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

Why Acumatica Outpaced NetSuite on the Most Recent G2 Survey

Prospective buyers of ERP software often compare Acumatica cloud ERP with Oracle NetSuite. The two solutions are broadly comparable, but with some notable differences. In March of this year, a survey by G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business soft­ware review platform, revealed a preference for Acumatica when compared with NetSuite.

What Acumatica and NetSuite have in common

Acumatica and NetSuite have similar features in many function areas. Both solutions offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options in the cloud. They both integrate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Resource Management (CRM), e-commerce and Business Intelligence (BI). They both enable mobility. Each has several dedicated industry packages, e.g. for manufacturing, distribution and so forth.

Differences between the solutions

What’s different between the two solutions? For one thing, regarding deployment, Acumatica gives its users a choice between on-premises, cloud and hybrid architectures. In contrast, NetSuite is only available in the cloud with a multi-tenant architecture.

Other distinctions include:

  • Scalability—Acumatica enables customers to add users at any time, at no additional cost due its “resource-based” pricing model. Customers pay for resources they consume. NetSuite charges on a per-user basis as well as for additional resources.
  • Relational database export—NetSuite’s ability to directly export data in a relational format is limited. Acumatica offers built-in automated backup service and snapshots. Users can access a fully relational copy of their data whenever they need one.
  • Customization—Acumatica facilitates customization with “point-and-click tools” or coding languages like C# and .NET. NetSuite relies on SuiteScript, a proprietary programming language. It is a not common language. With SuiteScript, it is difficult to find skilled developers who understand how to customize NetSuite.

Understanding the G2 user satisfaction ratings

The G2 user satisfaction ratings reveal some telling comparisons between Acumatica and NetSuite, however. Acumatica outperformed NetSuite in several categories. Acumatica users found the solution easier to use (82% of Acumatica users rated the solution for “Ease of use” vs. 74% for NetSuite.) Acumatica is evidently an easier company to do business with. (84% of Acumatica users cited “Ease of Doing Business With” vs. 71% for NetSuite.)

Other categories where Acumatica found higher satisfaction among G2 reviewers include:

  • Quality of support – 78% of Acumatica vs. 68% for NetSuite
  • Meets requirements – 84% of Acumatica vs. 79% for NetSuite
  • Ease of admin – 78% of Acumatica vs. 71% for NetSuite

Asked “Is the product headed in the right direction,” 88% of Acumatica users agreed, versus 68% of NetSuite users. In terms of Return on Investment (ROI), 30% of Acumatica user predicted they would see ROI with 12 months. For NetSuite, the figure was 23%. The numbers were the same for customers expecting ROI with 13-24 months: 30% for Acumatica vs 23% for NetSuite. For the long term, 5% of Acumatica users felt ROI would come in more than 48 months vs. 11% for NetSuite.

Get the full report here.

The G2 findings are compelling. To figure out if Acumatica is right for your business, you’ll have to see for yourself. Learn more about comparing Acumatica vs. NetSuite. We can help. We have guided many clients in their decision about which ERP solution is the best for their particular business. Contact us to learn more.

What is ERP Software?

What is ERP software? That’s easy. ERP stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning.” That’s what ERP does. But, what is enterprise resource planning, anyway? The software that bears this name has evolved so much since it was first invented that many people have lost track of what the term actually means.

In the 1970s, when ERP was new, it was super easy to explain what ERP did. Enterprises wanted software to help them plan for the resources they needed to operate. This was mostly in manufacturing contexts. If your company made cars or bulldozers, for instance, your ERP software (which ran on a mainframe computer) guided you in terms of how much steel, how many parts, and so forth to order—and when. The ERP software in those days helped with managing the supply chain. In some cases, they connected with General Ledger accounting software.

Modern ERP functionality

Today, this kind of nuts and bolts functionality is really just one element of ERP. Now, ERP software is a suite of tools that cover almost every area of business operations and finances. Most ERP solutions today are modular. You can buy modules that cover the following functions:

  • Operations management and supply chain, i.e. the traditional ERP workload
  • Manufacturing management
  • Logistics and shipping
  • Financial management, e.g. treasury and financial planning
  • Accounting, including invoicing, accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Distribution management
  • Field Service management
  • Materials Requirement Planning (MRP)

In addition, most modern ERP packages offer the option of adding modules for Customer Resource management (CRM) and human resource management (HR) as well as industry-specific editions. You can get ERP for the automotive industry, for food manufacturing, transportation, import/export and so forth.

