What is the Dark Web and Why Should We Care?

You’re happily humming along on the internet, thinking you’ve got a pretty good understanding. You can navigate your way around Google, Facebook, Amazon, and news sites. You’re actually only visiting four percent of the internet. There’s a whole world hiding beyond these safe surface-level sites, known as the Dark Web and it’s a much less hospitable place.

What exactly is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is a conglomeration of websites that cannot be found on search engines or accessed via traditional web browsers because their location and identity is hidden through encryption tools such as TOR. TOR was originally created to protect military communication but now has a much broader utilization for both Dark Web purposes and highly secure communication. You typically have to access Dark Web sites utilizing TOR.

People create sites on the Dark Web in order to hide where they’re operating from, as well as to remain anonymous (TOR hides all IP information, identifying information, as well as data transfers). Over half of the sites on the Dark Web are used for criminal activities.

Why Do People Use the Dark Web?

One of the most prevalent uses of the Dark Web is buying and selling illegal goods, such as recreational drugs, weapons, fake identities, and organs. The proliferation of cryptocurrencies—like Bitcoin—has facilitated these sales. People living within totalitarian societies that restrict communication also take to the Dark Web to share their thoughts freely.

The most dangerous use of the Dark Web for businesses is the exchange of credentials (usernames and passwords) and identities. An individual’s stolen credentials can typically be sold on the Dark Web for as low as $1. Hackers utilize these purchased credentials to:

  • Gain access to important financial information and steal identities (access to a Bank of America account holding $50,000 can be purchased for $500)
  • Access accounts for further phishing attacks
  • Threaten people with exposure of sensitive information (Remember the Ashley Madison hack from a few years back? Those credentials were dumped onto the Dark Web and hackers leveraged them to expose users).
  • Compromise other accounts using the same passwords and perpetuate the sale of personal Information

What can you do about it?

The average citizen will never have a reason to access the Dark Web, but their credentials could easily be floating around, endangering their offline livelihoods. Once your credentials are released on the Dark Web, there is precious little you can do to have them removed. However, you should, at the very least, know when you’ve been compromised so that you can immediately act, like changing your passwords and activating two-factor authentication.

We recommend utilizing a full Dark Web monitoring service that alerts you if credentials appear on the Dark Web. These services constantly scan the Dark Web for your information and alert you whenever something suspicious appears. These alerts don’t necessarily mean a breach has occurred, but they are very good heads up that something bad may be coming. You can then create a plan of attack before any damage is done. Granted, there will be your fair share of false positives, but we firmly believe in operating in the better safe than sorry camp.

How should you get started with Dark Web monitoring?

Our team can run a preliminary scan of your domain revealing the likely breaches in the last 36 months. We’ll then review that report with you and come up with a plan of action to alleviate any major dangers. Click here to request that scan.

Additional Dark Web Resourcs:

What is the Dark Web & How to Access it

Battling the dark WEB

What is the dark web? How to access it and what you’ll find

Dark web data monitoring: 6 questions to ask

Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind

Distribution challenges loom as 2020 approaches. Issues include increased costs and unpredictable spending habits by the ever-more influential Millennial generation. Distribution businesses must keep up to meet their goals of continued growth. ERP software specialized for distribution offers a solution. Here is a selection of pressing trends in distribution that can be addressed by ERP.

An Increase in On-Demand Ecommerce

Consumers now expect to have the option to buy and receive goods from anywhere after placing orders from phones, cars and personal digital assistants like Alexa or Siri. Many of them demand same-day delivery. It’s not uncommon for retailers to offer two-day shipping, while Amazon offers next-day delivery to about 75% of the U.S. population. To compete, businesses must invest in logistics infrastructure improvements.

Acumatica cloud ERP facilitates this kind of on-demand experience. It incorporates a Customer Management Suite that enables businesses to respond quickly to requests, from first contact with a customer through the entire sales process. It also helps manage fulfillment, billing and after-sales service requests. Visibility into real-time sales data helps with forecasting while customers can access information via the Acumatica Customer Portal, thereby connecting CRM functionality with distribution operations.

