Big Data

What Big Data Means For The Future Of ERP

Every single company out there needs data for improved decision making. This actually means that organizations must handle increasing volumes of information if they want to boost their business results. The massive volumes of data most enterprises need to collect in order to achieve their goals have lead to a phenomenon known as Big Data.

Big Data

Big Data affects all of us. How? Well, considering that we’re producing more than 48 hours of new videos, 100,000 new tweets, and 200 million new email messages every minute, we’ve already exceeded our data storage and processing capacities. In a nutshell, storing and processing every piece of information is impossible, no matter how much computing power an organization has. An enterprise trying to handle too much data will encounter a series of issues, ranging from meaningless to misleading connections between different data points, which will lead to inaccuracies and poor business decisions.

How Will Big Data Impact the Future of ERP?

The main issues with Big Data isn’t only that the volume of structured data collected via ERP systems continues to grow, but also that more and more organizations must manage an onslaught of unstructured information from various sources, including machine-to-machine communication systems and social media sites.

Some factors affecting Big Data phenomenon and the future of ERP, implicitly, are social media, mobility, and sensor networks. Today, many companies are using social media websites to engage with their customers directly. While this allows organizations understand what their customers really want, most of them are unable to handle data effectively. As a result, tailoring products and services to exact customer preferences isn’t going to happen too soon.

On the other side, people are increasingly using their mobile devices for a series of activities, ranging from chatting with friends and shopping online to completing work tasks. But even the most insignificant things we do online turn into critical information for the companies that collect data to better understand online customer behavior, eventually exceeding their ERP systems’ data storage and processing capacities.

Another point that needs to be addressed is that most enterprises are currently using sensor networks to get semi-structured data, which provides insight into specific business processes, such as production, inventory, and supply chain management, allowing leaders make better business decisions.

Considering the aforementioned aspects, you can easily understand that Big Data is actually about developing new technologies to allow companies to effectively collect, process, and analyze massive volumes of structured and unstructured information.

Although the Big Data phenomenon hasn’t modified the way companies use their ERP systems yet, that’s going to change if the demand for tapping into large amounts of information will continue to grow. Traditionally, data collection and processing activities have been defined around ERP systems. Now, companies must find new ways to process the information they get. This will definitely impact the future of ERP, requiring IT specialists to transform the ERP systems they’ve developed from some basic business tools into business intelligence (BI) software solutions. One company that has already done that is Microsoft. Dynamics NAV, one of the best ERP solutions available nowadays, has recently been complemented with BI technologies to enhance its data processing capabilities.

It’s very important for your organization to view its Big Data project as a complex business endeavor, and not as a simple IT task. This will allow you to get all business and IT leaders involved in your project, which could help you accurately outline key business-specific metrics and performance indicators, make the best possible decisions regarding your Big Data project, and choose the right ERP system for your organization.

If the best Big Data decisions are made and the most appropriate ERP system is selected, your company will be able to focus on specific data points that impact its business processes directly. This will lead to better outcomes.

Big Data is going to change the future of ERP, affecting the way companies will shape their future. Fortunately, most business leaders are already aware of the fact that getting the right information instead of any type of data is a critical success factor in business. This can only be done by choosing the most appropriate Big Data technologies for your organization.






Acumatica ERP

Acumatica Cloud ERP: Real Time Integration With Excel

Acumatica is a leading provider of cloud ERP and financial software. Apart from the basic features available in most traditional financial applications, Acumatica has gone a step further to make its cloud ERP easier and more productive for users.

cloud erp

Some of the usability features that stand out in Acumatica include:

  • Real-time connectivity with Microsoft Excel
  • Parametric filtering
  • Quick Search
  • Ability to drag and drop files on Acumatica

Excel integration is one of the most powerful features in Acumatica. The feature allows users to analyze live data from the software in Excel. The integration feature is available on a number of screens, including the General Ledger Account screen.

Importing/Exporting Data To or From Excel

The process of exporting and importing data from Excel for new and existing accounts is easy. Users can accomplish this task right from their screens without having to call the IT department.

Say you want to view accounts in the General Ledger. To do this, simply go to the Finance Area –>General Ledger–> Configurations and click the Chart of Accounts. On the Chart of Accounts screen, you can export the accounts to Excel to be able to view them in the MS Office application.

When you open an exported Excel file, it shows which columns the data belong to as is outputted on the General Ledger screen. You can make any changes you want on the Excel file and upload it to Acumatica. When you import the file, the data will go to their correct columns. In case you made any changes in the columns, the  cloud ERP provides an option of mapping the columns before importing.

