Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Mossberg Answer to the Mac Vs PC Question

Walter Mossberg is the outstanding technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal where he recently entertained another question from the parent of a college bound student on whether to buy a Mac or a PC.

He correctly points out the obvious - PC's come in many styles, configurations and specifications from a multitude of manufacturers. He didn't point out another obvious point. What do all these machines have in common? They run Microsoft Windows.

But here's the killer quote:

"Macs have extremely high customer satisfaction, according to most major surveys, better built-in software and, perhaps most important, they aren't susceptible to the vast majority of malicious software, a particular problem on college campuses that can cost money and time and risk losing work." (See the full story)

He does recommend checking with your particular college or university to see if they support Macs as well as PC's. My son is in his final year at a large public university and he and over half of his classmates arrived with Macs - to a university that did not support Apple. And as a Civil Engineering major he was never limited using his Mac. The university has since started to support Apple. And like many universities, has an Apple store on campus.

And while I do miss my son - I've never had a phone call that started with "dad my computer is broken".

College and life's hard enough - buy a Mac.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So What's Your Reason for Starting Your Own Business?

The number one reason for starting your own small business is because you simply need a job! You looked for a job, you wanted a job - but a job was no where to be found. This is when the resourceful, independent entrepreneur launches into what they hope will be a successful enterprise. Maybe it works, but you keep a eye out just in case that job finally shows up.

A close second is the job you have is the one you hate. Whether its the work, the company or the boss. According to Dilbert creator Scott Adams in a recent WSJ article:

"Our system requires a continuous supply of highly capable people who are so disgruntled with their jobs that they are willing to chew off their own arms to escape their bosses. The economy needs hamster-brained sociopaths in management to drive down the opportunity cost of entrepreneurship. Luckily, we're blessed with an ample supply." Read the full article

Either way, find something you love, make a plan, count your pennies (use open source erp) and go out and make it happen. You might not be a success the first time out, so you take the lessons learned and make another run at it.

So what's your reason?

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 Reasons Why Thymly Products Selected xTuple ERP

Thymly Products, Inc., a major dry mix manufacturer on the East Coast, provides specialized food ingredients to the food and pharmaceutical industries, ranging from enzymes to phosphates.

With a rigid, legacy accounting software vendor that continued to lock down the source code of its aging product, Thymly didn’t have the control over its operations it needed to take its business to the next level. In 2007, the company began searching for a more agile ERP solution that would help its business grow.

“As part of our due diligence we spoke with several companies that were running ERPs of all sizes, and the feedback was consistent—the bigger the software house, the more problems with the ERP program,” says Harry Muller-Thym, Sr., founder of Thymly After looking at both large and small vendors, Thymly chose xTuple because of its open source ERP philosophy and excellent customer support.

“Since September 11, 2001, restrictions and regulations have continued to tighten in the food industry, and xTuple works very closely with us to understand our specific needs and ensure that we are able to meet the changing requirements,” adds Muller-Thym.

Thymly shut down its previous accounting system on March 31, 2009, and went live with Linux-based xTuple the next day. Some of the many benefits the open-source software provides for Thymly include:

  • Cost savings in inventory control—Thymly was able to reduce its inventory considerably within three months of implementation.
  • Traceability—The new ERP system allows Thymly to tag each product with lot numbers and weights and to track it 100 percent through the supply chain. In the case of an FDA recall, the company is able to respond within minutes, much faster than industry norms.
  • Integration—With its open-source technologies, the ERP package allows for integration with other software and production equipment. This allows Thymly to consistently produce the same quality product each and every time.
  • Better control over accounts receivable—By automating invoicing and A/R follow-up, Thymly is able to significantly speed up collections.
  • Permissions-based access—The software’s support for application permissions assigned by employee roles has helped Thymly with additional regulations set in place after September 11.

