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Chris Milan

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business?

By | ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

If you’re like many businesses, you started out with QuickBooks. An easy choice, the software is familiar, reliable, affordable, and easy to use—perfect for entry-level businesses who just need the basics. This software has become a mainstay at your organization and for many years has facilitated your business growth. There comes a time, however, when you begin to realize that you aren’t an early-stage business with basic accounting needs.

This is an exciting time for your company, however, now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Your “small business agility” got you where you are today, but if you hope to keep up the pace when you are ‘not so small’, you need data at your fingertips. While QuickBooks was able to get you to where you are today, there comes a time when you need more than accounting software.

The right tool for your journey: Fully-featured enterprise resource planning software

QuickBooks, whether you are using the desktop version, enterprise version, or QuickBooks Online, is designed to be an accounting software—great for small businesses with limited needs and accountants who need to complete simple tasks. Knowing this, while the product may make life easy when you have one, five, or ten users who only need to close the books each month, you are entering a stage in which you need more.

For example, this time last year, if a salesperson needed to check on the available inventory or a customer credit line, it was simple—send an email and get a response within minutes. Now, the number of salespeople has increased along with the number of customers—getting this information isn’t as easy. From here, filing the expense reports for your salespeople or staff adds another layer of complexity; what once was a simple email with receipts is now dozens of receipts, an expense policy, and a lot of extra work to see if each hotel stay and meal is reimbursable.

Say you need to generate a report for your board, an investor, or the CFO. How long will it take to complete and will it be 100% accurate when it’s done?  Start adding locations, working in different currencies and tax codes, and you realize, “we need more.”

Is it time for ERP?

For many small businesses, choosing QuickBooks was a rite of passage and honestly, the product is still the ideal small business solution. Much like your first apartment out of college, the software served its purpose. But now your family has grown and your needs have evolved; you need something that can deliver.

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

You need more reporting

As your business grows, you need to act fast if you hope to capitalize on an opportunity. Knowing this, you can’t afford to wait hours or even days to collect data, organize it, and turn it into something useful—you need information now.

One of the biggest benefits of moving to an enterprise resource planning solution is its ability to leverage real-time reporting and business intelligence, bringing together a wide range of data points to empower decision makers and make reporting easy.

So many spreadsheets

Excel is one of those tools that works well when you don’t need to process a lot of information. Once your business grows, it becomes harder and harder to organize your financials in these personal productivity tools.

  • Need to use data from another application? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to create a report? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to close the books? Spreadsheet.

With spreadsheets being so common in your accounting, you are getting neither the accuracy, timeliness, or visibility you need. If 88% of spreadsheets have errors, how can you be sure you are even making a decision with the right information? ERP is designed to handle the entirety of your business processing, automating a wide range of formerly manual processes and providing accuracy.

Audit ready?

When you’re buried in spreadsheets, you barely have enough information to make a managerial decision; considering yourself audit ready is a whole different ballgame. Growing companies face new risks and scrutiny, and having both a strong audit trail and clear picture of where you stand is critical. Another key benefit of ERP is its ability to provide both an audit trail and offer audit-ready financial statements, allowing you to rest easy knowing that changes are tracked and reports can handle scrutiny.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. It means that your business has grown and you are ready for a solution that can take you to the next level. NexTec helps organizations just like you to move beyond QuickBooks and into a more robust accounting and ERP software designed to meet the needs of your business today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our work, compare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Securing the go-ahead from the C-suite

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

Acumatica Partner

How to choose an Acumatica partner

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Acumatica Partner

When you work with an Acumatica Partner, you work with a company who puts your needs first, who gets to know your business inside and out so that they can deliver a customized product that matches your needs.

When you choose Acumatica, you work exclusively with one of the company’s highly vetted and well-trained partners who implement software and support your company post-implementation. This benefits you in many more ways than you would think. Today, we would like to explore some of the reasons Acumatica’s partner model works for you, and why NexTec can be the ideal Acumatica partner to get you there.

Why the Acumatica partner model works: innovation for you—with a personal touch

74% Of Acumatica staff focuses on R&D

Acumatica couldn’t become one of the fastest-growing, highest-rated, and innovative ERP solutions in just over a decade without a strategy focused on aggressive innovation. By choosing to sell the software only through its partners, Acumatica is given the freedom to focus on innovation – nearly three quarters of its staff is in research and development.

From the industry editions to the robust twice-annual updates, Acumatica continues to provide new products and enhancements to its core product, improving user experience and making the software more viable for an ever-expanding group of businesses.

100% partner model: the personal touch you need

With the exclusively channel-based partner model, you can rest assured that they put a great deal of effort into making the program a success. Given a 5-Star Channel Program Rating by leading voice in the industry CRN, the Acumatica Partner Program is designed to empower partners. With this vast, diverse network of focused partners, you are easily able to find he right partner to deliver your software, who has the skills, size, and experience to get the job done.

When you work with an Acumatica Partner, you work with a company who puts your needs first, who gets to know your business inside and out so that they can deliver a customized product that matches your needs.

The Acumatica API and platform combines innovation and customization

While the Acumatica partner model lets the company focus on innovation and the partners focus on making the platform work for you, the platform itself is built for innovation as well. By providing customers and partners access to the source code, partners can take the solution even further by developing integrations and enhancements for the unique needs of customers, truly providing you the best of both worlds.

