Life’s a Slice(r) with Excel 2010

November 30, 2010

As discussed in a previous post, Excel Pivot Tables are powerful tools for analyzing and reporting on data from your accounting software package, and other business data sources.

With Office 2010, Excel has an added feature that takes Pivot Tables a step further: the Slicer – which allows you to slice and dice an existing Pivot table through new dimensions.

For example, here’s a simple Pivot table summarizing sales by customer by year:

Sales Pivot

But what if we wanted to further analyze these sales numbers, slicing them by different salespeople and product categories, for example? Enter the Slicer:

“Sliced” Pivot

In this example we’re still looking at sales by customer by year, but we’ve sliced it for sales by 2 salespeople only, and for just the Seafood and Bowls product categories.

Anyone else used this (or even knew it existed)?

The Old Custom Accounting Software Dilemna

November 24, 2010

It seems that lately I’ve come across an unusual number of companies using very old, customized accounting and inventory management software – mostly dating back to before we started using the term “ERP Software“.

These companies are still using the same software, sometimes 20 years older (or older), because it was customized for them back then, they are accustomed to how it works and what it does, and they’ve not found any current software that works the same way. And they are loath to customize any new software system, because that’s what got them into this situation in the first place – once customized, their old software could not be upgraded to a newer version.

A reality check will tell them that, aside from the customized features they rely on, they are losing so much in terms of productivity and efficiency by clinging to 20-year-old software, developed before many now commonplace features existed – such as emailing documents and reports, workflow automation and access to all kinds of information in real time.

And some modern accounting and business software packages are now customizable with full upgradeability. So why would a business owner persist in using an ancient system, which is probably supported (if at all) by one very part-time person? If you figure it out, please let me know.

Inventory Software–No Salespeople Please

November 15, 2010

In the previous post on this subject, I posed the question:

What’s the difference between an ERP Salesperson  and a dinosaur?

The answer depends on the salesperson. If we’re talking “old school” salespeople, then the answer is: “nothing.” This is because the buyer today is has access to information which in the past simply was not available. This makes it both easier for the buyer (to identify what’s out there, assess options, etc.) and more difficult (with so much information, how to determine what’s relevant / important becomes quite a mission).

Easier, harder – the point is that it’s different. And the traditional sales approach no longer works the way it did before – so even if you were successfully selling business management, ERP or Inventory Management software 10 years ago, the methods you used then will not succeed now – at least not frequently enough.

Sales is this area is now (or should be) a collaborative effort between the potential ERP software vendor, and the prospective customer, with the goal of arriving at the truth as quickly as possible. The truth in this context means: are our companies really a match made in heaven? Or will we end up with a “quickie divorce” if you buy our software? If the latter, let’s say goodbye now and move on…which runs counter to every instinct of the traditional salesperson, who will continue trying to fit square pegs into round holes for as long as the prospect plays along.

So what’s the solution? I believe the answer lies in using people with both actual implementation experience, and a stake in the long-term success of the business (as opposed to short-term commissions) in customer acquisition.

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