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.
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03-06-2014 / Modular ERP vs. SaaS ERP
03-04-2014 / Multi-Language ERP Isnít Just For Global Companies
02-28-2014 / Is Your Business PCI Compliant?
02-21-2014 / 4 Additional Benefits of Implementing EDI
02-19-2014 / Adapting Your ERP for 3D Printing
02-18-2014 / Using Social CRM to Improve Product Development
02-12-2014 / Is Your ERP System as Secure as it Could Be?
01-29-2014 / Macolaís Evolve Users Conference About ERP Darwinism
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Weíve talked a lot in the past about the various reasons why an ERP implementation might not meet its expected ROI. One barrier to maximizing ROI is failure to get total buy in from your employees. One suggestion weíve made in the past to combat this is to conduct a business process assessment (BPA) and include everyone in the company who will be affected by an ERP change. But what exactly does that mean?
Start with an ERP Org Chart
Yes, you already know your companyís organizational structure, but have you really taken the time to look at it and understand how everyone interacts with your business systems and processes? A new ERP system will have a ripple effect on every single department in your company. Everyoneís interaction is different as well. The way that your warehouse manager is going to interact with an ERP system is vastly different than the person who manages your general ledger. The functionality needed from a C-level employee is going to vary tremendously from the functionality needed from a department manager. Understanding how everyone currently operates on a day to day basis is a critical foundation that must be laid before making any company wide changes.
Understand Why Change is Needed
This should not be a decision that is made in a board room for the end users. This should be an inclusive process. You can either develop a questionnaire internally, or work with your implementation partner to devise one. In either case, the questionnaire needs to be tailored for each different department. During this process you might find that one of the reports your operations manager needs takes two days to compile. An ERP system could create that report automatically with the click of a mouse. You might find out that employees are frustrated with excessive data entry that could be automated with a new system. The goal of any ERP project is to solve problems and inefficiencies. Including all employees in the process shows them that a new ERP system isnít being done to them; itís something being done for them.
Predict Why Individuals Wonít Buy In
Nobody likes change ó thatís human nature. And at the end of the day, an ERP project will bring massive changes to an organization. People get set in their ways and get comfortable with current processes. Some of those processes might actually be fine left the way that they are. While a BPA is great at finding inefficiencies, it can also identify what doesnít need to be changed. When you do run across an unwanted change that needs to be made, you can address it with the resistant party before the implementation process and try to create an open dialogue as to why the change needs to happen. They might not like the change, but they will appreciate being included in the decision, which in turn improves the odds of eventual buy in.
For more information on BPAs you can download this free e-book or contact The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.
Back before ERP is what we know it to be today, there was Materials Resource Planning (MRP) software. Companies were asking for integrated accounting solutions, job planning software, etc. and the modern day modular ERP software was born. Software programs like Sage 100 and Exact Macola ES are modern day modular ERP systems geared for mid-market businesses.
As technology has progressed, the advent of cloud based ERP solutions has started to become more prevalent. Referred to as SaaS (Software as a Service), the programs are hosted entirely on the internet. For small businesses looking to graduate from smaller accounting packages and wanting to invest in an ERP system, understanding some of the head to head comparisons is important to in making an informed decision.
The biggest advantage to a SaaS model is the lower cost of entry. It is a simple fact that SaaS options cost less to implement, as costs are spread out over time via an ongoing subscription fee. Unfortunately, because you are only paying a subscription, you donít own the software. Customization can be very limited, and when you are allowed to customize, costs can be very high.
Another aspect of SaaS ERP is that updates are done automatically. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. Automatic updates mean you save money by not having to implement newer versions of software on your own. Then again you have no choice but to update when they come out. Should you have any customizations, they might not be compatible with newer versions and users will constantly need to familiarize themselves with ongoing changes to the software.
The biggest drawback to Modular ERP is the cost. Between software and implementation costs, these projects can get both complicated and expensive. But long term these systems have several advantages over SaaS systems. For starters, the whole point of a modular system is the flexibility to pick and choose the modules that you need. Should your business needs change down the line, you can just add the appropriate modules.
Another thing to consider is the customization ability of ERP software. While the cost of
entry can be high, it also means that you own the software. As such you can
customize it according to your specific business needs. Like with most
things, ERP customization can be beneficial if done in moderation. Over
customization can have a negative impact on your ROI
For more information about the difference between modular and SaaS ERP call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.
There are a number of ERP Software packages that come with Multi-language capabilities. If you are a global company with offices in multiple countries, it would obviously behoove you to take advantage of these capabilities. But there are several reasons why companies with only a domestic presence could be served by having multi-language capabilities.