A Shortage of Labor Resources

As logistics operations grow in size and complexity, the need for labor is increasing. But with low unemployment, it is becoming more difficult to find available workers who can fulfill the demand for same-day delivery, especially during peak shipping times like Christmas. Automation technologies are decreasing in cost at the same time. Robotics and software solutions are becoming essential in the logistics industry, just to stay competitive.

Acumatica streamlines logistics operations with accurate cost tracking, manual or automatic allocation of freight costs and management of multiple warehouses. It can factor in location-specific inventory, quantities and costs as well as help redistribute inventory from a central facility to other warehouses. Purchase orders can be automatically generated to replenish stock and sent to vendors with optimal prices and delivery times.

Tariffs on Foreign Goods Are Increasing Costs

Tariffs, particularly those on goods from China, are leading companies to relocate so they can sell products at affordable prices. Businesses are finding the need to rework their distribution models, modify their tracking systems and find new trading partners. At the same time, they must maintain their bottom lines, satisfy customer demand and keep up with their competitors.

With Acumatica, organizations can have full visibility into inventory, prices and cost-saving opportunities from a single data source. Reports can be accessed from anywhere, including on mobile devices, so data and analytics can be viewed in real-time via intuitive custom dashboards. Users can also see sales trends, product movement and market information.

Dashboards also provide useful information such as product and material replenishment, lot/serial numbers and shelf life and expiration dates along with details on the condition of stock, drop shipments and vendor selection and performance analyses. At the same time, the cloud ERP system reduces the risk of errors and avoids requiring data re-entry and reorganization. This improves control as companies rework their distribution processes.

Acumatica Distribution Edition

If you hope to grow your business or even stave off the ongoing threats that exist from competitors, you need an ERP solution designed for you.

Acumatica Distribution Edition delivers, giving your business control over their supply chain and logistics activities, including warehouse management, inventory management, and order management. Built in the cloud and customized for your needs, Acumatica helps companies improve customer satisfaction, reduce order times, and control costs across the entire supply and distribution chain.

Contact us to learn more.

Additional Distribution Resources

Benefits of ERP Software for Distribution Business Management

Making the Most of KPIs in Distribution

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

Create An Information Security Culture to Protect Your Data

Who do you rely on to keep your data safe? If your answer is your information security team, you’re only half right. Because everyone can cause a security incident (and insiders, either accidentally or deliberately, are the biggest cause of data breaches), information security is everybody’s job. Making everyone realize that requires deliberately creating a culture of information security.

Obstacles to a Security Culture

There are two main obstacles to creating a security culture: your management and your employees.

Management often gives lip-service to the need for information security, but doesn’t practice what they preach. Executives are likely targets for phishing attacks, but they’re often exempt from security awareness training. Many still share passwords and rely on administrative staff to generate reports and access online systems for them.

Employees see management not practicing safe computing, and reasonably conclude it isn’t really a top priority. The security training they receive is often boring or superficial. Their direct managers often emphasize getting the work done, even if it means taking security shortcuts.

Both managers and employees usually understand information security to mean technology that prevents data breaches. Building a security culture means changing that understanding; if you define information security as being about reducing risk rather than preventing a breach, it is easier to see how it’s everyone’s responsibility.

Learn more in Don’t Let These Obstacles Get in the Way of Your IT Security.

Talking About Information Security Is Key

Although much security training is ignored by employees, having conversations about security is key to changing awareness and attitudes. Look into new ways to make training for interesting and more impactful; the “gamification” of training rewards employees for the effort they put into it.

It’s also important to not only teach employees about strong passwords, but explain why they matter: what are the risks and consequences when poor security practices enable a breach. It also requires having a clear process by which employees can report suspected phishing attempts or other security incidents.

In addition, provide tools and processes that help employees use safe computing practices—but use them wisely; restrictions in places where they don’t really make sense will lead to employees searching for workarounds. Have a strong password policy, and give employees access to a password manager so they don’t write them down. Make sure you have an efficient process to grant employees access credentials so they don’t need to share them.

Learn more in The cybersecurity employee training checklist.

