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The Attivo Blog

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4 Ways to Mitigate Risk with ERP Software

09-04-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
4 Ways to Mitigate Risk with ERP Software

When it comes to running a small to mid-sized business there are a number of reasons why an owner or president might lose sleep at night. There are countless scenarios that could occur that could do severe damage to a company, or in a worst case scenario, force a business to shut its doors for good.

Those risks come from all directions too. Internal threats, government oversight and even Mother Nature can all conspire to cause irreparable harm to an SMB.  While it is impossible to completely eliminate all risk (wouldnít that be nice though), ERP software can go a long ways towards mitigating those threats and offer at least a little peace of mind.

Who Can Access What Information?

Regardless of what type of industry you are in, there are a number of people within your organization that need access to your data.  But not everyone needs access to all of your data. One of the advantages of an ERP system like Exact Macola 10 is that you can get really granular with who has access to what. Rather than putting people into roles (i.e. accounting) where everyone has access to all of the modules within that role, an advanced ERP system can not only assign someone an accounting role, but then can also pick and choose exactly what modules that user has access to. This allows as many users as necessary to have access to the data they need, without having to give them access to everything else as well.

Reduce Your Exposure to Fraud and Embezzlement

Various financial groups estimate that US companies lose approximately 7% of their revenues to fraud every year. A lot of that fraud is coming from internal sources. Your ERP software can keep track of user activity, creating an audit trail.  This, coupled with limiting data access, makes it much more difficult for internal sources to steal or embezzle. And in the event of internal theft, it is much easier to trace the source.

Keep Uncle Sam at Bay

There are a number of industries that are highly regulated by various government agencies. Inventory management software that uses lot control can minimize losses in the event of a government recall. Sales tax collection software like Avalara can keep state auditors from levying heavy fines for uncollected sales taxes.  And the automatic processes and auditing capabilities of modern ERP software can really expedite the ISO certification and industry compliance process.

Protect Yourself against Mother Nature

Hurricanes like Super Storm Sandy, earthquakes on the California coast and tornados in the Midwest are all devastating to business. With more and more companies shifting to a cloud hosted ERP option, data backup and redundancy is often included in those costs.  While you canít prevent a natural disaster, ERP systems can ensure that your data is preserved no matter what happens.

Risk is an inevitable part of operating a business. No matter what processes and procedures you put in place, there will always be an element of risk from multiple sources. For more information on how an ERP system can help reduce your exposure contact The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


Struggling with Compliance? Consider These 5 Steps

09-02-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Struggling with Compliance? Consider These 5 Steps

Compliance has complicated workflow for decades, but the new era of online-everything has brought an entirely new set of compliance regulations, governance, legislation, and industry oversight. Additionally, large customers that are constantly under scrutiny from every angle (the trade commission, environmental groups, civil liberties groups, and more) can demand even more than what the industry's governing body and/or the government requires in terms of compliance.

If you're struggling, it's no wonder. In many industries, the compliance regulations change more frequently than the direction of the wind. Here are a few relatively simple steps to help you get back on top of compliance issues.

Evaluate Each Step of Your Processes With Regards to Regulations

Begin with someone who is an expert at the compliance regulations your business is subject to. This might be a member of your legal team or an outside consultant. Have them walk through each step of your internal processes and evaluate those steps according to the regulations you are subject to. Don't forget to check the side steps, too, such as detours a product takes if there are quality issues.

Use ERP to Manage a Checklist of Issues to Watch

Once your processes are adjusted to meet current regulations, your ERP software can be customized to work through a checklist of issues to watch out for. The system can be set to alert a qualified worker if the criteria of the compliance regulations aren't met. These workflows can also be used to set up an audit trail to be shown to an inspector or regulator should they ever stop in to check if your processes are compliant.

Use ERP to Set User Permissions to Ensure Processes are Completed by Those With the Right Qualifications

ERP software can also be programmed to recognize the qualifications and/or certifications of a given employee in order to assure that only qualified workers complete or approve a particular item in process. This covers your business in situations where a certain certification is required to do a certain task, sign off on a particular issue, or check to see that regulations were followed during a process.

