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The Attivo Blog

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Do You Really Need to Upgrade Your IT Infrastructure?

 
09-12-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 
Do You Really Need to Upgrade Your IT Infrastructure?

As recently as April of this year there were surveys done that estimated that as many as 28% of all PCs are running Windows XP. Thatís high enough to make Windows XP the second most used operating system in the world. The problem is that Windows has stopped supporting Windows XP and as technology has advanced, new software is no longer compatible with a 13-year-old operating system.

This puts businesses running older versions of ERP software in a difficult position. The first option is to just continue to run a legacy version of their software rather than do an ERP software update.  The other option is to replace their entire IT infrastructure, including the individual workstations, in order to keep pace with the latest software offerings. There are costs involved in either scenario. In the first scenario, you risk falling behind your competitors by running a system that isnít equipped to handle the changes in your business.  In the second scenario, there is the obvious cost associated with replacing workstations and computers in order to update your software.

Even if you are running a relatively newer system that is supported by an older operating system, the speed and performance of your software is limited by the speed and performance of the processors in each userís workstation. A less efficient and less productive system costs your bottom line as well.

What if there is a Third Option?

There is a third option ó cloud hosted ERP. This is a hybrid model.  It isnít a true SaaS (software as a service) model, where you pay a subscription fee to use a software that exists strictly online and it isnít a true on premise system that you house and maintain on your own infrastructure either.  By moving into a cloud hosted environment, you are taking the software that you own, and placing it in the cloud.  You own your software and your data, but you shift the burden of IT management and hardware upgrades onto your hosting partner.

This hybrid model allows you to update your ERP software regularly without having to incur the ongoing costs of upgrading and maintaining your hardware. There are some situations where moving into the cloud might not make immediate sense.  That said, industry trends paint a very clear picture; businesses are moving to the cloud at an accelerated rate, and for most companies, it will become a matter of when they make the transition, not if.

For more information on cloud hosted ERP you can download this free whitepaper or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.  


 
 

What is PCI Compliance? If You Have to Ask, You Might Have a Problem

 
08-29-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 
What is PCI Compliance? If You Have to Ask, You Might Have a Problem

Whether you are running an eCommerce retail website or manufacture air ducts, chances are that you accept credit cards from your customers. While there typically is a fee associated with processing credit cards, it is a much more reliable way to maintain and manage your cash flow. If you do take credit cards, it is important to make sure that you are PCI compliant, otherwise you face stiff fines and could even have your merchant account that allows you to process credit card payments revoked.

What is PCI Compliance?

A recent survey of small to mid-sized business owners revealed that 22% of SMBs are not currently PCI compliant.  An additional 14% simply had no idea if they were PCI compliant or not.  PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, and it is a set of security standards that businesses must comply with that is enforced by the actual credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard. These standards are put into place to protect customer financial data from falling into the hands of hackers and identity thieves.

How to Get Compliant         

The biggest problem that most SMBs have when trying to maintain PCI compliance is that their internal IT infrastructure simply doesnít meet the stringent security requirements.  A lot of companies store their customerís financial data on their servers, which leaves the data vulnerable to online attacks. Often times the cost of upgrading infrastructure and security is too costly, which is why so many companies arenít PCI compliant.  The best way to achieve compliance in these cases is to partner with a 3rd party merchant services provider that will store all of your customerís financial data on their servers, shifting the burden of PCI compliance off of you and onto them.

Doing Nothing Isnít an Option

Problems donít go away.  They grow and accrue interest over time. This is true with PCI compliance as well. Failure to get compliant will ultimately lead to audits and recurring monthly fines until you are compliant.  In extreme cases, the credit card companies can revoke your right to process credit cards at all, which can have a massive impact on your bottom line. That doesnít even take into account the lost business you would incur if you were hacked and your customerís data was stolen.

For more information on PCI compliance and what it means for you call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


 
 

ERP Can Help You Achieve Corporate Social Responsibility

 
08-27-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 
ERP Can Help You Achieve Corporate Social Responsibility

There is a trend sweeping the corporate world known as Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. The general mantra of CSR proponents is that if you take care of people and the planet, profits will follow. While ERP software is designed to make your company more lean, it can also help you become more green. Sustainability is a huge part of CSR, and ERP can get you there.

Manufacturing Automation and Your Carbon Footprint

ERP is designed to lean your day-to-day processes.  On the manufacturing floor, it can track how long it takes to complete a job, identify bottle necks and analyze machine usage.  As you collect that data over time, you can use ERP as a tool to maximize the efficiency of your job floor equaling more orders processed with less waste.  This not only improves your bottom line, but it reduces your carbon footprint.

A More Efficient Warehouse Means less Energy Usage

Warehouse management software can help you manage your inventory better.  Tracking seasonal trends to keep optimal inventory levels can cut down on the shelf space required to operate at peak performance. Not only does less product die on the shelves, saving you money and wasted product, but you can get away with a smaller warehouse to hold your inventory.  In turn, a smaller warehouse means less energy usage required to run your daily operations. While this falls in line with running a greener business, it also saves money and improves the bottom line.

