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Chris Williamson

Farmland with irrigation system.

ERP and water management in agricultural production

By | Agriculture, ERP | No Comments
Farm land with irrigation system.

Profitable farms rely on water resources.

Good water management in agriculture isn’t just essential for healthy crops and livestock. It’s also important to maximize profit.

Records show that the majority of farmland is irrigated. And while some farms still rely on aquifers, many of these farms are under pressure to conserve their usage because the water isn’t being replenished as quickly as it’s used. Farms who depend on irrigation, even in part, should take care to monitor water usage to maximize crop yield and profit.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like Sage X3 are being widely implemented in agriculture to provide farm owners with a bird’s eye view into their operations. Aligning ERP with key objectives like water usage and management can help farmers to better monitor other aspects of business and ensure greater unity between production and finances.

Irrigation scheduling with ERP

Agronomy and irrigation go hand in hand, where each one influences the other in nearly every aspect. Because so much of production planning relies on soil conditions and water availability, ERP is positioned to provide an effective solution to the agriculture industry.

ERP’s multi-faceted integrations support a variety of business systems, including financial administration, sales, distribution, and warehouse management. ERP can be customized to support industry-specific functions as well, including irrigation scheduling and water management to strategically use water resources and maximize profitability.

These systems must not only address large-scale agricultural needs, but should also be able to dial down to local conditions, particularly concerning water availability and usage. Having a central database of government requirements regarding irrigation, average local rainfall, and each farm’s unique data collected by ERP can help farmers to better plan crop production and find opportunities to improve efficiency.

Improving farm management business information systems

Farm land with crops.

ERP caters to all aspects of business management.

In the past, the applicability of ERP in agriculture has been regarded as limited due to the high uncertainty in the industry. While ERP can effectively cover supply chain logistics that are characterized by stability and predictability, its benefits were not easily replicated in crop planning and production.

That’s no longer the case in 2020, where ERP adoption is becoming more of a widespread practice. Arguably, it’s agriculture’s unpredictability that has made enterprise-wide business systems a valuable tool for
farmers, along with a growing flexibility among ERP providers to create industry-specific features and functions.

As farming technology grows in sophistication, farmers need a centralized way to collect data regarding their farming practices and transform it into usable insights. Combining water usage data with other key business areas like sales, supply chain logistics, production planning, and financial health can give farmers a more realistic view of operations and make data-driven decisions moving forward.

What to expect from agricultural ERP

The benefits of an agriculture ERP can only be realized if a proper implementation is combined with effective solutions development. As a leading Sage X3 provider, NexTec works with farm owners to develop and implement agriculture ERP solutions that speak to your unique organizational needs.   Take a free tour of Sage X3 and discover how NexTec and Sage can help you improve your agricultural business.

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Business Intelligence in agriculture: What does it mean in practical terms

By | Agriculture, BI, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Inspecting agriculture.

Agriculture can benefit from cloud-based technology in many ways.

We’re living in the era of Big Data. While we tend to think of data as being a highly coveted asset among companies in technology, finance, and retail, it’s also important to recognize its role in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture businesses share many of the same goals as businesses in other industries:

  • They seek to find new ways to lower costs with minimal or no sacrifices.
  • They want to maximize profits in the face of rising operating costs or changes in demand.
  • They continue to cater to their audience’s needs by producing high-quality, trustworthy products.
  • They want to improve their vendor and supplier relationships for ongoing success.

Any company or industry that uses business intelligence may find these goals are more feasible and more easily achieved with the implementation of business intelligence systems.

What do we mean by business intelligence?

Burlap bag and crops.

Data-driven decisions can improve profitability.

Business intelligence, or BI, refers to the software, systems, processes, and other technologies that collect and report on business-critical information. The goal of BI is to allow companies to tap into their data to make better business decisions.

When applied to agriculture, business intelligence can cover a broad array of technologies, including but not limited to:

  • Sensors in the fields
  • Mobile devices with agriculture-specific apps
  • Cloud-based software and computing for real-time updates
  • Precision agriculture systems
  • Internet of Things-enabled equipment and gadgets

When BI systems are thoughtfully developed, they can monitor every aspect of a farming operation and collect and crunch data that farmers can use to make improvements.

What are the benefits of business intelligence?

Farming storage.

Business intelligence creates smarter farms.

Proper analysis of the amount of data that can be collected by farming organizations is virtually impossible using conventional methods. Adopting BI systems allows farms to make better use of their data and take advantage of its intended benefits, including:

  • Making data-driven decisions

First and foremost, business intelligence drives smarter decisions. Farming’s purpose of providing a service essential to life leaves little room for error, and farms need data they can trust. BI systems provide real-time data across the entire business operation so that farmers can better understand the impact of their decisions on specific areas and the organization as a whole.

