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The Attivo Blog

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Understanding the Importance of Lot Control

10-01-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Understanding the Importance of Lot Control


If you are a small to mid-sized manufacturer or distributor, having lot control systems in place can sometimes be the difference between staying in business and shutting your doors. Even in not so extreme scenarios, having a good inventory management system in place can save you several thousand dollars per year. Understanding how lot control can help you manage your supply chain, both upstream and downstream can help you make a determination whether or not warehouse management software is right for you.


Managing Costs Downstream

The scariest six letter word for most manufacturers is recall.  If you should be hit by a recall, your business is going to take a financial hit. Thatís inevitable.  But the difference between a small cut requiring a couple of stitches and full on hemorrhaging of money often comes down to your lot control systems. You probably get raw materials from multiple suppliers, and raw materials from different batches might be used in the manufacturing process, ultimately resulting in a finished good. Let say one specific widget from one specific supplier was defective, triggering a recall. Without proper lot control, there is no way for you to track to a granular level which products contain defective parts and which ones donít.  You have to recall the entire batch, rather than just a small portion of that batch.  In some cases, that can end up being an unrecoverable loss.  And in industries that fall under government regulation, certifications might be in jeopardy until proper lot tracking systems are put in place, meaning production stops all together until you achieve a level of compliance to their satisfaction.

Managing Costs Upstream

Imagine that one of your workers notices a flaw or defect in one of the components for a product you are manufacturing.  Is it just one anomalous unit, or is the entire supply flawed?  Without barcoding software it can be difficult to answer that questions. With a properly integrated inventory management system, each shipment received from a supplier is scanned and assigned a specific lot number.  As components are used during the manufacturing process, they are scanned.  Should a defect be found in any of the components, that item can easily be traced to its lot, and that entire shipment can be examined. If it turns out the entire shipment is defective, it becomes much easier to send the defective items back to your supplier for a refund.  In addition, be able to manage your raw materials in this way could potentially help you avoid a recall further down the line, saving you even more money.

For more information on how to integrate a warehouse management solution into your business you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here


3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Distribution ERP

09-30-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Distribution ERP

Before a distribution company even begins down the road of a major ERP implementation they need to first go through a lengthy software selection process.  These days there are dozens of different software packages that all promise the same things, but often times fail to deliver.  What are some of the main factors that a distribution company should look at before making a decision?

Can it Manage Your Customers

Some modern ERP software, like Exact Macola 10, actually comes with CRM software already integrated as part of the total package. This is such a key piece for any distributor to consider.  First off, integrated CRM makes things like reporting and data entry so much easier than running a disparate CRM.  It also means that you donít need to purchase a completely separate CRM system, saving you money.  Once that CRM system is in place, you will be able to track your customersí purchase histories and payment histories and set up alerts for your sales team to make follow up calls based on that information.  It can tie into your ERP software to provide order statuses, improving customer service as well.  All of these things ultimately lead to more sales and more satisfied customers.

Does it do Inventory Management

The warehouse is the central nervous system of any distribution company.  If inventory canít be tracked accurately from the loading dock to order fulfillment, you run the risk of missing sales and losing customers. Does the ERP system you are looking for have warehouse management software?  If not, does it easily integrate with a third party solution? If the ERP system you are looking at doesnít have a robust inventory management module that can scale with your business and manage season trends in sales, it isnít the right software package for your business.

Can it Help You with Compliance Issues

Depending on what specific industry you operate in, compliance can be a major issue.  Food distributors, medical supply distributors and chemicals companies all have to report to various industry and government regulatory committees in order to legally stay in business.  Your ERP software needs to be able to track the temperature and humidity of your storage facility.  It needs to be able to track where all the ingredients for a product came from in the event of a recall. Ultimately it should also be able to track all of your certifications and send you reminders when it is time to renew them.

Obviously there are several more factors that need to be considered before choosing a new ERP system.  That said, if the above three things require an extensive amount of customization to serve your needs, then it is time to move on to a different option.  For more information on how to choose the right distribution system for your business you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here


3 Ways CRM Can Help Your Organization Get Lean

09-25-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
3 Ways CRM Can Help Your Organization Get Lean

Like most automation and workflow software, CRM had long been mostly the property of the large enterprise. With the advent of tier 2 level solutions that offer a lot of the same functionality as larger CRM systems without the Fortune 500 price tag, these products have gained popularity within the small- to mid-size businesses. What are these organizations looking to gain from CRM? Here's the scoop.

Small Business Can Improve Sales with CRM

It takes an enormous number of sales to move the needle at the enterprise level. However, a small business selling an average of 25 units per day experiences a tremendous difference when they can push product sales to 30 or 45 or 50 units per day. CRM can help move that needle, even in a small business with few workers to help push sales. CRM software can keep detailed records of your interaction with prospects, be used by marketing to create targeted campaigns, and can be used to send automated alerts for sales follow up calls. All of these things will lead to a more robust pipeline, and ultimately, more sales.