Reduce Paper Usage

It may not be the first thing brought up when a company is looking to trim fat from the budget, but paper is consistently one of the most costly expenditures for any company in any industry.  While ERP software canít eliminate the use of paper altogether, it does allow you to drastically reduce your usage. EDI software can integrate with your systems and help you process invoices and orders electronically. Daily reports can be accessed and shared through dashboards housed inside your ERP software. Pick tickets in the warehouse can be automated and pulled up on barcode scanners or tablets, again reducing waste. There are dozens of other examples where paper can be replaced by technology if youíre just willing to adopt new technology.

Corporate Social Responsibility is about more than just writing a check to a charity and calling it a day.  It is about being an active member of your community and committing to an eco-friendly business model. ERP software can help you achieve a higher level of sustainability, which ultimately saves you money in the long term. For more information about CSR and ERP software call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.



 
 

Sage Offering Trade-In Credits for BusinessWorks Users

 
08-22-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 
Sage Offering Trade-In Credits for BusinessWorks Users

For some business owners, making the jump from an entry level accounting program like QuickBooks to a full-fledged ERP system seems like too big of a divide. When Sage introduced BusinessWorks, a lot of those business owners found it to be a useful bridge between Tier 3 and Tier 2 ERP software. As time has gone by, Sage has begun to focus more and more attention on their other products. While Sage BusinessWorks remains a supported software platform,Sage Software has already officially made the decision to sunset, or retire, the product. While there is no official timeframe for a retirement party, there are several reasons why it might be better to upgrade sooner rather than later.

Take Advantage of Trade-In Credits

The most obvious reason to upgrade to a different sage system is that Sage is offering trade-in credits for BusinessWorks users to upgrade to a different software package within the Sage family. This savings can really add up depending on how many users you need licenses for. From now through the end of September 2014, any BusinessWorks customer upgrading to Sage 100 will receive a $1,000 credit per user, provided they are current on their support.  For customers that arenít current, the credit is $500. Whether or not those credits will be available after September has yet to be decided.

Donít Get Stuck With an Unsupported System

We see this a lot with customers who have hung on to an older system well past its shelf life has expired. Eventually, the software becomes unsupported and updates and security patches are no longer available. As server technology advances, your old system becomes incompatible with current server software. Even if you do decide to upgrade at some point, data conversion becomes more complicated making your implementation project more expensive and time consuming. BusinessWorks is already classified as a ďnon-coreĒ product by Sage, meaning that future research and development of the product will be severely limited and eventually stopped all-together.

Enjoy Additional Modules Not Available for BusinessWorks

Sage BusinessWorks has basic core modules that are good for day to day operations of a small business.  As businesses grow, the need for a more robust solution becomes more pressing. Taking a step up to one of the core software offerings will give you access to modules like Sage Inventory Advisor, Sage Business Intelligence, Sage CRM integration as well as access to mobile applications not currently available for BusinessWorks.

For more information on upgrading to Sage 100, you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


 
 

Getting the Most Out of Your ERP: Customizable Dashboards

 
08-21-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 
Getting the Most Out of Your ERP: Customizable Dashboards

One of the most important aspects of any successful ERP implementation is user buy-in. If the end user sees a new system as a hindrance to their day-to-day activities, the odds of them developing their own workarounds to get things done increases. At that point the whole purpose for investing in a new ERP system becomes moot.

Modern ERP is designed to be customizable to the user experience, as it should. The whole purpose of enterprise level software is to unite all the different departments within an organization under one system. That doesnít mean that your accounting team is going to use the system in the exact same way that your purchasing manager would use it. Purchasing a new ERP system isnít enough.  It is just as important to invest in the training necessary to teach your employees how to get the most out of the new system.

Deliver the Right Data to the Right People

Whether you call it a dashboard, a workspace or just your log-in screen, each user in your ERP system can have the information that is most important to them delivered on one main screen. Systems like Exact Macola 10 and Sage 100 allow you to create customized workspaces. Your accounting team can log in and instantly view which customers need to be billed, what invoices need to be paid and what outstanding payments need to be received. From that screen, they can drill in more to target individual accounts. Upon logging into the software, the manufacturing manager can see what jobs are scheduled, what resources are available and what raw materials are on hand. Customized reports can be created for any user, and with a click of a mouse, data becomes actionable information.

How to Get Started

Before you can begin to customize the user experience you need to understand what the day-to-day tasks are of each end user.  A business process assessment will help you identify the key functions of every single position within your organization.  In addition, it provides insight into how users are currently interacting with your existing systems and what information is vital to their performance. With that information you can more accurately select a software system that is the best fit for your company, as well as design a unique user experience for each employee that will make their job easier and more efficient.

For more information on customizable workspaces 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.