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Epicor Data Fix Workbench: Balancing the Balance

Epicor Data Fix Workbench: Balancing the Balance

The Weight of the ERP Data World

My old friend Thanos was a big believer in the principle of balance. In an ERP context, data integrity is the epitome of balance. But sometimes unexpected issues corrupt data and throw this precious balance askew. Read further to understand how to use the Epicor Data Fix Workbench to restore data balance with a snap of your fingers.

Cloud ERP for Manufacturing

Fundamental to the successful management of an ERP system is the management of its data.

An ERP system is only as good as its data. If the data gets dirty, the ERP system will similarly suffer. But the sources of data discrepancies vary. In many cases, they are due to inadequate policies and procedures surrounding the entry and maintenance of ERP information. In other cases, the system itself is responsible for problems with its data. In these cases, Epicor ERP supports its customers through the development and delivery of data fix routines. These routines resolve specific data-related issues with the application’s data, allowing for smoother system operation.

When a customer encounters a data-related issue, Epicor support may provide a “.df” file to resolve the issue. These data fix routines need to be correctly installed and ran. The following document describes some of the steps involved in the installation and processing of data fix routines:

  • Upon receiving a data fix, save the .df data script file to a location accessible from the application server.
  • Log into the application server and open the Epicor Administration Console.
  • In the left tree view, navigate to the “Database Server Management” nod, and locate the database to which you intend to deploy the fix.
  • Select the E10 Database in question, as accessed through the admin console.

Once selected, click the “Import DB Health Scrips(s)” selection in the right “Actions” window:

Epicor Data Fix Screenshot DB Health

This will raise a selection window. Click the ellipsis to search for the data fix script in question:

Epicor Data Fix Screenshot Select Scripts

Locate and open the data fix file in question:

Epicor E10 Pilot

Once selected, click the “OK” button to load the fix into the database:

Epicor Data Fix Workbench

Once loaded, you can now log into the application and run the fix. Navigate to the System Management > Upgrade/Mass Regeneration and open the “Data Fix Workbench”:

Epicor Data Fix Menu

Once the “Data Fix Workbench” loads, click the “Data Fix…” button to search for and select the desired fix:

Epicor Data Fix Button

The fixes available will be limited to the number of fixes you imported using the above procedure. Locate the fix you wish to run. Select the fix and click “OK”:

Epicor Data Fix Workbench Install

The process for running the fix in question may differ according to the specific fix itself. That said, there are a few general principles to running a fix routine that are consistent across fixes:

  • Enter any needed parameters
  • Click the “Report” button to return records in the database needing correction
  • Select the records you wish to correct
  • Run the routine to update/delete the selected records
Epicor Data Fix Workbench Final Step

The ongoing maintenance and management of an ERP ecosystem is a critical responsibility for Epicor administrators.

With challenges to server performance, network connectivity, database optimization, and endpoint security, administrators cannot afford to allow the system’s data to unravel. Every ERP system will encounter data issues at one point or another. Understanding the process to load and run a given fix in Epicor is a key step for ERP administrators, assisting in the important task of ERP data management.

For more Epicor consulting tips, read one of our white papers on best practices in manufacturing environments.

Get a free demo of cloud-based ERP

After The Disaster Plan, The Disaster

After The Disaster Plan, The Disaster

Disaster Plan: Dressed For Disaster

What Happens After You Choose A Disaster Plan?

If you’ve already settled on a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) strategy, you need to know that this is not a “set IT and forget IT” business solution. Yes, you now know that your backups are more reliable. Yes, you know that you have good hardware backing up your data. However, this brings about new focus to your data management activities: training employees, testing backups, and preparing for disasters through routine “fire drills.” Technology gets outdated quickly, so you’ll need to keep an eye on things like server care, cybersecurity, preventative maintenance, software updates, and data storage quality. Tech training is key: a good disaster plan means nothing if your team isn’t solidly prepared for a disaster, especially if it comes in the form of a malicious attack.