  • Increasing competitive advantages

Farming businesses are no strangers to competing for sales of the same product, particularly as many regions or areas grow similar crops simply because of natural conditions. With greater intelligence and better decisions come opportunities to improve, which could help you gain an advantage over competing farms.

  • Improving forecasting

Forecasting is an essential part of running a successful agribusiness. All of your production must be planned in advance, which means you must take into account your anticipated market demand, weather conditions, labor availability, and potential obstacles that could impact your goals. BI can help you with forecasting because it collects data over time and can detect trends and anomalies based on large sets of your own data.

  • Integrating a network of agri-tech

Smart tech in agriculture is growing, and BI serves as an anchor point to unite multiple technologies. BI connects various points of data with each other to develop deeper insights into your farming operations.

Use cases for BI in agriculture

Observing growth of plants.

How can farms use BI?

The agriculture industry as a whole demonstrates the need to apply business intelligence to a variety of use cases. In doing so, farming operations are in a better position to achieve the above benefits. Some of these use cases include:

  • Production planning

There are many moving parts to planning a crop: availability and preparation of the land, planting, irrigation, harvesting, and shipping, to name a few. BI can rely on data from previous years to improve your planning and allow you to avoid reinventing the wheel with each new production cycle.

  • Sales goals

As your farming expenses change, so may your sales goals in order to maintain profitability. BI systems can monitor the financial end of your operations and help you improve your production to ensure you’re hitting the right objectives.

  • Managing recalls

No farm wants to find itself at the center of a recall. For starters, recalls can be extremely expensive in terms of lost revenue and damaged vendor and supplier trust. Plus, it’s not always easy to trace recalled items through the supply chain.

BI helps to simplify this process by keeping up with batch numbers, harvest dates, storage conditions, sell dates, and other important data that can help you mitigate the impact of a recall.

  • Waste reduction

One of every farm’s primary goals is to reduce waste at every link in its operations chain. Spoilage means goods are no longer viable to sell, which can eat into profits. Other types of waste, including damage to equipment, unnecessary irrigation, or other activities that don’t add value can also impact a farm’s profit.

BI systems are comprehensive in nature and serve to help farms identify areas of waste across your operations. This allows you to plug money leaks before they wreak havoc on your finances.

Deploying Sage X3 in your agriculture business intelligence strategy

When examining specific use cases for BI in agriculture, it’s not just a matter of collecting and reviewing data. Farmers also need a simple way to tap into the data they find most useful in a way that’s agile and user-friendly. Many don’t have time to master a steep learning curve and need an intuitive interface and features to get up and running right out of the gate to make it worthwhile.

Because of these factors, many agriculture businesses find Sage X3 to be a favorable solution. Its powerful features are designed with agribusiness needs in mind to increase profits and reduce expenses while focusing on core business functions like production, finances, and the supply chain.

As a long-time Sage X3 implementation partner, NexTec puts years of experience behind developing and launching business intelligence systems for agriculture organizations. We’ve designed additional functionality around agriculture business needs that can help you make the most of your data. Get our short guide to BI and what it can do for your business.

Rows of crops.

ERP Empowers better budgeting and decision-making in agriculture

By | Agriculture, ERP | No Comments

Row of farm crops.

Are you looking for a way to improve budgeting in your agriculture business? This aspect of farming can be challenging. Arming yourself with the right resources and tools empowers you to make better decisions and nets you the best possible results.

Budgeting is about using the best resources to plan for the future. Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP software, brings together all the aspects of your agriculture business. All the processes from inventory to equipment acquisition through to the final products must be managed accordingly, and ERP software makes this happen.

Use an ERP system when you need to create a budget and make important decisions to streamline the business processes that keep your farm running smoothly. Better budgeting means better decision-making.

Why you need a budget

A budget helps you run your farm with optimal efficiency and profitability. Without it, you would have a difficult time identifying challenges and overcoming them. It also allows you to monitor your finances and make well-informed decisions.

All small businesses need budgets to avoid issues with long-term planning and unexpected expenses. Yet many small agriculture business owners skip this important step.

According to a recent survey, 74% of businesses with no more than 10 employees did not create an official budget in 2018. Among those who took the time to create one, 37% spent more than they planned for during the first and second quarters of the same year.

Use proven best practices when creating a budget. These will serve as guidelines for acquiring the right resources and using them wisely. Consider the following.

