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The Attivo Blog

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Disaster Recovery: Be Proactive Rather than Reactive

02-20-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Disaster Recovery: Be Proactive Rather than Reactive

Since 2005, FEMA has declared 1,335 Major or Emergency Disaster declarations. Those disasters added up to tens of billions of dollars in damage to businesses across the US. Several small to mid-sized business never recovered from events like Hurricane Sandy or the massive tornado that tore through Oklahoma in 2013.

The next disaster that could impact your business doesnít have to come from Mother Nature either.  There are plenty of man-made disasters that can shut down your operations for an extended period of time, and in some cases, cause a business to shut their doors forever.

Of course, physical damage accounts for a large portion of the financial damage done by disasters.  But even more crippling to businesses is the destruction and loss of data.  Disaster recovery isnít about cleaning up a mess after itís already happened.  Disaster recovery is a proactive plan that protects your data and ERP software, insuring your business against catastrophic data loss.

How Does it Work?

Your business might not be in tornado alley or anywhere near a coastline where a hurricane might make landfall.  It might not be located on top of a fault line that has you bracing for the next big earthquake.  But what would you do if there was a fire in your building?  Or maybe faulty wiring causes the sprinklers to go off in your building, destroying your server bay.

A disaster recovery provider will replicate your entire system and place it in a secure data center. Depending on your agreement, your data will be regularly copied and backed up. In the event of a complete and total data loss, your system in the data center is made active, and you can continue your day to day operations with minimal data loss. Most every reputable disaster recovery provider will also have a redundant data center that can be activated within a matter of hours should the data center itself fall victim to a major event.

Do I Need to Be in the Cloud?

If you have already moved your ERP software and other applications into a dedicated cloud environment, you most likely have an element of disaster recovery already built into your contract. But you donít have to be in the cloud to enjoy the benefits of disaster recovery.  If you still prefer to have an on premise ERP set up, your system will simply be copied and stored in a data center. Think of it as having a spare engine sitting in storage in case something goes wrong with the engine currently in your car.  Itís there when you need it, but not in use 24/7 like a traditional cloud hosted system, saving you money.

If you wait until after a disaster strikes to figure out how to recover your data, it might already be too late for your business. Having protocols in place that you can test periodically throughout the year will insure that if the worst case scenario does strike your business, youíll be able to minimize any financial impact.  For more information, or if you have any questions, you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8487 or contact us here.


Exact Macola 10 Changes the User Experience

02-16-2015  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Exact Macola 10 Changes the User Experience
In the 7 months since Exact Macola released their latest ERP software offering, Exact Macola 10, there has been quite a bit of buzz. This new software offering wasnít just an extra layer of paint and a shiny new box slapped onto old software. Exact Macola 10 was, and is, a total redesign intended to modernize the look and feel of ERP software with one overarching theme in mind ó user experience.

Considering that a lack of user buy-in is often cited as one of the leading causes of an ERP failure, it stands to reason that Exact Macola would focus much of their time and energy on the overall usability of their software.  Here are just a few of changes that Exact Macola 10 has to offer the end user.

Introduction of Workspaces

Exact Macola 10 is highly configurable. Its introduction of workspaces can be completely customized to fit specific roles. Not only can users access the reports and modules that they specifically use on a day to day basis, but menus can be customized as well, providing contextually relevant data without the need to go hunting and searching. Browser based functionality ties everything together, meaning users have the tools they need to be successful, leading to greater productivity.

Seamless Integration with CRM

Weíve often blogged about the importance of having a CRM system that integrates with your ERP software. Exact Macola took it one step further by including Exact Synergy as part of the Exact Macola 10 package. This all-in-one solution means a consistent look and feel whether you are working in the ERP system, CRM system, document management or workflow management screens.

Access to External Websites within the Workspace

Take a look at the bottom of your computer right now.  Odds are that you have multiple web browsers currently open, multiple Microsoft office tabs open, e-mail and other applications running. Now imagine being able to access those applications from within your ERP workspace. Exact Macola 10 brings you that functionality, eliminating the need to jump around from one screen to another.

Role Specific KPIs

Just like the workspaces are completely configurable based on roles, so are key performance indicators. KPIs can be set up to alert users, helping to automate processes. Purchasing managers can get automated alerts in their workspace when inventory drops below a certain level.  Shop floor managers can receive alerts when machines are inactive and available, increasing productivity. Sales people can even be alerted to make follow up calls to prospects, ensuring that sales pipelines stay full and in constant motion.

