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How To Have A Successful ERP Implementation Design Phase

By ERP ImplementationNo Comments

ERP Design & Configuration

The design stage is the part of the implementation where the focus is on creating a system configuration that will maximize the system benefits and ROI received by the client. The design phase starts near the end of discovery and planning, where project team selection and much of the documentation and planning have already taken place. The implementation team will work to translate the client’s system requirements into potential configuration options. Then, they will work closely with the project team to establish those configurations and implementation strategies that will then lead into the development phase of the project.

6 Steps of ERP Implementation Design

The design phase of an ERP implementation project can be broken down into these 6 steps:

Gather and Review Master Records

Early in the design phase, the implementation team will want to review the client’s master records. This is data that is the foundation of the current system such as:

  • Chart of accounts
  • Subaccounts if applicable
  • Customer master
  • Vendor master
  • Item master

This information along with the discovery information will form the basis for the implementation team to begin discussions with the project team about how to start configuring the new system.

ERP System Orientation & Walkthrough

Now the implementation team is ready to begin training the project team on the functionality of the new system by walking through the application. This usually follows the flow of various business cycles and starts the process of mapping out the procedures identified during discovery. This can take a few hours to a couple of days depending on the complexity of the business.

For example, we would open the accounts payable module and walk through setting up a vendor (contact info, payment methods, terms, etc.), entering an accounts payable invoice, showing the approval processes and the payment cycle steps. This allows the project team to see how they would do their jobs in the new system. During this session, project team members may identify areas where the new system differs in approach from the old system. In designing how to use the new system some compromising might take place between having to make slight changes to processes themselves or customizing the actual software.

A few years ago during the discovery process, I asked a project team member to explain their current steps to generate an invoice for product shipments. She smiled and said, “Don’t laugh. We get the shipping documents from the shipping department, then take a 7 part invoice and insert it into a typewriter and type the invoice”, all the while watching the incredulous look on my face. She went on to explain where the copies went and that they then entered all of the invoice information onto a 13 column pad. She concluded by saying that they had been using this procedure for 25 years and were looking forward to changing their approach. They were very excited to see how the new system would eliminate the typewriter and 13 column pad and they went on to a successful implementation.

Establish Initial System Configuration Settings

The establishment of the initial configuration settings includes tasks like designing the chart of accounts in combination with the subaccount structure. This is a key decision point and should be done with the goal of supporting the reporting requirements that arose from the discovery process. Done correctly the proper configuration can support things like companies, divisions, departments, product lines, and so on.

This is also the time to decide what the format of customer and vendor IDs – should they be simple numeric values, abbreviations for the names or some combination thereof? Advanced ERP systems like Acumatica and should support both to give you full flexibility in running your business.

If the client is a distributor and/or manufacturer, the design of the item numbering scheme and bill of materials and resources is also critical.

Create a Prototype

The teams will work together to build a prototype system configured to meet the client’s business needs. The system will consist of sample customers, vendors, items that feed financial activity into the accounting system using the first pass at a chart of accounts and subaccounts. Again the teams should look to see that the client’s reporting requirements can be met. This version of the system will be used to train the project team members and prove out some of the decisions made earlier in the design process.

Define User Roles

Modern ERP systems rely on user roles to control security. These role-based systems can be simple or complex depending on the size of the business and internal control requirements. For example, a salesperson should not have access to the cash receipts function or an AP person to be able to cut a purchase order. The project team will define these roles and users who will be using those roles. This especially applies to Acumatica, which has particularly sophisticated security functionality.

Document ERP Procedures

Along the way, the project team will document how the system should be used by creating procedures for each function. The procedures should include which position submits the initial invoice, how it is reviewed and how it is approved. The project team puts these types of procedures in place to support initial end-user training and the training of new people in a consistent manner. This is probably the most difficult part of the design process for most project teams. Some more advanced systems, such as Acumatica, allow client-specific procedures to be easily incorporated into the “Help” system as part of the user interface so that they are always a click away for the user’s reference thereby allowing for consistent use of the system.

I have been brought into numerous companies to review how they were using their current system after a few years and frustration levels with it were very high. In all cases there had been significant turnover and many if not all of the original project team had left the company. In many cases users are shown about 10% of the functionality of the system. They get frustrated with it and start building workarounds usually in spreadsheets. Having current and readily accessible procedures helps reduce this problem.

What do you consider to be the most difficult part of the design process?

Interested in working with PC Bennett? Tell us about your ERP and business goals on this page and let’s schedule an initial free consultation.

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5 Critical Considerations When Selecting Software for Your Business

By ERP Implementation, Software SelectionNo Comments

Software selection and implementation can be complicated. We can get caught up in the hype we hear. Ensuring you get the software you need, when you need it, is what we’ll cover in today’s article.

To begin, ask yourself if a new software solution, such as a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or an upgrade to an existing solution, will increase productivity and efficiency. Are there other considerations? Maybe a new solution or upgrade will help your business be more precise with its data, encourage better inventory practices, or smooth out the payroll process.

