Data breaches: Are you ready to handle them this year?

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Data breaches 2020

Cybersecurity challenges are nothing new, but as threats evolve, systems become more complex, and people (and things) become more connected, the stakes continue to rise.

2020 is in full swing and it’s time for us all to look back at some lessons learned from 2019.  As always, cybersecurity is still atop the list of company concerns. Though the threats, risks, and costs may evolve, it’s always important to reiterate just what challenges exist and discuss tips on how to address them.

2019 in review: Breaches bigger and more costly than ever.

Cybersecurity challenges are nothing new, but as threats evolve, systems become more complex, and people (and things) become more connected, the stakes continue to rise.

Costs are rising too.

In their annual Cost of a Data Breach report, IBM Security and Ponemon Institute found that both in the short and long-run, breaches could cripple a business.

In the United States, the average cost of a data breach hit $242 per record, taking 245 days to identify and contain and increasing from $7.91 million in 2018 to $8.19 million in 2019. These events often take years to recover from and result in lost business, damaged reputation, and potential legal consequences.

What can you learn for 2020?

While the numbers look scary the reality is that you can take steps to mitigate these risks. The first step is not to ignore the risk or think your company is immune. With 2020 now upon us, here are a few things you should know.

Know how they happen.

Luckily, if you understand how and why breaches happen, you can also work to shore up defenses. Breaches occur for a variety of reasons ranging from outside threats to accidental releases to trusted insiders.

The known threat: Hackers

It may come as no surprise that hacking takes the top spot for breach type—actors outside the organization are responsible for 87% of the breaches reported. Often targeted to get the most valuable information, hacks are fueled by financial motivations, in which these actors can sell the data on the dark web or ransom it back to the owner.

As the information is highly prized (i.e. a Social Security or credit card number is worth more than an email address or name), the information is targeted at a higher rate and is much more damaging to lose.

The data giveaway: Accidental exposure

However, it’s not the only way records are exposed. In fact, hacks only account for around 14 percent of the number of records lost. The top culprit for this? Accidental exposure of data on the Internet. According to Risk Based Security, over 6 billion records have been made freely accessible thanks to misconfigured databases, backups, end points, and services. While companies do incredible amounts of work to stop hackers, most information is just given away.

The trusted threat: Malicious insiders

But that’s not all. 7.3% of the breaches are caused by malicious insiders. Like hackers, these individuals have motive, means, and opportunity. They also have fewer barriers to entry. Misconfigured user permissions may give the wrong person access to information, lax practices may make it easy for a malicious insider to extract a password, and poor authentication practices may allow him or her to login without trouble.

Understand how they could affect you.

There are many ways that information ends up in the wrong hands, but the end result is reasonably straightforward: You lose money and your reputation is damaged.

Lost business: The biggest contributor to costs.

According to IBM, the loss of customer trust had serious financial consequences for the companies studied, and lost business was the largest of four major cost categories that contributed to the total cost of a data breach, responsible for abnormal customer turnover of 3.9 percent.

Long tail costs: Costs continue for years.

Once the 242 days are done, the costs continue—especially for those in regulated environments like healthcare and finance, two of the most frequently targeted sectors. While an average of 67 percent of breach costs came in the first year, 22 percent accrued in the second year after a breach, and 11 percent of costs occurred more than two years after a breach.

Learn how to deal with risks.

There are four primary ways of dealing with risk: avoid, mitigate, accept, or transfer.

Choose the right partner

While there are many factors that contribute to the cost of a data breach, some of the biggest drivers included third-party involvement and extensive cloud migration. However, this is no indictment of third-party providers or the cloud—most cloud providers do things better than you can. In this, the right partner matters.

Before taking on any cloud project or working with an implementation partner, it pays to ensure they are taking steps to protect you. Learn what you should look for from your provider and implementation partner, get to know what questions you should ask, and read about how to protect yourself from unscrupulous vendors here.

Address complexity

Another of the top five cost drivers? System complexity. When systems start to work individually and reach out in all directions, it’s much harder to know which one is the problem.

In today’s IT environment, complexity is easier to handle than ever. Applications can connect using secure APIs—not hand-coded ones that increase risk.

Automate and augment your security

According to IBM, organizations that had deployed automated security solutions that reduce the need for direct human intervention – including the use of security solutions with artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, and automated incident response orchestration – saw significantly lower costs after experiencing a data breach.

AI is the next frontier for security (not to mention the rest of the business). Get to know what it means for finance.

Setting yourself up for success: NexTec delivers.

Business threats are evolving, but with the right tools and advice, companies can overcome them and thrive. NexTec has been in the business of delivering both, implementing products that make your business better and advising clients on what matters.

For over a quarter century, we’ve seen the technology world evolve and can help you select, implement, and use the right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or Business Intelligence (BI) solutions for your organization. Let’s get in touch.

The implementation process: Staying organized, motivated, and on path

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
ERP implementation process

Completing an ERP implementation project requires you to stay organized, keep your people motivated, and ensure the project stays on path. Here are a few tips to make that happen.

