All Posts By

Chuck Oliver

ERP

New features to look for in Acumatica 2019 R2

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Acumatica 2019 R2 Features

Acumatica 2019 R2 has a wide range of new features designed to make your job easier, your visibility better, and your decisions smarter.

Companies in need of flexible, scalable, and accessible business management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software have spent the better part of the last decade heading to the cloud—with good reason. Providing customization, industry focused technology, and robust, easy updates that don’t cause headaches, cloud providers deliver for the needs of today’s businesses, and few if any do it better than Acumatica.

From their five-star channel program to their status as a visionary on the Gartner Magic Quadrant to high showings on both the ERP and CRM Value Matrices from Nucleus Research, Acumatica continues to deliver. However, this company is not one to rest on its laurels, and has once again made improvements to the platform in the newly released Acumatica R2 2019.

New functionality added to Acumatica Cloud ERP

No matter your business focus, Acumatica 2019 R2 has a wide range of new features designed to make your job easier, your visibility better, and your decisions smarter. From across-the-board improvements to industry enhancements, Acumatica’s latest update delivers more usability and functionality than ever before.

These enhancements are twofold, as Acumatica relies on both a push strategy and a pull strategy, responding quickly to user requests and releasing new features to stay ahead of the competition. Among the improvements added in their latest release:

Financial management:

At the core of any business is the financial management functionality. Without this module bringing in information from across the ERP platform, companies can’t see where the money is going, or track where money is coming from., making the payment application difficult. As always, Acumatica delivers. Among the improvements to the financial management platform:

  • Corporate credit card support and reconciliation
  • Application of payments to particular lines of Accounts Payable documents
  • Simplified approval of Accounts Receivable invoices, credit memos, and debit memos
  • Accrual of the costs of non-stock items

Project accounting

From hours tracking to allocating people, the project management functionality is vital to the long-term success of the business. Project-based businesses need accurate time and expense, project management, budgeting, and forecasting  in order to execute a profitable project—and Acumatica delivers:

  • Budget control on document entry
  • Detail level of the project budget
  • Two-tier change management for change orders
  • Project budget forecasts which allow comparisons of actual project costs and incomes with the forecasted, original, and revised budget amounts for each financial period.

Inventory and order management:

No matter your line of business or industry focus, having the right materials, inventory, or supplies on hand at the right time is necessary. Whether you produce, distribute, or use items to service your clients, you need an ever-evolving inventory and order management solution, and Acumatica makes that happen:

  • Prepayment enhancements
  • Changing the vendor in purchase orders
  • Enhanced linking of direct sales order invoices
  • Validation of customer order number on sales orders
  • Accrual of the costs of non-stock items to calculate their approximate net income.
  • Warehouse management System (WMS) advanced picking

Field service:

Modern field service businesses need to deliver the highest levels of service to exceed customer expectations and increase profits. A leading provider of software for these businesses, Acumatica has long delivered improved visibility, control, and customer service over the years, and has added the following to their product in 2019 R2:

  • Service orders automatically defined by user or appointment type
  • Supports creating service contracts, project schedules and tasks with default cost codes by service order type
  • Calendar enhancements for simplified appointment creation
  • Mapping enhancements to track technician location in the field

Manufacturing:

Manufacturing is in a constant state of change, and today’s businesses need an ERP and manufacturing management product that can keep up. In the latest Acumatica release, manufacturers are treated to the following improvements:

  • Engineering Change Control (ECC) streamlines multiple change requests
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP) improves forecasting and exception handling
  • Outside processing of manufacturing operations by suppliers

Innovation and partnership: The Acumatica advantage.

While there are many benefits to working with Acumatica, one of the biggest is their ability to innovate. Thanks to their 100% partner model, the company can focus a high percentage of their staff on research and development while allowing a selective and well-trained group of partners, like NexTec Group, the freedom to customize a solution for customers like you.

NexTec Group is a leading provider of this powerful, innovative platform, and recommends the solution for many of our growing customers. Get to know more about the update and contact us for a free consultation.

How to choose a software and implementation partner when you outgrow QuickBooks

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
outgrow QuickBooks implementation partner

The right partner is often one who is big and diverse enough to handle your needs, who has proven they can innovate, and who is ultimately honest about the challenges you will go through.

The process of outgrowing QuickBooks is both an exciting and challenging time, and it’s something that happens to nearly every business at some point. As you grow and realize that the product has become less of a solution and more of a challenge, knowing when and how to make the move is critical for your business.

Following previous blogs on the path to moving beyond QuickBooks—recognizing that the product isn’t able to deliver for your business, communicating a change and asking questions, securing executive buy-in, and comparing vendors by return on investment—we would today like to turn our attention to the process and best practices that go into finalizing the software choice and selecting an implementation partner.

These two concepts are intimately intertwined. The right software is the most obvious consideration, but the implementation partner can enhance or diminish what the software can do. Not all partners are created equal, and even the best solution for your business—if implemented poorly—can fail to provide the value you expect. So today, we’d like to explore the most necessary things to look for in a vendor and discuss a few secrets for finding a partner who puts your business first.

Choosing the right ERP solution for your needs.

ERP has been around for decades, so expect that nearly all ERP products have essentially the same core functionality, more or less. So, with that being the case, how does one choose the best system for a company’s specific needs? It all starts with understanding the “three-legged stool” of ERP.

Balancing three necessary criteria.