Let’s go through five critical considerations when selecting a software solution for your business.

1.  Make sure there is a compelling business reason to make the change.

      • Really think through the problem you are trying to solve. Talk to your staff to get their perspective.
      • Are you entering the same data multiple times?
      • Are human errors costing you money?
      • Are most of your operations being handled in Microsoft Excel or something similar?
      • Do you have inventory control issues? Are you missing sales because you are running out of merchandise?
      • Do you have trouble getting good data to make the right decisions for your business?

If you answer yes to any of these, you have a good reason to change your software.

2.  Is the timing right for your business to make the change?

Sometimes business owners don’t realize what a big deal selecting software is. Loss of productivity, employee dissatisfaction, and cost are just a few of the side effects. In order to minimize these risks, consider the following steps:

      • Set clear goals for the new software solution. Don’t rush through this step. Know what problem you are solving and what success really looks like.
      • Involve as many members of the organization as possible. More employees on board means faster adoption.
      • Business requirement gather is critical. Document your business processes as they are today and as you would like them to be. Put it in writing. Share the business requirements internally for consensus.
      • Document things that you know are unique to your business. Maybe your geography creates unique challenges. Does your product use special materials that require a specific lead time to acquire? Are the existing software solutions in your business antiquated? Whatever the issue, get it in writing.
      • Designate a superuser. This is a person that will know all areas of the solution inside and out. This will be your go-to person for help with the solution. This individual will help bring other employees on board with the new system.
      • Have the right expectations- implementations take time. It took you a long time to get to a software decision. It will take just as long, if not more time, to implement the solution. Sometimes a phased approach will give you a faster return on your investment. Get the solution provider to help you determine the best manner for you to proceed.

3.  Finding the best solution for your business.

Every business is unique and has its own issues. One thing is universal: your competition is doing something similar. What business software solutions are they using? Are they successfully running their businesses? Find out all you can about the other guy. You’ll benefit from the information. Here are some ways to benchmark what others are using:

    • Participate in industry groups. You will find others who share your challenges. These are environments where you can share information and learn. Many of these groups are free to join.
    • Use Google. Search for “Cloud ERP”, “Accounting Solutions”, “inventory control applications”, “Manufacturing” or whatever applies to your business problem.
    • Use user-based rankings and ratings sites:
    • Evaluate the Growth Potential- ensure the software you are evaluating is using the latest technology. You are about to make a big investment. Technology changes so quickly that buying old technology doesn’t make sense, even if it saves you money. Some vendors are coming up with “new products” that are really old products with a facelift. Be aware of this. Ask the hard questions to get the facts.
      • Select 3 or 4 software solutions to evaluate. Only with choices can you make a reasonable decision. You can often save substantial money when you compare solutions.
      • Spend the time to test the software and make sure it will work for you. Have your staff try to use the solution. Bring any challenges to the software provider. Find a resolution before you buy.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask for demos and guidance from the vendor. Customer success and presales resources exist in many companies. The goal is to ensure customers effectively use the solutions.
      • Check the reviews for the products you are evaluating. Most people will take the time to review when they are not happy with a solution. Less will review when they are happy. Make a balanced decision.
      • Determine how will it interact with other software you currently use.
      • Remember to ask about the hidden value. After purchase service and training are serious differentiators that can easily be overlooked.

4.  Find the right partner.

Most of the ERP systems out there are sold and implemented by technology partners. Make sure you have the right partner. You are about to have the equivalent of open-heart surgery for your business, and you don’t want just anyone to do that job.

Implementing new software is no easy task. You will be working with your partner for some time. Make sure this is a relationship you want to be in for a while. Check references. Check their website. They usually have customers listed on their site. You may recognize a name of a company you know. Give them a call. Check their social media. Maybe ask a trusted colleague or other industry reference.

5.  Look beyond the implementation.

There are many costs to consider when running an ERP system in your business. The costs aren’t all obvious. Look for the hidden costs.

      • Support
      • Upgrades
      • Ongoing Training
      • Customizations for your business

Make sure you understand what it will cost you to run your new software. Be prepared for this. Many businesses are surprised by the cost of supporting their software. Implementing your new software was a big investment — you will need to maintain it just like you do a new car so you will need to plan for it.

These are just a few points but if you need help or have a question, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Patricia Bennett
patriciab@pcbennett.com

Race car driving on a dirt road.

How to Eliminate Your Auto Parts Inventory Spreadsheet

By Acumatica, Auto Parts Database Software, Automotive Aftermarket

Learn How to Reduce Your Reliance on Spreadsheets and Better Manage Your Business

 

Everybody loves spreadsheets, right?

Spreadsheets are cheap, easy, and convenient — and often frequently contain errors — from a miscopied formula (or a formula initially entered incorrectly) to simple typos. They also require a lot of administrative upkeep and endless formatting.