“The latest version of xTuple is the best yet,” says Muller-Thym. “It demonstrates xTuple’s commitment to taking feedback from its customers and incorporating those ideas back into the product. For every reason that we decided to purchase the xTuple solution, it has worked out, and it continues to exceed our expectations.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Mac vs PC Cost Comparison- Downtime Statistics Key

There's a long running debate, or argument depending on your point of view, concerning the cost of an Apple Computer vs that of a Windows PC. It really isn't much of a debate if the only measurement is how much does it cost to walk out of the store with an Apple vs. a PC. And its more of an apple to orange comparison, because it can be difficult to decide which Mac to compare to which PC. In order to be fair, the models were chosen based on similar hardware specifications.

The Contenders

The 13" MacBook Pro vs 14" HP EliteBook 8440 with the same or similar processor, memory and hard drive. The Mac comes in at $1199. The HP sells for $1053. So you save $150 by walking out the door with the HP. In case you are wondering, I picked the best selling laptop off the CDW website. If you still want to pick another data point, the comparable Dell Vostro 3400 is $718. And while I would wonder why PC users are selecting the HP over the Dell and paying a premium - for sake of this comparison, the out of the store difference between Mac vs PC is $500 (yep, rounded up).

Now check this quote out concerning how the sagging economy is motivating midsize companies to find ways to save money:

"In a recent report by IDC, an impressive number of midsize companies migrating to Windows 7 say they realized a full return on their investment in just seven months. The migration also helped significantly reduce the time help desks spend dealing with malware, downtime and reboots by replacing Windows XP and Windows Vista."

Read it again. What the report finds is that the support requirements of  Windows Vista and XP are so great that the cost of migration to Windows 7 can be justified in reduced support cost alone. By the way the report was sponsored by Microsoft.

So how much was the support cost reduced?

End users spent considerably less time dealing with malware, downtime, and reboots when using Windows 7 compared with previous Windows products. In fact, when 14 categories of common end-user activities related to keeping Windows PCs operational are considered, the savings result in 43 additional hours of productivity per year per user when using Windows 7. That amounts to in excess of one full work week per year of productive time.

So if you're doing a good job of following along, what we have learned is that if you switch from Windows Vista/XP to Windows 7 you will pick up an extra 43 hours of productive time. Now at a labor rate of $25/hour you just saved over $1000/year. And over the 3 year life of the PC, you saved $3000. All because Windows 7 is better than Vista or XP.

Okay you Mac users out there, I know what you're saying "we knew Vista was a piece of crap and no doubt the geniuses at Microsoft improved Windows 7, but that only means its a little less crappy.  How does this relate to the Mac vs. PC cost equation?".

The data shows Windows 7 to be a 42% improvement over Vista/XP when measured by downtime. According to the report, a Windows 7 PC will have 57.6 hours of downtime a year. At $25/hour that's $1440/year. If the Mac is only twice as good as the PC (no snickering out there) it saves you $720/year, which multiplied by 3 years for the service life of the Mac, results in a total savings of $2160. Since we paid $500 more for the Mac, the 3 year net savings of using a Mac vs PC is $1660

Using data to support migrating from one Windows version to another, it is easily shown that the Mac is clearly the better financial decision, based just on comparative downtime!

The only thing left to support is whether the Mac has half the downtime as a PC. While I wish that I could point you to a study on Mac downtime, I couldn't find one. Google "mac downtime statistics" - zero hits. Must be why there is that long line at the Apple store. If anyone finds Apple downtime data, please pass it along.

So go tell your boss you want a Mac because its cheaper - of course that means you'll end up working one more week a year!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

B-Schools using Open Source ERP to Teach Business Processes

For years, there has been a need for teaching students about business process integration. The use of ERP systems has been proposed as a mechanism to meet this need. Yet, in the midst of a recent economic crisis, it is difficult to find funding for the acquisition and implementation of an ERP system for teaching purpose. While it is recognized that the use of ERP systems might provide a variety of benefits in a business school curriculum, how could business schools overcome the limited resources in order to bring in and integrate ERP systems into their business core classes?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When will Business realize the approaching wave of Apple users has arrived?

