Windows 10

What’s New for ERP in Microsoft Windows 10?

The first public preview of Windows 10, also known as Windows Technical Preview, was launched on Oct, 1. From the onset, it’s clear Windows 10 is built to appease users of Windows 8 and 8.1 that were not pleased with the touch-oriented interface.

The operating system powering Windows 10 is known as Windows Threshold.

Windows 10

Where is Windows 9?

Perhaps you may be wondering how you missed the release of Windows 9. Well, there is no Windows 9.

According to Mary Jo Foley, a Microsoft tech writer with ZDnet, Microsoft opted to call the new Windows “10” instead of “9” to signify it will be a big and cross-platform release. This seems to have been achieved as the Windows runs on PCs, tablets, and Windows Phones. The version is even expected on the Xbox sometime in future.

The user interface of Windows 10 is tailored for each type of device. Like is expected, there are still some rough spots on the Windows but the preview points to a robust software.

Windows 10 and ERP

The impact of Windows 10 to ERP software is yet to be seen. However, with the initial looks, organizations that opt to use Windows 10 will be able to use their ERP systems across different devices. Some of possible impacts of Windows 10 on ERP  include:

  1. Employee Satisfaction

With Windows 10 running on a variety of devices, employees in organizations with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies will experience more satisfaction. This is because the employees will be able to use various ERP systems using the devices they have chosen and invested in rather than what has been selected by IT.

According to a study commissioned by NG Bailey, 87 percent of workers in organizations with no BYOD policy were unhappy.

  1. Increased Productivity and Innovation

While cloud ERP is still gaining ground among organizations, Windows 10 will make it easier for users to access ERP functions from different devices. This means improved productivity and innovation for organizations. Employees are more comfortable with personal devices and become experts at using them, which makes them more productive.

Moreover, personal devices tend to be more cutting-edge. Employees using personal devices upgrade to the latest hardware more frequently. By having a BYOD policy, organizations will benefit from the latest features. Still, it remains to be seen how stable Windows 10 will be on devices like tablets and phones.

  1. Cost Savings

BYOD can help organizations save by shifting costs to users. For example, employees may be paying for data services and mobile devices. However, such savings are usually not significant and thus should not be among the key considerations to make for organizations looking to switch to Windows 10 for BYOD purposes.

Windows 10 Interface

If you prefer using your PC with a keyboard and mouse, you will be happy to know that the Start menu is back. You can however still keep the full-screen Start screen of Windows 8 and 8.1 if you want.

On the Start menu, you can pin Live Tiles in multiple sizes on the right. On the left, a list of familiar applications and those recently accessed is available. There is also a jump list for files and the familiar search box in Windows that you can use to run commands such as opening your ERP.

Other interesting features in Windows 10 include:

  • Ability to upgrade PCs using management tools
  • Ability to manage PCs through the same Mobile Device Management system you use for your tablets and smartphones
  • Separation of business and personal data using encrypted containers
  • An enterprise app store where you can manage licenses for modern apps instead of having employees sign into work PCs with their personal Microsoft accounts.

Windows 10 allows users to have multiple virtual desktops. This feature enables easy access of different application windows for users running multiple programs.

The Verdict

Windows 10 is all about balancing the demands of different users. Users with desktop PCs with keyboards and those using tablets, laptops, and giant screens have been taken care of in Windows 10.

Coming to ERPs, Windows 10 makes IT teams comfortable with the BYOD features introduced in Windows 8, and provides more management and security options.

Hybrid ERP

Is A Hybrid ERP the Key to A Successful Implementation?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are critical to the success of many business processes. However, over the last decade, cloud-based services have emerged to take some of the business process responsibilities from employees.

While organizations may prefer to process or manage various types of data in-house, some industry leaders are now suggesting higher ROI can be achieved through a hybrid approach, i.e. using cloud solutions and in-house ERP systems.