When you edit the data in the Excel document and upload it, Acumatica will update the records on the Ledger. When uploading edited records, there is an option on whether or not you will want Acumatica to update the Ledger records.

Real-time Excel Integration Editing

Thanks to real-time Excel integration, you can edit accounts in Acumatica and have the data updated on the Excel document you exported. This feature is possible from different screens on your cloud ERP.

For example, you can export Chart Accounts from the General Ledger as Excel. The Excel document will have the same data as is seen on your Chart Account screen. When you make any changes to the data in the Chart Account Screen, the data will also be automatically updated in the Excel sheet you exported.

After making data changes in the Chart screen, go to the Data menu on the Excel file and click “Refresh”. You will be prompted to enter your Acumatica credentials and after login, the data will be updated to match the changes made.

Benefits of Acumatica with Excel Integration

Cloud computing is changing the way organizations are doing business. There are some key benefits of Acumatica cloud ERP that you can utilize with Excel for the benefit of your business. Cloud computing makes it easy to share data between systems and business partners. The technology offers an unprecedented level of integration, allowing companies to interact in real time and exchange the exact data they want in a fast and secure manner.

Acumatica cloud ERP allows organizations to access data from any place, at any time, and from a range of devices. For example, key employees can get up-to-date sales, accounts or customer records even when they are away from their offices.

Excel is the second most popular business application, only second to email. Most organizations use Excel to compute data in order to make sense of the health of their business. You can take Excel to the cloud through Acumatica and get real time access to your organization data even when you are not in the office.

Integration eliminates the need of editing an Excel document multiple times, hence improving efficiency. In-house employees can update data on Acumatica and have the information reflected immediately on Excel. Moreover, since Acumatica is available on the cloud, multiple employees can access the ERP from different locations and make changes in real time.

Through Acumatica real time integration with Excel, any business has an opportunity to provide interested parties with real time insight on company performance and important metrics that can guide strategic decisions.






ERP Vendor

4 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an ERP Vendor

Picking an ERP solution is not something organizations do regularly. Therefore, the process can be difficult and time-consuming.

When looking for an ERP solution, most organizations tend to spend most of their time investigating how the software package will meet their business requirements. Very little time, if any, is spent on ascertaining the right vendor to work with.

ERP Vendor

In ERP selection, the capability of the solution is just as important as the vendor that will supply it. When selecting an ERP system, you are selecting both the software and the vendor. Therefore, it’s important that you have a true “partner relationship” with the vendor.

Below are key questions you should ask a potential ERP vendor to find out if they will be right for your organization.

i) What is the initial and subsequent cost of the software?

Long term maintenance revenue is a coveted thing in the ERP market. This is because if the ERP is a high quality product (i.e. has fewer systemic ‘bugs”), then the vendor will get more revenue from the maintenance contract than the installation contract. This is especially true in the first year after implementation of the software.

With most ERP suppliers, your organization will be in the software implementation phase in the first year of installation. Most suppliers charge maintenance fees ranging between 10% and 25% of the software license. If you pay a maintenance fee during the first year, you are likely to be paying between 10% and 25% more for the software for activities that are not being performed.

To get around this, you can negotiate a five-year fixed annual rate for maintenance. Alternatively, you can opt for payment for four years of maintenance upfront and get five years of maintenance for the four year price. Avoid vendors that do not define well their long term maintenance costs in their software licensing agreement.

ii) Who will offer support when we call?

Consider the type of support that the ERP vendor will offer when you have a problem. Most ERP suppliers use some form of help desk concept.

Software organizations are usually not good with offering support. The senior members, who have greatest knowledge of the software, seldom spend any time on support. Instead, the support team mainly comprises of junior members who have the least amount of knowledge about the software.

A good vendor should have:

a) Seasoned development personnel manning the support desk

b) Support person answer the initial phone call

If the vendor does not do this, you are likely to be up for a lengthy and frustrating support experience.

iii) Does the ERP come with WMS as part of it?

Most organizations do not differentiate between the concepts of inventory control and warehouse management when looking for an ERP solution. Some buyers assume that if the ERP system can make use of Bar Code and Radio Frequency (RF) equipment within their system, then they have an integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS).

When the buyers realize that integrating these technologies does not constitute a WMS, they end up spending more money to acquire and integrate a WMS into their chosen ERP system.