Like a real three-legged stool, a product will only stand if each leg is in working order. Lose one and it falls over. For ERP, these three legs are functionality, ease of use, and support:

  • Functionality: Match the specific functionality that you need today (per your requirements definition) with the ability to adapt the system to change when your needs change.
  • Ease of use: Evaluate the design of the user interface in how familiar and intuitive it is – it must be simple to learn and easy to use.
  • Support: Finally, the system developer and/or implementation partner must be reliable, trustworthy, and compatible with your needs and company culture.

Five most important elements of ERP.

In narrowing down your list, selecting the top three or so vendors you want to hear from, there are many things to look for. However, successful implementations can be distilled into the following criteria:

  • Functionality: While also one of the three legs of the ERP stool, functionality really just means, “does it do what it’s supposed to do, and if not, can it be customized to make it work?” Focus on software that fits your business. That is, it is successfully installed and in use at companies in your industry, preferably companies of about your size.
  • Maturity: While the beauty of the cloud is in its rapid update process, allowing your business to get new features twice per year, it’s important to work with a vendor who has been there before. It’s nice to have the “latest and greatest,” but it’s risky to be on the “bleeding edge” of technology. You should look for a system that has been field tested and proven in actual use… in your industry.
  • The Vendor Itself: Your ERP provider will be a partner for the long term, not just a supplier of a product. Be as sure as you can be that they will be around for the long haul. Check their financial stability – do they have the resources to support the product in the coming years?
  • User groups and software community: You need to be able to ask questions and get answers. Ideally, you should be able to find customers like yourself who have solved similar challenges. Whether they can help you find a customization or can answer a not-so-frequently asked question, the user community should be a good resource.

Choosing an implementation partner: A proposition that can make or break your ERP project.

As mentioned above, a vendor can provide the best product, but a poorly selected implementation partner could cause it all to fail. A good vendor will create a good partner program (ranked by CRN), but knowing what to look for from a partner will go a long way in ensuring your project is a success.

As a company who has been in this business for a quarter century, we have found that the right partner is often one who is big and diverse enough to handle your needs, who has proven they can innovate, and who is ultimately honest about the challenges you will go through.

  • Proven innovation in the VAR community: 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. NexTec is proud to be a mainstay on both the VAR Star list and the Top 100 VARs list.
  • Big enough to meet your scope, not too big to forget about you: 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.
  • Experience and honesty: This is what makes it so important to find a partner who has been around the block, who has the skills to adapt to changes, and who can walk you through the process. 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.

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 workcompare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

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 herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

Overcoming growth challenges in distribution: Preparing for a strong 2020

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
growth challenges distribution industry

Companies in the distribution industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

Whether you’re adding SKUs, warehouses, or simply looking to grow your customer base and revenue, successfully growing your distribution business in 2020 may seem like a monumental task. An industry readying itself for disruption, increased competition, and calls for transparency, companies in this industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

The 2020 distribution outlook

Much like other industries, disruption is on the minds of distributors. As technology continues to improve, buyers expect the B2B purchasing experience to become more commoditized and similar to their B2C experiences, and your customers are finding new ways to use data to drive purchase decisions.

Three forces challenging the status quo.

A recent McKinsey article found that the coming year will see an acceleration to disruption coming from three forces—your competition, your customers, and your own supply chain.

Fast-moving digital players eyeing the industry’s trillion-dollar revenue pools have begun to offer more convenience and improved transparency. Paired with this, sophisticated customers armed with new data are demanding deeper discounts and better promotions on more commoditized products.

How to address this: Keep up with your customers and competition.

Transparency, speed, and responsiveness are all imperative to the way you run your business. Whether by thriving in the commoditized environment or by making the shift to provide even more value-add, whichever approach you take needs to be smarter.

With countless customer-SKU combinations and constant margin pressure from manufacturers on one end and customers on the other, it pays to use the right customer data at the right time. The best distributors equip sales staff to act as business partners who can identify customer pain points and co-create business solutions. To make this happen, you need to break down silos and empower your sales staff with the right information at the right time.

The right customer relationship management solution, integrated with your ERP and warehouse management solutions, can go a long way in providing your sales, marketing, and customer service staff with the right information to help customers. Better yet, it can provide your warehouse the ability to fill orders more quickly and ultimately give you more speed if you need to succeed in a commoditized environment. Check out the following resources to learn more:

Finding a way to maintain or increase margins

With increased competition, faster shipping expectations, and continued wage pressure, distributors need to find ways to make sure their products continue to work for them. Your ability to maintain or even increase profit margins in 2020 and beyond will become even more important. Success in the coming decade will rely on your ability to retain customers, replace departing ones, and deliver in a distribution environment that is increasingly transaction focused.

How to address this: Smarter scaling.

There are ways to address this, however. Scale will continue to be an important factor. Scale helps distributors gain purchasing power, create denser delivery routes, optimize warehouse locations, increase coverage of products and sales, and reduce redundancies.

However, knowing how, where, and when to scale is vital. Whether through mergers and acquisitions, focusing on specific products, or expanding your reach, each provides a way to increase margins if approached properly. There are many ways to approach this; an engaged leadership team, well-resourced integration office and functional teams, a rigorous cadence, and careful performance management top the list.

Also imperative to scale? An understanding of your current business. One tool to help you see the bigger picture is through business intelligence. Such a solution can provide better planning and inventory management, increased profit margins, and more control of delivery, accuracy, and customer service. We recently discussed this topic in a blog, ERP and business intelligence in the distribution industry.