Use industry benchmarks

Industry benchmarks allow you to compare your budget numbers with existing industry standards. If yours are radically different, find out why.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig into those industry resources to understand the differences. This is also a great way to confirm their validity.

Monitor data for more than one season

Man drinking a cup of coffee while looking at his desktop computer screen.

Monitor your crop data over multiple seasons. Though it’s important to know how each crop performed during the previous year, changes in details such as soil composition and water levels impact the results.

Keep track of small business trends and forecasts for the coming year. This includes statistics about small business owners in general.

Use the right agriculture ERP software budgeting tools

The right tools are critical to building a successful budget. They should be easy to use for everyone involved.

Collaboration is an important part of budgeting. The tools you choose should accommodate key decision-makers so information can be shared across all platforms.

Select a budgeting tool that aligns with agriculture best practices and isn’t overly complex or time-consuming. You’re outlining the direction of your agriculture business and creating an expectation model for the next three to five years.

The tool should allow you to implement forecasting of historical data and market conditions to predict financial outcomes. Use previous budgets to determine how your farm aligns with this market data to make predictions for the foreseeable future.

Understand potential challenges

Every agriculture business experiences challenges which can make budgeting difficult. Obstacles such as droughts, storms, and natural disasters affect crop growth during any given year. Equipment failures prompt the need for repairs or replacements.

When constructing a budget, you’ll need to plan for the possibility of such occurrences. The right budgeting tool can help you do that efficiently so you’ll have the resources to handle various challenges that might arise.

Sage X3 for agriculture ERP needs

AgriBusiness ERP, built on the Sage X3 platform, is an ERP solution that is fast, flexible and easy to use. It gives you control of all your resources and takes the guesswork out of planning your next budget by placing all the information you need at your fingertips. Let NexTec be your ERP software partner to ensure the best results and fastest return on investment.

See how NexTec can tailor your Sage X3 to your needs.

Tractor treating crops.

2020 Agriculture industry study now available

By | Agriculture, ERP | No Comments
Tractor treating crops.

What are the biggest business challenges in agriculture?

NexTec recently conducted an annual agriculture industry study to uncover the most pressing challenges agribusinesses face. We surveyed 113 individuals in 39 states who worked for agriculture companies.

Let’s look at some of the key takeaways we discovered:

Managing costs is the biggest challenge for agribusinesses

A total of 86% of respondents admitted that costs were a challenge in managing an agriculture business, with 41% citing it as a significant challenge. For comparison, efficiency and productivity were the next challenges deemed “significant” and received just 27% of the vote.

There’s no doubt that costs are a chief concern among farmers, particularly with volatile markets, rising labor costs, and costs associated with equipment maintenance, technology, and business growth as a whole.

Without properly managing costs, agribusinesses may be unable to grow at a profitable rate. However, the types of information technology applications (including agriculture ERP) that are available today can help farmers to better understand their various operating costs and specifically how they’re affecting profits.

Forecasting is the largest management concern

Budding crops appearing.

Forecasting includes cost management, revenue, and production.

Management challenges are a category of their own, and forecasting took the lion’s share of survey responses as the top contender. In the survey, 79% of farmers claimed that predicting costs, production, and revenue is more challenging than planning, traceability, or managing production, sales, inventory, quality, finances, and personnel.

According to a recent report by Gro Intelligence, this could be because the agriculture industry as a whole still relies on data delivered in the form of monthly reports, compared to other industries that can access real-time data updated by the second. This leads to a dangerously inaccurate forecasting model that doesn’t allow agriculture businesses to capitalize on their data in a way that can remove much of the guesswork from their predictions.

Nearly 75% of growers are still using spreadsheets and disparate systems

Part of the inefficiency fueling the lack of ability to forecast is the presence of outdated systems and tools, of which 75% of farms are still using. Despite the fact that about half of farming operations are using advanced solutions like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), three out of four still rely on spreadsheets and disparate systems to assist in operations.

The good news is that ERP and WMS are leading choices for near-future upgrades and investments. In the survey, 44% of farms plan to upgrade to ERP within the next two years, while 39% say the same of WMS.

Typing on a computer keyboard.

Spreadsheets can severely restrict how you use your data.

If respondents stick to this upgrade schedule, then forecasting and cost management may not be as great of a challenge within the next two years as they are now. Agriculture ERP specifically is designed to provide holistic insight into farming operations and use your real data to effectively manage costs and make accurate forecasts.

How NexTec is addressing growth challenges with agriculture ERP

Given the current agribusiness challenges, NexTec is helping to address them with thoughtful design and implementation of agriculture ERP. As a leading Sage partner, NexTec works with agriculture businesses to create robust solutions that unify operations, finance, and data to help you improve efficiencies across the board.

