The Attivo Blog

Mar 25 2015

Be Prepared for All 3 Phases to Maximize ERP Return

Elite athletes follow a very regimented routine in order to maximize their physical abilities at critical times.  There is countless pre-game preparation that goes on behind the scenes.  There is a need to stay hydrated and maintain mental focus during a game. After a game, there is a specific recovery process that starts almost immediately after the final whistle to begin the rejuvenation process so the athlete can do it all over again.

There are many aspects in business that can be optimized if businesses took a similar approach. An ERP implementation is no different. Businesses need a set game plan in place that will determine their approach pre-implementation, how they maintain their system after go live, and what to do if a system goes down in order to recover as quickly as possible.


Before any ERP implementation takes place, a company should conduct a business process assessment (BPA). Whether it is done internally or using an ERP consultant, a BPA helps identify what areas of the business are humming along as well as areas of inefficiency that can be improved.  It helps you to understand how end users are currently doing their jobs.  This information not only allows decision makers to select a software system that can correct their issues, but also allows them to choose an ERP package that is minimally disruptive to end users.  This provides a clear game plan of what will be done during implementation and after go-live, to help ensure ROI is achieved.

Once You’ve Gone Live

Having that game plan in place is a good start, but the work doesn’t end there. It is important to monitor Your ERP system to make sure that it is operating at peak levels. Through a managed services partner, or with your own IT team, develop processes designed to test server functionality, data health checks, firewall security and other things. Identifying issues before the red lights and sirens start going off can help keep things running smoothly and avoid costly breakdowns in business processes.


As much as you game plan and monitor your system for ERP success, unforeseen events can still take your systems offline. Natural disasters, fires and even mass power outages can cripple a business for days at a time, costing thousands of dollars. Having a disaster recovery plan in place that can get your systems up and running within hours of a natural disaster can save a business tens of thousands of dollars in lost data and productivity. These recovery plans are typically cloud based and can have a replica of your entire system online within hours of a disaster.

Legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, once said “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” ERP projects take a significant investment of time, money and resources to be successful.  Understand that achieving ROI on your software investment is an ongoing endeavor will help your projects be successful.  For more information about business process assessments and maintaining a healthy ERP system you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or download this free whitepaper.


Mar 18 2015

It Might be Time to Upgrade Your Legacy ERP System

Studies have shown that the average amount of time between major ERP projects for most companies is approximately every 5 years.  For some companies though, that timeline gets stretched out much, much further. It’s easy to get comfortable with something that is familiar. Heck, I still have several t-shirts that are pushing 20-years-old.

When it comes to technology, old and comfortable tend to be synonymous with inefficient and costly. ERP projects aren’t small scope.  They require a lot of pre-planning, careful decision making and realistic budgeting of resources – both time and money. Abusiness process assessment (BPA) can help identify whether or not your legacy system is holding you back from achieving greater profitability and provide you with a great cost benefit analysis of an ERP upgrade. If that BPA uncovers any of the following, it might be time to look into a new system.

Push vs. Pull

Several older ERP systems use what is known as push production scheduling.  Essentially, the system determines what raw materials are on hand, what capacity is available and pushes jobs through the queue based on those parameters.  If all of the materials, labor and machinery are available to complete a job, that job is started.  This inevitably leads to finished good sitting in a warehouse, increased overhead and little wiggle room to adjust shop floor production to match shifts in customer needs.

Modern systems like Exact Macola 10 or Sage 100 are able to focus on pull production scheduling, which works back to front. It analyzes a purchase order, identifies when an order is due, calculates how long a job takes, and defers production until the last possible moment, “pulling” jobs through the queue as needed. Not only does this reduce stock counts, but it keeps the shop floor agile, allowing to change production schedules on the fly with greater ease.

Accounting For vs. Eliminating

When you first set up your legacy ERP system, you might have done so as a way to control internal costs. Long term manufacturing processes were designed to help offset costs of inventory and other overhead. Raw materials purchasing was set up in order to eliminate variations in cost.  All of these are designed with an internal focus.

