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

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing the right ERP solution for your needs.

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

Balancing three necessary criteria.

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

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

Five most important elements of ERP.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Proven innovation in the VAR community: Becoming ‘certified’ is one thing; but having the experience to back it up is another. Bob Scott’s Insights VAR Stars is an annual listing of these value-added resellers who lead all others in growth, innovation, and industry leadership. NexTec is proud to be a mainstay on both the VAR Star list and the Top 100 VARs list.
  • Big enough to meet your scope, not too big to forget about you: While innovation is one thing, size is another—especially for midsized to large companies. A partner who has the scale, scope, and size to deliver services no matter how big you are, what you do, or where you are, but not someone too big that they treat you like just another project.
  • Experience and honesty: This is what makes it so important to find a partner who has been around the block, who has the skills to adapt to changes, and who can walk you through the process. When we launched NexTec, we did so because we noticed that software sellers that had never walked a mile in the customers’ shoes. Over the last 25 years of growth, we brought on some of the greatest minds in the business and kept them happy—our average consultant has 25 years’ experience in software, consulting, and industry.

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

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

Get to know NexTec

We chose NexTec because they were the only provider that spent the time getting to know and understand our business and our employees.” – Janet O’Neal, Planning and Control Manager (Kellogg Garden Products)

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

ERP solutions

Outgrowing QuickBooks: completing an ROI and vendor analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ongoing costs: how do different options stack up?

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

Direct benefits of implementing ERP

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

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

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

Indirect benefits of implementing ERP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maturity: how long have they been in the business?

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

A vendor who is in it for the long run.

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

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

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

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

Honesty and credibility.

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

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

The journey beyond QuickBooks is a long but rewarding one.

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

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

Outgrowing QuickBooks Needs

Outgrowing QuickBooks: How to determine your current and future needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outlining a project strategy

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

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

Documenting a starting point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next? The journey beyond QuickBooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pitching the investment: Securing executive approval for an ERP project

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

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

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

Challenges in securing executive buy-in

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

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

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

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

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

Convincing the CEO: Readily available insights

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

Selling the CMO: Integration makes everyone’s job easier

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

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

Facing down the CFO: Improve finance productivity and satisfaction

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

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

Informing the CIO: More security, less scud work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

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

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

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

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

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

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

Cloud Digital Transformation

The role of the cloud in digital transformation

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

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

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

Defining digital transformation

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

What defines digital transformation?

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

According to Techopedia,

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

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

Challenges in defining the term

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

Digital transformation isn’t a standard process

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

Digital transformation has no endpoint

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

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

Two key components on the road to digital transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional cloud resources

Top three resources for learning more about the Cloud

When should your business move to the cloud?

How cloud computing helps your business

Outgrowing QuickBooks

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

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

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

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

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

Start talking with users

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

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

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

Rally the troops

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

Allay fears

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

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

Understand what your people want (and need)

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

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

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

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

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

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

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

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

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business

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

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

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

If you’re like many businesses, you started out with QuickBooks. An easy choice, the software is familiar, reliable, affordable, and easy to use—perfect for entry-level businesses who just need the basics. This software has become a mainstay at your organization and for many years has facilitated your business growth. There comes a time, however, when you begin to realize that you aren’t an early-stage business with basic accounting needs.

This is an exciting time for your company, however, now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Your “small business agility” got you where you are today, but if you hope to keep up the pace when you are ‘not so small’, you need data at your fingertips. While QuickBooks was able to get you to where you are today, there comes a time when you need more than accounting software.

The right tool for your journey: Fully-featured enterprise resource planning software

QuickBooks, whether you are using the desktop version, enterprise version, or QuickBooks Online, is designed to be an accounting software—great for small businesses with limited needs and accountants who need to complete simple tasks. Knowing this, while the product may make life easy when you have one, five, or ten users who only need to close the books each month, you are entering a stage in which you need more.

For example, this time last year, if a salesperson needed to check on the available inventory or a customer credit line, it was simple—send an email and get a response within minutes. Now, the number of salespeople has increased along with the number of customers—getting this information isn’t as easy. From here, filing the expense reports for your salespeople or staff adds another layer of complexity; what once was a simple email with receipts is now dozens of receipts, an expense policy, and a lot of extra work to see if each hotel stay and meal is reimbursable.

