Quora: Awesome Questions and Answers Forum

April 24, 2013

Questions and Answers Forum: QuoraGuest blog by Samantha Hornby

Although we typically write about inventory and accounting, in this post we share our experience with a great informational resource where individuals can gather information on inventory and accounting but also on a wide range of other topics.

Background:

Quora was founded in 2009 by two ex-Facebook employees and was first launched in private beta in January 2010.  Quora is a community based question and answer forum superior to similar platforms such as Yahoo answers.  What makes Quora so special is the fact that it is a continually improving collection of answers to many questions that would be difficult to “Google” or research independently, answered by industry experts and people with first hand experience. Quora questions span a wide array of topics with questions like:

Aside from it being a very interesting site to explore, it is also very helpful when planning trips, for certain business advice, gathering information about food and exercise and has information on many more useful topics.  In certain cases, it makes sense to search first on Quora and then resort to Google in order to gather very specific information.

Strangely enough, the original idea was not formed around developing a Q&A site, but rather it was designed as a place to organize the 90% of information that is in people’s heads, online, in a way that is usable.  Similar to Wikipedia, where information about a specific subject is organized on one page, one of the most important aspects of the site was for Quora to have each question page become the “best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question”.

Community/Users:

Quora’s ability to provide high quality answers (unlike some Q&A style sites) stems from a few specific design features including:  wiki-style editing, question posting guidelines, the up vote/down vote system, the people-rank algorithm, and the site’s reviewers and moderator staff.  The Quora community is also made up of some very intelligent users who are adamant about keeping the information and answers legitimate. Although it is impossible to keep spammers out entirely, for the most part, these answers are quickly down voted by the Quora community and may be removed entirely by an administrator.

Information Search:

Specifically when it comes to inventory and accounting software, Quora is a great place to get information.  There is a whole topic devoted to ERP questions as well as a ton of other more specific topics such as Inventory Management, Enterprise Software, Customer Relationship Management, Small Businesses, Start-ups etc.   When searching for relevant information it is quite easy to discern the good answers from the bad and as a business answering questions, it is important to be informational and honest as opposed to promotional – a concept that some businesses are still struggling with.

Whether you are looking for information on a new ERP system, the best places to travel in the US or are just curious about what it’s like to work for a Fortune 500 company, Quora is the place to start.  For businesses, bloggers, and anybody who enjoys educating the community, sharing their expertise, and learning something new at the same time, Quora is a great place to share your wisdom.  Whatever category of community member you fall into be sure to browse Quora in your free time – it can be hard not to spend hours browsing all the interesting questions!


RepZio: Mobile Sales Application for Remote Sales Reps, Tradeshows and Showrooms

April 17, 2013

Sales App for Tradeshows, Remote Reps and ShowroomsDavid Silva recently got on the phone with Marny Tremblay, International Account Manager for RepZio, to discuss how she became involved with them and her experience with the app so far.

RepZio is a mobile sales application ( iPad/iPhone app) that allows sales reps to present products in a visually appealing way when on-site at a customer’s, at a trade show or on the showroom floor. RepZio is integrated with ERP software such as Blue Link to automatically pull product information from the inventory system and push orders down.

Marny Tremblay, Owner of Newnique Representation, a fashion sales agency, discovered RepZio after she experienced difficulty entering orders while on the road circulating trade shows and immediately fell in love with the product.

“I was exhausted,” said Marny after spending hours each night entering orders after a trade show.

She figured there must be a better way to take orders other than word, excel and email. When she stumbled upon RepZio she had never used an Apple product before but decided to immediately invest in an iPad. She called their team on Thursday and was up and running on the product by Monday. After a short time she came to refer to RepZio as a “salesman’s best friend”.

RepZio — A mobile sales application for remote sales reps, trade shows and showrooms

Shortly thereafter, Marny decided to represent RepZio herself — her line of work allows her to simultaneously use the app as a customer while also demonstrating the app to prospective RepZio clients. Given the beauty of the interface, the product basically sells itself as she uses it travelling from trade show to trade show.

“RepZio is a great fit for a variety of industries,” explained Marny, “whether it’s fashion, wine, furniture, jewellery, hair products or cosmetics.”

