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Paying the Piper in Epicor E10, Kinetic & Prophet 21

Paying the Piper in Epicor E10, Kinetic & Prophet 21

Best Practices for Paying Supplier Invoices in Epicor ERP

There are many challenges when it comes to paying supplier invoices in Epicor E10, Epicor Kinetic (E11), or in Epicor Prophet 21. In simple terms, a company purchases goods from a supplier according to pre-established and carefully-specified terms. In most cases, a company needs to pay them within the specified terms, waiting as long as possible, as to keep the cash flow within the confines of the company’s banking system for as long as possible. 

But the payment must not be so late as to incur the wrath of the supplier and avoid the inconveniences that credit hold will place on subsequent purchases. And the company may elect to take advantage of an early payment discount, if one exists.

Sounds simple enough. But a company also must ensure that invoices are accurate. The amount invoiced must correspond to the quantities that were actually delivered. Some many-to-one complexities muddle the water a bit, given that a supplier invoice may cover several purchase orders and that each PO could be dozens or even hundreds of lines in length.

Supplier Invoices Epicor Kinetic ERP Cloud

Automating the Three-Way Matching Process

At this point, we haven’t even begun to validate the amount that was on the original purchase order. Such is the magic of the three-way match: cross-referencing the information that was on the PO with the information on the receipt and matching both of these with the invoice from the supplier.

The matching process differs by company, as many companies have different rules and tolerances that govern the matching process. This can make the process laborious and time consuming for accounts payable staff, and it’s not uncommon for many accounting departments to spend inordinate amounts of time matching invoices and cutting checks for routine purchases. 

Given that the three-way matching process is largely mechanical in nature, one would think that it could be automated. But what would it look like for a system to perform some of the heavy lifting, allowing your AP staff to focus on the critical few problems, without having to grind thought the invoices that went through without a hitch?

  • Firstly, the system would need to read the invoice. It would need to read and digitize supplier invoices, whether they’re sent as PDFs Word documents, or in some other format.
  • Secondly, it would need to validate the invoice. It would need to review the past POs and match the invoice lines with the corresponding PO lines, whether they come from multiple Purchase Orders or a single PO.
  • Thirdly, they’d need to perform the three-way match. Using the rules that your company has configured, the system would need to compare line items from the purchase order, the invoice, and the actual receipt of goods.
  • Finally, the system would need to generate payment vouchers with the click of a button.

The benefits of such a system should be self-evident. Automation works to secure your supplier relationship, while minimizing invested time and effort. Moreover, such a system would be the kind of repetitive and rigorous data-driven analytical work that computers are made to do:

  • Processing matched invoices
  • Kicking out exceptions

Automation allows skilled staff to focus on the real work, not the grunt work. 

Are you in search of such a solution? Our supply chain automation partner SourceDay will be presenting a webinar entitled “3-Way Matching Success Through AP Automation” with Epicor ERP software solutions expert Jim Frye.  

SourceDay Logo

The webinar will focus on the final stage of the purchase order process: paying supplier invoices. Anyone who’s navigated the perils of accounts payables in Epicor knows the burden of matching purchase orders and invoices. There has to be a better way!

Join Epicor ERP expert Jim Frye to learn how SourceDay helps Epicor customers reduce the time and effort it takes to pay supplier invoices, resulting in early payment discounts, efficiency gains, and hard cost savings. The webinar will cover the following:

The challenges of paying supplier invoices in Epicor
The measurable benefits of faster invoice payment
How to increase operational efficiency and automation

Learn more about Epicor software by attending an EstesGroup Summit! Whether you’re a small business or a global manufacturer or distributor, our world-class enterprise resource planning (ERP) consultants can help you with everything from raw materials management to ERP cloud migration. Our Epicor consulting team can help you move from the paper based systems of the past to the cloud based applications of the future.

Brad Feakes SVP of Professional Services

BRAD FEAKES

SVP or Professional Services

EstesGroup

Jim Frye SourceDay Epicor Expert

JIM FRYE

Enterprise Sales Director & In-House Epicor ERP Expert

SourceDay

Phillip Pavelka SourceDay Supply Chain Expert

PHILLIP PAVELKA

Solutions Engineer

SourceDay

Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

There’s a significant shift occurring in the job market. And our manufacturing and distribution industries will not escape the impact.

For the past few years, it has been an employer’s market and many workers were unable to find jobs. But that has changed in the last 18 months and there are growing concerns about employee retention.

In the past 5 months, over 15 million US workers have quit their jobs.

