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Chuck Oliver

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4 Supply chain trends and how the right ERP helps businesses prepare

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Man with a red hard hat and clipboard.

To improve the efficacy of your supply chain, you need an ERP solution that can deliver data and insights in real time.

Businesses looking to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs often focus on supply chain improvements. In 2019, that means taking a closer look at integrating new technologies, providing more transparency and changes in customer channels.

To achieve optimal supply chain management, businesses need the right enterprise resource planning software solution. Here’s a look at 4 supply chain trends and how the right ERP helps businesses prepare.

1. Increased transparency. Business leaders today need real-time analytics and reports on the state of operations. To achieve this level of detail, companies need data transparency at all stages of the supply chain, driven by an ERP that collects and presents data in the moment of need. Visibility allows leaders to respond to problems faster, anticipate and prevent issues, and gain short- and long-term insights.

2. New customer channels. Businesses across industries are shifting from retail channels to direct-to-consumer selling. That means having a different approach to supply chains, including accurate inventory and distribution systems integrated with sales, marketing and customer service. The right ERP provides those system and data integrations to delight customers. That means added pressure on employees and drivers to increase perfect-order rates, with deliveries arriving on time to the right location and with the right contents.

Man controlling machinery with a tablet.

Automation and augmented reality tied to ERP data and processes are increasingly common in supply chain components.

3. Integrated technologies. Companies continue to need ERP solutions that use and integrate emerging technology into the supply chain. Among the ERP-related technologies emerging this year are:

  • Artificial intelligence. Self-learning tools need to generate, analyze, connect and report on multiple supply chain components. Data drawn from customers, objects, interactions and processes need to be available and usable within an ERP system.
  • Immersive technology. Virtual and augmented realities have applications across the supply chain, from logistics to manufacturing to warehousing. Wearable tech, such as smart glasses, can feed data to and from an ERP to improve and accelerate picking and packaging.
  • Data visualization. Collecting the data from the supply chain is one thing. It’s another to have the information presented and stored in your ERP in such a way that cogent decisions can be made in real time.
  • Automation. As more drones, robots, chatbots and machines are used within the supply chain, there are tremendous opportunities for cost savings and faster operations. Automation needs accurate data and processes generated by your ERP to be fully effective.

4. Process flexibility. Logistics is becoming more elastic, as companies deploy flexible solutions to respond to market fluctuations and seasonal variances. That means on-demand warehousing and on-demand logistics that require accurate, updatable and configurable ERP solutions.

Choosing the right supply chain ERP

Acumatica delivers ERP solutions that serve your industry and your needs. It has won consecutive annual (2018 and 2017) SIIA CODiE Awards for Best Cloud ERP Solution, recognizing the products that display technological excellence and innovation. In 2018, it was also named Best Manufacturing Solution and two years prior was named Best Supply Chain Management Solution.

Selecting and optimizing your ERP solution requires a steady hand. At NexTec, we help companies identify ERP needs, choose the right product and implement the solution. To learn more about how NexTec and Acumatica give your business supply chain management mastery, take the Acumatica software tour.

Artificial intelligence: What does it mean for ERP?

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Artificial Intelligence and ERP

Whether it allows for better support through natural language processing, faster analysis and smarter decision making, or more productivity at your workforce, the introduction of AI technology into ERP is something that will deliver benefits in the near and long-term.

One of the hottest topics in the business and technological world right now is the rise of artificial intelligence. Set to transform every aspect of society, business, and industry, companies continue to innovate, and we are approaching an AI-driven world at breakneck speed. But how will AI—and its ability to learn (machine learning) affect the future of business, finance, and decision-making? How will it fit into an ERP strategy?

A brief primer on artificial intelligence

Two of the most-hyped terms since the rise of cloud computing in the 2010s have been artificial intelligence and machine learning. Applying efficiency to business operations through automation of boring and repetitive tasks, AI can analyze and present information on vast swaths of data and do so in much less time than a human.

However, there are many different ways to apply AI to different tasks, with one of the most important of these being the financial world.

More than hype

The tech industry is no stranger to hype—neither is finance. However, as businesses and finance teams process an ever-expanding amount of data, humans are becoming less and less efficient at tracking, measuring, and analyzing it. As the speed of business increases, however, companies are turning to robots for the ‘grunt work’ in the finance department and empowering people to do more with the information they have available—all as a result of artificial intelligence.

Capabilities like data integration and blending, data catalog, data preparation, data enrichment, governance, discovery, and visualization, are now designed as a modern continuum to support enhanced business decisions.

The many ‘flavors’ of artificial intelligence

As it continues to expand, there are many ‘flavors’ of AI coming into play that will change the way your software operates now and in the future. According to the Harvard Business Review, there are currently seven key areas in which AI is gaining a foothold:

Robotic process automation (RPA)

The automation of basic tasks using business logic and rules. RPA “bots” are used for highly repetitive tasks such as those used to process transactions, manipulate data, respond to queries, and communicate with other systems. Some question whether RPA qualifies as AI. Under the above definition, it does.

Machine learning: Getting robots to think like humans

Machine learning is a key subset of AI, which originated with the idea that machines could be taught to learn in ways similar to how humans learn.

