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The Attivo Blog

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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.  


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.

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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.