NexTec Group: Not just one of the biggest; one of the best

While all the above-mentioned reasons may explain why the Acumatica partner model works, the real question—why should you work with NexTec? No matter the software you’re coming from, if you’ve worked with a value-added reseller (VAR) before, you already understand that the channel partner world is diverse—and not every VAR is created equal.

Channel partners range from tiny shops to multinational firms, have a broad array of niches, and could have anywhere from one employee to thousands. It’s why finding the right partner for your unique needs is so important—often as important as selecting the right software—and it’s why it pays to work with a company who has the size, scope, and experience to get the job done.

At NexTec Group, we are not only among the biggest VARs, we are among the best. Whether you are looking for a partner big enough to easily handle your needs, who has honors from across the industry, or who has the experience you need, we have been there and done that.

Proven innovation in the VAR community

When it comes to finding the right VAR, one of the biggest factors to look at is whether they are skilled. Becoming ‘certified’ is one thing; but having the experience to back it up is another. Bob Scott’s Insights VAR Stars is an annual listing of these value-added resellers who lead all others in growth, innovation, and industry leadership. This annual list recognizes the best and the brightest, and it’s an honor to have appeared on the top 100 list since 2004.

We understand that awards may not be everything, but we sure have a few of them from a wide range of analysts and experts. Don’t believe the hype? Take it from our customers.

Big enough to exceed your needs, not too big to forget them

While innovation is one thing, size is another—especially for midsized to large companies. A partner who has the scale, scope, and size to deliver services no matter how big you are, what you do, or where you are, but not someone too big that they treat you like just another project.

At NexTec Group, we became one of the largest value-added resellers in the nation—24th according to the last report—through our customer relationships. With 140 employees across 14 locations across North America, we consistently have the size to deliver on the needs of companies of all sizes, without forgetting what got us here: A relentless commitment to delivering the best service.

Our commitment to serving customer needs is well documented—both in the aforementioned VAR Stars honors or our most recent recognition: Acumatica President’s Club. President’s Club is only bestowed on the top ten Acumatica Gold Certified Partners for their ability to deliver solutions for customers, and we are proud to announce that we recently took home this honor at the annual meeting of users and partners, Acumatica Summit 2019.

Experience and honesty

When we launched NexTec, we did so because we noticed that software sellers that had never walked a mile in the customers’ shoes. Over the last 25 years of growth, we brought on some of the greatest minds in the business and kept them happy—our average consultant has 25 years’ experience in software, consulting, and industry.

We boast a well-above-average 95% annual customer retention rate and have even saved the occasional client from a poor VAR relationship, helping them to realize the true value of their ERP.

As a company who works with a wide range of solutions, we pride ourselves on honesty as well. We’ve been around long enough to realize that something won’t work long before it falters, and if we feel that Acumatica isn’t right for you, we will tell you.

Get to know NexTec

We chose NexTec because they were the only provider that spent the time getting to know and understand our business and our employees.” – Janet O’Neal, Planning and Control Manager (Kellogg Garden Products)

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work here, find your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

Top trends in ERP for 2018

By | Cloud, ERP | No Comments
ERP solution

Enhanced capabilities in process automation and artificial intelligence will drive advancements to ERPs in 2018.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms help manufacturers bring together disparate systems across the enterprise, providing powerful opportunities to improve processes and drive efficiency.

In 2018, the ERP solution for your company may offer improved process automation and enhanced security features using more cloud-based technology. Those features are among the top trends in ERP in 2018.

Here is a closer look at a few of the trends that will transform the ERP space this year.

Increased process automation

Automation continues to transform the U.S. economy, and the manufacturing space continues to drive much of the innovation in this space. Increased automation leads to improved processes across the entire enterprise.

Process automation in ERP includes automating business functions that were once done manually, a practice that once led to longer timeframes for completion, higher costs, and greater error rates.

Automation tools can be applied to multiple areas of the ERP work, from quality control to inventory management.

Consider the example of a streamlined process enhanced by ERP automation that matches invoices to purchased goods, assesses profit margins of new jobs, runs simulations to project delivery times, and manages stock control, all in an integrated process. Automating these calculations and functions requires less dedicated staff time and leads to more accurate projections for sales teams to provide to customers.

Workload automation modeling has utility throughout the manufacturing industry, driven by integrated ERP data and production tools. Automation and predictive modeling help companies assess the business outcomes of different activities and better integrate disparate parts of the organization in both production and decision-making.

Increased use of the Cloud

Moving ERP functions to the cloud will continue to be a common occurrence in 2018. The use of cloud ERP services allows companies to react quickly as they grow, scaling up rapidly to deliver applications to employees and customers, and to collect, store, and analyze data for manufacturing.

Experts believe that the shift of ERP over the past 18-24 months from on-premises to cloud or hybrid solutions will continue to accelerate in the new year.

Many companies that have already moved applications, like human resources management and customer services management, and have seen the efficiencies and cost-savings associated with those moves are realizing that the opportunity exists to move ERP options to that space as well. Placing the ERP in the cloud reduces lag times between applications and helps to improve both analytics and reporting.

Why else are business leaders embracing cloud ERP? Simply put, it is because of the speed of business today.

Companies want a solution that allows for flexibility as business models evolve. In order to be ahead of the curve and seize new opportunities, executives recognize they need the tools that allow for agile operations, manufacturing, efficiency, cost reduction, and access to technology that cloud-based ERP systems allow.