Say you need to generate a report for your board, an investor, or the CFO. How long will it take to complete and will it be 100% accurate when it’s done?  Start adding locations, working in different currencies and tax codes, and you realize, “we need more.”

Is it time for ERP?

For many small businesses, choosing QuickBooks was a rite of passage and honestly, the product is still the ideal small business solution. Much like your first apartment out of college, the software served its purpose. But now your family has grown and your needs have evolved; you need something that can deliver.

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

You need more reporting

As your business grows, you need to act fast if you hope to capitalize on an opportunity. Knowing this, you can’t afford to wait hours or even days to collect data, organize it, and turn it into something useful—you need information now.

One of the biggest benefits of moving to an enterprise resource planning solution is its ability to leverage real-time reporting and business intelligence, bringing together a wide range of data points to empower decision makers and make reporting easy.

So many spreadsheets

Excel is one of those tools that works well when you don’t need to process a lot of information. Once your business grows, it becomes harder and harder to organize your financials in these personal productivity tools.

  • Need to use data from another application? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to create a report? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to close the books? Spreadsheet.

With spreadsheets being so common in your accounting, you are getting neither the accuracy, timeliness, or visibility you need. If 88% of spreadsheets have errors, how can you be sure you are even making a decision with the right information? ERP is designed to handle the entirety of your business processing, automating a wide range of formerly manual processes and providing accuracy.

Audit ready?

When you’re buried in spreadsheets, you barely have enough information to make a managerial decision; considering yourself audit ready is a whole different ballgame. Growing companies face new risks and scrutiny, and having both a strong audit trail and clear picture of where you stand is critical. Another key benefit of ERP is its ability to provide both an audit trail and offer audit-ready financial statements, allowing you to rest easy knowing that changes are tracked and reports can handle scrutiny.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

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

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

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

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

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

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.

Additional distribution resources

Streamline supply chain management with a ERP solution

The need to know is always now in warehousing & distribution

Why inventory control is a must and how to do it

Distribution Multi-Location Visibility

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Warehouse management | No Comments
Distribution Multi-Location Visibility

Distribution firms with good visibility into their operations, inventory, and financials are able to deliver on the promises they make to customers.

Distribution firms pride themselves on being able to provide customers with the products they need—when and where they need them. Often, this means multiple warehouses across states lines, shipping zones, or international borders. There are many benefits to employing a multi-warehouse strategy for your distribution, but alongside these benefits comes a wide range of challenges.

Benefits and challenges of running a multi-warehouse distribution firm

Does the decision to open additional warehouses reduce your shipping costs, reduce your delivery time, and allow you to handle more SKUs? Yes. However, with the benefits that this strategy brings, it also makes it much more challenging to maintain accurate stock counts, ensure that ordering goes smoothly, handle taxes and currency, maintain control over inventory storage costs, and much more.

That said, we would like to turn our attention to one of the biggest challenges that exists in maintaining a multi-warehouse distribution center: Visibility.

Distribution firms with good visibility into their operations, inventory, and financials are able to deliver on the promises they make to customers.

While the decision to add new locations is an investment that can pay for itself in a variety of ways, it also represents a significant increase in labor, capital, and operating expenses. Added to this, the decision to open another facility requires new systems and processes to route and ship orders. Now, rather than simply sending an order down for fulfillment, you have to forward the order to the proper facility, who in turn has to fill it.

This makes it very easy to end up with mixed messages, inefficiencies, or stock-outs at one location, which ultimately results in your firm losing the efficiencies that come from opening the second location in the first place.

How to deliver visibility across multiple warehouses

Whether you are opening your second, twentieth, or two-hundredth warehouse, visibility is always a concern. However, with integrated ERP solutions, you can bring together the data you need to control inventory, increase profitability, decrease costs, and increase satisfaction.

This, of course, requires proper planning and execution to control inventory, gain a single version of the truth, and see a clearer picture of your warehouse operations. In order to embrace the true benefits that visibility can provide for your growing distribution business, businesses like yours are turning to enterprise resource planning software to take control and gain the visibility they need—no matter how many locations they have.

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

You’ll also experience better decision-making with more timely and accurate financial data through Acumatica’s Financial Management software, which includes the core set of financial applications, fully integrated with customer management and operational software for distributors and wholesalers.