A way of achieving AI without complex programming, rules, and decision trees. Instead, with machine learning, data—often in very large amounts—is fed into an algorithm so the algorithm can train itself and learn.

Deep learning

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning. It uses some ML techniques to solve real-world problems by tapping into neural networks that simulate human decision-making. Deep artificial neural networks are a set of algorithms that have set new records in accuracy for many important problems, such as image recognition, sound recognition, recommender systems, etc.

Computer vision

A field of artificial intelligence that trains computers to interpret and understand the visual world. Using digital images and deep learning models, machines can accurately identify and classify objects—and then react to what they “see.”

Natural language processing (NLP)

A subset of AI that helps computers understand, interpret, and manipulate human language.

Explainable AI

Machine learning techniques that make it possible for human users to understand, appropriately trust, and effectively manage AI. Various organizations, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, are working on this.

AIOps

A term coined by Gartner to refer to technology platforms that automate and enhance IT operations by

  1. using analytics and machine learning to analyze big data collected from various IT operations tools and devices in order to
  2. automatically spot and react to issues in real time.

How AI will affect Enterprise Resource Planning

Although set to enter nearly every aspect of personal and professional lives, ERP vendors have recently begun to integrate AI into their products. Whether it allows for better support through natural language processing, faster analysis and smarter decision making, or more productivity and happiness at your workforce, the introduction of AI technology into ERP is something that will deliver benefits in the near and long-term.

From RPA to AI

Based on a survey of 64 corporate controllers at companies with greater than $1 billion in revenue, Gartner found that 50% of controllers and their teams are either in the process of implementing RPA (31%) or are in what it calls “operational” mode (19%). And within just two years, Gartner expects 88% of such controllership functions to be in one of those two buckets.

However, it’s much bigger than that. McKinsey found that the activity is not confined to large companies—businesses across the size spectrum are piloting this flexible, promising software to automate workflows like procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, and record-to-report.

Depending on the scenario, robotic process automation may or may not be included officially as a part of AI, but did play a major role in getting vendors to where they are today. RPA is designed for business-rules-based, non-subjective, repetitive tasks; AI does more.

Making AI work for you

As you look toward the future, AI should be at least on the CFO radar—even if your only foray into it is through embedded AI. AI uses the power of today’s computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. ML uses algorithms that allow financial software applications to learn by being trained to identify key patterns. Both have matured to the point where now they have become key financial management technologies used by the modern CFO.

While most ERP systems feature dashboards that can provide real-time information on everything from inventory turnover to employee productivity, dashboards can’t tell you when to re-order inventory or hire your next employee. This is where AI and ML can be an essential tool. Using your ERP system, you can quickly gather data and generate reports with the push of a button. But ML can take data gathering one step further and help CFOs reduce repetitive tasks and make more strategic business decisions.

Choosing an ERP with the future in mind

When it comes to selecting ERP, you are looking for a product that will last you up to, and possibly exceeding, a decade—something that grows with your business and positions your company for success. While many companies have forayed into the AI world, Acumatica Cloud ERP is actively evolving their AI platform. As demoed at Acumatica Summit 2019, the company continues to improve AI skills and with their recent acquisition by EQT Partners, will have the backing of a powerhouse and code base of another ERP vendor focused on ERP—IFS.

It’s an exciting time for ERP, and if you are looking to find your way into the cloud and onto an intelligent ERP platform, we invite you to learn more about Acumatica and NexTec.

NexTec Group is proud to work with Acumatica to deliver this powerful solution for our customers. As one of the leading partners, we have the skills to customize and deliver Acumatica, no matter your size, focus, or complexity. Get to know more about the updatethe product, and our work with Acumatica, and when you’re ready to learn more, contact us for a free consultation.

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

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

Throughout the C-suite, you may have individuals who are skeptical of a software upgrade. This is especially true if the executives have never been part of an organization that used a solution beyond QuickBooks.

In the move from accounting software to Enterprise Resource Planning, it’s incredibly likely that you will face pushback, distraction, or other challenges. It’s an exciting time for your organization (you’re growing), but it can also be a stressful one (you’re about to embark on a major software project). These two competing factors often present challenges. However, if you can take the right steps leading up to an implementation, you will save yourself time and headaches.

Following our previous blogs documenting the warning signs and communications initiatives you should take on your path to fully-functional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, we would today like to explore a couple of the hardest and most crucial steps on the journey: Securing executive buy-in.

Pitching the investment: Securing executive approval for an ERP project

Companies start out with QuickBooks for a variety of reasons. It’s familiar for users and makes it easy if you choose to outsource your accounting work. It gives your first few accounting users a reasonably functional accounting solution for small business needs. Small businesses could buy and implement the software in an afternoon.

Most importantly for companies just starting out, however, is that it’s insanely affordable. As an accounting software, it’s not meant to do everything an ERP solution does.

Accounting software like QuickBooks is affordable in the same way that a studio apartment is more affordable than a three-bedroom house. Both offer a roof and walls, but each serves a different purpose. ERP software is the three-bedroom house. It does more, is ready for growth, and ultimately provides more comfort and utility.