So you’ve made it to the final stages of your ERP journey—you’re just an implementation project and a go-live away from a business management solution able to facilitate your next decade or more of growth.

After realizing that your outdated or entry-level solution can no longer meet your needs, communicating the change, securing buy-in, and completing a vendor analysis, you’ve selected a solution and partner and are now entering the home stretch. Congratulations, after months of planning your move beyond QuickBooks, this long journey is coming to its conclusion.

However, if you’ve ever completed an endurance sport, you know that there’s a big difference between ‘almost finished’ and ‘completed.’

The same goes for your ERP implementation. You’ve gotten so far—why stop now? It’s time to buckle down and make it to the finish line.

Will there be a bit of a headwind or a couple hills? Yes. However, you’ve prepared for this and understand that even if an ERP implementation may not be “easy,” it can be manageable. Plus, if you’ve followed our advice, you’ve chosen a partner who has done this many times before.

The home stretch: Getting from implementation to go live.

As the title of our article implies, completing an ERP implementation project requires you to stay organized, keep your people motivated, and ensure the project stays on path. Here are a few tips to make that happen.

Planning for the process

Before completing an endurance race, you’re going to at least look at the map. Should you conserve energy for a big climb? Is there a stretch heading southeast in which you can expect a bit of sweet, sweet tailwind? At which mile markers should you break out your energy gel? Are you aiming for simply completing the race or are you going for time?

The same goes for your implementation. Prior to starting, you will work with your partner to determine which type of implementation project you will need, discuss your vision, needs, and project scope before writing up an implementation strategy. During this phase, you will discuss more about how your business works and work with your partner to establish timelines, benchmarks, and goals.

Maintain pace

You’ve planned for the hills. You’ve set a goal time. Now you have to follow your plan. When completing an endurance event, it’s important to stay focused on the finish line. But the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” exists for a reason. It’s imperative that you maintain a pace that allows you to get to the end.

The planning process tells you a timeline. Project management is what gets you to the end. Project management is all about comparing the progress made against the original plan and thereby updating the plan.” To accomplish this, assembling a Project Management Team to guide the project from beginning to end is necessary.

This team includes an executive sponsor, a person high on your organizational hierarchy who is there to discuss expectations, answer questions, settle disputes, and keep spirits high. It also includes a project leader, someone who is knowledgeable about your business, has previous management experience, and can communicate clearly. This person is also in charge of setting team member responsibilities and keeping people on task within your organization.

Stay organized

When you make the move to implement ERP it’s easy to get distracted. Maybe you start to thinkof adding more nice-to-have features. Is it doable? Of course—today’s ERP is customizable, and your partner will be glad to take on the additional work.

However, you need to know each addition will shift the timeline and ‘additional work’ means more billable hours to build the product to your new needs. It’s much cheaper and much less risky to discuss every element before the project starts.

Keep your spirits up

Getting to the finish line is hard. There will be trying times and frustrating moments in both implementation projects and endurance races. Keeping spirits high throughout the process can help you get through. For ERP implementations, this means effective communication.

If you’ve followed our series, you know that proper communication prior to implementation helped you document your needs and instill a sense of ownership among the employees who will be affected most. However, now you need to expand this communication across the organization.

It’s also important to note that communicating exactly what is happening, why it’s happening, and when it’s happening throughout the process will keep everyone in the loop and mitigate the anxiety ERP implementations can bring.

Surprises can be both good and bad. If your employees – the end users – understand from the beginning that adopting ERP technology is a business initiative and strategy and not just a new software package or an IT project, then they are more likely to support the entire process.

The journey to ERP starts with the right advice

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

A single version of the truth: Why today’s CFO can’t waste the next decade herding reports

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Dashboards and KPIs, ERP | No Comments
CFOs real time numbers

Today’s CFO can’t wait days for an “accurate” report—information needs to be accessible today and it needs to be infallible.

The term ‘herding cats’ has long been used in the management world to denote the futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are inherently uncontrollable. Have you ever tried to get one unwilling cat into its carrier? Now multiply that by hundreds.

It’s entertaining to think about, and is why the “Cat Herders” ad still appears on the list of most memorable “Big Game” advertisements two decades later. However, the phrase still holds true: some things are harder to control than others—especially when put into large, dispersed groups.

For today’s CFO, the roles may change, but some remain the same.

As we discussed in our last blog, today’s CFO has a more important, diverse, and exciting role than he or she did even a decade ago. Knowing this, even as the role evolves from ‘head number cruncher’ to core influencer and organizational catalyst, some of the responsibilities remain. It’s still on you to build a financially sound strategy built on historical data, current results, and projections.

However, say you’re trying to build out the budget for 2020 right now. How would you define the process of sifting through email chains and watching your team trying to piece together reports? Is everyone on the same page? How long will it take to complete, how accurate is the information, and if there is a disparity, how can you find out whose information is right? Is it akin to herding a certain feline?

The speed of business is increasing, and opportunities pop up and fall by the wayside faster than ever. Today’s CFO can’t wait days for an “accurate” report—information needs to be accessible today and it needs to be infallible.

