The Attivo Blog

Aug 27 2015

How ERP Software Equals Going Green

Have you heard of Corporate Social Responsibility? Abbreviated as CSR, corporate social responsibility is a business model that has been adopted by numerous organizations and enterprises over the past few decades. It is a form of self-regulation, and is based on the premise that if companies do the right and responsible thing by the public and the environment, then the public will support that responsible business model and reward the company by patronizing it. In short, responsible actions should equal profits.

For this reason and others, many organizations are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment by saving valuable and precious resources and engaging in other environmentally responsible practices. Did you know that ERP software can be an important part of CSR and going green? Here are just a few ways that every business can reduce their environmental impact just by investing in ERP software.

How ERP Can Help Eliminate Paper Waste

Paper consumption impacts the environment in multiple ways. Between deforestation and fuel costs to process and transport paper, paper usage is one of the biggest ways a company can impact the environment. While ERP software is not a "paperless office" solution, there are numerous ways that ERP helps reduce the amount of paper consumed by the workplace. This helps the environment, but it also helps your bottom line, because all that paper costs money! ERP digitizes many of the regular processes that generally consume paper, such as generating reports, creating tickets, etc. EDI can automate sales and purchase orders.  Even invoicing can all be automated through your ERP system. When these things are done electronically by the ERP software, the entire workplace uses less paper, saving money and saving the planet.

How ERP Equals Going Green in Manufacturing Facilities

In manufacturing facilities, ERP helps identify areas where processes can be shortened or improved. ERP can also analyze machine use, waste, bottlenecks that slow production or contribute to inefficiencies, and even identify safety issues. With this information, manufacturers can refine their operations to improve productivity while eliminating waste. They can then make the same goods using less power, less water, and producing less contamination and waste. It's an all-around win for the manufacturer, consumer, and the environment.

How ERP Equals Going Green in Warehouses

Just as ERP software can improve processes in manufacturing, it can also track trends to maximize resources and eliminate waste in the warehouse setting. A good warehouse management system (WMS) can find ways to maximize inventory to reduce the amount of product that goes bad on the shelf, while assuring that there is always enough product on hand to fulfill orders.

ERP software can also help maximize the use of space, so that warehouses can store more inventory in smaller warehouses, lessening the amount of power and other resources it takes to run the facility. ERP software can also identify more efficient ways to stock the facility and fulfill orders, lessening the resources used to run equipment, such as pallet jacks or forklifts. This saves power while reducing waste and lessening the pollution produced by warehouses.

For more information on how ERP software can help reduce your company’s environmental impact you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.   


Aug 21 2015

3 Ways to Make ERP Customization Easier

You're sold on ERP. You know it can help control costs, improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, while giving you the power to generate reports quicker and improve visibility across the organization. You want to leverage ERP to its fullest, so that means lots of customization, right?

Well, to a point. Over-customization is the number one reason why ERP implementations go over budget, lead to disappointment, and sometimes even get scrapped before yielding a single benefit to the organization. Make yourERP implementation a success (that stays in budget and is ready on time) with these wise strategies.

Make Sure You're Using the Right ERP Software

ERP software isn't a one size fits all. There is a wide variety of solutions on the market, ranging in forms and features. By selecting an ERP that is already close to what you need, you can significantly reduce the amount of customization necessary. For example, do other businesses in your industry have success with this solution? Do companies of your size use this software? The team working on the selection process needs to be filled with representatives for all your stakeholders, including departments outside of finance and accounting.

Determine the Right Level of Customization for Your Business

While you are doing your business process assessment you need to determine your 'Must Have' and 'Would Like' features, along with 'Probably Not' and 'Definitely Not' features. Not only will this help guide the selection team, it will also keep the customization process in check. It is easier than you think to add millions of lines of custom code, along with way more time, money, labor, and other resources to the project. If you cannot express a real value for adding a feature, don't bother with customizing it. Get a product as close as possible to what you need, determine what customization will produce a measurable ROI, and stop when it's finished.

