Select Page
ERP Vendor Bender: How To Manage Vendor Relationships

ERP Vendor Bender: How To Manage Vendor Relationships

Managing ERP Management from Selection to Upgrade 

Your business is not alone. Manufacturers and distributors operate in an interconnected web that is often as expansive and elusive as the internet, or even the galaxy. Add constant digital connectivity to this already complex network of relationships, and you are in need of a strategy for managing the people behind the technological world you’ve created by implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and its supporting third-party applications. 

ERP Software Vendor Relationship Management

Your ERP world begins with your original ERP vendor, the publisher of your enterprise resource planning software. Due to updates to the ERP system itself and also to the expectations of implementation and ongoing support, your ERP vendor relationship is key to the success of your implementation. 

With the weight and breadth of your ERP system in mind, are you on a vendor bender? Read on to see how an independent ERP consultancy (like EstesGroup) helps manufacturers, distributors, and other businesses running robust business applications manage vendor relationships.

Relationships that Bring Value to Your Business

You strengthen your business every time you add a valuable relationship to your network. EstesGroup begins every relationship with PAIR (Passion, Accountability, Integrity, Respect), our core-value approach to business consulting. We nurture this core system to build and support our partnerships with companies like yours, and some of these relationships span decades. We also apply our value system to ad hoc projects, so if you choose to work with our ERP or IT consultants, you’ll experience our core values, even if all you need is a free dark web scan. 

P is for Passion, an energy-based value.

Passion gives your software or technology project life from selection all the way through to deployment and ongoing support. Here are a few traits that you can nurture in your business culture, in order to promote passion in your project:

  • Positivity: Culture is everything in ERP implementation. Happy users result in happy customers, happy budgets, and a promising future.
  • Reciprocity: Your vendor relationships particularly should never be one-sided. Two-sided relationships create the strong bridge that allows your ERP system to close gaps.
  • Competitiveness: Passionate teams win. While your ERP software project might not feel as exciting as the Super Bowl, it unfolds in similar drama, regalia, and celebration. Hopefully, you’ve chosen an ERP software vendor that will be along for the entire journey, including every win.

A is for Accountability, a value of action.

Think of how public you are as a business owner. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had someone on your right, and someone on your left, who would improve your reputation every step of the way? Here are three things to ask if you suspect that your ERP vendor doesn’t want to be accountable for any failures in your project’s future:

  • Does your software vendor fully support your ERP system at every level, from purchase to replacement?
  • Does your vendor provide resources and training materials beyond introductory materials that promote the software sale?
  • Does the vendor take time and care to help you establish goals that meet your expectations and budget requirements?

I is for Integrity, a value with vast repercussions.

Do you trust your ERP vendor? Does this same level of trust apply to the consultants you’ve chosen to assist you with the implementation? Here are some things that your software vendor and your ERP implementation team should share:

  • Helpfulness 
  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

R is for Respect, a value of resourcefulness and resources.

Respect creates an extended network of resources, since it’s the moral ground of community-building activities and outcomes. There shouldn’t be false hope here. You should respect your vendors because they are known experts in the field and because they sincerely want to help you achieve your goals. 

In ERP, Strategy Comes from Strength 

Strategic partnership is key to survival in today’s competitive world of manufacturing and distribution, especially in regard to vendor relationships. Talent can feel sparse when you’re struggling through an ERP implementation and deployment.

A good vendor provides a roadmap for your software use. Recommendations should include deployment options. If an ERP vendor only offers a SaaS (Software as a Service) option, then you know advice is weighted with vendor profits in mind. Sadly, many ERP buyers are swayed to sign up for all services a vendor is trying to sell. A good vendor relationship begins with open communication, honesty, and customer-focused interaction.

