Friday, February 28, 2014

LEAN your Business - ERP as a Tool

A recent article in Industry Week stated, "For many large and midsize manufacturers, the challenge of enabling the corporatewide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to mesh with their lean initiatives on the plant floor requires a delicate balance."

In order to get the most out of your employees and resources it is critical that everyone is able to collaborate around common principles. One main objective of implementing business management software is to have an integrated solution where data is generally enter once, actions create further actions (think supply chain management) and processes are automated - all LEAN Concepts. In order to accomplish this objective your management solution must utilize a robust relational database which allows for many users to be accessing and updating information simultaneously while providing security and data integrity. Further the database and the application work hand in hand to manage users, privileges and transactions.

The key differentiator of business management software solutions is the capability of the solution to be a true multi-user application.  There simply is no such thing as an enterprise class integrated business management and accounting solution that is not designed to be used simultaneously by multiple individual users. By far the leading accounting software package used by startup businesses is Quickbooks, mainly because its cheap and easy to use, but Quickbooks is not a multi-user application. (Yes, the Enterprise Edition is and by definition the online version is -sorta, but that's not the point of this post). "Sharing" an application is not the same as having multiple users.

So when your business has grown and you realize its time to leverage technology to increase your business's efficiency and ability to service your customers - start you ERP search with those solutions that provide multiple user functionality as a fundamental concept.

Learn more about multi-user open source accounting and business management software at:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

11 Steps to a Successful ERP Implementation

Underestimating the difficulty of implementing your business management software (ERP) is a grave mistake. From the link below, are 11 helpful steps for a successful implementation of your ERP system. These 11 steps are more of a philosophical anchor, than task items to be crossed off a “to do” list. Learn about “Selecting the Right ERP Vendor”, “Managing Change Effectively”, “Putting Your ERP Team Together”, “When to Adapt your Business Processes” and more.

Every day, every decision and interaction is passed through a filter of what will make the team stronger,
what will make the end users more prepared, what will keep the leadership committed, and how your ERP professional can test these ideas. Whether you’re upgrading from Quickbooks, or looking for an enterprise system to leverage the growth of your business – make sure you have all the information you need before making this important decision for your company.

These steps are not new, or creative; they are the cumulative knowledge of the thousands of ERP implementers who have gone before. Within each success step there are degrees; it not possible to be perfectly successful at all eleven. The intent is to make clear the risks and the benefits such that you can make an informed decision about where you spend your time and resources.

Get the report here and let me know what you think

Thursday, November 14, 2013

6 Great Reasons to Replace your AS/400

If you are running your business on an AS/400 IBM iSeries and wondering how much longer you can wait - then consider the following:

6. Data Availability - High availability and point-of-time data requirements for audit purposes have become the norm in this stringent regulatory climate. This is easily possible with today's RDBMS systems like open source PostgreSQL. With AS/400 this feature is available only through table journaling, impacting performance and costing money.

They just look old
5. Hardware Cost - The cost of a iSeries hardware and software combination is higher than that of a comparable Linux, Mac OS or Windows based system. In this age of increased data loads for businesses, increasing the cluster size is inexpensive on a Linux/Mac based hardware when compared to an iSeries based expansion.

Love the user interface
4. Support Cost - Even though total cost of ownership was the basis of using AS/400 initially, the landscape has changed today with ever increasing interactivity between disparate applications across the enterprise. Administering a legacy AS/400 in this environment is not cost effective because of high cost of support.

3. Declining AS/400 Staff - One of the main factors in switching from an AS/400 is internal support. There is a declining availability of AS/400 experts and programmers in RPG within the company. Companies that do have staff in this area are 20-25 year veterans who are close to retirement.

2. Application Support - More and more ERP providers in the mid-market are no longer supporting RPG versions of their products. You might have already received that call from your provider informing you that support will no long be available after the end of the year.

Text for Mouseover1. Award winning open source xTuple ERP - Manufacturing, distribution, planning, accounting and CRM functionality you need to manage your business. For hardware use a Linux, Mac or Windows server - or a managed data center. xTuple runs on PostgreSQL, the leading open source database, giving you all the tools you need let technology work for you. Visit OpenSurge for more info.

The AS/400 was the system of choice in the mad dash to prepare for Y2K. The A/S400 started as a System 34 and has since become the iSeries and later simply System i as IBM continues to evolve the hardware. This is just hardware, but the software makes the difference. One of the reasons the AS/400 and its offspring are still around is that the legacy software was too hard to migrate to the latest generation of server.  For the reasons stated above - you can save money by replacing your AS/400 in favor of the latest server technology (I'm an Apple fan) which is reason enough. So why wait until you find yourself caught with software that is no longer supported? Investigate, plan and execute on your schedule, but the time is now.