Hybrid ERP

Hybrid Cloud ERP

Implementing a new ERP system is expensive. The initial implementation cost, set up, and training demand significant resources.

For small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), these issues mean that implementing a full scale ERP solution is risking incurring high maintenance costs and even overwhelming their IT departments. Cloud solutions eliminates some of the issues that SMEs may have with legacy ERP systems.

However, for large organizations, cloud is just not the answer. In most cases, executives do not trust their organization’s financial data being managed by a third party. This is in spite of the security advances cloud providers have made in recent years. Moreover, IT managers may be reluctant to switch from systems specifically tailored to their business to cloud solutions.

When Does Cloud ERP Make Sense?

Organizations that are not comfortable with the loss of control and/or risk of completely moving into cloud ERP computing, but still want to enjoy some of its benefits, will find a hybrid ERP approach the right answer.

Hybrid ERP refers to use of on-site ERP, but with a few carefully selected applications hosted on the cloud. So, which applications can you opt to host on the cloud?

  1. i) A third-party on-site ERP add-on. Perhaps the practicality of the add-on was not apparent until the successful implementation of the ERP. And while you wouldn’t want to spend more to purchase the add-on, the financial payback on monthly subscription costs makes it attractive.
  2. ii) All data is not created equal. You may not be comfortable with confidential employee information and financial data being handled by a third party. However, there are other datasets that won’t have a major impact on your company if they are breached, for example, quality control and inventory data. These less sensitive data can be hosted on the cloud.

iii) Applications that are on the sidelines of your operations can also be hosted on the cloud. These applications are mostly those that are never core competencies, but can still improve operations. Examples of such applications include freight invoice auditing, product lead management and supply chain collaboration with vendors, all of which typically don’t require a big solution.

As is evident from the above, the best ERP applications to host on the cloud are those that are almost standalone, except for the basic input/output interface. Other characteristics of the apps are those with conservative financial outlay and minimal security.

From the onset, ERP was meant for analytics and reporting but not transaction processing, which is the primary focus of cloud applications. This is where the two systems can meet.

Implementing ERP is expensive and managing it complicated. Organizations can ease some of the pains associated with ERP by switching some processes to cloud.

Hybrid ERP Solutions for Businesses

Cloud computing is increasingly being adopted as the default infrastructure for many IT solutions. However, this does not mean it will fit perfectly everywhere. While an organization may be drawn to the obvious benefits of the cloud, concerns about pertinent processes and data being handled by a third party can prevent a wholesale switch. And this is where hybrid ERP comes in.

Hybrid ERP provides a balance between on-premise and cloud application management for various business processes. Organizations can relieve pressure on their infrastructure and IT department by migrating some of the solutions that a third party can handle to the cloud and leaving those that cannot be migrated to be managed in-house.

Cloud software should not be implemented to replace on-site ERP. Rather, it should be used to complement the ERP by integrating exchange of data that will feed and support analytics, reporting and enterprise planning.

In the end, both cloud and ERP systems have their own turfs in modern organization processes.

Evaluate ERP Solutions in 7 Steps

The most effective way to increase productivity is to streamline, integrate, and automate as many business processes as possible. How can you do this? That’s quite simple: by choosing an ERP solution that is specialized for your industry sector and best fits your business model.

But selecting the right ERP system isn’t easy. In fact, most organizations end up with the wrong solution, which cannot help them achieve the results expected. Recent research has shown notable dissatisfaction during and after ERP implementations, with about 60 percent of ERP projects exceeding planned schedules and 50 percent involving unexpected costs, usually leading to sizable budget overruns. Often overlooked, however, is another key aspect: unrealistically optimistic expectations, for which both ERP vendors and end users share the blame.

Hand touching the word evaluation on search bar on tablet screen on crumpled papers

Despite all these, ERP systems continue to occupy a dominant position in today’s IT investments. To support the ERP’s upward trend, industry experts have developed a sure-fire methodology, which allows organizations to evaluate ERP solutions and understand how they can address and solve specific challenges before starting the actual implementation process. The methodology we’re talking about involves seven distinct and essential steps.