See how NexTec can tailor Sage X3 to your needs.

Sage Platinum Reseller

Person holding a basket filled with tomatoes.

Lot traceability in agriculture: Why it’s a critical ERP component

By | Agriculture, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Person holding a basket filled with fresh tomatoes.

Lot traceability allows food companies to track ingredients at each stage of production.

Agriculture companies today have customers that expect transparency in the products they buy. That means sharing the ingredients, sources, and processes being used at each stage of production.

Lot tracking is a critical part of agricultural production today. Lot traceability provides a detailed history of each component of your food production and is essential for managing each batch, lot and unit.

Managing that complexity requires a sophisticated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that helps track, monitor and report on lot traceability. Here’s a look at lot traceability in agriculture and why it’s a critical ERP component.

Defining lot traceability

Lot traceability allows for tracking throughout the supply chain, in multiple production locations and is an important component of new federal food safety guidelines in the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Lot traceability can include many components, including:

  • Supply chain segments, including suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers
  • Materials and ingredients used
  • Equipment and processes used
  • Packaging and labeling

Typically, RFID and barcode solutions are used within food production facilities to track various lot components.

Workers sorting through coffee beans.

In the event of a food recall event, lot tracking allows for rapid and accurate responses.

Why lot traceability is necessary

Lot traceability is an important consideration for businesses and regulators when there is a need for a product recall. With sound lot tracking practices in play, companies can quickly identify the dates, times, locations, ingredients and finished goods that need to be recalled. Lot traceability helps companies deliver information that is more precise to consumers and the public. It also helps remove affected products faster and identify the causes of contamination.

The right food ERP can make it easier for regulators, public health officials, manufacturers, and consumers to understand and respond.

Lot traceability has applications that are far less dire. For example, precise lot tracking in an ERP solution can provide other benefits, including:

  • Product Performance. Lot tracking helps you assess the costs and efficacy of different seed varieties or growing conditions.
  • Product Visibility. Lot tracing gives you better insights at each stage of product migration, from growing to shipping to distribution. Digital visibility lets you collect and analyze information in real-time throughout a product’s journey.
  • Inventory Management. Lot traceability gives you a clear sense as to what ingredients are used and when, allowing for better inventory control, expiration management, and space optimization.
  • Supplier Management. With lot traceability, you’ll have a clearer understanding of your suppliers and data that can be used to improve supplier relationships. You can use collected data to refine orders, negotiate better deals and request special considerations.
  • Automation and efficiency. Tools integrated within your food ERP help create more efficient production processes using automation, artificial intelligence, Big Data and Internet of Things technologies.

Selecting the right ERP

Sage X3 is the leading provider of food ERP solutions that provide for comprehensive and compliant lot traceability. NexTec is the business software consultancy firm that helps you optimize your food ERP to get the most out of your technology investment.

See one example of how NexTec and Sage X3 helped Nichols Farms improve efficiency, accountability, and outcomes. To learn more, see how NexTec can tailor your Sage X3 to your needs.

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Group of technicians working with chemicals.

8 Critical steps in choosing the right chemical industry ERP

By | Chemicals, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Group of technicians working with chemicals.

A chemical ERP can help you remain competitive

The chemical industry’s regulations and requirements are about as volatile as the chemicals it produces. Companies face strict rules and procedures to follow that are enforced by governing agencies, and any instances of non-compliance can be costly to resolve.

To further complicate the process of doing business, chemical companies must not only be aware of the dangers of the chemicals they use, handle, and produce, but also the resulting impact on the environment, safe handling and shipping procedures, and long-term occupational risks and hazards to employees.

Because of the very nature of the chemical industry, choosing an ERP system to manage the unique intricacies requires firsthand expertise of the challenges and needs of the industry. Multiple layers of complexity must be taken into account when vetting solutions that can help companies manage product, personnel, and compliance needs alike.

The following steps can help to guide the selection process and gain the most value from your investment:

1. Review important chemical industry challenges

Because of the dangers and volatile nature of the chemical industry, manufacturers face many challenges not experienced by other industries. Aside from stringent health and safety requirements and compliance regulations, chemical producers must also contend with fluctuating fuel costs, power usage, equipment maintenance and replacement, operational costs, logistics, and other hurdles that can affect profit margins.

There are a myriad of moving parts to any chemical manufacturing business. Companies who are seeking a comprehensive solution to gain greater insight into operations will need to consider material management, finance and accounting, shipping and receiving, planning and production, customer service, sales, marketing, and company leadership roles, and understand how the ERP can cater to each of their needs in an efficient manner.

