Four Tech Trends That Help Businesses Thrive in the Digital World

Four Tech Trends That Help Businesses Thrive in the Digital World

Microsoft recently published a truly outstanding white paper titled Four Technology Trends Helping Businesses Thrive in a Digital World. We highly recommend it if you’re contemplating how IT can make an impact on your business success. The paper takes on topics like cloud computing, digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility. Their goal is to add detail and practical insights to subjects that tend to be vague and overhyped. The context is the applicability of Dynamics 365 as a solution for digital transformation. Here’s a sneak peek:

Cloud computing: Much more than a buzzword

Cloud adoption is accelerating. As businesses put cloud technology to work in a vast variety of use cases, the concept becomes far more than a mere buzzword. Indeed, the cloud changes how and where people work. It enables new ways of doing business, or even completely new businesses. Cost reduction is still a high priority for cloud adoption, but other factors are driving adoption. The paper cites Gigaom Research, which reports, “71% of strategic buyers cite scalability, cost and business agility as the most important drivers for using cloud services.”

Digital transformation and the revolution in connectivity

Microsoft surveyed small and mid-sized business owners and employees with the goal of understanding their most challenging problems. Lost productivity emerged as a serious issue. People reported losing time working across multiple systems that are unable to “talk to each other.” The results of such disconnected systems included manual, duplicative processes and out-of-date reporting. Poor visibility into operations then translated into impaired decision making at the management level.

Digital transformation offers a way out of this trap. It’s a broad concept, but at its heart, digital transformation is about the current revolution in connectivity. Today, applications can easily and cheaply connect with one another using standards-based APIs—even spanning between multiple business entities. As the paper explains, companies that connect their systems, people, data and processes are able to anticipate operational challenges and act accordingly. They are able to gather data in real time and get deep insights into what going on in the business.

No mystery in the IoT. It’s reality

The IoT is one of those tech ideas that seemed futuristic when it first debuted. Today, it’s a reality. Using devices to collect and analyze operational and environmental data is now occurring on a regular basis. And, it’s not just for big corporations or government agencies. Even a smaller business has its “things” that generate data with which to track trends, identify patterns and perhaps even make predictions.

The challenge in IoT is threefold. First, there has to be a solution to manage the devices and related “edge” infrastructure. Then, there’s the data. IoT environments create a lot of data. It has to be stored and secured before it can be analyzed. The analytics is the third and arguably most important challenge to overcome on the way to IoT success.

Embracing mobility

Mobility is already so pervasive in business that it may not even occur to people that it’s a distinct technology area deserving of focus. It is. Your employees are increasingly mobile. You have to support them. Customers expect rich mobile connections with your brand. Your suppliers are using mobile apps. Having a mobile strategy is critical for success today.

These are the highlights of the paper. To read it in full, click here.

Moving from QuickBooks to Acumatica

Moving from QuickBooks to Acumatica

Acumatica offers a number of advantages over QuickBooks. If you do want to migrate, you won’t be alone. A lot of companies have done it. And, best practices have emerged for the process of moving from QuickBooks to Acumatica.

Why Make the Move from QuickBooks to Acumatica?

Replacing QuickBooks with Acumatica is usually advisable if your company needs a more fully-featured Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capability than is currently available in QuickBooks. Acumatica is also a cloud-native application, with the improvements in performance and functionality that brings. Other benefits include having a full relational database export feature, flexible licensing and better scalability.

Compare QuickBooks to Acumatica

When comparing QuickBooks to Acumatica, consider the following key differentiators. Learn more in Comparing Acumatica vs QuickBooks.