ERP deployment

Deployment options have also proliferated for ERP. Originally, ERP, like most other software on the market, was only for on-premises installation. Today, you can continue to run ERP on premises if you wish. But, you can also get it on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis, where you host nothing and get the full software feature set through a browser. You can deploy ERP on a private cloud. You can arrange for hosting through a managed services provider (MSP). Or, you can run ERP on the public cloud. Both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure now offer sophisticated ERP options on demand.

ERP implementation

ERP has gotten more economical to purchase and a bit easier to install than it once was. The software still represents a commitment of time and resources, however. Given its centrality to running your business, this should make sense. It takes focus and attention to detail to get ERP right.

In some cases, an implementation partner can be helpful in selecting and setting up ERP. We can help in this regard. We work with Acumatica cloud ERP, for instance. We have extensive experience in working with clients in the important pre-implementation discovery and thought process. This work involves looking closely at business processes, structure and strategy to determine the best approach to ERP. It establishes which ERP modules are required initially and which can be purchased later, if at all. Then, we work in collaboration with your IT department and business stakeholders to implement ERP so it becomes the operational and financial core of your business.

Additional ERP Resources

5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management

Qualities to Look for in a Cloud ERP

How to Improve Efficiency with a New ERP Solution

Finding the Productivity Advantage in Distribution Management

What’s the right Distribution Management System for your business? Obviously, there’s no universally correct answer to this question. Every business has its own unique needs. However, based on our experience working with companies that have adopted the Acumatica Cloud ERP for Distribution Management, we recommend it in most situations. There are many reasons for this, one of which is the productivity advantage inherent in the solution.

The Importance of Productivity in Distribution Management

Productivity, in the context of information work, refers to how many tasks an employee can complete in a given amount of time. In non-structured work like managing a distribution business, it can be difficult to measure productivity accurately. However, it is definitely possible to identity ways that distribution management software can make your team work more productively.

Why does productivity matter in a distribution business? Employee productivity is an important factor in being able to scale a distribution business. To grow without adding a lot of headcount, it’s necessary to make people work more productively. Otherwise, you’ll be increasing Sales, General and Administrative (SG&A) expense at an uncomfortable rate even if revenues are going up.

The Distribution Management Productivity Checklist

Distribution management features make a difference in employee productivity. To help you think about matters in this regard, Acumatica published a checklist of productivity features in their product. Here are some highlights:

  • Is the solution intuitive, meaning is it easy to learn and use? Legacy ERP solutions can be challenging to master and relatively cumbersome to operate. These are drags on productivity that make it difficult to hire and onboard new people.
  • Is it truly universally available? Employees are increasingly mobile—whether they’re on the shop floor, at a vendor location or taking a canoe trip in the mountains. They will want access to the full functionality of the distribution management system regardless of their location or device form factor. A good distribution management solution will enable access from any device, anytime, anywhere.
  • Does it handle multiple languages? You can no longer assume that everyone in your operation speaks English, or any single language. The system should work in the language that best fits your people’s preferences. This includes document printing in multiple languages, i.e. the language your customer speaks.
  • Is it multi-currency? When the system can handle multiple currencies, that relieves your people of the chore (and error-prone process) of manual currency conversion.
  • Does it have automated workflows? – People work much more productively with automated business processes approval workflows, notifications and so forth.
  • Does it support Wikis? Wikis are an easy way for people to share information and documents across any combination of teams, departments, and external users. This makes the team more productive by reducing the need to search for information.
  • Can it handle document management? Separate documents are often part of the distribution management process, e.g. bills of lading, purchase orders, etc. Making documents accessible to all key personnel saves people time.
  • Does it run a single database? People work productively when they are all working off a single version of the truth.
  • How comprehensive is the reporting capability? People make better, quicker decisions and fewer mistakes when they have access to detailed, well-presented information.

We can help you understand your productivity challenges and how they can be addressed by the right distribution management solution. If you want to learn more about how Acumatica can help your distribution management team work more productively, let’s talk.

Additional Distribution Resources

ERP for Distributors: What Matters and What Doesn’t?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Distribution

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management

Many businesses have separate systems for accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Depending on its size, a company may not even have ERP. Or, as is common, they acquired these applications at different times and implemented each for its primary purpose: an accounting package for the books and financial management, and ERP for operations management. This separation is not longer necessary, nor even a good idea. In fact, there are at least five benefits to using an ERP solution’s accounting functionality.