If the ERP you want to buy does not have a true WMS integrated as part of it and included in the price quoted, you will not be getting the full functionality you will need from the ERP. While the need for a WMS may not be obvious initially, a significant ROI from an ERP system will ultimate come from management of the warehouse.

iv) Does the software include CRM functionality as a separate module?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is important in the overall success of the entire supply chain process. Knowing and understanding what your customer wants, buys and in what quantities is a clear benchmark for the future success of your organization.

While CRM encompasses many features and capabilities, a system with CRM functionality should, on the basic, contain a complete contact management system, ability to identify customer buying patterns, ability to manage both customers and inventory in one of the facilities, and ability to track penetration with your customers.

Look for a vendor that offers CRM as part of the ERP from its conceptual design phase.





SaaS ERP

The ROI of ERP: SaaS ERP vs. On-Premise ERP

Use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) is increasingly being adopted in customer relationship management (CRM). However, SaaS adoption in enterprise resource planning (ERP) continues to play catch-up. When looking for an ERP solution, companies need to evaluate both SaaS and traditional on-premise deployment options beyond the pure cost trade-offs.

ROI of SaaS ERP

Few tools exist that can help organizations evaluate a more inclusive and accurate picture of the ROI of SaaS and on-premise systems. However, companies can build upon models for evaluating the two solutions and go beyond traditional cost approaches like total cost of ownership (TCO) to include business benefits, risk and flexibility.

Comparing ROI of SaaS and On-Premise ERPs

According to a 2014 ERP Report by Panorama Consulting Solutions, nearly 25 percent of organizations are using cloud-based ERP solutions. However, majority of respondents the organizations indicated they still prefer on-premise ERP software to SaaS and cloud options. According to the report, most companies only report achieving between 0% to 40% cost-savings from using cloud ERP.

One factors most organizations fail to consider when opting for SaaS deployment is the cost of customization. This is an important factor to be looked into, especially over the long run. Carrying out due diligence on both deployments is important to finding the right solution for an organization.

In comparing the ROI of SaaS and on-premise options, substantial differences can be identified in their:

i) Costs

Generally, on-premise solutions are costlier, especially when comparing subscription and license fees. The systems typically require support, upgrades and hardware maintenance fees on top of license fees.

On the other hand, most SaaS deployments bundle these costs into the subscription fees. Moreover, SaaS deployments avoid charges for end user support and administration, temporary business support and backfill, hardware and upgrades.

Some of the cost drivers in SaaS include fees for extra features such as premium helpdesk support, storage capacity beyond a preset limit, industry-specific functionality, mobile and offline access, among others.

In the long term, on-premise systems are less costly than SaaS options. However, theirs costs increase during upgrade cycles, which represent about 65% of the initial costs of implementation in year eight.

ii) Benefits

SaaS deployments bring immediate business benefits including shorter time to deploy, automatic updates, improved usability and independence from IT. The result is enhanced integration with other IT and operational systems, especially when real-time integration is important. On the other hand, on-premise ERP has more pronounced integration than SaaS.

Given the lack of disruption in change management, usability, implementation, and upgrades, it is clear SaaS deployments have an initial and significant advantage in achieving benefits.

iii) Flexibility

Both SaaS and on-premise deployments deliver ease of configuration, technical flexibility, and scalability. On-premise solutions deliver tailored configurations capacity, stronger tools sets for customizations and proven integration capabilities. On the other hand, SaaS systems deliver technical agility by allowing migration to on-premise, greater deployment options in bandwidth-constrained environments and reduced IT staffing requirements.

When looked at objectively, the advantages of flexibility of one solution over the other are canceled out by each other. Hence, there are negligible advantages in flexibility when comparing either deployment option.

iv) Risks

With SaaS, risk tends to center around impact risks like limited verticalization and customization capabilities, weaker integration and loss of control. On the flipside, on-premise risks tend to be related to implementation risks such as support issues, training needs and deployment complexities.

Here, the risks of on-premise solutions are slightly greater than those of SaaS solutions.

Which ERP is Right for You?

While the advantages of SaaS cannot be downplayed, the deployment is not ideal for all organizations. Generally, SaaS ERP is more suitable for smaller, less complex organizations that do not have very unique requirements. On the other hand, large organizations with more complex operations will find on-premise solutions appropriate.

Companies weighing between SaaS and on-premise options should assess ROI in 10-year periods, factor in the number of centralized users, adjust assumptions based on historical data and also consider hybrid models.

Regardless of whether an organization goes for a SaaS or on-premise solution, the advantages and disadvantages must be carefully reviewed. The two scenarios must be compared objectively against the business needs of the company to determine which would be the right option.