  • True cloud: Acumatica works on premises or in the cloud without additional equipment or software. QuickBooks Enterprise can be accessed over the internet, but even Intuit acknowledges that QuickBooks has not been optimized to be a true cloud product.
  • Full function ERP: Acumatica offers your organization a complete ERP and CRM solution. While QuickBooks Enterprise contains some of these elements, it is ultimately an accounting solution and not a full function ERP solution.
  • Full relational database export: QuickBooks uses a proprietary database and does not provide a true export function, requiring a third-party utility to access the underlying database. Most of the next level financial management solutions for small- to mid-sized businesses use more robust databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, SAP HANA, or Oracle. However, these other solutions also expect the client to eventually move to some kind of ERP solution. QuickBooks is designed strictly for accounting.
  • Flexible licensing options: Every company is different, and some prefer a depreciable capital expense versus an ongoing operating expense. Both products are available through subscription licensing, but Acumatica also offers perpetual licensing.
  • Scale as you grow: Acumatica allows you to scale as your company grows and can accommodate multiple companies and multiple currencies. QuickBooks Enterprise limits you to a maximum of 30 users and handles multiple currencies but not multiple companies.
  • TCO: Because both products serve different purposes, it would be difficult to say which one has the best total cost of ownership. We recommend, however, that you apply due diligence when selecting a replacement product for QuickBooks to ensure you get a product that can continue to grow with your company for several years.

The “Easy” Part

Technically, migration from QuickBooks to Acumatica is fairly simple. An admin sets up an entity in Acumatica. Then, using built-in migration tools, Acumatica extracts the chart of accounts and other transactional data from QuickBooks and imports it into the correct areas of Acumatica. The process is a bit more involved than this, but the bits and bytes aspects of the migration are generally straightforward. This is the “easy” part. Where best practices come into play is around business processes and requirements.

Scoping Out Your Acumatica Install

Acumatica is a suite of products. As part of migrating from QuickBooks, it’s necessary to figure out what your team will need from the accounting module, and from there, what other modules you’ll need. You may want to add Acumatica Project Accounting, financials, CRM, eCommerce, Distribution and so forth. At that point, the questions will be about how much to integrate the various modules you’ve installed. Learn more about each of those products below:

Determining How Your Workflows Will Translate to Acumatica

Moving to Acumatica means porting over your business processes. However, given the expanded feature set in Acumatica, it’s a good practice to take the opportunity to improve the way you do things. You might be able do more than you currently can with QuickBooks. For example, if you look carefully at your Accounts Payable workflow, you might determine that there’s a more efficient way to do it in Acumatica. You could probably automate certain workflow steps.

You may go through an iterative process to match up the migration with the workflows. Your workflows can affect the way you import data from QuickBooks. Working with an experienced migration advisor, you could cycle through multiple version of your workflow and Acumatica setup.

Making It Work for Everyone

Moving to Acumatica is definitely not a “set it and forget it” operation. For one thing, you’ll have to train your people. Everyone who touches the front end of the system needs to be confident in their ability to use the software. This may involve teaching people new sills, like data analytics and reporting as well as cross-functional workflows like logistics-to-accounting transactions in Acumatica.

From there, it’s necessary to monitor how things are going – on both the front and back ends. Having worked with many businesses on the transition from QuickBooks to Acumatica, we recommend running Acumatica for about a month and then reviewing how things are going. Of course, if there’s an issue sooner, you have to deal with it. We can help with that, too. However, in general, we’ve found that a solid month of use will reveal any difficulties in the new workflows or missing pieces of the data transfer that need to be rectified.

Implementing Acumatica can move forward in increments after the migration from QuickBooks. It’s a highly dynamic and multi-faceted solution. As your team gets more comfortable with it, you might find you want to add new feature sets or modules. Alternatively, you might discover that it’s too much all at once.

We can help scope the installation down, giving everyone time to get used to the new toolset. Contact us to learn more.

Improving Your Business with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Improving Your Business with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a multi-faceted, cloud-based business management suite. It offers features that can improve the way your business operates. These include advance financial management capabilities, supply chain management and project management as well as operational optimization tools.

Manage your financials better

Dynamics 365 financial management lets you make informed decisions by connecting data across sales, accounting, purchasing, inventory and customer interactions. This approach gives you an end-to-end view of your business. With Dynamics 365, you can streamline accounts receivables and payables. It provides automatic account reconciliations and quick accurate closing.

The financial management toolset’s reporting abilities let you improve the accuracy of your financial forecasts. You can refine forecasts by modeling and analyzing your business data across multiple dimensions. Then, customize reports using seamless Microsoft Excel integration and chart financial your business’s performance in real time with built-in Power BI dashboards.

Learn more about Financial Management in Business Central.