New technologies

New data and advances in computing power, data storage, analytics, and mobile platforms are turning industries as varied as music and healthcare upside down. Wholesale distribution is not immune, of course. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are helping the most sophisticated customers and manufacturers use dynamic pricing, predict churn, and optimize workforces and capital.

How to address this: Embrace new technology yourself

While new entrants, current competition, and buyers are leveraging new technology, it’s important to recognize that you’re not excluded from the technological improvements.

Whether it’s in the form of automated warehouse operations to speed up delivery, an investment in the future of autonomous vehicles to replace an increasingly expensive shipping landscape, or software to automate, improve visibility, and increase control, there are many opportunities to stay ahead of the curve in the coming years.

One of the first steps to taking control of your distribution business is to leverage technology that empowers people, provides visibility, and accelerates your business, helping you move faster, identify opportunities for growth, and move on them.

Taking control of your distribution operations with ERP

Finding a flexible, user friendly, and innovative ERP solution can connect your business and help you grow. With the competitive landscape more intense than ever, the right ERP can go a long way in getting your business where you need it to be.

Acumatica provides accurate and timely information, as well as the functionality needed to readily resolve issues and update management and customers. Our modern distribution business software provides true, company-wide inventory data that lets you create proactive, responsive replenishment operations and minimize inventory costs.

As a leading provider of this powerful cloud ERP, NexTec Group can help you implement this software and use it to stand up to the competition in 2020 and beyond. With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.

ERP solutions

Outgrowing QuickBooks: completing an ROI and vendor analysis

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
QuickBooks migration ROI analysis

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

When you’re outgrowing an entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks, you begin to see the signs. The days get longer, the software starts processing a bit slower, and you begin to worry if your reports are as accurate as they should be.

If you’ve begun to notice any of these signs, congratulations, it means your business is growing! However, it also signals that your business needs to take its next steps, moving from accounting software to true enterprise resource planning software.

This is a time when inaction and haste are both risky. Move too slow and the migration process becomes more complex and costly. Move too fast with the wrong vendor or partner and you could face implementation failure—a situation in which you never recoup the investment promised.

Following our last blogs on communicating a change and securing buy-in from your executive team and end users, we would today like to turn our attention to the next step in your ERP journey: ROI and vendor analysis.

Getting the return you need: completing a return on investment (ROI) analysis.

One of the most important stages in the ERP decision journey, the ROI calculation process takes place at two stages for many companies. Early on, many companies will use an ROI calculator to decide whether an ERP upgrade makes sense. Later, you will take the information you receive from vendors in a quote to determine which one will provide you with a product that will pay for itself quickly.

Often, you may need to complete a capital expense justification (return on investment or ROI analysis) before committing to an ERP system. An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to give you a metrics-based argument on whether you can afford to make a move, how quickly such a move will pay for itself, and how much the investment will generate over its life.

This identifies the upfront costs pertaining to the investment, compares ongoing costs for your current and replacement product, and highlights the benefits associated with a decision.

Upfront costs: how much will it cost to purchase and implement a product?

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

Calculating upfront costs will provide you information in pitching executives on a product and will allow you to compare vendors. When looking at ERP costs, include the following:

  • Computer hardware, operating system, database, networking, and tools including installation, startup and testing
  • Application software (ERP) license, installation, tailoring, data conversion/loading
  • Procedure development, testing and documentation
  • User training
  • Vendor and consultation assistance with implementation

A common mistake, however, is the assumption that hardware and licensing costs need to be paid up front. Not anymore. The cloud has lowered the initial costs of an ERP upgrade, greatly reducing the capital expenses that come from a move. Rather, businesses can pay a subscription fee over the life of the product.

Ongoing costs: how do different options stack up?

With an understanding of the implementation costs, now you need to turn your attention to the ongoing costs. A good basis for comparison between potential products, this analysis determines how much it will cost to run an IT department under both, how much each will cost in terms of licensing and maintenance fees, and how much it will cost to expand or extend the system.

Direct benefits of implementing ERP

Often the real selling point of a new ERP system comes from the benefits it provides. An ERP implementation offers direct benefits like cost savings, cost avoidance, revenue and profit. These come from four key areas:

  • Having greater visibility to demand and schedules.
  • Closer management of materials, equipment and personnel.
  • The ability to better manage workflow and production schedules.
  • Greater coordination of resources to efficiently deliver the right products in the right quantities at the right time.

For example, better management of inventory reduces cost of goods sold. It also prevents costs associated with last minute changes.

Indirect benefits of implementing ERP

It also offers a variety of indirect benefits. While productivity, integration, and minimal overtime are great in a cost-savings analysis, they also provide peace of mind for employees. An employee who doesn’t need to toil away for hours on a spreadsheet is going to feel more comfortable. Better accuracy is going to help you make more levelheaded decisions, and anytime access could even reduce the number of workers coming in sick this winter. Learn more about some of the peace of mind benefits of ERP here.

Talking to the right people: finding the right vendor for you.

With dozens of ERP options available, it can be overwhelming to sort through the pros and cons of all of them. Additionally, many vendors provide the same core functionality, making it challenging to find the right vendor.

Functionality may seem like the most basic requirement when looking for a solution. However, it can’t be the only requirement. Software needs to be usable, mature, and able to work with other products—all while offering a support network that can help you.

