The ERP Cost Checklist

The ERP Cost Checklist

Acquiring Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is usually a major move for a business. Whether you’re upgrading from an older system or buying your first-ever ERP solution, it’s a big deal. ERP will affect how your business runs for the foreseeable future. As such, ERP represents a significant investment. It’s a very wise practice, therefore, to get on top of your true ERP costs at the outset. They’ll be more than just the software’s “sticker price.” The following is a checklist of cost factors to investigate as you make your ERP move. It’s based on a checklist published Acumatica, maker of the renowned cloud ERP solution.

  • People—ERP is code, but your people are the ones who will make it work. The work of designing the system, customizing it to unique requirements, devising an implementation scheduling, overseeing the rollout—and more—will all take your managers’ time. They’ll also have to make strategic decisions about how the system will be used. These tasks will consume time that is above and beyond their regular work duties. You may have to budget for overtime work or compensating (“comp time”) vacation days to make up for this extra workload.
  • The on-ramp—In an ideal world, you’ll install your new ERP, flip a switch, and voila: everyone’s using the new system and being incredibly productive. This is not how it usually goes, even in the best implementations. You will have to factor in costs of temporary lost productivity as your employees get up to speed on the new ERP. Training costs, too, should be taken into account in this thought process.
  • Data—Who owns your business information, especially if it’s sitting on a cloud server? It’s your information, but in some cases, the software supplier has the right to us or even sell it.
  • Security and compliance—You may already have this fully budgeted somewhere else, but it’s a good practice to think through any security or compliance workloads that might result from acquisition of a new ERP solution. For example, if you want to implement two-factor authentication for the ERP, someone has to administer that process. This will come at a cost. Compliance audits also might become more expensive if the auditor has to review cloud data storage and the like, e.g. data sovereignty affecting cloud data centers in different countries.
  • Work breakdown and schedule—You will almost certainly be working with a software vendor on the implementation and customization of your ERP solution. It’s a good idea to check the details and cost estimates carefully. This includes making sure that everyone understands their respective responsibilities. Vendors may assume that your team will perform certain tasks when you were expecting the vendor to take care of them. Also, does the schedule work? For instance, is it rushed, making it necessary to pay people to work weekends?

Software costs are also not static. What will be the cost to expand seats or upgrade features? Are there hidden bumps in support costs if your business expands geographically? Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should be part of the conversation. It’s useful to understand the cost of an outage. If you have a 4-hour SLA, what will it cost to have your business offline for 4 hours? It might be a minor problem or a disaster. Paying more for a faster SLA might make a lot of sense if that’s the case.

We have extensive experience helping companies work through their total costs for ERP. If you want to speak with us about ERP cost factors, or see a demo of Acumatica cloud ERP, contact us.

10 Powerful Manufacturing Features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

10 Powerful Manufacturing Features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a compelling solution for manufacturers. It offers 10 powerful manufacturing features, as highlighted below. Dynamics 365 Business Central also integrates with accounting and finance, giving you a robust overall business management capability. The following are available in the “Premium” edition of the software.

#1—Production Orders

Dynamics 365 Business Central allows you to create production orders and then manage them through the software. You can post consumption and facility output data to production orders you created. The toolset also lets you calculate net requirements. This includes the choice between manual and automatic supply planning tools.

#2—Production Bill of Materials (BOM)

The Bill of Materials (BOM) lists everything you need to produce your order. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can create BOMs and add up your standard costs.

#3 BOM Version Management

You may want to put together different versions of a BOM, e.g. when you have two similar versions of the same product. You can save time with Dynamics 365, which allows you to establish different versions of the BOM and related routings.

#4—Agile Manufacturing

If your business is engaged in agile manufacturing, this solution helps you manage it in all its details. Dynamics 365 Business Central has a module dedicated to agile manufacturing as well as associated modules for supply and capacity planning.

#5—Supply Planning

The Basic Supply Planning module lets you plan your material requirements based on demand. Additional detail can come from the master production scheduling and Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) features found in Dynamics 365 Business Central. It includes automatic Purchase Orders (POs) and production orders along with action messages that help you balance supply and demand.

#6—Sales and Inventory Forecasting

Extension for Sales and Inventory Forecast gives you insights in your potential sales as well as clarity about looming stock-outs. As a Microsoft solution, it includes Cortana Intelligence that integrates historical data. The resulting forecasts drive vendor replenishment requests.

#7—Demand Forecasting

To get optimal results from operations and assets, it’s essential to know how much demand you’re facing. Dynamics 365 Business Central gives you the tools to manage demand forecasting based on sales forecasts. The resulting data makes it possible for the system to plan and set up production and purchase orders that align with the demand forecast and inventory.

#8—Finite Loading

Every manufacturing capability is finite. Overloading a resource will create delays. To avoid this, Dynamics 365 Business Central provides finite loading of capacity-constrained resources. This way, you can plan for production in ways that takes capacity constraints into consideration.