Securely automate your supply chain

Supply chain management benefits from automation. Dynamics 365 can be set up to offer recommendations on when to pay vendors. It can also guide you on when to use vendor discounts or avoid overdue penalties. Controls available in Dynamics 365 have the ability to prevent unnecessary or fraudulent purchases. This is achieved through approval workflows.

With Dynamics 365, you can take advantage of built-in intelligence to predict inventory replenishment requirements. The toolset gives you the ability to purchase only what you need by means of dynamically updated inventory levels. Thus, you can automatically calculate stock levels and maintain the right amount of inventory. Track lead times and reorder points, enabling you to reduce stock-outs and resulting lost sales.

Learn more about Supply Chain in Business Central.

Sell smarter and improve customer service

Dynamics 365 further improves your business by helping you sell smarter. You can prioritize sales leads based on their revenue potential. At the same time, track all customer interactions and let the toolset provide guidance on suggested cross-sell, upsell and renewal opportunities. Dynamics 365 also allows you to accelerate your quote-to-cash cycle. Outlook integration enables fast responses for sales inquiries as well as service requests.

Learn more about CRM in Business Central.

Keep projects on time and under budget

If you run a project-based business, Dynamics 365 has features for creating, managing and tracking projects with timesheets and advanced job costing and reporting capabilities. You can develop and control budgets in order to project profitability. The toolset lets you manage resource levels for each project and then track invoicing against projected costs.

Learn more about Project Management in Business Central.

Optimize your operations

Dynamics 365 helps you improve your business through optimized operations. This includes capabilities like managing forecasting-to-fulfillment by gaining a holistic view of inventory. The toolset gives you the ability to use sales forecasts and expected stock-outs to create production plans and purchase orders on an automated basis. In addition, you can use Dynamics 365 to run your warehouse efficiently, tracking every item transaction and movement. For manufacturers, Dynamics 365 calculates and optimizes manufacturing capacity and resources in order to meet customer demands through improved production schedules.

Learn more about Operations Management in Business Central

If we can help you determine how Dynamics can improve your business, let’s talk.

Additional Business Central Resources

Microsoft Dynamics Business Central Features

Dynamics 365 Business Central: Premium Vs. Essentials

Dynamics GP to Dynamics 365 Business Central

Better Financial Reporting with Acumatica

Better Financial Reporting with Acumatica

There’s a question you frequently (and unfortunately) hear from managers when they are presented with financial reports: “Thanks. Now, what do these really mean?” An income statement and a balance sheet will reveal some basic facts about a company’s financial condition, but their ability to communicate meaningful information is usually quite limited. For example, imagine that the income statement shows earnings equal to 5% of revenue. Is that good or bad? How does that compare to the business plan? That is a matter for a separate analysis. Now, however, advances in financial reporting from Acumatica provide a much-needed new level of context and detail.

What is Financial Reporting All About?

All accounting packages create financial reports. They contain standard modules like General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. From these functions, the package is able to generate all the major reports: income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows, accounts receivable aging and so forth.

What is the purpose of these reports? They’re needed for tax reporting, at a minimum. They offer managers and shareholders a picture of the company’s financial condition, e.g. is it profitable or in a loss situation? Are expenses higher in the current period compared to earlier periods, and so forth. These are essential facts, but they don’t usually tell the whole story.

What’s Missing in Conventional Financial Reports

Financial reporting should go further than just stating the financial state of a business. Financial reports are about more than just managing money. They should be about managing the business. To be of true help to managers, reports should reflect how the business is performing in a variety of contexts. How is it doing compared to the annual plan? Do the reports reflect the unique structure of the organization and the nature of your markets?

A Better Kind of Financial Reporting

A new kind of financial reporting, available from Acumatica, gives you the ability to create a number of special reports that align with the specifics of your operations and resulting financial transactions. To achieve this outcome, Acumatica can potentially integrate features for cash and currency management, tax management, deferred revenue accounting, fixed assets, payroll and more. Deployed as an integrated suite, Acumatica allows events and transactions to be entered once, but then processed through a single, shared database infrastructure. Financial reporting flows from there, with a sophisticated complete drill-down capability and audit trail.