Centralize your system, see changes in real time, and take charge of your strategy

Now more than ever, CFOs are expected to have real-time numbers at their fingertips. In fact, they must also be able to generate reports and offer their insights on that data in near real-time, as well.

The key is to have the flexibility to access the data you need from your ERP database in whatever manner is most convenient to you—whether it be for export to an Excel file, as a graphical display on your dashboard, as part of a report, or even as data that will be passed to another application for more analysis.

The right ERP system can deliver this, empowering organizational leaders to understand where the business was, is, and will be. Armed with the right ERP system and analytical tools, you can get to your data and make sense of it, giving your organization the insights it needs to not only survive, but to thrive.

Ready to learn more? We invite you to download two free guides from our friends at Acumatica: Top technology challenges for the modern CFO and cloud ERP buyer’s guide for the modern CFO.

Few solutions provide today’s CFOs with the flexibility and adaptability they need as well as Acumatica, and as a leading Acumatica Partner, we can help you on your journey to this powerful software. Let’s get in touch.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Training employees, going live, and using a new ERP solution

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
outgrowing quickbooks training

Based on the scope of your project, you’ll work with your partner to develop an implementation project plan for your project team.

It’s been a journey. But at long last, it’s coming to an end. It may feel a bit hectic at the moment, but the finish line—your ERP go-live date—is in sight. One last hill to get over and you can officially say that your company has completed the ERP implementation marathon and has a solution able to facilitate years of growth.

The path to ERP: A recap of our outgrowing QuickBooks series.

Before getting into the final steps—training, the go-live, and the ongoing use—we invite you to read the entire series:

  • Realizing that it’s time to make a change: This article explores the first steps you should take when your long-trusted QuickBooks application starts to show wear and tear, and answers how to tell that your business is ready for fully functional ERP.
  • Communicating a change: If you’ve used QuickBooks for years, convincing users that it’s time for an upgrade may present challenges, but by talking with users, you can allay fears and understand what users want and need.
  • Determining and documenting your needs: Getting from communication to decision requires you to know what you need. In this article, we explore how to determine where you are, outline a project strategy, and decide on what features you will use.
  • Securing executive commitment: ERP is a big investment, and getting your C-suite on board for a move from an ‘incredibly affordable’ product to a much needed one could require a bit of convincing. We explore some key talking points and tactics.
  • Completing an ROI and vendor analysis: An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to determine if you can afford a move, how quickly a move will pay off, and how much the investment will generate over its life.
  • Finalizing your software decision and selecting an implementation partner: Getting from numbers to decision requires an innate understanding of how each product will affect employees. This article answers how to get from shortlist to selection.
  • Getting through the implementation process: With the decision made, the final step in this marathon is often the hardest. In this, we explore the steps to complete an implementation and the best practices to get to where you are today.

Training your employees

Based on the scope of your project, you’ll work with your partner to develop an implementation project plan for your project team. During this phase, you’ll develop a training plan alongside the implementation plan.

As the go-live date approaches, the training process begins. Depending on the tech-savviness of your team, the preferences and learning styles, and the budget, you will have a variety of options available including but not limited to:

  • On-site/face-to-face: The most customizable, hands-on, and flexible training, face-to-face is structured around the learning styles of your employees.
  • Classroom: Like it sounds, in-person classroom training can work for the right people, in which a trainer can educate your employees in groups.
  • ELearning: Likely the most cost-effective training method, eLearning can range from videos to learning paths or online classrooms.
  • Train the trainer: A final step in which users demonstrate their knowledge by showing a trainer how to use the software.

An ERP deployment may be the most intense IT project your company ever undergoes, and at times it can be overwhelming. Be sure to allocate plenty of time for training and prepare for the associated costs.

Added to this, many ERP vendors offer free ‘open university’ programs where users can learn the basics at their own pace.

Preparing for go-live

The culmination of your ERP implementation project is when you “go live” and actually start using the system to support day-to-day operations. This is the day (or process) the product is ready for use. Data is converted, users are trained, tests are completed, and your IT team is ready for a vacation. How do you intend to get from theory to reality? With the help of your implementation partner, you will choose an option that works for your company, often one of these three:

  • The Big Bang: Your employees walk out Friday and your IT team gets to work. Walk in Monday, and everything is new. This is the “big bang” go-live, and it’s perfect with the right preparation, training, and alignment.
  • The phased roll out: Changeover occurs in phases over an extended period of time. Users move onto new system in a series of steps. While it avoids the risk and system shock by replacing one big bang with a series of small ones, it also creates an environment where you’re trying to work with two different systems.
  • The parallel operation: Both the legacy and new system run at the same time. Users learn the new system while working on the old. While low risk, it’s also the most labor intensive—approximately twice the work. As a result, neither system will get the proper attention.

Using, maintaining, and expanding your system

With day one out of the way, you’ve done it. Users will begin to get more comfortable with the software, operate faster and more accurately, and hopefully realize that they have a few more hours each week.

If everything was done properly, you will begin to recognize value quickly. However, you can’t rest on your laurels, in today’s world of technology, new products, new techniques, and new business processes are emerging at a breakneck pace. Most vendors will introduce functionality twice per year, and if you feel something is missing, you should remain active on the boards to request functionality.

