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Why Implement an ERP System?

Why Implement an ERP System?

Why Implement an ERP System?

Implementing ERP SystemIf you asked your IT personnel what the advantages of implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, in all likelihood, they’d tell you that it could be revolutionary or absolutely destructive depending on their past experiences. The key to making it revolutionary revolves around partnering with experienced ERP consultants who know how to implement and manage an ERP system on-time, on-budget, within the scope described to you during the initial phases of the implementation.

Below you will find some of the reasons why implementing an ERP system like Epicor ERP, can be revolutionary.

Increased Productivity

Implementing an ERP system streamlines and automates your business processes improving productivity and organization. This dramatically reduces the time spent on business tasks such as manual entry, tracking time sheets, generating reports, and the time spent trying to fix problems related to using multiple platforms across multiple departments. Because an ERP aggregates data into a single database, you are able to tie information across every department to gain meaningful insights in real-time and automate reporting so that your company’s internal resources can be leveraged for analyzing that information rather than collecting it.

Happier Customers

With the advent of online shopping and services, competition has never been stiffer for businesses. If you don’t keep your customers happy, another company will. Customers who are able to get their questions answered quickly and without much effort are happier customers. This is why implementing an ERP system is important. It not only provides you with instant access to a customer’s ordering history and information, but it also allows greater interaction between you and your suppliers as well as you and your customers. By using the Customer Relations Management (CRM) , customer data can be accessed across business operations, so you’re not only able to better handle the needs and concerns of your customers, but also use the information gleaned from customer order history to refine your sales strategy and improve lead generation.

Increased Mobility

Implement ERP SystemWork is no longer just something that takes place in an office. Today, people are working while on vacation. They’re working from home. They’re working anywhere that life takes them. The Epicor ERP system is mobile-friendly, meaning that you and your employees are able to access important information and continue to contribute in even the most remote places in the world (so long as they have an internet connection, that is).

Regulatory Compliance

Still wondering why you should implement an ERP system at your company? An important factor in a powerful ERP solution is that it can track regulations within your industry and alert you when there are regulatory changes, ensuring that you stay in compliance without stress. While this is helpful at the local level, it is particularly important for businesses with a global reach and varying regulations in the countries where they do business. Additionally, the ERP’s auditing tools provide documentation and generate reports so that you can easily show your compliance to any governing authority that asks.

Reduces Disconnect

Multiple platforms can provide conflicting information and often result in single departments working in a bubble, even though they may be largely dependent upon other departments for important information. This not only creates a disconnect between your departments, but can also result in decreased productivity and time-consuming errors. An ERP system places all of your departments in the same room, with the same access to information and a built-in accuracy that cannot be found in traditional business methods.

Scalability

Businesses require customization within their systems. They grow, they shrink, and their needs change. Epicor ERP provides you with that level of flexibility by incorporating lean manufacturing tools that enable operational best practices.

Not to mention, your ERP solution should scale as well. The team of software engineers at Epicor are constantly updating their systems to address new problems that never existed before, so that all of their customers receive exactly what they need.

Customized Reporting

Reports are necessary for a variety of reasons, and your ERP system uses information stored in the centralized database to generate professional reports for any business reason you may have. Your employees can easily access analytics data needed for the report without help from IT.

These are just some of the benefits of an ERP system. For more information about how you can implement an ERP within your company, contact EstesGroup today!

Do you have a specific question or interested in learning more about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems? Let us know.

The Top 5 Benefits of an ERP System

The Top 5 Benefits of an ERP System

The Top 5 Benefits of an ERP System

As any business knows, the right technology is crucial to success. However, the process of vetting and selecting an ERP software is often a challenging one. Many Small and Medium Business Solutions (SMBS) for instance have yet to adopt a platform as many fear the unknown of what sort of disruption it may cause in their business processes. Yet with an attentive Business Process Review conducted by a seasoned ERP consulting implementation team who know how to fully leverage a platform such as Epicor ERP or Prophet 21, you will be in great hands to advance your business initiatives in a scalable way.