Security Isn’t One and Done

The most important way to make security a part of your culture is to make it clear that it’s an ongoing process—employees haven’t fulfilled their security responsibility simply by attending a once-per-year presentation. Have fun quizzes and security tests throughout the year, with rewards for employees who do well or who report potential incidents.

Make your security culture even more effective by deploying security tools that support safe computing practices and reduce the number of threats that get near your employees. CCS Technology Group provides security services that help employees keep your data safe. Contact us to learn more.

Additional Cybersecurity Resources

The Key Features to Look for In Your Firewall

6 Ways to Keep Your Cloud Secure

Closing the Most Common Cybersecurity Holes

Hybrid Cloud Provides Increased Flexibility In How You Use Cloud Services

One of the biggest advantages of cloud is how flexible it is. You have flexibility in how many resources you have. You have flexibility in the type of cloud you use: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, or Software as a Service. You have flexibility in whether your cloud is public or private. You even have the flexibility to combine a public and private cloud to create a hybrid cloud that offers the benefit of both.

Public and Private Clouds

A public cloud resides on shared infrastructure maintained and managed by a cloud provider. You don’t own any of the physical resources. Instead, you have on-demand access to virtual machines (VMs), storage, and services that run your workloads. While your VMs and data are secure, other cloud customers may have VMs and storage on the same underlying physical devices.

A private cloud gives you on-demand access to computing resources on physical infrastructure that’s used only by you. Typically companies implement private clouds in their own data centers to ensure highly sensitive data remains on premises and under their control, but cloud providers may also offer isolated environments that create a virtual private cloud. When the private cloud is in your own data center, you own the physical devices, so you still have to provision and support the capacity to meet both current and future demands.

Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid clouds have both a public and private cloud that share data and applications. In many cases, applications and data preferentially run in the private cloud, with public cloud resources leveraged to meet spikes in demand. As a result, companies retain control of sensitive data while still being able to access the infinite capacity of public cloud.

In some cases, a hybrid cloud integrates a Software as a Service offering with on premises resources. That approach is relatively straightforward and generally only possible when supported by the vendor.

In other cases, hybrid cloud requires integrating your own public cloud with your own private cloud. There are several aspects that make a hybrid cloud like this challenging to implement. First, a private cloud by itself is complex. Although you can leverage cloud software to provide on demand services, you need to provide and support the hardware. In a public cloud, the devices and maintenance are provided and supported by the cloud provider.

Two other challenging aspects are related: integrating the public and private cloud and ensuring security. There needs to be a mechanism to share data and access services across the clouds, usually via APIs. If you want to automatically leverage public cloud resources in response to increased demand, complex scripting may be required to successfully instantiate resources and direct demand to them. All of these touchpoints need to be secured to ensure that data remains safe in both clouds and in transit between them.

Is a hybrid cloud the right solution for your business? Deciding that requires carefully assessing your business needs and IT strategy. CCS Technology Group offers cloud services to match you with the right cloud solution. Contact us to learn more about leveraging public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud to meet your business goals.

Additional Hybrid Cloud Resources

Overcome the Challenges of Hybrid IT With Managed Services

What is hybrid cloud storage?

How ERP Software Solves Your Business’s Top Financial Management Challenges

Even the best-run companies face financial management challenges. Help is available from ERP solutions, as exemplified by Acumatica. They include financial management software along with a full range of accounting functions like general ledger, accounts payable, and accounts receivable. Cash, currency and tax management applications enable Acumatica to support businesses on many levels. Here’s a look at some of the more pressing financial management concerns and how Acumatica Cloud ERP software can help solve them.

Financial Planning

Financial planning is a process that involves looking at a company’s current financial conditions, as well as its strategic plan, and determining how to best allocate funds to achieve objectives. No matter what industry your business is in, financial planning is a must. Some challenges businesses face in this area include decentralized decision making, disparate data sources and the timeliness of data.

To resolve these issues, Acumatica provides:

  • A single version of the truth: Financial reports and personalized dashboards are available via a shared centralized database.
  • Artificial intelligence: From entry of individual data points to invoice scanning, documents can be stored electronically and instantly with the relevant transaction.
  • Automation: Workflows, approval limits, bank reconciliations, and the generating of managerial financial reporting data in pivot tables are automated.