  1. Business Objective Setting: Following a multidimensional approach is imperative in order to set out the right business objectives. Starting with your organization’s needs and ending with the results you expect to achieve, your approach should include a series of aspects, ranging from implementation and maintenance costs, solution’s contribution to your overall business strategy, its complexity, flexibility, and user friendliness to client/server capabilities, security, database independence, and potential risks associated.
  2. Employee Involvement: Employee commitment is critical for an ERP project to have the best chance of success. You can motivate all of your employees, including top management, implementation team, and end users, to support your ERP initiative by simply presenting the advantages of using the system. Additionally, you could award special bonuses and on-going benefits to all those viewed as key players in the implementation project.
  3. Implementation Strategy Development: To properly evaluate ERP solutions, organizations must also consider implementability, defined as the suitability degree between the new product requirements and technical infrastructure available. Although IT infrastructures can be adjusted to support ERP systems, developers must consider feasibility problems that may occur down the road along with the extent to which drastic changes impair enterprise concepts.
  4. Change Management: ERP implementations are predominantly complex change management projects, with 80 percent of the benefits resulting from the changes organizations are willing to make. Although all ERP products come with specific business models that companies must adopt after implementing preferred solutions, re-engineering business processes isn’t that easy. For this reason, the differential abilities of an ERP system to enable regulated changes represent a critical parameter that must be considered when evaluating an ERP initiative.
  5. Metric Creation: The key issue in most ERP implementation projects is the development of a plausible metric scheme, which allows organizations to test the ERP solutions implemented. When the right metrics are used, companies can easily measure ERP systems and business processes from multiple perspectives, and identify the improvements needed for enhancing system efficiency.
  6. Post-Implementation Strategic Planning: One of the biggest mistakes businesspeople make when they evaluate ERP solutions is to stop at the go-live phase. Since achieving expected business benefits without long-term planning is almost impossible, outlining certain ERP post-implementation activities from the very beginning is very important to ensure project success.
  7. Product Selection: In order to choose the right ERP solution for your organization, a complex process, involving data collection, analysis, and validation, must be carried out. Once the process has been completed, prioritizing the best ERP alternatives shouldn’t be a problem. Then, the project team must obtain top management approval to purchase and implement the selected product.

An ERP system may not give your organization a sure advantage. However, not having it can put your company at a substantial competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. If you have already decided to handle the dynamic requirements of your growing organization with the help of an ERP solution, it’s imperative to evaluate ERP products, knowing that the difference between success and failure consists in the way an ERP solution is deployed to cater to the needs of your organization.

ERP Software

5 Things You Need To Know Before Consulting A VAR

The success of any ERP implementation majorly depends on the Value Added Re-seller (VAR) that will install or configure the system. Any good VAR knows that there is no out-of-the-box solution that will fit all organizations. The scope of your business, needs and users should guide the selection and implementation of the ERP software.

Group working

Choosing the right VAR does not have to be difficult. Ideally, you want to work with a reseller that has successfully handled multiple projects of a similar scope to yours in the past. The experience of the re-seller is crucial to avoiding down-times and rush installations that may increase installation costs and negate any gains anticipated from the ERP.

Below are five things you should know before you consult a VAR.

  1. System and Version

Know the system and version of the ERP you want installed or configured. ERP vendors occasionally update their systems to enhance security, bring new features or improve performance.

The VAR you want to hire should be conversant with the ERP system and version that you want to upgrade to. The vendor should also have experience in data management, transfer and conversion to avoid losses during the upgrade.

  1. Modules

Upgrading your ERP for the sake of getting a new system in the organization is not a prudent move. The cost of ERP implementation and the related learning curve can significantly reduce the output of your employees and bring processes to a standstill.