The Vendor to Buyer Connection

There may come a day when you realize that your vendor was a bad decision or a necessary evil. If you do have conflict with your software vendor, then you might need relationship management techniques that promote a healthier relationship with the company that sold you your ERP system. An independent consultancy can provide the skilled mediation required to strengthen your vendor partnerships. Here are a few of the ways your relationship can go from sweet deal to buyer’s remorse:

  • Vendor negativity toward how you choose to implement and deploy your enterprise software
  • Buyer remorse as you venture into the fine print of your contract
  • Vendor favoritism toward other customers
  • User-level disappointment in the ERP project and management

An ideal vendor will give you the best price on the software, and might even throw in a flexible payment plan or a loyalty discount. An ERP system is a large investment that will influence how your company operates for years to come. A good vendor will help you manage your immediate cash flow and guarantee your future profits. 

A vendor should provide wealth and resources that you wouldn’t otherwise have available to your business. Hopefully, your investment comes with access to materials and resources that include best practices, project roadmaps, and user-focused activities that help you find the support you need throughout your ERP implementation.

After the Software, the Software Vendor Relationships

Good relationships result in good business. Many business owners looking to buy an ERP software, like Epicor Kinetic, Epicor Prophet 21, Sage, or SYSPRO, need guidance. Advice is needed when it comes to the business application, and it’s also necessary when it comes to the people behind the software. 

Do you need help getting on the same page as your vendor? Contact us, and you’ll find the most helpful consultants in ERP, managed IT, and cloud services for businesses. Are you in a business application deployment or cloud migration dilemma? Click here to watch a video on public vs. private cloud ERP deployment options. EstesGroup has been trusted for nearly two decades by businesses throughout North America. With the experience that has come from our own relationships, we’ll help you build and manage yours throughout your ERP or technology project. 

Cybersecurity Insurance Policy Pleasantries

Cybersecurity Insurance Policy Pleasantries

Do you feel like your business insurance policy will cover you in the event of a digital disaster? If you’re online, you’re at risk, and small and medium businesses that engage in e-commerce are especially vulnerable to threats. To prepare for zero-day cyber attacks and other threats, you can enroll in a cybersecurity insurance plan. Let’s have a look at how you can protect yourself against losses by using cyber security solutions and cybersecurity insurance together.

Cybersecurity Insurance Estes Cloud Security

How much cybersecurity insurance coverage do you need?

Your coverage should match your maximum level of acceptable losses. Your risk increases as your online presence grows, and each year cybercrime gets smarter, with novelty attacks arising from talented dark web lurkers. 

Hackers never rest, and security software IT companies must match their energy and their creativity. As a business owner, you face the great responsibility of securing your servers, your networks, your employees, and your customers. Even with everything protected by cybersecurity software solutions or by SECaaS (Security as a Service) management, you’ll want to ensure that your insurance coverage offers some hope if and when digital disaster strikes.

  • Know your cyber risks
  • Know your cyber threats
  • Know how much cyber insurance coverage you need
  • Know how the cyber security landscape is evolving

What is cybersecurity insurance?

Like healthcare insurance can’t prevent you from getting sick, cybersecurity insurance can’t prevent you from getting hacked. Therefore, your first step should be to buy a comprehensive cybersecurity solution. Do not trust a default security installation or setting. Zero-day attacks, often in the form of ransomware, evolve beyond the fundamental levels of cybersecurity. A basic security assessment, including a dark web scan, is a free service from a managed IT service provider like EstesGroup, and can reveal any issues that could result in a breach. Before you buy cybersecurity insurance, assess your risks and know your current threats.

Your next step is to invest in a comprehensive cybersecurity insurance plan. Understanding that insurance coverage is an aftereffect activity, like cleaning up downed trees following a thunderstorm. Breach cleanup can be as simple as credit monitoring or as complex as lawsuits and shutdowns.

Some industries regulate the level of protection you need. If you’re unsure about your industry compliance regulations, talk to EstesGroup consultants. In most cases, cyber incidents can be prevented by following the strict government guidelines that govern your industry.

In the event of a security breach, a cybersecurity insurance plan can help you redeem your losses, protect your reputation, and recover damages.