Don't Budget Too Tightly

Before the ERP selection and implementation process even begin, set a realistic budget. Budgeting the project too closely with little or no room for error is just a way of setting your team up for failure. Give them some wiggle room. The funds can always be redirected if the project comes in under the allotted budget, but it's terribly hard to add more when the annual budgets are already in place.

Whether you are looking to implement your first ERP system or are looking to upgrade from an older legacy system, there are a lot of questions to ask and steps to take in order to get the most bang for your buck.  If you have questions about the software selection process or are looking for help with implementation you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Aug 20 2015

7 Ways Warehouse Management Software Improves Your Efficiency

Not too long ago, warehouse management software was something only the largest, most profitable warehouses invested in. Large grocery chains, department stores, and catalog order fulfillment centers had automation, while the smaller warehouses winged it with paper forms, a couple of forklifts and some dedicated workers.

That's all changed. Now, warehouse management software and automation are as important to staying competitive as is choosing the right real estate and employing experienced managers. Here's how warehouse management software can make your warehouse more efficient and more competitive.

1. Reducing Lag Time Associated with Paper Processes

Paper forms are easy to mess up. Sometimes, these forms are also hard to read, subject to ruin with the slightest coffee spill, and susceptible to easy destruction via a careless flick of a cigarette. Automating and digitizing the paperwork it takes to run your warehouse safeguards your orders, inventory forms, and other important paperwork from these potential disasters and more. Best of all, you can back the data up regularly with just a click.

2. Eliminating Human Errors

Human workers can easily transpose or neglect to enter all of the digits off of a barcode. They misread, misspell, forget, skip lines, and make other very normal human mistakes. While this is totally understandable, it's also bad for business. It leads to waste, incorrect orders, and dissatisfied customers. Warehouse management software can eliminate all of this with systems of checks and balances to keep records accurate and up to date.

3. Instilling Better Visibility into Processes

Can your managers see what your workers are up to? Can your executives see where profits are coming and where expenses are going? Do you understand where the bumps are in your supply chain or what's putting a snag in inventory control? Warehouse management software gives you greater visibility into processes, making the workflow transparent and much easier to manage.

4. Identifying and Eliminating Bottlenecks in the Processes

What are the areas that are causing holdups in your operations? Perhaps it's the layout of the warehouse, or staffing and scheduling issues, or even the order picking process. Whatever the bottlenecks are, warehouse management software can show you where the problems are so that you can streamline processes and increase productivity and efficiency.

5. Identifying and Eliminating Waste in the Processes

Are you running a first in first out (FIFO) system? Can you account for seasonal shifts in demand? Is your production floor synced with your inventory levels? A warehouse management system can help you maximize shelf space based on sales trends, and make sure that older product leaves the warehouse first in order to reduce waste. A fully integrated system can help create more efficient job scheduling as well.

6. Increasing the Accuracy of Order Fulfillment (and Other Processes)

Have human mistakes led to incomplete or incorrect order fulfillment? How much does this cost your warehouse annually? Warehouse management software automates and digitizes processes to eliminate human errors in the picking process and cut the expense of incorrect orders, which in turn leads to greater levels of customer satisfaction.

7. Collecting and Analyzing More Metrics Than You Dreamed Possible

As you can see from this list, the software gives you a means to collect and analyze data about your warehouse operations that were never possible before. There are no limits to the ways you can use these metrics to improve efficiency, cut costs, streamline operations, and improve customer satisfaction at your warehouse.

For more information on how to implement warehouse management software in your business you can download this free ROI Calculator or call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486.


Aug 19 2015

3 Reasons Why Manufacturers Should Adopt Ecommerce Platforms Today

It’s no secret that ecommerce sales have been continuously been trending upwards for several years now, and there is no sign of those numbers plateauing any time soon. Most people associate mega-retailers like Amazon and Alibaba with ecommerce, which is the traditional B2C model that focuses more on retail.  But what many people don’t realize is that B2B ecommerce figures are skyrocketing as well.