Use a WMS to Track Lot and Serial Numbers

When products are audited, inspected, recalled, etc., it is critical to know when those items were manufactured, who was working at the time, exactly what procedures were followed, which ingredients were or were not used, etc. Manufacturers of food products, pharmaceuticals, children's products, etc. are well served by WMS (warehouse management software) to track these issues to stay within compliance and to address any quality problems or recall situations.

Stay on Top of Data Security

Increasingly, regulations don't just focus on your products and processes, but on the data you keep. If you are in possession of consumer data, medical data, or other controlled or sensitive data, you will be subject to a growing body of data governance policies and laws. When selecting, implementing, and managing ERP, WMS, CRM, and other data collection and management software applications, always be sure that you are following the strictest possible interpretation of data governance regulations.

For help determining which software solutions will best help your organization adhere to compliance regulations you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


What is Tokenization? Taking Payment Security to the Next Level

08-31-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
What is Tokenization? Taking Payment Security to the Next Level

The need for manufacturers and distributors to be able to process credit cards is growing each and every year.  More than ever companies are moving towards digital payment methods and ecommerce to do business.  But with the need to process credit cards come the need to be PCI compliant. Having a fully PCI compliant payment gateway will protect your customers from data theft and protect you from liability.

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry. The payment card industry (i.e. Visa and MasterCard) have set forth a number of safety standards that all merchants who process credit cards must follow. It includes minimum standards of anti-virus and firewall protection as well as regulations on how customer financial data is stored. Failure to meet these standards can result in fines and companies can even lose the ability to process credit cards at all.  As data thieves become more sophisticated, PCI compliance standards are getting stricter. As a result, it is getting more and more difficult for small to mid-sized businesses to stay compliant.

Not all PCI Compliant Gateways are Created Equally

There are hundreds of payment gateways out there that claim to be PCI compliant.  And for the most part they are. Very few of them can integrate directly with your ERP system and even if they can be integrated, they donít eliminate all risk.  Many PCI compliant gateways are still storing your customerís sensitive financial data. They are just storing it on their servers instead of yours.  So while liability is shifted off of your shoulders, your customers are still vulnerable to data theft. Do you really think your customers are going to care if it was your servers or your processing partnerís servers that were hacked? Theyíll still take their business elsewhere.

Why Tokenization is Different

The reason why tokenization offers next level security is because it complete eliminates the storage of any financial data anywhere. When you enter a customerís credit card into your ERP system, a code is associated with that card.  That code is also known as a token.  Whenever that customer needs to make a payment, the token is what is passed between your ERP system and the payment gateway, meaning that the only information that a data thief can take is a bunch of random numbers and letters. It is only a matter of time before PCI compliance is going to require tokenization in a payment gateway. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve.

With the number of merchant services companies out there it is easy to just assume that they are all the same in one way, shape or form. If you need help navigating a crowded marketplace or if you have any questions about PCI compliance you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Understanding Maintenance Costs of Your Current ERP System is Vital

08-28-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Understanding Maintenance Costs of Your Current ERP System is Vital

If you ever watch low brow college comedies, one relatively consistent theme is the long since graduated fraternity brother who still hangs around the frat house looking to relive his ďgloryĒ days. These characters are always out of shape and out of date, and while they know all the secret handshakes and codes, its borderline painful to watch them try to fit in with the new, young, hip crowd.

For small to midsized manufacturers running legacy or custom ERP software, their day to day operations are being run by out of date and out of shape systems that werenít built to manage the pace of todayís business world.  Sound familiar?

The problem is that updating or upgrading those systems comes with a tremendous financial commitment Ė a commitment that most organizations arenít willing to make. But when you peel back the onion, sometimes the ROI of a new ERP implementation can be accelerated by eliminating the cost of maintaining a legacy system.