Perhaps worst of all is that frustrating spreadsheet issue where all the spreadsheets are accurate and well-formatted — but you look at the wrong version (or the correct, but un-updated, version) by mistake and act on out-of-date information.

It’s time to talk about how to get rid of your auto parts inventory spreadsheets forever.

ERP Can Help Reduce Your Dependence on Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet irritations are one of the biggest issues in growing companies. However, most business leaders are so used to dealing with spreadsheet hassles that they cannot fully imagine how much time and energy they could save if they simply replaced their spreadsheets with a better tool.

Most growing automotive aftermarket manufacturers and distributors choose to replace those pesky spreadsheets with an ERP solution.  

Here is why:

  • Less error-prone manual data entry

ERP systems are typically set up to automatically integrate your auto parts inventory information from sales orders/shipping and purchase orders/receiving data. ERP users rarely have to manually update stock counts, which significantly cuts down on errors.

  • No formatting hassles

Modern ERPs are built to display your auto parts inventory information properly on any device: a desktop, a laptop, a warehouse display monitor, a tablet, a phone, or even a handheld scanner – with no formatting tweaks required.

  • Always up-to-date inventory data

With an ERP, you can trust that you, your staff, and your customers are seeing up-to-the-second inventory data at all times, whether they’re looking at your eCommerce store website, a computer in your brick-and-mortar locations, or a mobile device.

How to Choose an ERP

The best way to determine which ERP will meet your needs is to work with an ERP consultant who will help you perform a fair and balanced assessment of all your ERP options.

Here are a few pointers to help you start thinking about your needs before your ERP consultation:

  • Choose cloud-based ERP. The “new normal” of lockdowns and limited staff-in-person counts mean that you need a better way to ensure that your data is securely available to employees wherever they are. Cloud ERPdelivers that flexibility.
  • Select an ERP that integrates with your industry. There are a lot of cloud ERPs out there, but not many of them fit the needs of automotive aftermarket manufacturers and distributors. An industry-specific ERP is necessary if you truly want to get rid of your auto parts inventory spreadsheet.

Ensure that the solution you choose:

  • Integrates with vehicle classification data, including ACES, PIES, SEMA, and VIN Validation & Identification
  • Automatically updates ACES, PIES, and SEMA data for you, so you can reduce or eliminate your manual data entry and database lookup time
  • Filters auto parts inventory by year, make, model, engine type, color, etc.
  • Connects to your eCommerce storefront in real time, saving you the effort it takes to manually copy and paste data between your ERP and webstore
  • Is an all-in-one tool for your business to manage financials, inventory, logistics, sales, eCommerce, production, purchasing, costing, supply chain management, customer notifications, and service management

Start Your Search with AutoFitmentPlus Powered by Acumatica

AutoFitmentPlus powered by Acumatica is the automotive ERP designed by auto enthusiasts for auto enthusiasts – and it is also one of the most comprehensive automotive aftermarket ERP solutions on the market.

Developed by PC Bennett, the high-performance driving and motorsports team of Acumatica experts, AutoFitmentPlus is the right tool for the job when you’re ready to get rid of your auto parts inventory spreadsheet for good.

 

Schedule your consultation to learn more. 

 

PC Bennett Solutions offers a personalized, full-service experience for customers by implementing business management technology. Through a hands-on approach, PC Bennett Solutions helps companies get the most out of their software system. The team provides training, implementation and customization of Acumatica. Headquartered in the Seattle area, PC Bennett Solutions is one of the largest exclusive Acumatica resellers. For more information, visit www.pcbennett.com.

Mechanic works underneath a car.

Automotive Aftermarket Parts Management — AutoFitmentPlus

By Acumatica, Auto Parts Database Software, Automotive Aftermarket, Cloud ERP

PC Bennett Announces the Automotive Database Management Solution: AutoFitmentPlus.

 

On September 15, 2020 we announced our automotive database management solution: AutoFitmentPlus.  In an effort to better serve automotive aftermarket customers, we developed this comprehensive tool that combines fitment tracking and parts lookup with ACES and PIES reference specification data, packaged into an award-winning ERP system.

AutoFitmentPlus builds on the Fitment functionality that we released earlier this year, and is 80% through Phase I development. You can currently look up fitment for auto parts by year, make, model and other filters, ensuring that they get the right part, every time.

Save Time on Data Entry

When we asked our customers what they wanted most from a fitment solution, we heard many of them lament having to enter in parts data at least twice, often more than that. Then at the end of the month some of them needed to manually create an Excel spreadsheet to send to SEMA in the PIES format. It was a huge drain on their time each month. AutoFitmentPlus allows customers to enter data ONCE, and then click a button to generate the PIES file they need, in the right format, in minutes.

Quickly Find The Parts You Need

The expanded AutoFitmentPlus tool has the go-to reference specification tables: ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) and PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) built right into it, allowing fast, easy file preparation and transmission and seamless direct access to the data.