KPI Reporting

Without using the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), it can be hard to identify where your business is under-performing, which can lead to losses and missed opportunities. Operating cash flow, working capital and a wide range of financial reports are needed. However, reliance on standard required reports doesn’t always deliver the kind of sophisticated support managers need to make financial decisions.

Acumatica goes beyond standard formats to generate special reports based on the organizational structure of your business. Reports tailored to specific departments, divisions, subsidiaries, products, etc. provide alternative views of data to expand analytical capabilities. With data available on-screen, in reports and in, for example, Excel format, trends and changes can be more easily seen and acted upon.

Inter-Company Accounting

During their natural course of growth, many companies acquire subsidiaries, which may be managed as separate entities. But does this mean requiring separate balance sheets and general ledgers for each? Without a means to reconcile each entity’s accounting into the parent company’s general ledger, inefficiencies and errors can plague your financial management process.

Acumatica provides inter-company accounting to enable financial management in increasingly complex scenarios. Managing multiple subsidiaries is simplified with functions such as:

  • Financial management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Distribution management
  • Project accounting
  • Field service

The cloud ERP’s real-time accounting system also helps your team avoid manual data entry into spreadsheets, saving time and allowing for more effective use of reports.

Security and Compliance

Data security and compliance are two of the greatest financial management concerns. A cyber-breach or fraud can expose sensitive data, while compliance issues can lead to hefty fines that can put your entire business at risk.

Acumatica increases security with its role-based access control. Financial data are safely stored in the cloud, and available via any device with a web browser. The ERP also addresses compliance on different levels, including the ASC 606 revenue recognition standard for businesses that enter into contracts with customers (for transferring goods or services) and the IFRS 15 standard to account for revenue generated from these activities.

These are only a few financial management challenges all businesses face, and just some features and benefits of the Acumatica cloud-based ERP. For a more thorough overview of Acumatica’s financial management capabilities and our solutions for implementing them, contact us for a demo.

Additional ERP Resources

7 Signs that You Need ERP Software

5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management

Calculating the ROI of Moving to Cloud ERP

Benefits of ERP Software for Distribution Business Management

Distribution companies face many challenges in managing their inventories, supply chains and logistics activities in the wake of shifting demand, costs and other variables. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software takes the place of legacy systems that don’t hold up in today’s interconnected, fast-paced market. It can capture customer, supplier and equipment data as well as provide full visibility into trends and processes. An ERP system can therefore improve distribution business management in the following ways:

Reduced Order Times

Manually processing sales orders can lead to human error and costly delays. ERP software automates sales order processing and the generation of shipping orders. It can eliminate delays while providing full control, from setting rules and credit limits to managing multiple warehouses and drop shipments. Reduced cycle time, from order placement to product delivery, can help a distribution company fulfill requests more efficiently. Ordering and invoicing are handled automatically within the system, without human intervention.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Real-time visibility into inventory that is in-stock, in-transit and to be reordered helps improve delivery times and customer satisfaction. An ERP system can also track products returned for any reason. It can optimize quoting, acceptance, entry and fulfillment while minimizing inventory and costs. At the same time, process automation can help with customer retention as a business can provide faster service, accurate delivery and speedy resolution to any issues that arise during the order fulfillment process.

Knowing Your True Costs

An ERP system can help break down costs and profitability across a business or by warehouse, location or individual production line. All the information available is updated in real time. The power of real-time data allows for cost control across your supply and distribution chain. Whether your ERP system is priced per-user or per-function, the cost of implementation can be offset by savings enabled by optimized business processes and improved accuracy and efficiency.

Better Sales Management

Distribution ERP helps with sales management, as exemplified by features in Acumatica’s distribution ERP. It offers an integrated workflow that fully automates order processing across an entire business. Users can configure order status and rules for discounts and promotions that are automatically applied. The software provides real-time visibility into inventory, current pricing and shipment information. It also integrates with CRM systems to make delivery status, relevant tasks and activity history for an order immediately available. Additionally, distribution management software from Acumatica allows users to configure processes to match workflow or select different order processes based on the order or customer.