While there is still some short-term pain in migrating legacy systems to the cloud, the benefits of potential opportunity cost far outweigh the downsides.

The advances in hybrid cloud ERP solutions also provides business leaders with peace of mind. Though some manufacturers may still need core data and functionality to remain on-premises due to regulatory or security concerns, cloud and ERP improvements mean that latency and security concerns have been addressed across the ERP marketplace.

ERP solution

ERP growth in 2018 will focus on security enhancements and machine learning.

Intelligent ERP

Artificial intelligence is poised to make major changes to the way ERP systems function in 2018. These technologies will enable more self-sufficiency in the ERP space and less reliance on human interactions.

Among the ways that artificial intelligence is likely to advance ERP capabilities in 2018 are:

  • AI can provide enhanced customer service functionality that collates, interprets, and provides answers to customer questions quickly, driven by vast databases of previous queries. These AI-generated answers can be used to save on human customer service staffing and to provide the first line of inquiry that can answer many common questions.
  • Chatbots can be used to mine data in the moment of an interaction with a customer. Chatbots can access data quickly and provide that information to customer service reps and customers. Chatbots can mine backend databases and more rapidly pull relevant data to accelerate solutions and resolutions.
  • Dynamic workflows are changing based on new AI technologies. ERP systems can now analyze the way users access and interact with the systems and use that information to recommend changes to processes that optimize the ERP functionality. ERP systems can sense these usage patterns and create automated actions to save time and even reconfigure interfaces to best suit a user’s common usage patterns.
  • Augmented field service allows for technicians and other field employees to use virtual reality tools that interact with the ERP and data contained therein to provide insights and solve problems. Virtual reality, chatbots, and smart devices will interact in new ways to help ERP provide more value to companies, employees, and customers alike. For example, augmented reality and digital assistants could help maintenance technicians diagnose and correct maintenance issues via real-time access to maintenance histories, design specs, virtual immersive diagrams, technical documents, and performance history.
  • Deeper analytics are possible as ERP systems leverage massive amounts of data provided by connected parts and machines. Analytics programs embedded in ERPs can collect, tabulate, and display this information in real time, allowing for better understanding and decision-making. Employees will be able to pinpoint and respond to trends provided by the intelligent display of this information in real time. Instead of relying on teams of data scientists to pore through data and find opportunities, the ERPs themselves will deliver those insights.
  • Smart performance monitoring and analytics will come to bear as human resources functions within ERP systems deliver new analysis of employee performance, from a deeper analysis of sales territories to correlating performance evaluations with demographics and retention rates. Armed with more information and analysis, HR teams and managers can help coach employees for better performance and productivity. Those insights will be informed by other data stored in the ERP about customers, machines, comparative performance standards, production, and profit centers.

Broader services

ERPs began by integrating disparate systems, often from legacy systems that had little to no interaction with other applications and tools. ERP has brought together back-office functions such as finance and human resources, operational areas such as manufacturing, inventory, and transportation, and customer-facing operations such as sales, marketing, and customer service.

Now, 2018 is poised to see the introduction of a new slate of services that will help companies leverage the new-found synergies that ERP provides.

ERP systems allow companies, for example, to introduce new lines of business related the data and services associated with products, not just the products themselves. Companies can use ERP information to provide customers and consumers with commoditized products and services that enhance and complement the products they purchase.

ERP vendors are looking at creating additional enhancements that do more than bring together software systems. By mobilizing the capabilities and insights, companies will find new market opportunities, new business models, and new revenue streams.

Going global

For global manufacturers, ERPs in 2018 are poised to help create new opportunities and efficiencies throughout the global supply chain. Cloud ERP systems, in particular, help supply chain partners sync and share data and offer insights that improve efficiency, pricing, and profits.

Multiple locations and partners can now access the same data simultaneously to collaborate and make better decisions in less time. ERPs allow for the integration of business processes among global partners too, playing to strengths and enabling integrated business processes across country borders.

New focus on security

Providers understand that as more functions and data move to ERP spaces in cloud and hybrid environments, there is a growing need to firm up security protections. One survey showed that 89 percent of respondents predict the number of cyberattacks on ERP systems to increase in the next 12 months. With proprietary intellectual property and consumer data contained in ERP systems, the need for robust security measures will likely grow in 2018.

Better user interfaces

With more functions moving to ERP, the need for better user interfaces is critical for companies wanting to leverage the capabilities of these systems. Providing intuitive, customizable, and easy-to-use user interfaces lead to better rates of system adoption and buy-in. Configurability is an important need for ERPs to serve disparate employee populations with different roles and needs.

Use of in-memory computing

In-memory computing allows for data to be stored, not on disk-based databases, but within random access memory (RAM). This storage shift allows information to be accessed and used more quickly and by more users simultaneously.

At NexTec Group, we help companies develop the systems that maximize their operational capacity with efficiency and reduced costs. Working with the top ERP manufacturers, our experienced teams of consultants understand the nuanced products and features of ERP systems, along with a clear idea of the development priorities and schedules of new features.

When you choose NexTec Group as a trusted partner, we will work closely with key stakeholders to understand ERP needs and capabilities and will help guide the evaluation, selection, and implementation of ERP products that best suit each client.

Download the NexTec Corporate Brochure to learn more about NexTec Group and how it can help your company best leverage ERP in 2018.

