ERP vs. Warehouse Management Systems: Which is Best?

It has been around long enough to be considered one of those “classic debates”: ERP warehouse management module or best-of-breed warehouse management system? One would think that by now this debate would have been settled. The facts and opinions have been examined for well over a decade, surely there must be a clear winner by now. If only it were that simple.

There are many reasons why this debate persists. One of the primary reasons is that companies are made up of departments and people that often have differing, or even conflicting, priorities. Sprinkled in among these differences are often strong opinions. Opinions are not easily altered and the people that hold them didn’t get to where they are by quickly letting go of theirs in the face of debate.

Another key factor that keeps this debate fresh is the expansion of the dilemma to small and medium size companies. Early in the debate, most of the buzz was around SAP and Oracle ERP versus tier 1 best-of-breed warehouse management systems (WMS). Today, many ERP providers to small and medium businesses are also venturing down the path of expanding their suites to include warehouse management functionality.

Although still playing catch-up, the likes of SAP and Oracle have made gains in the last few years and are closing the functionality gap versus best-of-breed warehouse management systems. Due to a later start, the same cannot be said of ERP providers to small and medium-sized businesses. In this space there still exists a significant gap with respect to warehouse management system functionality. If the debate were solely focused on functionality, it would be short-lived for small to medium-sized businesses. Since there are other factors to consider, the debate endures.

Download the “ERP vs Best of Breed WMS” whitepaper to examine the debate between ERP and WMS for mid-sized companies more thoroughly.

Posted in March 2013, Newsletter, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) | Leave a comment

Software as a Service – The Benefits to Your Business

Online, Hosted, Cloud & SaaS are all terms that are coming into increasingly common usage when it comes to business software. While there may not be a unitary definition as yet of any of these terms, we are all starting to understand what the general concepts are and what this means for how we use the systems and software on a daily basis. In its most basic sense it means that users can access their software using the internet.

While no one is arguing that this is not a clever concept and the ability to access these types of solutions is becoming a reality for anyone with broadband internet access, the question remains for most businesses – what tangible benefits are there for me in accessing my software like this? If the Software as a Service model can deliver real visible benefits for a business, it is more than likely to be adopted. If not, why disturb the status quo?

The following benefits have been compiled from extensive interviews with business owners and managers. Consider a few of the benefits your company can derive from Software as a Service solutions:

  1. Quick Deployment
    Hosted and Cloud solutions can have you up and running extremely quickly once the purchase decision is made.
  2. Low Hardware Overhead
    By choosing a hosted or cloud solution your business does not need to invest in new hardware to run these in the form of servers that come with not only the upfront cost of purchase and installation but also the cost of monitoring and maintenance to ensure best possible performance is being derived. Most providers will manage the hardware headache for you and – by offering these services to many customers – they can pass on the benefits of the economies of scale in terms of the cost directly to the customer.
  3. Flexibility of access – multi location working
    In difficult economic times businesses need to be increasingly flexible in managing their day to day operations. Through the use of cloud and hosted solutions the user now has access to their software outside the confines of the office allowing for best usage of time and more flexibility in terms of working practices such as working from home.
  4. Data Integrity
    A key challenge for lots of businesses is ensuring that their critical data is backed up and secure. There are lots of risks to a company’s data from malicious attacks right through to something as simple as a power outage. With hosted or Cloud solutions there is peace of mind that data is backed up on a daily basis, stored in a monitored environment with full data recovery plans and process and also encrypted and password protected.
  5. Your Time
    Your time as a business owner or manager is valuable; by having that one less thing to worry about you can get some of that time back for more productive matters. Hosted and Cloud solutions bring you that benefit by taking away the need to worry about your software and data security so you get back to running your business.
Posted in Cloud | Leave a comment

Five Things to Consider Before Making Your CRM Decision

Internet-based technologies have played an important role in the development of modern CRM applications over the last several years. They have been the critical driving force behind the rise of on-demand (or cloud) CRM, and have also enabled on-premise CRM vendors to dramatically simplify deployment and administration. CRM has become far more accessible as a result; adoption rates have soared, and companies today enjoy unprecedented choice when it comes to how they want to purchase, consume, and support their new business applications.

Deployment, nonetheless, is a “how” rather than a “what,” and competing CRM solutions are separated by a broader range of considerations than just the choice between on-demand and on-premise. Additionally, the relative advantage or disadvantage of one deployment type over the other is entirely dependent on each company’s individual objectives and circumstances, which are likely to change over time and vary according to a number of criteria.