You Have International Suppliers
While your business may do all of their manufacturing in one location and strictly has domestic customers, your suppliers might be global. Being able to communicate effectively with your suppliers is vital for maintaining maximum efficiency and keeping costs down. A supplier could have two very similar parts that are designed to meet specifications in two different countries. The last thing you want is to order a specific part and have the wrong item show up, resulting in time consuming return and reorders. Multi-language ERP can ensure that purchase orders are processed accurately and in a timely fashion.
Your Customers are Global
Even if all of your suppliers are local, if you are selling your product to a global customer base, utilizing Multi-language ERP can really help improve your profits. Even domestically, you might deal with companies that are more comfortable dealing in their native language. Quotes, invoices, shipping requirement and other documents can get confusing when trying to process them in a foreign language. Sending paperwork to your customers in their language can help improve communication and customer satisfaction, leading to more orders and increased revenues.
Your Employees Speak Multiple Languages
The United States is often times referred to as a ďmelting pot.Ē It is a nation of multiple cultures, ethnicities and, of course, languages. Human error is a near inevitability in any workplace, but language and translation barriers only serve to compound the issue. Utilizing Multi-language ERP can go a long way towards reducing errors made for no reason other than something being lost in translation.
These are just a few of the reasons why utilizing the multiple language features of your ERP software can be beneficial and help you increase profitability. For more information on how you can take advantage of these types of features, call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.
photo credit: Genista via photopin cc
No matter what sort of industry you are in, your business has customers. And odds are that you process credit cards to collect payments from those customers. If you do, your business needs to be PCI compliant; otherwise you face fines that can reach $100,000.
What is PCI?
PCI is short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Itís a standard that was set up in 2006 by the major credit card companies to protect the data and information of credit card users. In addition to creating the standard, the credit card companies are the ones who police compliance and levy the fines.
There are 4 different compliance levels based on the Visa transaction volume of your business. Those levels are:
Most small and midsized businesses will fall into the fourth level, and have their own set of standards to be PCI compliant.
How to Get PCI Compliant
PCI Compliance relates to how customerís credit card data is stored and protected. Depending on what level merchant you are will determine the level of security you need to have in place. If your company stores information like name, address, credit card number, expiration date, etc., then you need to make sure you have firewall protection against cyber-attacks, regular antivirus software updates and all transmission of cardholder data needs to be encrypted. Internally, any employees with access to card data need to have unique user IDs in order to log into the system, and monitoring systems need to be in place to see who is accessing what data, when.
What are the Consequences of not Being PCI Compliant?
As we mentioned above, the fines can be as high as $100,000 for each month that a business isnít PCI compliant. In addition, credit card processing rates will almost assuredly go up, which in an ongoing cost. Being compliant doesnít guarantee a data breach, but it will at least protect you from potentially devastating fines should you get hacked.
A lot of companies are shifting to technology based merchant services providers in order to shift the burden of PCI compliance off of their shoulders and onto their service provider. All customer credit card data is stored on the service providerís servers, and they take on the burden of providing the required level of security. These technology based providers typically have solutions that are highly integrated with your ERP software, meaning you can still process credit card transactions without taking on the risk of storing that data.
For more information about PCI compliance and integrated credit card processing you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.
Letís face facts; ERP implementations are both highly complex and expensive projects for any organization to take on. When done correctly, the returns are easily measured. However, due to the fact that most organizations will only undergo a major ERP project once every 5-10 years, companies are highly dependent on 3rd party help. As a result, a lot of companies are hesitant to pull the trigger on an ERP upgrade.
Whether you are upgrading from QuickBooks to a tier two ERP solution, or upgrading from an older software package to a newer one from the same vendor (like moving from Exact Progression to Exact Macola ES), knowing if an upgrade is the best move depends on a number of factors.
Your Business Is Growing
Itís the goal of any business to grow. Eventually, if a company continues to grow, the systems it is using to run the business will become more of a hindrance than a help. Understanding exactly where that tipping point is can be accomplished with a BPA. Ideally, you will be able to identify that point in advance and plan out your ERP upgrade to happen before reaching that breaking point in order to continue growing.
You Have Data, not Information
A lot of small to midsized companies use copious spreadsheets to track data. Unfortunately, thatís all that a spreadsheet will do for you. All reporting is done by collecting data from disparate silos of information, which is a long and tedious process. The bigger you get the more data you have. A more modern ERP system will not only collect that data in one place, but will have native reporting capabilities to provide better information in real time.
Improved Customer Service
This is harder to measure in a pure ROI sense, but the larger a company gets, the more customers it has. And those customers bring an increased strain on your customer service team. A fully integrated ERP system allows those individuals on your team to access pertinent information faster and more efficiently, letting them manage a larger workload in a more efficient manner. This will lead to greater customer retention and increased business.
These are just a few of the reasons why upgrading your ERP system might make sense for your business. For more information on upgrading your ERP you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.