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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.

Person trimming a cannabis plant.

End of cannabis prohibition presents unique challenges to ERP delivery

By | Cannabis, ERP | No Comments
Person trimming a cannabis bud.

From harvesting to selling, cannabis companies have an array of unique challenges in the rapidly growing industry.

Few sectors have faced the unique challenges as the nascent cannabis industry. A product that was nearly completely illegal was suddenly legalized. That has set off a wave of complexities regarding supply chain management, inventory control, finances and compliance.

Cannabis companies find themselves facing complicated business processes, regulation, massive demand and growth, and a highly active climate for mergers and acquisitions. That’s why many businesses deploy industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, designed to simplify the complex with tools, modules and features designed to address critical needs for cannabis companies.

Overall, it’s requiring cannabis companies to look for ERP partners that are nimble, adaptive and responsive. It’s also why the end of cannabis prohibition presents unique challenges to ERP delivery.

The ever-evolving cannabis landscape

As more U.S. states legalize medical and recreational marijuana and Canada legalized cannabis at the federal level, the number of businesses proliferates. Demand has been exceedingly high, with long wait times and rapid expansion for many cannabis businesses.

In 2018, the Brightfield Group released market analyses that the global cannabis industry was worth $7.7 billion (USD) in 2017 and was projected market lone projected that the global cannabis market would reach $5.7 billion in 2019 and $22 billion by 2022. That market expansion is projected at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60 percent.

Here’s another perspective on the scale of growth: the rising number of products. In 2016, the average dispensary had 94 different kinds of marijuana products available. In 2018, that average had grown to more than 150.

New businesses are changing quickly

Cannabis companies that have been open for business for just a few months are finding the demand is there to support growth. That’s meant companies are transforming from single sites to having a global presence in all regions of the world seemingly overnight.

Consider these stories making headlines in the past few months:

  • The Chicago Tribune reported that at least half a dozen cannabis companies have moved (many from the suburbs to the city) or expanded their headquarters, in some cases doubling their space.
  • Cannabis company Grassroots raised $90 million in venture capital, in part to expand operations from its 11 states to include locations in Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
  • Harvest Health & Recreation agreed to purchase CannaPharmacy, which has cultivation, manufacturing and retail facilities in four states. Terms were not disclosed.

What does this growth and expansion mean? An increasingly competitive industry with companies fighting for market share and faster speed-to-market rates.

Person looking at a cannabis plant.

Cannabis companies face varying regulations by jurisdiction, requiring precision data management and reporting tools.

Business challenges lead to consulting challenges

With an industry that’s essentially brand new and new companies popping up regularly, it’s a wild ride within the cannabis vertical. Most companies do not have an existing business model or well-established business models.

There’s also a lack of experienced industry professionals, especially given the newness of the industry. Coupled with evolving laws and regulations that differ widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and you have an industry that needs guidance and support.

These companies are seeking help from experienced advisors, meaning that business and management consulting in the cannabis industry has become an ongoing requirement, not just a temporary solution to handle implementation and launch.

“This is a lot of new information when you’re vying for your place in the cannabis industry. That’s why some businesses are turning to consultants to help, notes the Cannabis Industry Journal in a recent article. “Consultancy is a great and time-tested way to grow your businesses and keep a competitive edge. But just like every other industry, when you choose a consultant, there are specific things to look for and avoid.”

The journal suggests that businesses heed the following when searching for a cannabis consultant:

  • Understand expertise. Very few consultants are experts at all components of the cannabis business. You may need several different consultants to get the expertise you need in cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary operations, food safety, transportation, compliance, legal, finance and accounting, and human resources.
  • Know what success looks like. You need to set your own goals, which your consultant can help refine. The consultant can then work with you on the plans, processes, capital, permitting and operational changes necessary to achieve those goals.
  • Focus on what you need. Be sure you know exactly what you need help with, be it operations, inventory control, ERP software selection, cultivation management, pricing or product development.
  • Ask smart questions. You want to probe for the answers from potential consultants that will help you make an informed decision, including:
    • Relevant experience
    • Client references (past and present)
    • Time to be spent on your company
    • Timeline and planning process
    • Responsibilities and deliverables for both parties
    • Certifications and credentials, if applicable
    • What’s included in the fee and what add-on charges are
    • Any conflicts of interest, especially with competitors
  • Avoid questionable conduct. If your consultant does one of the following, look elsewhere:
    • Asks for equity as payment
    • Does not provide references
    • Avoids questions
    • Refuses to track time or itemize costs

Cannabis consultants need to keep pace and be ready to support rapid expansion and growth, along with global delivery of services. Consultants need to stay on top of the ever-changing legal environment, market, political landscape and company priorities.

