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Chuck Oliver

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.

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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.

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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.

Outgrowing QuickBooks Needs

Outgrowing QuickBooks: How to determine your current and future needs

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

Early discussions and needs documentation could help you to reduce costs and better understand who is best qualified to help you move from QuickBooks to a new solution.

Going from accounting software to Enterprise Resource Planning software is a big decision and an important step for growing businesses. This is an exciting time for your company, but it also might be a bit stressful—especially if you are pushing past the limits of your current product. However, at this stage, the only thing worse than inaction is hastily jumping into a decision without all of the facts—something you can overcome with a bit of planning.

Following our last two blogs documenting the warning signs and steps to communicate a change, we would today like to discuss another important concept: Understanding what you need.

In our last blog, we touched on the basics of communication, noting that by speaking with your users, you will be able to weed out bad fit products, increase project optimism, and instill a sense of project ownership among those most likely to balk at a change.

Notably, this isn’t all. Early discussions and needs documentation could help you to reduce costs and better understand who is best qualified to help you implement a solution.

Why it’s so important to know what you need before you implement

It’s well known that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is an investment in the long-term future of your business, and while it will pay for itself over time, the price tag compared to an entry level product like QuickBooks may seem high.

However, these costs are nowhere near as high as the costs that pop up from last minute changes in the scope of a project—something common that occurs when companies rush into a project, only to get distracted by the bells and whistles that could be added.

Luckily, with the right planning and project framework, you can approach your project confidently and well informed, with a “broad strokes” strategy in place before you start looking at solutions.

Knowing where you are and where you expect to be in ten years

In this, it’s important to speak with team members, end users, and department representatives to determine where your business currently stands and where you want it to be.

Outlining a project strategy

After discussing the changes on the horizon with users, the next major step in the ERP planning process—before you even speak with vendors or implementation partners—is to outline the project strategy. In this step, you will only need to outline the general shape and form of your ERP selection and implementation project, later detailing specifics.

Project planning starts with a statement of the purpose of the project, the goals and objectives – another way to state the benefits, not necessarily in terms of monetary return but rather in how it will affect the organization and the users, their efficiency and effectiveness. In essence, what do you hope to achieve in your first few months with the software?

Documenting a starting point

From here, it pays to understand where your business currently sits. What systems do you have in place? How is your data structured? Ultimately, ask yourself, “where does the business stand?” In their guide to Navigating ERP Selection and Implementation, Acumatica notes that “one thing that is often neglected is to take baseline measurements, including things like:

  • Inventory levels by type (raw materials, work-in-process, finished goods by type)
  • Inventory accuracy
  • On-time production completion
  • Production lead time
  • Customer service level

Additionally, you should look at your current database, identify errors and deficiencies, and plan how much data clean-up is required and what it takes to get it done.

Discussing what features are important (both now and in the future)

Now comes the part where you and your users need to think about their ideal solution. What should a new ERP system accomplish? What processes can it automate? What kind of integration should it provide? What problems does the current system have that you can’t afford to have after implementation?

With the help of your end users and department representatives, identify the specific system functions needed in the new system and break them into the following four categories:

  • What is an absolute requirement?
  • Which capabilities are highly desirable?
  • What kind of functionality is not needed now but important in the foreseeable future?
  • Which features are cool or nice to have but are not essential?

The goal here is to think up a minimum viable product, knowing that many of those ‘nice to have features’ might be more affordable or easier to get than you think. Added to this, thanks to the flexibility of Cloud ERP, know that even if you don’t choose to implement a specific feature today, you can always add it in the future.

For example, if you’re a distributor looking to move into the eCommerce world but haven’t officially set out on the journey, you don’t need to implement the functionality at the outset. Not sure where to start? This free checklist will discuss some of the basic features included in ERP software and can be used throughout the entire process to compare products.

What’s next? The journey beyond QuickBooks

The decision to implement ERP at your growing business is not one to be taken lightly. However, with the right advice and product, the move to implement such a product can go more smoothly than you initially expected.

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.

Workers installing solar panels.

Acumatica helps you address these 5 field services challenges

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Field Services | No Comments
Workers installing solar panels.

The right business software helps ensure field techs have the tools and equipment necessary.

Field services companies face unique challenges, from data integration and maintenance management to scheduling, dispatching and route management.

Managing these challenges requires a business software designed for the field services industry. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) product like the Acumatica Cloud ERP Field Service Edition provides functionality designed specifically to meet those challenges head-on.

Here’s a closer look at how Acumatica helps you address these 5 field services challenges.

1. First-time fix rates

Returning to a customer to redo work is costly. Often return work is due to poor, inaccurate or incomplete information about the customer’s problem, inaccurate location data, incorrect equipment or a mismatch with technician skills.

2. Scheduling predictive repairs

Sensors installed in equipment are able to alert your business when needed repairs are critical. Businesses that can respond promptly to these issues using the Internet of Things and wireless technologies can prevent larger repairs.