Plus, in recent surveys, 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs in the next 3-6 months. Rather than cooling down, there are projections that more attrition is coming.

There are many reasons this could be occurring. And many strategies to consider. What’s clear is that if your organization is not understanding the root issues, it will increase your employee attrition rate rather than reduce it.

Before we can answer what it takes to retain your best employees, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the situation.

Employee Attrition vs Attraction Recruit and Retain Gears

Differing Perspectives

A recent article, by McKinsey and Company, explored this topic. It noted several disconnects between organizations and employees. These disconnects are likely contributing to employee dissatisfaction.

The article highlights that organizations often focus on increasing compensation and financial perks as a first step to stop employee attrition.

But is that scratching the itch that employees are feeling? What if there is “more at work” (pun intended) than making more money? And if compensation is not the driving issue, how should your organization respond?

Let’s start with the emotional toll of the last 18 months during the pandemic. Behind it we can learn more.

Most employees have experienced rapid change. Illness, online meetings, hospitalizations, new work procedures, vaccines, deaths, politics, changing recommendations, school closings, and daily unknowns have been their daily diet. At work their relationships were frayed by new routines and rules. Constant fear contributed to few social interactions, no get-togethers and limited travel. And with it the use of masks limited our ability to communicate visually.

Employee Expectations

The result has been a change in employee’s work needs. Studies are showing that employees are looking for these benefits in their work:

  1. A sense of value from being in the organization
  2. The potential for advancement
  3. Having caring and trusting teammates
  4. Options for a more flexible work schedule
  5. Feeling more valued by their managers
  6. A sense of belonging

Shared Expectations

Both employers and employees do agree on some things. They both believe that these issues need to be addressed:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Unmanageable workloads
  3. Feeling disengaged at work
  4. Help with caring for families

Organizational Focus

This leaves us to consider whether employers are right in focusing primarily on these issues which may not be valued by employees:

  1. Creating more opportunities
  2. Accommodating more remote work
  3. Improving the health of employees
  4. Discouraging employees from looking for new jobs
  5. Taking steps to limiting poaching by competitors

Suggested Focus

The McKinsey and Company article recommends that organizations start by listening to employees and including them in discussions. This signals that employees are valued.

That doesn’t happen when management decisions are handed down without employee input. Such decisions are often seen as indicators that management is uncaring and disconnected from employees. And who wants to work in a place like this?

There are positive things that can change the tone in organizations. And they involve asking hard questions about your organization and then moving to address any problems.

  1. Is our organization sheltering toxic leaders who do not value, inspire or motivate their employees?
  2. Are the right people in the right roles in both our management and non-management ranks?
  3. How can we make our culture more collaborative and open to conversations?
  4. How do we replace transactional approaches with relational approaches that stress collaboration and value?
  5. Are our company benefits aligned with employee priorities that are top-of-mind?
  6. What career paths and development opportunities do our employees really have?
  7. How can we build community at work by encouraging better relationships?

From Ideas to Action

Each of these questions focuses on increasing the collaborated relationship across the organization. They send the message that the organization is empowered by trusted relationships and a shared future.

So, what can we say at this point?

First, it is clear is that the employee/employer relationship has changed over the past 18 months. Employees are wanting a more relational approach to their work, more connectivity and more value from their workplace.

Secondly, there are real opportunities for your organization. Those manufacturing and distribution organizations which lead with dialogue and listening will find ways to benefit from the changes.

They will retain top performers because they communicate value, a shared future and positive opportunities.

Now, what can you do to get this moving with your team?

Ask the Author

Rob Mcmillen ERP Consultant

Rob McMillen is a Senior Project Manager with EstesGroup. He has worked in the manufacturing industry for over 30 years supporting multiple implementations of new ERP systems and leading projects. Because his mom was an English teacher, he grew up with a love of writing. Combined with his working experience, he has written articles for LinkedIn and User Groups, and has published numerous blog posts. He is also a co-author of a book on technology and working collaboratively. He currently lives in the DFW area.

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

How to Secure the Automotive Aftermarket

To help develop awareness of cybersecurity needs in the manufacturing and distribution industries, EstesGroup conducted a joint education session with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). SEMA is a trade association composed of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and specialists focused on automotive specialty parts and accessories.

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

The educational session,“Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket,” focused on the steps that SEMA members can do to mitigate cyber threats. These steps can help any business improve digital security, so I’d like to review some of the material covered concerning the landscape of cyber threats.

What is the Threat?