 

Training & Awareness

Because technology is always changing, and our world is becoming more digital, staff needs constant training. This is especially true in regard to cyberthreats. Advanced social engineering attacks often result in a data breach. Train your staff on everything from mobile device theft prevention to remote worker security. Your employees are the gatekeepers of your data. Cybercriminals often enter a network by phishing through methods like malvertising. One vulnerable staff member opens your portal to the dark web. Train and test your users. Disaster prevention begins with empowering your team.

 

 

Hardware Maintenance & Testing

A solid disaster recovery plan protects the backup of the backups. Test your hardware and also test the methodology, the infrastructure, and the people backing up your backups:

  • Do you have generators on-site?
  • Do you need backup batteries?
  • How reliable are your cooling systems?
  • Are your fire detection devices up to code?
  • Do you have flexible cloud storage for redundancy?

 

Timely Technology Testing

Your disaster plan should include a testing schedule. Testing should cover everything from user behavior to cloud storage quality. To be certain that your backups are ready and that the guardians of your data are worthy of the task, include the following points in your business continuity strategy:

  • 24/7/365 monitoring of all devices
  • Real-time alerts and incident response
  • Responsive maintenance, patches and updates
  • Continual monitoring of the cyberthreat landscape
  • Penetration testing
  • Disaster response training and cybersecurity training

 

Multi-Location Data Storage

Because natural disasters can quickly level your facilities, include an off-site backup as part of your data management strategy. A good disaster plan lists potential threats and appropriate responses. For example, if your threat is a tornado, an off-site backup is essential, and a tornado drill is also necessary. If your threat is ransomware, then your BDR strategy should include incident response procedures. Do you plan your IT budget with the possibility in mind that one day you might end up paying a ransom fee? Cloud-based backup allows you flexibility and resiliency here. If you know the ransomer doesn’t hold the only copy of your data, then you know you won’t need to pay a stranger to get it back.

What is your disaster plan?

Network Connectivity

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are complex and therefore need a robust disaster plan.

Our IT experts can take you through an ERP hosting demo to show you the power of private and hybrid cloud technology. We can tailor your hosting demo to be industry-specific. EstesGroup’s long history includes thousands of success stories in Epicor hosting, Prophet 21 cloud, and other ERPs (like Sage, QuickBooks and SYSPRO). If you’d like to see how ERP hosting can help your business, please fill out the form below, and our IT & ERP experts will prepare a custom demo.

ERP Implementation Best Practices: Closing the Gaps

ERP Implementation Best Practices: Closing the Gaps

ERP Implementation Challenges

Bridging functionality gaps in ERP is one of the great challenges in an Epicor implementation, or of any enterprise resource planning project. There are often visible gaps between a company’s business requirements and the system’s ability to address them. In a perfect world, the needs of the company perfectly match the capabilities of the system they are implementing. In practice, the gaps between an organization and its ERP application can be significant, and closing these gaps can take significant effort. The inability to successfully close these gaps is a leading cause of project failure. This guide will help you understand a few ERP implementation best practices to help address the great challenge of closing the gaps.

Time and ERP Planning No Gaps

ERP Customization

  • Find creative ways to use the system’s standard configurations to address the needs of your business.
  • Adjust your business processes to conform to the system’s recommended best practices.
  • Tailor the software in one form or another to provide needed functionality.
  • Combine the above methods to achieve a hybrid solution.

So why do businesses feel the need to tailor the applications they implement? ERP software customization is a means of closing gaps. Sometimes, it is the preferred means of addressing challenges before they start. Often, gap closure will involve some form of customization. The overall level of ERP project complexity will expand with increasing challenges and risks. In general, the different types of obstacles encountered in an ERP project can be grouped under one of a few headings. Customizing an ERP application allows you to do a number of things and to circumvent a number of issues:

  • Automate tasks. The standard system is too transactional and user-intensive.
  • Prevent errors. The standard system allows for too many points of failure as a function of user entry.
  • Integrate with third-party systems. The standard system does not provide specific functionality, necessitating a tertiary application. Similarly, the standard system does not integrate with the third-party module in question.
  • Extract and display data. The standard system’s out-of-the-box reports do not present the necessary information needed by the business.
  • Add business logic. The standard system does not possess logic needed by the implementing company.