3. Managing service contracts and warranties

Maintaining the revenue from service contracts means tracking expiration dates and managing appointments and service calls. Warranty information needs to be integrated with other functions, including sales and customer service, while accurate tracking of what parts are under warranty is critical.

4. Emergency service calls

Emergencies can derail technician scheduling, route optimization and equipment availability. A field services ERP should provide the right integrations to minimize the disruptions.

5. Siloed data

Field services companies that keep customer data, processes, scheduling and finance in separate systems are working from behind. An ERP solution integrates data from myriad functional areas and systems, giving all employees a 360-degree, transparent look at operations, customers and information.

With mobile solutions, Acumatica’s field service ERP delivers needed information in real time to field techs.

How Acumatica Cloud ERP Field Service Edition solves common problems

Acumatica’s field services ERP solution is designed to solve common and complex problems in the industry. The main benefits and features include:

  • Scheduling, dispatching and call center management to expedite responses with accurate service needs, customer information and history, and create or modify schedules
  • Route planning using Google Maps to optimize resources. The module includes route plotting for service techs, lists of required equipment or machines, and real-time adjustments to reflect traffic conditions that are sent to the technician’s mobile device
  • Mobile service management with mobile apps for Android and iOS, with instant access to service information and customer data
  • Emergency service call integration using visual tools to add unplanned calls and send changes to the technician
  • Equipment maintenance records for each piece or machine installed at a customer’s site, including manufacturer, model, configuration, necessary repair parts and preventative maintenance schedules and orders
  • Inventory management to track the locations and costs of tools and parts that are spread across warehouses and vehicles
  • Warranty management to track simple and multidimensional contracts 
  • Project cost tracking 
  • Personalized dashboards
  • Business intelligence insights

Acumatica knows the issues and challenges for the field services industry and has developed the ERP that meets critical needs. At NexTec, we help businesses identify, select, install and optimize their investments in key software solutions. Our experts work regularly with Acumatica solutions that make a difference. To learn more, take the Acumatica Product Tour.

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Why Acumatica makes the most sense for oilfield services companies

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Oilfield Services | No Comments
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ERP solutions help oilfield services companies manage costs, assets and data.

Oilfield services are complex, requiring the rapid requisition and deployment of equipment such as pipes, drilling tools and accessories. Add in services like premium couplings and pipe threading and it’s a high-stakes industry, with millions on the line.

Oilfield companies need to work fast and be precise, with no room for error in some cases. That means oilfield companies need the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that combines operations and oil and gas accounting software in one comprehensive product.

With extensive experience providing industry-specific ERP solutions, it’s clear why Acumatica makes the most sense for oilfield services companies.

What oilfield services companies need

Given the complex, high-pressure work, oilfield services businesses need an ERP software solution that addresses particular needs, including:

Project management

Oilfield services companies are often involved in complex onshore or offshore projects, often as joint ventures with other business entities. An industry-specific ERP solution allows companies to manage those projects accurately, with transparency, real-time reporting and project accounting functions. The ideal ERP solution helps with supply chain management, financial obligations and regulatory compliance.

Data integration

Many oilfield operations are plagued by data challenges, including information stored in multiple applications, devices, currencies and formats. An ERP solution streamlines the storage of, access to, and formatting of data in a centralized database. Data can be integrated into third-party applications, protected in transit and at rest, and provide accurate views of costs, progress, schedules and production. Access to this information helps multiple enterprise departments, including finance, sales, marketing, field operations and analytics.

Asset management

In an oilfield, there are many assets to be tracked, maintained and valued. Using an ERP platform, companies can manage assets in real time, using sensors, automation and the connected objects to record information, detect maintenance issues early and reduce lost production time.

Cost control

Managing costs for each project is important, especially when projects are under way at multiple sites. Your ERP solution should manage supply and demand chains to control costs, reduce waste, and keep a close eye on overhead, labor and operating expenses. Cost management allows for high-level views of project costs, regulatory compliance and higher profit margins.

Man with a red hardhat fixing equipment.

Your oilfield services ERP solution needs to integrate processes and departments to provide real-time data and reporting for better decisions.

The Acumatica ERP in action

Recently, Acumatica helped OFS International LLC upgrade an outdated accounting system. The company had purchased the assets of one of the world’s top producers of tubular products, which had major problems with its inventory management, manufacturing operations and accounting. For example, there were basic accounting functions lacking and the inventory system was not integrated with the accounting solution.

Other problems included an inability to track sales orders due to ill-timed customer invoicing and inventory management that was based on what seemed to be in the yard at any given time.

After installing Acumatica solutions, OFS International saw immediate results, including:

  • Cost savings of more than $400,000 by eliminating user fees and customization charges
  • Improved operational, financial and inventory transparency
  • A structural foundation that could scale rapidly for better field operations management

At NexTec, we help oilfield services companies with the selection, implementation and optimization of Acumatica products. Take the Acumatica Product Tour to learn more.

Man wearing a red hardhat and holding a clipboard.

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.

Additional supply chain resources

How Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

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.

Additional resources

The role of the cloud in digital transformation

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

Acumatica announces first-ever business skill for Alexa

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.

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

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

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

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