In addition, we recommend the following:

  • Keep your software up to date: Internally, be sure your system remains up-to-date with new applications, new capabilities, and new “releases” that the developer will issue on a regular basis (or will be continually released in some cases) to make sure that your system continues to grow and adapt to changing needs.
  • Expand when needed: As discussed in previous blogs, ERP is flexible. In fact, it’s one of the selling points and the reason we recommended you don’t need everything on day one. As your business grows, you can easily add more functionality.
  • Keep employees in the know: Your system changes, but so do your people. There is a continuing need for user training and education – think of it as CPA’s CEU requirements – to enhance skills and understanding, prepare users to exploit and benefit from new functionality or new responsibilities, and continue to expand the utility and benefits from your new ERP system.

Your ERP partner: NexTec

Whether you’ve been anxiously awaiting each new installment of our implementation series or stumbled upon this article, know this: the ERP implementation process is complex and it pays to have a partner who has been there and done that.

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

Unlocking the power of data in distribution: Don’t get buried by an ever-expanding pool of data

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain | No Comments
data in distribution

When distribution data is managed and understood, it can benefit your company, improve your relationships, and facilitate growth. But what goes into making your data work for you?

Winter is here, which for some means snow. Break out the snowplows, shovels, and snow blowers; snow happens, and you can’t just wait for it to melt—at least if you hope to go anywhere.

For distribution firms, snow is bad enough, creating logistical nightmares in its wake. Luckily, snow melts. Unmanaged data, on the other hand, just keeps building up.

Left unchecked, this ever-expanding pool of data can become unwieldly, slowing your business down and hurting your ability to serve customers. As the data stacks up at your business, the competition is heating up outside of it, making it more important than ever to clear up the blind spots, connect the supply chain, and work smarter than ever.

That said, when distribution data is managed and understood, it can benefit your company, improve your relationships, and facilitate growth. But what goes into making your data work for you?

You can’t measure what you can’t see. Common challenges holding distributors back.

For many distribution firms, the first challenge in overcoming their data challenges is to know just how tall the ‘snow pile’ is. Businesses lose sight of inventory and processes for a variety of reasons, but the most likely culprits are manual processes and disconnected systems.

Paper, spreadsheets, and email

Overreliance on paper, spreadsheets, and email isn’t only slow, it creates a blind spot for distribution businesses. For those looking to improve their ability to track data, the first place to look is the file folder. Why? Because you shouldn’t be relying on one.

A surprising amount of businesses still rely on paper-based processes, printing out paperwork for orders and projects, faxing invoices and checks, scanning data into the system, and hoping they can keep track of it all. This presents a variety of problems.

  • First, it’s expensive and time consuming. Those businesses still relying on outdated processes are paying their staff to waste hours every single week completing tasks they shouldn’t be worrying about.
  • Second, it’s inaccurate. Spreadsheets are breeding grounds for errors, and it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake when hand-keying information into a document. One mistake can set off the entire formula.
  • Third, it’s hard to track. Scanning a document into a computer, routing an email to a warehouse, and hoping the right person saw it is just that—a strategy based on hope.

By eliminating paper and spreadsheets and reducing reliance on email for important processes, you can begin to track how data stacks up at your organization and take steps to control it.

The application hairball

Another challenge that businesses face when trying to make sense of the data they have is something that can best be described as an ‘application hairball,’ a mess of separate products that are tangled together—but still disconnected.

For those in the distribution industry, this is often one of the most pressing issues; data from inventory management exists, data from CRM exists, and data from ERP exists—in three separate places. So where do they turn? Back to spreadsheets and emails.

However, those on the leading edge are able to untangle this mess of applications that can’t talk to each other, connect the processes, and facilitate the management. A distribution-focused ERP can make this happen. To manage their supply chain and logistical activities successfully, distributors should consider implementing a true cloud distribution ERP solution, one that is able to handle their warehouse, inventory, and order management processes while simultaneously connecting these activities with their financials and sales.

Getting from disparate to data-driven: How to start using your distribution data.

Once you get rid of the first challenges, the next step is to start making your data work for you. How? It all starts with knowing what to measure and being able to track what’s happening.

Know what to measure

The ability to make sense of the data you’re generating is one thing—knowing the what, why, and how of this information is another. There’s more to your business than revenue, profit and loss, and cash flow, you should be able to understand how this information came to be.

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, exist to answer this, representing a variety of measurements important to a specific industry designed to unlock the true health of a business and uncover previously unknown opportunities or challenges that traditional reporting measures fail to address.

However, not all KPIs are created equal—some metrics matter more than others, some are easier to track, and others are great for predicting where you will stand a year from now. Learn more about tracking KPIs for business growth here.

Improve your understanding

If you’re in the finance department, charts are your friend. What about the people who didn’t spend their college days learning about GAAP? Even if it makes sense to you, present most people with something unstructured and their eyes will glaze over.

However, by structuring data (including the aforementioned KPIs) and presenting it in a way that’s useful for anyone who needs it, your business can work faster and your people can make smarter decisions.