They should understand and be adept at reducing the time to market for your company and its products. They also need to be conversant on the complexities of partner management in regions of delivery and emerging legislation.

One important area to consider is supply chain management. Rapid growth, demand for new products, and constantly evolving consumer tastes and preferences means there’s increasing pressure for more efficient and transparent supply chain processes.

Retail cannabis purchasing managers are spending too much time with antiquated (or non-existent) inventory management tools that make buying difficult to manage. Order management, quality control, integrated tax and sales functions in a cannabis ERP help company leaders make better decisions in the moment of need.

The complexity of compliance

Compliance comes in many forms for cannabis companies, with regulations emerging and changing at the local, state/province, federal and international levels. It can create a swirling array of different mandates, reporting requirements and data points in order to remain compliant.

The constant regulatory swirl means building a cannabis ERP architecture that can meet the myriad laws regarding privacy (including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements for residents of the European Union and stricter data privacy laws passed in 2018 in California. Privacy is likely to continue to be a major factor as ore jurisdictions take legislative action to protect people and their information.

That’s on top of regulations related to food safety, personal medical information and banking restrictions.

The cannabis industry is fraught with potential pitfalls that can trip up well-intentioned businesses. Here are a few of the most common issues that cause compliance problems:

  • Inaccurate or missing data. Each jurisdiction will have its own reporting requirements and mandates, and these various guidelines may be very different from each other. Your business needs an ERP that can track when sales receipts, inventory records and safety plans need to be submitted and in what format.
  • Poor inventory management. Inexplicable missing stock or inventory discrepancies can lead to severe fines and the potential loss of licenses to operate. Whether due to poor quality assurance, human error, employee theft or incorrect packaging, bad inventory control protocols and a lack of sound distribution management software can have serious consequences.
  • Illegal sales. Selling to underage persons, selling outside of approved operating hours or exceeding daily sales limits per customer can trigger compliance issues. Age verification, customer management and point of sale technologies can save major headaches for you and your employees.
  • Mislabeling products. Compliance mandates increasingly include rules about how cannabis products need to be labeled and packaged. Similarly, product safety laws must be followed, such as a California provision that all packaging be child-resistant and Colorado requirements that all edibles have a cannabis or THC warning.
  • Failing to pay taxes. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for tax payments, including method of payment, timing and required documentation. A failure to follow your local tax laws can result in large tax bills, time-consuming and invasive audits and fines and interest levies for unpaid taxes.

Why the right cannabis ERP matters

Cannabis companies need industry-specific ERP solutions that address the rapid pace of growth, pressure to deliver on time and compliance issues that are all too common. They also need experienced partners to help guide them through the selection, implementation, training and optimization phases of software products that will improve efficiency.

At NexTec Group, we help companies in all phases of cannabis ERP decision-making. We help clients build implementation teams, establish change management plans, develop budgets, migrate data and train users.

Our consultants have deep product knowledge about the vendors and their products. We understand the features and benefits of each potential solution and help your cannabis business find the right solution to address your unique business needs. Learn more about technology that runs your CannaBusiness. by contacting NexTec Group today.

Tech investments for small business field services

Here’s how Acumatica can save your field service business

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Field Services | No Comments

If your business does installations, repairs or services at customer locations or equipment sites, then you have a field service business.

Field service businesses have unique challenges. Managing scheduling and dispatch, visibility of workforce in the field, collecting accurate information back from jobs in a timely manner and communication breakdowns are just a few.

It can be difficult to keep track of logistics for your field services business. Acumatica is here to help.

Let’s take a look at one company’s challenges:

Bob has a Field Service business. He’s been successful at growing his business and he has several technicians performing field work.

Dennis receives a call from a customer requesting an air conditioner repair  He checks invoice history and a spreadsheet to see what equipment and warranties they have. To save time, he takes notes on a piece of paper. Unfortunately, the phone immediately rings again, and the repair order never makes it to dispatch.