Companies need to take the following criteria into consideration and discuss how both on-premise and on-demand CRM deployments will impact their business.

The five considerations are broadly categorized as:

  1. User deployment
  2. Investment timeline and total cost of ownership (TCO)
  3. Data sensitivity
  4. Availability of internal IT resources
  5. Integration

Download our whitepaper, On-Demand or On-Premise CRM: Five Things to Consider Before Making Your Decision, to learn more about your CRM deployment options.

Posted in Customer Relations Management (CRM), February 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Reach Your Full Potential with Business Intelligence

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, an economy that is growing but uncertain has lead to greater caution and thrift among consumers. As a result, even as many small-to-midsized businesses plan for growth, they continue to look for ways to improve efficiency and cut costs.

Small-to-midsized businesses increasingly realize that having the right information and the tools to analyze that information are critical to making business decisions that can drive growth and improve productivity. Today, more information than ever is available about companies’ internal operations. This information is a by-product of companies’ successful efforts to automate their operations.

Business intelligence (BI) solutions provide a way to harness this ever-increasing information in a way that allows companies to make better, smarter decisions of all types and ultimately outpace their competition. As a result, BI has emerged as one of the top IT priorities for small-to-midsized businesses.

As BI solutions have evolved, they have become less expensive and easier to implement and deploy. Indeed, BI vendors today, facing stagnant and oversaturated enterprise markets, are increasingly shifting their focus to serving the small-to-midsized business market. This is good news for small-to-midsized businesses looking for BI solutions. Yet challenges remain in terms of information accessibility, ease of use, and implementation.

Download our whitepaper, Part 1: The Business Intelligence Landscape for Small and Midsized Businesses, to learn how business intelligence can help your company achieve its full potential.

Posted in Business Intelligence (BI), February 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

How to Effectively Scope Your ERP Project

You may have heard the saying: “How can we all be on the same page if there is no page?” This is especially applicable when undertaking an ERP implementation. Having a well-defined and written scope of work can mean the difference between a failed project with disastrous results, and a highly successful project with huge benefits. Assuming you prefer the latter, let’s look at what a good scope of work includes.

Anatomy of a good scope document
While each ERP consulting firm will have their own variations on their scope of work definitions, generally you should look for a table of contents that covers the following major areas:

Scope Statement
What is the project overall, when will the project be complete, how much will it cost, and most importantly, how does it meet the company’s strategic goals.

Don’t confuse these with goals. Objectives are specific action items that will be taking place during your project. For example: install product X, convert data, provide training, develop custom reports, etc. Objectives should be focused around action items that solve specific problems and achieve desired results.

Project Risks and Mitigation
Making sure you proactively identify the things that can derail your project is critical. These can be things such as a key project manager leave during the project, unrealistic workloads, lack of proper hardware, communication issues, funding issues, etc. Each risk should be clearly stated along with how each will be monitored to help ensure project success.

Roles and Responsibilities
Basically, who is responsible for what. Be sure to list names and contact information for each person and define their functional role for each area of the project. Some example roles include project sponsor, key advisors, project owners, etc. Roles should also cover functional areas such as IT, financials modules, operational modules, sales force automation modules, etc.

This may seem, well, assumed, but often what isn’t said is the thing that gets you into the most trouble. The ERP implementation consultant may be assuming you are doing all data entry tasks, and you may be assuming they are. Be sure to identify as many assumptions as possible to avoid misunderstandings and project delays.

These are documents used by the team to achieve the objectives of the project. An example would be the scope of work document, project plans, training manuals, issues lists, etc. Deliverables are not the end result of the project, they are the written tools used to accomplish it.

Functional Requirements
The devil is in the details… and this is where they should be listed. Each functional requirements should be stated by functional area (such as general ledger, accounts payable, inventory control, etc.) and define details such as:

  • Manual input required
  • Data to be converted
  • Required reports
  • Interfaces to other systems
  • How this area will affect changes in current business procedures

Project Change Control
You can count on something coming up you didn’t anticipate. Since you know it’s going to happen, now’s the time to define how that should be handled. Clearly state who is authorized to request changes and as importantly, who approves them. A change request form should always be completed for any change, even if it doesn’t involve a dollar amount, such as changes to go live dates.