The Value of Integration

We will outline some of the reasons it’s wise to use ERP for accounting. At a high level, though, most of these benefits relate to one core issue, which is integration. Accounting systems require data inputs from a variety of sources. These include manufacturing management, warehouse management, logistics, billing, HR and so forth. ERP-based accounting automatically integrates these multiple data sources.

5 Benefits of ERP-Based Accounting

Having worked with many clients on ERP and accounting software implementations, we have found the following benefits arise from using accounting in an ERP suite:

1. Richly detailed financial reports

Standalone accounting packages offer basic financial reports like income statements, balance sheets and so forth. In contrast, ERP offers many more varied types of reports. Examples include cash flow projections based on inventory management and order statuses and accounts receivable aging overlaid with customer order pipeline. These reports give you more than just financial data. They help you manage your business more effectively.

2. More automation

Automation helps with productivity. By having ERP and accounting linked, it’s easier to automate workflows that cross between the two systems. When you use ERP for accounting, many accounting and financial tasks can be completely automated. For instance, you can streamline accounts receivable and accounts payable management and cash management. Automation also lets you track financial transactions more quickly.

3. Freedom from duplicate data entry

Having separate systems usually means manual re-inputting of data from one to the other. Integrating ERP and accounting removes this tedious process of data entry by hand. ERP makes data entry fast and consistent.

4. Not so many errors

Manual data entry is notoriously prone to error. These include transposed digits and incorrect client names, etc. These can cause calculation mistakes, which then take time to unwind. You can also see who did what, for each transaction, in case you need to track down someone who made a mistake.

5. A higher degree of control

Using ERP for accounting gives you more control over your business. You can see the bottom-line impact of events and decisions in real time.

Financial Management With Acumatica Cloud ERP

We have experience setting up customers on ERP-based accounting. For a going concern, this means migrating off of a legacy standalone accounting package. It’s a process. There doesn’t have to be a lot of complexity or challenge, but it does take focus and some effort. We provide the expertise. If you want to learn how we can help you run your business better by taking advantage of accounting in ERP, let’s talk.

Acumatica Cloud ERP delivers, providing adaptable, feature rich, and integrated enterprise resource planning software that streamlines your processes and facilitates your decisions. The core of your ERP, Acumatica delivers powerful business finance software – simple enough for small shops and comprehensive enough for complex multi-nationals – that can support your needs today and in the future.

Additional ERP Resources

Qualities to Look for in a Cloud ERP

How to Select an ERP Solution

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

If you’re a distributor, what business are you really in? On a day-to-day level, your business sources product from suppliers, stores it until it’s sold, and then transports it to customers. In its essence, though, a distributor is in the money management business. You’re taking cash and turning it into inventory. Tick tock – the longer it sits there, the less of a return you’re earning on that cash. Any operational or customer relationship issues that further stretch out the payment for a sale is lowering your return on capital even more. If you borrow to finance a distribution business, you’ll understand this problem deeply.

Software has long assisted distributors in making their businesses run right. Today, though, modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions give you new ways to cut costs and shorten that all-important cash cycle. Here are five reasons you need ERP software if you’re in the distribution business:

1. Be able to improve customer satisfaction and cut costs at the same time

A modern ERP suite allows you to be efficient in the management of distribution processes. You get real time visibility into available inventory and inventory costs, inventory in transit and reorder quantities. This visibility translates into low operating costs and clear, productive communications with customers. You can cut down on misunderstandings and delays that negatively affect customer satisfaction.

2. Reduce order times

Automated sales order processing, which is available in ERP solutions, eliminates delays in order fulfillment and shipping. The suite usually also enables you to set up rules to handle credit, returns, drop shipments and so forth across multiple warehouses.

3. Run an efficient warehouse

The more efficiently your warehouse(s) run, the more profitable your distribution business will be. A Warehouse Management System (WMS), which comes with many modern ERP suites, lets you streamline your distribution processes. The system covers workflows across receiving and inventory management as well as the operation of tools like barcode scanners and mobile devices.

4. Stay on top of your supply chain

ERP enables you to ensure a steady supply of goods to distribute. It accomplishes this by automating and optimizing purchasing processes, purchase order management and supply chain management.