The Total Cost of Ownership of an ERP Solution

The rule of thumb that came out of the first generation of ERP systems was simple: avoid customizing the ERP system at all costs. Fit the business to the software, not the software to the business. Considering the comparatively rigid systems of the era, this recommendation seemed valid. Earlier-generation ERP systems contained limited toolsets for tailoring the application to meet the needs of the implementing organization. As such, customization essentially implied a source code modification, and such changes were detrimental to the long-term maintainability of the systems involved.

ERP Implementation Best Practices Evolving

Next-generation ERP systems contained improved toolsets to provide non-source-code customizations that were upgradable and maintainable, but the disruptive effects of customization on the implementation projects nevertheless continued unabated. Why do ERP customizations continue to create challenges to organizations?

 

Customizations are disruptive—they introduce logic to the application that is not native to the core system. They may also behave in ways that are unlike the rest of the system, and tend to be less comprehensive than the source code that they are layered upon.

 

As they are developed and refined, they often contain bugs. For example, the custom business logic may be invoked at times when it isn’t expected, or may not be invoked in all cases that require it. Working though these bugs can be challenging. Moreover, when customizations run into bugs or undocumented features of the core application, an abundance of unexpected behaviors can result.

 

 

ERP Toolsets & Project Success

Everything said, how do companies successfully leverage the customization toolsets available? How do they provide the necessary functionality to their organizations without compromising project success? Consider the following observations:

  • On one hand, we’ve seen companies significantly customize their application in an organized and methodical fashion. Therefore, the customizations produced a limited disruption to the implementation.
  • On the other hand, we’ve encountered other companies that only modestly customized their application. The modest number of customizations significantly disrupted the implementation. Why?

Organize to Optimize Your ERP Software

The level of customization and the level of organization of a project are closely tied. Therefore, companies that organize their customization efforts carefully are much less likely to experience problems caused by customizations. Conversely, poorly organized customization efforts will create additional issues that will add complexity and disruption to an implementation that is already, by its very nature, complicated.

 

Quantifying the impact of these two variables (customization and organization) can be difficult, but a simple mathematical model might help to model their interaction.

  • Assume that a project’s level of disorganization can be scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being highly organized and 10 being highly disorganized.
  • Similarly, assume that a project’s level of customization can be scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being lightly customized and 10 being highly customized.
  • Additionally, assume that a project’s success can be scored on a scale of 1 to 100, and anything over a score of 20 is a bad thing. For example, the project could be over budget, behind schedule, or low in scope or quality. In this context, a score of 30 might imply a project that went live late, or had to cut scope, or exceeded the budget, while a ruination score of 100 might represent a project that is years late, millions over budget, and so poorly designed that it will fail to go live.

A score of 1 (very low customization, very low disorganization) represents a very low risk score and a score of 100 (very high customization, very high disorganization) represents immense and catastrophic risk to your ERP and to your business:

ERP Implementation Best Practices Grid

The simple lesson to be learned here is that an organization can perform reasonable amounts of customization to their ERP application without destroying an implementation. A company needs to take steps to utilize an organized approach to customizing their application.

 

ERP Risks

A challenge with this dilemma is the reality that most companies do not launch an ERP implementation project believing that they will customize the application significantly. As a result, when these change requests surface, they are normally ill-equipped to handle them, and things soon spin out of control. As such, many customers come to us asking the simple question: What does it mean when one’s customization methodology is highly organized?