“We wanted to help our customers eliminate manual lookups and have an easy way to quickly find parts that match their customers’ requests,” says our Founder, and CEO Patricia Bennett.  “Integrating it with ACES and PIES just made sense, and saves our customers so much time and effort. Before AutoFitmentPlus, one customer spent upwards of 12 hours each month preparing their data file for upload to SEMA. Imagine getting that time back every month.”

In addition to parts lookup, the AutoFitmentPlus solution includes:

  • VIN validation and identification
  • Vehicle Classification data (Year, Make, Model, Engine Type, etc.) maintained and cross-referenced against your Part SKUs to establish Fitment Application.
  • Industry-standard ‘ACES’ (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) Vehicle Classification data automatically loaded into the ERP database and automatically updated at regular intervals.
  • Parts Fitment used to filter available products on Sales Orders and Service Orders. Fitment will also integrate with your eCommerce website.
  • Industry-standard ‘PIES’ (Product Information Exchange Standard) Product Categorization data automatically loaded into the ERP database and automatically updated at regular intervals.
  • PIES data used to provide information about your Parts in an industry recognized manner, including Attributes and other specifications.
  • Sales and Service performed on vehicles tracked by VIN, including Warranties on parts and service.
  • On-demand export of data in the ACES, PIES, or SEMA prescribed formats with no manual data manipulation or intervention on your part, providing you with seamless integration to your trading partners and the SEMA Data Coop.

For subscribing members of the Auto Care Association, AutoFitmentPlus will also ensure the data you have in your ERP system is always up to date.

You can learn more in our AutoFitmentPlus blog post.

“We couldn’t be happier that PC Bennett is developing this automotive database management tool for their Acumatica audience. It speaks to their commitment to the automotive industry, and their depth of knowledge and passion for the fastest growing cloud ERP solution,” — Geoff Ashley, Vice President, Partner Strategy & Programs at Acumatica.

A mechanic works underneath a car at a car dealership.

AutoFitmentPlus — Your Automotive Aftermarket Auto Parts Database Software

By Acumatica, Auto Parts Database Software, Automotive Aftermarket, Cloud ERP

When we started down this Automotive Aftermarket road, we had no idea it would lead to the creation of a custom solution like AutoFitmentPlus. But we are happy it did – it is helping our clients have an edge that no other companies have.

How It Began

While working with customers, we realized a major struggle for them was centered around parts database management. Order departments were relying on paper catalogs or were looking up parts on multiple websites, which was frustrating and time-consuming. Not only were they spending more time taking orders, but they ran a bigger risk of selling incompatible parts to their customers. Which at a minimum disappoints the customer and results in costly returns. At worst, it can cost them their business. There had to be a better way.

The Birth of Fitment for Acumatica

As you know, managing fitment information is an ongoing process. Vehicle standards change often. Without an integrated solution, you are left to manually maintain your database. Not only is it a huge task, but it is prone to errors and creates a lag in accurate data, paving the way for a bad customer experience.

Additionally, customers often search for parts by brand, not realizing that there can be parts that fit multiple brands of vehicles.

We realized an integrated fitment lookup that connects to your web store would allow you to educate your customers on how to search and serve up more compatible options. This also keeps them on your site, buying parts from you instead of your competition.

We developed and launched our fitment solution earlier this year, which allows you to quickly and easily look up fitment data by year, make, model, and other filters like trim and engine type. And did we mention that it connects to shopping cart? You can also quickly create new items with images, color options, finishes, descriptions, specs and manufacturer’s data with just a few clicks.

The Evolution to AutoFitmentPlus

We know there’s always room for improvement. So, we took our Fitment product to our clients for testing and recommendations. They did not disappoint. We came away from those meetings and conversations with a host of recommended features. And we got to work.

The expanded AutoFitmentPlus tool has the go-to reference specification tables: ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) and PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) built right into it, allowing fast, easy file preparation and transmission and seamless direct access to the data.

Auto Parts Database Acumatica Fitment

How Good is AutoFitmentPlus?

Auto Parts Software Acumatica FitmentWhen we talk about the features with any current or potential client, you can feel their interest grow. It’s no longer an ERP solution and our knowledge around how to implement. It’s a passion for the automotive industry that has resulted in a truly unique offering, designed from the ground up to save you time, money, and frustration.

We are 80% through phase I of development, so we are still a bit away from launching, but this product builds on a solid foundation of the fitment functionality we already created, and promises much more, including:

  • VIN validation and identification
  • Vehicle Classification data (Year, Make, Model, Engine Type, etc.) maintained and cross-referenced against your Part SKUs to establish Fitment Application.
  • Industry-standard ‘ACES’ (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) Vehicle Classification data automatically loaded into the ERP database and automatically updated at regular intervals.
  • Parts Fitment used to filter available products on Sales Orders and Service Orders. Fitment will also integrate with your eCommerce website.
  • Industry-standard ‘PIES’ (Product Information Exchange Standard) Product Categorization data automatically loaded into the ERP database and automatically updated at regular intervals.
  • PIES data used to provide information about your Parts in an industry recognized manner, including Attributes and other specifications.
  • Sales and Service performed on vehicles tracked by VIN, including Warranties on parts and service.
  • On-demand export of data in the ACES, PIES, or SEMA prescribed formats with no manual data manipulation or intervention on your part, providing you with seamless integration to your trading partners and the SEMA Data Coop.