Your Customers are shifting to an Ecommerce Mentality

According to a recent study done by Frost & Sullivan, B2B ecommerce transactions are expected to eclipse $12 trillion dollars worldwide by 2020.  That is up from $5.5 trillion in 2012. While those numbers do include EDI transactions, “traditional” ecommerce transactions are still in the billions of dollars. When you think about it, it’s only natural that suppliers and vendors are starting to shift their mentality towards online buying platforms. Once they punch out at the end of the day, your customers are every day consumers, acclimated to ecommerce transactions and the use of mobile technology to make their lives easier. They carry those expectations into their business worlds, and if you aren't providing them with a great user experience, you run the risk of losing them to a competitor.

Your Customers Live Online

That same study by Frost & Sullivan found that B2B customers are relying more and more on the internet to drive their purchasing behavior. According to their survey, 89% of B2B buyers are using the internet to do research, and are conducting an average of 12 searches before engaging a company. Even more telling, 57% of the buying process is already done before a B2B consumer engages your sales team. Having a website that is set up to make it easy for buyers to find what they are looking for, give visibility into availability of items and guide them through your sales pipeline will increase your sales. A B2B ecommerce consumer is 3x more likely to convert into a sale when compared to someone in a traditional sales process.

Integration with Your ERP System

In addition to making the sales process easier for your customer, an ecommerce platform makes your business more efficient on the back end.  Integrated solutions like BirdDog for Macola close all of the loops in your sales process.  Inventory is automatically updated when orders are placed, providing visibility to your purchasing manager. Transactions are conducted online, typically by credit card, meaning accounts receivable isn’t having to chase down invoices and cash flow is far more liquid.

An online order platform isn’t going to replace the traditional sales model.  After all, B2B ecommerce transactions only account for about 10% of all B2B transactions worldwide. But the numbers show that the B2B mentality is mirroring the trends of the B2C market.  For more information on whether or not an ecommerce platform is right for your business you can contact The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Aug 13 2015

Multi-Site ERP: Standardizing Your System in Multiple Locations

Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor or in the service industry, if your business is run from multiple sites standardizing your ERP system can be a major challenge.  If you are undergoing your first ERP implementation, the idea of trying to coordinate across multiple sites can be so daunting that you put off the project completely.  But there are ways to reduce the stress involved and get a system up and running that is uniform across all locations and makes data analysis far more transparent.

Cloud ERP can Link Multiple Locations

A cloud hosted ERP solution might be the easiest way to pull off a uniform implementation.  You can purchase your software licenses and host the software in one centralized location. All customizations are uniform because there is only one software platform being used, and there is a single point of system access for all users.  All data from all sites are entered into the same system, making company-wide reporting far more accurate and providing a very clear picture of how the business is operating. Over the long haul, this would be the most cost-effective way as IT infrastructure and maintenance costs for multiple locations would be greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether.

Multi-Phased Roll Out

There is a possibility that having a single system for multiple locations isn’t entirely practical.  Perhaps one location needs specific customizations that aren’t needed at another location. The only way to understand this is to do a comprehensive business process assessment at each location.  Figure out which processes can be uniform across all sites and which processes might need to be customized depending on location. From there, you need to prioritize your sites.  The most critical sites need to be implemented first, followed by the next important and so on. Trying to implement everything all at once would leave too many opportunities for a weak link in the chain to go unnoticed through and create problems down the road.  Be sure to document your implementations and have a checklist.  A well thought out project plan is critical to achieving desired ROI.  That is exponentially truer when trying to synchronize an implementation across multiple locations over an extended period of time.

ERP implementations aren’t easy.  Trying to sync an implementation over multiple sites is that much more difficult.  If your business currents operates in multiple locations and you are looking for more information on how to synch those sites under one system you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 orcontact us here


Aug 11 2015

3 Resons CRM & ERP are Top-Notch Teammates

There are numerous tools out there to streamline business processes, collect data, and improve customer service. CRM software is generally the property of the sales and marketing departments. It records and manages customer information in a standardized format and stores it in a centralized location. CRM makes it easy to share information between the sales and marketing departments and upper management. CRM also helps these departments better work together and improve the customer experience.