Threats to organizations are widespread and increasingly prolific. According to the 2021 Malware Report from Cybersecurity Insiders, 88% of a survey of 500,000 IT professionals and 76% of 30,000 small and medium-sized business owners say that cyberthreats are a significant and growing risk. The attack vectors are multifaceted, including spear phishing emails, domain spoofing, and man-in-the-middle attacks.  

Cyberthreats are impacting organizations at all levels. On the business side, malware attacks caused both an increase in IT security-related spending and a decrease in productivity. At the IT operations level, ransomware is forcing cybersecurity professionals to update IT security strategies to focus on mitigation, as they struggle with data loss, downtime, and business continuity.

Watch the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) of “Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket”

Ransomware Questions, Security Answers

One might beg the question: Why is this happening? The reasons are surprisingly straightforward—the business of cyber warfare is a low-barrier, high-reward enterprise. The “startup costs” for a hacker who already has the necessary technical acumen are comparatively low, when compared to a traditional business environment.

The Reward is a Handsome Ransom

Cybersecurity is not merely an IT problem. It’s an enterprise-wide issue. As business owners, we do things to make our enterprises more integrated and efficient, and share information across the organization. But this creates new potential opportunities for exploitation. Moreover, since March of 2020, we and our fellow employees have been accessing our work environment from an increasingly remote context, further complicating company networks and creating new vulnerabilities.

Where are the Attacks Coming From?

The threats that proliferate our contemporary cyber landscape can be described as “hidden in plain sight” — the threat is as broad as the number of connected users, connected devices, and connected programs. It is not an exaggeration to say that every touchpoint is a potential threat. Some of the most common infiltration paths include the following:

  • Email: Email is a constant target of schemes and scams, and the attacks are getting more nuanced and personalized.
  • The Internet: Online infiltration dressed as information continues to be a source of attacks, with increasing attempts from hackers to disguise malicious domains to appear like the familiar sites that you know and love.
  • Programs & Applications: Within daily business operations, a company uses a surprising number of discrete applications. Whether online or installed on your devices, every program that we use for business purposes is a potential threat.
  • Integrations: The integrating of core systems with third-party applications increases the threat risk. We want the benefits of interconnectivity—for instance, we want our e-commerce system to speak to our inventory system so we know what is available to sell and ship. But in the hands of a hacker, that is a dangerous amount of information to possess.
  • Authentication: The credentials that users apply when accessing company resources can be a significant source of risk. Weak user credentials, simple passwords, and basic authentication policies can allow for significant system breeches.
  • The IOT Movement: The “internet of things” or “IOT” movement increased points of connectivity, and the number of viable targets. Who would have ever thought that you could get hacked by your refrigerator!
  • The BYOD Movement:  The “bring your own device” or “BYOD” movement lowered the bar for device management. Increasingly, smartphones and other devices are accessing social media social media to access system resources.  The risk here should be self-evident.
  • Remote Access: VPNs (or virtual private networks) provide extensive access to company networks. VPNs often provide more access than a user actually needs—it’s like providing access to the entire gymnasium just so you can reach the janitor’s closet.
  • COVID: The pandemic expanded the threat landscape, by increasing the number of remote users connected from a broader array of devices, many of them being inadequately-connected. On a broad scale, shared family devices were suddenly connecting to company headquarters.

The Future of Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

As you can see, the threats are abundant, and the targets are many. The future of security in the automotive aftermarket depends on you and on your cybersecurity strategy. There are some simple steps that companies can take to mitigate the challenges of our current cyber landscape. To see what companies are doing to secure their organizations from threats, and what you can do to secure your future, please watch the recording of the SEMA educational session and come to our managed IT experts with any questions you have about current best practices for threat mitigation for businesses.

Let’s Talk About Cybersecurity & Your Business Now

EstesGroup Partners with RIPEN for Digital Commerce

EstesGroup Partners with RIPEN for Digital Commerce

ESTESGROUP & RIPEN ANNOUNCE DIGITAL COMMERCE PARTNERSHIP

EstesGroup has announced a partnership with RIPEN, a leading digital commerce experience agency. The strategic alliance allows the two tech leaders to join forces and offer best-in-class Prophet 21 and e-commerce consulting, solutions, and managed services.

The EstesGroup and RIPEN partnership aims to serve Prophet 21 users by offering a comprehensive set of digital capabilities to help distributors grow revenue and reduce operational costs.