Cybersecurity insurance should include coverage for the things that matter most to your business operations, from server to remote worker:

  • System or network takeovers
  • Financial losses
  • Data breaches
  • Sensitive information theft
  • Data theft
  • Ransomware extortion payments
  • Company losses
  • Customer information breaches
  • Personal information and identity theft
  • General liability
  • Business interruption

If you store sensitive data on-premise or on a local server, you’ll need more comprehensive coverage since in-house and local systems are easily breached. Consider storing your data in a private cloud or a hybrid cloud platform for enhanced security and lower cyber insurance requirements. A good data center will offer a 100% SLA (service level agreement) and carry the risk of the losses mentioned above for you, which means you don’t have to worry about a cyberattack. The cloud provider and data center are mitigating these risks for you.

A managed service provider scans the cybersecurity insurance policies and insurance companies for you.

Cybersecurity insurance plans are a common loss for companies because business owners often overspend, thinking more money invested means lower risk. Don’t get tricked by the nefarious ways of fly-by-night cybersecurity insurance agents. EstesGroup is here to help you navigate relationships with cybersecurity professionals. Some of the experts you need to plan your cybersecurity policies and protocols are in-house at EstesGroup. And when it comes to things like cybersecurity insurance, the Estes team can serve as your liaison so that you get the best rates, the best services, and the best future for your business.

Is your business safe?

If you have a level of cybersecurity insurance that falls in your comfort zone, and if you have security services in place that will indeed protect your data in an attempted breach, then you will operate as a trusted business in the digital world. If you’ve suffered losses to your business or to your reputation because of a security breach, please reach out to us. Sometimes even the best solutions fail, and our managed IT services team can help you recover from disaster and surface vulnerabilities as they develop in your business.

How much does insurance cost your business every year? 2022 cybersecurity insurance rates are skyrocketing as the digital landscape is becoming more dangerous for American businesses. Even small businesses can benefit from liability coverage. Let’s begin a conversation about how digital transformation can help secure your business. We even protect the insurance firms!

How ERP Deployment is an Environmental Decision

How ERP Deployment is an Environmental Decision

Have you wondered if your business is making sustainable decisions when it comes to choosing and managing the hardware and software systems that maintain your enterprise? Let’s look at enterprise resource planning (ERP) deployment options to see why hosting your application in an off-site data center is a green decision. Have you seen an environmentally-friendly on-site server lately?
In today’s world, businesses that ignore sustainability are making a mistake. This is especially true for manufacturers and distributors. At the end of the supply chain, consumers value eco-friendly products and services more than ever. The younger generations that grew up on technology and hyper-connectivity are getting older and taking on more leadership roles in corporate America, and 6 out of 10 millennials are willing to pay a premium for sustainable purchases.
Green Cloud ERP Deployment

Green ERP Deployment, Sustainable Environmental Impact

There are many ways to make your products greener. Popular options include reducing energy consumption or donating to an eco-friendly cause. What you might not realize is that your approach to how you deploy and manage the technology that supports your business can boost your reputation as a business while also saving you money.

How is your ERP deployment strategy hurting or helping the environment? A migration to a managed hosting solution in a premium data center will quickly help your business become more efficient. EstesGroup’s ECHO (EstesCloud Hosting) platform is a great example. Efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand. What’s good for your profit margin is also good for the planet. Keep reading to learn why choosing EstesGroup for ERP hosting is an environmental decision.

Modern Supply Chains and Your Carbon Footprint

Enterprise resource planning, also known as ERP, is a type of business software that demands complex technological infrastructure. ERP manages business processes such as supply chains, manufacturing, accounting, services, and more. Enterprise resource planning systems should be tailored to your business and implemented by trained professionals.

Modern supply chains are often wasteful due to poor logistics. The rush to produce and deliver products causes excess. Waste contributes to environmental destruction through carbon emissions and unnecessary resource use. An ERP system can improve the situation by being the right software solution for your business, to increase productivity and streamline business operations.
When deployed and managed using sustainable technology, implementing a tailored ERP system reduces waste. It creates a more accurate supply chain. If you choose cloud hosting, your business system is managed in an environmentally-friendly data center by experts in your software. Effective ERP systems are an example of how technology solutions can reduce your company’s carbon footprint. When you implement with a skilled team of ERP consultants, you will achieve optimal productivity and efficiency. This means you’re making sustainable business decisions. The long-term management of your ERP system should be good for your business and also good for the earth.