Challenges in securing executive buy-in

Selling the idea to executives is a challenge, however. While you may know the struggles faced by end users, the extra hours it takes to generate a basic report, and the frustration experienced trying to bring everything into a spreadsheet, when you’re trying to pitch someone who isn’t on the front lines, they may not see the same value in an ERP investment as you. This is especially true if the executives have never been part of an organization that used a solution beyond QuickBooks or worse, have seen an ERP project fail.

Throughout the C-suite, you may have individuals who are skeptical of a software upgrade.

For example, your CEO, known for his or her big picture ideas, may not use the accounting software. The CMO may have his or her own agenda and feel that the organization should look towards something for the front office before the back office. The CFO, responsible as the gatekeeper and steward at the organization, may not feel the investment is worth the cost.

Getting the C-suite on board: Different rationales require different tactics

While all of these individuals (and others) may be skeptical, they are also among the biggest beneficiaries of ERP. Selling each of these is a process.

Convincing the CEO: Readily available insights

The CEO may not use accounting software. However, he or she would benefit greatly from real-time, customized dashboards that can present exactly where the company is. No more asking for a report and waiting hours or days to see it. Simply log in and see the big picture metrics.

Selling the CMO: Integration makes everyone’s job easier

The CMO might feel that the sales and marketing departments should be the top priority when it comes to business management software and think ERP is just fancy accounting software. Not the case. Today’s ERP includes or is designed to integrate with CRM, inventory, and business intelligence tools.

With accounting standards like ASC 606 impacting the entire company and requiring increased attention to the way contracts are managed, alignment between finance and sales will become an imperative. A simplified quote-to-cash process and easy performance obligation tracking will save the entire organization time.

Facing down the CFO: Improve finance productivity and satisfaction

While in many cases, the decision to move from accounting software to ERP is made by a CFO looking to make finance better equipped for company growth, sometimes you still need to do a bit of selling. In recent years, the role of the CFO has continued to evolve, and as the company grows, the responsibilities will continue to add up. CFOs are moving into operations, risk management, and more.

Now, rather than being the head accountant and chief of the ‘no department’, the CFO needs to increase visibility, control, and decision-making—three things ERP is known to help with. Added to this, the move to ERP Is going to save time for many people in the organization, including the finance department. With a current talent shortage in finance and accounting, a move to ERP will result in fewer late nights at the office and more satisfaction.

Informing the CIO: More security, less scud work

Another person who may be a driver of an ERP decision, the CIO may also be the person pushing back against a software change. The most likely of the group to have read an ERP implementation horror story or to have experienced failed software implementations previously, getting the CIO on board is either incredibly easy or annoyingly complicated.

Whether there’s pushback against the cloud or against the risk that comes from a complex software implementation, the CIO is another one to benefit from the move to ERP—especially in the cloud. Inherently more secure, cloud ERP will reduce the risk that the IT department faces. Added to this, cloud ERP is designed to reduce the amount of maintenance that the IT department has to accomplish, making for less time spent troubleshooting servers or hand coding and maintaining integrations.

Reel in the buy-in: Take time to talk ROI

While you may have everyone on board with the benefits of upgrading from QuickBooks or any other entry level accounting software, if you’re not talking about the costs associated with the benefits, you’re just pitching a pipedream. This is where ROI comes in.

Justifying a large expenditure requires estimating the cost of the investment, from licensing and implementing it to training users and maintaining the system. Cost (and timeframes) can be gleaned from your ERP vendor. The total cost is then weighed against the benefits of a new system.

Whether it’s in the form of reduced costs, better access to business opportunities, or improvements to employee and customer satisfaction, the decision to implement ERP often presents real, measurable benefits for your company.

In addition to the measurable financial benefits of a move to cloud ERP, you likely can present additional benefits—both tangible and intangible:

  • Improved customer satisfaction with faster response times
  • Increased data analysis and visibility for better decision making,
  • Improved employee productivity through more comprehensive and intuitive workflows.
  • Centralizing documentation online for constant availability of a single source of truth
  • Minimizing Accounts Receivable days outstanding

Calculating ROI should be done at a couple points in the ERP decision, but to get a high level overview of the benefits (without sending out for quotes from vendors), this free calculator from Acumatica will help you to understand the value of making a move to ERP, comparing it with your current expenditures. Simply enter a couple numbers about expenditures today, and it will help you to understand whether a move is beneficial.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

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

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

Cloud Digital Transformation

The role of the cloud in digital transformation

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Cloud | No Comments
Cloud Digital Transformation

Companies that succeed in digital transformation have plotted their course along two dimensions—operational efficiency and customer experience.

It’s a term that could mean anything from ‘going paperless’ to ‘changing the way your business operates’. It affects everything from intraorganizational communications to the way you work with suppliers and customers. It is digital transformation and it’s something many organizations are either late to the game on or struggling to catch up with.

Defining digital transformation

Business leaders expect and demand certainty, and any form of transformation is inherently uncertain. However, when it comes to planning the long-term goals of a company, knowing how, when, and why you need to take risks and dive into uncertainty is necessary for growth. The path to and through digital transformation is one of those risks, and in fact, it’s even more risky to ignore transformation than it is to embrace it. So… What is digital transformation?

What defines digital transformation?

There are many ways to define digital transformation, but nearly all of them revolve around doing more for your business by leveraging technology.