The question we hear most often from businesses is “Why should we migrate to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system?” Typically when we discuss this topic further with our prospective clients, the top concerns inspiring this question center around upfront costs, security, data clarity, and maintenance fees. Below, we discuss why you should consider making the move.

The Primary Benefits of an ERP System

1. Exponential ROI Benefits

According to an Epicor-Forrester collaborative study, organizations that deployed the Epicor ERP system for 3 years recognized a $9.3 million PV (present value) benefit. This number was calculated after subtracting the costs of the Epicor ERP implementation consulting. All in all, the ROI was 264%.

2. End-To-End Visibility Across The Organization

According to the Epicor-Forrester report, the most compelling financial benefit of the ERP deployment was realized through improved inventory and supply chain management. With the Epicor ERP software, you get a bird’s-eye view of inventory levels. Data is consolidated and shared from disparate sources, which facilitates improved employee collaboration and better decision-making, both of which lead to cost-effective product inventory levels. Businesses that leveraged Epicor ERP’s real-time data capabilities realized:

  • $4.4 million PV inventory benefits,
  • More than $65,000 PV supply chain management benefits,
  • 10% increase in inventory ordering accuracy,
  • 67% reduction in inventory counting efforts,
  • 5% improvement in buyer productivity,
  • $250,000 annual savings in rework reductions.

Improved data quality facilitates agility and enables businesses to identify new market opportunities. With real-time visibility, data is no longer held captive in siloed sources. Instead, it can be unleashed to extract insights that facilitate greater growth.

3. Strengthened Network Security

Today, cloud-based ERP solutions are popular because of their lower upfront costs. Unlike on-premise ERP solutions, cloud-based ERPs store data in virtual servers. This negates the need to maintain expensive equipment on-site and retain a dedicated IT staff.

Also, implementing expensive, time-consuming software updates become unnecessary with a cloud-based solution since all updates are done automatically. Such a platform also comes with powerful backup and disaster recovery features. Epicor ERP’s Watchdog ISS ensures the security of your databases and network infrastructure through:

  • Virus and spyware protection,
  • Automation of security updates,
  • Centralized backups of critical data,
  • Hacker detection/prevention,
  • Intrusion protection and deep packet inspection of network traffic,
  • Firewall updates and management.

According to the Epicor-Forrester report, businesses that replaced legacy systems with Epicor saved $800,000 in IT maintenance fees and infrastructure costs.

4. Easy Compliance With Regulatory Requirements

It’s no secret that non-compliance to privacy regulations results in alarmingly high costs. For example, businesses that commit infringements of any GDPR article may expect to pay between €2 to 4 million in fines. Similarly, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) infringements can result in crippling fines from between US $100 to $50,000 per violation. With Epicor ERP, businesses realized a $50,000 Pharmacovigilance (PV) compliance, risk, and governance benefit.

5. Increased Competitive Advantage Across The Global Marketplace

As the global marketplace evolves, businesses must leverage new tools to remain competitive. According to Gartner, augmented analytics represents the next wave of technology most likely to impact modern businesses. To that end, Epicor ERP’s latest global version equips businesses with critical real-time insights to drive powerful operational benefits. For example:

  • The Epicor Virtual Agent can use its AI capabilities to adjust inventory and production levels based on market conditions and historical data,
  • Epicor IoT integration with the Microsoft Azure IoT framework allows businesses to extract data from IoT sensors and gain insights to support more agile business processes,
  • With Epicor DocStar, common fields in forms are automatically filled. The reduced need for manual processing will result in accelerated sales and fulfillment velocity.

As the above reveals, Epicor ERP provides crucial benefits for businesses across the global stage. At its heart, the Epicor ERP platform represents 45 years of continued commitment to business growth and success.

The EstesGroup, a certified Epicor partner, stands ready to help your business realize operational efficiencies and solve existing infrastructure challenges. Contact us today for more information!