Distributors that turn to dashboards, analytics, and business intelligence (BI) software integrated with an ERP system 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. Reports that used to take hours are now automatically calculated in real time, helping distributors to improve planning, increase profit margins, and enhance customer relationships.

The right ERP solution for your distribution business.

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. When you pair this with other necessary applications you will have a solution that can put you on a path that allows you to not just survive, but thrive. NexTec Group consultants have been helping distribution companies select and implement ERP, BI and CRM for a quarter century. If you believe 2020 is the year that you truly take control of your supply chain, let’s talk. We’re here to help.

5 Challenges faced by the chief financial officer in 2020

By | Accounting software, Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
top cfo challenges 2020

Knowing just how fast-paced the business landscape is, the finance department needs to be more agile than ever.

It’s an interesting, exciting, and somewhat challenging time to be at the head of the finance department. In only a few decades, you’ve seen the role evolve. To get where you are today, you’ve helped your firm weather recessions, led your department through an evolving list of regulations and compliance challenges, and have built a team despite a shortage of talent.

Now, think back to the role of your company’s CFO when you were just starting out in the field, wide-eyed and a year or so out of college. What comes to mind? Now, compare it to your role today. Could you do what that CFO did? Yes. The question is, what would you do with the other 30 hours each week.

As a modern CFO, you have a bigger role than ever in the future of the organization. More departments answer to you, fewer people think of your role as “head of the no department,” and you’ve taken on new responsibilities, moving from ‘head number cruncher’ to core influencer and organizational catalyst.

Today’s finance chief: Balancing traditional roles with new

Today’s CFO understands how to create value for the organization and has taken a more active role in the operations of the business. Whether you’ve been in this position for 18 months or 18 years, you know that it’s a position that continues to present you with new challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities.

Looking back five years, and this was already predicted—IFAC noted that the parameters of the job are getting blurred in 2014 and Deloitte introduced the four faces of the CFO model a year later. Both of these still hold true, the role of Steward, Operator, Strategist, and Catalyst have never been more important than they are today.

As we enter a new decade, the roles of the finance department and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) have been elevated and broadened, a trend that will continue moving forward. If you haven’t seen it already, plan for more focus on operations and leadership, higher risk management expectations, and a bigger role in IT decisions and digital transformation leadership.

What will be expected? Top focuses of the CFO in 2020 and beyond.

Knowing just how fast-paced the business landscape is, the finance department needs to be more agile than ever. Information needs to be available at your fingertips, security and risk management need to be under control, and your team needs to be prepared to make decisions. Here are just some of the issues and questions you will need to face in the coming years:

1) Having the right information available—before you need it.

As little as a decade ago, companies could rely on a standard process. Need a report? It’ll take a bit of time, but you’ll have it by the end of the week. Need to run budgeting and planning? It’ll require a few emails, but it gets done. No longer is this the case.

Getting set back a couple days is detrimental. This gets even harder, because depending on how technologically mature your industry is, your competition could be leaving you behind. Now more than ever, CFOs are expected to have real-time numbers at their fingertips and generate reports that offer insights on that data.

For today’s finance leaders, the right information needs to be available before its needed. Automation, integration, and business intelligence need to combine in a user-friendly dashboard that presents the right information to the right people at the right time.

With this, you can understand, report, and discuss where your company stands with ease, ultimately making faster, smarter decisions.

2) Making sure the information you have is accurate and auditable.

Accurate internal and managerial information is expected; accurate and auditable financial information is critical. Auditors of financial statements dream of quick, easy, and uneventful audit engagements just as much as CFOs do, and being able to provide a clean and accurate financial statement will make this process easier for everyone involved.

Auditability depends on a business’s financial recording policies and procedures, effective internal controls, and the willingness of a company’s executives to provide its external auditors with requested data and information.

3) Solving for compliance challenges.

Audits are hard enough, but compliance is another thing altogether. Today’s companies must be more vigilant against the threats to their financial solvency due to violations of laws, regulations, and industry standards.

From RevRec to leases, accounting standards have become more robust and challenging. Keeping up with the challenges these present requires effective internal controls, complete accuracy, and the same efficiency expected by internal stakeholders and auditors.

CFOs must ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to provide all stakeholders—including IT, HR, and C-level executives —the tools they need to meet compliance requirements and still perform their duties effectively.

4) Keeping your data locked down.

You don’t need to look hard to find examples of companies who have been impacted by technology failures or data breaches. Risk management is becoming an even bigger part of the CFO’s role: fifty-seven percent of CFOs report that risk management will become a critical part of their role in the future, a number that jumps to 66% among CFOs of companies with over $5 billion in revenue.

With risk management among the top priorities for CFOs, knowing where the security gaps exist in your organization is a top priority. As the primary individual responsible for your company’s financial and other sensitive data, you, the CFO, are on the front lines trying to keep your data safe.

To address this, you need to work with those in the rest of the organization to identify these gaps, take steps to educate employees, reevaluate access rights to sensitive information, and look for ways to improve.

5) Knowing what’s next.