5. Know your true costs

A modern ERP suite gives you the ability to determine profitability by warehouse as well as by product line or business unit. Reporting and data visualization tools help you spot cost overages and other drags on profitability that may elude standard financial reports.

Control Your Inventory and Increase Customer Satisfaction with Cloud ERP Built for Distribution

Those are just five big reasons distributors can benefit from modern ERP. You can also push up your profitability—through a better cash cycle as well as more efficient operations—by means of advanced inventory software, requisition management and advanced financial reporting tools.

Distribution is all about logistics. Without the right tools, distribution companies simply can’t compete. We have considerable experience in the distribution vertical, equipping clients with industry-specific tools, like Acumatica, that ensure a smooth process, top-notch security, and consistent reliability.

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.

Click here to learn more or request a demo.

Check out these other articles for more ways to improve your distribution business:

How ERP Software Can Promote a Sustainable Supply Chain

Benefits of Inventory Management Software for Your Distribution Company

ERP for Distribution Companies

How ERP Software Can Promote a Sustainable Supply Chain

Businesses that are winning in today’s competitive market are making more eco-conscious decisions that impact the way they conduct business. Going green can help a company’s ability to retain customers who are environmentally aware, as well as the rising millennial market, which supports growing climate concerns.

For solid companies that are looking to drive customer loyalty, improving efficiencies around the supply chain can help to create a more sustainable business ecosystem. Improving the optimization of logistical processes and the rush to get items to market can greatly reduce waste.

Implementation of a state-of-the-art cloud-based ERP solution could improve efficiencies within the company, while streamlining the supply chain, to grow a more profitable company for decades to come.

Sources of Waste

The first step toward determining what areas need improvement is auditing the supply chain process from start to finish. Where is waste occurring? Looking at trends can help reveal the issues — whether obvious or less so.

It’s likely that issues will show up in areas of over-production or the over-purchasing of materials, which can often be attributed to errors around forecasting. Businesses looking to attain a more eco-friendly model should mitigate negative impacts of inventory management. 

Another matter that can drive waste is unnecessary transport of items; issues in this area can cause a company’s carbon footprint to soar. The least amount of miles a product travels, the better this will be for the company: manufacturing, packaging, storage, and distribution all have an impact on emissions. This is something ringing true to more and more of the population, and a business that reflects awareness in this area will no doubt benefit.

Utilization of an ERP solution can track these matters, while also improving coordination and communication between suppliers and partners — as well as providing unified messaging across the entirety of the organization and ultimately its customers. With complete data and important information available in real-time at the click of a button, risks can be alleviated. Costly issues attributed to human error can be minimized, and employees will be enabled to make better decisions to ensure a more connected supply chain.

Making it Agile

The goal of a successful business is being truly agile. The best bet in achieving this is implementing business management technologies that can support the supply chain’s efficiencies, identifying and removing any processes that lack value. The company will lighten its carbon footprint and also see a cost savings that can positively impact the company’s overall profits.

A cloud-based ERP system gives the company flexibility and the ability to respond to issues quickly and certainly, as industry demands dictate. Business leaders should be concerned with improved service over inventory girth — what matters is being in touch with the market and reducing excess inventory. 

Through insight-driven dashboards, managers and functional departments can monitor supply and demand and make adjustments based on data. Guesstimating is a thing of the past, thanks to advances in technology.

Today’s companies need to be concerned with staying ahead of the competition in regards to sales, but for the long-term, brand positioning will set them ahead and better secure customer loyalty. 

Visibility for the Future

An ERP solution can bring insights otherwise overlooked by even the most qualified employees. The visibility the system provides offers easy-to-digest charts and graphics speaking to the needs of members of the C-Suite and each department. While the master dashboard offers a simplified view with vital information, the system should also provide drill down capabilities that offer deeper insights.

With a one-source solution in place, a company can imbed its financial information into every function of the business. This gives everyone insights that simply wouldn’t be possible with outdated technology. Once users are up and working in the system, human errors will be reduced and employees will be able to focus on tasks that are more advantageous to the company’s well being and, ultimately, growth.

Moving beyond manual spreadsheets and outdated legacy systems will arm a company with the ability to stay relevant in the time of digital transformation. With the right strategy, companies can reduce emissions and achieve sustainability into the future.