ERP, on the other hand, is usually relegated to accounting and operations departments. This software tracks and manages inventory, schedules jobs and manages the general ledger. ERP improves business processes, betters the workflow, and delivers integration of operational data.

Have you ever stopped to consider how integrating CRM with ERP could improve the functionality of both software solutions? As it turns out, software vendors like Exact Software think these integrations are so powerful that they have included Synergy CRM as a component of their newest ERP offering, Exact Macola 10. The thinking being that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.

1. CRM + ERP Bring Data From Multiple Departments Together

At best, CRM and ERP each benefit just a couple of departments. However, the data and insight that these products deliver when integrated can benefit the entire organization. Every department -- including sales, marketing, accounting, finance, operations/production, research and development, and others -- can contribute data and derive insight from the data.

2. CRM + ERP Standardizes Data for Easy Access & Use

The most valuable commodity a modern company has is not its properties or assets or even its brand name. It's data. Data is powerful when it is standardized and consolidated. Many organizations keep data in silos -- isolated. However, when it is normalized and combined, it delivers far more powerful insight and value than it could when separated. Your organization can get deeper insight, better visibility into customers, and a clearer picture of internal operations. This shows where there is room for improvement, where the bottlenecks are, and where to eliminate waste.

3. CRM + ERP Gives the Organization a More Comprehensive View of the Customer

What do your customers need? What is their history with the organization in terms of orders, customer service, technical support, and payments? Is their account in good standing? What might they need next week, or next month, or even next year? By combining the data from your CRM and ERP software, you can know your customers individually and personally for a more complete customer experience at every touchpoint.

To learn more about the benefits of integrating your CRM and ERP solutions you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.



Aug 07 2015

Understanding Lot Control and Why It May Save Your Business

We recently visited a prospective client who was looking for an ERP software solution and upon walking into their offices we knew we were facing a challenge. They were a manufacturer and distributor in an industry that was highly regulated by the government, yet they had no real systems in place. There were Post-It notes everywhere. Order entry, purchasing, inventory — it was all being done on sticky notes. Naturally one of our first questions to them was what do they do when there is a recall? Their reply — “It’s never happened before.”

This is a relatively common philosophy that we come across when meeting with companies and it’s a recipe for disaster. People don’t wait until their kitchen catches on fire to purchase homeowners insurance.  For the same reasons, manufacturers and distributors shouldn’t be waiting for disaster to strike before investing in an inventory management system.

While most Tier 2 ERP solutions have some sort of inventory control module, for companies in certain industries, a more robust solution is typically desired. Companies that deal in aerospace, food and medical device manufacturing and distribution are often subjected to very strict government regulation. And when a product gets recalled for any reason, there needs to be a system in place that can mitigate damages as well as satisfy government auditors that all risks have been contained.

Why Use Lot Control?

Bar code scanning systems like WiSys for Exact Macola 10 allow these companies to institute lot control on a very granular level. For food manufacturers, a lot can be as specific as a batch of apples processed on a specific day from a specific orchard. The more specific the lot assignment is for a specific product, the less damage that will be done in the event of a recall.

Sticking with food manufacturing, let’s say the FDA tracks a bacteria breakout to one of your products. If you have no lot control, all of those products need to be recalled, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. But let’s say you had a separate lot number assigned for each processing plant you operate.  That will immediately mitigate costs divided by the number of plants you operate.  And in those plants, of you get even more specific with your lot control, assigning lots for specific date ranges and further assigning lot numbers for specific fields or orchards where the food came from, and you can see how quickly damages can be minimized.

Lot control can and has been the difference between companies managing a recall or going out of business completely. Not only can the lost inventory be devastating financially, but government agencies often times won’t let a company resume business until they have implemented some sort of satisfactory lot control system.