This is why it’s essential to choose an ERP that’s designed to help companies overcome these and other challenges. One size fits all systems aren’t designed to address the underlying needs of chemical companies, but rather general challenges experienced by all industries. In addition, the providers deploying a generic ERP may also lack the expertise and understanding required to help you successfully launch your ERP and provide ongoing support when needed.

2. Consult with key team members

Group of colleagues sitting around a table discussing information on a laptop.

Consider who will be using the ERP

ERP systems are often leveraged across the organization, which means that each user’s needs and priorities should be taken into account. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Company leadership
  • Development teams
  • Sales and marketing
  • Warehousing
  • Shipping and receiving
  • Transportation providers
  • Customer service representatives
  • Production teams
  • Materials management
  • Procurement
  • Financial and accounting personnel
  • Data management
  • IT department
  • Other parties in the supply chain

Determine who will benefit from a chemical industry ERP system and the data or other details they need to know to better perform their roles. For example, chemists can use ERP to accurately record and manage product formulas, while procurement departments can log the vendors and cost of each material used in the formula for easier ordering and improved financial records.

Also, it’s important to look at the ERP from a usability standpoint. Determine how each key team member will use the system, how long it takes to implement the solution, and the overall learning curve to confidently use the new system.

3. Conduct a scalability test

Will your ERP grow and change with your company?

There’s a lot more to choosing a chemical ERP system than being able to check all the boxes on your requirements list. You must also consider, to the best of your ability, long term needs, and business objectives. As your business grows and undergoes changes, your ERP should be designed to adapt to your company over time. Otherwise, you may find yourself going through the exploration and comparison process all over again (and spending more than you really need to in the process!).

Not all ERP systems offer the same level of scalability and flexibility, though it’s becoming more common to adapt ERP systems to future needs. If you believe you might outgrow your ERP in the next five to 10 years, it’s best to continue exploring options. A “bad” ERP may end up preventing your growth instead of supporting it.

4. Determine the need for third-party integrations

Group of people holding gears.

Will your ERP need third party integrations?

Part of an ERP system’s flexibility lies in the ability to customize the system to your unique needs. As a general rule, chemical ERPs are designed specifically for the industry, yet there may be many instances where companies will need greater control over how their ERP looks and functions.

A lack of or limit on customization is a major obstacle you’ll be glad to avoid. Companies who discover that they can’t customize a certain feature are often forced to turn to third party integrations to perform a task or function.

While this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, consider that too many integrations and workarounds can often bog down processes and muddy your system. And when one workaround no longer works, you’re forced to integrate additional solutions that only make your system more complex.

In addition, too many “bolt-ons” can lead to confusion when new team members are brought on board, particularly in the IT department that’s tasked to help manage and maintain the system.

Though there is no magic number as far as integrations, it’s important to consider ahead of time the ERP’s flexibility (or lack thereof) and understand how it might impact your system and total cost of ownership over time.

5. Investigate Product Support

Smiling woman with a headset on.

Ongoing support can give you greater peace of mind

All ERP systems come with some level of product support, but this can vary widely by platform and provider. Implementation is only the beginning when dealing with an enterprise-wide system like ERP. Aside from the initial launch, you may also require ongoing help and support during onboarding, as well as when training new employees, making major updates to the system, and changing as your business grows or adapts to changes in the marketplace.

In addition, you should consider the way in which support is delivered. Some vendors may provide limited free support via phone, or direct you to an online knowledge base or FAQ for answers to your questions. Others may offer paid support packages that provide phone and chat services for a fixed monthly fee. This is something that should be considered in your overall cost of ownership (more on this in Step 7) to ensure the ERP fits within your budget requirements.

6. Check technology requirements

Will you deploy an on-premise ERP or take advantage of cloud technology (or even explore a hybrid model)? Do you have an on-site IT team that can create and manage the infrastructure required to operate your ERP? Is your internet connection strong enough to support a cloud-based solution? Will you provide mobile devices to your employees who need mobile ERP access?

The technology requirements can have a lot to do with the ERP solution you implement, especially when it comes to investing in infrastructure and devices. There is no single best solution when it comes to hosting, as what works for one company may not work for another. Consider the technology requirements and their associated costs when weighing your options to stay on task and on budget.

7. Consider long term costs

It’s easy to consider only the upfront costs of your chemical ERP, but as with all major business purchases, it’s important to also consider long term expenses. Aside from the initial investment, chemical companies will also be tasked with maintaining the ERP system, costs of implementing changes as you grow, upgrading technology requirements, and training and onboarding for new employees.