An environmentally aware company will be streamlined for efficiency and drive the push for improved processes around waste in the supply chain. Keeping up to date with the latest in cloud-based technology allows business leaders to be a force of change for the better, while driving profit margins.

Partnering for Success

The time to innovate is now! The first step of the journey is realizing when a company is ready for a cloud-based ERP system. Acumatica Cloud ERP is an award-winning solution that offers Acumatica Distribution Edition. One of its many features is Advanced Inventory, which is designed to streamline processes for efficiency and eliminating waste, which can improve customer retention and profitability. 

Partnering for the future enables a business to improve capabilities and develop a strategic vision that drives growth. As an Acumatica partner, CCS Technology Group brings cloud expertise to take a company into the next decade and beyond. Read testimonials and contact us to learn more about implementing a cloud-based ERP solution.

Additional Distribution Resources

Benefits of Inventory Management Software for Your Distribution Company

ERP for Distribution Companies

The 7 Irresistible Qualities of Cloud ERP

The Value of Implementing an ERP for Professional Service Organizations

Leaders in the Professional Services industry can benefit from a modern cloud-based ERP system that enables them to provide a better service delivery methodology with employees that are prepared to provide customer support — transferring both timely response and expert quality.

To make significant impact in this ever-changing industry, it’s essential that organizations have a solid handle on project management, contract management, and accounting processes. Companies are able to create more efficient processes when they combine the management and oversight of multiple processes into one system. Implementation of a streamlined solution can ease daily tasks, while improving the ability of the entire work team. In the end, this means more efficient work.

By modernizing a company’s operational infrastructure, professional service firms are capable of breaking away from disparate practices and bringing together wide-ranging functionality into one fully integrated tool — imagine the advantage having both back-end and front-end processes accessible when working to innovate client projects.

Visibility

An ERP system enables the business to view data and insights across the entirety of the organization in one simple solution. Leadership will have dashboards that display the information needed to make decisions quickly and accurately.

Because the cloud-based system is updated regularly, there are no lapses that could provide the team with conflicting data. Real-time reporting keeps everyone on the same page — a perk that can eliminate issues and keep all employees “in the know” at every juncture. Drill down architecture enables employees to reach whatever details they are needing to transform their work function.

Accounting is integrated into the organization’s various departments; this means that finance can see where sales and marketing are focused and those working in these areas are able to attribute gain and loss to the area’s efforts.

Acumatica, an award-winning cloud-based ERP solution, tracks integrated performance with its ERP Solution for Professional Services Lead, including:

  1. Sales and purchase order management
  2. Service and support automation
  3. Project cost tracking
  4. Time and expense
  5. Material requirements

Customer Management

The more a company knows about its customer base, the better the employees can serve the clients’ needs. Likewise, the happier a customer is, the more loyal they will become. With this in mind, it’s essential that leaders engage state-of-the-art business software that can help them maintain a competitive advantage.

First is understanding who key clients are, and next is learning how to better capitalize on these money-making accounts. By studying purchases and needs, a company can better determine opportunities to retain, extend, and even up-sell whenever possible. An ERP system reveals shifts, whether negative or positive, which enables leadership to make decisions that can grow the company’s relationships — and, thus, its bottom line.

Real-time views provide not only leadership with understanding of where processes are successful or lacking, but also employees working at client locations. With access to Internet or Wifi and a smartphone, tablet or laptop, service technicians or consultants can provide up-to-the-minute insights to customers. This adds value to those who have face-to-face relationships with clients, enabling them to provide the best possible service — and become the company’s personal and accessible expert — and close deals quickly.

Project Pricing

Professional Services firms need to quote accurately and make sure they are able to come in at the projected amount. Employees who are working within a cloud-based ERP solution have the best chance of providing the best possible service.

An ERP solution enables consultants with detailed information around resource allocation, project budgets, and delivery dates. Tracking project actuals can assist in avoiding costly overruns, which can be a black eye for those responsible for project management.

With a system that provides insights and detailed project-based reporting, a team can fully understand a client’s profitability —both in past and current runs, as well as what the forecast is for future performance.

Professional Services employees know that the work they do today will reap rewards for future business. The best a company can do for its staff is arm it with the most advanced technology, which in turn enables their best and brightest to deliver results that exceed expectations and make working easier.

The Cloud Advantage

Implementing a cloud-based ERP solution is one of the best ways a business leader can prepare a Professional Services organization for the future. Modern technology can help a company to lead successful projects through even the most challenging timelines, on budget.