Better Warehouse Management

Acumatica Distribution Edition includes a Warehouse Management module designed to automate picking, packaging, transferal and physical counting. Manual tasks are eliminated, which helps increase productivity and accuracy. Items are automatically entered into the system when scanned and audible/visual warnings provide employees feedback when they scan more units than purchased or select the wrong items. A variety of functions help manage inventory, order fulfillment and improve the customer experience.

For more insights on how Acumatica can benefit your distribution business, contact us today to submit your questions or request more information, a free product tour, or demo.

Additional Distribution ERP Resources

Making the Most of KPIs in Distribution

Finding the Productivity Advantage in Distribution Management

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

ERP Software 101: History and Modules Available

Enterprise Resource Planning ERP software provides an integrated suite of applications for business management that share a common process and data model. Used by manufacturers, distributors, construction companies, retailers, technology organizations and others, it helps manage everything from finance and distribution to human resources to project, customer relationship and supply chain management.

Brief History of ERP

The concept of ERP is rooted in the 1960s, when it was primarily used by manufacturers for inventory management and control. Through the 1970s, ERP ran on large mainframe computers operated by service firms. They ran applications and rented out computing/data storage resources to client companies. This was known as “time-sharing,” a rather costly approach for the customer, but still preferable the huge investment in a mainframe.

The concept of Material Requirements Planning (MRP) emerged in the 1970s as well. Catching on in the 1980s, MRP continued to incorporate more manufacturing processes. By the 1990s, ERP systems (encompassing MRP) could provide inventory control, operational support and management of functions such as sales force automation, human resources and accounting.

The Modular Nature of ERP

Cloud computing has made ERP software more affordable and accessible. Technological improvements enable applications to be run effectively and safely on remotely hosted computer hardware. It’s like the old time-sharing concept, but radically more advanced and flexible. Companies can be free of hardware issues and employees can work from anywhere.

Another advantage of ERP software is its modular nature. By integrating numerous modules into a single system, users can access data based on their role and organizational requirements and trends. The modular architecture of ERP software also makes it scalable. Whether it’s hosted in the cloud or on premises, businesses can tailor licensing or annual subscriptions according to their needs. Numerous components can be added to a modern ERP suite. Here are some of the most common modules:

  • Financial Management: Includes a full suite of planning, reporting, budgeting and analytical tools. Users can track day-to-day financial operations, generate quarterly/annual statements and manage the finances of multiple business entities. All data and reports are kept in a centralized database.
  • Human Resources (HR): An HR module collects and manages data from every employee in every department. It enables the tracking of employee skills, in/out times and vacation days. HR can even integrate with Customer Resource Management (CRM) data to reveal how many leads a sales rep converted. This capability enables automatic bonus calculation.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Contact lists, analytics and interaction histories are contained in a CRM module to help manage leads, sales processes and customers. Detailed customer data helps target customers by region and adapt advertising accordingly. Meanwhile, dashboards and reports help track marketing and sales activities.
  • Distribution: Distribution management software can eliminate human error in purchasing, inventory tracking and customer support. Acumatica Distribution Edition, for example, comprises modules for Sales Order Management, Advanced Financials and Requisition Management functions along with a Warehouse Management System
  • Field Service: Integrating field service operations with the back-office streamlines dispatching and reduces response times. Customer data are available via web-based applications the field workforce can access on mobile devices. The module supports numerous functions, including scheduling/dispatching/call center, route planning and maps integration.

Acumatica 2019 R2, the latest release of the popular cloud-based ERP, is now available. It offers a full suite of ERP/business management solutions. For more information on these products and how your business stands to benefit, contact us today.

Additional ERP Resources

7 Signs that You Need ERP Software

5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management

Qualities to Look for in a Cloud ERP

7 Signs that You Need ERP Software

How do you know that your business needs Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software? It’s not like knowing that you need a new refrigerator when milk starts going bad the day you bought it. The signs pointing to ERP-need aren’t that obvious, unless you know what to look for. Then, it can become really clear that you are in need of an ERP solution. Here are seven such signs.

