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Partnering with your ERP Consultancy

Partnering with your ERP Consultancy

How the Right ERP Consultancy Can Take the Risk Out of ERP Implementation

Implementing ERP presents many challenges. One of these involves the simple dilemma of finding good help. Implementing ERP is not a one-man band, but rather a symphony of interconnected members, each doing their part in the performance. Your ERP consulting partner is one such member of the overall team and can significantly impact the success of an ERP implementation. With that in mind, here are a few considerations that will help you make the best choice when finding a consulting partner.

ERP Consultancy Partnership Meeting

An ERP Consultancy Provides a Path of Success

Scope

At the beginning of your project, define what completion is and how to objectively measure the project’s completion. That definition might evolve as the project moves along, but it’s helpful to define your destination before you embark. This helps you understand how long you will need consulting assistance — completion means the consultant can move along to their next client. You will need to write that final check. Completion also means it is time for you and all the people in your enterprise to sit back and smile. Plan for that success.

Requirements

Consider the needs of your organization and the expertise you already have within your business. You might have a person you think is ready to lead your project: they have the skills and training, but a consultant could guide them and provide experienced mentorship along the way. Or, you might have a very lean organization and need to use a consultant as a full-time manager of the project and then plan to cut the consultant loose when the project is complete.

Culture

Culture is a very important consideration. The consultant who is successful working with a strict top-down leadership style will be different from a consultant who would succeed in an environment where each manager is independent and is expected to make decisions on their own. Your consultant must fit into your existing style and work well with your personnel.

Business Interaction

Negotiations with your consulting partner will begin with senior members of that organization. Those people might not be the same people who will actually work at your business with your own employees. Part of your agreement with the consultant should be control over consultant staff and their ability to get along with your employees.

Logistics

Provide your consultant with access to your systems, a place to sit, and an open communication line to everyone. Introduce the consultant to your staff and let people know who they are and the important work they will be doing on your behalf. Reinforce the call to open communications as needed throughout the project. Many ERP projects are a means of providing tools for future expansions or other plans that likely are confidential. Ensure the consultant understands and has signed appropriate non-disclosure agreements.

Change Management

You will hire a consultant that has the expertise to work with your business eventually to a successful completion of your ERP project. The relationship is not entirely technical. Your employees and system users all react to change in their own unique ways. Some will adapt quickly and embrace the new processes. Others will fight to keep the old process they are already comfortable using. Most will fall somewhere in between, neither fighting change nor immediately accepting change but will, in the end, use your new ERP system. A few might never accept the changes and will part from your business.

Managing change and helping your people along is one of the critical components of your ERP project. The ERP consultant you hire probably has the expertise you need in this area and you should take full advantage of it so your people can stay satisfied.

Data Management

Part of the ERP project will be data conversion from your legacy systems and loading that data into the new ERP. Many IT staff do not have the bandwidth to handle this work in addition to their current jobs. Often this work will be managed by your consultant. Consider who will handle data not only during the project’s duration, but also who will pick up the responsibilities thereafter.

Verification

As the project moves along, you will test specific transactions and the overall system to ensure the results meet your needs and expectations. Use your own people for some of the manual tests. Not only will they help with the project step, they will gain some training and become ambassadors representing all of your ERP users. The consultant will be a guide to setting up and managing testing. The consultant might have automated test processes too which will perform tests that follow your processes and repeat tests 24 hours a day. You will gain many additional test cycles and avoid human errors in testing.

Training

Think about how to train your people to use ERP when the project is complete. You can train a few to train the many and use your existing resources. You could also use the consultants to design and implement needed ERP training for you and your team.

Collaboration With Your ERP Consultancy of Choice

Fundamental to the idea of ERP is the notion of collaboration. Enterprise applications build bridges within the enterprise, and between the enterprise and the outside world. The act of implementing ERP is similarly an act of collaboration. In this light, when choosing a system integrator, ensure that they are an implementation partner, and not merely a consultancy for hire — for it is through people and partnership that the true benefits of ERP are realized.