Friday, March 15, 2013

One Big Reason and 6 Considerations for Replacing Sage BusinessVision, MAS90 or MAS200

Is your company currently using Sage BusinessVision, MAS90 or MAS200 as your business system, and is it still a struggle? Does it take too many hours of effort to get the information you need to run the business – using spreadsheets, emails, hand-written notes, and lots of digging? Do you have other outside applications like CRM or production planning that aren‘t tied into your main system, and its difficult to coordinate the two?

While many companies change ERP systems because they are dissatisfied with their current system and understand its limitations are hampering the effective, efficient operation of the business,many others have resigned themselves to using their current system - with all the aggravation, duplicated work, lost productivity and work arounds simply baked into the way things are done. If the later describes your company, then there is one compelling reason for you to consider a switch - your business is at risk from an application that is no longer supported and has no clear path forward.

The 1 Big Reason

It’s likely that with Y2K approaching, you were one of those businesses that went out and installed an application for the first time or switched to, what was then, state of the art enterprise technology. Then time marched on. Like many companies you partnered with an IT firm that supported your system, but since then the landscape has significantly changed. ERP solution providers consolidated, applications have been dropped or no longer enhanced, the technology has certainly changed - and your outdated system is now at risk of failing, causing serious disruptions in your business and the supporting eco-system is gone.

Replacing a system is a strategic investment in your business. Its hard work, but with the right approach, not only will your investment eliminate the risk your business is facing, but will enable you to more effectively manage your business - which results in happier customers, smother operations and an improved bottom line.

BusinessVision, MAS90 and MAS200 are applications that have simply fallen behind the technology curve and will need to be replaced.

6 Specific Considerations for Replacing Sage with xTuple

1. Broad Integrated Functionality - While a product like BusinessVision/MAS90/200 has a reasonably comprehensive set of applications modules to choose from, many of the modules lack the very specific functionality needed by companies today. Extra work is then required to make up for missing functionality and to 'work around' missing or inadequate functionality. As the company grows, the business might become a lot more complex with multiple locations, more products and services, and broader aspects of the business beyond simple accounting, such as:
increasing functional needs around CRM
mobile workforce
project accounting
field service
job costing
inter-company processing

These either do not exist within the BV/MAS90/200 family or are only available as third-party add-ons. These features and many others, such as manufacturing planning, MRP and one of the leading open source CRM capabilities are included in xTuple ERP.

2. Current Technology with a Focused Product Roadmap - Some Sage products have fallen behind the technology curve and will need increased R&D investment. It is obvious from the previous points above that BusinessVision and MAS90/200 may not be considered examples of today‘s technology, and while Sage is apparently committed to upgrading the products, this process will take quite some time and there‘s no telling how successful the company will be in its efforts. Further it is not at all clear whether the BusinessVision product will be eliminated all together. By contrast, xTuple ERP, using the open source development model is on the leading edge of available technology. Making the most of open source tools and the ability to operate on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. xTuple has a reputation for consistently rolling out new features and functionalities; both specific ERP related functionalities (e.g. project management accounting), integrations using the Web Portal and xTuple Connect, and mobile web client functionality for the connect workforce - advances that help you do more work with less effort.

3. Ability to Grow - While all systems have an upper limit on the number of users and activities that can be supported at given transaction volumes, the underlying technology is the determining factor of how far a system will scale. Some versions of BusinesVision/ MAS90, for example, are designed to support a very limited number of users with reasonable response time at which point system response times deteriorate, processes take unacceptably long to complete, and it is not uncommon for the system to 'lock‘, fail, or otherwise become unreliable. xTuple works hand in hand with enterprise class PostgreSQL to deliver a secure, multi-user environment - capable of handling all the parts, transactions and growth for your future.

4. Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools - BusinessVision/MAS90/200 is not built on a relational database and users do not have access to advanced analysis tools. xTuple runs on PostgreSQL the leading open source relational database where all your information can be accessed through standard tools, particularly the Structured Query Language (SQL), making retrieval and analysis more flexible, open, and usable. xTuple includes an integrated report writer and options for advanced data mining tools.

5. Connect, Expand and Connect - Extending the applications to partners and customers, such as a customer portal to allow trading partners to view orders, shipments, schedules, and invoices is difficult at best with Sage BusinessVision. Reports are distributed on paper or through e-mail. Connecting to analytical and decision support facilities like Excel is mainly a copy and paste function. xTuple allows you to connect to your customers, partners and suppliers through the xTuple Web Portal. Using xTuple Connect you can seamlessly integrate email into xTuple ERP, automatically send reports, invoices PO's and other documents via email.

6. User Experience - BusinessVision, MAS90/200 is designed in the traditional style with standard menus and limited ability to customize the screens that people work from every day. And because they are unique to BusinessVision, users require considerable training and orientation to know where to find the functions they need. The xTuple user interface displays a graphic workflow by functions, allows for user preferences and custom hot-keys. xTuple's role-based screens are far more efficient for the user, easier to use, resulting in greater adoption of system functionality. Users can get right to the functions they use most without having to work their way through generic menus and screens.

For more information on xTuple or to schedule a technical review of your existing management system – please contact OpenSurge.