Amber, the dispatcher, is busy managing technician schedules. She uses several spreadsheets to make sure everyone is fully utilized, the right people attend jobs that need a license, and the trips are planned as efficiently as possible. It’s difficult for her to take urgent requests because she is lacking visibility of her technicians out in the field.

As the Controller, John is in charge of cashflow and is experiencing delays in the invoicing process. Many of the employees submit job sheets by hand, leading to keying errors. These delays cause invoicing mistakes, and numerous credit memos being issued, impacting cashflow.

All of these issues can be tackled with a field service software, like Acumatica.  Let’s look at this again… this time using Acumatica.

With Acumatica, it is easy to access calendars for your team members to see who is available at any given time.

A customer calls for a repair. Dennis looks up the customer and creates a new Service Order in Acumatica. He asks which equipment needs work and selects it for the order. He can see the Equipment warranty information and informs the customer that the unit is out of warranty, except the compressor. No slips of paper to get lost and the customer is impressed that Dennis has all the information needed and created the service request so quickly.

Amber sees the new job on her Calendar Board. She can view existing appointments for each technician and create the new appointment with a drag and drop. If licenses or skills are required, she can use the staff filter to find technicians that fit the requirements of the job.

With the Staff Appointments on Map, she can see and manage where technicians will be during the day so when urgent jobs come in, she can easily see who will be nearby.

Technicians in the field are using the Acumatica app on their Android and iOS devices. They have all the information needed and can use the app for various tasks like using the map to find directions to the next job.

The technicians are now entering information directly into the app and it’s immediately available back at the office. They can start the job, track their time, add parts, update equipment info, take before and after photos, complete the job, capture a customer signature and even invoice and collect payment out in the field.   Bob’s customers prefer one invoice for all the work done in a month, so invoicing is done in the office. Invoicing can be automated or users can control the process.

The streamlined invoicing eliminated invoicing delays and invoicing errors are drastically reduced, so customers are paying promptly and cashflow is improved.

Bob was able to form stronger customer relationships, more productive employees, and had better management of resources – all translating into more profitability!

Get in touch today to learn more about what Acumatica Field Service can do for your business.

Workers in a factory smiling.

9 Ways ERP and CRM integration will benefit manufacturing

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, CRM, ERP, Manufacturing | No Comments
Workers in a factory smiling.

Integrating ERP and CRM technologies gives you considerable competitive advantages with deeper customer insights.

Integrating your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms gives your manufacturing business considerable advantages over the competition.

With data from both platforms, your company can realize better sales processes and new ideas for products. Here is an overview of  how ERP can integrate multiple processes and benefit manufacturing.

1. Real-time insights

Use production, product and inventory data to provide customers with real-time information on orders, opening the door for upselling and cross-selling. The real-time insights also help planners enhance business development, optimize financial tracking, and improve communication.

2. More prospect information

Use combined information to build a clearer picture of your sales prospects, including connections to suppliers, order histories from similar customers and personalized insights.

3. Data-driven decisions and outcomes

With more information available, manufacturers can look at operational metrics from a customer’s perspective, resulting in better products, processes and procedures. Build customer-driven analytics around order fulfillment, delivery timing, quality management, pricing and payments, all designed to better serve customers.

4. Newer, better products

Speed and time-to-market are key drivers for success for B2B and B2C companies. Use integrated customer interaction, pricing, catalog, service and production information to create new products and business models. With rapidly changing customer expectations, manufacturers can bring together product lifecycle management systems, customer feedback and financial data to innovate faster than the competition.

Factory worker operating a machine.

Drawing on data from ERP and CRM systems gives your manufacturing company better insights for production planning, pricing and customer service.

5. Maximized CPQ

For complex manufacturers, the configure-price-quote model lets you deliver customized products that attract and retain customers. Use CRM and ERP data to deliver more accurate and timely quotes than your competition. Eliminate the need for manual quoting and take days and weeks off the quoting process to close more orders faster.

6. Optimized pricing

Manufacturers can fine-tune pricing models by using information from accounting, finance, and customer relationship systems to create more accurate customer personas. Pricing precision at the segment and persona level makes it possible to accelerate sales rates.

7. Accurate lifetime customer value calculations

Calculate real-time profitability analyses by consolidating visualizations of cost reporting, estimated versus actual budgets and other key metrics. Use these calculations to create a lifetime customer value for each customer, identify your most valuable customers and look for other customers that have a similar profile.