While there are stand-alone manufacturing software packages in the market, the best solutions are tightly integrated in a centralized ERP system. Depending on your production environment, you may require an ERP with process, discrete or mixed mode software.

Your system selection should be based on whether your production environment can be considered work-order based, repetitive, repair and maintenance, batch processing, job shop, contract manufacturing or continuous process. The VAR should offer you detailed costing information on the ERP system.

You should only upgrade if you will be benefiting from a function or module in the new ERP. The reseller should be knowledgeable and experienced in configuring the modules that will be important in your daily organization tasks.

  1. Add-ons

To get the full benefits of the ERP system, it may be necessary to install a number of add-ons from third party vendors. Add-ons extend the capability of the ERP, often enabling custom functions through available or additional modules.

The add-ons that may have to be installed directly in the ERP or may be available on the cloud. If the add-ons are coming from other third party vendors, does the VAR understand how to configure and customize them for your organizational use? Find out if installing the add-ons will increase your costs.

  1. Number of Users

You should also know the exact number of people that will be accessing and using the ERP system. The number of employees using the system may determine the licensing fees you will pay. For example, you may find that the first 20 concurrent users cost much less than the next 20.

Another metric to know is the number of concurrent users (the maximum number of users on the system at once.) The performance of the ERP can change as the volume of transactions or number of concurrent users increase.

Find out from the VAR how the number of users will alter your budget and the performance of the ERP.

  1. Sites Using System 

You should understand the costs of deploying the ERP. When costing the ERP project budget, take into account the initial implementation and total cost of ownership (TCO). For instance, a typical quote includes the ERP software, first-year support and implementation cost.

The initial costs usually include a complete ERP system for a single site. However, additional sites and modules will increase the cost. Find out from the VAR whether the contract excludes such necessary tasks as training.

Before you contact a VAR for any ERP project, you should know how to measure success in terms of saving money by increasing market share, increasing revenues, and streamlining operations. Measuring success will motivate the staff during the implementation, ensuring the project is on track and effort is put to attain important business objectives.

cloud erp

Acumatica Cloud ERP: From the Front Lines of Summit 2014

Only an hour into Acumatica’s Summit in Denver, and we see a single theme being reiterated over and over again: mobile accessibility and collaboration.

With the launch of 4.2, Acumatica has improved it’s already flexible interface to adapt to our mobile and nomadic lifestyles.   We already know the days of the desktop ERP (or, “ball-and-chain”) are long gone (if we can help it).  As many software applications have attempted to do with the cloud (or SaaS), Acumatica has capitalized on this with huge improvements in mobility and collaboration.

Acumatica Cloud ERP

Some examples that we’ve seen of Acumatica Cloud ERP in the opening keynote include utilizing tools like Azuqua and Box to streamline the flow of information between users.

In one of my personal favorites, Acumatica displayed how Box can be used in the Sales Order module to attach documents.  Though this may seem, simple,  the fact that other users can receive notifications on their mobile device, open the files and even comment on them, takes it a step further.

Additionally, we saw how Azuqua enables different cloud products to talk to each other.  Acumatica demonstrated how Azuqua allows users to directly import leads from HubSpot into Acumatica’s CRM.  Check out Azuqua, and see the other applications that Azuqua integrates with.  (We promise, it won’t be disappointing!)

However, the most exciting presentation was “What’s New in Acumatica 5.0.

Some tools and features that you will see in Acumatica 5.0:

  • Single sign-on: Single sign on supports Microsoft/Google Authentication.  Thus, reiterating the theme of ‘mobility and collaboration.’  Once you’re signed into Office 365, Exchange or Gmail, you’ll be able to directly navigate into your Acumatica  Cloud ERP portal.
  • Universal search:   Universal search is like google on steroids.  Users are not only able to pull up the world wide web within Acumatica, but you can also enter keywords like “Sales Order” or “General Ledger” where the system will pull from within your erp.
  • Customized Filters:  Just like you have multiple tabs open in a browser, these tabs allow you to create multiple user defined views and put them in tabs for easy accessibility.
  • Multi-warehouse allocation feature: Allows you to allocate instock items from other warehouses. This automatically puts a transfer request in from ‘behind the scenes’ after you choose quantity from other location.
  • Self Service Portal: B2B ordering is easier than ever before with a newly designed self-service portal for retailers. Buyers can determine which items you’d like to be available in the portal.