Find out how to implement lot control with your ERP software

It simply doesn’t make sense to wait for a disaster to happen before you start to protect yourself.  For more information about lot control and inventory management you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here


Aug 05 2015

3 Legacy Limitations that Might Signal it’s Time for an Upgrade

Whether you are running a completely custom ERP package or you are running an older version of software from a known suite, legacy systems can reach a point where they are causing more harm than good.  As businesses grow and technologies change, older systems sometimes can’t keep up.  Here are 3 signs that it might be time to scrap your old legacy system and slip into something a bit more comfortable.

Your Software is Incompatible with Current Server Software

This isn’t just an issue with completely custom systems.  There are several software products from big name manufacturers that get sunsetted and aren’t updated to stay compatible with the newest server software. This especially becomes a problem when your current in-house infrastructure starts to sputter. A cloud hosted system isn’t an option and eventually you’re conducting voodoo rituals in your server room every morning praying for another day of uninterrupted productivity. While a completely new ERP implementation can be pricy, imagine how expensive it might be to lose all your data because your server died and you can’t move existing software to new machines.

Support Options Are Getting More and More Limited

It’s an inevitability that support organizations tend to move with technology.  Nobody is making their fortunes maintaining first generation iPhones. There might be a niche market for older legacy software, but the individuals supporting that market start to become fewer and further between. Even worse, what if the guy that wrote your custom software retires and moves to Florida? What do you do if your system breaks down and there is nobody able to fix it? Making decisions due to a lack of options is never a strong business position to be in.

Your System Can No Longer Process Demand

Older ERP systems have a tendency to cap data and record counts depending on the module. Your business has grown, some modules have been able to adapt, while others haven’t. This can create several issues. Let’s say that your inventory module had a records cap.  That cap was put in place 10 years ago when the system was initially implemented, but today you are regularly processing orders that exceed that cap.  This can set off a chain reaction that causes inaccurate inventory counts, which can influence purchasing to place orders for product that isn’t needed.  Manufacturing production might end up being delayed because the system is telling them that there aren’t enough raw materials on hand to complete the job, even though there is.  Cash flow is rerouted to departments unnecessarily and reports are out of whack. All of this costs you money and prevents you from providing your customers with the service that they need.

There are many software platforms that can run your business for many years without major issues like these.  But if your current software isn’t scaling up to grow with your business or is preventing you from taking advantage of new technologies, it is definitely time to look into upgrading your software. If you have any questions about what to look for in a new system, or you just need help determining if your current systems need replacing, you can contact The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Jul 30 2015

3 Reasons the Cloud is More Secure

Security. It dominates the tech blogs, sprawls across all the news sites' headlines, and even makes its way into your meetings and water cooler discussions. You can never quite escape it. That's why security is the first thing that pops into your mind when you consider investing in ERP software. Which offers your organization the best possible security -- cloud hosted ERP or an on-premises solution? Here's why the cloud-based ERP can provide the best enterprise-grade security you can find.

1. You Always Have the Latest Security Updates

With an on-premises ERP software system, you are responsible for all of your firewall and anti-virus protection. Not only are you responsible for updating the software, but you also are the one responsible for monitoring your system and looking for any data breaches.  When you move into a hosted environment, your software and applications stay the same, but your hosting provider covers all security updates. Most hosting providers have the financial resources to provide absolute best in breed firewall and antivirus software to protect your vital data.

2. You Transfer the Responsibility for Systems Monitoring and Intrusion Detection to the Cloud Service Provider

Monitoring complex software, databases, and systems for intrusions, malware, and other threats is costly and time-consuming. In fact, today's IT departments spend as much or more time on network and systems security as they do anything else. With a cloud-based system, you transfer all of the cost and responsibility of security to your cloud vendor, freeing your IT staff for more productive activities. And unlike your internal IT department, a cloud provider can provide 24/7 monitoring of your system against both cyber-attacks and physical threats.

3. You Have Access to Your ERP and Data No Matter What Happens to Your Facilities, Equipment, or Systems

What if your facilities were horrifically damaged by high winds or flood waters? What if lighting or fire destroyed all of your computers? With a cloud-based ERP, all you have to do is acquire more equipment and boot up right where you left off. An on-premises ERP solution would be rendered as useless as the damaged hardware it rested on. Cloud based systems can provide a disaster recovery plan to protect you when the worst case scenario actually happens.