As a rule, your ERP should be set up to reflect your long term business objectives. As your processes and operations evolve, your system and vendor should be able to evolve with you to continue delivering on your objectives.

8. Add the mobile aspect

As the Bring Your Own Device movement gains steam, adding the mobile aspect to your ERP is worth considering. Not employees need to be chained to a desk to conduct business (particularly in outside sales and logistics), so giving them the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere can help to boost productivity, improve morale, and better serve your customers.

ERP dashboards are becoming increasingly mobile friendly, with many solutions offering apps specifically designed for mobile devices. Key employees can collect data while in the field without having to perform double data entry upon returning to the office. This can also reduce the potential for errors and allow employees to better utilize their time.

How to create better opportunities with the right chemical ERP

ERP

What’s the best ERP system for your chemical company?

The right ERP system can be a central anchor point for your entire organization, helping to turn chaos into control and breaking down the dreaded silos that plague productivity and collaboration.

And even with a chemical ERP made to address the unique challenges and needs of the industry, requirements can still vary by company. As a leading Sage X3 vendor, NexTec can provide guidance and insight on selecting the right ERP for your business. Our goal isn’t just to implement an ERP, but also help you discover the best system to streamline processes, build efficiency into your operations, and benefit all users within your organization — all within your budget.

See how NexTec can tailor your Sage X3 to your needs.

Sage Platinum Reseller

Food manufacturing machine.

Food and beverage businesses: Manage cash flow to increase profits

By | ERP, Food and Beverage, Sage X3 | No Comments
Food manufacturing machine.

You can take steps now to assist with smoother cash flow later.

Are you looking for ways to increase profits for your food and beverage business? Need a proven food enterprise resource planning software (ERP) solution? Cash flow is a crucial part of any organization.

A lack of money can cause a business to fail. Taking the right steps to manage cash flow can reduce issues. These include:

  • Manage credit control
  • Sales forecasting
  • Negotiate credit terms with suppliers
  • Manage stock levels

Small business cash flow is a concern of company owners everywhere. More than half of U.S. small business owners (52%) have lost at least $10,000 when passing up a project or sales due to insufficient cash flow. Fortunately, these solutions can help you get ahead before it really becomes a problem.

Manage credit control

Credit is a convenient way to increase inventory and take care of business expenses when you need it. Learning how to manage credit early on will keep you out of trouble in the future.

That being said, never rely on credit. Credit adds up over time and will eventually run out.

Sales forecasting

Sales forecasting is about predicting what will happen in the future so you can plan for cash flow peaks and valleys. Once you have a little sales experience, you can forecast cash flow.

Use market knowledge, competition, pricing, the economy and anything else that influences the amount you make and spend. It’s better to be too cautious than overly optimistic.

Though you may find it challenging to manage your cash flow, you’ll eventually turn those concerns into smart money management. This will remove you from the 90% of business owners whose companies failed due to cash flow problems.

Excel spreadsheet with sum formula.

Excellent sales forecasting can help you smooth out cash flow hiccups.

Negotiate credit terms with suppliers

One way to manage your cash flow is to negotiate credit terms with suppliers. Extending the payment terms gives you more time to pay without being penalized.

Holding onto your money for a little longer allows you to regulate cash flow in your business. For example, if you are expected to pay a supplier in 30 days, ask if you can extend it to 60 or 90 days instead.

Negotiate payment plans for sizable orders so you won’t need to pay large sums all at once. You can then make regular smaller payments that are easier to manage over time.

Manage stock levels

Monitor your stock closely so you’ll always know what you need and exactly when you need it. Only order those items that are running low and the exact amount that you need in order to avoid unnecessary spending and waste.

Figure out what sells quickly and will be most profitable. This results in a steady income and keeps you from holding onto items that are slow-moving or don’t shift easily. This keeps you from tying up funds you could use somewhere else.

Manage cash flow with Sage X3

Sage X3 is an enterprise resource planning software solution that helps you manage your cash flow:

  • Accurately calculate profits
  • Strike a balance between supply and demand
  • Attract new customers digitally
  • Improve your profit margins through savings

Sage X3 is easy to use. It can be accessed from anywhere, offers exponential opportunities for growth and keeps you in the loop.

Want to know more about the food ERP for managing your cash flow today? As a Sage X3 partner, NexTec ensures the fastest ROI on your ERP investment.

See how NexTec can tailor your Sage X3 to your needs. Give Sage X3 a try.

Sage Platinum Reseller

Technician filling glass vials with liquid.