These are just a few of the up and coming features in Acumatica 5.0.  Sign up for our webinar mailing list to be the first to know about webinars showcasing the new features in Acumatica Cloud ERP.

Mobile 3D Scanning

Mobile 3D And The Future of ERP Software

Not only mobile technologies have witnessed rapid growth over the past few years, they also have given rise to a new trend, irreversibly transforming the way we live and do business. New mobile apps have already been integrated with various software products and devices, allowing people to control everything, from lights and locks around properties to complex manufacturing processes.

Unfortunately, all these deliver insufficient data to predict the innovations the third industrial revolution, already on the horizon, promise to bring along. Since new apps are continuously changing everything we know about the solutions we use, the future of ERP has become more unpredictable than ever before.

And Here Is the Proof

Smartphones currently replacing common devices, such as cameras and music players, are about to take over more important functions, promising to become indispensable tools in a series of industry sectors, including manufacturing and engineering.

Mobile 3D

One of these functions is mobile 3D scanning. Delivering a brand new technology, mobile 3D scanning apps enable Smartphones to capture objects and scenes, subsequently displaying them as 3D visual representations for further processing, such as measuring, editing and even 3D printing.

Though numerous 3D scanning solutions have been developed over time, the new technology aims to turn 3D scanning into a simple operation — similar to taking pictures with your Smartphone — that no longer requires dedicated hardware. Further, the latest 3D scanning apps are able to connect with phones’ graphics processing units, allowing users to check visual representations and perform calculations instantly. The ability to verify 3D models on the spot gives you the opportunity to identify any missing parts that must be scanned in order to get complete 3D representations of objects.

Applications of 3D Scanning Software

Primarily developed for industrial use, cutting-edge mobile 3D apps not only collect and process data to deliver 3D models, but also output information in a format that can be easily recognized by most software solutions. As a result, 3D technology can be used to:

  • Create customized products for different industry sectors, including machinery, healthcare and even fashion
  • Verify product quality by comparing manufactured products to 3D models
  • Scan buildings and create accurate 3D visual representations for the construction industry
  • Develop CAD models of different parts to update existing products or make new ones

Since the most common uses of 3D scanning include reverse engineering, digital archiving and 3D printing, it’s expected to have a significant impact on the future of ERP.

Is the Future of ERP at Stake?  

Although many ERP users may think that 3D technologies endanger the future of ERP, industry experts explain that new solutions are being constantly developed to extend the capabilities of existing ERP systems.

For instance, a mobile 3D scanning app installed on your Smartphone can be used to obtain a comprehensive 3D visual representation of an older item. Then, you can use your ERP solution not only to access the 3D model saved on your Smartphone, but also to make various changes, such as adding or removing elements and modifying physical dimensions. As soon as you finalize the 3D model, you can connect the same ERP system to a 3D printer and create your first prototype.

The advantage? In comparison to traditional methods of creating prototypes, which use subtractive processes, removing material and producing waste, 3D printers create products by using only the material required to build the items. What does it mean to a manufacturer? Zero waste, lower costs and greater profits.

If the new product is worth the investment, you can use the same ERP system to calculate costs based on different materials, assign specific tasks to employees according to their roles and capabilities, create multiple projects and choose the most advantageous one, and even schedule production.

By combining a reliable ERP system with the right 3D scanning apps and 3D printer, the cost and time of designing and prototyping in manufacturing can be reduced to minimum. Hopefully, 3D scanning and printing will soon help manufacturers produce large amounts of standardized products not just prototypes. This will have a tremendous impact on the future of ERP, encouraging the demand for new ERP solutions, on one side, and further development, on the other.