Financial Management Solution

Microsoft Dynamics NAV: A Budget Planning and Financial Management Solution

In today’s competitive business world, organizations need flexible financial management solutions that can be integrated with other applications and data stores for improved functionality. Integration gives management an optimal platform for operating the business by providing insight through rich reports and analytics.

 

As competition in the global marketplaces continues to increase, so do the challenges and complexities of financial management. To thrive in today’s economic pressures, companies need to utilize every advantage, including using solutions that can enhance their budget planning and financial management.

Organizations need financial management solutions that can integrate processes and data, and in turn break down artificial barriers of information silos. One of such solutions is Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Meet Financial Challenges with Dynamics NAV

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a proven financial management solution that can enhance an organization’s budget planning. The ERP can provide deep insight that can guide operations and strategic initiatives. Its latest upgrade, the NAV 2013, has robust modules that make financial management easier for manufacturing and distribution companies.

Dynamics NAV offers a full general ledger solution that has the basic facilities required for setting up a company and posting to the general ledger: recurring journals, value-added tax (VAT) facilities, general journal, chart of accounts and source code.

Some of the tasks that can be accomplished with Dynamics NAV include:

  • Setting up accounts in the chart accounts.
  • Viewing net changes and balances as they are continually updated.
  • Checking how journal entries can affect liquid accounts before they are posted.
  • Entering figures in the general journal in any currency.
  • Developing budgets based on business unit, project or department.
  • Creating budges in a matrix window for any defined accounting period.
  • Defining the fiscal year as beginning on any date and dividing it into accounting periods.

Users can easily customize the design of Dynamics NAV by changing the appearance of forms, creating user-specific menus and adding additional tables and fields. The ERP can also be used to automate many of the financial procedures and practices of an organization.

User can define the level of control they want by setting up business rules in Dynamics NAV. For instance, discounts and payment terms for individual vendors or customers can be specified. Moreover, users can also handle the full range of currency issues and legal requirements inherent in international trade. This includes handling business transactions in euros and reporting to the management in the currencies of their choice.

Enhanced Modules in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

Dynamics NAV 2013 is a complete financial management solution that makes it easy to connect financial information and transactions across partner companies and international deployments. The ERP has a number of enhanced modules including:

i) Inter-Company Posting

This module enables users to manage accounting for multiple companies in the same posting process. Users can also send documents to multiple partner companies.

ii) Responsibilities Center

Through this module, users can set up cost and/or profit centers. For example, a user can be connected to a responsibility center so that only purchase and sales documents related to the user are displayed.

iii) Cost Accounting

This module provides visibility and insight into budgeted and actual costs of operations, projects, products and departments. The result is better cost control. The module synchronizes cost information with the general ledger and allocates it to different cost objects and cost centers.

Through the Cost Accounting module, users can:

  • Transfer costs from the general ledger
  • Undo allocations
  • Pre-define recurring costs allocation rules
  • Enter and post internal allocations and charges in the Costs Journal
  • Cost budgets and transfer the entries to actual entries

It is also possible to get predictions of the company’s liquid cash through the Cash Flow Forecast. The module comprises of Cash Disbursements and Cash receipts, which when used together, can show a direct flow forecast.

Maximize Financial Management with Dynamics NAV 2013

NAV 2013 delivers integrated functionalities to support solutions for a wide range of organizational needs including distribution, manufacturing, supply chain management, customer relations management, financial management and e-business.

The ERP enables users to capture, share and leverage critical business information across the company as well as with partners. The solution can be customized and more functionality added as the needs of the organization change over time.






WMS for Acumatica: Complete Distribution ERP Software

For manufacturing companies, having the right quantity of goods at the right place is crucial for seamless flow of various supply chain processes. One of the ERP solutions that can help distributors control inventory is WMS for Acumatica.

Developed in line with supply chain management best practices, Savant WMS encompasses procurement, manufacturing, distribution and sales operations processes. The solution’s capability enables manufacturers have better visibility on all activities involved in bringing products to market.

Fusion WMS

Most manufacturers have limited options when it comes to moving products between distribution stores and/or centers and creating pick-lists using multiple criteria such as specific items, customers and more. Organizations that produce high-value items mostly track the serial numbers of the products in the fulfillment process. The tracking is usually achieved through manual processes that are inefficient and costly.

The problem of inefficient tracking capability can be avoided by using Savant WMS for Acumatica. Savant WMS meets all the needs of manufacturers and also performs standards warehouse management functionality. The underlying technology architecture of the solution can handle huge amounts of product/warehouse locations, devices and SKUs.