Why Did We Focus on the Automotive Aftermarket?

Auto Parts Database Software Acumatica FitmentWe have a passion for classic cars, fast cars and the racing industry. This love of cars and racing started a generation ago and it continues with me, my brother and my son. It’s one of the reasons people choose us over anyone else. It’s why we find it easy and actually fun to help automotive aftermarket industry. It’s why we’re continually updating and improving our solution to make sure it provides everything our clients need.

Get to know us a little better…peruse our gallery of photos, and lots of other handy resources on our Acumatica Automotive page.

Stop “Getting By” with an Outdated Fitment Process

And start using a solution that eliminates errors and takes guesswork out of fitting parts to vehicles. A solution that won’t cost a fortune, take forever to deploy, or be hard to use. A solution that:

  • Helps sell the right part
  • Reduces research time
  • Improves customer service
  • Drives up repeat business
  • Eliminates silos of information

Take a tour of our fitment module, and let us know what you think! Your comments could lead to an even better solution!

See Fitment in Action

A small turtle on the beach.

Legacy ERP Solutions ‘Move Too Slowly,’ Say Experts

By Acumatica, Cloud ERP

Modern Acumatica ERP Is a Better Choice than Legacy ERP for Manufacturers and Distributors

 

According to the expert research analysts at Forrester Consulting, legacy ERP solutions “move too slowly for today’s pace of business, lack the real-time insight necessary to drive key business decisions, and drag down [businesses] with unnecessary complexity.” (Ouch.)

Clearly, legacy ERP poses a problem in the modern business landscape… but what should a busy manufacturer or distributor use instead?

Find out when you download the new, complimentary report from PC Bennett, so you can investigate the Total Economic Impact of Acumatica.

Why Download the Report?

This in-depth report from Forrester Consulting not only carefully tracks the challenges modern manufacturers and distributors experience with their legacy ERP systems, it also carefully tracks the costs associated with running legacy ERP.

With this information in place, the experts at Forrester are able to state hard-number savings, gains, and a predicted ROI for modern manufacturers and distributors who are considering switching to a modern ERP like Acumatica.

What Is in the Report?

When you download the report, you will receive a clear summary of Forrester’s findings, including their in-depth case studies of four companies across various industries that made the switch from outdated, inefficient ERP (or no ERP) to modern Acumatica Cloud ERP.

When you have finished reading this report, you will understand the precise predicted savings and benefits that Acumatica offers when it comes to:

  • Maintenance
  • Support and licensing
  • Improved sales
  • Increased profits
  • Time savings
  • Marketing efficiency
  • and more…

The Total Economic Impact report also predicts the total costs of running Acumatica, so readers like you can clearly understand the costs, benefits, agility impacts, and risk factors involved in transforming your company with modern, Cloud ERP.

Read the Report to Discover How Acumatica Can Beat Legacy ERP

Making the leap to a new ERP solution is a large investment of your time and money. As a business leader, you know that you should ensure you have completed comprehensive research before making your decision to switch to a modern ERP like Acumatica.

The Forrester report uniquely helps you understand the numbers behind the experiences of real companies that transformed their operations with Cloud ERP. The report should be a key factor that helps you make the best choice about your next steps.

Get fast facts when you access your free copy of “The Total Economic Impact of Acumatica.” 

 

PC Bennett Solutions offers a personalized, full-service experience for customers by implementing business management technology. Through a hands-on approach, PC Bennett Solutions helps companies get the most out of their software system. The team provides training, implementation and customization of Acumatica. Headquartered in the Seattle area and with offices in Dallas, PC Bennett Solutions is one of the largest exclusive Acumatica resellers. For more information, visit www.pcbennett.com.

Featured image showing business people discussing costs for the Comparing the Value of Annual Maintenance for On-Premises ERP vs. Cloud Updates blog from PC Bennett.

Annual Maintenance for On-Premises ERP vs. Cloud Updates ­- Comparing the Value

By Acumatica, Cloud ERP

Is Annual Maintenance for On-Premises ERP Worth the Cost? Find Out.

 

Let’s be revolutionary here. Let’s think outside the box. What if you didn’t have to pay annual maintenance for on-premises ERP anymore?

Ready to get truly innovative? Imagine this: What if, by eliminating annual maintenance fees, you had the opportunity to implement exciting, cutting-edge updates including the latest in AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics technologies?