8. Automate processes

ERP and CRM tools have touted the value of automation separately. Automating tasks and information from both systems together provides more accuracy and responsiveness in customer integrations.

9. Improved supply chain management

Manufacturers can automate quotes, conversion to bills of materials, scheduling and ordering by using information from ERP and CRM systems. Show your customers the efficiency and integration that allows for better and faster responses.

Choosing the right partner

NexTec is the leading company for manufacturing companies looking to integrate ERP and CRM with Acumatica.

Acumatica delivers the right solutions that manufacturers need for integrated business practices. The Acumatica Manufacturing Edition is a features-rich, cloud-based solution that helps companies:

  • Eliminate outdated and inaccurate business information
  • Respond to customer demand for product variety
  • Balance supply and demand to reduce costs and inventory
  • Optimize production planning, sales forecasts and capacity requirements

Take the Acumatica Product Tour to learn more about how NexTec can help your manufacturing company leverage your ERP and CRM data.

 

ERP

CRM can help your chemical industry ERP deliver better results

By | Chemicals, CRM, ERP | No Comments
ERP

Combining ERP and CRM solutions gives chemicals companies the advantage they need to remain competitive.

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have been around a long time, but many companies in the chemical sector don’t realize the value of CRMs to building customer loyalty and growth.

Imagine the possibilities when chemical companies integrate their CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. The potential for better customer interactions, enhanced communications and better sales is off the charts.

Here’s how a CRM can help your chemical industry ERP deliver better results.

The chemical industry in 2019

Chemical companies today face a changing competitive landscape that requires innovative thinking to stay ahead. Among the core challenges are margin pressure and customer expectations.

Competitive pricing pressure means companies need to do whatever they can to improve operational efficiency. That’s a core function of ERP solutions, which are designed to provide transparency and insights into operations that result in better processes.

Customers want timely communication, instant responses and real-time access to information on orders, deliveries and availability. Excellent customer service today means having a holistic understanding of all interactions, from payment histories, meeting outcomes, responses to marketing pitches and order histories. ERP and CRM solutions together offer companies the fullest picture of their customers.

Trucks driving on a highway.

Customer expectations today mean companies need to provide real-time information on orders and deliveries.

Benefits of integration

ERP solutions are designed to manage core business functions, including finance, operations, warehouse, inventory and human resources. CRM products are focused on customer data, including contacts, interactions, meetings and help requests.

Today, using these two systems in vacuum is a lost opportunity for the chemical industry.

Data is an increasingly commodified asset. As chemical companies collect and store more information about products and customers, they can use that information to improve efficiency, attract and retain customers and achieve better business outcomes. Here’s a closer look at some of the advantages to CRM and ERP integration:

  • Better business development. Bringing together data from both solutions provides businesses with stronger insights. Focus on existing customers by analyzing their sales and customer service histories, comparing them to similar customers and providing customized and personalized solutions. Understanding their needs and pain points helps you retain customers through better collaboration.
  • Improved processes. With a single source of data for sales, promotions, production, finances, inventory and distribution, chemical companies can be more responsive and efficient on tasks ranging from product ordering to compliance tracking to production scheduling.
  • Robust customer valuation. Understand the lifetime value of each customer via consolidated dashboards and metrics pulling information from CRM and ERP solutions. Use this information to create real-time profitability analyses and ROI metrics. These tools let you identify your most valuable customers, develop retention strategies for those customers and target future customers with the same attributes.
  • Enhanced automation. Both CRM and ERP tout the power of automation. Integrating the solutions allows for improved automation, especially when it comes to customer interactions. Provide enhanced responsiveness, more detailed information in real time, and accurate interactions with customers.

How to integrate

Partner with the right company to leverage the capabilities of these powerful solutions. At NexTec, we help chemical companies select and implement ERP and CRM solutions. We develop seamless integration solutions that let companies maximize their investments and remain competitive. Contact us to learn more about how to get the most out of your ERP and CRM.

Woman warehouse employee with tablet and headset.

Distribution businesses need more than an ERP: Sage delivers

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Sage Enterprise Management, SOFTWARE | No Comments
Woman working in a warehouse.

Better distribution management software helps drive efficiency and better workflows throughout the organization.

Distribution companies need solutions that allow for accelerated supply chain processes, cost control and operational efficiencies. Staying competitive means using more than an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product.

