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The Attivo Blog

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Let Avalara Handle Your Sales Tax Filing For You

04-17-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Let Avalara Handle Your Sales Tax Filing For You

The nightmare of the traditional tax season is over, and if you are a small to midsized business, it is possible that you had to file a tax return in every single tax jurisdiction where you do business. The tax laws are designed to be complex on purpose. While government jobs are being cut across the board, the one area experiencing growth is tax auditors. Jurisdictions around the country are hiring sales tax auditors at tremendous rates to find all the uncollected money that businesses probably didnít even know that they owe.

It is only a matter of time before a business gets audited.  After all, it is one of the few government programs that produce a positive ROI. Sales tax automation software like Avalara Avatax automate the sales tax collection process, performing a number of tasks that would be nearly impossible to stay on top of if a business were trying to do them on their own.

Managing all of Your Tax Jurisdictions

There are literally tens of thousands of unique tax jurisdictions in the United States.  Whether or not you have to file a return in those jurisdictions depends on a concept known as nexus. Essentially, nexus is considered some sort of presence within a specific jurisdiction. What constitutes nexus is different from one tax jurisdiction to the next. It could be a minimum amount of online sales shipped to a specific zip code that triggers nexus in that state. You might have a drop shipper in another part of the country or regional sales people that establish nexus in a particular jurisdiction. 

Avatax not only can automatically determine what jurisdictions you need to file in each year, but it also tracks all of the tax codes in that area and help you prepare your returns. That process alone can help save you countless hours of work.

Tracking Tax Exempt Clients

There is a good chance that you have some clients that are eligible for tax exempt status. In the event of an audit, you need to have separate certificates for each of those companies. If even the slightest thing changes with one of your tax exempt customers, they need to refile for a new certificate and you need to make sure you are on top of that and all of your documentation is up to date.

This is another area where Avatax can help. It can track when certificates have expired or need to be updated, and will help you and your customer stay up to date. It also stores all of your tax exempt certificates electronically, making them easy to produce in the event of an audit.

Avalaraís product integrates directly with multiple ERP systems, including Sage 100 and Macola ES. These tight integrations eliminate the need for extra data entry, not only saving time, but also greatly reducing human error. On top of all of that, Avalara guarantees their software to be accurate, meaning if you get audited, they are assuming all of the risk and potential consequences. 

For more information you can download this on-demand webinar or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486. 


ERP Software Can Help You Meet Your Compliance Needs

04-16-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
ERP Software Can Help You Meet Your Compliance Needs

There are several industries that are heavily regulated by the government. Agencies like the FDA, FAA, ISO and USDA are just a small handful of agencies that oversee industries like food and beverage manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing and medical device manufacturing. Staying compliant with these government agencies can be the difference between staying in business or not.

There are other instances where you might have a particularly large client that requires you to keep closer track of the manufacturing and distribution process than regular industry standards require. In either case, ERP software can help you achieve ISO certification or government compliance.

Integrating a Compliance Checklist

Before you can even begin to earn compliance you need to fully understand what the compliance requirements are, and how each step of your manufacturing process is impacted by those requirements. Once you have established a checklist, it can be directly integrated into your ERP system. Before a particular job can move from phase 1 to phase 2, the compliance requirements that pertain to phase 1 must be checked off. This system of quality checks continues all of the way down the line to ensure that compliance is being done in real time. The user permissions can even be set to ensure that the only people authorized to sign off on a particular step have the necessary certifications and qualifications to do so.

Lot Control and Serial Control

Another area that can come into play with regards to compliance is lot/serial control. Warehouse management systems can help to automate this process and ensure compliance. In the event of a product recall, it is vitally important to be able to narrow down the specific parts or ingredients that went into each batch or order. If there is one specific faulty piece or product causing the recall, knowing exactly which specific end products contain that one part can save countless dollars in product recalls. And having that audit trail in place can help you avoid hefty fines as well.

While maintaining and meeting minimum requirements is a necessity for a number of industries, there are reasons to take advantages of the tools that most modern ERP systems have in place to ensure compliance. Maintaining high standards throughout your manufacturing process ensures quality, improves customer satisfaction and can lead to increased business.

For more information on how to integrate compliance and certification requirements into your business processes call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


Everybodyís Doing the Workaround

04-11-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Everybodyís Doing the Workaround

No, itís not the latest internet dance craze. Unfortunately for companies who are using ERP software, workarounds are an all too common problem. Workarounds are any situation where an employee invents a process to complete a task that could be done within the construct of the ERP system.

The good news is that employees care enough to actually try and figure out a way to get the job done. The bad news is that itís being done in an inefficient manner because most likely, the end user doesnít fully understand how to use the expensive and complex software system that you just invested in. Weíre going to look at a couple of the more common workarounds we see and offer a way to nip them in the bud.

Problem 1: Inventory Management

There are countless organizations that manage their warehouse with spreadsheets, physical counts and paper notes. This data may or may not be entered into the ERP system, and even if it is, the more data entry that there is, the greater the chance for human error. Failing to keep accurate inventory counts within your ERP system can lead to a myriad of problems ranging from purchasing of raw materials to scheduling on the job floor, and even customer service related functions.