Functionality: does it do what it’s supposed to do?

One of the most important steps is to speak with users and document the must-have features, the ones you will need in the future, and the ones that are merely nice to have. Understanding what your people need is vital to adoption and necessary for documenting needs.

If you’ve already documented your needs, you will save a lot of time during this stage and be able to focus it on the other four categories.

Maturity: how long have they been in the business?

It’s nice to have the “latest and greatest,” but it’s risky to be on the “bleeding edge” of technology. You should look for a system that has been field tested and proven in actual use… in your industry. Finding a vendor who is both a proven commodity in the industry and one who has continually put its efforts into innovation is necessary for getting what you need—now and in the future. Look for a proven vendor who offers big updates consistently, often twice a year.

A vendor who is in it for the long run.

Your ERP provider will be a partner for the long term, not just a supplier of a product. Be as sure as you can be that they will be around for the long haul. Check their financial stability – do they have the resources to support the product in the coming years? Look at their track record for clues about how well they support customers and improve the product over time. A good place to look for this is through the Gartner Magic Quadrant, an analysis of market presence and ability to execute.

A community of partners ready to make the product work for you.

Look for a community consisting of implementation and consulting partners, satisfied users, as well as user groups, discussion threads and conferences. These resources provide considerable added value beyond what you get from the supplier.

Look for a vendor who has a highly-rated partner program, who puts a lot of effort into empowering partners, and find a partner who has the size and scope to help you. Read this blog to learn more.

Honesty and credibility.

If something sounds too good to be true, it just might be. In today’s cloud market, many vendors have repurposed their products to call them “cloud.” Often, however, these fake cloud products end up providing less than they promise, surprising you with less than adequate support, higher implementation costs, insufficient user training or additional costs for necessary software, services or assistance.

Do your due diligence and get to know the difference between true cloud and fake cloud here.

The journey beyond QuickBooks is a long but rewarding one.

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. However, knowing when and how to make a move is often a challenge, and as mentioned above, both haste and delay are dangerous. However, with the right information and advice, your move from QuickBooks to ERP could be a smooth transition that benefits your business for years or decades.

NexTec can help you understand your options. 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 workcompare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Digital transformation in the distribution industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
digital transformation distribution

Your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

Distribution is a tough business. High levels of competition, shrinking margins, and higher expectations make it easy to feel the pressure. The supply chain is changing and with this, so is the market. And guess what? You’re right in the middle of it.

Remaining competitive in distribution will rely on a variety of tactics and strategies, but if you’re looking to get and stay ahead, you will need to transform your business and find new ways to use data, analytics, and engagement.

For the distribution industry, whose members are already pressured by competition from everyone ranging from traditional competitors to firms including Amazon and Wal-Mart, your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

What is digital transformation?

One of those phrases that has gotten thrown around a lot in recent years has been the term “digital transformation.” A term that could include anything from going paperless in the office to a complete overhaul of the way your business operates, it all starts with understanding how to apply technology—something we discussed in a recent blog.

In the blog, we used definitions from Technopedia, finding that

“Digital transformation is the changes associated with digital technology application and integration into all aspects of human life and society. […] Digital tools and technology are changing how people interact, and in turn this changes how people do business. […] In a more business-related aspect, digital transformation refers to how a company has or is transforming its core business processes using digital technology in order to gain competitive advantage and gain differentiation in its market segment.”

However, there are also challenges for companies in every industry, as too many leaders think it’s both a standard process and a metamorphosis, and that they will walk into work one day with a ‘transformed’ business. This is not the case. Digital transformation not only differs from industry to industry, it differs from company to company.

Early steps for distributors looking to transform

Knowing this, it is helpful to find a starting point and early steps, including the process of identifying where you stand, what technologies you currently have, where you hope to be, and what actions you will need to take to get to your ideal state.

Knowing where your distribution firm and your supply chain stand

As mentioned above, digital transformations are happening at different levels across all industries. As the company who often connects manufacturers or other suppliers to retailers and in turn end users, you have watched both sides adopt new digital technologies in their own ways. While this has likely changed the way you’re working with them, your competitive advantage will be built on your ability to embrace the changes they have put on you.

Addressing this will require you to take a hard look at your current business practices, technologies, and understand how you will fit into the supply chain.

Looking at your technology stack

From the c-suite to the ground-floor employees, every team member should understand why adopting digital technologies, cloud ERP software and emerging technologies (e.g. IoT, AI, robotics, next gen security), is absolutely necessary for being able to exchange data across the organization. This information can then be used to make strategic, effective decisions, meeting modern expectations from across the supply chain, and innovation.

A solid technology foundation and a clear digital strategy—which includes asking the right questions, setting clear goals and the steps to achieving them, getting input from people throughout the organization, and providing ongoing informational and training sessions—will keep the transformation moving forward.

Understanding what you will need

The digital changes also provide a window for distribution companies to rethink business models. Companies need to consider whether they will become disruptive players or are at risk of being disrupted by upstarts or competitors.

For distribution companies, this starts with being able to understand your products better. How did they get there, where are they, and how do you get them to your customers? What’s profitable? How can we do something faster, cheaper, or better than our competitors?

As we discussed in an earlier blog, there are four key components to making a digital transformation a reality: cloud computing, mobile technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics.