Digital Commerce

We are excited to partner with RIPEN. RIPEN’s robust and flexible P21 Commerce platform, extensive B2B experience, and superior customer service make the agency a leader in the industry, and a great partner for EstesGroup.

Brandon Haave

SVP, Partner, EstesGroup

EstesGroup RIPEN Digital Commerce

For 18 years, RIPEN has consistently delivered digital commerce transformations. Our experience enables us to distill technical requirements and strategic goals to recommend creative solutions for digital growth and success. This partnership is a step towards our vision of providing unified support for ERP and ecommerce platforms.

Michael Tudor

CEO, RIPEN

About RIPEN

RIPEN develops creative and technical strategies to build highly persuasive digital commerce experiences that convert, scale, and thrive. RIPEN P21 Commerce integrates Epicor Prophet 21 with Magento 2 to offer an optimized B2B experience and robust set of features.

Build and launch 2-3x faster on RIPEN P21 Commerce, the only natively integrated Prophet 21 e-commerce accelerator platform.

Are you looking for a better Prophet 21 e-commerce experience?

Schedule a consultation to discuss your requirements and digital goals today.

Prophet 21 hosting creates the perfect private cloud for your distribution business. As the premiere ERP hosting company for Epicor Kinetic and Epicor Prophet 21, EstesGroup creates the infrastructure you need, saving you from the headaches caused by a poor deployment strategy.

Please chat with us now or complete the form below to schedule a free Prophet 21 deployment consultation today.

Prophet 21 E-Commerce Integration Tips

Prophet 21 E-Commerce Integration Tips

E-Commerce is Drawing Interest from Epicor Prophet 21 Users

Trend lines are never a function of simple math. As much as I’d like my world around me to conform to the simple y=mx+b along a clean Cartesian plane, the world around me thinks otherwise. Life, they say, is non-Euclidean. I would surmise it is also non-Cartesian. So, what does this have to do with Prophet 21 e-commerce integrations?

E-Commerce Distribution Industry Prophet 21 ERP Software

Prophet 21 Trends

A trend of the distribution industry that hit me especially hard at the recent P21WWUG CONNECT 2021 event was the proliferation of e-commerce as a subject of interest, as a pressing concern for members of the distribution ERP community and for solution providers working to narrow the gap between the capabilities of the industry and the changing needs of the market.

E-Commerce Solutions Flow From Online Trends

This should really be no surprise—as soon as the World Wide Web became commonplace in offices and households, the possibilities of virtual commerce enamored businesses and consumers. As such, e-commerce has been a pervading topic for companies, as they try to take advantage of these possibilities. 

 

If a trend-line is a topography, then the recent changes to the landscape have been a shift from a steady incline to a fever pitch.

Distribution Industry, P21 & E-Commerce Challenges

The obstacles to traditional procurement such as labor shortages, delivery schedule changes, shipping land congestion, and limits to brick-and-mortar acquisition that have been prevalent over 2020 and 2021 necessitated an increasing emphasis in e-commerce strategies. These strategies needed to support a type of acquisition and delivery that was quicker, more granular, more flexible, and more reactive to the world around us.

This new emphasis has certainly affected the Prophet 21 distribution community. Distributors are diverging in multiple directions, with working both to satisfy the needs of B2B customers, while also opening up their product directly to consumers through B2C opportunities. On this note, Ryan Horvath of Ripen recently offered some helpful points to consider when approaching a P21 e-commerce integration.

Processes: A successful e-commerce platform must support solid business processes. Before you build out your e-commerce solution, make sure to understand the business processes that they enable.

Platform: There are many idiosyncrasies to a given e-commerce platform, which differentiate one platform from another. Understand these differences before you pick one.

Resources: E-commerce solutions require resources to build, configure, deploy, and maintain.  These resources can be internal or external. Before you begin, build a resource plan to support the creation and support of the e-commerce platform.

Scalability: As I noted above, we are in a period of rapid and radical upheaval. As such, the solution with which you go live may need to shift, scale, or otherwise morph as the needs of the market change. Make sure you’re building a solution that can handle such needs.

Ownership: The ownership of data, solutions, intellectual content, and transaction history may shift, depending on how the solution is licensed and deployed. Consider what you own and what you are giving up, prior to selecting a solution.

Long-Term Cost: Cost is an important consideration, as the cost to maintain the solution can erode into the profitability of the transactions it handles. Consider the long-term costs of your solution before you pick one.

Do you need help with your Prophet 21 E-Commerce Integration?