 

ERP Project Risk Management

There are a number of characteristics that an organized implementation possesses. They include the following:

  • First and foremost, governance is in place, to control when customizations occur. Governance is the best way to keep the degree of customization from spinning out of control.
  • Solutions are tracked. The implementing company understands which modules have been customized and which reports have been altered. They have identified all truly custom entry screens, reports, and dashboards. This information is put to use whenever an ERP upgrade occurs or a new site goes live.
  • Business requirements and functional specifications are developed as solutions are developed, and these solutions are constructed using these specifications.
  • Guidelines are defined ahead of time. These are conventions that describe how custom solutions are to be constructed, organized, and named.
  • Solutions go through careful testing. They receive a unit test to ensure that the basic requirements have been met, and then a regression test, to ensure that they function appropriately within the overall application, and don’t break anything else.
  • Solutions go through careful deployments to the production environment. When old solutions replace new solutions, the old solutions are removed from the environment as part of the deployment, to prevent the environment from getting cluttered with old, inactive solutions.
  • When an ERP module is customized, the developers take into account the full suite of new and pre-existing customizations, as to ensure that new elements are optimized to efficiently work in concert with existing custom solutions.
  • Environments are constructed as to segment various activities such as functional design, custom solution development, and upgrade verification. When these activities overlap, conflicts invariably arise, and these can slow down the progress of a project and create needless confusion.

The Goal of an ERP Implementation is Twofold

How do you implement a system that satisfies the needs of your business? How do you stay scalable and maintainable and also support the future requirements of your organization?

 

The future of your business is always unknown, and often unpredictable. Therefore, cutover will surely present new unknowns. Heavy system customization often results in the achievement of the goals of business needs. Unfortunately, this can risk the long-term maintainability of your ERP system. An organized and methodical approach to system customization supports a more successful implementation. Moreover, it provides easier long-term maintenance of your application. Likewise, it holds the ability to support the business requirements of the future.

 

After the ERP Vendor, the Software

Are you trying to improve your manufacturing processes? Do you need user training to empower your ERP project team? Are you looking for the competitive advantage that cloud ERP offers? Do you need help with data migration to an ERP hosting environment for a complex enterprise resource planning software like Prophet 21, E10, or Sage? We have experts for everything ERP, whether you need Epicor consulting assistance or QuickBooks hosting guidance.

 

For 17 years, EstesGroup has served clients at every step of the ERP implementation process. We offer real-time support 24/7/365 for your implementation team. We optimize your technology, and we lighten the burden on the precious human resources that make your company unique. Your team can work according to their talents, while we do the routine work involved in managing your ERP software and the technology that supports it.

 

 

Learn More About ERP Implementation Best Practices for Cloud

A good ERP balances your budget, opens your resources to new possibilities and opportunities, and improves everything from customer relationship management to industry-specific compliance and cybersecurity. ERP cloud hosting provides an ideal platform for your work. Request an ECHO demo today to see how EstesCloud managed services can help your business.

 

 

Backup Disaster Recovery: Saving Your Solution

Backup Disaster Recovery: Saving Your Solution

Backup Disaster Recovery Server Room

The Aftermath of a Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan

Backup, disaster recovery, business continuity. Are you ready? 2020 proved that every business needs a recovery strategy. Data loss occurs when there’s an unexpected event (like a pandemic). A natural disaster, such as a tornado, can totally destroy your hardware. Innocent users can accidentally delete important files. Attacked by a hacker, operating systems can open your business to the dark web after a data breach. A cloud-based server backup could fail because of an unreliable provider. Fortunately, you can avoid these disasters and easily prevent data loss. Data recovery is easy with the right technology in place. This might be DRaaS, or it might mean a more basic BDR solution.

 

Sometimes you want to delete files permanently, and other times you want your data backups to include every moment, to never miss a bit. Ideally, you’ll never use your disaster recovery solutions. However, a good strategy should always be in place to prevent the decimation of your business. A good backup plan goes beyond just backing up your information. It includes the insider’s view of cybersecurity experts. Likewise, it includes the business acumen that can discern critical vs. nonessential data. Finally, it supports a secure BDR solution specific to your needs. As a result, you get a BDR strategy that’s easy on your resources and your budget.