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


Jul 29 2015

How to Choose the Right ERP System for Your Business

An ERP software implementation is a significant investment, and not just in terms of the monetary costs. ERP systems take a lot of time, effort, and worker hours to select, implement, train on, and get the most out of. This is a decision that can't be rushed.  Here are a few pointers to help you get through the software selection process. 

What are the Must-Have Functions and Features? 

The first step in the selection process should be a business process assessment. The stakeholders you assemble into the ERP selection team should analyze current processes, identify areas of inefficiency and compile a list of features they'd like any new software package to contain.  Those features can be prioritized into different tiers that can be implemented in phases.  Not only will this help you stay on budget, but it will reduce the total implementation time as well. 

Will a Cloud-Based ERP or On-Premises ERP System Work Best for Your Organization? 

There are both pros and cons with both types of solutions. Depending on your current IT infrastructure you might want to move to a cloud hosted ERP option. Its the same software as an on-premise solution, but it moves IT maintenance onto your hosting partner. But if you've just invested in new servers, an on-premise solution is probably going to be your best bet. 

Where Will You Get the Needed Consultation Services?

Regarding issues like cloud-based versus on-premises and features that will grow with your business over time, it isn't always easy to make an informed decision without help. After all, your business isn't dealing in ERP on a daily basis, your specialization is something else entirely. A consultant can be immensely helpful both during the selection process and during the stages of implementation and training. It is important to choose a software system than can be supported both by the software developer and by 3rd party experts. Having options will ensure a better experience during the life of your software. 

There are important steps and questions that you must undergo in order to make the most informed decision possible. Take your time, make sure everyone with an interest in the project is included in the selection process, and conduct a thorough ROI ana;ysis before making any decision. Also, get the help you need to choose and implement the right system for your business. The Attivo Group is here to help you during the entire process -- from selecting an ERP to rollout and getting the most out of the system once it is in place.

For more information on the ERP selection process you can contact The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here


Jul 23 2015

Protect Yourself from Finger Pointing: Choose the Right Hosting Partner

As recently as 5 years ago less than 33% of the population was using a smarthphone. Today, flip phones are practically relics than can only be found in a museum. That is the pace with which technology moves.  We’re seeing a similar explosion in cloud computing, especially as it relates to modern business.  More and more companies are moving to cloud based applications, and the manufacturing and distribution industries are keeping pace.

If you are currently considering moving to a cloud hosted ERP system there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration. One thing that is rarely thought of ahead of time is who is responsible when something breaks?

Not All Hosting Partners are Created Equally

There are hundreds of hosting providers out there.  There are Fortune 500 level companies like Rackspace and Amazon that provide brand recognition.  You might work closely with a local IT company that offers a more personal touch.  But brand recognition or personal touch really shouldn’t be the primary selling point when deciding on a hosting partner.  Familiarity with your application should be the top priority. Does my hosting partner understand the complexities of the IT infrastructure required to run my applications correctly? If something breaks do they have the technical expertise to support my software?  If not, how does there support team work with my software support resource?  These are the questions that you need to ask when choosing a hosting partner.

What Happens When Things Break?

In a utopian world, you could install software and then never think about it again.  But in the real world, things occasional break or stop working in the way you expect them too.  If you are in a hosted environment with disparate technical support resources, what is most likely to happen is finger pointing rather than problem solving. Your software support team will likely try to blame the hosting partner for any bugs or glitches and vice versa. And while you’re going back and forth with them, your company is losing productivity and money.

Find a hosting partner that is familiar with your ERP software and accompanying applications. Having one point of contact for technical support will help shift focus from finding blame to focusing on solutions when things go wrong.

ERP software is complex to implement and maintain and it’s too important to your business to entrust with someone who isn’t familiar with what it takes to keep that software running at peak levels.  For more information on cloud hosting or how to choose a hosting partner you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 orcontact us here.