We want a Mac!
Starting a couple of years ago the first wave of college graduates entered the business world that had never used a Windows machine. Right now I'm looking over the 15 or so people gather in the local coffee shop - all on their computers, and only one using a Windows machine.

Being a Business Management Software guy - I struck up a conversation with her and asked about her Windows usage. Yep - because that's what her company uses. She has a Mac and an iPad at home (I don't even have one!), and hates having to use Windows - I told her to change jobs - she asked me for one. Well maybe, because she currently sells software and I'm guessing pretty good at it. Even with the Windows handicap!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Family Business Continuity Planning and Enterprise Management Systems

Let's discuss enterprise software and why it should be important to a family business looking to insure that the business can successfully transition from one generation to the next.

Simply put, an organized, well run business following a consistent set of business rules is easier to hand off to the next generation. Business management software is an integrated systemic approach to managing all the data about a business, its finances, sales, inventory, etc.; resulting in an operational culture that shares information, eliminates silos and promotes best practices across the organization. The successful implementation of a first rate enterprise system, one that allows for the flexibility of your unique business, can be that key ingredient to a successful transition of a family business from one generation to the next.

First, what exactly is enterprise software, also known as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)? Basically it is an integrated business management system that connects users and information, enhances communication, identifies bottlenecks and standardizes business practices. A good ERP system, properly implemented, can bring about massive improvements to operational efficiency, shine a bright light on hidden organizational costs, and strengthen relationships with customers and suppliers. All of that translates into real growth - often exponential growth - even in a challenging economic climate.There are many different forms and types of ERP, but for purposes of this discussion it is those solutions that include functionality for accounting, sales, purchasing, inventory, supply chain management, production planning and CRM. Additionally, the system should utilizes an accessible relational database and custom report writer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Does "Open Source" Mean that the ERP Implementation Effort is Less?

Stumbled upon a blog post where the author was making the case that open source ERP is "free", implementation is "simple" and user training is somehow "optional". The author also seemed to think that all the documentation was available that would make customizations a "snap". Okay that's not exactly what was said, but the  implication was that open source ERP implementation and training was somehow easier and cheaper.

Open source ERP solutions are certainly less costly than proprietary solutions. Open source means that there is a "free" version available, but in general the "free" version will not have the functionality that a business of any substance would require. Licensed versions (like all software, functionality varies by product) of open source software are still considerably less expensive (25 - 50%) than proprietary solutions of the same functionality and scope.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Humorous View into the ERP Sales Cycle

Ran across a bit on the web, while doing one thing or another - its not called the Web for nothing!! Kind of sucks you in and then you've lost 2 hours of your life. But sometimes you stumble across something that is just delightful and needs to be shared, which is what happened to me.

I found an outfit in Austria called Seven Lakes Software that developed a single user inventory application for the Mac. They have a page on their website called CO-ERP course, which they describe as "how to sell overpriced, crappy ERP software that doesn't fit in a prospect's business". This is a clever, funny and uncomfortable accurate account of the ERP sales process.

Please do go here to read the entire post, but I'm going to borrow a snippet to illustrate how open source xTuple ERP is different from other solutions - who shall remain unnamed. Here's the snippet from Lesson 1 Hide your Product:

What you have to think of when hiding your product.

No screenshots of your app should be available on your website.
Except they're completely fake (you know, the ones with the colourful 3D charts).

Do not provide your software's manual for download.
Your customer is too silly to understand it anyway.
Remember: there is no manual for your software! You're selling support and training, not manuals.

"A demo version makes no sense".
Tell the customer that it's much easier for you to show your product AFTER he signed the contract and paid thousands of Dollars.

Don't tell him that he has no chance to use your app without days of costly training.

Remember, it would cost YOU two working days to have your app installed. Your not an IT guy. He would install it in only one day. AFTER the customer has signed the contract, you can charge for anything.