If this sounds like a great deal to you, it’s time to compare the value of annual maintenance for on-premises ERP vs. the cloud update model from a leading Cloud ERP like Acumatica.

How to Compare the Value of Annual Maintenance vs. Cloud Updates

When comparing and contrasting the value of annual on-premises maintenance versus the value of cloud updates, there are two main areas you need to focus on: what you pay and what you get.

What You Pay

Let’s talk numbers.

  • Annual Maintenance Fees Add Up to the Cost of a New ERP Every Few Years

As we all know, it’s expensive to invest in a new on-premises ERP. After paying the full costs for your solution and add-ons, plus training and implementation, it’s hard to justify spending any more for your on-premises ERP.

But spend you must, because each year you have to pay those annual maintenance fees. Without them, you won’t be able to access critical software upgrades, service packs, and tax updates, and you’ll be barred from learning resources and quite a bit of customer service.

Maintenance fees typically range from 15%-30% of your initial software purchase, which means if you spent $50K on your ERP, you’re looking at ongoing costs of $7,500 – $15,000 per year going forward.

That adds up.

In fact, if you do the math on those fees, you’ll realize that (in our example), annual maintenance for on-premises ERP means you’re essentially re-buying your ERP every 3-7 years. Unfortunately, however, you’re not buying a new ERP every few years… you’re simply patching and updating your aging ERP until it eventually reaches end of life.

You can think of this like the first nice car that you bought. It was great at the beginning, but eventually you started paying more money in tune-ups and repairs than it was worth in trade-in value because it was just so darn old and out of date. When you finally got a new car again, it was such a relief.

Like old cars, old ERPs eventually run into unfixable problems. At a certain point, that old ERP may break down and require an emergency upgrade – or the issues you face could be more insidious and costly over time, such as increased cybersecurity risks.

  • Cloud Upgrade Costs Are Included in Your Subscription Costs

This will be a short section because it’s pretty simple. Instead of complex math, you just need to remember that the costs of maintenance and upgrades are included in the subscription price of Acumatica.

No annual maintenance fee to speak of.

Yes, the subscription price will increase over time, as all subscription prices do, but not by much. Plus, since Acumatica doesn’t require a massive upfront software investment, it will take you a while to spend as much on your subscription-based Cloud ERP as you did initially on your on-premises ERP.

What You Get

This is where it gets really interesting.

  • Fees for Annual Maintenance for On-Premises ERP Don’t Deliver Many Benefits

Have you noticed that your on-premises ERP’s updates and upgrades have been pretty boring in recent years? For their mid-year 2020 release, one on-premises ERP announced a series of bug fixes for bugs that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather offended at the idea of having to pay money so I can get repairs for things like a buggy password requirement, Word formatting issues, inaccurate financial values, error messages on common financial processes, and employee filing status errors. Those bugs are things that should be fixed regardless – annual maintenance for on-premises ERP should deliver more.

By the way, this is completely real. This is exactly what maintenance fee payers for a popular on-premises ERP can look forward to accessing in June 2020.

Not surprisingly, this same on-premises ERP has a less-than-exciting software update planned for the end of this year, in which they’ll finally implement minor changes users have been requesting for years, such as copy/paste abilities, additional form fields, and a bigger print preview window.

Yawn.

Remember that math we talked about earlier, in which it became clear that business leaders with on-premises ERP are essentially re-buying their ERPs every 3-7 years? That means that, best case scenario, those on-premises ERP users are making a massive ERP re-investment every few years… so they can get tax updates and the ability to copy/paste.

Is that really worth it?

  • Cloud Upgrades Deliver Cutting-Edge Capabilities

Cloud upgrades and updates include all the boring stuff that you pay for with annual on-premises maintenance fees like bug fixes and UI enhancements, but if you choose the right Cloud ERP, those updates also include a lot more.

For example: Acumatica 2020 R1, released earlier this year, included:

  • Machine-learning-driven expense entry, which automatically captures and enters expense data from a picture of a receipt
  • Fully-native, fully-supported eCommerce integration
  • BatchMaster, QA, and JAAS manufacturing integrations
  • Data mining benchmarks for the construction industry
  • Robotic Process Automation integrations to streamline manufacturing and warehouse operations
  • Paperless picking using the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Embedded PDF editing, saving you from the task of downloading a local copy of a PDF, just so you can edit or sign it
  • AI-driven image tagging, so you can upload photos into your ERP and have them automatically searchable

All of those updates were included with the subscription cost of Acumatica and, best of all, users could choose when it was most convenient for them to receive these updates.

If we return to our car analogy, the included upgrades in Acumatica’s Cloud ERP can be compared to leasing a nice, new car over time – a car that you can upgrade every 6 months to have the latest cutting-edge technology, the best gas mileage (or range), and the zippiest handling. (And, because I couldn’t resist: it’s also a car that delivers unmatched mobility because it can go anywhere at any time! Get it?)   