Jul 20 2015

Why the Ashley Madison Hack Matters to You and How to Protect Your Customer Data

If you’ve been tuning into the news, you’ve probably heard about the hack of the popular “dating” website, Ashely Madison. Whether or not you believe this is karma working just as it should (Ashley Madison catered specifically to married individuals looking to cheat on their spouses) there are some very real lessons to be learned from this data breach.

We’ve talked at length in the past about the importance of being PCI compliant, and a company’s potential financial liability should they be the victim of a cyber-attack.  In the case of Ashely Madison, 37 million users not only had the personal profiles stolen, but all of their personal and financial data was stolen as well. Should the hackers follow through on their threats and make Ashley Madison’s database public, the company will be liable for what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in identity theft and other financial lawsuits. 

How Can You Protect Yourself

Ashley Madison’s biggest mistake, and there are several of them, was that all customer data was retained and stored in their database. While this makes billing a lot easier, it also presents a goldmine for data thieves.  A fully PCI compliant credit card processing solution can just about eliminate all risk. Solutions like Ebiz Charge can integrate with a number of ERP solutions. Some using Exact Macola 10 can process credit cards directly within their ERP system, but unlike other solutions, no customer data is stored on your in house servers.  Instead, customer data is stored offsite and is “tokenized”.

This tokenization takes customer security to a new level.  First off, all customer information removed from your servers (eliminating your liability risk). When it comes time to process a credit card payment a key code associated with your customer’s data is sent to the offsite database.  That triggers Ebiz charge to process a payment on the associated card.  That is also known as a token, and eliminates the need to pass customer data back and forth. Taking things even another step further, the Ebiz charge will only process payment requests for your customers if those requests come from your IP address.

Over the past few years there have been several extremely high profile hacking incidents at big box retailers and online services. If you are storing any customer information on your internal servers, you can be a potential target for a data attack, and ultimately be liable of any damages done. To learn how you can better protect yourself and your customers from such attacks you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Jul 17 2015

Using Event Manager to Ensure Vendor Delivery Dates

Managing your supply chain, both upstream and downstream, is vital to maintaining lean manufacturing processes. Exact Macola 10 utilizes Event Manager to automate workflow management, helping you to better communicate with your suppliers and serve your customers.  One such way that Event Manager can help your business is through ensuring the delivery dates from your vendors. This is a vital piece of any manufacturing puzzle, as late shipments can throw off shop floor scheduling, sales processing and order delivery. 

How to Set Up

The first thing that you need to do is set up Event Manager to email all of your suppliers a fixed number of days before your purchase order due date.  You can set this date based on your specific requirement. In the email you are asking for confirmation of their ship date or promised delivery date. When those emails are sent, Event Manager can also set up a corresponding workflow request for your purchasing manager. As the confirmation emails come in, your purchasing manager can clear those workflows, and update delivery dates when necessary. This also provides your purchasing agent greater visibility, allowing them to follow up with unresponsive suppliers via phone call.

Why this is Important

By automating confirmation requests, you have a greater likelihood of maintaining accurate delivery dates in your system. Your purchasing agent is spending less time trying to track down suppliers and can use that time in more productive ways. You also have an audit trail of the responsiveness of suppliers and promised delivery dates vs. actual delivery dates. This allows you to “grade” your suppliers over time, and make changes to your supply chain if necessary. Most importantly though, having an accurate accounting of when materials will be on hand will allow you to more efficiently schedule jobs and provide more realistic promised delivery dates to your own customers. This ultimately improves customer satisfaction.

Sending out automated emails might seem like a small thing on the surface, but understanding the chain reaction that can create, and how it can impact your bottom line provides some insight to how valuable of a tool Event Manager can be when utilized in Exact Macola 10.  If you like to find out more about how to take advantage of the tools in your ERP software you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Jul 15 2015

5 Signs its Time to Replace Your ERP System

ERP systems aren't cheap, and not many companies are scrambling to buy new ones (plus go through the extensive ERP implementation process) before the old one has kicked the bucket. So, how can you be sure that the old ERP system is indeed ready to be replaced with a shiny new one? Here are five questions to determine when to say goodbye.

