How ERP Can Help Your Small Business Act like a Large One

April 29, 2014

ERP - Think Like a Big BusinessWhen smaller operations look at robust technology with advanced functionality and a matching price tag, they often get scared away. As a small business owner, you may think a sophisticated ERP system is overkill for your needs, and you may be concerned about the financial commitment. It is true that some small businesses are not ready for ERP –  if they have limited, simple processes, these can often be addressed very adequately by entry-level systems. However, if your company is experiencing growth and you plan on continuing to grow, the lack of appropriate tools and systems could hamper that growth.

Implementing an ERP solution when your business is in the early stages of growth is the perfect time. It puts you in a proactive position, ready to take on future growth by streamlining processes for order entry, inventory management, quoting, invoicing, accounting etc. The alternative is to wait until you can no longer handle the expanded business, and then only search for software. From a strategic planning perspective, it is more beneficial to be properly prepared for growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Understanding Software End of Support

April 15, 2014

End of Support WarningWe’ve all received that ominous notice that the software we are using will soon no longer be supported – with the most recent example coming from Microsoft in regards to the end of support for Windows XP as of April 8th 2014. Even though this news tends to be received negatively, it doesn’t always have to be, as there are many legitimate reasons as to why a company would discontinue software support, and benefits that can come as a result of having to upgrade. The worst approach to dealing with end of support is to “do nothing”, and it is important to fully understand the reasons behind the decision and your options for moving forward.

What does “end of support” mean?

Before we begin, let’s first take a look at what the dreaded “end of support” means, and why many software companies choose to do this. When companies discontinue a site or service and stop development and support, this is referred as “sunsetting” the product. Many large companies do this as a way of herding customers into larger concentrated groups of users.  For smaller companies though, this is usually performed when several newer versions of the software have been released, and the cost to support older systems outweighs the benefits of maintaining them. More specifically, vendors who offer several versions of software must have their support team trained on all versions in order to manage any issues.  Once a system has reached a certain age, and only a minimum number of customers are using it, it becomes cumbersome to train new employees on old versions and load applicable technology in order to continue to support them.  There may also be several improvements to the system or inherent reasons why the product was never good from the start, which would validate sunsetting the product and ending support.

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3 Great Exception Reports for Small Business Owners

April 9, 2014

Inventory-management-reportsIn a previous post we dealt with the concept of management by exception. As explained more fully in that post, a small business owner can benefit in multiple ways from being alerted by the company’s Inventory Management and Accounting ERP Software to important exceptions to the norm. Here are 3 good examples of exception reports that can help the owner (or manager) of a wholesale / distribution business to identify issues in a timely manner, without having to wade through all the routine transaction detail. Note that this article assumes that these reports are generated and sent automatically at the requisite intervals.

1. Price and Margin Exceptions

This one’s obvious: alert the owner to any sales orders entered that day for which the gross margin is below an acceptable threshold, and / or where the order entry person has overridden the system-defaulted selling price. The details on this will of course depend on your specific business and rules – for example, should the exception report be based on each individual line of an order, or just the order total? Additionally, the frequency and timeliness of this report will depend on your pick / pack / ship process and timelines – if you ship orders next day, then perhaps a nightly summary would be best.

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