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September 21st, 2012

As the business owner or CFO you work closely with your IT team or MSP to evaluate the latest technology to improve the business. Balancing costs with the promised productivity gains of new business management software – like ERP or CRM – is a challenge. It’s tempting to believe vendors who promise better customer insight or more efficient processes that could give you competitive advantage.

There is a different way to approach IT Taking an objective approach can help you cut through the hype to focus on the most important functions for your business. An analysis of the business processes that drive the strategic objectives of your organization will help you define what technology you need and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t.

Analyzing current business processes doesn’t have to be overly complex. Bring key stakeholders from each department together to whiteboard the processes that support departmental objectives. Include people actually doing the work – not just managers – to ensure that the evaluation truly reflects daily operations.

Once the processes are defined, focus on trouble spots – where do customer requests get lost, what tasks take a lot of manual effort, where is there interdepartmental friction. Discussion has to be open and honest with a focus on solutions, not blame.

Ask the right questions The next step is when you want to pull in the technology experts. What technology will help you solve the issues that you have identified? Are there additional ways that you can streamline processes or differentiate your business with new technology?

When you have specific questions to ask the IT team to help you answer, you control the process. The business objectives will remain the focus of discussion instead of the technology. Let’s talk about how you can take a fresh approach to choosing the business management systems that fuel your business growth. Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 14th, 2012

Maintaining market share in a competitive landscape requires that manufacturers and distributors process and deliver orders faster—without losing accuracy and maintaining legal compliance. Only a dynamic operating environment that can manage real-time information flow across supply-chain will keep pace.

Connected systems To achieve that real time flow of information, companies have to contend with integrating all the systems that control customer, supplier and production functions. That’s where enterprise resource planning (ERP) can provide the connection point and deliver a "single version of the truth" to your employees across the globe.

In addition to managing transactions, resources and employees, today's ERP solutions use flexible web integration services to make it simple and quick to connect with outside applications. Suppliers, logistics providers and customers can be connected to enable real-time data exchange and collaboration.

This unique ability to integrate external business processes across multiple systems makes it possible for manufacturers and distributors to respond quickly to changing customer and supplier demands.

Supply chain optimization The powerful inventory management tools in today’s ERP systems improve forecasting and planning, so supply and inventory levels can be adjusted quickly to accommodate customer demand. Access to real-time data gives managers the information they need to make fast decisions that optimize the supply chain. And ERP automates dealing with the complexities of regulatory compliance to reduce risk.

With today’s ERP solutions, effective, cost-efficient and dynamic supply-chain management is within reach of any company – regardless of size.  The opportunity for smaller companies to compete and win against big companies has never been greater.

Let’s talk about how you can take your business to the next level with superior supply chain management. Take on the big guys and win.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 4th, 2012

Keeping up with all of the reporting that you need to maintain compliance at the local and national level is challenging enough. In addition are the requirements of your customers, who need your support for their own compliance. Without an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that can manage the process, you are risking your own business and jeopardizing the trust of your customers.

Promote fiscal responsibility and transparency You can mitigate the costs of compliance with legal requirements or mandates from customers by replacing labor intensive process with an updated ERP system. An ERP solution that enables your business to respond to external and customer requirements—and that helps you prove that these requirements have been met—is a critical ingredient for business success as you grow and serve new markets.

By updating your ERP system, you can:

  • Strengthen your ability to comply with regulatory legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Keep executives and managers apprised of key indicators so that they can monitor risk.
  • Collect and analyze information across the company and across the globe to centralize reporting.
  • Improve security and reduce risk by controlling access to sensitive information.
  • Simplify your auditing processes with automatic transaction recording.
As you evaluate ERP systems, you want to choose a system that provides the flexibility and audit controls that will support compliance with complex regulatory requirements and to manage risk. Look for:
  • Easy-to-use audit reporting to conform to various requirements.
  • Dashboards that give executives insight into key risk indicators.
  • Internal controls and workflows to ensure processes maintain regulatory compliance.
  • Speed up approval processes to keep the business moving forward while ensuring compliance automatically.
Don’t put your company at risk as you enter new markets and build your business. Let’s talk about upgrading your ERP system to monitor risk and ensure compliance.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 28th, 2012

The days when Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems were only in reach of companies with a few million dollars to throw into the implementation are over, but the image still persists. ERP is often thought of as expensive, cumbersome and more than a small or medium-size business needs.

The new face of ERP Today, there are ERP systems specifically built for mid-market businesses. Taking the lessons learned from the past, ERP systems are now more affordable, user friendly and quick to implement. Those businesses ready to take advantage of the power of ERP will find competitive advantage that can propel growth and productivity.

Take on big competition Without an ERP solution to give you specialized functionality and consolidated insight into your whole business, you can’t compete on the same level as your larger competitors. Your competitors can meet complex purchasing requirements of big box stores to handle volume-building orders. They can monitor trends in sales and costs to predict demand and adjust production.