Ripen is an EstesGroup e-commerce partner, offering digital transformations that drive growth and strengthen brand loyalty. Ask us your e-commerce questions by filling out the form below or chatting with us now. EstesGroup offers enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions and technology services to manufacturing and distribution companies. Prophet 21 hosting solutions and services bring P21 users into the secure and affordable infrastructure of a private cloud.

 

 

Begin an e-commerce P21 conversation today!

Sometimes privacy settings prevent you from seeing our “Ask Us” form. If you don’t see a form, please chat with us now. (Even if you see the form, chat with us! We love to talk Prophet 21 with everyone!)

Views from Booth 25 – P21WWUG CONNECT 2021

Views from Booth 25 – P21WWUG CONNECT 2021

Prophet 21 Trade Show Truths

Dining and whining with the end users in the trenches of Prophet 21’s annual conference can elicit frank and poignant sentiments regarding the state of software and the state of the broader markets that it works to support. Listening to the triumphs and tribulations of the P21 customer base, we’ve gained a much better understanding of the challenges that face the distribution world in 2021 and beyond. With this in mind, we thought we’d pass along a few lessons learned from our time in our P21WWUG CONNECT booth this year.

P21WWUG CONNECT 2021 Booth 25 Miranda Fallas Chris Koplar Epicor Prophet 21

Many business owners find themselves at a crossroads, where they need to take the next big step to scale up their existing operations and to compete more effectively and support strategic growth initiatives. This growth might even involve developing a more global footprint, and this has massive infrastructure, cybersecurity, and compliance regulation needs.

Distribution Industry Material Supply Challenges

Material supply continues to be a primary concern for organizations, one that unfortunately extends beyond the capabilities of an ERP system. Shipping lane stagnation, port congestion, raw material shortages, truck driver labor shortages, offshore vendor shutdowns, and a variety of additional factors have thrown traditional supply chains into disarray.

Addressing the Challenges

Companies are taking various approaches to address many of the above situations. Pathways might include outward-focused initiatives like EDI, punchout, SRM, e-commerce to improve communication between suppliers and customers. More internally-focused approaches also abound, as companies try to get more efficient and effective in the areas of warehouse management, AP automation, AR collections and credit, and in the pursuit of more cost-effective application deployment strategies.

Suppliers vs. Distributors

Over the years, suppliers have developed an increasing and disproportionate influence on distributors, more than ever before. Supplier mandates are forcing distributors to sometimes take radical actions to reorient themselves to address new demands. The breadth and depth of new demands often corresponds with the comparative size of the suppliers in question, but may also relate to the commodities being supplied and their relative scarcity. That is to say, when demand outstrips supply, the suppliers can be more demanding.

New Software, New Support Needs

The release of new versions of the software, coupled with the expiration of legacy version support, has put many users in a heightened state, as they scramble to determine what the next steps of their upgrade and deployment lifecycle will entail. Related to this, the migration to the web-based interface is an area that many companies are struggling to work out, given their existing application footprint, and the differences in look, feel, and functionality between the new and the P21 legacy client versions.

Labor Shortages

While material shortages are a well-known and overarching concern related to the pandemic, shortages in labor are also becoming increasingly problematic. The inability to find able-bodied individuals to fill positions within supply chains caused significant changes for organizations in 2021 and distributors are concerned that they will persist into 2022.

Application Deployment Differences

Overheard at the conference: “I didn’t know there were any other options!”—as legacy versions approach their end-of-life dates, customers find themselves looking at alternate application deployment options—from continuing to locally host the application on-premise, to moving to Prophet 21’s SaaS version, to hybrid private cloud infrastructure-as-a-service models. In spite of the tumult, different options exist, and P21 customers are discovering just what is out there.

As supply chains become more complex than ever, Prophet 21 customers are looking for control, access, and visibility. Critical to the goal of ultimate control, especially in terms of access, cloud deployment can make or break the chain.

Cloud Crossroads or Crosshairs

Also overheard at the conference: “Cloud without access means no job—cloud with access means I still have a job.” A common theme with the P21 customers we’ve talked to with regard to cloud deployment has been a question of access. Customers generally require varying levels of control and access over their application deployment. Solutions that limit access and control create problems for companies not only in terms of employment but in terms of efficacy. At the end of the day, distribution industry leaders are hoping the crossroads of growth won’t put them in the crosshairs of a cluster-cloud.

This concludes our episode of “tales from the booth.” Were you able to attend this year? Tell us what you learned. Did you miss it this year? Let us know and we’ll tell you all about everything we learned at P21WWUG CONNECT 2021!