’s success, supporting you long after the new system is in place.

Create the Ideal System. The right ERP system can be an absolute game changer. Choosing the right business management software is one of the first steps in preparing to scale an organization. Think of creating a well-designed ERP system as building a house that your company will comfortably live in for twenty years.

Not only can the right system make daily processes more manageable, it can also offer an integrated and upgraded view of your core business processes. A modern ERP system can enable you to collect, store, manage, and analyze data in a way that will allow you to increase your bottom line and meet your growth goals.

The Sky’s the Limit. A well-designed ERP system is an investment in your future success. Without the right tools, businesses can end up frantically treading water just to stay afloat. Choosing a system that works for you rather than against you is crucial to sustainable business growth.

*This blog was originally written for Forbes. You can find the original post by clicking here.