According to Techopedia,

“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.”

Wikipedia adds that “Digital Transformation (DX) is the novel use of digital technology to solve traditional problems. These digital solutions enable inherently new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.

Challenges in defining the term

Like many terms dismissed as jargon, the reason companies fail to embrace digital transformation is because digital transformation journeys rarely follow the same path from company to company and have no clear endpoint.

Digital transformation isn’t a standard process

A digital transformation journey is going to look different for your company than it will for a competitor—even if you are in the same industry or have similar revenues or valuations. Some companies are much closer to digitizing processes and others are still much further away, making it hard to deliver exact steps. Knowing this, there are general focuses and goals present for all companies looking to transform their business, some of which we will discuss below.

Digital transformation has no endpoint

Added to the fact that there is no clear starting point, there also isn’t a clear endpoint. The thing about digital transformation is that it’s not a ‘caterpillar and butterfly’ metamorphosis. You’re not going to walk in one Monday and be transformed. Think of digital transformation more as a snowball rolling down a hill—it gets bigger and moves faster as it gains momentum.

In essence, digital transformation means that you are moving faster and embracing more digitalization than the status quo and are able to do more than your competitors. However, as businesses move faster, it becomes harder to catch and keep up if you don’t take steps in the right direction.

Two key components on the road to digital transformation

As mentioned, it’s hard to make a plan for something with no starting or ending point. However, recent MIT research found that companies that succeed in digital transformation have plotted their course along two dimensions—operational efficiency and customer experience.

“They knew they had to become great in operational efficiency: increasing automation, standardization, reuse and productivity. And at the same time, they were really ramping up on their customer experience,” said MIT research scientist Stephanie Woerner, who works on business transformation at MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) with Chairman Peter Weill.  In other words, digitally transformed companies are “ambidextrous,” she said — both efficient and big on customer delight.

Woerner goes on to explain the four quadrants of digital transformation and four pathways to success:

  • Focus on a platform and make solution-based decisions.
  • Encourage a minimum viable product approach and think like an early stage company looking for promoters, not just customers.
  • Keep your team on the same page by providing the right information at the right time to the right people using dashboards.
  • Focus on agility, making big changes with big ideas.

Many ways to the end goal, but the first step is the cloud

As you look to transform your business, the process may seem complex. However, one of the best steps toward a transformed business is to find a solution-based product that can deliver the platform you need, offer dashboards, allow your business to focus on customer experience, and ultimately get your business on the right path quickly.

In a recent whitepaper from Mint Jutras, this leading analyst firm explored the path to digital transformation and the value of acting now. This guide, “Digital Transformation: It’s Time to Develop a Sense of Urgency,” will discuss:

  • Why technology adoption is like a hip replacement, not brain surgery.
  • How technology is leveling the playing field for smaller companies.
  • Why it’s dangerous not to be concerned about disruption.
  • The surprising truth about spreadsheet-dependency in today’s companies.
  • Shocking stats on how few companies have invested in digital.

Click here to download this free guide, courtesy of Acumatica.

At NexTec, we have spent decades helping businesses like yours to leverage the right technology to and through their digital transformation journeys. While one single solution may not be a cure-all for your entire business needs, one of the best places to start is to leverage ERP solutions that can deliver better results and more visibility. Get to know more about our work and contact us for a free consultation.

Acumatica Innovation Mint Jutras Report

A look at the ongoing innovations from Acumatica: Mint Jutras Report

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Acumatica Innovations Mint Jutras Report

Get to know more about Acumatica’s path to innovation by downloading the Mint Jutras report.

With 5,000 new customers in just over a decade of operation, Acumatica has continued to deliver innovation for its customers and prospects.

Whether that’s in user-requested functionality or by looking at new ways to push the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market with things users didn’t even know they needed, Acumatica has worked hard to avoid the complacency that comes with success, according to a recent report from ERP analyst Mint Jutras.

Following our recent blogs highlighting what the company has done: enhancements and innovations delivered in Acumatica 2019 R1 and the announcement of the company’s Alexa for Business skill that gives users the power to check inventory, look up and approve expenses, and even update CRM, we would today like to look at how they approach innovation.

Collaborate, innovate, accelerate: A different approach to innovation

Since the advent of cloud business applications two decades ago, the competition moved from ‘doing things well’ to ‘doing things better.’ Offering a centralized hosting environment for customers, vendors could update software more easily. Rather than offering one or two updates throughout the life of a product’s license, early entrants like Salesforce created a new way of delivering innovation.

Acumatica, who launched in 2007, followed along in this light, delivering twice-yearly updates to their ERP product while continuing to make their product more viable on their path to market leadership. However, this alone wasn’t what made the company more innovative than competitors—nearly all cloud vendors deliver updates two or more times per year.

What truly allowed the company to deliver, according to Mint Jutras, was their ability to remain forward-thinking while being aggressively customer focused. Due in part to their unique 100% partner model, the company can put seventy-four percent of their staff into their research and development department. This gives them more flexibility to deliver on many levels, not only responding to requests but planning for what’s next.

The “ideas” site

The basic expectation of any software vendor is its ability to listen to customers. Whether this comes in the form of support requests or an “Ideas” website, the company keeps an ear to the ground on ways they can improve the product. However, this is a strategy employed by a variety of providers—what really matters is the engagement that exists on such a platform and the vendor’s ability to react.