What’s It Good For Anyway? Why You Need to Include Epicor ERP in Your Manufacturing ERP Software Selection

What’s It Good For Anyway? Why You Need to Include Epicor ERP in Your Manufacturing ERP Software Selection

The Epicor ERP consulting life is a tale of many worlds.  There is the world of travel, with its flights and sights, with its energy pulsing through everything, making me feel at times like I’m still the college student backpacking across Canada with a copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in one pocket and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey in the other.  And then there is the solitary work of the hotel: the late-night coding, the endless hours studying a new module, feeling as if stranded on a strange and seemingly uninhabited island, like Robinson Crusoe, searching for a fellow IT islander to help me understand my new world.  This country, with its beautiful natural landscapes and stunning human-created terrain, is a vast and amazing place, and the more of it I see, the more it humbles me with its immensity and variety. 

 

An old chum of mine, a WWII vet, and thus a rather well-traveled man in his own right, would often interrogate me over the spaces and places I’ve been with the simple question, “So wha’s it good fer, anyway?”  

 

He was looking for something about my new acquaintances and places that distinguished them from other populations or locations.  To his entreaty, I’d tell him of some local natural wonder, or some landmark, a historical site of interest, or else a local signature building, like Louis Sullivan’s “jewel box” bank in Owatonna, MN, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK.  “I see,” he’d respond once I was done, nodding approvingly at whatever little tidbit I offered.  

Customers in the midst of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software selection cycle have an outlook not unlike that of my old friend.  They are trying to understand how different enterprise platforms compare with one another and whether those differences hold any specific extraordinary meaning.  When customers in search of an ERP system come to me looking for insight into the Epicor ERP application, their question is usually the same one my old friend posed to me so many times: “So, what’s it good for, anyway?”  The answer to such a question should help a customer understand whether or not a given ERP platform is the best fit for them, and is thus an important question to ask and answer thoroughly. 

 

So, what is Epicor ERP good for anyway? 

Epicor’s ERP application is a mature manufacturing platform that provides considerable functionality to assist manufacturing companies in a variety of industry verticals.  Among the many capabilities of the application are the following:

 

Support for Deep Bills of Materials (BOM): 

 

Companies with large, complex product often need ERP systems that can handle deep bills of materials (BOMs).  Epicor ERP’s engineering capacities match these needs, offering the ability to define extensive bills of materials for complex products, for the definition of standard product through the part (item) master module and also at the quote and job (work order) modules, allowing for the definition of product at key points of the sales and fulfillment cycles.

 

Robust Quoting Module:  

 

Speaking of the quote module, Epicor ERP’s estimating capabilities are extensive, and allow companies to handle Requests for Proposal (RFP) with speed and efficiency, while providing the necessary information to ensure accuracy.  The ability to build a cost model from a bill of material, and routing at the quote line, allows the salesperson to understand costs before determining prices, and the quote worksheet capabilities allow for a variety of cost-based markups and discounts.  The module also integrates with Epicor ERP’s product configurator, enabling systematic feature-based quoting.  Moreover, the Epicor ERP platform allows for quotes to be pushed to sales orders, ensuring a seamless transition from pipeline to backlog. 

 

Well-Integrated and Fully Functional Product Configurator Module

 

Many software vendors run away from developing integrated configure-price-quote (CPQ) modules, opting instead to let their partner community fill in this gaping hole.  Epicor ERP took the opposite approach and built a robust product configuration module.  The module integrates with the quote, sales order and job (work order) modules, allowing for reconfiguration at each step, as customer requirements become better-defined.  Epicor ERP’s product configurator allows components to take formerly engineer-to-order products and standardize them, based on the product’s characteristics needed, the time of sale, and a set of rule-based actions to generate the bill of materials at the time of manufacture.  This eliminates the need for companies to define every product from scratch.  It also eliminates the need to build out an extensive array of stock-keeping units to address each permutation and combination of options. 