Remember also that Acumatica will be coming out with another round of leading-edge updates in a few months for their 2020 R2 edition. That will also be included in the subscription cost.

Are Your Costs of Annual Maintenance for On-Premises ERP Worth It?

If you’re considering an ERP upgrade because you want a more agile, more modern, more cutting-edge ERP with great performance, you may want to reconsider your outlook on maintenance fees. In today’s cloud age, you don’t have to keep paying annual maintenance fees to get very little in return.

As I said in the beginning of this article: Let’s be revolutionary. Let’s think outside the box. Let’s be innovative.

Let’s start talking.

 

Contact the Cloud ERP experts at PC Bennett to discuss the value your business could realize by switching to Acumatica Cloud ERP.

 

PC Bennett Solutions offers a personalized, full-service experience for customers by implementing business management technology. Through a hands-on approach, PC Bennett Solutions helps companies get the most out of their software system. The team provides training, implementation and customization of Acumatica. Headquartered in the Seattle area and with offices in Dallas, PC Bennett Solutions is one of the largest exclusive Acumatica resellers. For more information, visit www.pcbennett.com.

A large boat hauling shipping containers.

3 Ways Shipping Container Management (SCM) for Acumatica Can Improve Operations

By Acumatica, Cloud ERP

Now more than ever, delays in product shipments to customers, or running out of products because of a late shipment are going to hurt your business. Knowing where and “when” your containers are is critical, and managing that information in a static spreadsheet or on a whiteboard is not going to keep you competitive.

What Shipping Container Software Will Do for You

  1. Allow you to track your shipping containers from the minute they touch the water until they reach your warehouse.
  2. Update the status of your inbound products (have they been held at a port, are they delayed or damaged, etc.)
  3. Capture all of the landed costs for your shipments, either by individual container or set of containers or a master container.

How Does Shipping Container Management for Acumatica Work?

PC Bennett created shipping container management solution so that you will always know where your goods are and so that you could quickly and easily calculate costs.

Acumatica Cloud ERP Shipping Container Management 1

We start with either Inventory on Hand or a Purchase Order. Based on the assets, we create a Container Order. We can tell the system where the goods are coming in from (either based on a warehouse transfer or based on a purchase), and the software will automatically create your in-transit inventory, and assign a Container ID. You can easily check a box if you want to make this a Master Container.

Once your Container Order is In Transit, you can manage all of the dates, enter any holds, receive the container, add landed costs and more.

You also have the option to create Master Containers that will track a group of containers inside it. This allows you to spread landed costs across some or all of the containers within the Master Container.

Where Do I Access Shipping Container Management for Acumatica?

SCM for Acumatica lives right inside your Acumatica instance. You can access SCM through either the Purchase Order or Manufacturing modules. No extra “system” to log into or learn.

What else can I do with Shipping Container Management for Acumatica?

  • Set the priority of the containers.
  • Track date of the order.
  • Set up multiple Container Types and multiple Warehouses.
  • Choose shipping line from a dropdown menu or add your own.
  • Specify the Vessel name and Freight Forwarder.
  • Include additional details about the Shipping Container in the Description area.
  • Set an expected Ship Out date, and track Actual Ship Out dates.
  • Automatically calculate the container payload if you have the weight and volume.
  • Use our mass processing feature to move multiple shipments from one stage to another.

Acumatica Cloud ERP Shipping Container Management 2

What about Reporting?

Shipping Container Management allows you to sort and filter your data any way you like. Just check a box to see:

  • Only those orders that are still open.
  • Containers that are coming from Singapore.
  • Containers that are disembarking from Seattle.
  • Open orders by destination or warehouse.
  • And many, many more

You can also easily export any of the data to Excel to create pivot tables, graphs and in-depth analysis.

Learn more about how Shipping Container Management for Acumatica can help you get a handle on where and when your In-Transit Inventory is.

A man using a laptop at home.

Protect Yourself and Your Employees with a True Cloud ERP Solution

By Acumatica, Cloud ERPNo Comments

This week I heard from a client in California. I had a trip planned to their offices and they called to tell me not to come. Why? Because I live in the Seattle area and they are concerned about the Coronavirus. They don’t want anyone from Washington State in contact with their environment. Not that I don’t understand their concerns.  After this visit was canceled, I started to notice how empty the streets and shops are — more people are staying home in the hopes of being safer. Which got me thinking…about how well-suited Acumatica Cloud ERP is to the remote worker, even if their remote work wasn’t necessarily planned.

I’m not making light of the impact that COVID-19 is having and may have going forward. I just realized this is one less thing that my clients have to worry about. Because they have Acumatica, their teams can work from anywhere without sacrificing operational efficiency, access to real-time data, and all the tools they need for success.

Work Where You Are

Whether you are running a manufacturing or distribution operation, selling  automotive aftermarket products, managing government or public sector organizations, Acumatica Cloud ERP enables your teams to order, track, update, and manage operations from their home office, car, backyard…basically anywhere they are.