The benefits of our cloud ERP software can be seen in:

  • Improving customer satisfaction while minimizing cost: Efficiently manage distribution processes with real-time visibility of available inventory, inventory in transit, reorder quantities, and inventory costs. Minimize inventory and costs; optimize quoting, acceptance, entry, and fulfillment processes.
  • Reducing order times: Eliminate delays through automated sales order processing and shipping order generation. Set rules to manage multiple warehouses, returns, credit limits, drop shipments, and more.
  • Knowing where your business is: Ensure a steady supply of materials by optimizing and automating your purchasing process.
  • Knowing your true costs: Determine real-time profitability by warehouse, product line, location, or business unit. Use real-time information to control costs across the entire supply and distribution chain.

In the coming months, we look forward to discussing even more of the challenges that multi-location distribution firms like yours face and explore how Acumatica can help your company to overcome these challenges. At NexTec Group, we understand your pain points and know how to help. With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.

Inventory control

Food and beverage inventory management: How to take control

By | Food and Beverage, Inventory control | No Comments
Inventory control

Take control of your inventory management by using the right enterprise resource planning solution.

Inventory management can be a challenge for food and beverage companies. With effective inventory control, companies can realize significant improvements in wastage, traceability and compliance.

Having the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution helps companies discover how to take control of food and beverage inventory management.

Why focus on inventory control?

Inventory is at the heart of food and beverage operations. Without sound inventory management, companies are likely to have costlier manufacturing processes, poorer outcomes, strained supply chain relationships and shakier regulatory compliance.

Often the issue is a lack of good data. More precisely, it’s about being able to collect, manage and use that data to make better decisions in the moment.

The right food ERP solution helps companies resolve some of their greatest inventory management issues, including:

  • Poor stock rotation leading to spoilage
  • Too much capital tied up in stock
  • Inadequate stock levels
  • Inaccurate sales projections
  • Slow turnaround time on customer orders

Solving those issues requires a food ERP that can collect and display data in the moment of critical need, drive better decisions and improve output.

Inventory control.

ERP solutions provide the data, insights and tools to reduce spoilage and ensure regulatory compliance.

Solving the big three challenges of poor inventory management

Food and beverage companies grapple with inventory issues daily. Here’s a look at three of the most critical issues and how the right ERP platform solves them.

1. Reducing food waste

Food waste costs companies millions each year in disposal costs and reordering. The issue is compounded today by customer expectations for rapid introduction of new products, ingredients and recipes.

Reducing food waste means a focus on three core areas:

  • Overstocking. Without clear predictive models on demand, food companies can understock (and risk losing revenue) or overstock and suffer from reduced cash flow and increased spoilage.
  • Spoilage. Companies need data generated by their ERP tool to track products by lot and vendor to prevent spoilage. An ERP tool can also optimize and accelerate production scheduling to factor in expiring ingredients.
  • Cross-Contamination. Tracking products to avoid contamination is a regulatory and safety issue. With the growing number of food allergies, inventory needs to be stored, handled and packaged properly to track products and manage workflow. Your ERP solution can help map where products are stored and trace usage at every stage.

2. Traceability

Farm-to-fork traceability is the expectation today among customers and consumers. Providing this information means having ERP capabilities to track sources, locations, handing, processing, delivery dates, quantities and quality.

Traceability is a critical part of recall management planning and execution. With track-and-trace functions in place, your company can respond faster in the event of a recall, providing the public, customers, stakeholders and regulators accurate information faster.

3. Compliance

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has changed the regulatory landscape for many food and beverage companies. You need an ERP tool that can properly track, record and report on various compliance mandates from different regulating agencies. Automation, quality control and IoT objects connected to your ERP solution are critical to remaining in good standing.

Finding a solution

Sage Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) gives your food and beverage company the ERP solution designed to meet your inventory management challenges. Sage Enterprise Management offers shelf-life management, production planning, stock management, lot management, formula and recipe management, quality control and allergen tracking tools designed specifically for the food and beverage industry.

NexTec works extensively with food and beverage companies to find, implement and optimize their ERP solutions. Our consultants have years of experience with Sage Enterprise Management. Take a free tour of Sage Enterprise Management to learn how to transform inventory management and reduce costs for your company.