Modern ERP systems can take an external look at your manufacturing process and identify what is known as value stream mapping. This helps you identify which processes are adding value to your product from a customer perspective and eliminate processes that aren’t adding value. Just in time processes is also a more external way of looking at things like inventory management, which are common in newer ERP systems.

When it comes to old and comfortable, stick to the recliner in your living room at home.  In business, sticking with old technology because it is familiar to you often times has a negative impact on the bottom line. For more information on business process assessments or ERP software you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Mar 10 2015

Configurable Workspaces – An ERP Game Changer

The goal of ERP software is to make day to day business processes more lean, allowing for greater productivity and efficiency across an organization. So long as the software selection process is done in earnest, ample time is given for training and user adoption is high, every ERP system out there is capable of accomplishing this basic goal.

When it comes to Exact Macola 10, the software digs beyond the macro philosophy of “kaizen” (continuous improvement) and opens up the micro level of improved efficiency at the user level.  The introduction of configurable workspaces allows each individual within an organization to experience the software in a unique way, leading to a number of positive consequences.

What is a Configurable Workspace?

Everyone knows who Nike is.  Chances are, you either currently own a pair of their athletic shoes, or you have in the past. Many of their shoes are named after famous athletes, most notably, the Air Jordans. People can go into a shoe store and purchase a pair.  They are built specifically for basketball, have some features that may vary from other basketball shoes, and they serve a designated purpose. Translate this concept to ERP software, and you have a dashboard. Dashboards can be customized to a certain degree, but at the end of the day, there is nothing truly unique or user specific about them.

What most people don’t know is that in Portland, OR, in the depths of Nike headquarters, is a machine that can take a full 3D scan of an athlete’s foot. From that scan, designers can mold the inside of a shoe to provide a completely custom fit for that specific athlete. The shoes that the average person buys off the shelf might look like the same shoes Michael Jordan wore, but on the inside, they are completely different shoes.

This is like a configurable workspace. The outer skin might look familiar, but inside, everything can be customized to fit the specific needs of each individual user.

Why Does This Matter?

Most companies are great at accumulating data. Fewer manage to translate that data into actionable information. Even fewer can take that data and use it to make real time decisions. The problem is that while most ERP systems are capable of turning data into information, accessing that information can be difficult. Special reports might need to be run, and the way that someone in accounting interacts with specific information might be different that how someone in purchasing looks at the exact same information. And each person might need to go into different modules than their regular dashboard to access the information.  All the information that they need might be on two or three different reports, which means an addition report needs to be done to combine all of the relevant information onto one report before they can make a decision.

Configurable workspaces eliminates all of that. Exact Macola 10 has a number of template workspaces based on different departmental functions that can be customized, or a workspace can be built from scratch.  Special reports can be written and attached to the workspace for one click access.  Reports can be drilled into from a home screen.  Menus can be completely customized to provide the user with quick access to everything that they need in order to make their jobs easier. Immediate visual access to all relevant information and data takes the idea of “kaizen” away from an organizational mantra and delivers it at the individual user level.

For more information on configurable workspaces and how they might impact your business call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or you can contact us here.


Mar 06 2015

Top 3 Reasons Your Employees Aren

You’ve just invested tens of thousands of dollars on a new ERP system. Through your business process assessment you’ve mapped out new streamlined processes that will save you money and allow you to scale without increasing overhead. But two years down the line, your ROI analysis shows that you are drastically below your projections and you quickly resign yourself as another casualty of an ERP implementation gone wrong.

Lack of user buy-in is one of the biggest reasons why ERP implementations fail to meet their ROI projections. In many cases, it can be the difference between being a success story and being a statistic. But why isn’t anyone using the ERP software in the way it was supposed to be used? It’s better to ask that question before you start an ERP project rather than after.