Making your move: Acumatica Cloud ERP delivers for distribution

Distribution management is Cloud ERP software that helps companies manage their supply chain and logistics activities, including warehouse management, inventory management, and order management (sales and purchase orders), and integrate these activities with the company’s financials and sales. With Acumatica Cloud ERP, distribution companies can leverage technology that empowers them, improving everything from cost control to order times, supplier relationships to customer satisfaction.

As a leading provider of Acumatica for distribution, NexTec can customize, implement, and integrate the solution, training your users and setting you up for success in a digital world. Get to know more about our work and contact us for a free consultation.

ERP integrations

The power of connections; why integration is a key part of postmodern ERP

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

When speaking with vendors and implementation partners, it’s vital to ask whether the solution will integrate, how easy this can be done, and how automatic the workflows are.

As the speed of business increases, the necessity of finding a solution that works for your business increases as well. However, we no longer live in the one-size-fits-all world of monolithic ERP, and today’s businesses have more options than ever.

Following our last blog on the customization imperative that exists and the reasons postmodern ERP delivers for the unique needs of different industries, we would today like to turn our attention to the other part of customization: Integration.

When customized ERP only gets you close to perfect.

Postmodern ERP solutions like Acumatica are built around the company using the application. Through their industry editions, Acumatica Extensions marketplace, and a well-trained partner base, it’s easy for postmodern ERP solutions to get you 90 or 95 percent of the way to perfect.

Still much better than the “build your business around the product” mentality of the past, the postmodern ERP design allows you to get even more from your solution. However, this requires you to understand the last mile and the potential challenges you will need to overcome when it comes to the concept of postmodern ERP.

This said, if you are prepared to address and partner with a firm ready to overcome the pitfalls that could result from a postmodern ERP initiative, you can ultimately make your job easier.

Challenges in the last mile of a postmodern ERP initiative.

Complexity

Any time something is decentralized—or federated, in the words of Gartner analyst Christy Pettey—you add new layers of complexity to your business. While a solution may be able to do a single task more easily or make one department’s job less stressful, if improperly managed, it sometimes makes other tasks harder.

Complexity doesn’t have to overtake your business—it just needs to be addressed. Think of it like having a two-car wide driveway and buying a third car for your family. If you plan around each person’s schedules, you can avoid any unexpected maneuvering.

To address this, organizations need to understand the landscape of systems they currently have, the ones they intend to implement, and plan on a strategy to overcome the complexity. Often, the process of handling this could be as simple as developing a workflow or finding an integration.

Training

With a varying stack of applications comes multiple user interfaces, workflows, and processes. Though many solutions are more user friendly than ever, and with the right integration these solutions will work together, additional training will likely be required up front to make ongoing use easier.

As part of a larger initiative, you will need to invest in training on a broader range of systems, understanding when updates and changes will come throughout the year and planning for them.

Governance

If data is fragmented, maintaining quality becomes a challenge. This will become even more complex as data sources become more diverse.

To address this, proper governance becomes more important than ever in the postmodern ERP landscape. Ensuring things are in order before you make the move to implement solutions can prevent any unexpected challenges or potential for mismanagement.

Preparing for the move to postmodern ERP

Though many may be focused on the concept of digital transformation, your decision to embrace postmodern ERP will require preparation, planning, and the right partner.

Knowing this, the goal is to understand that systems will be more deconstructed than ever.

Start with a strong core

With postmodern ERP, there is still a core ERP, either as an on-premises or cloud solution, and this core is extended with certain specialist solutions. The core ERP would for example cover such areas as procurement, financials and order management, while special solutions will be implemented to meet specific needs.

In the decision to implement a postmodern ERP strategy, the core ERP product should be a top priority. Not only should the product be both functional and usable to make training easy and processes fast, developers should build the solution understanding that it is not the only product being used.

Understand the importance of integration

When speaking with vendors and implementation partners, it’s vital to ask whether the solution will integrate, how easy this can be done, and how automatic the workflows are. Integration is often an ‘easier said than done’ process for some vendors, and if you’re not prepared for integration initiatives, you can easily lose track of the complexity that exists.

According to Panorama, a vital component to managing pre- and post-integration is the ongoing management. After different components have been integrated, individual solution providers may change a component of their software. If that is the case, a refinement of the original integration may be required.

This makes the importance of finding a partner with the right skills all the more important, as the stack of applications you’re using will be unique to you, and your partner should have the expertise to make this work.

The right vendor, the right partner, the right solution

It’s hard to emphasize just how important a strong, easily integrated core ERP is to the larger solution-based landscape.

For example, one of the most common requirements is to integrate ERP with CRM. While there are many benefits, this is a surprisingly complicated request—especially if you want to use multiple vendors.

Few solutions exist that can provide the flexibility, integration, and functionality growing businesses need, and fewer still exist that are right for your business in the first place.

Acumatica Cloud ERP is built for these two concerns. An ERP solution that can be as broad or as narrow as you need it to be, you can easily connect the product to other necessary products your business needs to thrive.

Finding the right partner to help with your ERP selection, implementation and optimization is critical. NexTec has helped hundreds of customers identify, adopt and use business software solutions that transform companies. Learn more about ERP.

challenges oilfield services ERP software

Common challenges for oilfield services (and how ERP delivers)

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Oilfield Services | No Comments
Common Challenges of Oilfield Services

Even in the past few decades, technology has advanced in the field to increase cost control, efficiency, and reliability. Unfortunately, for many firms, the finance team hasn’t been as lucky.