Streamline Warehouse Functions with SavantWMS

Savant WMS for Acumatica is designed to provide users with the latest functionality for warehouse management, including wireless hand-held support. The ERP enhances existing Acumatica features and can be accessed through the cloud without users having to log into Acumatica.

Some of the Savant WMS’s top functionalities include:

Receiving. Users need a way to easily count and verify items when receiving them at the warehouse. To improve efficiency, users can use handheld devices with Savant WMS to look up POs and verify the items and quantities received. When items have been processed, printing labels can be managed from the handheld device.

This feature eliminates potential errors caused by human counting and verification of inventory received at the warehouse.

License Plate and Bin Management. The solution provides accurate tracking of inventory to temporary or permanent bins. Companies can reduce the potential of lost inventory during shipping or put-away moves by using temporary bins or containers. When an item and bin are scanned, the item will automatically reside in the designated bin.

Serial and Lot Traceability. Users can access the serial and lot traceability available in Acumatica through Savant WMS, either through a handheld device or desktop.

Picking and Shipping. Users can create Sales Orders or Transfer Orders in Acumatica. To further extend the capability of the ERP, Savant WMS can pick the pick-list by hand or via a handheld device. Also, multiple users can manage one pick-list. To confirm a pick-list, a user simply has to select a button on the handheld.

Using Savant WMS, users can pick or pack items to a container for easy reference when shipping. Also, shipping can be done based on the pick-lists or on an individual basis.

Physical Count. Using Savant WMS extends the functionality of Acumatica, enabling the ERP to be accessed on the cloud. This improves the counting capability. For example, users can easily and accurately track physical counts of items across multiple lots, bins and warehouses using Physical Counts.

When Physical Count is used with a Batch or RF handheld computer, inventory can be easily counted at any time rather than waiting for the long annual account. The physical count module helps employees to be more accountable and minimizes misplaced or lost items.

Barcode Printing. WMS helps companies improve efficiency when printing bar code labels. With the module, companies can print any number of bar code labels for their existing inventory at any time. The printing process is simple: select an item or range of items from the inventory master file, choose the number of labels you want and then click the PRINT button.

Flexible Solution for Scalable Distribution Business

When your business is distribution, you need a solution that is made to run your processes. WMS is a powerful, flexible, streamlined and reliable solution that can automate and accelerate supply chain processes critical to your success.

WMS for Acumatica is a complete distribution ERP software. The solution can help manufacturers with inventory planning, supplies management, demand management, value added services and returns processing. Using WMS can help transform the supply chain from a cost to be managed to a key competitive weapon.






MRO Software

How To Prepare For Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015

Part of Microsoft Dynamics’ family, NAV delivers an ingenious ERP solution able to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in finance, manufacturing, supply chain, and customer relationship management. Ready to go one step further, Dynamics NAV 2015, formerly codenamed “Crete,” promises to take care of two pain points most NAV users have encountered over the years:

Dynamics NAV 2015Download our NAV 2015 guide on the new functionality that can automatically match your entries with transactions

1) Upgrades – NAV 2015 includes more upgrade tools to make possible technical upgrades instead of full upgrades. This means that users don’t have to perform any of the additional technical tasks they used to complete before, which will reduce overall deployment and maintenance costs.

2) User experience – Coming with a brand new interface, NAV 2015 will provide a more consistent user experience across Windows, Apple and Android devices.

According to Kirill Tatarinov, Executive Vice-President of Microsoft Business Solutions, the cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) technologies included in NAV 2015 will also make possible seamless integration with the new Office 365, extending system functionality for superior reporting capabilities. In a nutshell, users will be able to use the tools they’re already accustomed to (Excel, SharePoint and mobile devices) to complete different operations more efficiently.

Why Choose NAV 2015

Although very little information has been published so far, a demo performed during Microsoft Convergence 2014 revealed that “Crete” delivers a wide range of new features, which will make possible advanced data processing. For instance, you’ll be able to develop more relevant formulas and even to use information derived from NAV in conjunction with data collected from other systems in order to perform more complex analyses.

Additionally, you can use the system to create color codes for highlighting titles and different areas of your reports. This way, identifying specific elements on a page becomes a very simple task. Browser performance has also been improved, offering users a truly intuitive and smooth browsing experience.

Upgrading to Dynamics NAV 2015

One thing is for sure: as many people are currently running pre-NAV 2013 versions, an increasing number of users will start looking for system upgrades very soon. Furthermore, Microsoft will end technical support for NAV 2009 in 2015, which means that the latest software version is going to be in high demand.