 

The Ability to Handle True Engineer-to-Order (ETO) and Configure-to-Order (CTO): 

 

For customers who work in a true ETO environment, where every product is so unique that it requires custom engineering, Epicor ERP supports the flow of such products through the application using “parts on the fly”—products that redefined at the quote, order, and/or job levels, but do not exist in the part (item) master.  This allows companies to define and deliver products without having to clutter their part master file with such “one-off” products.  Additionally, Epicor ERP’s partner product CADLink allows for the transfer of bill of material data from CAD systems to the ERP application.  This allows engineers to develop product models in their CAD system and then efficiently transfer the data to Epicor ERP, to support the production and delivery of the custom product in question. 

 

Support of Mixed Mode Manufacturing: 

 

Few companies operate exclusively in a make-to-order or a make-to-stock model.  While companies may produce some products only as needed, it is often financially impossible to do this with all items, especially high-volume products.  Epicor ERP’s ability to mix and match fulfillment methodologies allows customers to aggregate stocked supply for efficiency, while supplying make-to-order products directly, allowing for greater visibility and priority.  Such capabilities allow companies to leverage the benefits of both models. 

 

The ability to combine Discrete and Project-Based Manufacturing: 

 

According to the textbooks, project manufacturing functions at an aggregate or “bucket” level, where labor and materials are rolled up against a single entity, as opposed to discrete manufacturing, where discrete items are built, shipped, and invoiced.  In practice, Project manufacturers frequently operate in hybrid models, where the needs of the market demand more than simple project manufacturing approaches.  Epicor ERP’s project module integrates with its quoting, order management, and job management modules, providing the ability to handle large “buckets” of work while also supporting the delivery of discrete goods, while rolling up costs and revenues for all items sold under the same umbrella.  Further still, Epicor ERP’s project module provides planning tools that allow oversight to the many facets of a project.  This allows companies to execute large projects with the necessary level of detail to match customer expectations, while also supporting internal cost, revenue, and delivery objectives. 

 

Fully-Featured Manufacturing Execution System (MES): 

 

Epicor ERP offers a seamless transition from planning to shop floor control with their Manufacturing Execution System (MES) module.  MES supports all aspects of shop floor management: production control, material issue, material movement, and shipping.  Employee records can be configured to allow access to one or more areas within MES, based on employee roles.  The use of MES within a manufacturing environment allows for the real-time collection of manufacturing information, providing status to the shop floor activities to the whole organization.  Also, by providing the ability to track actual labor in real time, MES supports a customer’s expanding need to understand actual production performance. 

 

A Robust Material Resource Planning (MRP) Engine and the Related Tools to Support the Planning of Manufactured Supply: 

 

The use of Material Resource Planning MRP-based planning methods can be problematic in to-order organizations, but Epicor ERP’s MRP module ties tightly to its job management and inventory modules to provide mixed mode supply in support of various forms of demand.  Users can run MRP based on the facility in question, based on a product family or a commodity class, or even on a specific product itself.  This reduces the time required to generate the needed supply records.  MRP can also be scheduled on a routine basis, and offers the traditional regenerative and net change options.  Multi-level pegging capabilities can also be woven into the fray, in order to give users the ability to trace the supply to each discrete source of demand.  Epicor ERP also provides a number of tools to review the output of MRP, review exceptions, and convert MRPs supply selections into actionable work orders. 

 

Analytics: 

 

Epicor ERP offers a number of different analytics capabilities.  At the simplest levels, Epicor ERP provides the ability to create reusable queries that serve as the foundation for real time reporting tools.  Moreover, Epicor ERP’s Business Activity Queries form the foundation of Epicor ERP’s new Data Discovery (EDD) platform.  Data Discovery allows for the creation of real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can be deployed to an Epicor ERP user’s homepage, providing metrics to allow managers to gauge their business performance across the workday.  Additionally, Epicor ERP’s Data Analytics platform provides the ability to cube Epicor ERP data and analyze it across multiple dimensions. 

 

Those are just some of what Epicor ERP is good for, so why not give it a look?