With an ERP solution, you can level the playing field with functionality like EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) to manage electronic purchasing. Centralized data will give you new insight into the revenue and cost side of the business – without days of spreadsheet consolidations.

Grow the company with the same number of people Because ERP systems have become simplified and user friendly, they deliver real productivity gains. Your employees will be able to spend less time on administrative tasks like writing up invoices and counting stock. You can put their skills to work growing the business while automated processes manage the details.

Take the next step Let’s talk about how simplified ERP can help you grow. Take on the competition with systems that support the connected economy and fuel productivity.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 23rd, 2012

Financial budgeting used to be a once a year activity with spreadsheets sent to department heads for review and updates. The rest of the year was reporting on actual results compared to budget. That’s not good enough in today’s business environment. Your budgeting system needs to be agile to keep the business on track.

Keeping the business on track The financial goals you set for your organization should be aligned with specific business objectives and current market conditions. As the business climate changes, managers can respond more successfully by adjusting forecasts and budgets to control finances, contain costs and prevent fiscal surprises.

To keep budgets responsive to the needs of the organization, they should:

  • Be easy to use, working like Microsoft Office Excel to help busy managers make updates quickly.
  • Pull data automatically from your general ledger to save time and ensure accurate financial information.
  • Provide workflows to help budget administrators keep the process on track, with features like automated email notifications.
  • Tie into strategic business objectives so you can develop budgets for capital expenditures, model revenue and profit margins.
  • Allow easy to view budget-to-actual comparisons to keep managers on top of their results.
Monitor and drive performance Financial planning, budgeting and reporting applications that work with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution will help you measure business results and maintain the levels of performance you need to succeed. Give your managers the ability to respond wisely to change with flexible budgeting.

Let’s talk about how you can keep your business on track. Contact us today for ERP solutions that fit your business and your people.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 1st, 2012

If you are currently running your business using an out of date ERP system, you may well be undermining the success of your employees and your company. While the cost and hassle of implementing a new ERP system may be holding you back, the weaknesses of an outdated system could do even more damage.

Employees use spreadsheets to track… most everything Is inventory tracked in spreadsheets instead of your ERP system? Customer lists, depreciation schedules, sales tax? When your company’s data lives outside of a centralized system the information is at risk for loss and error. You have no way to easily report on the activities of the company without cutting and pasting from a variety of spreadsheets.

Employees need three applications open to do their job How many applications does it take for your employees to process orders and ship out products? Cutting down the number of applications that your employees use will increase productivity and reduce errors. If you want to grow your business, productivity increases will allow you to support growth without hiring more people. Help your employees contribute more to the bottom line with centralized, integrated systems.

Invoices are created manually How long does it take your team to complete billing each month? What if you could bill for each item or service the day it was delivered? Better cash flow would reduce your need for and your cost of capital. An ERP system that integrates service, parts and expense will help you get the billing out quickly and get cash flowing.

Reports don’t give you the information you need Do spend a good part of each week creating reports in Excel? Reports that you can’t get automatically from your current system. Running a business with lousy reports is like driving a car without a dashboard. You may be able to track your mileage to make sure you don’t run out of gas, but guessing how fast you are going is a pretty risky endeavor.

Why wait? If you want to grow your business, it’s time to move to an ERP system that can help you keep up with the competition. Let’s find the right solution, today. Call us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 27th, 2012

You appreciate all your customers, but some are probably better than others. The ones who are growing are better able to pay you on time and will likely increase orders as they grow. Those are the best kind of customers to have.

Those same customers – the growing customers – also expect more from their suppliers. They expect you to keep up with technology so that you can keep up with them.

If you are losing some of your best customers, it’s time to look at your systems.

Support growing customers…or lose them Customers who are growing are either reaching new markets, adding new products/services or acquiring other businesses. They’re facing challenges of scale and managing more complex business processes.

If you, as a vendor, still send them paper invoices or don’t allow them to order online, you make it harder for them to scale. No matter how much better your product is than the competitor, if it’s harder for them to do business with you, they will move on. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s real and it’s a threat to your business.

New options, big benefits Transitioning to a new, modern ERP system that allows you to centralize and automate business processes may be easier and more cost effective than you think. You can avoid big hardware investments with cloud and hosted ERP solutions. User adoption is easier with modern, simplified software interfaces.

An updated ERP system can help you keep your best customers with:

  • Faster, more accurate quotes,
  • Sales teams able to answer questions about inventory and service from the field,
  • Better pricing based on historic sales and seasonal promotions,
  • Accurate invoicing, delivered electronically.
Support growing customers…and grow with them The best part about helping your customers with better processes is that it will help you too. Increased efficiency, higher productivity and better reporting will allow you to grow your business.