Chemicals in 2020 and beyond: Challenges and solutions

By | Chemicals, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Technician filling glass vials with liquid.

The chemical industry faces new challenges each year.

As we begin a new year, the challenges and complexities that chemical companies face will continue to shape the future of the industry. It’s important for companies to be forward-thinking in identifying the issues that may impact their business in 2020 in order to stay ahead of tough challenges — and their competitors — while identifying opportunities and solutions.

Here’s a closer look at some of the expectations for the chemical industry this year and how companies can start preparing:

China’s chemical industry will remain a powerhouse

China’s previous growth rate of 8%-10% is predicted to drop to 6% by 2022, a slowdown which not only impacts the Chinese economy, but also other Asian countries that trade with China.

However, the slowdown still leaves China at a greater growth rate than the rest of the world. China is currently the world’s largest consumer of specialty chemicals, which are used in everything from detergents to food to technology.

Plastics and waste recycling will become even more important

Recycling bins.

Single-use plastics have become an environmental target.

Communities and establishments around the world are banning single-use plastics, a move which will create new challenges and opportunities for chemical companies. As the war on plastics continues to rage, recycling and finding greener practices will become top priorities. Chemical companies can join sustainability conversations by developing plastics that are easier to recycle, consume fewer resources, and are manufactured using greener forms of energy.

Customer expectations will increase

In the age of digital communication, customer preferences and expectations across industries are shifting to adapt. Today’s customers expect real-time updates, fast response times, and seamless experiences across devices.

Chemical companies will need to examine ways to improve their existing systems and practices to cater to the customer journey. According to a report by Deloitte, one trend that’s already gaining steam among chemical companies is the introduction of self-service web-based platforms to manage end-to-end customer interactions.

Companies will seek better ways for maintaining regulatory compliance

Compliance.

Chemical companies need an easy way to track compliance activities.

Compliance requirements and regulations continue to evolve in the chemical industry, and companies are continually facing new expectations. In response, businesses should examine new opportunities to better track industry changes and monitor compliance, particularly with digital technology and automation.

Turning to ERP to manage and improve chemical assets

Never has it been more critical for chemical companies to do more with their assets, which is why many companies are turning to the advantages of Sage X3. And since companies are having to adapt rapidly to changing regulations and customer expectations, it’s even more critical to find an ERP partner that can help them implement ERP technology, deliver a smooth deployment, and encourage widespread adoption of a new management tool.

NexTec is a leading provider of ERP implementation and deployment for chemical companies, offering a wealth of industry expertise that can help you get the most potential from your system and position your company for success in 2020. Contact us to learn more about Sage X3 chemical ERP and the results you can expect for your company.

Learn More about ERP

Sage Platinum Reseller

Food manufacturing machinery.

Food and beverage industry embraces automation: Is your ERP ready?

By | ERP, Food and Beverage | No Comments

A 2019 poll by Food Engineering Magazine reported that 22% of respondents had installed advanced automation capabilities.

Food manufacturing machinery.

Thin profit margins make automation increasingly important in the food and beverage industry.

Automation makes sense in the food and beverage industry, where margins are slim and requirements for consistency and regulatory compliance are exacting.

But automation doesn’t mean pushing a button and watching magic happen. Automation in the food and beverage industry requires precise orchestration so that quality is never compromised, and so that businesses can operate profitably while adhering to all regulations. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is the key to this meticulous choreography of supply chains, inventory, data gathering, and reporting.

Automation in finance

Because of its slender profit margins, successfully operating a food and beverage company requires that finance be managed with precision. The right food and beverage ERP software sharply reduces manual data entry, so that data entry errors are less likely to enter the system and propagate, causing further problems.

Tight management of supplies and inventory levels also requires exceptional financial management. Keeping inventory and supplies at optimal levels requires understanding purchase cycles and ensuring resources are bought strategically and in the right quantities. An outstanding food and beverage ERP system, like Sage X3, empowers businesses to not only take control of finance but to generate valuable and insightful data from every financial process.

Automation for safety and quality assurance

Few industries are more beholden to safety and quality assurance standards than the food and beverage industry. Enterprise resource planning includes gathering safety and QA data and monitoring it at all times so that raw materials are used properly and so that waste is kept to an absolute minimum.

Bottling plant.

Enterprise resource planning means prioritizing safety and quality while minimizing waste.

The right food and beverage ERP is also audit-ready – something that is non-negotiable when it comes to the products people consume. Compliance audits and customer audits are part of the food and beverage business, and when an ERP does the heavy lifting of audit compliance, companies are freer to focus on core business activities.