Small Business Can Automate and Streamline Processes with CRM

Through the creation of workflows, several processes can be automated and structured to eliminate human error and ensure that key stakeholders are aware of the progress of a given project.  Sales processes can be automated to send alerts to a sales manager when a quote is generated requiring their approval before being sent out.  The R&D processes of a manufacturing company can be documented and tracked with CRM workflows to ensure compliance and regulatory standards. How your company handles a customer service request can be automated as well, making sure that managers know what phase a project is in and keeping customers aware of the progress of their request at the click of a mouse.

Small Businesses Can Manage Human Resources with CRM

Small businesses must manage resources much more tightly than the big guys. For example, in a company that employs just 20 workers, it's a big deal if five of those workers take vacation or become ill at the same time. A company with hundreds or thousands of employees wouldn't even notice the absence of five workers. With CRM software, the small business can manage workers' vacation time, sick leave, training schedules, etc. to assure that resources are handled properly. Schedules can also be shared among managers and supervisors so that everyone knows what resources are available and when workers are scarce and extra tasks need to be suspended.

If you are looking to implement a new CRM system or are just trying to get the most out of your existing system The Attivo Group can help.  Call us today at 877-428-8486 or contact us here for more information.


Understanding the Importance of an ERP Disaster Recovery Plan

09-23-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Understanding the Importance of an ERP Disaster Recovery Plan

The worst case scenario has happened.  Your systems are down.  Whether you are implementing an on-premise solution or have a cloud hosted ERP solution, identifying how much data has been lost and getting your systems up and running as quickly as possible can save you tens of thousands of dollars.  In order to do this it is important to take a proactive approach to having a disaster recovery plan.  And no, screaming into the phone with a mixture of tears and anger at your IT department isnít a disaster recovery plan.

Disaster Recovery for On-Premise Sites

Letís be honest.  On-premise sites can be much harder to get online in the event of a disaster. If your server infrastructure is compromised, several daysí worth of data might be lost, and systems canít be up and running until youíve replaced your IT hardware. There is a way to prevent total disaster though. There are cloud based disaster recovery options that donít require a full move into a hosted environment. In these systems, your infrastructure is replicated in a data center, your data is backed-up on a regular interval of your choosing and it sits in waiting should it be needed.  In the event of a disaster, that virtual environment can go live in a matter of hours, and the only data lost is the data recorded between your last back-up and the time your system went down.  Your employees can access the system through a secure log-in and business continues as usual until you get your internal hardware back online.

Disaster Recovery for Hosted Sites

If you host your software in a cloud environment disaster recovery is typically included in your service agreement. In the event of a major disaster that compromises the data center where your software and applications are housed, a redundant data center comes online.  All data is transferred over to the secondary location, and like with an on-premise solution, the only data lost is whatever was recorded between your last back-up and the time of the outage.  These types of cloud systems are typically back up and running within a few hours.

In either type of set-up, it is important to run regular ďfire drillsĒ to test out the responsiveness of your recovery system. This keeps you better prepared to act in the event of a disaster and will save you countless time and money trying to get your systems back online.  For more information about setting up a disaster recovery plan you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Choosing the Right Hosting Partner: 3 Vital Questions

09-18-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Choosing the Right Hosting Partner: 3 Vital Questions

Cloud computing can be a difficult landscape to navigate. You first have to know the differences between SaaS vs. hosted vs. on-premise. There are definite advantages and disadvantages to all three set-ups, but weíre not going to get into that in this blog.  This blog is for individuals who have chosen to go with a cloud hosted ERP solution. In a nutshell, this is a hybrid model that combines the purchase of a traditional software license and accompanying applications and hosting it in a cloud environment rather than on your own IT infrastructure. But not all hosting partners are created equally.  Here are a few things to consider when choosing who will host your ERP software.

Does Your Hosting Partner Have Application Knowledge?

This is absolutely vital to making sure that not only does your software get up and running smoothly, but continues to run smoothly.  Modern ERP software is extremely robust and extremely complex to implement. Does your software require multiple servers?  Can your database be hosted on the same server as your applications? Moving your software into a hosted environment isnít as simple as handing the keys over to a cloud hosting provider.  If they donít understand all of the intricacies involved in properly setting up your software, you run the risk of costly budget overruns, and extensive bugs and glitches while youíre trying to get things online.

Is it a Multi-Tenant or Dedicated Server?

A multi-tenant environment is basically a shared server.  A dedicated server is exactly what it sounds like.  Imagine the difference between renting out a bed in a hostel vs. renting out your own one bedroom apartment. Multi-tenant environments are typically set up to ensure that resources will be divided easily.  But just like there might be one guy at the hostel who uses up all of the hot water in the shower, there is a risk that you might be sharing a server with a ďroommateĒ that hogs your serverís resources. In a dedicated environment, that is never an issue.

Who Do You Call for Support?

The last thing you want to deal with when your systems malfunctions is finger pointing.  All you want to do is run payroll and your software support provider is telling you the issue is coming from the data center. Meanwhile the data center is convinced that itís a software issue. And all your employees care about is making sure they get their paychecks. Losing productivity because two different providers are bickering over whoís responsible for a system going down is unacceptable. Make sure that you include your software support team in any decision regarding cloud hosting before you move forward. Ideally, your software support team will also be your cloud hosting provider.

Clearly the decision to move into the cloud requires a lot of thought and preparation.  For help on how to better manage the decision making process 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.