As a CFO, you already know that part of your job is to predict the future—you do this in every single budgeting, planning, and strategy session. However, when paired with an evolving role that includes technology investments, operations decisions, and risk management, you will need to lead digital transformation initiatives.

We’ve discussed the importance of digital transformation initiatives in the past, and have looked into the role of technology to make this a reality, but for the CFO today, finding out what technological advancements can make his or her team’s job easier will set the company ahead and facilitate the move into the next decade.

One of these areas for improvement is an evolving business management solution that incorporates business intelligence, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more to deliver the right information and increase the speed and accuracy of decisions.

Start the new decade with the right technology partner.

As your decisions become harder to make, you can’t rely on outdated, underperforming, legacy applications. If you’re looking to understand how the right technology can deliver for your business and make your job as a CFO easier, we invite you to download two free guides from our friends at Acumatica: Top technology challenges for the modern CFO and cloud ERP buyer’s guide for the modern CFO.

Few solutions provide today’s CFOs with the flexibility and adaptability they need as well as Acumatica, and as a leading Acumatica Partner, we can help you on your journey to this powerful software. Let’s get in touch.

Zeroing in: How to finalize your ERP decision after outgrowing QuickBooks

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

With your shortlist in place, now it’s time to dig in. In this phase, you want to know how the software works, stack up vendors against your expectations, and hear from users similar to you.

The path to selecting a new business management solution is never an easy one. From realizing that your current product can’t deliver to convincing your team it’s time to make a switch to evaluating the dozens of potential vendors who could serve you, everything starts to blend together.

As we start to approach our final articles in our series on outgrowing QuickBooks, we would like to discuss today one of the most challenging parts of the process—making your decision.

Request proposals.

Request proposals from the suppliers on your short list. Share your requirements definition and any other information they might need to prepare a proper proposal for you.

Make sure that they include all implementation costs including data migration, user training, consultation help, and on-going costs so you can develop a true TOTAL cost of ownership for the time period you designated in your ROI analysis.

Stack your vendors up: Criteria, hands-on demos, and references.

With your shortlist in place, now it’s time to dig in. In this phase, you want to know how the software works, stack up vendors against your expectations, and hear from users similar to you.

Evaluate side-by-side.

One of the best ways to get here is to evaluate your potential vendors by the priorities you’ve set earlier. You already know what you need, what you want, and what you may need in the future from your early-stage discussions with end users. You’ve likely cut vendors out because of these criteria.

Now it’s time to reevaluate and finalize your priorities and compare each vendor side by side on their ability to deliver. Looking for an easier way to do this?

Check out this helpful checklist that allows you to compare vendors on their ability to deliver productivity, functionality, technology, value, and minimized risk. Be sure to keep this list on hand—and print a few dozen copies—for the next step as well.

See what you’re getting.

As you evaluate your finalists (both vendors and implementation partners), you need to see what you’re getting. The demonstration process is built to help you understand this and will provide a lot of necessary information for your executives and end users.

Prepare a list that includes everything you need to see and be sure to include departments and user communities in the process so end users can get an introduction to the look-and-feel, process flow, and usability of each system.

A couple pieces of advice:

  • Stick to the script. Don’t get wowed by features and functions that your company does not need.
  • It’s a comparison of who’s best for you. Remember the demo is not a competition of what product is better than the other, it is a test to see if the product meets your needs.

Learn more about who you’ll be working with.

Perhaps the best way to understand each of the vendors on your shortlist is to hear from the people who already know how they work—the current customers. While case studies are great and vetted and verified reviews are even better, hearing directly from a current customer is a way to hear an unfiltered and honest analysis. Many reviews are written during the honeymoon phase, so it’s ideal to see if they still feel the same way a few years later.

Ask them about the software functionality and usability, the supplier’s support and responsiveness, and what they would do differently if they were just starting with this system. Ask about their successes and challenges during implementation and how well their chosen partners supported their needs during the implementation.

Take another look at ROI.

In our earlier blog on securing the initial go-ahead from the C-suite, we mentioned that “calculating ROI should be done at a couple points in the ERP decision.” The initial analysis was designed to prove that an ERP move would be worthwhile, that it’s more costly to do nothing, and that your executives should back the investment.

While your initial analysis was completed without a quote in hand, now that you are closing in on your final selection, you have real numbers in hand, and can complete a more accurate ROI analysis.

Another note on ROI? Plan your costs accordingly. Depending on licensing and whether you are choosing the cloud or on-premises, costs may be recognized at different points or you may have to factor in hardware replacements.

Make sure that you are getting what was promised.

In our last blog in out outgrowing QuickBooks series, we looked at two key concepts important to developing your shortlist. First, we discussed the three-legged stool of ERP—functionality, ease of use, and support—noting that without one of these three legs, the entire solution falters. Second, we explored five criteria for evaluating vendors.

This is always an important idea, but often, it’s not enough. Too often, vendors and their implementation partners will put out a deal that’s too good to be true.

Whether it’s discussing functionality that doesn’t exist, misrepresenting the risks, promising impossible implementation schedules, or undercutting costs, it’s easy to fall into a trap set by unscrupulous vendors.

How to get an honest answer.