Your business needs distribution management software that allows for better logistics, operations and inventory control. Sage Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) delivers a faster, more flexible and more comprehensive approach to distribution management. As a single, scalable solution, Sage Enterprise Management delivers the tools, analytics and functionality your distribution company needs to gain a competitive advantage.

See why distribution businesses need more than an ERP. Sage delivers and solves your most pressing business challenges.

What can Sage Enterprise Management do?

Distribution management is about eliminating complexity throughout the supply chain. Many distribution companies face significant challenges related to:

  • Uncertain supply
  • Shifting customer requirements
  • Decreasing margins
  • Enormous inventories
  • Reliance on manual tasks
  • Long lead times

Here is how Sage Enterprise Management addresses those business issues:

  • Increased visibility. Use the Sage solution to analyze all aspects of your business, including inventory, promotions, past purchases, quotes and conditions in real time. Real-time analytics, alerts and notifications give you enhanced ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer expectations.
  • Better workflow control. Use data transparency and a single source of information to transform your workflows. Connecting and accelerating the flow of information among sales, financials, warehousing and purchasing gets everyone on the same page. Create more efficiencies by using a shared understanding of costs and margins, resulting in more revenue, streamlined sales processes, better inventory accuracy and improved business and demand planning.
  • Improved operational efficiency. Too many distribution companies are still using spreadsheets, unconnected databases and paper to manage their operations. Gain more efficiency via real-time access to details from pending sales to inventory changes.
  • Scalability. As distribution companies grow, operational insights become more challenging. With a cloud-based Sage solution, companies can scale easily as business evolves.
  • Modernization. Companies are often reluctant to migrate to new technologies, leaving them stuck using legacy systems that are inefficient and are not integrated. Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management provides an integrated solution to reduce costs for maintaining and patching older systems.
Warehouse employee typing on a desktop computer.

A recent study found that a typical Sage Enterprise Management can save on labor, customer service and inventory costs.

The business impacts of Sage Enterprise Management

In 2018, Forrester Consulting analyzed Sage customers’ business results to create a profile of a typical, composite organization using Sage Enterprise Management. The composite company is one that operates as a global midsized enterprise and has used the Sage solution for three years.

Forrester found that the impacts of using Sage are:

  • 4.1 FTE positions saved
  • 2,600 hours in customer service issues saved
  • A 10 percent reduction in inventory levels
  • $1.59 million in financial benefit
  • A 237 percent return on investment, with a payback period of four months

Choosing Sage Enterprise Management is a smart choice for your distribution company. At NexTec, we help companies migrate legacy tools to Sage, providing the expertise to ensure a seamless transition that lets your company gain the competitive advantage it deserves.

See how NexTec can tailor your Sage Enterprise Management to your needs.

Insight.

ERP plus CRM: More than the sum of the parts

By | Cannabis, Chemicals, CRM, ERP, Food and Beverage | No Comments
Insight.

Integrating operational areas with customer relationship data gives your company new insights and efficiencies.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions offer great tactical solutions to businesses. Taken together, however, ERP and CRM are more than the sum of the parts.

An integrated ERP and CRM solution allows for real-time, actionable business intelligence, giving executives insights they need to make critical decisions in the time of need. Integration breaks down organizational silos and encourages collaboration. Learn more below about the benefits of integrating these tools, industry-specific examples and best practices for combining your solutions.

Benefits of ERP and CRM together

While no two ERP or CRM solutions offer the same features, in general, the roles of each can be defined as follows:

  • ERP: Back-end functions such as accounting, human resources, manufacturing and purchasing.
  • CRM: Front-facing functions like sales, marketing, customer service.

ERPs are built to bring synergy to core functions, providing transparency, a single source of data and improved collaboration and efficiency. CRMs are focused on providing a complete view of customer and prospect integrations, including marketing pitches, outreach, conversations and customer help requests.

Both are designed to build synergy among important functional areas, with the intent that shared knowledge helps to boost operations and outreach. By combining capabilities, you’ll be able to deepen the interconnectedness of various parts of your business.

“The main arguments for the integration … focus on obtaining in real time a coherent view of customers – the possibility of continuous access to everything relating to customer data and information, which … is needed for its proper operation,” state the authors of a recent paper on ERP and CRM integration. “A consistent view of the customer allows employees to make the right and quick decisions.”