1. It's Getting Too Expensive to Operate Your Old ERP System

New software systems are sleeker and more streamlined. Old ones tend to be clunky and inefficient. Additionally, vendor support eventually expires, or worse, the vendor goes out of business or merges with another company and support is no longer available. This is one sure sign it's time for a new ERP.

2. Your Old System Has Limited Functionality

If the old system is hard to use, unintuitive, slow, and inflexible, it won't allow you to glean useful business intelligence in order to remain competitive in today's marketplace. New ERP systems are loaded with nifty features and cool functionality that makes work quicker, easier, and faster. Newer ERP systems are also designed to allow for more convenient collaboration among various workers and departments.

3. Your Old System Makes It Hard to Get to the Information You Need

Today is the Information Age. Businesses live and die, governments rise and fall, and careers thrive or don't survive based on the information they hold. Older ERP systems were designed before information was so valuable and critical. If your workers have to work too long and too hard to force the system to spit out the data you need, it's time for an upgrade.

4. The Hardware Running Your ERP System is Outdated

Old hardware is expensive to operate, hard to maintain, and slow to run. As systems age, maintenance and repair becomes harder to get because the manufacturer has moved on to newer stuff, hoping the old equipment will just fade away. In many cases, the savings you achieve in operating a newer, more efficient system, or even moving into a cloud hosted ERP environment, can save you enough money to pay for a new ERP system. Newer hardware is more power efficient, doesn't have such rigid cooling requirements, takes up less space, and is faster and more powerful than the old stuff.

5. Is Your Software Repelling New Talent

Newer members of the workforce are used to the information age.  They are connected to their mobile devices, use apps for everything and expect their software applications to have modern looking interfaces and be user friendly. Outdated systems could be seen as a negative factor for potential new employees looking to work with cutting edge technology.  If you are having difficulty attracting new talent to your organization, it might be because your systems are dated.

Ready to begin selecting and implementing a new ERP system? Call The Attivo Group today at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Jul 08 2015

3 Tips To Keeping an ERP Project On Budget

Have you heard some horror stories involving companies that go overwhelmingly over budget and time limits when implementing and customizing an ERP system? If so, you might be reluctant to take on such a project, but this shouldn't be the case. ERP software is incredibly powerful, and can benefit your profits and customer service tremendously. There are ways to keep setup and customization costs within budget and time constraints, you just have to be careful about planning the process from the start. Here is how you do it:

1. Be Realistic About Your Timeline and Expectations

One common mistake is drastically underestimating how much time and expense the project is going to take from the get go. Begin by working up a ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) budget. List all potential problems and guesstimate how bad those problems could possibly be. Get all of the stakeholders in your ERP software involved in this process so that you don't leave anything out. Combined with a business process assessment, you can begin to prioritize your needs and even create a multi-phased project based on priority.  By doing this, you should end up with a realistic and fairly accurate estimate of the project before you start.

2. Think About What Customization You Actually Need

Once you've chosen the right vendor and product for your ERP needs (and especially if you've partnered with the right consultant), you might not need so much customization after all. Take some time to study and understand the features and functionality that comes standard with your ERP solution. Don't take the time and spend the money for customization that doesn't offer a realistic and worthwhile ROI.

5. Allow Ample Time for Implementation, Testing, and Training

Finally, don't put your business in a bind time wise. Allow for ample time to setup, customize, and test your new ERP system and give a generous amount of time and money in the budget for adequate training. The primary reason why ERP systems fail is because the organization underestimated how much training workers would need. Even though modern ERP packages are much more intuitive and user friendly, it’s not as simple as implementing Microsoft Office. No software package with the amount of features an ERP system has is easy for the first-time user. But investing in this training is the best way to assure that the time and money you put into the ERP actually produces a real benefit to your company.

Whether you are purchasing an ERP system for the first time or simply upgrading from your current software, an ERP implementation is a massive project. For questions about navigating the process you can call the Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.