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The Attivo Blog

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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.


New Technology and ERP: 2 Tech Advances that Could Revolutionize Manufacturing and Distribution

08-19-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
New Technology and ERP: 2 Tech Advances that Could Revolutionize Manufacturing and Distribution

As recently as 4 years ago, fewer than 50% of all cell phone users owned a smartphone. The first iPad was only four months old. Fast forward to today, and you canít walk into a business meeting without someone pulling out an iPad to take notes and checking their e-mail on their smartphone. What was recently considered an emerging technology is now driving ERP software innovation. So whatís next on the horizon? Here is a look at 3 emerging technologies that could potentially be "must have" business assets in the near future.

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology spans a broad range of products. It could be the gadget you put in your shoe to track your morning jog to the smartphone that doubles as a watch. When it comes to wearable tech, the item most likely to impact manufacturing and distribution is Google Glass. In case you arenít familiar, Google Glass is a hands-free computer that you wear like a pair of glasses.  It provides you with a heads up display that interacts with your surroundings. Now imagine a warehouse worker picking orders. Instead of a printed pick list and a hand held scanner, the worker can call up an order through voice command, scan barcodes with the optical display, and ensure order accuracy before moving on to the next order.  All of these actions can be integrated with your warehouse management software, making for a much more symbiotic relationship between your systems and workers.

Internet Connected Machinery

There is a concept in technology circles called The Internet of Things.  Itís all around us. Your television or BlueRay player can connect to the internet.  Cars are designed to automatically share data over a wireless connection.  You can even purchase a refrigerator that can connect to a data network. Now imagine using that technology in forklifts and manufacturing machinery. With those machines connected to a cloud hosted ERP application, you would be able to track the movement of your forklifts, allowing you to design a more efficient flow pattern in your warehouse.  Machines can be tracked to determine how efficiently they are being used. With The Internet of Things, your machinery will tell you where inefficiencies exist in your current processes.  

Given the pace with which technology advances, the next ďbig thingĒ is already out there.  It wasnít that long ago that smartphones and tablets were considered to be a security risk.  Now companies are implementing Bring Your Own Device programs to improve employee productivity and keep pace with the competition. It really isnít a matter of if these technological advances will impact the ERP industry, as it is a matter of when.

For more information on emerging ERP trends call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.

photo credit: Prepayasyougo via photopin cc
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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.