Here are a few of the most essential benefits of bringing ERP and CRM together:

Seamless data sharing

CRMs and ERPs have their own unique data collection, storage and formatting guidelines. The advantage of integrated systems is the ability to provide everyone with a unified, transparent and consistent set of information. When the two solutions are integrated, changes or alterations made in one system should be reflected simultaneously in the other.

As business needs change and new data, fields or calculations are needed, the connectivity allows for continued consistency. The system integration allows for new insights, needs and opportunities to be available to each operating unit.

Optimized resource management

Consider the opportunities with a clearer, automated flow of information from sales to production. Companies can gain advantages on production planning, warehouse space optimization, supply planning, materials purchasing and production order prioritization. This benefit helps companies with long sales and manufacturing cycles to plan better based on the status of customer commitments, allowing companies to reduce carried inventory and begin production soon after an order is confirmed.

Faster delivery cycles

Companies with a free flow of information can track and share information on customer details and orders, leading to more accurate and timely shipments, lower operating costs and improved customer satisfaction with on-time deliveries.

Improved product forecasting

Linking marketing initiatives and projections allows for faster and more accurate production forecasting. Operations teams will be able to plan more accurately and companies will not tie up cash by buying excess inventory.

Appropriate and accurate sales proposals

If your sales professionals can see a customer’s complete history – order history, current balance, payment pattern, credit limit and unpaid invoices – proposals will be more consistent and appropriate. Information that’s readily available helps sales managers to make informed decisions, such as asking for down payments or full payment up front.

Sales reps using an integrated solution also have access to the most recent, updated pricing information, including any promotions or discounts. They can also provide more accurate production and delivery dates by accessing production schedules, inventory levels and requisition schedules. If merchandise is out of stock, salespeople can relay that information to customers early on in the proposal process or provide precise projections on timing.

More sales opportunities

Giving salespeople better access to order histories, leads and customer service requests helps them to frame their pitches, giving them a much better likelihood of securing a call, an appointment or a deal. Knowing the frequency of reordering, for example, helps sales professionals reach out proactively to up-sell or cross-sell products or services. When equipment is reaching the end of its predicted lifespan, salespeople can suggest new models of an old product.

Better consistency and standards in customer engagement

With an integrated CRM and ERP solution, your employees will have complete and current information on customers. Whether it’s a sales call, a help request, a product question or a delivery inquiry, employees will understand better the complete relationship, sentiment and pain points. Complete and timely data, collected from both systems, helps employees understand and respond better to customers.

Responsive approval processes

Give your salespeople access to ERP information in real time and they can move contracts through the approval process faster. Same-day signing means faster contract approvals and reduces the time it takes for revenue to be recognized.

Prompt billing and payments

Document sharing lets businesses quickly turn accepted proposals into work orders that can be tracked throughout the enterprise without manual intervention. This process simplification carries over to the finance functions, allowing for faster creation and distribution of invoices, drawing from a single data source. Faster billing leads to faster payment turnarounds and better cash flow.

Consolidated reporting

Combined systems allow for better and more automated reporting, visualizations and data analysis. Reports pull in data from both systems without the need for manual manipulations, conversions or adjustments.

Linking icons.

Applying ERP and CRM data has powerful functional advantages in the food, chemical and cannabis industries.

ERP and CRM industry applications

ERP and CRM solutions need to be uniquely suited to the industry they’re serving. Businesses like food and beverage production, chemicals and cannabis have unique functions and needs for both systems separately and together.

Here is a look at how ERP and CRM integration gives companies in those industries the capabilities essential for success and competitive advantage.

Chemicals

Chemical companies need solutions that address complex functions, including:

  • Formula and recipe management, measure conversions, shelf-life management, packaging and labeling
  • Rapid batch scaling in different sizes and formulations
  • Quality controls that can track – and report to customers and prospects – product quality, shelf life and expiration dates
  • Process design improvements based on customer needs, historical trends, costs and operations
  • Rigorous regulatory compliance mandates, including federal, international, state, local and industry standards
  • Lifetime customer value measurements
  • Worker safety
  • Tracking products from warehouse arrival to manufacturing processes (including intermediary products) to finished goods
  • Traceability forward and backward with ordering histories and delivery data

For process manufacturers, these systems allow for shared, real-time access to information that is valuable to the salesperson, marketing manager, warehouse chief, finance officer and executive.