Fortunately, NAV 2015 is on its way, proposing new, more powerful features, which will not only streamline financial, inventory, warehouse, sales, marketing and service management, but also allow current users to keep customization to a minimum when replacing previous software versions with the latest one.

Besides, the most recent solutions released by Microsoft (e.g. Dynamics NAV 2012 R3 and GP 2013 R2) indicate another essential aspect: over the past few years, the developer has made impressive efforts to develop new mobile business management tools. Dynamics NAV 2015 should be included among these solutions not only because it delivers a new software version, but also because it’s one of the few tools that will help developers turn “mobility” from a simple trend into one of the most essential concepts of Information Technology. Further, the concepts especially created for this new upgrade will provide more reliable upgrade paths for future software solutions.

Should You Upgrade or Re-Implement?

If you’re a NAV user, you have the option to either upgrade or re-implement. To make the right choice, you need to consider the following factors:

  • An upgrade may be a better option if you use a recent NAV version, such as NAV 2009. In case of an older version, it’s better to re-implement.
  • If the version you’re currently using has been heavily customized, re-implementing the system is the best alternative to get stable business solution.
  • If your organization has changed significantly since the last implementation, it’s important to consider the degree of customization performed and required for the future before deciding between a system upgrade and a re-implementation.

As Dynamics NAV continues to evolve, manufacturers will be able to streamline more business areas, while meeting growing customer needs and demands. Though quite brief, the overview presenting the features and technologies included NAV 2015 reveals the fact that this software solution will probably become a key business success factor, helping small- and medium-sized enterprises overcome inefficiencies and move forward toward their goals.









On-Premise vs Cloud Based ERP

Cloud Based vs On-Premise ERP: Which Is Right For You?

Choosing between cloud-based and on-premise ERP deployment methods has become a common issue in today’s business world. While on-premise solutions, also referred to as legacy or traditional systems, are built on time-tested concepts with proven success across various horizontals and verticals, cloud ERP software solutions have been developed much later, proposing a quite new deployment model whose efficiency and reliability are yet to be thoroughly tested.

On-Premise vs Cloud Based ERP

In this post, we’ll explore the differences between cloud-based and on-premise ERP systems along with their advantages and disadvantages so that you can select the best deployment option for your organization.

The Could-Based Model

Cloud ERP solutions propose a software delivery model in which infrastructure and data are hosted on remote hardware, commonly referred to as “cloud.” In this deployment method, apps and data are accessed via an interface, across the Internet.

Advantages

  • Flexible Pricing: Cloud-based ERP is available in “lease it” and “buy it” software alternatives. While the former involves monthly recurring charges for software, hardware and IT services, the latter implies buying the software and/or the hardware and paying monthly hosting and maintenance fees. Although both alternatives require a much lower startup cost compared to an on-premise system, an organization may need to pay significant annual subscription fees, which will add up, potentially going beyond the overall cost of an on-premise solution over the long run.
  • Easy Implementation: Cloud solutions provide ready-made platforms that are implemented and tested by service providers. Basically, this means that there are no servers to set up, no CDs to install, and no risky customizations to be made by your employee.
  • No Maintenance: Since the service provider offering the ERP solution will take care of any hardware and software issues, you don’t need to hire IT staff to monitor and maintain your cloud ERP system.
  • Superior Flexibility: Most cloud-based ERP solutions allow for adjustments in activity levels, facilitating addition/removal of users, apps and features. Additionally, even though cloud-based systems are associated with a series of bundled services, you only pay for what you actually use. Even greater is the fact that you and your employees can access the system from anywhere, at any time.

Disadvantages

  • Dependence on the Internet: When it comes to cloud ERP solutions, it’s very important to know that accessing the system is impossible without an Internet connection. For the best results, you must ensure that there are no Internet connection problems before implementing the system.
  • Lack of Control: An essential drawback is that cloud-based software are unable to provide the same level of control as on-premise systems. Besides, these solutions imply specific restrictions on supplying complex functionality, which may prevent large enterprises from achieving certain objectives.
  • Security Issues: Since cloud-based ERP systems can only be accessed via the Internet, they involve certain security risks, ranging from non-targeted cyber attacks to cyber espionage.

The On-Premise Model

On-premise ERP systems imply sourcing the software together with additional apps in-house. This means that you need to invest in software and hardware, designate a physical location to store the equipment and hire IT experienced staff to monitor and maintain your system.

Advantages

  • More Control:  Since you own both the solution and the equipment, you can replace equipment pieces, upgrade the software and make customizations whenever you want. Furthermore, on-premise systems are highly customizable, allowing consultants and in-house staff to adjust different software and hardware areas in order to deliver very specific business uses.
  • Advanced Security: Since data is stored internally, accessing sensitive information is almost impossible without authorization.