Want to learn more about how an ERP consultancy can help your business?

3 Signs It’s Time For a Server Upgrade

3 Signs It’s Time For a Server Upgrade

Is Your Server Seeing Stars?

Sometimes called a “super computer” or simply a “computer bigger than yours,” a server is a technological infrastructure that hosts a shared resource pool. Servers become more complicated as small businesses grow and require multiple pieces of hardware to support company software. A multi-site company might have multiple servers at each location to support various types of users, devices, and software interactions. Many of us never physically see the servers that support our personal devices, yet our data is available across phones, laptops, tablets, and desktops. Unfortunately, old servers put our data at risk. Is it time to take a good look at a server upgrade?

Server Upgrade IT Strategy Team

Sign #1: The Word “Outdated” Comes to Mind When You Think About Your Server

A timely server upgrade can increase profitability by giving you a competitive edge since a server upgrade is most often a “profit now, profit later” occasion. For example, Section 179 allows business owners to upgrade technology and write off purchases. Business growth is challenging, and investments can be risky, and there are programs in place that acknowledge and assist with this reality. Like you might replace an old furnace or broken window when the timing is right for tax deductions, you might replace old technology when your CFO or accountant sees an opportunity to take advantage of a tax break.

Sign #2: You Find Yourself Questioning the Security of Your Data

A handful of “S” words haunt the security issue, with servers as the first serve. When looking for signs of server insecurity, also inspect system assessment history, speed issues, storage requirements, and sensitivity of information handling.

Is your current server architecture safe from hackers? Ransomware is becoming an amateur hacker’s play now that Cybercrime as a Service is becoming a popular business exchange on the Dark Web. SaaS (Software as a Service) and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) cultures increase the risk as they both allow more complex interactions with your network.

How much of your data is sensitive, and can your servers keep up with compliance regulations? If your office handles medical information, you’ll need technology solutions that comply with HIPAA. The acronyms of compliance are often industry-specific notations that change yearly to adapt to new threats.

Backup management and documentation strategies need to be supported by a network that can process information swiftly and without risk of data loss. Storage needs increase as devices become more interactive, and physical servers don’t offer the same flexibility as virtualized servers, so this is also something to take into consideration as you question data security. No room in the server means no data saved for your future. Inadequate or improper data storage can become a costly mistake that can lead to significant strain on your budget.

Sign #3: You Worry About Stability & Know a Server Upgrade Could Help

If you have a physical server to maintain, you know the burdens of cooling costs, fire alarms, and on-site security systems. Your server room is vulnerable to both physical and virtual attacks. Business owners rarely have time to analyze every file created, and every company click needs to be protected from malware and other threats. Ask yourself a few questions to see how much you know about the stability and accessibility of your backups:

  • How do you archive company information?
  • What are the greatest risks to your servers?
  • If you need to upgrade your technology every 5 – 10 years, when will your servers need to be replaced so that you can stay competitive amid advancements?
  • How long would it take to migrate your data to another physical server? Would it be more efficient to migrate data to the cloud? Is your data already somewhere in the cloud?

Now Is the Time To Take a Closer Look at Your Server

Unfortunately, on-premise servers fail, and routine assessments are necessary. EstesGroup can help. Our IT specialists are here 24/7 to provide recommendations for IT infrastructure, maintenance, testing, & more.

Wish to know more about server management?

How to Create a Strategic BDR Plan

How to Create a Strategic BDR Plan

The Right Data For Backup & Disaster Recovery

For backup and disaster recovery (BDR) planning, you need more than a trusted solution. You need a data center that can’t fail. You need an IT team that won’t keep you up at night. Server room aside, you might want to back up everything, or you might want to delete outdated information. You might fear that your BDR plan will be too expensive if it becomes all-inclusive, or you might wonder if you’re cutting costs while risking a slow restore in the event of a disaster. Fortunately, many IT service plans for disaster recovery often rely on managed cloud services that allow you to scale up or down, adjusting your costs on a monthly, or even daily, basis (depending on your managed IT solution). However, BDR options abound, so let’s look at how to build the right BDR plan for your business needs.