Automation in operations

Automated operations depend on a well-managed supply chain. Supply chain transparency is aided by an outstanding ERP system like Sage X3. Materials requirement planning must be done with the utmost attention to detail so that all points in the supply chain can be optimized. The right ERP software not only assists with this, it also collects valuable data that informs future decision-making.

Many food and beverage corporations are automating production lines to improve flexibility as well, allowing them to retool and meet changing needs quickly. For this to work, these businesses need an ERP system that can keep up.

The right ERP system orchestrates it all

Sage X3 addresses financial, supply chain, and production management, helping food and beverage businesses minimize waste while reducing risk and improving regulatory compliance. Additionally, Sage X3 offers users focused insights on quality and cost, so businesses can fill orders efficiently, plan production optimally, and ensure the highest quality products.

The right Sage X3 implementation partner makes all the difference. NexTec works closely with food and beverage manufacturers and has a keen understanding of their particular challenges. With NexTec as a strategic partner and Sage X3 as the ERP solution, food and beverage businesses have the tools they need to make an increasingly automated industry operate efficiently and exceed customer expectations.

If you’d like to learn more, we invite you to read our recent study on the food industry.

Sage Platinum Reseller

Man wearing a hardhat in a chemical plant.

Embracing digital transformation in chemicals: Your ERP is the key

By | Chemicals, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Person wearing a hardhat in a chemical plant.

Chemical companies face increasingly complex compliance demands and customer expectations, all of which can be managed better with ERP software.

The chemical industry continues to embrace digital transformation, albeit at a slower pace than seen in other sectors. Companies in the chemical industry looking to leverage the advantages of digital transformation recognize that an ERP system is key.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software helps chemical companies break down silos, drive collaboration and provide visibility throughout the supply chain. Take a closer look at how ERP software can enhance your company’s digital transformation, unleash more potential and solve your greatest challenges.

Facing the complexities of business today

The challenges facing your chemicals business are likely similar to those throughout the industry:

  • Diversification. Global reach means new customers in new regions. Can your company compete with local competitors that despite providing fewer offerings can often react quickly, charge less and operate on a lower cost basis?
  • Global Supply Chain. Global operations means a larger, more complex supply chain. Your business needs visibility across the supply chain to manage quality, availability and accuracy.
  • Demand for Innovation. Your business needs deep intelligence to develop new solutions, capabilities and revenue opportunities. Digital disruption can and must drive this innovation.
  • Regulatory Pressures. Chemical companies are subject to multiple regulatory requirements across multiple regions and countries. You need systems to measure, track and report accurately on all these regulatory obligations. The costs of non-compliance are high.
  • Consistency. Customers demand more variations and specific formulations, meaning you need to provide quality assurance, quality control and efficacy across more categories, more products and more customers.
  • Environmental Responsibility. Customers and consumers expect producers to abide by sustainability and environmental responsibility. This means it’s important to have responsible sourcing and production capabilities.

These challenges are exacerbated by the reluctance to fully embrace digital transformation for many chemical companies. At a recent ARC Industry Forum, ARC’s Mike Williams noted that while most companies have started embracing Industry 4.0, there are some common barriers slowing adaptation:

  • No value proposition
  • Information islands within an existing infrastructure
  • Conflicting organizational design
  • Cybersecurity issues
Person wearing a red hardhat writing on a document.

ERP software can transform your chemical company with deeper supply chain visibility and integrated data that automates processes that have been done manually.

Embracing digital transformation with Sage X3

Chemical companies need an ERP solution that’s designed for their unique needs. With Sage X3, you have an ERP platform that provides full integration, transparency, security and intuitive interfaces across all aspects of your operation. Instead of operating across multiple systems, Sage X3 brings together key functional areas in one platform from your laboratories, manufacturing, supply chain and financial operations including:

  • Inventory
  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Financial management
  • Purchasing
  • Manufacturing

Sage X3 for chemical companies breaks down the organizational silos that can plague efficiency and collaboration, resulting in operational inefficiency and more data errors. Among the improvements you gain are:

  • Measurement conversion
  • Create GHS-compliant data sheets
  • Track batch yields
  • Track labor by customer
  • Mobility functionality that gives your field teams what they need, including:
    • Real-time inventory updates
    • Faster communication and approvals
    • Access to limited-time offers and promotions
  • Integration across currencies, languages, sites, countries, and regulations

Sage X3 accelerates your digital transformation in significant ways. At NexTec, we help companies solve complex business software challenges at each stage, from selection to installation to optimization. With NexTec and Sage X3, you have the best of both worlds – exceptional ERP solutions and expert consultation and insights.

Take a free tour of Sage X3.