Focus groups and face to face discussions

While nearly three-quarters of Acumatica’s staff is focused on developing enhancements, they also take steps to see what customers want in person. Mint Jutras notes in their report that Acumatica is known to conduct focus groups and send top level executives and developers to see how customers use their product.

This is the first area in which the company looks to go above and beyond—a tactic that has led to many innovations including the Acumatica CRM Plugin for Microsoft Outlook, a seemingly simple feature that saves a surprising amount of time transferring information from email to CRM.

Meetings like this often highlight ways to make the product more intuitive. For example, the “side panel” delivered another profoundly intelligent enhancement. This allowed a user to check information without having to close navigate away from what he or she was working on to open another window.

Relying on partners

One of the biggest problems with the software landscape—and one largely fixed by Acumatica’s partner model— is competition of partners. However, with no worry that the vendor will “steal a sale,” VARs, ISVs, and OEMs have found a place and felt more comfortable delivering innovations and updates to improve the product and provide the company insight into making Acumatica better. In fact, NexTec works with a variety of ISV partners known for making  Acumatica even better.

Asking “what’s next?”

Few companies can thrive by being reactive, delivering on what customers need and failing to plan for the next steps. Imagine Apple without Siri. As noted in the report, “customers never asked Apple for natural language processing and machine learning. […] Nobody said, ‘I’m not buying an iPhone unless I can talk to it.”

The key to any innovation is determining what’s going to be indispensable in the future and offering it before it’s necessary. New technologies, like machine learning, are already making their way into applications, and it’s on a software provider, like Acumatica, to offer it early so that they can refine the product before it becomes the status quo.

This is where Acumatica is delivering, looking at the next levels of AI and ML technologies to develop products with zero-touch automation, interactive assistance, and intelligent advisor technology.

Getting what you need, finding what you want: Acumatica innovation, NexTec service

Acumatica is constantly focused on delivering not only what current customers need but finding out what potential customers want in the coming months or years. However, before you can leverage advancements in ERP technology, you need to find the right partner who can take you there.

NexTec Group has an established history working with Acumatica to deliver a customized, tailored product that improves your business decisions and allows you to understand what’s next for your company. Get to know more about Acumatica’s path to innovation by downloading the Mint Jutras report, The Push and Pull of Acumatica’s Cloud ERP Innovation, read about the work we do for customers like you, and contact us for a consultation.

Outgrowing QuickBooks

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

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

Getting to know what your users want from your QuickBooks replacement will do two things. Not only will this help you to weed out certain products from the outset, it will help to increase optimism about the project.

When you outgrow entry-level software like QuickBooks, you know it. Your business starts to slow down, the lights at your office stay on a bit later each month, and you begin to worry if everything is accurate.

Following our last blog on the major warning signs that QuickBooks is failing to deliver for your business needs—namely spreadsheets, lack of visibility and auditability, and data instability—we would today like to turn our attention to your company’s first step in leading the charge to a new, viable, and innovative ERP solution: Communication.

Start talking with users

QuickBooks is built for simplicity and ease of use. Used by tens of millions of users at millions of small businesses worldwide, the company’s success in this market is also the reason it’s often hard to convince people it’s time to move on—many users haven’t seen better options.  For these users, manual and spreadsheet-laden processes and software crashes are considered part of life, and few people have seen the alternatives or next steps for growing businesses.

QuickBooks is familiar, and the reality is that there’s probably more than one person on your staff who has never used a different accounting solution. Change is stressful, and while the thought of more automation, flexibility, and functionality may be welcomed by some, others may dread or even fear the change.

To address this, you need to speak with (and listen to) those who use the product. Your goal here is not just to “rally the troops,” but to understand their concerns and get to know what features their ideal solution will have.

Rally the troops

Throughout the ERP implementation process, there will be many things that could lower morale and ultimately derail the project. Knowing this, it pays to start off with high—but tempered—hopes. Help users to understand that despite the challenges and stress that may come about throughout the implementation process, the company is moving to something better.

Allay fears

While many of your users will be optimistic about the move to automated and advanced software, some may fear for their livelihoods. Just as in the Industrial Revolution, people fear that automation would replace them, and the same fears pop up when you decide to move beyond QuickBooks. As you begin to communicate your company’s decision to select and implement new software, it’s vital to remind these people that these fears are unfounded.

Automation is going to give your people more freedom to help the business. Without the manual processes that exist, your team will have more time to analyze and deliver insight about data, providing context for decision-making. While some of your staff may need to learn new skills (communication, strategy, creativity, etc.), the decision to implement new ERP software will not result in massive staff cuts or layoffs.

Understand what your people want (and need)

Communication is a two-way street, and possibly the most important part of speaking with your users about this change is to listen. End users are the most heavily affected by a change in technology, and should play a major role in informing the functionality your product will have.

Getting to know what your users want from your QuickBooks replacement will do two things. Not only will this help you to weed out certain products from the outset, it will help to increase optimism about the project. Listening to the wants and needs of your staff will instill a sense of ownership in the project and reduce the likelihood they push back against some decision that didn’t include them.