Energy efficiency: ERP software results in cost savings and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Green-grid, energy-star processes: An advanced ERP system is an essential component of successful “green” manufacturing and distribution.

Here are some more green benefits of applying an ERP system to manage your company’s processes:

  • Matches supply with demand to cut waste from the supply stream
  • Sends information through the supply chain in real-time, continually optimizing processes
  • Reduces product transport distances and lowers carbon emissions
  • Eliminates excess production
  • Gives suppliers an idea of what you are going to need
  • Minimizes the need for storage space

Achieve Lean and Green Manufacturing

In terms of the supply chain, the ultimate goal of an ERP system is lean manufacturing. Pioneered by Toyota, it’s a method to get rid of waste without slowing productivity. Lean manufacturing eliminates steps that fail to add value.

ERP software achieves lean manufacturing by using real-time data to boost efficiency. Your supply chain becomes more flexible and easily adapts to changes in the market. Efficiency means better service for your consumers. Expect on-time deliveries, positive feedback, and customer loyalty.

Eliminate Waste From Your Processes

Common causes of supply chain waste are overproduction and over-purchasing of materials. Human forecasting errors can also leave you with a surplus of unused components. Transporting goods over long distances increases your carbon footprint for no good reason. All of these issues can be eliminated with an ERP system.

But waste isn’t limited to manufacturing materials and fossil fuels. Employee time is valuable and should also be used wisely. In-house installation and hosting of your ERP software are expensive and time-consuming, and it can be stressful to monitor and maintain cybersecurity standards and compliance.
Drop the need for internal servers, updates, and repairs with managed application hosting in a private or hybrid cloud. You will save your team from the headaches of on-site data management. Best of all, it’s cost effective and a green choice.

Best ERP Deployment Strategy, Better for the Environment

Your process management software will benefit from dedicated ERP hosting. An off-site hosting option is ideal for manufacturers and distributors because you get backup, disaster recovery, business continuity, cybersecurity, compliance, and support built into your platform from the beginning.

On-site hosting comes with significant costs and challenges. With EstesCloud managed hosting, you never have to worry because the responsibility is on us. There are no security breaches or technical difficulties to deal with. Our team is here to protect and support you at all times.
In-house servers are energy-intensive. You are sure to end up consuming more electricity than necessary. Our managed services team offers consumption-based application hosting in a private or hybrid cloud that’s built to fit the specific needs of your business, as they are, when they change, and as they change.
Instead of requiring an entire system, you can share with others. In consumption-based models, the customer pays based on their individual resource use. This eco-friendly approach incentivizes resource conservation and leads to energy savings.

PEAK ERP Implementation Methodology

Are you wondering about the process of implementing an ERP system with support from EstesGroup? We use our PEAK ERP implementation methodology to make things as straightforward as possible for you.

First, you will work with our experienced ERP consultants to identify the perfect software solution for your business. EstesGroup is your implementation partner and service provider for Epicor Prophet 21, Epicor Kinetic ERP, SYSPRO, and Sage. All are state-of-the-art systems built to support businesses as they grow and change.
For an ERP implementation or upgrade, we begin with an in-depth process review to understand your business and its specific needs. We consider how your processes can be simplified using an Epicor ERP product. A demo is provided to help you assess what you’d like to do with your software. Next, we train your team before the system is implemented. This ensures a smooth transition. Finally, we build, put in place, and stabilize the system. If extra training is needed, we provide it. Our goal is to leave your team feeling confident and satisfied with their new tools. After the transition, we are always here when you need us. Our managed hosting services offer application support, security, and access from anywhere.