 

Having worked with the Epicor ERP application (and prior versions) for two decades, I’ve seen its horizons expand, both from a technology and functionality perspective, and this trend continues.  A few weeks ago, I took the interstate from Syracuse, NY to North Philly, and the drive through Pennsylvania’s breathtaking slice of the Appalachians left my mouth open in amazement as my car seemed to float me in a space above the lines.  And the company I left behind me in Syracuse, after we celebrated the culmination of a two-year project that brought them live with the newest Epicor ERP system, filled me with as great of awe.  I advise manufacturing companies in search of a new ERP to give Epicor ERP a test drive.  It’s a system that inspires human greatness and allows companies to build wondrous IT landscapes for consultants like me to travel in, surrounded by flights and sights of creativity, of new worlds.

 

Questions or desiring additional information about Epicor ERP? Contact Us to Talk with an Expert:

Did you like this blog? Check out “Why On Earth Do I Need an ERP System?”

Is Your Epicor ERP ID Code Schema Costing You Money?

Is Your Epicor ERP ID Code Schema Costing You Money?

ERP Deployment

This Blog is Part 2 of a 2 Part Post.

In our previous blog about ID Codes, we talked about the importance of planning which ID Code schema you might want to use and the pros & cons of non-intelligent ID Codes.  Read Part 1: Defining and Setting Up ID Codes in Epicor ERP

 

So let’s get to the real issue… Is Your ERP ID Code Schema Costing You Money?

By establishing non-intelligent ID Codes, you eliminate the need to rework, or revamp your schema during an implementation.  This saves both time and money.

That’s why choosing the proper ID Code schema to reference your groups is critical to your project, implementation, and your client’s success. Now, let’s look at intelligent ID Codes and what they can offer.

Advantages of intelligent ID Codes:

Significant ID Codes offer time savings downstream, and they can help prevent data entry mistakes and improve manufacturing efficiency.  Here’s how:

  • Search efficiency:  With this type of scheme you can group similar codes in your design documentation and spreadsheets and then more easily sort and search among them.  You can also create queries and reports more efficiently, by just pulling in the code, not the description.
  • Error reduction: This type of ID Code scheme provides a frame of reference for each group by specifying the group to which it belongs.  If an employee needs to quickly verify the validity of a group of data, you can use that group ID code to pull that information, sort, filter, etc, and check to see if there is data in the wrong group.

 

Disadvantages of intelligent ID Codes:

While there are many benefits to using a significant ID Code scheme, this type of schema also has some shortcomings.  For this type of scheme to work well in an organization, employees must be familiar with the former and current code schema structure (if there is one). Such a scheme also demands ongoing attention and can introduce delays in your processes. Here’s why:

  • Training and knowledge required:  Since these ID Codes have some meaning and significance to the group it represents, the stakes are high if the group is not properly defined. The person assigning the ID Code must know how and when to create a new group.  An incorrectly classified Class ID can be misused because of the information implied by the code itself.
  • Ongoing maintenance:  A new Class ID that does not fit the current scheme will require an evaluation of the entire scheme and definition.  The logic of the ID Code system must be understood and carefully maintained, and group sizes planned in advance.  For example, if all the significant digits in a string (o 0-8) have been used before, and there’s a similar group that must be set up, now you have the. potential of two groups with similar ID Codes, and employees possibly not paying attention to the description, leading to errors.  What do you do?  You need to spend time upfront planning for how to avoid this type of conundrum and how to address any challenges when they arise.  When mistakes do occur, how is this handled and what is the best way to fix the error(s)?   You will spend significant time updating the system and training (or re-training) people on the changes.

 

So Which ID Code Schema Should Your Company Use? Intelligent or Non-Intelligent?

Ultimately at the end of the day, the decision is made by the customer, or end user of the product.  As a consultant and trusted adviser, it is our responsibility to offer the pros and cons with each option, and to allow you to make the best decision for your organization.

 

Have questions as to what ID Code Schema is best for your company? Want to talk with the blog author? Contact Us.