5 ways ERP improves cross-communication

Collaboration: 5 ways ERP improves cross-communication

By | ERP | No Comments

Technology trends, like the consumerization of IT, mobile, cloud, and social are changing how companies do business. On the one hand, technology is fueling innovation, but it’s also increasing pressure for scalability, instant access to information and transparency.

5 ways ERP improves cross-communicationAs business models shift in response to these trends, collaboration remains a critical component for teams to improve their operational efficiency, planning accuracy, and transparency. Cloud and hybrid cloud ERP platforms are growing in answer to user demand to accomplish these goals.

With ERP, your teams can share information in real-time and increase access to the business intelligence that helps them make better decisions.

ERP improves cross-communication by:

  • Eliminating geographic barriers: According to the Aberdeen Group, the need to collaborate among multiple locations is the number two reason why organizations choose cloud ERP tools. ERP fosters communication both internally and externally, regardless of global distance.
  • Increasing transparency: In the traditional business model, teams frequently operated in silos, based on their function. In today’s digital infrastructures, this approach is no longer viable. No matter the size of the organization, a change in culture is needed so that information can be easily accessed and shared.
  • Streamlining access to financial data: Traditional accounting software has limited capabilities for integrating financial information with operational data. ERP not only gives you more flexibility to create an accurate financial picture but also integrates data, in real-time, across the entire enterprise, from accounting and purchasing to HR and project management. When teams get the full picture, they are much more effective at their job.
  • Keeping teams on the same page: Regardless of their department or their physical location, teams can collaborate in real-time with ERP. With the increasingly mobile workforce, flexible work environments are the norm. ERP fosters communication across project team for greater collaboration.
  • Improving resource allocation: When you break down barriers to open communication and data access, you’re empowering both individuals and teams to take the right action on the right data.

Using ERP to foster communication

An award-winning business technology consultancy, NexTec Group, offers ERP, CRM, BI, cloud and on-premise solutions to small and mid-sized businesses. We specialize in working closely with you to find the right technology and solution to fit your business the first time. NexTec has expertise with Acumatica, Sage, Microsoft Dynamics and more. Contact us to learn more.


Cloud ERP

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 5: How to move on up to Cloud ERP

By | Cloud, ERP | No Comments
Cloud ERP

Migrating your ERP to the cloud means careful planning of resources — both financial and personnel.

If you’ve made the decision to migrate your enterprise resource planning solution to the cloud, you have made the first step in transforming how your business operates. Now the key task is to make sure the cloud ERP migration goes smoothly.

In Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 5: How to move on up to Cloud ERP, we take a closer look at some best practices to ensure your company’s platform move works effectively.

Focus on change management

Whether you are migrating an existing ERP to the cloud or implementing ERP for the first time, the need for a comprehensive change management plan is essential. The transformational features of moving to ERP in the cloud are maximized when there are considerations made to the people, processes, and technologies that are involved in existing systems and will be involved with new ones.

A software-as-a-service ERP product in the cloud can have an impact on business processes. Process changes should be identified early in the project and staff should be trained well before go-live. In addition, users will need to be aware of and become comfortable with the new interactions that a cloud ERP offers with others.

Invest in implementation

The implementation team is the heart and soul of any migration project. To have a successful migration, this team, often comprised employees and external consultants, needs the time and resources required. The team needs to have C-level support and decision-making authority, along with the release time from other responsibilities.

Maximize cloud properties

Often companies invest in ERP solutions in order to prepare for anticipated future growth. That’s why a cloud system is such a good investment, with the flexibility necessary to accommodate the present state and the future. Here are some core considerations for companies to factor in a migration:

  • Scalability. The importance of future expansion is one of the cloud’s core advantages. A migration needs to leverage this asset to plan for future capacity.
  • Speed. With multiple ERP modules in play on the web, you want to be sure that data moving into and out of the cloud is optimized for real-time data analysis.
  • Dependability. Your cloud ERP downtime needs to be factored into any migration, to ensure that customers and employees can adapt and prevent the loss of revenue or productivity.

Calculate return on investment

With a cloud ERP investment, you want to ensure accurate ROI calculations. Here are several methods for calculating the ROI of a cloud ERP migration:

  • Divide total benefits by total costs.
  • Divide net profits (calculated by subtracting total costs from total benefits) by total costs.
  • Payback methodology. This practice looks at the length of time to recoup the system costs.

Calculating actual costs includes many factors, including:

  • Purchase and options prices
  • Third-party providers (hardware, consulting, add-ons)
  • Internal resources, including staff time
  • Continuing costs, including staff time and training
  • SaaS licensing fees

Cost calculations for a cloud migration also need to factor in cost savings, such as the reduction in maintenance, management, hardware, and upgrade costs. Other direct benefits to be factored into savings include reduced waste and inventory costs, gains in productivity and throughput, and less overtime and expediting costs.

Cloud ERP

Your cloud ERP implementation team is the key to a smooth transition.

Manage available bandwidth

As the go-live date nears, so too does the demand for additional bandwidth. Often in the planning phases, the assessment of needed bandwidth is underestimated. As more and more components are added, bandwidth and budget are likely to increase.

A failure to account for these needs … which often last until expected transaction performance levels are reached … can detail many aspects of the plan, not the least of which is operational uptime. In addition, a lack of available bandwidth can slow down training and implementation, eroding confidence in employees.