Using financial management reporting to support business management decision-making requires taking a close look at data sub-sets. As a result, financial reporting software needs to create multiple versions of any standard report, e.g. a departmental P&L or product- or customer-specific income statements and so forth. You will also need analytical capabilities, the capacity to build additional views of the data. These views should be available in reports, on-screen, Excel downloads and so forth.

Acumatica delivers these capabilities. It enables flexible reporting that gives you the ability to act as financial planner. You get the ability to see cause-and-effect, sorting out significant trends and effects. You can project possible results of strategic and tactical changes. Acumatica provides you with powerful and flexible financial reporting tools that transforms your day-to-day financial tracking software into a resource for business value.

Acumatica is one our specialties. We’ve worked with many clients on specialized Acumatica financial reporting projects. If you are interested in learning how Acumatica can help your business with better financial reporting, let’s talk.

Additional Acumatica Resources

Manufacturing Challenges—How Acumatica Can Help

Understanding Acumatica Pricing

Signs You Are Outgrowing Your ERP Solution

Manufacturing Challenges—How Acumatica Can Help

Manufacturing Challenges—How Acumatica Can Help

Manufacturing has never been easy, but it’s getting harder to do profitably with every passing year. Competition never lets us. Supply chains get more complex. Deadlines and customer demands grow more urgent. How can you stay ahead? A manufacturing-centric Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help. Acumatica, which has specialized manufacturing capabilities, demonstrates the power of software to keep manufacturing operations profitable and competitive.

Manufacturing Challenges Today

Time was, captains of industry would say that all it took to succeed was to “build a better mousetrap.” Those were the days. Currently, to win in manufacturing, you have to build a better mousetrap out of parts built all over the world—shipped to your plant on a “just in time” basis. Your customers expect a huge variety of mousetraps at the lowest possible price, available on the fastest possible delivery schedules.

How Acumatica Addresses Today’s Manufacturing Challenges

Acumatica Manufacturing Edition offers a solution. It’s a complete, multi-site cloud manufacturing control and planning system. It works in scenarios that span job shops, batch manufacturing, make-to-order and make-to-stock. It can be used for engineer-to-order and project-centric production as well. The solution integrates production planning and shop floor with customer management. In addition, Acumatica connects sales orders, purchasing, inventory, accounting and financial reporting. All up, it delivers real-time coordination of manufacturing as it relates to activities across the entire basis.

Highlights include:

  • Meeting schedules—Respond to demand while you optimize inventory and resources
  • Committing to delivery—Commit to customer deliver requirements with a Capable-to-Promise (CTP) function, based on known capacity and materials
  • Tracking costs—Stay on top of labor and material costs while managing products, then compare planned vs. actual costs
  • Managing inventory—Know where your inventory is at any time, gaining real-time access to available inventory, inventory in transit and reorder quantities. This enables efficient distribution management, increased profitability and improved customer experience.
  • Handling Bills of Materials (BOMs) and routing—Plan and manage inventories, costs, and manufacturing processes, retaining full control over revisions. Acumatica lets you see financial and engineering views of a product in a multi-level BOM structure.
  • Overseeing production—Schedule shop floor production while track material and labor costs, including comparisons between planned vs. actual costs
  • Conduct Material Requirements Planning (MRP)—Address requirements from customers while optimizing inventory levels
  • Configuring products—stay on top of real-time price and cost rollups with a product configurator that enables multi-level, dimensional, rules-based configurations
  • Estimating production costs—Estimate costs for both new or existing products, easily converting estimates into BOMs or production orders
  • Managing orders—Stay on top of sales activities, streamlining procurement and automating order fulfillment in the process
  • Planning and scheduling—Meet customer demands through accurate and reliable delivery dates based on resource and production capacity availability
  • Managing warehouses— Streamline distribution process with Acumatica’s Warehouse Management System (WMS)

Implementing ERP for manufacturing can be a challenging process. Getting it right has as much (or more) to do with understanding the alignment between business and manufacturing as it does with software and IT. It all has to work together, however. This is something we are good at. If you are interested in learning how Acumatica Manufacturing Edition can help your business, let’s talk.

Additional Acumatica Resources

Technology for the Mid-Sized Manufacturer

Understanding Acumatica Pricing

New Features in Acumatica 2019 R1: Exciting Changes Ahead