Disadvantages

  • Massive Upfront Investments: If you choose an on-premise ERP solution, you not only need office space, hardware and software, but also air conditioning, IT staff and advanced security equipment, such as CCTV systems, access controls and burglar alarms.
  • Maintenance Issues: Regardless of how knowledgeable and skilled your IT employees are, they may be unable to fix certain issues. In this case, you may need to hire a consultant or outsource particular tasks, which implies additional costs.

Which Model Should You Choose?

The CFOs who are more concerned with optimizing return on assets will always favor on-premise ERP solutions. In contrast, those who want to reduce annual expenses will lean toward cloud ERP systems.

From a strategic, functional perspective, we advise you to select an on-premise ERP solution only if your company has more than 50 employees. Why? Simply because an on-premise system includes two additional yet indispensable advantages, especially for large companies:

  1. It offers advanced flexibility for accessing app databases, facilitating custom reporting and leveraging the power of business intelligence and analysis capabilities.
  2. It provides more control of when and how to upgrade the system or replace the hardware.

Regardless of the deployment model you wish to adopt, it’s critical that you examine the pros and cons in the context of your own company’s needs and priorities in order to make the right decision.






eProcurement

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3: Transparent eProcurement

The latest capabilities included in Dynamics AX 2012 R3 are nothing short of the “Engage. Run. and Expand.” theme that Microsoft has promised.  Introducing a rich assortment of new end-to-end service frameworks, apps and features, R3 allows organizations not only to manage processes more efficiently than before, but also to develop and distribute custom apps that fit almost any requirements.  The net of it is: AX 2012 R3 is aimed at “Delivering Amazing Customer Experiences,” and eProcurement is no exception.

Advancements have been conceptualized to expand the capabilities of AX 2012’s modules, with a focus on transparency in eProcurement. As we all know, businesses find value in insight and visibility, shouldn’t our ERP functionality be the same?  The new features added to this area offer superior functionality, enabling AX users to:

Technology migration

  • Public Sector External Vendors. In Dynamics AX 2012 R3, vendors can be assigned not only an ‘external vendor’ role but also an ‘external vendor for Public Sector’ role.  Vendors with these privileges will be able to see open RFQ’s and public documents from their vendor portal-thus, granting the ability for vendors to bid on an RFQ, even if they were not specifically invited.
  • Make documents public. By enabling the Public Sector configuration key, you can publish documents, including RFQs and purchase orders, to the public Vendor portal. Any unregistered vendor can view these documents as a guest, but must register with your company and be assigned as a ‘Public Sector External Vendor’ to be able to bid on your offers.
  • Develop vendor scoring criteria. Rating, filtering, comparing, selecting and adding vendors to your RFQs has never been easier. Additionally, you can use AX R3 to evaluate RFQ replies based on preset scoring criteria.  Scoring criteria, as seen in our latest eProcurement demo in Part III consists of a ‘Collaboration’, ‘On time performance’, ‘Quality’, ‘Transportation’ and ‘Cost’.   These of course can be based on user-defined criteria.
  • Create questionnaires. You can create questionnaires for vendors by combining different questionnaires you already have or by collecting queries from new users. Vendors have the opportunity to complete questionnaires upon registering, or as part of their replies/bids from the public vendor portal.
  • Find the most advantageous offers. Making possible item/service substitution in bids, new eProcurement capabilities allow vendors to provide a variety of items/services for the same order, which means that you can choose the most advantageous offers. You can also setup the system to notify you every time a vendor makes a change to his bid.
  • Easily Manage Requests and Bids. In Dynamics AX R3, you can add or remove RFQs and renumber RFQ lists as needed. Furthermore, you can handle vendor bids, sealing and hiding them until solicitations are closed or bid tabulation begins.
  • Make updates and attach additional documents. Another thing you can do is to add documents, modify current RFQs and inform bidders of any changes by communicating updates via the Vendor portal.
  • Place requisitions on hold. For better requisition management, AX R3 allows you to place requisitions on hold and provide various reasons for the hold.
  • Create discount agreements. You can use specific eProcurement functions to require discounts from vendors and even set up long-term rebate agreements.
  • View price details. AX R3 makes available a Price Details form that provides information about the prices of trade agreements, which are especially useful when calculating rebates and potential profit margins for orders.
  • Create purchase orders for direct deliveries. With the direct delivery workbench feature, you can develop and handle purchase orders not only for your company, but also for other organizations.