#9— Machine Centers

With Dynamics 365 Business Central, a “Machine Center” refers to a piece of equipment and related capacity. Multiple Machine Centers comprise a “Work Center.” The software allows you to manage the capacity of a machine or equivalent production resource. You can then plan and manage multiple Machine Centers on a consolidated basis—factoring in data points like set up times and scrap percentages.

#10—Capacity Planning

If you want to add capacity elements like Work Centers to your manufacturing process, you can perform this task in Dynamics 365 Business Central. You can also set up routings, view loads and so forth.

If you’re not using ERP for manufacturing, this is a great moment to consider making the move to a modern manufacturing management software solution. We have worked with many manufacturers on the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for manufacturing. To learn how this valuable toolset could benefit your manufacturing business, contact us for a demo and free consultation.

Acumatica 2020 R1: A Significant New Product Release

Acumatica 2020 R1: A Significant New Product Release

Acumatica will soon release its latest semi-annual update, known as 2020 R1. This new edition of Acumatica Cloud ERP expands the solution’s business management capabilities. It’s a big deal. As Acumatica CEO, John Roskill explained in his keynote at the Acumatica 2020 summit, “2020 R1 is a significant new product release.” He then added, “We have to pause sometimes and marvel at the pace of innovation consistently delivered by our product team. Acumatica customers and partners keep clamoring for more and they get it, twice a year, with real quality.”

R1 delivers enhancements to data management, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), along with new mobile features, simplified reporting and payroll. Acumatica now also offers omnichannel commerce through integration with BigCommerce as well as improvement document management through a partnership Adobe Document Cloud. Highlights of R1 include:

  • Omnichannel Commerce—By integrating with BigCommerce, Acumatica R1 now provides omnichannel sales support. Organizations can integrate sales, delivery and customer service. This expands how a company interacts with customers, supporting both B2B and B2C models of doing business.
  • Cloud-based e-signatures—Integration with Adobe Document Cloud enables Acumatica R1 users to send, sign and track documents using a browser or mobile device. The result is more streamlined document and contract management.
  • More, better mobility—R1 Users can create expense reports with a mobile camera. Field service reps can record travel and break time on service calls and attach captured images to data records. They can get to data entry screens more quickly using a “quick add” button.
  • Improved project management—R1’s new project management tools give users more advanced project management capabilities, such as simplified project balance reconciliation. Users can also track project progress with improved daily field reports, weather data (available via the ClimaCell service), photo logs and other data.
  • Payroll—With R1, companies can minimize overhead expenses by using Acumatica Payroll. This module makes it possible to run in-house payroll and speed up paycheck delivery, reduce mistakes and eliminate interface complexity. Acumatica Payroll also allows for salaried and hourly workers. It integrates taxes and tax forms, deductions and benefits, certified wages and even accommodates flexible payroll periods, union wage data and timecard integration with overtime rules
  • Better manufacturing operations—R1 introduces new, advanced manufacturing planning features such as “capable-to-promise” and “what-if scenarios.” It is now also possible to track production and costs with native shop floor data collection.
  • Updated warehouse management functions—R1 users benefit from expanded sales and warehouse operations, with fast order generation, tracking and management of inventory-related items. Acumatica’s Warehouse Management module now also supports rapid fulfillment with wave and batch picking.

These are just the highlights. Industry editions have new features in R1. Reporting has also been extensively updated in the new release, as have a number of accounting processes.

We have worked with many companies in the implementation of Acumatica. The software scales with your business as it grows. The release of R1 presents a great opportunity to learn about how Acumatica can help you realize your business objectives. To learn more or schedule a free demo, contact us.

Additional Acumatica Resources

Moving from QuickBooks to Acumatica

Understanding Acumatica Pricing

Solving Nonprofit Accounting Challenges with Acumatica

Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Sometimes, a product’s tag line sounds overly ambitious. This is not the case with message, “Run your entire business with a single solution,” the motto for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. In our experience, this is a true statement. The cloud-based Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) and accounting software suite can perform pretty much any financial or operational duties a small-to-midsized business might require.

Having worked with many Dynamics clients over the years, we have found that the solution enables business managers to streamline business processes and make more informed decisions based on real time data. Used in tandem with sound management and good strategy, Dynamics 365 Business Strategy is a catalyst for growth.

An end-to-end view of the business

What’s happening in your business? Gone are the days when the boss could look out of an office window and see the whole operation at a glance. Today, business activity shows up as data coming from business software, often from multiple locations. Sales, accounting, procurement, logistics, manufacturing, supply chain, payables – all of these activities create a digital trail of data. Dynamics 365 Business Central ties these workflows together and provides managers with a single view into the entire state of the business. For example, if customer orders are increasing in a way that will over-stretch a supplier of a particular part, the software can tell you about the impending supply gap before it becomes a problem.