Never do a real world presentation.
Your customer would discover that your software's user interface is ugly, that your app is hard to use, slow like molasses and buggy.

Pretty funny isn't it? although just a little sad and scary if you really need a better way to run your business

So how is open source ERP from xTuple different?
  • You can have you own online demo to play with as long as you want.
  • You can download and install the fully functional PostBooks edition to your computer in minutes.
  • All the documents are online
  • Training videos are available at and YouTube
  • OpenSurge encourages a real live onsite demo

And finally OpenSurge will gather your requirements, show how the requirements fit into xTuple, identify where further development is required and give you realistic assessment of the implementation project.

Hope you enjoyed the CO-ERP course as much as I did. Thanks to the guys at Seven Lakes Software.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

xTuple Migrates Training Videos to YouTube

xTuple is in the process of publishing training videos to YouTube. Just another example of how xTuple differentiates itself from the traditional ERP company.

One of the challenges in the open source ERP world is demonstrating that ongoing commitment to the user community. xTuple supports a world-wide user group through its website, where users can post questions, search archives and get all the documentation on xTuple. Licensed users of xTuple ERP can also post and track bugs and fixes to the software.
The xTuple site also contains a Product Roadmap so you can see what new developments are in the works. If you had been following the roadmap you would have seen (and even commented on) the development of the Drop Shipping functionality that is now in the latest release of open source xTuple ERP version 3.5. Want to see the drop ship functionality and how xTuple is using YouTube? The go view the Drop Shipment Training video.

OpenSurge Group just completed a great event in Atlanta, GA where we had the chance, along with Wally Tonra xTuple's VP of Sales, to perform side by side demonstrations of xTuple ERP with other proprietary products. We certainly generated a lot of interest in both open source ERP and the ability to run enterprise class software on Apple's Mac OS X.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Accounting Software Expo - Atlanta, GA

With so many ERP solutions on the market, how does the busy business owner, CEO, CFO or senior executive find the time to evaluate them all? The Accounting Software Expo in Atlanta, GA on May 20th is an excellent way to get introduced to the leading ERP solutions for midsize business.

This one-of-a kind expo brings together financial management and business technology gurus for your benefit.  Talk to experts who actually handle implementations, tech support, and end-user training.  See live demos, ask questions and compare features within each accounting software. xTuple and OpenSurge Group will be there along with five of our better known competitors.

Want some great reasons for attending the Expo:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Open Source ERP Implementation

As an open source xTuple ERP Development Partner, I'm starting to see more acceptance for an open source ERP solution. xTuple is a robust ERP, with 100% of the functionality an inventory centric manufacturing or distribution would need. And more times than not all the requirements of other types of enterprises. Because of the open source approach - changes, modifications and extensions can be easily implemented and maintained.

One of the biggest challenges the open source ERP providers have is that users think that open source means "free" and "I can implement and support it myself". Yes, there is a free version of xTuple. And yes, there's an active community, good documentation and training videos for implementation and support. But this is Enterprise software, so its complex and challenging to implement - just like the proprietary versions.

Monday, March 29, 2010

xTuple ERP 3.5 AddS Drop Ship and Time Entry

Open source ERP aims to give SMB distributors, manufacturers and service-oriented businesses increased automation and saves employee time.
Open source ERP specialistxTuple has taken the wraps off version 3.5 of its eponymous enterprise resource planning solution, adding features aimed at saving employee time and cutting costs by automating routine tasks that are often performed manually or by expensive external systems.
Offering Mac-based and open source ERP software for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), xTuple said that version 3.5 continues the company's recent push to add more enterprise-class functionality to the core package, while retaining the ease-of-use for which the company is known.