Maintaining a Custom ERP System

There are plenty of organizations out there that have a custom ERP system that was built from scratch. The problems with these types of systems is that when there are any technical issues with the software, or additions need to be made to functionality, the only people who know how to fix those issues are the people who built it in the first place. Internal IT departments are tasked with maintaining the system, and as your business needs change, often times that means that the code needs to be rewritten entirely. The cost of tying up resources in maintaining a custom system coupled with lost productivity and lost growth opportunities due to the restrictive nature of a custom system can add up very quickly. Worse still, what if the individual(s) who created your custom system retire or leave your company? Who will maintain your system then? Worse yet, what happens if the system breaks and you need to transition to a new ERP system? That can add tens of thousands of dollars to your implementation costs.

The Cost of Sticking With a Legacy ERP System

ERP software vendors are constant upgrading their product offerings and coming out with new and improved software packages. But these companies also need to make sure that they arenít spreading themselves too thin, and as a result older software packages are often times sent to that ERP pasture in the sky. And once a package has been sunsetted, getting support for that software is scarcer. And when a resource becomes scarce, it becomes more expensive. Furthermore, as technology continues to advance, your software very quickly becomes incompatible with newer technology, forcing you to leave your IT infrastructure badly outdated. Again, this results in lost revenue and growth opportunities as technology passes you by.

There are clearly a lot of costs involved when choosing a new ERP system. From software license costs, to implementation to training, it is a major financial commitment. But in order to make a completely informed decision, understanding the costs associated with not upgrading is important as well.

For more information you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


How ERP Software Equals Going Green

08-27-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
How ERP Software Equals Going Green

Have you heard of Corporate Social Responsibility? Abbreviated as CSR, corporate social responsibility is a business model that has been adopted by numerous organizations and enterprises over the past few decades. It is a form of self-regulation, and is based on the premise that if companies do the right and responsible thing by the public and the environment, then the public will support that responsible business model and reward the company by patronizing it. In short, responsible actions should equal profits.

For this reason and others, many organizations are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment by saving valuable and precious resources and engaging in other environmentally responsible practices. Did you know that ERP software can be an important part of CSR and going green? Here are just a few ways that every business can reduce their environmental impact just by investing in ERP software.

How ERP Can Help Eliminate Paper Waste

Paper consumption impacts the environment in multiple ways. Between deforestation and fuel costs to process and transport paper, paper usage is one of the biggest ways a company can impact the environment. While ERP software is not a "paperless office" solution, there are numerous ways that ERP helps reduce the amount of paper consumed by the workplace. This helps the environment, but it also helps your bottom line, because all that paper costs money! ERP digitizes many of the regular processes that generally consume paper, such as generating reports, creating tickets, etc. EDI can automate sales and purchase orders.  Even invoicing can all be automated through your ERP system. When these things are done electronically by the ERP software, the entire workplace uses less paper, saving money and saving the planet.

How ERP Equals Going Green in Manufacturing Facilities

In manufacturing facilities, ERP helps identify areas where processes can be shortened or improved. ERP can also analyze machine use, waste, bottlenecks that slow production or contribute to inefficiencies, and even identify safety issues. With this information, manufacturers can refine their operations to improve productivity while eliminating waste. They can then make the same goods using less power, less water, and producing less contamination and waste. It's an all-around win for the manufacturer, consumer, and the environment.

How ERP Equals Going Green in Warehouses

Just as ERP software can improve processes in manufacturing, it can also track trends to maximize resources and eliminate waste in the warehouse setting. A good warehouse management system (WMS) can find ways to maximize inventory to reduce the amount of product that goes bad on the shelf, while assuring that there is always enough product on hand to fulfill orders.

ERP software can also help maximize the use of space, so that warehouses can store more inventory in smaller warehouses, lessening the amount of power and other resources it takes to run the facility. ERP software can also identify more efficient ways to stock the facility and fulfill orders, lessening the resources used to run equipment, such as pallet jacks or forklifts. This saves power while reducing waste and lessening the pollution produced by warehouses.

For more information on how ERP software can help reduce your companyís environmental impact you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.   

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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.