There are so many things that Exact Macola 10 can do that previous ERP systems simple didnít offer.  For more information on Exact Macola 10, call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


McDonalds Opens Doors to Food Manufacturing Plant, Puts Quality Control on Display

10-16-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
McDonalds Opens Doors to Food Manufacturing Plant, Puts Quality Control on Display

Fast food behemoth, McDonalds, is launching a new online media campaign geared towards complete and total transparency in its food manufacturing plants. Faced with negative attention on social media, as well as a loss of market share to ďfast casualĒ restaurants like Chipotle, McDonalds is facing an image crisis and is determined to show the quality of the food that they serve each and every day.

While the average food manufacturer most likely wonít need to invite TVís Myth Busters into their plants, the fact is that maintaining quality control standards is absolutely vital to business. Food manufacturing software, like Exact Macola 10, is vital in order to maintain government compliance and mitigate risk.

Using Food Manufacturing Software to Monitor Quality Control

From the USDA to the FDA to state and local regulatory agencies, food manufacturers are amongst the most scrutinized businesses in the United States. Food manufacturing software is a vital tool that helps these companies keep track of regulations, as well as monitor employee certifications. The system can be used to do random quality testing, comparing those results against government regulations to ensure quality control.  The results of those random tests can also be stored for easy access in the event of an audit or inspection.

Mitigate the Risk of a Recall Using Inventory Management

If there were one word that strikes the most fear into food manufacturers, itís probably ďrecallĒ. Not only do manufacturers take a total loss on the food that needs to be disposed of, but there are costs involved in shipping the food back to their plant. The size of the recall could be the difference between taking a hit to the bottom line and going out of business altogether. A proper inventory management system, tightly integrated with ERP software can track and label all ingredients from the point they enter their plant, to which products and batches they were included in during manufacturing to where those products were shipped to. The more granular the lot, bin and serial tracking are, the easier it is to narrow down the total number of items that need to be recalled in the event of a contamination.

There is so much more that food manufacturing software can do: Labor tracking, sales forecasting, purchasing and even recipe management are just a few areas that a robust ERP system can help to manage and automate. But the media campaign being launched by McDonalds raises an important question that all food manufacturers should ask themselves: Am I comfortable enough with my current systems and processes to open my doors to the people who are consuming my products?

For more information on how ERP software can help automate and regulate food manufacturing call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.  


Is Your IT Infrastructure Ready for ERP?

10-01-2014  |  By: The Attivo Group, Inc. |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Is Your IT Infrastructure Ready for ERP?

Whether you are looking to invest in your first ERP system or are just upgrading an older system, there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the plunge. Even adding a warehouse management system or EDI to your existing software requires a deep look at your current infrastructure in order to ensure a successful project.  A business process assessment can help you discover the best fit for your companyís needs. Companies also need to do a technical analysis of their IT infrastructure.

Include Your IT Administrator in the Decision Making Process

It seems like common sense in hindsight, but too often, IT staff is rarely involved in the actual software selection process.  They are brought in after the fact to make everything work. If your ERP implementation partner isnít insisting on speaking with your IT administrator to get a better understanding of your current IT infrastructure, that should be a red flag.  Some ERP software isnít compatible with older server software and PC operating systems.  It is vital to have a clear picture of what your current infrastructure is in order to properly vet which ERP systems are going to work for your business. The ERP selection process is long enough as it is. Imagine selecting a software, approving the budget and then finding out that you will need to add an additional $10-20 thousand dollars onto the price tag in order to upgrade your servers and PCs.

What are the Alternatives to Investing in New Infrastructure?

So youíve audited your current systems and have come to the conclusion that in order to upgrade your software and stay competitive you need to also upgrade all of your hardware.  For small to mid-sized manufacturers and distributors, that can sometimes nearly double the total project budget. One alternative to buying new servers is moving to a cloud hosted ERP solution. You are still purchasing the software licenses, but instead of installing it on your own infrastructure, the burden of upgrading and maintaining servers, firewalls and antivirus software shifts to your hosting partner.

It doesnít matter if you have your own internal IT team or you outsource your IT needs to a 3rd party provider, whomever is  administering your IT infrastructure plays a critical role in a successful implementation. Companies that include their IT team in the decision making process as well are more likely to choose a system that best fits their organizationís needs and could ultimately save them thousands of dollars.

For more information on how to select an ERP system, you can download this free whitepaper or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


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.  

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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.