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.
Most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it, but when we drive, we glance down at our dashboards every minute or so. We want to make sure we haven’t started speeding. We want to know if the engine’s overheating or if we’re running out of gas. It’s a reflexive behavior for most drivers. Now, with business dashboards, you can have the same beneficial experience while running a company.
What Is a Business Dashboard?
A business dashboard is a computer interface, usually built in a web browser, that graphically displays selected business data for easy consumption. Dashboards are invariably customized, and seldom look alike from one business to another. They may contain displays for sales by day or week, order statuses, sales by top 5 customers and so forth. Like a car’s dashboard, they give managers a quick reference on the health of the business.
How Business Dashboards Work
Most business dashboards, like those available in Acumatica and comparable ERP packages, are assembled using “widgets.” A widget is a single data display element. It might show the sales-by-week data in a line graph. Another widget could show the order statuses in a pie chart, and so forth.
Widgets work through database queries and code that work behind the scenes. While you see a colorful, clean-looking pie chart of order statuses, the widget’s code is asking your ERP database, “What is the status of all open orders?” and then building the pie chart in real time. Like the speedometer on a car dashboard, the order status widget will change dynamically as order statuses get updated across the business.
Why Business Dashboards are Important
Dashboards are helpful in business management for many reasons. For one thing, they enable real time visibility into how your business is running. For example, if sales are slowing down, a good dashboard can let you know right away. You won’t have to wait until the end of the month to know you have a problem. Similarly, if your dashboard shows sales forecasts, you can even see a sales slowdown coming and be able to act before it affects the business.
Another reason dashboards are important relates to their ability to connect strategy with real time action. For instance, your competitive strategy might be based on delivering outstanding service. However, if your dashboard shows you that your service department is chronically late in providing service, that’s a big disconnect that could ruin your competitive advantage. The dashboard highlights the problem for you to see. Of course, a text-based report could also inform you of your service problem. A dynamic real time data graph, however, is a better way to flag the service problem. It gets your attention.
Dashboards are part of a bigger picture that includes data analytics and reporting on business operations and financial results. They make it easier to understand data about your business. Data awareness, as presented in dashboard form, helps you make decisions about personnel, investments, vendors and more.
Making dashboards work requires having the right underlying ERP solution in place and then focusing on reporting based on business data. Most ERP solutions have some basic data analytics and dashboarding features available out of the book, but in most cases, it pays to work with an experienced advisor in implementation of meaningful dashboards.
Integrated Business Group can help with analytics and dashboards. To learn more, visit https://www.integratedbusinessgroup.com/acumatica-cloud-erp/
Your Microsoft Dynamics GP software solution is very robust. It’s probably saving you time and helping you create efficiencies in your organization. But what if it could save you even more time? Keep reading for 8 of our favorite Dynamics GP software tips & tricks!
1. How to create reports that you can run over and over with the same filters.
- Choose a report type (i.e. Historical Aged Trial Balance) and choose “New” at the bottom of the screen
- In the options field, place a very short description (i.e. Your Name, Date, or “Monthly”)
- Set the desired parameters for your report
- Save the report
- The next time you want to run the report, you can generate the report quickly and modify your dates as needed
2. Easy date creation in any GP window.
- Clicking (+) or (-) keys on date fields in Dynamics GP increases or decreases the date by one day
- Keying in the day number in date field will cause Dynamics GP to fill in the current month and year; for example, keying “10” in the date field on 5/3/17 will automatically input the date 5/10/17 in the date box
3. Fix auto-complete errors.
- The auto-complete function finishes your entries for you
- This is a great tip until you misspell a word and are stuck with it forever
- To get rid of an auto-complete error, start typing until the error shows up in auto-complete, then right click and select “Remove” from list
4. Copy/Paste from Excel for easy journal entry imports.
- Set up an Excel spreadsheet with four columns in this order: Description, Debit, Credit, Amount
- Fill in the data; you don’t need to fill in the description, but the description column needs to be in your Excel spreadsheet
- Copy just the data, not the column headers
- In GP start a GL transaction (Financial/Transactions/Financial/General)
- Click the “Past” button at the top of the screen and the data will be pasted
- Fill in the rest of the data for the transaction
5. Correct/Fix journal entries.
- GP will allow you to back out a journal entry OR back out a journal entry to create a correcting journal entry
- Go to Financial/Transactions/Financial/General
- At the top of the screen choose “Correct”
- Choose if you would like to simply back out a journal entry OR if you would like to back out the journal entry and create a correcting journal entry
- Choose the year and original journal entry number
- This is a helpful tip if you simply want to back out a journal entry that has been posted
- This is also helpful if someone has entered a large journal entry and posted it, but one of the accounts is incorrect; you can then use the back out/create correcting option and the journal entry will be backed out, and a correcting entry will be created that you can then edit and post
6. Speed checkbook inquiry by entering dates first.
- Enter your date range in the checkbook inquiry search field to avoid waiting for a long history of data
- This allows you to pull the transactions you need in a shorter amount of time
7. SafePay to help stop check fraud.
- Easily provide a check list to the bank after every check run
- The bank will use the information to compare to checks presented for payment to be sure it matches
8. Document attach functionality.
- In the GP/tools/Setup/Company/Document Attach Setup window, you can mark the check box to allow document attachments
- Set your default location for attachments, and choose a max file size
- Indicate if attachments can be deleted and if a password is needed to do so
- Indicate if attachments should flow from Master Records to related documents; for example, sales contract to flow to customer order, or item picture to flow to order for same
- Indicate if attachments can be sent in email
- Access document attachments window by clicking on the paperclip at the top of the screen OR the notes icon on a screen