Food and Beverage

Sound supply chain management is at the core of any successful food or beverage company. While these functions traditional reside within ERP solutions, a CRM integration provides even more opportunities for efficiency.

With tight margins, fierce competition and changing consumer tastes, efficiency is paramount. By integrating the customer relationship insights with operational details, food and beverage companies are able to leverage the three interconnected supply chain components – suppliers, stores/restaurants and customers.

Here are three benefits for food and beverage companies when their CRM and ERP solutions are integrated:

  • Lower operational costs. CRM tools help provide insights and ordering patterns that can improve ordering and inventory management, resulting in lower storage and spoilage costs.
  • Customer segmentation. Targeted sales by customer segments allow for optimized ordering based on demand, relevance and location. Segmentation also allows for better analysis of customer profitability, based on logistical and operational costs. Customer analysis helps finance, sales and operations teams to identify and distinguish between stable, regular business and variable or unpredictable customers.
  • Seasonality. Identifying ordering patterns allows for sales and procurement employees to track, predict and anticipate seasonal variances in demand.

Cannabis

With cannabis and CBD companies emerging and growing as more states approve medicinal and recreational use, businesses in this fledgling industry are seeking solutions. There is a critical need to manage the operational and customer sides, not only for better efficiency and profitability, but also to meet the scrutiny of law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the state and local level.

Cannabis companies need to track and access industry-unique data, such as the costs of materials and energy, growth rates, potency levels and cross-strain breeding attempts.

Integrating this information with customer demand, buying patterns and demographic data helps cannabis companies provide products that are most in demand and most profitable. Pricing, resource allocation and purchasing all benefit from a blending of customer and production data.

How to combine

Combining these two complex business solutions to maximize the potential of an integrated approach is a complex undertaking. Whether buying new solutions or integrating new ones, careful planning needs to happen. Among the key steps are:

  • Determining whether the integration is unidirectional or bidirectional
  • Identifying data and modules to integrate
  • Unifying headers, labels, tags and data formats
  • Mapping data and interfaces
  • Assessing existing and future reporting needs
  • Focusing on user experience
  • Training users

To manage the many complexities involved in developing a cogent integration strategy, companies turn to NexTec. Our integration specialists have extensive knowledge of the providers, solutions and features available and the expertise to deliver a seamless integration experience.

Take a free tour of Sage Enterprise Management to learn more about NexTec and ERP/CRM integration.

Cannabis cookies and cannabis leaves.

Edibles at the intersection of cannabis and food ERP solutions

By | Cannabis, Food and Beverage | No Comments
Cannabis Cookies with cannabis leaves.

Cannabis-infused cookies are a popular choice among consumers. Keeping them safe requires the right ERP solution.

As the cannabis industry grows, one of the most popular product categories is edibles. Such products are cannabis-infused foods and beverages that are consumed either for recreational purposes or to treat a health issue. They include candies, cookies, energy drinks, gummies and teas.

The issue of food safety is a complicated one for cannabis companies. In states where these products are approved for sale, there may be some local regulations and guidelines. However, with the absence of federal regulations, many businesses struggle to determine how to address food safety.

That’s where enterprise resource planning software (ERP) can play a pivotal role. With an ERP designed for the cannabis industry, you can address key food safety issues and be prepared for future regulations at all levels.

Here is a look at edibles at the intersection of cannabis and food ERP solutions.

Approaches to food safety compliance

Food safety for cannabis companies can touch on multiple issues, including some common to food and beverage businesses, such as:

  • Inaccurate labeling
  • Food-borne pathogens
  • Disease outbreaks

In addition, there are issues unique to the cannabis business sector, including:

  • Extraction methods
  • Bacteria and mold growth
  • Pest and pesticide contamination
  • Chemical exposure
  • Employee handling
  • Unintentional consumption or overconsumption of edibles

The consequences of a food safety event are potentially substantial, including liability and damage to reputation and public perception.

Some cannabis companies take a conservative approach and follow guidelines established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Food Safety Modernization Act establishes guidelines for manufacturers to use for identifying and addressing risks, sanitary transportation and certifying foreign suppliers.

For cannabis companies it’s complicated. Without federal regulation for such businesses, the FSMA does not apply. Yet states and municipalities have their own unique regulations and restrictions, meaning companies need to be mindful of many different guidelines to remain compliant.