Issue Escalation Procedures
If there’s a problem, does your team know who to go to next? You’ll want to clearly state how an issue should be escalated and to whom. The last thing you need is a problem quickly getting out of hand and turning into a bigger issue than it should.

Future Projects
This can probably be better stated as “what is not included.” If you are building a technological foundation for a second phase, future project or business strategy, list it here. It’s important that everyone works with an “eye” towards future goals and plans accordingly.

In summary
Professional ERP implementation consultants know that the best projects are those where the customer takes ownership. Since most clients don’t know all the steps to implementing a new system (hence the reason you hired the consultants), the scope and work plan are your guiding light throughout the process.  Your ERP implementation consultant should be ready, willing, and eager to help you define a proper scope and work plan

Contact us today for help planning your ERP implementation. Rich Froning steroids steroidi online

Posted in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), February 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Improve Your Company’s Efficiency with an HRMS Solution

In many organizations, the HR manager faces a dilemma. You’d like to spend more time truly improving the overall work environment for your employees. You want to help company management find ways to save on workforce-related costs, find and hire better talent, and improve existing talent through training and development. But most days, you are stuck doing paperwork. The routine administration involved in day-to-day HR operations drains most of your available time and energy. Forrester Research found that, on average, over 50% of a human resources department’s time is spent processing employee information and answering questions. If you’re like most HR managers, you face several business challenges:

  • Succeeding with limited HR resources. Many small and midsized businesses have limited staff and resources. You alone, or a small team of colleagues, may be solely responsible for benefits administration, payroll, routine HR administration, and more. You need better tools to track important employee information, and to automate HR and benefits transactions so that you can devote more time to your most important duties—employee relations, fostering a good work environment, and providing employees with training and career opportunities.
  • Managing compliance and risk of litigation. It’s difficult to stay on top of the myriad of state and federal workforce laws, regulations, and reporting requirements to protect your company from fines and penalties. You need to communicate with and train both managers and employees so that the company is not at risk of expensive employee lawsuits.
  • Ensuring accurate and timely payroll. Paychecks that are late or have errors cost your company money, hurt employee morale, and undermine your credibility with employees. Federal, state, and local payroll taxes are complex and missing the filing and payment deadlines can incur fines, late fees, and an increased chance of audits for your company.

A recent survey by Saratoga discovered that employee compensation, including benefits, accounts for 35% of operating expenses in a typical organization. With so many company resources dedicated to maintaining the workforce, it is necessary to identify ways to improve results, increase efficiency, and lower costs. Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) help you find such opportunities and capitalize on them.

Download our whitepaper, “HR Technology Tools: What You May Be Missing”, to learn more about how a HRMS solution can give you improved results and lower costs.

Posted in February 2013, Human Resources (HR), Newsletter | Leave a comment

Version 5.5 Retirement

Support for Sage 300 ERP Version 5.5 will be discontinued as of March 30, 2013

Following the guidelines of the Sage Product Support Policy, and the September 2012 release of Sage 300 ERP 2012, we will no longer support Sage 300 ERP (formerly Sage ERP Accpac) version 5.5. The policy states that Sage 300 ERP will provide support for current version and two versions back, with product updates being made available for the current version only. As a courtesy to our customers, support will be provided until March 30, 2013, and we encourage you to schedule your upgrade to version 2012 as soon as possible.

You can see how the latest enhancements in Sage 300 ERP 2012 simplify and improve your ERP experience with easier access to information, streamlined processes, and increased mobility at:

Posted in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), February 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Employee Buy-in Key to CRM Success

Companies looking to improve their customer relationship management (CRM) deployments need to take a harder look at their employees and not necessarily the technology itself.

While technology is generally easy to implement, companies need to ensure that their employees are on board with any new software implementations. Sales teams need to be sold on CRM, and – like all sales efforts – it needs to hinge not on why CRM is great for sales managers but on what is in it for the sales staff. Employees need to be treated as customers if a company wants to gain their buy-in.

Businesses that are able to get their employees on board with CRM deployments stand to take advantage of several benefits. Successful CRM platforms help companies save significant time and better allocate resources to other goals, such as research. For example, if the solution allows just one worker to save 30 minutes a day, that staff member can then devote this time for administrative tasks and sales.

CRM improves data, communication capabilities
CRM is also ideal for businesses looking to streamline their data, allowing companies to produce more efficient forecasts and greater sales and employee commissions.