The first step is partnering to improve business capabilities and efficiencies, both of which are imperative to growth. At CCS Technology Group, we understand cloud expertise and how it can benefit Professional Services organizations. Interested in learning more? Read our testimonials and contact us to get started today!

Additional ERP Resources

Qualities to Look for in a Cloud ERP

How to Improve Efficiency with a New ERP Solution

What’s New in Acumatica 2019 R1

KPIs for Manufacturing and ERP Software

No matter what the industry, an organization relies on measurements that provide perspective on performance, including both successes and challenges, for insights that can drive improved decision making. By reviewing these key metrics, business leaders can shift focus to improve efficiencies and boost profits.

Manufacturers work with a wide array of measurements, such as profit and loss, cash flow, production schedule compliance, inventory turns, to name a few. There are so many areas to consider, that the task can become overwhelming — it’s easy for business leaders to become buried in weighty reports, there’s a greater likelihood of missing important issues, and the result can prove disastrous for the company. Without providing clarity around the data, it can be a real information overload!

To keep focus, industries rely on a handful of measures that reflect the overall stability of the business. By collecting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), decision makers are able to critique matters much more quickly. Modern ERP systems can track these metrics and present them in easy-to-read dashboard displays with graphics that provide real-time views.

Types of KPIs

Most ERP solutions will provide general “out-of-the box,” pre-defined KPIs, which provide the basics for businesses across various industries. There are different types of KPIs; some are financial, historical, while others are predictive and give a glimpse into future expectations.

Ideally, manufacturers will want to identify approximately 8 to 10 that reflect the work their company does. Some of these will relate to the work the entire company is doing — such as Inventory Turnover Ratio and On-time Delivery. It makes sense that individual departments or functions will also benefit from measurement that speaks to their focus. Executive dashboards provide detailed performance views that can drill down for more granular results.

Let’s look at a couple of KPIs that are standard for manufacturers:

Plan vs. Actual Hours and Cost

Interested in knowing how the plant is functioning? This KPI pulls data from various areas of the organization, which can reveal how processes and products can create differing scenarios and impact the company’s health.

Utilization and Capacity

Planning for optimum utilization of available resources can benefit an organization, even though “lean manufacturing” doesn’t place emphasis on this area — it instead centers on the basis that having idle equipment is better than overproducing or early production. Finding the right balance can mean lower costs, as well as improved performance in an array of areas, including completions, overtime and expediting, and reliability. A key benefit of a Work Center Dispatch KPI is visibility into what each location is working on and where processes stand.

Scheduled Production

Workflow and resource utilization greatly impact production schedules; this is an area an ERP Manufacturing Dashboard can assist with, combined with the Work Center Dispatch KPI. It also helps for manufacturers to understand which clients and products bring in the most profit — looking at profitability by customer/items, category, and item will reflect the best results. These insights help the business create distribution plans and budgets that impact the overall company strategy.

Putting KPIs to work

Data is only as good as those who are reading it. It’s essential that a company train its employees in what KPIs mean and how they relate to the work they are doing on a daily basis. With this approach, the staff will build a personal connection — think ownership — of the KPIs that they need to be most effective. Management should use these measures to make key decisions.

This isn’t a one-time process; KPIs need maintenance to stay relevant. Working this into the overarching management process will ensure that updates are made to reflect shifts in the environment, such as customer preferences and market changes.

Don’t expect to tax the IT team; today’s KPI dashboards are limber enough to roll with developing needs. User-friendly tools make updates and new reports an easy process. The dashboards are truly designed to simplify employees’ tasks. Being cloud-based also means that information can be accessed anytime, anywhere, on any device as long as Internet or WiFi is available.

Read more about how technology can create powerful, flexibile KPI systems in Acumatica’s white paper Key Performance Indicators for Manufacturing.

Getting Started

The first step toward better measurement is implementing a cloud-based ERP, while the pivotal part of the journey is finding a partner that offers understanding and various capabilities. CCS Technology Group is experienced in cloud expertise and enterprise resource planning to develop, implement, monitor, and support effective solutions.

We understand that the easier working is, the more freedom a company will have to achieve its goals. Read our testimonials and contact us to learn more about how to implement an effective cloud-based ERP system — we’re here to improve processes and efficiencies that can drive growth.