Let’s talk about keeping your best customers and growing your business. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 26th, 2012

While the options for ERP (Enterprise Resource Options) systems for small and medium businesses are growing, it’s still challenging to find the right solution. Each business has unique needs and requirements, so you need to choose the software system that will address your specific situation. Help your evaluation team narrow down the choices by answering five crucial questions.

  • What are the top three business problems you plan to solve with ERP? The first step in choosing the right solution for your business is to define exactly what outcomes you expect from the ERP implementation. Whether your objectives are revenue growth, increased productivity or better warehouse management, figure out the specific problems that need to be fixed first.
  • What functionality will your business actually use? Though you may feel that you need an end-to-end solution that automates everything from payroll to field service management, your employees may not be ready for such a big transition. Most ERP solutions are modular and can be phased in over time. Determine your top priorities and focus on them first. Take your time to help employees adopt the system over time.
  • Is your IT team capable of supporting an ERP system? Most medium-size businesses don’t have the IT resources with time to spend creating reports, building dashboards and troubleshooting user issues for an ERP system. Make sure you evaluate the ongoing support requirements of an ERP system before you commit. SaaS and hosting options can help, but there will still be user support requirements that need to be met to make the most of the investment in ERP.
  • How much of the implementation can you manage? You can save money and help internal adoption if you dedicate employees to actively participate in the ERP implementation. After the outside implementation team has left, super-user employees who have learned the ins and outs of the system will help the business feel ownership of the system.
  • What is the business case for ERP implementation? Tied back to Question 1, what are the financial paybacks expected from the investment in ERP. Defining specific goals and revisiting those goals after a year will help you to understand if the system is delivering full value. An ERP system should be an ever evolving tool that continues to add value to the business. Define the business case and the measurements before you get started.
Let’s talk about how you can find the best solution to meet the unique needs of your business. Call us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 5th, 2012

A key indicator of the need for your business to implement or upgrade an ERP system is the number of workarounds that your employees are using to get their jobs done. Workarounds are those activities that your employees manage outside of the accounting system, ERP or CRM. Employees use workarounds either because the system is too complex, too slow or isn’t serving the changing needs of the business.

The many forms of workarounds Workarounds take many forms - Excel spreadsheets on someone’s local hard drive, a spiral notebook with notes accumulated over the years, or sticky notes that adorn worker cubes. A few examples that may sound familiar include:

  • The salesperson’s Excel spreadsheet which includes every one of his contacts and opportunities
  • The warehouse notebook that lists the special shipping requirements for each of your customers
  • The spreadsheet tracking partial orders received and payments made to vendors
  • Reports that have to be compiled by cutting and pasting from multiple standard reports
Corporate assets at risk Workarounds may seem harmless enough – just a quicker way for an employee to get her work done – but they endanger the business. Every Excel spreadsheet and notebook that holds the intellectual property of the business is at risk of being lost or stolen. Almost every company has a story of a salesperson who walked away with his contact list and valuable prospects were lost.

Cycles of inefficiency The time each employee spends tracking or creating information outside the ERP or CRM system is just the beginning of the cycle of inefficiency that workarounds create. If another employee needs the information, there is a cycle of emails or time spent physically tracking down the notebook. Reporting on anything that is managed outside the ERP system is likely to be incomplete and outdated.

A better way There is a solution to workarounds. You can encourage your employees to use an ERP or CRM system if it is easy to use and supports the way they do their jobs. Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are designed to solve the problem of user adoption. Integration with all the Microsoft Office solutions, including Outlook, keeps employees in the system – because it’s easier.

Let’s talk about your company’s workarounds and find a better way to do business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 23rd, 2012

For distributors and manufacturers alike, the challenge of keeping the ‘right” amount of stock is central to operations. As customer expectations continue to rise, inventory management provides competitive advantage for those who get it right. Those companies without good controls face:

  • Overstock. Excess inventory lowers turnover and ties up cash.
  • Stock-outs. Backorders, lost sales and dissatisfied customers result when stock is out.
  • Accurate stock information. When the quantity in the warehouse doesn’t match what’s in the computer, employees get frustrated and customers get mad.
  • Inventory lost in the warehouse. It’s not good for business when stock is “out there somewhere” but can’t be found right now.
Improve inventory management and competitive advantage Implementing an ERP system to better manage inventory can give you a distinct competitive advantage. In addition, effective inventory management will maximize net profit by minimizing your inventory investment.

With automated management of the inventory that is already in your warehouse, stockroom or store, you will:

  • Know what kind and how many of each item you have.
  • Know exactly where each item is located.
  • Ensure inventory stays in salable condition.
  • Minimize the cost of filling customer orders.
Customers expect you to know what stock you have and be able to deliver it when promised. With an ERP-based inventory control system you can maintain the right quantity of the right item in the right location at the right time.

Let us help you find the right balance with effective inventory management with an affordable ERP system that helps you deliver on-time and on-budget.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.