Briefly, what is ERP?

ERP is a category of business management software. An ERP solution provides an integrated suite of applications that manage business processes. Together, these apps help manage operations and track business resources like cash and raw materials while enabling efficient supply chain management. ERP suites generally offer a complete accounting and financial management program. ERP suites often contain customer relationship Management (CRM) tools along with data analytics and visualization/reporting capabilities.

Learn more in What is ERP software?

7 ways to know that you need ERP

Chances are, if you’re diligent about your business, it runs pretty well even without ERP software. Indeed, a lot of profitable concerns work fine with the most minimal Information Technology (IT) inputs. However, every business could run better and be more profitable. With that in mind, consider the following signs that ERP could improve your operations as well as your bottom line:

  1. You rely on manual handoffs between accounting and operations – Does your staff have to use email or paper to transmit information from operations to accounting? For example, when a supplier delivers materials, does the accounting department have to input the order information into the accounts payable system by copying it off a carbonless form? An ERP system integrates accounting and operations management software, getting you out of this manual work.
  2. You’re using spreadsheets to analyze your corporate data—reports about sales growth, order statuses and so forth are produced on Excel. ERP has rich data analysis tools that work in real time.
  3. You’re adding too much staff as you grow—This is a sign that your knowledge worker productivity is lagging. Ideally, the staff headcount in accounting and operations management should increase at a lower rate than revenue growth. ERP enables greater productivity through automated workflows and process orchestration between systems.
  4. You don’t know what’s happening soon enough—You’re hearing about problems in the business well after they have occurred. For example, you find out that a vendor delivered a defective batch of raw materials a week earlier, but you already paid the invoice for that shipment. ERP systems can alert you about issues occurring in your business.
  5. You’ve got excess inventory on hand—Inventory ties up cash. If you have more raw materials, work in progress (WIP) or finished goods inventories that you want, it’s a sign that you lack the means to measure and track inventory effectively. ERP provides real time reporting on inventory and the ability to set quantity or dollar limits, with alerts for situations where the limits are exceeded.
  6. Your cash cycle is lengthening—It seems like it’s taking longer to collect from your accounts, while your payables are growing. You’re perpetually short of cash, which wasn’t a problem before. ERP systems give you greater real time visibility into payables, orders and receivables, enabling you to get ahead of cash shortfalls before they manifest as problems.
  7. Your customer satisfaction is falling—Late deliveries, errors in orders and so forth are driving your customers away. Yet, you’re not aware of it until it’s too late. An ERP system addresses this problem in two ways. First, better order management and oversight of delivery and service helps you avoid customer issues. You’ll get alerted when there’s a problem. Second, an integrated CRM system lets you engage more deeply with customers and enjoy more positive, growth-oriented relationships.

If you are experiencing any of these telltale signs of ERP need, you may want to talk to us. We have extensive experience evaluating a company’s requirements for ERP and then implementing the right ERP solution.

Additional ERP Resources

The 7 Irresistible Qualities of Cloud ERP

5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management

How to Improve Efficiency with a New ERP Solution

Making the Most of KPIs in Distribution

Acumatica recently published an informative white paper on Key Performance Indicators for Distribution. If you’re in the distribution business, it’s a highly-recommended read. The paper will help you understand KPIs as they apply to a distribution. Here are some highlights.

What is a KPI, anyway?

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurement of some aspect of your distribution business’s performance that you consider critical to how the business is doing overall. It could be something as simple as rate of revenue growth. If you’re hitting the number you had in mind, you’re performing the way you want. Other times, KPIs can be more obscure, but no less meaningful. A KPI for distribution might be the rate of product returns or the number of complaint calls handled per hour. KPIs are based on data from the business, typically coming from the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and other enterprise software applications. KPIs compile ERP data into usable forms, e.g. graphical displays that visualize the data.

KPIs as a solution to data overload

KPIs are helpful in managing a wholesale/distribution business because they keep you focused on what’s important. They get you out of the trap of data overload. With modern ERP software, it’s easy to generate literally hundreds of reports at any given time. You can get caught in “analysis paralysis” or focus too much on metrics that don’t matter as much as you might imagine. Worst case, you’ll miss an early warning of an impending problem.