Effective CRM also improves business and employee communication capabilities.

While CRM may not spur employees to get on the same page around leads, it can smooth the transfer of leads and lead information from marketing to sales and back if a company has closed the loop on leads that turn out to be not yet ready to buy.

CRM leads to competitive advantage
While many companies believe CRM is just a technology deployment, the platform is actually much more than that. Decision-makers need to think of CRM as a strategy and as containing three methods: competition, communication and collaboration.

The current economic landscape will undoubtedly change, but companies with strong customer relationships will be able to weather the storm. With CRM systems in place, businesses can offer their consumers a unique experience – or they risk losing opportunities to their competitors. buy anabolic steroids steroidi online

Posted in Customer Relations Management (CRM), January 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Business Intelligence: More than a Software System?

In order for a business intelligence (BI) project to be successful, it needs to be treated as part of a larger, broader company-wide change and more than just a software implementation.

Traditionally, BI has been used for performance reporting from historical data, and as a planning and forecasting tool for a relatively small number of people in a company that relies on historical data to plan ahead. BI projects need to be treated as a cultural transformation of the business, instead of an IT project.

There are several ways business executives can get the most out of their BI projects. For instance, they can start by encouraging companies to view BI as an organizational change and not simply another computer program. Like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other business software applications, there is a lot more to BI than its computerized aspects. It works best when it is applied in tandem with executive efforts to streamline business processes, improve business functionality and make the entire company more efficient.

One of BI’s main applications is its ability to facilitate effective and efficient communication across various departments or divisions of a business – a benefit that shouldn’t go under-appreciated by executives and company managers.

Focus BI efforts on delivering the right information to the right people. Apply a business process orientation to BI that connects horizontally across functional areas and outwardly to customers and partners. To keep strategy execution on track, BI must address all staff and management levels in the organization.

Allocating resources – including people – properly is a major focus of BI and other business software applications. Being able to do this effectively is one of the things that separates a good business from a great one. Putting the right information in the hands of the right people, and putting those people in the right places, is key to getting the most out of your business strategy.

When you view BI as a change in business culture rather than a simple IT restructuring, you’ll be able to fully enjoy its benefits. steroide anabolisant musculation

Posted in Business Intelligence (BI), January 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Before Purchasing an ERP System, Consider the Total Cost of Ownership

There are a lot of financial considerations that companies have to make when adopting different kinds of business software. Some are more complicated than others and require a lot of calculation. Returns on investment, new business plans and pre-implementations strategies all factor into successful enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites of applications. However, one of the most important estimations is a software’s total cost of ownership (TCO).

There are some mundane and seemingly insignificant details that go into the actual operation of any sort of ERP system, and quite a few of them can be easily swept under the rug if planners aren’t careful. That is why it is so important for companies to methodically assess everything that will go into an ERP system. Far from being prohibitive, a TCO analysis will actually end up saving companies money in the long run. Consider the following details before going forward with an ERP implementation.

The computers that are used to actually run ERP programs are not terribly expensive. However, many of the processes that can be made more efficient by using business software often require new mobile devices. Tablet PCs and smartphones can make an ERP system infinitely more powerful since there are fewer limitations on its operations, but they certainly cost a little bit more in terms of training and maintenance.

There are many ways to fund the staff that will eventually be responsible for ERP operations, but the exact model should be considered before a system goes live. For example, some companies decide to invest in workers who have experience using ERP software, while others elect to train existing or unfamiliar employees. Consider which is more feasible for your company and which will contribute more or less to a total cost of ownership over time.

When a suite of applications of any sort is assembled, there is probably going to be a non-standard mix of programs and applications in play. Some can be purchased outright, while others might be used at will under a licensing agreement with the software vendor. Be sure to understand the purchase schema that a vendor uses to charge a company when compiling all of the financial considerations that will impact a system’s total cost.

It isn’t often that companies exist in vacuums where they’re cut off from all other organizations. Therefore, collaborators and clients will need to meet to plan deliveries, productions and supply issues. Be sure that these meetings and information sharing sessions are part of TCO analyses so costs do not end up spiraling out of control.

How do you know if you are ready to invest in an ERP system? Download this informative whitepaper, “Is Your Business Ready for ERP?” today.

Posted in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), January 2013, Newsletter | Leave a comment