Cloud ERP software

Acumatica Cloud ERP: Real Time Warehouse Management

About 90 percent of C-level executive decision makers see cloud computing as key to business success – an unsurprising fact considering that cloud ERP solutions have already helped thousands of enterprises efficiently manage different business areas and boost profit.

Cloud ERP

What about warehouse management? Will your warehouse thrive in the cloud? Is cloud-based software the best alternative for your organization? To efficiently manage warehouse operations, maintaining information flow is of the utmost importance. Even short delays in delivering real-time information can have serious consequences, such as stock outages resulting in lost sales and warehouse congestion jeopardizing in-bound and out-bound activities.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest disadvantages of cloud computing is delay in communication due to slow remote servers and disruptions in links. Since this can literally cripple your entire activity, having a cloud-based software solution capable to manage the issues known to cause communication delays while executing many other tasks is critical when handling dynamic, fast-paced operations.

The Solution

Acumatica, an industry leader in manufacturing and warehouse control software, proposes an intelligent cloud ERP solution that eliminates information lag time typically occurring in cloud computing. Not only this system downloads information from remote locations, it also maintains it locally. Essentially, this means that Acumatica can process data quickly, in real time and maintain warehouse operations even when remote servers experience communication delays or disruptions.

Combining a full spectrum of capabilities, Acumatica delivers an adaptable, highly configurable cloud-based ERP system that you can use to manage:

  • Multiple warehouses. For each warehouse, Acumatica allows you to select several employees who can perform inventory transactions and access warehouse information. Additionally, this cloud ERP system can be used to track products and pallets; customize grids with filtering and sorting; perform inventory and cycle counts; and draft reports of profitability by business unit, location, product line and warehouse.
  • Inventory. The inventory management module included in Acumatica gives your real-time access to inventory in stock, in transit, on sales orders, on back orders, on purchase orders, and even to damaged and expired inventory, while calculating the inventory needed to complete certain work orders. Integrated with order, purchasing and financial management features, this module can also be used to check warehouse space, lots, expiration dates, inventory sub-items, and negative inventory; analyze location-specific inventory allocations, quantities and costs; track inventory by lot or serial numbers; set item-specific valuation methods to develop and view reports by quantity and costs; obtain detailed cost allocation data based on inventory-related transactions; and create multiple accounts for different groups of items so that you can keep a detailed record of your inventory.
  • Purchasing. This cloud ERP system also contains a purchasing module that can be fine-tuned to automate different processes commonly used to acquire materials, require vendor quotes, issue purchase orders, receive orders and create vouchers. A series of analytics tools and ordering algorithms included in this module can help improve procurement process efficiency.
  • Orders. With Acumatica, you’ll be able to optimize not only the way you enter work orders, but also the way you fulfill them. You can split jobs among different subsidiaries, allocate inventories according to the tasks that must be completed, accept returns, and set up notifications and alerts to improve the entire operation.
  • Requisition. Streamlining the complex distribution process involving multiple products, suppliers, warehouses and shipping routes has never been easier. Acumatica makes available a series of requisition management tools appropriate for obtaining bids, gathering requests, creating and approving quotes, and managing purchases and orders in the most efficient way.

Acumatica is one of the few cloud ERP solutions that provide a single point of control to direct and manage equipment and personnel along any physical activities within manufacturing and warehousing facilities in real-time, enabling your organization to quickly adapt to last-minute changes. Real-time verification capability also enhances order accuracy, leading to fewer errors, improved throughput, on-time delivery and lower operating cost. All these mean more revenue and profit for your organization.

Additionally, Acumatica can be customized and configured to optimize a series of business operations, ranging from manufacturing to picking, packing and shipping. Whether your organization grows or shrinks, this agile software solution can easily adapt to changing business environments, improving performance and optimizing operations to improve financial performance.