It is one of the reasons that we chose Acumatica – the flexibility, scalability (unlimited users), and powerful features that can be configured to suit just about any industry.

Whether you’re handling orders, updating your item catalog, keeping an eye on delivery dates, or monitoring the bottom line, Acumatica is going to make that fast and easy, even if you’ve self-quarantined.

Acumatica offers you access to real-time data, lower administrative costs, and improved customer service because answers are just a click away. It truly is why Acumatica is one of the best options you have when moving to a cloud ERP.

Safe, Secure, Real-time Data and Insight

One concern of remote work is system security and data protection. If you’re not in control of the connection, it feels a little risky for your data, doesn’t it? Well, you can rest assured that your data is safe, because of the comprehensive, built-in security features of Acumatica.   Cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica have to be laser-focused on protective measures and constant vigilance – it is their livelihood, and that means you benefit.

Proof from Industry Experts

Don’t just take my word for it – take a look at some of the experts who have weighed in. From Gartner to Nucleus Research, to IDC, analysts have great things to say about Acumatica. Want to hear from actual users? Head over to G2 to see why Acumatica is rated #1 in usability.

Cloud ERP Work from AnywhereWhile we can’t alleviate your risk for the Coronavirus, we can make sure that your business stays healthy.

 

See how companies like yours are using Acumatica to make better decisions, scale their business and improve the bottom line.

Acumatica vs QuickBooks Functionality Comparison.

Comparing Acumatica vs QuickBooks

By Acumatica, Software SelectionNo Comments

As a growing company using QuickBooks, you might be finding that it is showing its limitations, and you’re looking for a new solution.

QuickBooks by Intuit offers users a good starter accounting package at a good price. However, it is designed to handle basic accounting only. To manage business processes outside of financials requires an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, which can handle accounting and financial management needs along with other business requirements, such as manufacturing, distribution, and much more.

In the chart below, we compare Acumatica to QuickBooks Enterprise, Intuit’s top-of-the-line QuickBooks product. QuickBooks Enterprise can be installed locally (on premises) or hosted on the internet (“in the cloud”). Keep in mind that Acumatica and QuickBooks are designed for two different purposes, so it is difficult to provide a true, side-by-side comparison. Our intent here, however, is to show some of the advantages of moving from QuickBooks to an ERP system, as well as the advantages of choosing Acumatica.

Acumatica vs QuickBooks Functionality Comparison.

Significant Differentiators

True cloud: Acumatica works on premises or in the cloud without additional equipment or software. QuickBooks Enterprise can be accessed over the internet, but even Intuit acknowledges that QuickBooks has not been optimized to be a true cloud product.

Full function ERP: Acumatica offers your organization a complete ERP and CRM solution. While QuickBooks Enterprise contains some of these elements, it is ultimately an accounting solution and not a full function ERP solution.

Full relational database export: QuickBooks uses a proprietary database and does not provide a true export function, requiring a third-party utility to access the underlying database. Most of the next level financial management solutions for small- to mid-sized businesses use more robust databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, SAP HANA, or Oracle. However, these other solutions also expect the client to eventually move to some kind of ERP solution. QuickBooks is designed strictly for accounting.

Flexible licensing options: Every company is different, and some prefer a depreciable capital expense versus an ongoing operating expense. Both products are available through subscription licensing, but Acumatica also offers perpetual licensing.

Scale as you grow: Acumatica allows you to scale as your company grows and can accommodate multiple companies and multiple currencies. QuickBooks Enterprise limits you to a maximum of 30 users and handles multiple currencies but not multiple companies.

TCO: Because both products serve different purposes, it would be difficult to say which one has the best total cost of ownership. We recommend, however, that you apply due diligence when selecting a replacement product for QuickBooks to ensure you get a product that can continue to grow with your company for several years.

 

About QuickBooks

QuickBooks by Intuit is one of the most widely used small business accounting packages available and is a great choice for business accounting.

However, as PC Magazine stated in their review of QuickBooks Enterprise (http://www.pcmag.com/review/344316/quickbooks-enterprise-solutions):

“A proprietary database, a fairly low max-user limit, and a reliance on its user community for help documentation keep QuickBooks Enterprise slightly behind Acumatica ($1,000.00)…Be sure accounting is all you want. If you think ERP might someday be in your company’s future, you’ll want a platform that can grow into such a system without requiring a forklift migration, and Intuit didn’t build QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions with that growth path in mind.”

Acumatica was designed from the start to be accessible both through the cloud and on premises using current technology. We offer access to your data anytime, flexible licensing options, and no cost for adding users, lowering your company’s TCO.

We believe Acumatica provides the next level of software for companies who are finding that QuickBooks is straining to keep pace with their business. And while we recognize that there are other capable ERP products from which you can choose, we believe Acumatica stands far above the rest as the best, most cost-effective ERP solution you can find.