Select the right service plan

Just as a failure to plan for scalability can hinder operations, so can a company’s selection of a service plan. Cloud ERP providers usually offer multiple options, including:

  • Knowledge-only plans. These include only basic support elements such as operational assessment, business analysis, systems research and evaluation, and roadmap development.
  • Core integration packages. These services include comprehensive data mapping, operational actualization, rollout, module or system integration, pre-launch testing, and specific support and maintenance service.
  • Enhanced services options. These advanced options for up-and-running ERPs include Big Data analytics, tailored app development, and business process outsourcing analysis.

Getting the migration right is as essential as selecting the right partners for your cloud ERP. At the NexTec Group, we work with leading ERP providers such as Sage X3 Cloud, Acumatica Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365. NexTec helps manufacturers find and implement the right cloud solutions for their ERP needs. To learn more, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure.

ERP solutions

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 4 – The underside of Cloud ERP: Addressing legitimate concerns

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Cloud ERP

Cloud ERP solutions offer many advantages, although there are concerns about security, access, and compliance.

Cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions offer many advantages. They offer flexibility, fast upgrades, accessibility, and scalability … all valuable considerations for manufacturers looking for integrated data management and reporting tools.

However, as with most things, there are also disadvantages to moving your ERP to the cloud. These include some security worries, performance questions, and compliance issues. In Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 4 – The underside of Cloud ERP: Addressing legitimate concerns, we look at the downside of moving ERP to the cloud.

When considering cloud ERP solutions, companies should factor in the following main concerns.

1. Security issues

Handling security issues, both physical and digital, require a leap of faith. In most cases, companies are outsourcing their security management to the cloud provider. This consideration means that your business would be reliant on a third party for physical protection of servers and other hardware along with digital security, including patching, authentication, access and authorization for all your applications and data.

Other security concerns with cloud ERP include:

  • Regulatory constraints. Some industries face strict regulatory controls from federal and state authorities that restrict posting data in the cloud. Others require stringent guidelines on the part of the cloud vendor. Failure on the part of the vendor to adhere to these guidelines can result in stringent and extensive fines for noncompliance.
  • Redundancy issues. Up-time can create a considerable security risk for companies that use the cloud. When managed in-house, companies often have built-in redundancy and recovery plans. However, what happens if the vendor loses power or data?
  • Confidence. You need to be secure about the vendor’s security, both physical and digital.

2. Customization and integration

The whole purpose of ERP is to integrate multiple operational and back-office systems into one integrated platform. In the cloud, some ERP applications may be limited in terms of the availability for integration with on-premises or virtual applications. In addition, if the company needs extensive customization, it can be more difficult when using a cloud-based ERP.

3. Performance

When clients and cloud vendors are geographically distant, there is a risk that network connections and internet speeds can cause lag and slow performance. If this type of responsiveness is frequent, it can have a negative effect on outcomes and employee morale.

Cloud ERP

Cloud software platforms can function like clockwork as long as concerns about access and security are addressed satisfactorily.

4. Dependent on others

When you opt for cloud solutions, you inevitably will lose the advantage of having on-staff IT expertise in the shifted systems, platforms and applications. In some cases, this may not be a significant issue. In others, it could affect strategy and responsiveness. Without on-site IT knowledge, your company becomes dependent on cloud vendors for troubleshooting, deep product knowledge, and unbiased perspective.

5. Selection disconnect

When looking at cloud ERP solutions, there are multiple vendors, multiple solutions, and multiple options. Sorting through these choices can be challenging and resource-intensive.

At NexTec, we help companies navigate the cloud ERP market and alleviate any concerns about negatives. We work closely with leading ERP providers and products, including Sage X3 Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Acumatica Cloud. To learn more about how NexTec can help you sort through the advantages and disadvantages of cloud ERP offerings, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure.

Cloud ERP

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 3: Legacy systems and operating in the shadow of Cloud ERP

By | Cloud, ERP | No Comments
Cloud ERP

Legacy systems lack the integrated data and reduced costs of newer, cloud-based solutions.

Legacy systems provide familiarity but can become problematic for IT professionals and business leaders alike. While legacy systems have their place and purpose, the growing development of software applications, systems and platforms means manufacturers should carefully consider whether the time has come to retire those systems.

In Your definitive guide to cloud ERP, part 3: Legacy systems and operating in the shadow of cloud ERP, we take a closer look at the challenges of using legacy systems instead of the cloud for your ERP solutions.

Legacy systems are those that have outlived their functional usefulness. However, due to the costs of installing those systems, replacing them and training employees on new tools, many executives are loath to entertain the thought of change. Here are some of the downsides of legacy systems.

1. Lack of cohesion

Legacy systems often are developed, built and modified to fit specific business unit needs. Systems that are optimized for specific teams, and not the organization as a whole, are problematic and add to inefficiency and difficulty in sharing information, let alone analyzing data. By contrast, a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system integrates disparate systems throughout the organization.

2. Duplication

With disparate legacy systems, whether built within a company or inherited due to a merger or acquisition, your company likely has duplicated data about customers, products or finances that are inconsistent, redundant or inaccurate in certain iterations. With cloud ERP, your systems are integrated with easy data sharing.

3. Lack of information

Manufacturers need to operate in today’s fast-paced environment. Legacy systems are likely unable to provide the information from multiple perspectives, reported in an easy-to-read, functional format, that allows for real-time analysis and decision-making. Without the right information, those decisions are harder to make and take longer.