 

Are you prepared for data loss?

First of all, a data disaster is common, so you’ll need to do more than back up your data on tapes or flash drives. A data saving appliance is a step forward from nothing, but all businesses can benefit from a robust backup plan that’s both tested and trustworthy.

  • 58% of SMBs are unprepared for data loss.
  • 60% of SMBs shut down within six months after critical data loss.
  • Accidents cause 29% of hard drive failures.

 

Here are some disasters that could demand data recovery:

  • malware, viruses, and ransomware
  • human errors, technology failures, and hardware damage
  • reformatting errors, software glitches, and software platform mismatches
  • deleted data, overwritten data and data breaches
  • physical theft and identity theft
  • hard drive corruption and server room corruption

 

 

On-site vs. Off-site BDRs

140,000 hard drives crash every week. To stay in business, you need to protect your company data, your employee information, and your client files. On-site backup and disaster recovery plans leave you vulnerable to natural disasters and internal social engineering attacks. So even if you feel your data isn’t worth the investment in an off-site BDR solution, you might need to consider things like your recovery time objective. How long will it take to bring your business back online after an attack? What if a tornado or hurricane levels your technology? What happens if you have a fire? Theft?

 

Recovery Time Objective (RTO): This is your limit on downtime.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO): This is your limit on data loss.

 

Cloud-based BDR prepares your business for a natural disaster or a malicious attack. Your data is not left in the ruins if you suffer a fire. It’s safely stored in the cloud, which replicates your on-premise data activity. Off-site cloud data storage keeps your on-site data safe, even in the event that your physical technology is destroyed.

 

BDR Training & Testing

Zero day attacks bring businesses down. Elusive, undetected computer viruses haunt corporate networks. Deceitful social engineering programs corrupt software. Once your system suffers a breach, it can be difficult to see the corruption. This is why a good backup and disaster recovery solution involves a robust BDR testing process. Moreover, it includes a training strategy. Your employees are the guardians of your data, and they need to be trained by IT experts.

 

Cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services protect the keepers of your most vulnerable information. If your data no longer exists, nobody can recover it. Backing up your business in the cloud creates an alternate reality for your business that can be summoned and restored in minutes. EstesCloud can restore a server in about 10 minutes. EstesCloud BDR gives you encryption, firewall protection, and other advanced endpoint security features that will continually keep your data safe.

 

An EstesCloud Backup Disaster Recovery Plan

Protect your business and keep it running 365x24x7 with managed application hosting or other cloud-based IT services. Small businesses, midsize companies, or large organizations all benefit from different types of backup and disaster recovery solutions. EstesGroup’s managed IT team is unique because our company began as a business consulting firm, and we evolved to offer technology consulting. Offering all-in-one IT and ERP solutions helps our clients focus on the work they love, rather than on the software or hardware supporting the business. For example, our Epicor consulting team services E10 or Prophet 21 ERP, while our EstesCloud experts take care of the technology that supports the system.

 

 

Learn more about EstesCloud managed hosting services for ERP systems. Begin building your backup and disaster recovery plan today.

EstesGroup’s ERP and IT experts know your industry, know your software, and know how to give you the solutions you need to make your business run better. We provide Epicor cloud hosting services, as well as Sage, SYSPRO, QuickBooks hosting and more. We take an industry-specific approach to consulting. If you’re a distributor, you’ll get both ERP and IT specialists in Prophet 21, or another distribution ERP of your choice. If you’re running Epicor software or would like to, you’ll get the best Epicor consultants for your ERP implementation team. We employ the best consultants in both technology and enterprise resource planning, so you can benefit from an all-in-one opportunity to improve your business by adding the support your company needs to succeed.