In today’s competitive, connected, and compliance-focused landscape, running an oilfield services company is often quite a challenge. The backbone of the energy industry and a key player in a variety of others, few industries can say that their products and services are used in some form by every business and consumer that exists—every single day.

Growing demand for oilfield services presents hope and challenges

Whether oil is refined and used for fuel, heating, lubrication, asphalt, or plastics, oilfield services companies can say that they play a vital role in the day-to-day lives of more than seven billion people and will continue to do so for decades or centuries to come. That said, with U.S crude production expected to set annual records through 2027 and remain greater than 14.0 million barrels per day (b/d) through 2040, the market for companies in the oilfield services industry continues to grow and become more competitive.

With increased demand for your company’s services, your ability to remain competitive will rely on your ability to provide continued financial and operational sustainability. Too often, however, the ability to see the big picture becomes much more convoluted when you grow—especially if you are employing manual, disconnected processes.

The risks of avoiding new technology for oilfield services companies

Even in the past few decades, technology has advanced in the field to increase cost control, efficiency, and reliability. Unfortunately, for many firms, the finance team hasn’t been as lucky.

Many firms, either reluctant or opposed to taking on a massive technology project—especially one that doesn’t contribute directly to the services they provide, have fallen behind their competitors who have. In fact, those who feared the risk of an implementation failure have actually set themselves up for risks in other forms.

Disjointed workflows

In the oilfield services world, process is vital—everything needs to happen in a specific order. Sadly, when it comes to things like invoicing, expenses, and financial management, workflows are often disjointed. This becomes even more of a concern for companies working in multiple locations often hundreds of miles apart.

For example, think of the process of approving and billing tickets. How long does it take and how many people have to participate?

Too often, companies like yours rely on a mess of scanners, spreadsheets, and email to process paper field tickets. One slip up along the line—a finger slip when entering a ticket information into a spreadsheet, people who end up working on multiple versions of a spreadsheet, or a missed ticket—means that someone has to backtrack to find out what went wrong and fix it. Worse yet, if the process takes a month or more before the customer even sees (and rejects) an invoice, your team has to go into scramble mode to find and rectify the error.

It goes further than field tickets too, budgeting and planning often relies on the same spreadsheet and email-based communication, it becomes easy to lose track of consumable- and rental-based inventory, and hard to keep track of compliance and more.

Compliance challenges

In today’s world where information travels faster than ever before, noncompliance could be extremely dangerous—not only in the form of cost, but in the form of reputation as well. This is especially true for oilfield services companies who have to answer to a variety of regulatory agencies.

Unfortunately, without the right technology, it becomes quite easy to lose track of your operations and potentially fall out of compliance. Staying on top of risk assessments, testing, incident capture, emissions measures, and hazard monitoring controls is a necessity, but if you’re spending hours or days trying to understand whether or not you are in compliance, you are putting yourself at risk.

Equipment and inventory issues

Whether it’s consumable inventory, tools used in the field, or rented equipment, knowing where everything is, how much it’s being used, and how much revenue something is generating presents a challenge.

You need real-time visibility into the location, rig supply, availability, and utilization of all equipment and tools required for oil drilling and operations. The right technology can help you to keep track of this, but without it, you run the risk of unexpected downtime or stockouts that cut into your margins.

Overcoming oilfield services challenges: How ERP fits in

As the oil and gas industry continues to develop and opportunities to grow your business arise, you need efficient processes in place to remain competitive. Now is the time to remove the obstacles that interfere with your productivity and make sure that your business has the tools it needs to prosper.

NexTec has the industry experience, technical know-how and the solutions to guide you to new heights. We’ll help you select the right software and process that connects your business and gives you the insight you need to make the right moves. We work with world-class technology providers, like Sage, Microsoft and Acumatica, and have a nationwide network of consultants with deep expertise in the oilfield services industry. Get to know more about the benefits of ERP, CRM, and BI technology for the oilfield services industry here, learn more about our services, and contact us for a free consultation.

Executive Priorities Selecting ERP

Five executive priorities for selecting operational ERP

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Executive Priorities Selecting ERP

Discover the current issues faced by executives and priorities they have when looking at new ERP.

In a recent IDC report written to compare ERP vendors on capabilities and strategies, this analyst firm provided additional insight into the market and the technological landscape, exploring the changes driven by digital transformation, the power of the cloud, advice for technology buyers, and the topic we will discuss today: Current issues faced by executives and priorities they have when looking at new ERP.

Five issues that executives seek to address with the help of operational ERP

For product-centric organizations including those in manufacturing, distribution, and retail, operational ERP is a necessity, providing ease-of-use and automation for a variety of business processes. In this, modules need to integrate across the organization to provide executives and leaders with information about product flow, cash flow, timeliness, and more, incorporating order management, finance, procurement, enterprise asset management (EAM), manufacturing, and supply chain, among others.

This type of product is focused on delivering efficiency across the entire organization by combining finance software with other key modules to provide a complete product focused on connecting operational transactions with a financial impact so that they are reflected directly in financial modules.

In the report, titled Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Operational ERP Applications 2019, IDC mentions these five priorities for executives in 2019 and beyond:

1. Key metrics: Knowing what, where, and why

When it comes to running your business, the basic numbers only go so far. Yes, your ability to track revenue, profits, and inventory accurately is important, but key decisions rely on more than just financial metrics. If you want to drive more productivity at your organization, you need to have the right information at the right time delivered to the right people.