Sometimes, getting an honest answer from your vendor isn’t as easy as you’d expect.

There’s a difference between companies who promise ‘easy implementations’ and competent implementers. The former glosses over details, the latter tells you it’s going to be hard and will walk your people through the pitfalls.

Learn more about some of the most common traps set, including the bait and switch, the unbelievably fast and easy implementation, the ‘unbeatable’ price (that fails to account for training), and the ‘sign and milk’ in the Acumatica blog, How to Protect Your Company Against Unscrupulous Cloud Business Application Vendor Practices & EULA Games.

Choose, negotiate, and finalize.

Getting from finalist to finalized is never an easy task, but with the right advice and partner, you can settle on a solution that matches your price, value, and risk expectations. You have the proposals, you’ve seen the products, and you’ve heard from customers—now it’s time to select.

If the proposal is within your budget and delivers everything you want and need, you are very fortunate. Negotiations can be done within reason, but remember that you can’t sacrifice needed functionality, support, or ease of use to save money. Remember, this is an investment in the future of your company, and a little bit of cost savings today could lead to years of lost revenue.

Whether you’re just starting out or are already on the cusp of a decision, we’re here to help. NexTec Group started out over a quarter-century ago because we saw that few companies were able to deliver successful software implementations.

Get to know more about our work with Acumatica, our recommended solution for companies outgrowing QuickBooks, check out the following resources below, can contact us for more information.

Group of colleagues standing together smiling.

Efficiency is leverage in professional services: Does your ERP deliver?

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, OTHER, Professional Services | No Comments
Group of smiling colleagues.

Professional service providers struggle to remain competitive

Professional service providers have to measure things differently than product-based companies. Because service professionals are usually providing “brain work” instead of a physical, tangible product, production values and operating costs look and function differently.

Still, they share one major characteristic: efficiency is the key to protecting profit margins.

Your agility when delivering services can help to build client trust and satisfaction while allowing you to maintain an edge on your competitors.

The right ERP can empower service professionals to measure critical key performance indicators (KPIs) that will keep you on track to a productive, profitable business. Here are some of the top considerations when vetting ERP systems:

1. Define the right KPIs

KPIs are the driving factors behind business growth, and service professionals should identify and understand exactly how they impact your company. Suggested by Service Professional Indicator’s 2016 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark report, these KPIs include, but are not limited to:

  • Year Over Year revenue growth
  • Employee retention and attrition
  • Project profitability
  • Employee utilization rate (an employee’s available time for productive, billable work)
  • Employee satisfaction

There may be other important metrics that are significant to your growth, but the bottom line is that service providers need a fluid, reliable way to track these figures.

2. Gain greater visibility into operations

By establishing and monitoring the right KPIs, service providers can use their data to understand more about how their busines

s operates and identify efficiency issues.

For example, are you consistently delivering your services on-time and on budget? Are there steps between project onset and delivery that could be eliminated? Lag can not only kill your profits but also your client’s satisfaction and trust.

Person typing on a laptop keyboard.

Tracking the right metrics is critical to success.

3. Identify opportunities for improvement

As service providers gain a better understanding of the business’s operations, they can use their data to identify bottlenecks in processes that could derail their profits.

For example, you may discover that you aren’t utilizing your team to their fullest potential, which is contributing to project delays or slimmer profit margins. By optimizing your existing human resources, you may be able to avoid hiring additional employees or outsourcing tasks to freelancers.

As a result, service professionals can better manage resources, improve the customer experience, and help each employee thrive.

How Acumatica and NexTec empower service professionals

Acumatica, a leading ERP for the service industry, was designed to help professionals better leverage their data to monitor KPIs, understand their business and customers, and improve efficiency to maintain profitability and competitiveness.

Service providers can gain a 360-degree view of their clients’ activities and requests, along with other critical details like revenue per billable person, profit margin, project overrun, and resource management. As a result, professionals can focus more of their efforts on core business processes and make decisions driven by data versus assumptions.

As an Acumatica partner, NexTec works closely with service providers, including lawyers, accounting firms, architectural and design services, and consultants, to identify the right ERP and automation tools that can help you maintain profitability and provide a higher level of service to your clients.

Take the Acumatica Product Tour and discover how it can benefit your professional services organization.

Man standing in front of a maze.

4 Professional services challenges in 2020 & how Acumatica meets them

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Professional Services | No Comments
Man standing in front of a maze.

What are the top industry challenges for professional service providers?

Professional services developed in response to businesses that need solutions to a problem. The irony, of course, is that these services experience their own unique set of challenges, and they must first overcome their own issues before they can adequately serve their customers.

Now that 2020 is here, professional services organizations should be preparing themselves for the obstacles they’ll encounter through this year. Here are four critical ones.

1. Achieving business growth

When professional services look at their overall growth picture, there are two directions they can take: out or up. Growing vertically requires companies to stay niche-focused and identify other opportunities within that niche. Expanding outward allows them to tap into new markets (geographically, industry-wise, or the development of a new product or service).

In either case, expansion forces companies to re-examine the ways they deliver their services to the customer. In many cases, a business’s existing system or methodology may be unable to accommodate new growth, which means other alternatives will need to be explored.