Types of KPIs

There are three main types of KPIs: Historical, real time and predictive. All three tend to feature the same kinds of information. They report financial results such as sales, orders, profit and loss and o forth. They track operational metrics like orders shipped, backorders, route miles driven and customer service calls answered. Depending on how you display your data, i.e. your data visualization dashboard, you might have all three types visible at the same time:

  • Historical KPIs – what happened in the business, showing trends and highlights like peak sales growth over the last 5 years
  • Real time – what’s happening right at the moment (or that day)
  • Predictive – what might happen, if historical trends are any indicator, e.g. anticipating a shortage of certain products during an upcoming peak season

Predictive KPIs are where modern data analytics tools can really shine. Not all solutions have predictive capabilities, however. This is an advanced feature, one that may take some professional help in setting up.

KPIs for Distribution

Distribution businesses have developed their own distinctive KPIs. In addition to basic financial KPIs, a distribution business tends to focus on operational metrics that reflect critical business functions—often tied to profitability. They include:

  • Inventory Turnover Ratio comparing inventory turns for low-turnover and high-turnover items. This KPI is useful for purchasing managers, as it should inform the volume of future buying.
  • On Time Shipping Ratio – comparing on-time shipping performance for custom orders at multiple warehouses over a period time.
  • Profitability by Item – revealing which customers and products are the most profitable.

It can take some focus and internal research to determine the best KPIs for your distribution business. We can help. We have guided distribution companies through the process of setting up data analytics and KPI dashboards.

To download the Distribution KPI white paper, visit  https://www.ccstechnologygroup.com/resources/kpis-for-distribution/.

Additional Distribution ERP Resources

Finding the Productivity Advantage in Distribution Management

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

How ERP Software Can Promote a Sustainable Supply Chain

Don’t Improvise Your Way Through Disaster Recovery

Given the importance of disaster recovery (DR), you don’t want to improvise through the planning—or worse, through the execution. Here are some best practices to make sure your disaster recovery follows an effective script:

1. Assign staff to disaster recovery

It sounds obvious, but if you don’t have staff assigned to disaster recovery, it isn’t anybody’s job, and it won’t get done. You need staff who are dedicated and empowered to make sure disaster recovery is properly planned. This isn’t limited to technology staff either; business employees have roles and responsibility in disaster recovery as well.

2. Develop a detailed plan

If you don’t want to improvise, you need a documented plan. The full contents of a DR plan are beyond the scope of this short blog post, but you need to start by identifying all of your IT resources. Evaluate the impact of an outage on each application and use that to determine your DR priorities. Then assess how much time you can tolerate the application being down and how much data you can afford to lose. Use those numbers to guide you in developing a cost-effective recovery strategy. Document the recovery steps in detail, and make sure the recovery plan will be available in case of a disaster.

3. Test your recovery plan

It’s far better to discover your DR plan won’t work during a test rather than during a disaster. Schedule time to test your plan, at least annually. There are different ways of approaching testing, ranging from a table read-through of the documentation to fully executing the steps to failover and resume operations at a secondary site. The more your test simulates a real disaster, the more reliable results you’ll get. Track the time it takes to recover as well as the accuracy of the documented procedures. After the test, collect feedback from all participants on what worked and what didn’t, and use it to update the document.

4. Update the plan

Changes in your business and your technology mean the plan that worked last year may not work this year. Allocate time to review and update your plan every year—even better, make updating the plan part of your change management process and don’t sign off on deployments until the recovery process is documented.

5. Don’t go it alone

For many businesses, leveraging Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a good choice that makes disaster recovery faster and more reliable. With DRaaS, you get a high level of automation and support from the provider to help guide you through the process of defining and implementing a recovery strategy.

Another way to avoid going it alone is to work with an IT services firm like CCS Technology Group. Our disaster recovery and business continuity services help you protect your data, reduce downtime, and survive a crisis. Contact us to learn how CCS Technology Group can help you write your disaster recovery script.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

Craft An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

5 Changes to Make When You Switch to Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Backups Are Not A Disaster Recovery Solution