Choose Managed Hosting for Sustainable ERP Deployment

Setting up an advanced ERP system for your business is a smart, green choice. By reducing waste throughout your business processes, you will protect valuable resources. You can also reduce your company’s carbon emissions. Other benefits include cost savings, employee efficiency, and customer satisfaction. You will be able to pursue new business opportunities with confidence. Your buyers will appreciate your efforts to operate sustainably. They might be willing to pay more for your products.

Our implementation process makes the transition to your new ERP system seamless. Add personalized application hosting for continued support and guidance from our experts. Contact us today to begin greening your business with the best ERP software support for the manufacturing and distribution industries. We can also tell you more about managed hosting services and how cloud services can provide an environmental data management strategy that is not only green, building a better world, but also profitable, creating a better business world. Our experts know the cloud and know your application. This means that if you need Prophet 21 consulting, you have access to the best experts in the industry, with the added support of P21 cloud hosting consultants. The same goes for Epicor Kinetic, Syspro, and Sage ERP.

Please fill out the form below or contact us now to schedule an ERP deployment consultation and get a cloud demo.

Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

As part of a post-pandemic plan, businesses are solidifying and strengthening remote worker infrastructure and allowing employees to bounce between casual and corporate office settings. As a long-term commitment to flexible work environments and work-life balance, companies are increasing remote worker support by deploying private and hybrid cloud infrastructure to secure, protect, and optimize a hybrid workforce.

Hybrid Cloud Hybrid Workforce

Solutions Like Microsoft Teams for Remote Teams

Teams are divided like never before, and this has proven to be a good thing. By allowing a hybrid workforce, you empower workers to choose the best setting for the work at hand. Social distancing requirements necessitated home offices, but in a post-pandemic era, that same flexible cloud-based infrastructure can allow workers to tap into secure software solutions, like Microsoft Teams, and complete their work from home, or from a hotel or other remote setting. Microsoft Teams provides an innovative toolset, giving remote workers everything they need to communicate and organize workflows.

When employees are dispersed, employers have to be creative with the software solutions they choose for basic business communication and operation. A secure network infrastructure needs to be properly managed so that productivity levels stay high. Employees must understand the tools they’re given, and they also need to be trained so that they understand the risks of remote connectivity. A software like Microsoft 365 comes with basic cybersecurity by default, but these cloud-based solutions require trained users, good management, and often need supplemental software and services, like SECaaS (Security as a Service).

Benefits of the Hybrid Cloud for a Hybrid Workforce

The main objective of a hybrid system, whether it be a hybrid cloud or a hybrid workforce, is to create optimal work productivity, low turnover of talented staff, and high ROI (return on investment) of purchased software and services. When you’re combining on-premise technology with remote enablement tools, you’ll need to invest in a cloud management team that understands the risks of hybrid systems.

Digital Transformation Results in More Access, Better Resources

In a hybrid cloud environment, employers can create coast-to-coast and even international teams without increasing the risk of a security breach. With managed IT services in place, companies can use specialized external staff to maintain the cloud platform, using technology to stay relevant and competitive. 

Working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) helps your business by giving you a complete suite of technology solutions and skills for every IT need that comes with hybrid systems. If your employees need to access your company data from a home office, then you can ensure that the web browser is protected by state-of-the-art cybersecurity solution.

What Cloud Does Your Hybrid Workforce Need?

If you’ve always done business in an on-premises infrastructure, then the shift to remote work might have put your sensitive data at risk early in the pandemic when companies weren’t aware of the risks of public cloud services and public cloud environments. Now that hybrid work is becoming a “benefit,” similar to a company discount program or company car, hybrid cloud solutions are replacing the basic web-browser access of the remote workforce of the past. 

An off-premises data center can create a cost-effect hybrid cloud architecture, giving you a robust backup and disaster recovery solution for all of your software, including those that work by default in a public cloud capacity. 

Can Public Clouds Turn Hybrid Workforces Into Hybrid Monsters?