The System Is Too Difficult to Use

Just like there really is no one size fits all ERP solution for every business out there, there really isn’t a universal way that users interact with ERP software.  The tools and information that a warehouse manager is going to use is going to be completely different than the data that your accounting department will need. If the way that users access the modules and data they need isn’t intuitive and easy to navigate to, they will inevitably develop work-arounds to make their lives easier.

Finding an ERP system with configurable workspaces that can be customized to maximize the efficiency of each individual user and put them in a position to be successful will help to increase companywide user buy-in

You Didn’t Invest Enough in Training                        

Any reputable ERP consultant will tell you that for every dollar you spend on software itself, budget two dollars for implementation and training. Unfortunately, ERP training is one area where companies try to cut corners in order to save money. No matter how intuitive a new software system might be, change is difficult for employees. If an end user isn’t properly trained on new software and shown how much easier it makes their jobs, they will revert to old habits.

You Didn’t Involve Your Employees in the Software Selection Process

This doesn’t mean that you have every single employee sit through numerous software demos or take a company-wide vote to see which software gets selected.  That said, during the business process assessment, it is absolutely crucial to talk to end users in every single department and fully understand how they currently do their jobs.  Figure out their frustrations and identify what areas of their job are working fine. In doing so, you’ll better be able to identify a software solution that can eliminate many of the frustrations without doing too much disruption to what’s already working well.

Obviously there are more factors that can determine the success or failure of an ERP implementation. That said, if your employees aren’t even using the software in the way it was intended to be used, there is really very little that can be done to overcome that. For more information on how to choose the ERP system that is right for you, call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or contact us here.


Mar 02 2015

2014 PCI Report Paints a Bleak Picture

As we head into the final month of Q1 2015, it is important to take a quick look back at 2014.  Perhaps your head just stopped spinning from the holiday season, or you are ramping up for a busy Spring and Summer. More and more businesses are processing credit card payments at record numbers and the need to the PCI compliant has never been higher. As online threats continue to advance with technology, the sophistication of your data security needs to keep pace in order to remain compliant.

According to the Verizon 2014 PCI Compliance Report, very few businesses are keeping up, leaving customer financial data vulnerable. Despite the fact that credit card fraud has steadily risen year over year for more than a decade, 90% of companies failed their PCI baseline assessments last year. That is a shockingly high number considering the amount of high profile data thefts in the past 12 months.

Why Do So Many Companies Fail?

The short and simple answer is a combination of a lack of information with a failure to implement a fully integrated credit card processing solution. While most consumers think that all merchant services providers are the same, not all of them are fully PCI compliant and even fewer of them offer a direct integration with your ERP System.  This lack of integration creates a tremendous burden on companies to maintain compliance with all PCI regulation on their own. When it comes to most small to mid-sized companies, this is nearly impossible.

PCI has 12 main regulations that must be followed.  According to the Verizon report, only 11% of companies met all 12 regulations. Barely more than 50% even met half of the requirements. Things like encrypting all data transmissions and installing best of breed firewall and antivirus protection are sometimes cost prohibitive.  But even simple things like changing default passwords were only met by 51% of companies. Only 40% of companies were conducting the regular tests of their security systems that PCI requires. Numbers like that demonstrate that the majority of companies simply don’t know the rules, or aren’t able to follow them.

How Do I Get Compliant?

Partnering with a merchant services provider that is fully PCI compliant is a good start.  If you are running an ERP system like Exact Macola 10 or Sage 100, making sure that your processing solution is fully integrated with your software is also vital.  A tight level of integration means that all data is being stored and processed by you merchant services provider. Because you no longer have to store customer financial data on your servers or manually enter orders into an ERP system, you effectively shift the burden of PCI compliance from your organization onto the merchant services provider.

The cost of such an integration will almost always be less expensive than the investment required to meet all PCI regulations as well. You’re already paying someone to process credit card payments. It might as well be someone who can protect your business in the event of a PCI audit.

For more information about credit card processing integration you can call The Attivo Group at 877-428-8486 or simply contact us here.