Solution 1: Warehouse Management Software

Whether you are implementing your first ERP system or already have an existing one in place, investing in warehouse management software is a good way to eliminate a lot of data entry and automate inventory tracking. Most systems come with barcode scanners that automatically send accurate data to your ERP system, saving time and money while improving inventory accuracy.

Problem 2: Outdated Software

Itís common practice for companies to skip an ERP update here and there. There are definitely instances where an older version of a particular software doesnít quite have the capabilities to meet the needs of a specific function or process. Workarounds can become a necessary evil in those instances, and the more your business grows and expands with changing markets and technology, the more likely it will be that your end users will find more and more holes with an outdated ERP system.

Solution 2: Regular Software Updates

It isnít always necessary to update your software every time that a new version is released. But often times new functions and improvements to existing modules are included in ERP updates that can fix some of the workarounds that you might have implemented. Remember, software vendors are updating their software based on the latest market trends and emerging technology.  The very same trends and technology that are shaping the way you do business. Failing to take advantage of those updates regularly will only cost you money in the long run.

For more information on how you can get more out of your existing ERP software you can download this free on-demand webinar or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.

photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

Invest in ERP Training to Get Maximum ROI

04-08-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Invest in ERP Training to Get Maximum ROI

We often blog about the importance of a business process assessment and including end users in the process of selecting a new ERP system. Itís important to do this in order to get company wide buy in, which in turn can go a long way towards achieving ROI and hitting deadlines. Unfortunately getting buy in is only half of the battle. Spending the money and resources to make sure that end users actually know how to use the software seems obvious enough, but is often one area that gets undercut when putting together an ERP budget.

A good rule of thumb is to expect a 2:1 ratio of ERP training and implementation costs to software costs.  Essentially, if the software you are purchasing costs $10,000, expect the training and implementation costs to run approximately $20,000. Unfortunately, many companies looking to trim their budgets will often times skimp on training, feeling that if they can get a few people trained well enough, those people can then train other employees internally, saving money.

Why You Should Invest in Training

ERP systems are highly complex systems, and for new users, the functionality can be overwhelming. Often times, if an end user doesnít understand how everything works, they will invent their own processes based on the modules and functions that they do understand. Not only does this defeat the purpose of trying to create new processes that are more efficient, it also means that there will be portions of your new ERP system that are going unused, further reducing any ROI you had hoped to gain. As time goes by, the problem will only get worse as new employees will be trained inefficient processes by old users who were never properly trained in the first place.

Donít Do Whisper Down the Lane Training

Most kids growing up played a game called Whisper Down the Lane. Essentially the first person whispers a message into the next playerís ear. The message continues to get whispered from one child to the next, until it gets to the last person in the chain. Typically, the message at the end of the chain is completely different than the original.

The same concept applies to organizations that try to only train a small group of individuals and hope that they can pass that knowledge down through the org chart to the end users. Often times, the training is diluted. Ideally, you should invest the resources necessary to train the end users directly. But if that isnít feasible, training all department heads thoroughly is vital to ensuring that training and knowledge of the new system is permeating throughout your organization. The higher up the chain your training investment stops, the less likely it is that you will see a positive ROI 

For more information on ERP software training you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


Eliminate Paper Picking with Warehouse Management Software

04-03-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Eliminate Paper Picking with Warehouse Management Software

Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but if he had done it with a scanner, he probably could have gotten it done a lot more efficiently. When it comes to manufacturers and distributors, having an efficient process for taking orders, collecting orders and shipping orders is vital to keeping customers happy and coming back.  Accuracy of order picking is also important to managing customer relations.  The more efficiently those orders can be picked the faster that they ship, helping to improve customer satisfaction

There are a number of warehouse management software options out there geared specifically for small to midsized businesses. Products likeWiSys and Scanco integrate directly with ERP solutions like Exact Macola ES and Sage 100 respectively, and can help automate your warehouse management from top to bottom, eliminating paper picking.

Process Orders Faster

One of the issues with paper picking is that it typically means that one person is picking one order at a time. This type of picking is often referred to as piece picking, and itís not efficient. An automated warehouse with barcode scanners can allow you to take advantage of multiple types of alternative processes like:

∑        Wave Picking ó Each picker can collect several orders at a time because orders are programmed into the scanner and can alert the picker when one item is contained within multiple orders.

∑        Zone Picking ó Pickers are assigned to a specific zone of the warehouse and only pick items contained within their designated area. Final orders are then put together at a central location.

Process Orders More Accurately

Just as important as being quick is being accurate. The last thing you want is to ship the wrong item to your customer, or have an inaccurate inventory count that forces you to backorder an item after a customer has already ordered it. Barcode scanners will help improve both of these areas. With regards to picking the order, the scanner can automatically tell the picker if the item that they have scanned matches the item on the order. This all but eliminates any accuracy issues with regards to picking an order. In addition, because the warehouse management software is directly integrated with your ERP system, once an item is scanned and picked, it automatically updates inventory levels, helping to avoid product shortages and backorders.

There are a number of ways that warehouse management software can help improve the overall efficacy of your supply chain management. Order processing and picking is just one of the benefits. For more information you can download this free on-demand webinar or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.

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Attivo's Blog.Tips and Tricks for Increasing Productivity

The Attivo Group will get your system implemented - on time and within budget. Realize increased efficiencies, lower costs and improve profits. As trusted advisors for distributors, manufacturers and service providers, we will help you improve and automate your business processes.