If you Google “cloud,” you’ll see that a business cloud strategy means something different to everyone. When creating the cloud-based infrastructure for your remote employees, you should carefully design your cloud to give you the uptime, backup, and security you need to manage your business. Be leery of promises of the simplicity of public cloud offerings. Take on-premise technology and private cloud solutions into consideration before letting a third-party vendor limit you to the public cloud.

Please Fill Out the Form Below to Get a Free Hybrid Workforce Assessment

Let’s begin a conversation and see if your business would benefit from a robust hybrid cloud solution.

Putting Your Software Testing Strategy to the Test

Putting Your Software Testing Strategy to the Test

Testing is the process that should use the most time in any software implementation. Why test? You selected this software and, of course, it should process transactions, shouldn’t it? Start testing, and some surprises will be exposed.

Software Testing ERP Implementation

Testing basics, testing methods

To begin, you’ll need a testing team and a test suite. Form small teams of people from each discipline. The team leader will be from your implementation team and the remaining people will be on loan from the various functional groups. Select those people with care. They will become your “super user” core of trained people who will help others in their groups use the new software.

Pick any single-step transaction. Accounting might try a simple debit – credit journal entry. Customer service might enter a new sales order. Document the transaction: what general ledger account will you debit and which one gets the credit and how much money? What customer will place the order, what product will they buy, what is their purchase order number, and how much money is the order for?

Go to the transaction screen in the software and enter the transaction. Then enter the results in a log. If the transaction works as expected, record a green result. If the transaction completely fails, record a red result and note why it failed or why you think it failed. Sometimes the result will be yellow as it completed successfully but you found some kind of unexpected caution that probably should be corrected.

Corrective actions

The failure of a test could be a problem in the data loading. Maybe the general ledger you wanted to debit was not in your system. Try to figure out why and ask the data conversion group to correct the situation. When they make the fix, process your test again and now you might get a green result.

An unsuccessful test result could come from a failure in your training. You thought you could enter that new sales order but you need to read the instructions again.

There are many configuration settings in any system and these will affect test results. That sales order test failed because the customer you chose was limited to only buying products in a certain line and you chose a product that customer was not authorized to buy. The data team might have made an incorrect assumption which can be corrected. Their assumption might have been correct based on some other condition you were unaware of. Often more than one setting can be adjusted to yield the results your business needs. Keep the conversation going until a satisfactory result is found.

Test again and again

You performed a test today and gave it a green result. Tomorrow the same test was not green. People from across your business are performing tests in their functional groups and you will find the change they requested to fix their test inadvertently affected your test. This is normal. Your business is complex and the relationships within are also complex. Work through these changes and find what works for your entire organization.

More complex testing

As the single transactions become successful, begin to expand the testing to a series of transactions. You can receive the purchase order, now can you also see the product adding to your inventory and then can you pay your supplier? Late-stage testing might go from receipt of a customer order through producing the order, shipping the order, and collecting the payment.

Automated testing

Manual testing might not be the more cost-effective use of your technology staff’s time. Fortunately, AI-driven types of testing are now available at low cost. Software that can robotically reproduce tests is available and affordable. After the fifteenth time a group runs the same test, boredom begins. The test robot never gets bored. You had nothing but green for those fifteen tests. But only after the 115th test was there a failure because someone made a change. The robot will keep testing all day and night until you turn it off.

Even setting up and monitoring automated testing tools can be time consuming. Begin to formulate the best testing strategy for your business by fully assessing any system software in use.

There are many types of software performance assessments available to your business. EstesGroup’s IT experts are available for everything from basic operating system testing to full audits of your system. Our software testers and project managers can provide continuous testing services and external support when you need it: functional testing, exploratory testing, integration testing, unit testing, system testing, and more. Schedule a software assessment today to begin a conversation about how testing, checking, and testing your software again can help your business.

Ready to test your software in the cloud?

Attend an EstesGroup “Cloud Stories” webinar to learn about customer software journeys.

Click here (or on the video below if the presentation doesn’t automatically play) to watch a webinar on cloud options for ERP software.