RepZio works by displaying categories of products or entire catalogs that salesmen or customers themselves can browse through. “I hold one iPad to show products myself and leave another iPad on the table for customers to browse themselves”. It allows for the capture of customer information and orders on the spot. Orders can be synced live with a back-end inventory and accounting system or entered offline and synced-up later.

The convenience of the app is undeniable. “One of my clients called while I was in a cab and I was able to put them on speakerphone and enter their order on my phone right then and there. Before I hung up the client had the order sitting in their inbox.”

The next big thing for RepZio will be the release of their sister app ShopZio.  This will enable Sales Reps to invite their customers to buy from them directly and collaborate with them on orders.  This direct line of communication with the sales rep opens a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities for the sales rep to engage with their customers.

RepZio is ahead of the game in the fast evolving world of tech available to sales reps on the go with a number of large enhancements slated for release in the near future.


Apples to Oranges: Data Migration and Inventory Accounting ERP Software

April 15, 2013

It is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as you select a new Inventory Management / Accounting / ERP software system: how best to migrate the data from your existing system. You can read about some best practices on ERP data migration here, but what makes your decision even more difficult is that, when different vendors talk about data migration, they’re frequently not on the same page – or even in the same library!

DataMigrationERPSoftwareIt’s important when reading a proposal or quote on migrating data from your old system, that you understand what is included, and what’s excluded, as well as the methodology the vendor employs (read the fine print). If a prospective buyer compares a $15,000 estimate for complete data migration services with a quote of $2,500 for a “data import tool”, that’s actually worse than comparing apples with oranges – it’s more like comparing a gourmet meal with a solitary french fry.

We can break the migration of ERP data down into 3 aspects:

  1. Extracting data from your existing system
  2. “Massaging” the data – making it suitable for use in the new system
  3. Moving the data into the new system

Many lowball quotes ignore step 2 altogether, and sometimes also put the onus on you to do step 1. That’s fine in principle if you have the skill set. However, in practice that still leaves a number of issues to be faced, such as:

  • How do you update the data already migrated on the day you switch over “live” to the new system? How quickly can you get that done when doing it yourself?
  • How do you get the opening balances 0 unpaid payables, uncollected receivables, etc. – across at go-live?
  • What if you want to change product codes, categories, etc.?
  • Sales history and payment history – do you have the necessary skill set and knowledge to retrofit the old system’s extracted data so that it works and makes sense in the new system? Will you be able to reprint an invoice?

Full disclosure: I have a bias here as my company always includes the full, complete and appropriate data migration path in our proposals. But that’s because decades of experience in ERP Software implementation have taught us that, even if you think you don’t want / need a full, complete data migration at the outset, there’s a 90% probability that you’ll change your mind during implementation, once you start working with the new system and start realizing the power of your data and how much you’d be sacrificing by not doing a proper job of migration.

So because we know you’ll end up either spending the extra money to do it the right way, or regretting not having done so, we always make provision in our proposals for this. And so do many of our competitors – but not all of them.

Morals of the story:  be sure that you understand what is included and excluded from a proposal or quote for data migration, and if you select the french fry, then be prepared to be very hungry after go-live.


Apparel Inventory Software Defined: Understanding Common ERP Jargon

April 8, 2013

This post is number three is a series of posts discussing commonly misunderstood ERP software terms.

apparel inventory software

Apparel inventory software is designed to streamline all processes of an apparel wholesale/distribution business.  Aside from specific apparel functionality such as product generation and an order entry and purchasing matrix, an apparel inventory system should also include full inventory and accounting functionality, contact management, and eCommerce integration.  With all processes accounted for in the same system, users can quickly access quantity and pricing information while creating sales orders and efficiently reorder product when necessary.

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How To Start The Search Again After Being Burned by a Distribution Inventory Software Vendor

April 4, 2013

start the search for distribution inventory software Quite often we speak with prospects who have been burned in the past by distribution inventory software vendors, and as a result have become cynical about the process and skeptical of all other vendors.  This is understandable given the huge amount of resources they would have wasted by choosing the wrong software vendor. However, it should not deter them from starting the process again.  Allowing a past experience to stop you from engaging with other vendors to find the software system you need to grow and thrive, is like punishing yourself for the sins of others.  There are many things you can learn from such a negative experience, to help you find the right system. We have set out a few of these below.

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