Productivity improvements from shop floor to supply chain to enterprise end-to-end business processes were critical. In addition, inventory accuracy, booked versus billing ratios, and customer on-time deliveries were the metrics mentioned the most in operational ERP systems.

Whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, or retail, the right key performance indicators (KPIs) can inform your people, allowing them to make smarter decisions faster. In a recent series of whitepapers, Acumatica discussed which metrics matter for companies like yours. We invite you to read their Key Performance Indicators for Manufacturing and Key Performance Indicators for Distribution here.

2. Ridding yourself of manual processes and making your workflows work

For too many businesses, workflows just don’t work. Reports have to pass through numerous departments, with collaboration relying on email, resulting in numerous document versions and inaccuracies that need to be reconciled before anything can be done.

Today, there are still thousands of companies of all sizes with many manual workflows. As a result, the operational and financial processes used to run the business become exceedingly inefficient — consuming precious resources and returning delayed approvals, with a multitude of errors. Moreover, manually driven processes within operations can lead to inflexibility and a lack of agility, which can be extremely harmful to a company’s ability to maneuver in the increasingly dynamic digital economy.

As this moves forward, businesses are opting to automate and integrate processes, with an eye toward artificial intelligence as one way to find operational efficiency in workflow design.

3. Visibility issues from retracing steps

You can’t move ahead if every step forward that you take requires you to take two steps back. Paired with workflow automation and easy measurement, your ability to see where your company is heading relies on coherence, consistency, and confidence.

Operations and finance executives do not have time to retrace their steps in an effort to find lost transactions and errors and/or verify previous transactions. This leads to operational resources spending extra time looking backward instead of at current information and modeling it for the future for the best possible outcomes.

Operational ERP presents data in a usable way, minimizing the retracing and simplifying the verification process, allowing your organization better visibility and in turn, improved decisions.

4. Resource constraints: Doing more with what you have

Just because your business grows doesn’t mean your costs should grow as fast or faster.

In many growing companies, operations professionals are being asked to do more with less, and in many cases, legacy systems add to the workload instead of reducing it.

In the age of digital, employees need to rely on their technology systems to do more so they can spend more time modeling, predicting the future, and bringing better business outcomes. One such example of this ability to deliver technology that doesn’t drive up costs is the resource-based pricing model employed by Acumatica, in which companies are not charged by the number of users on the platform, but the amount of resources used. This helps companies to save money no matter how fast they are growing.

5. Take advantage of the opportunities afforded to you

Companies with inefficient operational and financial processes not only risk doing damage to their reputations, but they also often lose opportunities to take advantage of early payment discounts, cost savings, and efficient processes.

Operational ERP removes these barriers, giving companies the ability to make decisions faster and ultimately capitalize on opportunities that exist. Acting faster with better information gives companies like yours a competitive edge.

Acumatica Cloud ERP: Delivering operational efficiency for today’s business

If you are in the market for a modern enterprise resource planning solution designed for today’s product-based business, you have many options available, but one of the leading options according to end users and analysts alike is Acumatica. Built in the cloud for growing businesses like yours, Acumatica delivers the flexibility, technology, and automation you need to thrive in the age of digital.

NexTec is a leading provider of this powerful ERP solution and has helped companies like yours to implement and successfully use Acumatica. We invite you to download the entire IDC MarketScape here and contact us for a free consultation.

Group of three colleagues discussing architectural plans.

ERP for Professional services businesses? 4 Reasons the answer is yes.

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Professional Services | No Comments
Group of three colleagues discussing architectural plans together.

Architectural firms and other professional services businesses need business management software that scales, improves communication and drives efficiency.

Professional services organizations such as law practices, accounting businesses, engineering companies or architectural firms gain significant benefits from having an effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

Choosing an ERP that provides greater operations visibility, better communication and easier financial reporting lets principals and other staff to focus on core work.

Are you wondering whether it’s the time to invest in an ERP for professional services businesses? Four reasons why the answer is “yes” are below.

1. Operational visibility

With a professional services ERP, your firm will have a “single source of truth.” All users across the business will be using and reporting on the same data and documents. Siloed work disappears with a unified solution. This means essential functions such as project finances, resource scheduling, KPI reporting and other critical operations are consistent and synchronized with real-time data.

2. Improved communication

Using a central ERP provides for instant and seamless communication among employees and with clients. With continuous connectivity, employees can communicate with each other and clients across locations internationally. Access to data on mobile devices via apps helps external and in-office staff to collaborate in real time to boost reaction time to client inquiries or concerns. Reporting tools give you a complete view of the client relationship, no matter with whome they are interacting.

3. Accurate financial reporting

With data fed from decentralized sources into an integrated ERP, financial reporting is more accurate and timely. With all transactional, contact and outcomes data in one system, key stakeholders have a complete and consistent view of firm finances. On-demand reports provide needed information in the moment to provide accurate revenue, cost and profit information.

4. Flexibility and scalability

You need an ERP that can adjust to increases in demand or additional services. With a professional services ERP, you can adapt to changing market conditions or customer demands quickly by adding capacity or new features. You want a solution that will not slow down your growth plans but complement them.

Desktop with judges gavel and brass scale.

Acumatica’s ERP for professional services helps firms deliver on client expectations.