New 3.5 features include:

  • Drop ship purchasing: Now taking a sales order, immediately purchasing the item and having it shipped directly to the customer is fully automated and seamless for distribution companies.
  • Expanded support for tooling: Facilitates managing and consuming tools in the manufacturing process.
  • Pricing effectivity: Increases the flexibility of the pricing engine with regard to effectivity dates.
  • Time and expense management: xTuple 3.5 supports individual time and expense entry, optionally tied to Project Tasks.
  • New user-configurable filters in the CRM module: Allows non-programmers to customize the most-often used displays.
  • Support for PostgreSQL 8.4 and Qt 4.6.
  • Embedded MetaSQL editor: Enables power users to take deeper dives into custom reporting and use conditional data throughout the application.
Andrew Bergin, chief information officer at Minnesota-based Bergin Fruit and Nut Company, sponsor of the pricing effectivity enhancements in version 3.5, noted: "xTuple provides big-company ERP functionality, but makes it easy for smaller, growing companies to see real business benefit quickly. We implemented xTuple in a matter of months, and are having our best year in decades."

Since xTuple's last release in late 2009, over 400 enhancements have been added by the company, its partners and other community members. To date, the xTuple community has over 25,000 members and the PostBooks Edition has been downloaded more than 340,000 times. Additionally, it is consistently ranked among the most active projects on the open source portal.

"xTuple 3.5 gives distributors, manufacturers and service-oriented businesses improved visibility into company data, increased control over their operations and the ability to make informed business decisions," said Ned Lilly, xTuple's CEO and co-founder. "The continuous involvement of our community of customers, partners and open source users is the key to the ongoing improvement of the product. It's how we're able to add more and more sophisticated enterprise functionality, while keeping the simplicity that SMBs require."

The PostBooks Edition of xTuple ERP is available free of charge under the open source Common Public Attribution License (CPAL), or xTuple's hybrid commercial license, whereby customers and partners have full access to the application source code, and any enhancements made to the product flow back to xTuple for review, quality testing and possible incorporation into the baseline product.

The Standard and Manufacturing Editions of xTuple are commercially licensed products with expanded features based on the core PostBooks Edition. All three versions of xTuple run equally well on Mac, Windows and Linux computers and are internationalized with multi-currency, support for multiple tax structures, and multilingual translation packs maintained by the global xTuple open source community.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Open Source ERP for Small and Midsize Business

Following is a link to a new posting featuring OpenSurge's latest innovation for the small and midsize business.

If you have justed started a new business or have been arround for a while and realize that you need an enterprise class management solution, then this is a very cost effective solution for you.

So check out this opoen source ERP solution.

Open Source ERP for Small and Midsize Business

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Part 2 of the xTuple Webinar - In depth look at CRM

The integrated Corporate/Customer Relationship Management functionality is core to the xTuple application.  xTuple's CRM can help you organize, synchronize and manage ALL of your business contacts and communications. Join this upcoming webinar to learn more about how xTuple's CRM can help your business nurture and retain your existing customers, attain new customers and reduce costs.

Interested in learning more about xTuple's CRM capabilities?

Then partcipate in this web event on Wednesday January 6th.  This is not a sales promotion but information session. This is a convenient way to give small and midsize business owner a look into one of the leaders in ERP soultions for the small and midsize busines. xTuple provides all the functionality of the big name proporeitarty producst, but at a fratction of the cost - making it the clear front runner for any business that needs to raise their business management systems to the next level. And if you want to take a peak at the prices, visit the OpenSurge Group.

Whether you're a PostBooks pro, interested in picking up a few tips & tricks or you've just started using xTuple - this xTuple Webinar is a great opportunity for users of all types to learn more about xTuple and how it can work for your business!

The Demo Videos are a terrific source for learning about the xTuple suite of applications, but here's your chance to watch the software live in action, AND ask questions along the way!

So join Wally Wednesday December 2nd at 1:15 est for this hour long interactive demo of xTuple features and functions including CRM, Manufacturing and Purchasing.

Space is limited, click here to Register Today! 

And for more information about open source xTuple ERP and how you can run your business on Apple Mac OS X then visit our website.

Hope you will join Wally for what will be an informative and interesting hour.