4. Poor flexibility

Legacy systems make change difficult to manage. Disconnected systems, unable to “talk” with each other, cause problems when business development, marketing, sales or production changes. A cloud ERP allows for seamless integration of new information, new strategy or new initiatives.

5. Degrees of difficulty

Some legacy systems are decades old, meaning that the support from manufacturers, updates and improvements may be slim to none. That means many systems are held together with bandages and tape and require a great deal of manipulation to enter or generate necessary information. Separate systems require expense to integrate, convert and report on information from multiple sources.

Cloud ERP

Legacy systems often have poor computing functionality and user accessibility across locations or devices.

6. Added costs

Often a legacy system is highly dependent on specialized IT staff to repair and maintain. Legacy systems also may have had many different customizations that are extensive and lead to workarounds and frustration. The personnel costs can be significant, including station-to-station device upgrades that require lots of labor. In addition, legacy systems stored onsite require space and cooling costs to operate.

7. Limited functionality

It’s likely your legacy systems are not accessible on today’s operating systems and devices. They may not allow for access via smartphone or tablet. They do not allow your teams to take advantage of new technologies, database power and high-level analytics that can aid in work. Instead, staff will become frustrated without the needed tools.

8. Lack of content and space

Some systems that were built years ago will not have the capacity to collect, store and crunch massive data sets that modern systems, like cloud ERP platforms, can allow.

While there may be good business reasons for retaining legacy systems, the technological, financial and efficiency costs are real. At NexTec Group, we assist companies looking to migrate from legacy systems to modern cloud ERP solutions.

Our consultants work with leading companies and products like Sage X3 Cloud, Acumatica Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Contact us to learn how NexTec can help your company improve performance and profits.

Cloud ERP

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 2: The sun always shines on the top of the Cloud

By | Cloud, ERP | No Comments
Cloud ERP

Cloud migration of ERP solutions offers considerable cost, functionality and scalability benefits.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms provide significant advantages to manufacturers. The efficiencies, integration and data-driven insights are among the core reasons companies choose to adopt an ERP solution.

Migrating that solution only turns up the dial on those advantages. In the cloud, an ERP reduces costs and improves productivity far more than on-site solutions. In Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 2: The sun always shines on the top of the cloud, we take a closer look at why the future of cloud-based ERP is bright.

ERP and cloud basics

ERP solutions are a way for companies to integrate multiple functional units under one umbrella. In some cases, it also allows suppliers and customers to input information and view data to make better decisions throughout the supply chain.

ERP solutions create a powerful infrastructure by bringing together disparate data from different systems into one database. Dashboards and reporting tools allow for quick access to real-time information that lets employees make better decisions faster. Integrated units include finance, manufacturing, research and development, human resources, sales, marketing, logistics, and audit.

The cloud is a growing area of shared computing. In the cloud, developers, administrators, and end users can access platforms, applications, and programs. In most cases, the servers and data are stored offsite, allowing for scalability, flexibility, and reduced operating and personnel costs.

The advantages of cloud ERP

Moving to a cloud ERP provides considerable advantages, including:

  • Affordability. Consider the costs that go into a new system. Personnel need to be hired to manage, customize and train staff members. Additional data center space (and utility costs) are needed to house servers and other equipment. Maintenance and upgrades need to be managed throughout the organization. With cloud ERP, companies instead pay a monthly or annual fee that usually includes installation and maintenance support, automatically delivered updates and patches, and storage and security at offsite, centralized locations.
  • Faster launch. With cloud ERP solutions, multi-site companies can be up and operational fast. There’s no need for multiple hardware installations.
Cloud ERP

Cloud migration lets users around the world access data and recieve updates and upgrades immediately.

  • Flexibility and scalability. Few things can frustrate finance and corporate leaders than paying for not enough or too much capacity in a platform. The quandary is often around anticipated future growth, meaning companies need to project what their needs will be years out when purchasing a product. With cloud ERP, you can keep up with growth without needing to purchase additional servers, space, and people. The cloud lets you expand as your company needs to without needing new hardware or software seat licenses.
  • Focus on core. By combining multiple functions into one platform, cloud ERP reduces the time and expense of pulling data from different systems, running conversions and correlations, and generating reports. Instead, these tasks are automated, pulling from real-time information, letting staff focus on other priorities and executives to interpret the data.
  • Accessibility. Cloud ERP allows for easy access to systems and data without regard for location or device. Users across the globe, using tablets, PCs or smartphones, can enter and pull information easily via cloud-based access. Common interfaces allow executives to see the data they need at any time, anywhere.
  • Security.  Cloud ERPs are housed in modern data centers that are secured both physically and digitally. When updates, upgrades or security patches need to be delivered, they can be transmitted directly to all end users. Redundant backups ensure that your data is accessible in case of technical issues or natural disasters in one location. Cloud providers ensure that applications and data are available with clearly defined contractual guarantees.
  • Technology. Often businesses struggle whether to upgrade to a new system version due to the considerable time it takes to implement. However, with the cloud ERP solution, a company can quickly gain access to new technology, improved functionality, and upgrades features.
  • Future integration. As more applications and companies move to the cloud, the opportunity for further integration and data sharing accelerates. Companies with a cloud ERP can seek other synergies and partners to leverage better results, products, and services.