The long journey to ERP starts with the right information and advice

Over the next few months, we at NexTec look forward to discussing the ongoing path to selecting a replacement for your underperforming QuickBooks product. While getting your users on board for a change is one key part of your decision, you will need to build a project team, discuss internally the budget and opportunities, discuss potential ROI, and more.

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

Warehouse worker walking down an aisle.

How Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Warehouse with worker walking down hallway.

Gain real-time insights into your warehouse, sales and inventory with Acumatica’s distribution ERP.

Your distribution company needs an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product that reduces risk and provides the right information when it’s needed most.

The dynamic reality of the distribution business means that leaders need an ERP solution that provides real-time intelligence on key performance indicators. That means better decisions on distribution management, inventory control, order management and stock forecasting.

See below how Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses.

Common challenges in distribution

The distribution industry relies on its customers needing a steady flow of products. Yet the often-unpredictable changes in B2C or B2B demand can leave distributors with excess or insufficient inventory.

Supply chain management is another challenge for many in the distribution business. Automation is critical for the modern supply chain, using real-time alerts for better ordering and warehouse management.

Distribution relies on speed, so optimizing picking, labeling, compliance and shipping are important areas where better efficiency means improved profit margins.

These challenges are why distributors need ERP solutions that include functionality unique to the vertical. Ideally, your ERP should include business intelligence and CRM integrations, order management functions, fleet management, inventory management and shipping. Distributors offer end-to-end services, meaning they need more than the typical ERP provides.

Man in a business suit in a warehouse using his tablet.

Learn what’s in your warehouses at any time with warehouse and inventory management tools from Acumatica.

The Acumatica distribution ERP advantages

Acumatica understands the unique needs of distributors. The Acumatica Distribution Edition is designed to help companies with logistics and supply chain management. The Distribution Edition includes tools for:

  • Warehouse management
  • Inventory management
  • Requisition management
  • Sales order management
  • Purchase order management
  • Advanced financials

The ERP is fully integrated with Acumatica CRM, manufacturing, field service and project accounting solutions.

Here’s how Acumatica Distribution Edition can help your business.

  • Key Performance Indicators. Most businesses use common KPIs such as cash flow, sales and margins to measure performance at a point in time. Acumatica Distribution Edition includes dashboards and reports to highlight the KPIs that matter to distributors, including inventory turnover ratio for high- and low-turnover items, on-time shipping ratio and profitability by item.
  • Warehouse Management. Use barcode scanners and customized workflows to automate core warehouse functions, including picking, packaging, purchase order receiving, reshelving, transferring and counting. Workers can use preprinted smart scan sheets for hands-free operations while lot and serial number tracking reduces mistakes.
  • Inventory Management. Acumatica helps you know what’s in your warehouse at any moment. Tools allow you to segment inventory by class, know product availability across multiple warehouses, highlight out-of-date inventory and set reorder points. Use multiple valuation methods to manage costs accurately across multiple locations.
  • Sales Order Management. Integrate your sales workflows with automation tools that save time and improve customer experiences. Sales order management lets you configure alerts for status changes and predefine order types with inventory allocation rules for better workflows and document management. Not all vendors and customers are the same; the sales order management tools let you set up volume or quantity discount rules and preferred pricing.
  • Requisition Management. Eliminate paperwork with automation software that streamlines complex purchasing processes, including sales quotes, approvals, vendor bidding.

Acumatica’s distribution ERP is designed to solve your greatest business challenges. To get the most out of your ERP, choose the right Acumatica partner to guide the installation and use of your solution. NexTec helps distribution and manufacturing companies find and implement the right software to improve business processes. Give Acumatica a try to see how it can transform your distribution business.

Acumatica 2019 R1

New features to look for in Acumatica 2019 R1

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
Acumatica 2019 R1

No matter your business focus, Acumatica 2019 R1 has a wide range of new features designed to make your job easier, your visibility better, and your decisions smarter.

If you need business management software or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) that fits your industry, is flexible, customizable, and easy to update because it’s in the Cloud, look no further than Acumatica. It won an Editors’ Choice Award from PCMag.com in both 2018 and 2019 which noted its ease-of-use, customization capabilities, mobility features and pricing model among reasons to consider it for your company.

In the newly released, Acumatica 2019 R1, every application module across the board has been enhanced in some way.

New functionality added to Acumatica Cloud ERP

No matter your business focus, Acumatica 2019 R1 has a wide range of new features designed to make your job easier, your visibility better, and your decisions smarter. From financial management to construction, the update delivers both usability improvements and added functionality to make the product even more viable for the needs of the growing business.