In addition to all these, vendors are able to access the Vendor portal through Windows Live, Google, Yahoo and even Facebook after registering with your organization; view various details, including their scores, notes on their bids and changes to RFQs; and adjust fees according to your changes.

Assessing the Advantages of New and Improved eProcurement Functionality

One of the most critical aspects for an organization is to gain insight not only into customers’ needs, but also into its core operations. Understanding how things work can help leaders streamline processes, run more agile operations, engage customers on their own terms and last, but not least, build lasting relationships with vendors.

The new eProcurement tools included in Dynamics AX 2012 are flexible, agile and scalable enough to help you handle any procurement processes efficiently, while offering your vendors the ultimate service experience.

 





Acumatica Awarded For Supply Chain Visibility Software

Developed with supply chain management best practices as core foundation, Acumatica is considered a superior supply chain visibility software solution not only by its users, but also by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). By presenting the developer with the 2014 SIIA CODiE Award for the Best Supply Chain Management Solution, the SIIA has recognized Acumatica’s business software suite for achieving excellence in operational performance and continuous improvement.

Cloud Based ERP

Over the past 28 years, SIIA has handed out more than 1,000 awards to validate extraordinary innovations positively impacting diverse industry sectors.

Why Acumatica?

Encompassing procurement, manufacturing, distribution and sales operations, supply chain is an important part of any organization because it impact all the activities involved in bringing products to market. To help companies manage complex supply chain processes, Acumatica delivers comprehensive supply chain visibility software built on a robust yet flexible platform. Now, let’s take a look at the features that helped Acumatica win the SIIA CODiE award.

Procurement and Manufacturing
Focusing on budgeting, inventory, billing, profitability and reporting, Acumatica’s Project Accounting Software Suite allows you to manage a wide variety of procurement and manufacturing areas. Basically, Project Accounting Software features can be used to:

  • track expenses relating to materials, labor, overhead and services for each project so that you can easily analyze the profitability of different projects
  • compare project costs with initial budgets in real time, which can help you avoid going over budget
  • create and manage various billing scenarios for contract-specific pricing, milestone billing, types of work being performed and different account groups
  • enter time and expense data from anywhere, at any time — a useful feature especially for the employees doing their job while traveling;
  • assign employees, equipment and materials to projects

Distribution
Considerably differentiating Acumatica from other supply chain visibility software systems, the Distribution Management Suite can easily handle the complexities of the distribution process. The suite features:

  • a comprehensive warehouse management module, which provides in-depth insight in warehouse activities along with a series of advanced tools to manage multiple warehouses, various product lots, expiration dates, inventory in transit, negative inventory, routes, etc.
  • a purchasing management module that you can use to automate the entire procurement process, from requesting quotes and receiving orders to analyzing financial results
  • a requisition management module to streamline distribution operations involving numerous suppliers and products
  • an order management module for allocating inventory, splitting orders, accepting returns and verifying credit limits across multiple warehouses

Sales
Selling products can be very difficult for a company focusing strictly on the actual act of selling. For your organization to be successful, you must also consider your customers along with specific finance aspects. To help you with this, Acumatica puts at your disposal two useful tools:

  1. Financial Management Suite. Especially designed to perform a variety of tasks, such as collecting and analyzing financial information; managing cash transactions, funds transfer and bank account reconciliation; monitoring credit limits, customer balances and pending documents; issuing invoices, collecting payments, performing inter-entity transfers, and calculating commission, discounts and due dates automatically; centralizing tax configuration, management and reporting; supporting multiple currencies so that organizations can do business globally and manage international subsidiaries; and controlling liabilities for purchased goods and services, the Financial Management Suite can help you avoid common errors that inevitably lead to customer dissatisfaction, typically followed by a significant drop in sales.
  2. Customer Management Suite. The Customer Management Suite can be used to manage contact information of current and potential customers, automate certain customer support tasks and get comprehensive lead reports for identifying the most profitable marketing channels.

New features included in the latest version of Acumatica give organizations the ability to communicate with customers via Acumatica Customer Portal; find information easier than before by using additional filters within the same interface; and configure multiple rates based on projects and tasks associated, which confers superior billing flexibility.

Given all these tools, it’s no wonder that Acumatica is considered one of the top supply chain visibility software solutions. With more features to come, Acumatica promises to help organizations manage increasingly complex supply chains, gain even greater visibility into supply chains to improve operational efficiency and last, but not least, unlock their true potential to drive organic growth despite economic uncertainty.