At NexTec Group, we help companies find the right cloud ERP solution for their business. Our consultants work with top providers, including Sage X3 Cloud, Acumatica Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.  Contact us to learn more about how NexTec Group can find the idea cloud ERP for your company.

ERP solution

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 1: Removing the fog from the Cloud

By | ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Cloud ERP

Cloud tools give your employees access to shared data and systems wherever they are and on any device.

Cloud technology is a critical transformative opportunity for businesses that rely on multiple users of multiple computing systems. Cloud-based services provide significant advantages for decision-makers, can reduce operating costs, and improve overall efficiency and integration.

Understanding the ways cloud computing can improve your business, the types of cloud services and how to best use cloud technology can help determine the best solutions for your organization.

Cloud computing refers to location-independent technology that uses remote platforms to deliver software services, storage, and systems. The technology allows for scalable IT systems growth and delivery models that allow for flexibility and customization.

In Your Definitive Guide to Cloud ERP – Part 1 – Removing the Fog from the Cloud, we take a closer look at how to understand the benefits of cloud computing and the types of functionality available.

The unknown versus the unknowable

Businesses want to mitigate risk and understand as many variables as possible when evaluating new business processes. The desire for cloud computing may seem good in concept but risky in practice.

However, cloud computing actually provides more certainty and predictability, especially for growing companies. Cloud computing allows for rapid scalability without the need for significant lags in technology deployment. It provides predictable financial planning with services that will grow as the company grows. It also provides your system administrators and IT teams with more flexibility to integrate systems in a shared space where software tools can more easily share information.

For companies with a high level of customized features in various software products, cloud computing allows for modifications to be delivered quickly to end users without the expensive tasks of individualized deployment and training.

Key advantages to cloud computing

Here are some of the core advantages to using cloud computing:

  1. Reduced computing costsWith cloud computing, there’s no need for large capital expenditures for hardware and software. Predictable technology costs allow for more accurate forecasting. In addition, cloud computing reduces the need for IT staff on premises to maintain servers, install software and updates and troubleshoot. Finally, there are fewer space demands for servers and utility costs for keeping server rooms cool and secure.
  2. ScalabilityWith cloud computing, your server, storage, and user needs can be addressed as your business grows. There is no need to overspend on unused capacity or to have expansion delayed due to the inability to expand infrastructure fast enough.
  3. ReliabilityCloud computing provides nearly always-on capabilities through built-in redundancies. Your data and systems are backed up so that server maintenance does not force your company’s systems to be offline very often if at all.
  4. Centralized dataCloud platforms allow for your data to be in one and accessible in consistent formats among multiple users. It also easily integrates data and reporting with common applications, such as Outlook and Microsoft Office. This provides one version of the truth because the data is centralized.
  5. Mobile access. Cloud-based systems make it much easier for employees to access systems and data from remote locations and from mobile devices. This flexibility, especially with remotely based consultants, employees or suppliers, means more efficiency and access. Collaboration is better, too, with teams located around the world able to work from the same information simultaneously and in real time.
  6. Greener operations. Your company’s carbon footprint is far less with fewer shared server space. There’s no need to install on-site systems in multiple locations, with the requisite cooling costs and environmental impact.
  7. Improved security. Top cloud computing providers offer virtual and physical security that would be costly for in-house operations. Redundant storage, top-flight data protections and backup plans and equipment to ensure business continuity give you peace of mind. Even in natural disasters, your company can continue to operate seamlessly from anywhere.
  8. Better customer service. With reliable systems and data, your team can respond to customer needs, issues and concerns promptly and in real time from multiple locations, multiple users and comprehensively.
  9. Simpler, faster deployment. Cloud solutions mean that new tools can be used faster, with less need for implementation time, build-outs, capital spends, and additional staff. Cloud resources can be deployed rapidly.

Types and functions of cloud services

There are several different models for cloud computing services. Here is a look at the major differences in types of cloud services:

  • Public. A public cloud is a bit of a misnomer but refers to those services where the computing infrastructure is shared among multiple clients of the providing cloud company. Servers, storage, and data are stored at off-site locations and the client has no physical control of the infrastructure. Public clouds are less expensive but run a higher security risk, given the higher number of users.
    Public systems are also not conducive the software systems that are highly customizable or need to be integrated with other packages.
  • Private. In private cloud structures, there is one client, customer or organization using the off-premises cloud services. The services are not shared with any other customer. Security is better with limited access to the cloud servers and data. This also provides more flexibility for customizations, plugins, and integrations to other systems.
  • Hybrid. Companies may choose to keep some services on-premises, such as customer service or financial systems, while other software tools may be stored on private or public servers. Others may choose to keep systems on a combination of public and private cloud systems.

Functionality is another key factor in determining which type of cloud services to consider. Here are the main functions that are increasingly migrating to cloud solutions:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS). If you use Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, or any number of other commercial services that provide access to applications and storage, you are using SaaS tools. Designed largely for end users, SaaS functions provide multiple users to access data and perform tasks. Some customer relationship management, project management, and financial management software packages are using SaaS delivery models. The advantages are considerable: IT staff don’t need to install updates on every end client machine or device, data is shared commonly and training can be delivered uniformly to all users.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS). These services are used for application development and deployment platforms. When a company needs to use operating systems, programming languages, databases and web servers, this model is ideal and primarily used by developers. It allows for frequent operating system upgrades and collaborative programming development across multiple people or teams. Services can come from multiple sources and be integrated here.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is the most common cloud structure. It provides ample storage capacity and virtual server space for companies to use for multiple functionalities.
Cloud ERP

Cloud computing offers cost and staff savings and flexible growth.