BDR Solutions Across Devices

Choosing BDR

Things to consider when choosing a BDR plan revolve around your own personal preferences regarding on-premise backup vs. cloud backup. Where do you want your data stored? The varieties of BDR options are seemingly endless as we move toward a society that depends on cloud-based technology to enable nearly every aspect of business culture. Your BDR decisions are vital and unique to your company size, geography, climate, and more. Small business technology can help businesses struggling to grow stay competitive, even when business is slow. Larger businesses, especially manufacturers with complex ERP systems, choose cloud-based BDR for peace of mind against ever-evolving threats of cyberattacks and downtime. Across all industries and organizations, good BDR planning promotes the universally desired benefits of reduced risks and lower costs. So, information management similarities and differences in mind, where do you want to save, store and share your company data?

BDR Plan Quick Q&A

  • How much critical data do you need to fully protect?
  • How many users and devices will be affected by your backup and disaster recovery plan?
  • What are your greatest vulnerabilities (natural disasters, ransomware, malwaresocial engineering attacks)?
  • Do you know your RTO & RPO? Do you need DRaaS?
  • What is your BDR training and testing strategy?
  • Have you ever experienced data loss or data corruption? How did you respond? Did you achieve restoration?

Save Your Files & Save Them Again

Where is your data currently stored? In a web-based software? On a server in an office closet? In the basement storage area? In multiple places, including on personal devices (in light of BYOD trends)? You’re not alone if you’re struggling with data management. Likewise, you’re not alone if you’re struggling to choose a BDR solution that will be a perfect fit for your company’s future.

3 Basic BDR Roadmaps

If you want to back up everything, or if you want to back up one file, you have three basic options for saving your information.

  • Cloud services for BDR with true cloud environments and 100% virtual office infrastructure
  • Software solutions deployed on company-owned hardware that stores backups for disaster recovery
  • Hybrid cloud infrastructure that leverages cloud-based software solutions, off-site data centers and external technology specialists

Back up, Data Backup

A common concern is that a cloud-based BDR solution will cause excessive external data center usage, resulting in unforeseen ingress and egress expenses, among other unpredictable costs. The fear of creating luxury backups is real, and business owners have struggled in the past with surprise bills that read like fine-print privacy disclosures. This is why the planning stages of your business continuity strategy are critical in terms of IT budgeting. If you’re concerned about decisions regarding incremental backups, recovery point objectives, recovery time objectives, compliance, and all other backup and disaster recovery choices and expenses, then you’ll do well to first assess your core operations. If migrating to managed hosting, you might choose to waterfall excess data storage (such as old servers or unused servers) away from your cloud solutions. An IT specialist can assess your systems and make detailed server management recommendations.

Your BDR Plan Data Core

In a perfect business world, you can back up all of your data and also securely delete it at whim. Unfortunately, the burden of managing data often requires a highly skilled IT team to monitor and safeguard your BDR hardware and software. If you’re not at the point at which you can easily back up everything daily, then you’ll want to ensure you’re protecting critical information.

  • Financial data, including accounting software, invoices, payroll, transactions
  • Customer information and client data, including saved CRM information like prospect notes and lists
  • Critical data from project management activities
  • Employee information, including all HR files that enable operations
  • Paper-based communications, including image saves and scans
MSPAlliance Cyber Verify A Rating Badge Awarded to EstesGroup

A Perfect Plan For Your Business

If you need proactive or reactive backup and disaster recovery services, EstesCloud technology consultants are highly skilled at on-premise, hybrid and private cloud solutions. An IT expert can help you create a penny-wise BDR solution that keeps your data safe.

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.

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.