An ERP built for professional services firms

Acumatica’s ERP for professional services is built to address some of the most pressing challenges facing your business, including:

  • Maintaining strong relationships with clients
  • Bidding on and closing on new work
  • Delivering projects on time and on budget
  • Meeting growing client demands for more services
  • Offering competitive prices while maintaining strong profit margins

With Acumatica, you’ll have access to a suite of integrated tools designed to address key needs for your firm. Among core features are:

  • Customer Relationship Management. Sales automation, integrated marketing and a customer self-support portal give tools to serve clients better. Get a complete 360-degree view of your business with integrated financials, marketing and service.
  • Time and Expense Management. Track time spent for clients, employees, contracts and projects with mobile time entry capabilities.
  • Business Intelligence. Reporting tools drawing on real-time data for insights on projects, clients and KPIs.
  • Integrated Financials. Manage your entire financial department within the ERP, using a single source of truth for general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, deferred revenue, tax management and human resources.

Integrating your company’s operations in an ERP designed to address critical industry needs is why so many professional services firms choose Acumatica. At NexTec, we help companies identify the right business software, develop an implementation plan, and optimize your investment. Find out how Acumatica stacks up against the leading systems on the market in this free report.

industry ERP editions

The right ERP for your industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Executive Priorities Operational ERP

ERP products are easier to integrate and customize for the unique needs of an industry, reducing the reliance on the traditional niche vendors.

When people talk about industry-focused solutions, what do they mean? A basic product with a couple modifications or a truly customized solution? The ERP market has evolved and it’s no longer an either-or dilemma—you can find a solution for your unique niche even from products that didn’t set out with your industry as the only focus.

How the market evolved

Considering the sheer age of the software landscape—solutions designed to control finance and operational processes have been around for the past half-century—the design and delivery of products has evolved. Calculating machines of the 1940s gave way to Material Requirements Planning (MRP) in the 1970s, MRP-II in the 80s, and initial ERP applications in the 90s.

The move from function-oriented to all-inclusive creates niche products

Looking at this history, you’ll notice that initial solutions were designed for a specific process. MRP did what it needed to do, using the technology of the time to complete a specific function. Time passed, processing power increased, and products became more centralized.

The rise of consolidated suite-based solutions in the 90s also created a market for niche products—while generic ERP suites offered generalized functionality, medium and large businesses could find industry- and niche-specific products. Designed with a specific business user in mind, these provided depth in specific areas and the companies who sold these products spoke the language of the industry.

The move from niche to postmodern ERP

The market again evolved, due in part to technological advancements and industry consolidations. By the mid-2000s, companies were able to provide better, more focused versions of generic ERP, and by the early 2010s, the concept of “postmodern ERP” came into play. These products are easier to integrate and customize for the unique needs of an industry, reducing the reliance on the traditional niche vendors.

Today’s products: More customizable and integrated than ever

While many niche ERP vendors still exist, they no longer hold the same allure as today’s cloud solutions. Flexible, customizable, and ready to work with a variety of third-party solutions, postmodern ERP solutions are deconstructed into personalized sets of integrated business functions.

Like the best-in-breed approach, the goal is to use the best applications possible in each area of a business. However, like the modern suite-approach, the applications must integrate with each other, as tightly or loosely as necessary, to preserve data integrity. This flexible approach allows for quick, easy customization of their cloud ERP system.

Added to this, thanks to vendors’ channel partners, customers still get the depth, experience, and expertise from people who speak the industry lingo and know how to make the product work for a specific company.

Acumatica Cloud ERP: ‘Building blocks’ make industry-specific products easier than ever

One of the top solutions used by businesses today for the exact reasons mentioned above is Acumatica Cloud ERP. Not only is it designed as a powerful solution that can ‘do it all’ for businesses, the company improves its products with industry editions that allow you to get a product ready for your unique niche. This is done in four ways:

Industry editions

Acumatica starts with a strong core. However, the thing that makes Acumatica unique is the unique industry editions. In this, Acumatica’s flexibility extends beyond the adaptability of the functionality and deployment, into deciding what suites of Acumatica ERP to license.

Industry editions are a starting point for the rest of the product, allowing businesses to choose one of six suites from which the product is customized. Each of these—General business, distribution, manufacturing, construction, commerce, and field service—offer core functionality included in the suite but allow for the addition of nearly any other module for another.

For example, a distribution company can start with Acumatica Distribution Edition, but could just as easily add commerce integrations or warehouse management from the outset or whenever they need to add it. Learn how Acumatica can be tailored to your unique business needs here.

Acumatica extensions

While industry editions provide a great starting point, there are likely scenarios in which you may need to use a product you already have or a solution you may want to use. Through their marketplace, Acumatica Extensions, companies interested in out of the box solutions can find the connectors and integrations they need.

Partner-developed integrations

Maybe the industry editions and the marketplace aren’t enough; Acumatica is ready for that as well. Acumatica empowers its developer network by providing them with the tools and code base to create integrations as tight or as loose as your business needs. Need a Salesforce-Acumatica integration? Not a problem. Acumatica Partners have the skills to build the products you need.

The right partner

While all of this may sound great, many may still be on the fence on leaving an industry-specific ERP for one reason—the knowledge. Companies who focus on industry-specific ERP specialize in that market, and you may think that your average VAR can’t match it. Not true.

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. With this vast, diverse network of focused partners, you are easily able to find the 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.

NexTec knows how to help you and has the skills to work with your business—no matter how unique your needs. Get to know more about the work we do and contact us for a free consultation.