Enterprise resource planning and the cloud

For manufacturers, financial services companies and communications companies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a powerful option. With ERP systems, companies can integrate systems across the company, from marketing and sales to finance to operations to distribution.

Cloud ERP is growing among manufacturers. A seminal Gartner study that examined cloud ERP adoption through 2023 had some powerful findings:

  • 47 percent of organizations expected to move to cloud ERP solutions by 2019. Twenty-six percent expected to have cloud ERPs by the end of 2016.
  • Small and midsized companies were embracing cloud ERP solutions at a greater rate than larger entities.
  • Cloud ERP adoption within five years was highest among organizations based in Asia and the Pacific Rim (more than 60 percent), followed by North America (55 percent) and Europe and the Middle East (50 percent).

There are occasions when on-premises ERP solutions make sense. In some cases, regulatory requirements disallow off-site installations. If users have limited or slow internet access or there are extensive customizations, then an on-site solution is also likely the better option.

Consider, however, the technical advantages of a cloud ERP solution. As the below chart indicates, the ease of use, costs, and flexibility are significantly improved in the cloud.

 Technology On Premises Cloud
Mobile devlces Retrofiting for limited functions Built-in functionality
Hardware On-site Remotely stored
Hardware maintenance Your responsibility Provider responsibility
Addtl. hardware capability You purchase upgrades Included in subscription
Application software Installed on your servers Provider responsibility
Software maintenance/upgrades Your IT team installs, manages bug fixes Provider responsibility
Preferred deployment On your servers On provider servers
Optional deployment  None In private cloud or on your servers

 

We work closely with companies to identify their ERP needs and recommend the proper and appropriate solution. Our consultants have deep product knowledge of many ERP solutions, including top options such as Sage X3 Cloud, Acumatica Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

If you’re considering a cloud ERP solution for your company, learn how NexTec can help you find and implement the right product for your needs. For more information about NexTec, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure.

Exploring your paths to successful digital transformation

By | Replace old software, SOFTWARE | No Comments

Digital transformation — It’s something you’ve probably heard about, but is it something you are actually embracing in your organization? Digital transformation isn’t a nebulous concept. It’s your business’ ability to adopt the digital technologies relative to your industry and to use those technologies to increase profits, decrease inefficiencies, and generally outpace your competitors.

When it comes to digital transformation, usually abbreviated in the tech industry as ‘DX’, the precise technologies you need to adopt depend on your particular industry. Generally, there are several categories of products and services that are applicable to all industries equally — including cloud computing, mobile technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics to help manage it all. Here are the technological innovations your company may need to adopt for a digital transformation.

Digital transformation is the act of transforming the business to embrace and succeed with radical technological innovations as they become available.

Digital transformation through cloud computing

Cloud-based products aren’t just less expensive than their on-premises counterparts. Cloud software and storage free the business in many ways.

  • First, the cloud frees up space, because there’s no need for server rooms and data centers.
  • Second, it simplifies HR because there’s no need to hire tech professionals.
  • Third, it enables the business to be agile.

As new products become available, you can adopt them immediately without having to conduct drawn-out implementation processes. You always have access to the latest software versions, because the cloud vendor keeps your business updated with no interruption to your service or operations. No digital transformation is complete without cloud computing.

Digital transformation through mobile technologies

Mobile is second on the list, because cloud computing is so pivotal in enabling mobile technologies. Today’s mobile marketplace is widely disparate. For every Apple device out there, there are about two Android devices, each with different operating systems. That makes it difficult for businesses to handle mobile technologies in-house because they would need developers for each of the specific devices and operating systems in use on their network. With the cloud, MDM, or mobile device management, can be wholly outsourced.

Nevertheless, mobile is essential for running a business today. Employees may need mobile access to do their work, customers may demand mobile access to their accounts, and it may be a good idea to allow your vendors and suppliers to have visibility to your inventory in order to improve vendor and supplier relations.

It’s not that computers do things better than people. Digital transformation enables your employees with better technologies. That includes cloud computing, mobile technologies, the IoT, and data analytics to put all that info in usable form.

Digital transformation through the IoT

Increasingly, businesses depend on digital devices to track critical business operations, deliver valuable BI, and to monitor their workforce, machines and equipment, and processes. The Industrial Internet of Things is comprised of all the monitors, sensors, mobile devices, and other gadgets that collect valuable business data and report on it for real-time BI. The IoT impacts all businesses in the era of DX, from manufacturers and warehouses to bankers and financial institutions to retailers and wholesalers.

Digital transformation through data analytics
Data from cloud computing, mobile devices, and IoT is critical for BI, but leveraging it requires systems and software to collect the data, integrate data from various sources, and analyze it for valuable BI. Most software products in the age of DX are capable of collecting, integrating, and analyzing data from disparate sources. There are also products available to offload data from one system to another for data analysis. Part of embracing DX is enabling data analytics for real-time BI and operational intelligence.

Is your business successfully navigating DX, or could you use some help in one or more of these areas?  Contact us. Let’s discuss your particular needs and find the right solution together.