Cannabis candies and buds in a glass jar.

Companies need to ensure that gummies, teas and chocolates containing cannabis are safe to consume.

Food ERP solutions and cannabis companies

Cannabis-specific ERPs help by providing the structure, integration and processes necessary to follow best practices for food safety. Here are some of the critical ways a cannabis food ERP can help:

  • Seed-to-sale management. Tools that track plants forward and backwards at every stage of growth and processing allow for specificity and detailed reporting.
  • Inventory management. Automation tools help improve the tracking and recording of important inventory data, including expiration dates, product quantities, RFID plant tags and serial and lot numbers. These data points help manage inventory levels, recipes, labeling, quality control, supply chain management and traceability. The tools also can automate accurate product label creation, expiration dates and testing for contaminants.
  • Recipe management. One challenge for the cannabis industry is the inconsistency of taste, texture and smell from batch to batch. Your food ERP should include recipe and formula management functions that track raw materials, revision history and production notes.
  • HACCP planning. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points planning details procedures to protect consumers from chemical, physical and biological dangers. Incorporating control points into your ERP lets you prevent and control hazards before they affect food safety.

Choosing the right cannabis ERP

NexTec provides cannabis companies with insights and industry knowledge to identify the right food ERP solution. Learn more about technology that runs your CannaBusiness.

Tabletop with various vegetable dishes and grains.

How the right ERP solution reduces food waste

By | ERP, Food and Beverage | No Comments
Tabletop with various dishes of vegetables and grains.

Food waste is an expensive issue for manufacturing companies wanting to reduce operational costs.

Reducing food waste is an important issue for food and beverage companies that can best be resolved by improving communication and collaboration across the supply chain.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that connects users and provides transparency is one of the best ways to curb the food waste issue and improve efficiency. Knowing how the right ERP solution reduces food waste is the first step.

The food waste issue

A recent study about the Belgian food processing industry found that the most common factors contributing to food waste were:

  • Product changes (13 percent)
  • Human error (10.9 percent)
  • Product defects (8.7 percent)
  • Buyer contracts (6.4 percent)

Clearly, all four of those causes are related to poor production and operational processes. As lead researcher Dr. Manoj Dora of Brunei Business School noted, “At most of the companies we went to, there was no standardisation of work or visual management in place. It’s a management issue.”

Dora noted that there are pre-production issues that contribute to food waste, notably incorrect orders, substandard storage and poor inventory management. Within the production environment, interruptions in production and inefficiencies in planning, ordering, processing, packaging and transportation compound the issues.

The scale of food waste is extraordinary. A Boston Consulting Group study estimates that globally 1.6 billion tons of food valued at $1.2 trillion are lost are wasted annually.

Chef preparing a meal.

A food ERP solution helps companies use real-time insights throughout the supply chain to reduce waste.

How food ERP software reduces waste

Your ERP solution offers multiple functions that help lower the amount of food waste. Here are a few of the main benefits:

  • Real-time data. With access to information from the shop floor, mobile devices, suppliers and products in the moment of need, employees can make better-informed decisions and collaborate better, especially for inventory and order forecasting.
  • Mistake reduction. With accurate data from your ERP solution inventory management application and accurate recipe management, there are fewer mistakes that result in scrapping batches or not having the right ingredients available when needed.
  • Improved efficiency. ERPs connect finance, inventory, production scheduling, sales and transportation across the company. Working from a single source of information and processes that are informed by multiple areas, your company will have better operational outcomes, less downtime and better ordering and reordering, and more accurate production.
  • Catch weight management. More accurate catch weights, and tools to track changes over time, allow for accurate recipes, less spoilage and more precise measurements at the time of production. The right ERP tracks multiple measurement units, converts measures, lot tracking and flexible pricing.
  • Food monitoring. Embedded sensors connected to products, lots and batches collect and relay vital information such as temperature and humidity levels that can be used to assess viability or change conditions, save more perishable ingredients and reduce food waste.
  • Traceability. In the event of a recall, an ERP helps you quickly track and trace ingredients and finished products quickly, ensuring better food safety and less waste.

NexTec group helps food and beverage manufacturers identify and implement the right ERP solution to reduce food waste. Download our guide to reducing food waste to learn more about how NexTec improves your investment in ERP technology.

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.