Effective, efficient financial management

For too long, accounting and financial management ran as a standalone silo within most businesses. There was the business, which consisted of sales and operations, and then there was accounting and finance. This split, which was largely a matter of software incompatibility, is neither necessary nor wise any longer. With Dynamics 365 Business Central, accounting and finance are integrated into the broader operational software platform.

For example, with the parts shortage discussed above, what if finding a new parts supplier requires getting a line of credit? How much accounting team effort will it take to apply for a credit line? An integrated accounting system gives managers a single view of expected cash flows, debt service, orders-in-queue and financial statements. This capability makes the process of securing credit faster and easier.

Dynamics 365 Business Central further helps with accounting and finance through fast closes and compliance. Business managers can streamline financial management operations while gaining a faster, better-informed sense of how the company’s finances are doing. Compliance and audits can also move faster, which saves time and helps avoid distractions from growth-oriented work.

Project management and manufacturing

Dynamics 365 Business Central offers features that help companies run more profitably, whether they are manufacturers or project-based businesses. This occurs through supply chain automation, optimized manufacturing operations and warehousing, along with sophisticated project scheduling and accounting. Of course, some companies are project-oriented manufacturers. For such businesses, Dynamics 365 Business Central offers flexible implementation and integration of modules that enables real time awareness and effective management

To learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help you run your business better, contact us for a free consultation and demonstration of the solution.

Additional Business Central Resources

Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI

Comparing QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Acumatica Cloud ERP and Its Potential for Your Business

Acumatica Cloud ERP and Its Potential for Your Business

We are an Acumatica partner. In this role, we have worked with many companies over the years on the implementation of Acumatica Cloud ERP. In conversations with prospective customers, we sometimes hear people refer to Acumatica as “an application.” This is not the best way to look at Acumatica. It’s really an integrated suite of applications that comprises a complete business management solution. The full depth and breadth of Acumatica is striking. For this reason, we thought it would be worth taking a moment to run down Acumatica’s main capabilities.

A Complete Business Management Solution – Hosted in the Cloud

Acumatica offers functions for the complete range of business management processes. They span accounting and finance, manufacturing operations management, logistics, warehouse and inventory, distribution, field service and more. As a cloud-based software product, Acumatica is highly flexible. You can add or remove features more or less at will. It scales effortlessly, enabling you to provision it to users without the need to invest in hardware on-premises. There is no specialized client software to support on user endpoints.

Acumatica products’ highlights include:

  • Financial management Acumatica offers functionality for ranging from practical on-line accounting that are suitable for smaller local businesses to feature-rich all-encompassing financial applications. These are meant for larger more complex businesses. Acumatica accounting software is designed to grow with you.
  • Distribution management – Distribution businesses have distinct needs. Acumatica Distribution Management gives distributors the ability to administer quotes and orders and track inventory. With Acumatica, distribution managers can automate purchasing and improve customer service. It integrates with Customer Resource Management (CRM), financials, manufacturing and project accounting. This connectivity gives managers complete visibility across the entire distribution organization.
  • Customer Management – Standard CRM functionality is included in Acumatica. The software allows for the management of leads, contacts and opportunities. You can set up customer portals that enable customer engagement after the sale has concluded. This contributes to better overall customer perceptions and experiences.
  • Project Accounting – Acumatica gives you insights into actual project costs, whether for an internal or external project. The toolset let you manage budgets, time keeping and project inventory along with complex billing. Users feel empowered to compare actual versus budgeted costs and follow up by revising budgets using visual dashboards.

Industry-Specific Acumatica Offerings

Acumatica has come out with industry-specific editions. These solutions are adapted for the unique needs of a particular sector. With Manufacturing Management, for example, users can integrate customer management, sales orders, inventory and purchasing with production planning. The solution also enables shop floor scheduling and accounting. Real time coordination is also possible, even between multiple production facilities.

  • Field Service Edition – This edition allows users to track and simplify every process required for effective field services operations. This includes better management of service orders, appointments, contracts, warranties and routes. With Acumatica Field Service Edition, managers can stay on top of staff skills, equipment capabilities and implement preventative maintenance schedules.
  • Commerce Edition – Users can leverage Acumatica Commerce Edition to deliver consistent customer experience across all sales channels. The solution features complete integration between online, mobile, and in-store service.
  • Construction Edition – Construction businesses now gain complete project control, starting with estimating and continuing through close-out of construction projects. The results include enhanced profit margin and reduced waste.

To learn more about what Acumatica cloud ERP can do for your business, contact us for a free demo.

Additional Acumatica Resources

Acumatica and the Power of Comprehensive Manufacturing Software

Acumatica Summit 2020 Recap

Moving from QuickBooks to Acumatica