Financial management: more financial calendars, tax improvements and more

No matter what you do, you can’t survive without a strong core financial management module. As always, Acumatica has worked hard to deliver improvements to the core product:

  • Predefined list of currencies: An important user-focused addition to currency management, this reduces the effort in maintaining exchange rates and managing transactions in multiple currencies. Now there is no longer a need to manually enter the world currencies and their basic settings.
  • Support for different financial calendars: Designed for the multi-entity business, this allows companies with multiple legal entities within the same tenant to have different fiscal year-end dates.
  • Important ASC 606/IFRS 15 updates: Recognition of Revenue from Customer Contracts provides additional support for contracts with multiple performance obligations, including fair market value, re-allocation pool, term start/end dates, and pro-rated fair market value in compliance with ASC 606 and IFRS 15.
  • Tax management enhancements: Tax Improvements enhances the integration with tax engines, including overrides for shipping address on AR and SO invoices and pro forma invoice screens to third-party tax providers, such as Avalara.
  • Smarter credit card processing integrations: Credit Card Processing Improvements leverages the updated Authorize.Net plug-in for greater PCI compliance; tokenizing credit cards allows greater security for credit card payments.
  • Financial usability improvements: Additional improvements to the UI make the program easier to use. Among some of the improvements: Restrict searchable fields on entry point lists for faster results; activate/deactivate attributes for deferral codes; and select from a predefined list of currencies to support external interfaces.

Project management updates

For those at project-based businesses, accurate time and expense, project management, and budgeting and forecasting are necessary to delivering a profitable project—and Acumatica delivers:

  • More control over multi-currency project accounting: With multi-currency project accounting, users can enter project transactions in different currencies and maintain projects in both the base currency and the project currency.
  • Budgeting and forecasting flexibility: Project budget forecasts by period allow comparisons of actual project costs and incomes with the forecasted, original, and revised budget amounts for each financial period.
  • Company-specific financial periods: enables companies in the same tenant to have different fiscal year-end dates which is particularly valuable for businesses that share vendors, stock items, and employees.
  • ASC 606/IFRS 15 for project-based companies: Revenue Recognition for projects recognizes the revenue when the performance obligations are satisfied, including those made over multiple periods of time.

Product-focused businesses

Whether you manufacture, distribute, or sell, having inventory visibility is a necessity, and Acumatica has worked to improve everything from warehouse management to advanced planning and scheduling to distribution:

  • Warehouse management: Designed for the needs of distributors, manufacturers, retailers and eCommerce firms, Acumatica now offers support for medium and large warehouses with operations such as picking, packaging, PO receiving, putting away, transferring, and physical counting by using barcode scanners (or mobile devices with a scanning option).
  • Flexible shipping: Acumatica now allows you to combine multiple ship-to addresses on a single invoice so that you can give your customers more flexibility while saving your business time and paperwork.
  • Increased order flexibility in Commerce Edition: Commerce Edition has been improved for commerce order processing to adjust the transactions based on small differences in the way that charges take place, such as changing a shipping method or making changes in tax calculations after the order was taken online.
  • Improved commerce integration: Acumatica integrates with a wide range of products, and new connectors make it easier than ever to provide integrations to eCommerce front-ends for true omni-channel sales and fulfillment.
  • Manufacturing enhancements: Among the biggest improvements to the R1 2019 update, engineering change and finite capacity make planning and scheduling easier than ever. Engineering change handles the workflow and approvals from the request through creation of the change order and the update of the bill of material (BOM), while finite capacity offers smarter scheduling and improved accuracy pertaining to capable-to-promise and ship dates.

Enough gushing about Acumatica 2019 R1, let’s gush about the company

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.

Knowing this, the company’s innovation is put on display is during its semiannual updates—times where Acumatica can show off the new features and functionality added to the platform, such as the addition of an Alexa for Business skill that we discussed in a previous blog.

Learn more: Acumatica 2019 R1

NexTec Group is proud to work with Acumatica to deliver this powerful solution for our customers. As one of the leading partners, we have the skills to customize and deliver Acumatica, no matter your size, focus, or complexity. Get to know more about the update, the product, and our work with Acumatica, and when you’re ready to learn more, contact us for a free consultation.

Group of people raising their hands at a seminar.

5 FAQs on enterprise resource planning software

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Group of people raising their hands at a seminar.

If you have questions about enterprise resource planning software, we have answers.

Are you considering investing in an enterprise resource planning software solution? The rapidly evolving ERP market can create some confusion for those intrigued at the capabilities and potential that an ERP solution brings to an organization.

Need some answers? Here are 5 FAQs on enterprise resource planning software.

1. What’s the difference between ERP and CRM software?

ERP software like Acumatica Cloud ERP is designed to integrate data and foster transparency among core functional areas. ERPs provide a single source of truth for finance, warehouse, production, operations, HR, customer service and other areas of a business. A CRM is used to automate and integrate sales and marketing functions, collecting contact information, outreach and responses by customers and prospects.

Increasingly, ERP manufacturers are integrating (either directly or via an API) with CRM products, giving users a 360-degree perspective on customers, more data sharing and improved collaboration. Integrated solutions mean less manual data entry, fewer errors, a single source of data, and more efficient reporting and decision-making.

2. How much does it cost to invest in ERP?

The cost of an ERP depends greatly on the customer’s size, needs and preferences. In many cases, customers can choose to have either an on-premises or cloud-based ERP. Cloud-based options usually are delivered via a subscription model where customers pay per user or module. There are usually other costs for licensing, maintenance (for on-premises or hybrid options), customization and training to factor into the total cost of ownership.

Many companies find it makes sense to use an ERP selection consultant like NexTec Group, which can provide impartial comparisons and insights on multiple ERP vendors. ERP selection consultants can often leverage vendor relationships to save customers significantly.

Man pointing to the letters ERP.