2. Automating manual tasks

Computer monitor with gears on display.

Managers spend more than 36% of their time on admin tasks.

A recent survey of 500 managers in the U.S. discovered that a majority of them spent more than 36% of their day on administrative tasks. In a 40-hour week, that’s about 13.5 hours of lost time that could otherwise be devoted to business growth or other objectives.

Automation is no longer an unrealistic idea, nor can it be considered a luxury. Rather, many businesses would agree it’s a critical growth component they can’t afford to do without. Companies that find themselves knee-deep in tedious manual tasks should look for ways to automate some or all of these tasks at scale to free up valuable time across the organization.

3. Responding to market shifts

Like the professional services industry, the clients you serve will also experience their own shifts in the marketplace. Savvy companies must keep a finger on the pulse of the industries where their customers are, so they can understand the challenges they face and be prepared to respond. This will be particularly critical in 2020 as many experts are predicting a recession, combined with the potential for economic uncertainty during a presidential election year.

4. Mastering profitability

Wooden blocks spelling out profit.

Maintaining profitability is a priority in every organization.

Each of the other three professional services challenges can impact your overall profitability, but that’s not all there is to maintaining a healthy bottom line.

To truly master profitability requires you to be able to provide accurate quotes, bill with precision, and reduce surprise costs that can derail your projects. Having a deeper insight into your project metrics can help you improve your chances of winning more business and hitting your targets on every project.

Filling in the gaps with Acumatica

A professional services ERP like Acumatica can be your best defense against these and other challenges you’ll face in 2020 and beyond. With features that specifically assist the services industries, Acumatica can address critical industry challenges, including task automation at scale, improved cash flow monitoring, project management, and relationship management to help you remain competitive in your market.

Choosing the right Acumatica partner to implement and roll out your new ERP is key to gaining the swiftest ROI. Let NexTec help you take the next steps in adding value and improving relationships with every customer.

Give Acumatica a try.

Supply chain

Overcome distribution and supply chain disruptions with ERP analytics

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) data analytics tools resolve supply chain problems quickly.

Supply chain managers face the continuous threat of disruptive actions that can derail operations at any turn. However, when business leaders integrate enterprise resource planning (ERP) data analytics solutions into supply chain management, problems can be identified early on or eliminated.

Uncertainty and supply chain management

Supply chains are, by their very nature, prone to uncertainty. However, your operation can overcome distribution and supply chain disruptions with ERP analytics.

Let’s consider some of the most common challenges faced in supply chain management:

  • Last-minute changes to customer orders
  • Compliance issues with suppliers or their suppliers
  • Unexpected machine input and output variances
  • Inaccurate measures and tracking of inventory
  • Transportation delays
  • Sudden changes in supplier quality
  • Lack of traceability
  • Poor communication and collaboration among suppliers

While headline-making natural disasters or geopolitical issues get the most attention, usually these more mundane but real day-to-day issues cause the most headaches.

The strength of data analytics

Data analytics help predict and preempt the most common supply chain issues. Forward-thinking companies are turning to data analytics to get ahead of supply chain complexity, simplifying processes, using data effectively and transforming operations.

Data analytics have long been a part of supply chain management. The difference today is that more data are available and trackable; companies can do more with the data they have to develop smarter solutions, often in real-time.

Data analytics are generally bundled into one of three types:

  • Descriptive Analytics. These insights use data to illustrate past performance or behavior. It gives your organization a clear and detailed picture of what has happened. It’s the most foundational and basic type of analysis and plays an important role in planning, strategy development, and decision-making.
  • Predictive Analytics. Data that are collected, organized and reported upon in a coherent manner can help managers make better projections for future behavior. For supply chain leaders, these projections can help forecast events that could be disruptive.
  • Prescriptive Analytics. While the first two categories model data, prescriptive analytics go a step further. They start with a corporate goal and use your predictions, along with rules, real constraints and limitations. These analytics will identify disruptions and help to find a solution.

Collectively, analytics programs provide insights from massive data sets, leveraging the Internet of Things, cloud computing, machine learning, and automation to provide a real-time of your supply chain and related business metrics. They offer insights needed for better decisions in the moment of most crucial need.

Supply chain.

Make better supply chain decisions with real-time ERP dashboards and analytics.

Acumatica and business analytics for your supply chain

At Acumatica, data analytics are a critical component of our ERP solutions. Start with a single version of the truth with a unified data collection and reporting system. Use multiple display options that generate reports for key staff based on role, visual dashboards for KPIs and exports to Excel for use with programs like Power BI.

Acumatica data analytics solutions include:

  • Business intelligence and analytics from data collected from Acumatica and external sources
  • Generic Inquiries, which extracts data and allows for multiple reporting and analytics applications
  • Acumatica Reporting, with access to more than 250 standard reports, and report creation and modification capabilities
  • Acumatica Dashboards, customizable by role, department or person

NexTec helps businesses identify, install and optimize the right ERP solution for their unique needs. Our experts help you leverage supply chain data for better solutions completed more quickly.

Get our short guide to BI and what it can do for your business.