ERPs offer a single source of truth when it comes to data.

3. Who uses ERP software?

While its name implies that ERP is used only by enterprise organizations, many small and midsized businesses are realizing significant gains by using ERPs. Niche ERPs, especially those created for particular industries or sectors, have become more prevalent in recent years, allowing more companies to take advantage of all the benefits that ERPs offer.

Companies that are seeking digital transformation of their business models, business processes or work functions often turn to an ERP. By providing a unified, integrated and transparent pool of data, reports and analytics, ERPs can be leveraged to take advantage of new technologies. ERPs are increasingly using and supporting solutions rooted in automation, machine learning, cloud technology, the Internet of Things, business intelligence and analytics.

4. What are the major benefits of using an ERP?

There are countless advantages to using an ERP like SageX3. In addition to the data collection and storage, collaboration and innovation capabilities mentioned above, here are other ERP benefits:

  • Scalability. As your business needs evolve and more customers and data points need to be tracked, your ERP can grow with you.
  • Self-Service. There’s no software to update, maintain and secure at your company. Cloud ERP solutions are updated automatically and monitored by sophisticated digital and physical protections.
  • Data Backup. Automate data backups with an ERP, which means rapid recovery and operational normalcy in the event of an incident such as a natural disaster, power loss or cyberattack.

5. Who provides ERP selection advisory services?

At NexTec, we deliver experience and expertise for core business software selection, implementation and optimization. Our consultations are ready to guide you through the ERP deployment process, from understanding your unique business needs to helping your users get the most out of your investment.

Learn more about ERP.

ERP and Business Intelligence in the Distribution Industry

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Dashboards and KPIs, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Warehouse management | No Comments
ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. Pair it with a BI solution and you can get that bird’s eye view you need to make your business really shine.

Your warehouses, inventory, and business generate a lot of data. When all this data enters your supply chain, it can quickly overwhelm both you and your vendors. Unfortunately, for distribution businesses whose success relies on their ability to deliver products to customers in a timely manner, a mountain of data can harm visibility, reduce timeliness, and ultimately slow the business to a halt.

To solve the problem, you need to have the right tools and skilled data analysts to guide your data through the system in a way that makes decision making easier and decisions smarter. Distributors that turn to dashboards, analytics, and business intelligence (BI) software integrated with ERP and other key internal systems are able to unlock the secret value hidden in their data and make wise choices based on what they learn.

The many benefits of BI for the distribution industry

Business intelligence brings together a wide range of data from a wider variety of sources. Those in distribution know first-hand how difficult it can be to combine sales, finance and invoicing data from multiple warehouses, vendors and partners. BI software can help solve the problem by pulling the data together so that it is easily accessible and makes sense.

Link your BI software with your ERP software and you have a tool that can help you make instant and powerful changes that will put your business on the path to greater success.

Here are 3 key benefits to combining BI with ERP software.

1. Better planning and inventory management

A powerful inventory management solution is key to maintaining stock, planning for variability, and minimizing inventory costs. But if the people running your warehouse aren’t “data” people, you may never know how well your inventory is being managed.

Enter business intelligence. Rather than forcing these non-financial people to adapt and adjust to the complexities of an ERP solution, you can provide information at their fingertips with customized dashboards and readily available insights. Dashboards can be customized by role, by user, or by position and keep the people on the front lines informed in real time.

By making data more accessible, accurate, and understandable, you can improve planning, ordering, and much more. Get to know more about the benefits of integration and its role in managing complexity by reading our blog, “The Need to Know is Always Now in Warehousing and Distribution.”

2. Increased profit margins

Distribution operates as a low-margin, high-volume business. Any ding or dent in your profits will impact the bottom line much more quickly than another business. And there are so many ways those dings can happen – inventory storage costs, customer preference changes, reputation hits from lack of inventory. You need a clear picture not only of your inventory situation, but how inventory decisions will impact finances.

BI software can take a wide range of data out of your other systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Inventory Management, ERP, and more, and give you intuitive drill-down functionality that you can access from anywhere at any time. Want to know what your most profitable product is this month? Want to understand how each warehouse is performing? Want to know which warehouse is the best location for a specific product? Learn all this and more from your BI solution while at your desk, at a café with your laptop, or on your way to work with your mobile device.

Learn more about how ERP empowers you to keep up with changes in the supply chain here.

3. Reduced delivery time, fewer issues, happier customers

A distributors’ profits connect directly to well controlled inventory and warehouses. One of the most common places that profits can take a hit is through lost sales and returns. Customers are less tolerant of mistakes than ever before. So, when the wrong item is shipped, or the item is defective, the customer does not care if it was your shipping firm or 3PL that dropped the ball, they will blame you. Get it right always and your customers will love you for it.

By integrating your processes and systems with BI software, you can gain a clearer understanding of what went wrong, where it went wrong, how to rectify it and keep it that way —before your reputation takes a hit.

Pair your ERP with BI to make your distribution business a success

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. Pair it with a BI solution and you can get that bird’s eye view you need to make your business really shine. NexTec Group consultants have been helping distribution companies select and implement ERP, BI and CRM for a quarter century. If you believe 2019 is the year that you truly take control of your supply chain, let’s talk. We’re here to help.