Can Your Business Survive a Recall? Serial Number & Lot Tracking for Wholesale Distributors & Retailers

Can Your Business Survive a Recall? Serial Number & Lot Tracking for Wholesale Distributors & Retailers

Every month there seems to be some sort of mass serial or lot recall.

Take the recent recall for Ford Fusions’ gear selector, BMW’s i3 circuit board which caused sudden auto shutdowns, or even Britax baby gear Bob stroller lawsuit & recall. All of these have some important ramifications for consumers, manufacturers, and even the distributors and retailers in-between. 

 

To alleviate and address consumer fears, manufacturers need to initiate the recall and fix the issue which means distributors and retailers need to know who purchased the items, what the affected serial numbers, lot numbers, or potential manufacture/purchase/sales dates are for the affected items. Large companyes may have these capabilities, but how do small to mid-sized retailers or distributors track that vital information? Many times, serial number tracking and lot number tracking is done with disconnected spreadsheets, accounting software not designed for serial and lot tracking, which leads to erroneous information and potential for signification financial impacts.

 

It’s times like these which force midsize supply chain companies to answer the following questions:

  1. Do my current business processes support this level of tracking and recall?
  2. Can my business system provide this information correctly in a timely and economical fashion?
  3. What burdens will this place on my business efficiency?
  4. What is the total financial or legal impact on my business?

 

If you can’t answer these questions or the answers you come up with point to problems for your business, then now is the time to seriously think about an ERP system . . . before it’s too late.

 

Epicor Prophet 21 ERP (P21) has Serial and Lot Tracking capabilities throughout the system to make sure that distributors and retailers have proper trace-ability and reporting in the following key modules:

  • Supply Chain Management (Inventory & Warehouse Management)
  • Sales Order Management
  • Product Management
  • Production Management (for the Distributor with some Manufacturing requirements)
  • Service and Maintenance Management (includes warranty claims)

 

The powerful data capture and real-time reporting of Prophet 21 ERP (P21) makes it a great fit solution for many small to midsized distributors. A few specific features of serial and lot tracking are:

  • Instant Information at a Click of the Mouse
  • Search by Full or Partial Serial Numbers or Lot Numbers
  • See Serial Numbers or Lot Numbers by Vendors
  • Trace Production or Movement of Serial Numbers or Lot Numbers
  • See Serial Numbers or Lot Numbers by Customer
  • Mobile Warehouse & Barcoding

 

Contact the EstesGroup to learn more about how Epicor Prophet 21 ERP (P21) Serial Tracking and Lot Tracking features can protect your Business!

Maximizing Your Sales Team with Epicor ERP Sales Order Automation

Maximizing Your Sales Team with Epicor ERP Sales Order Automation

In a previous blog post, we looked at the overview of Epicor ERP 10.2.400 New Features. But let’s dive into Epicor ERP Automated Sales Order Entry.

 

Currently, sales order entry staff do just what their title implies: they enter orders. Sure, an order might be generated from a quote, but someone must enter that first. Data entry, day after day. What if your customer could send you a purchase order and it just magically appears in Epicor?

 

It’s not quite magic, but pretty close. Here’s the basic operation of Epicor ERP’s Automated Sales Order Entry:

  1. Your customer sends an email with a PO attachment to a designated email address.
  2. Intelligent Data Collector (IDC) identifies the attachment and pulls it into DocStar.
  3. DocStar creates a “pre-order” and automatically filters it to a workflow.
  4. A user steps in at this point and checks for exceptions. If there are exceptions, they are corrected by the user.
  5. The pre-order passes validations.
  6. An order is born, demand is created, et cetera.

 

Oh, I see you’re starting to get the implications, so I’ll give you a moment. Okay, moment’s over.

 

How handy is that? Imagine how much more of your sales order processing staff’s time can be spent on value-added processes, versus mindless data entry, and how errors can be reduced through automation.

 

It’s not a panacea. It won’t handle parts-on-the-fly or configured parts. It will bring in sales kits, but there’s no way to edit the kit within DocStar. Still, exciting news.

 

Epicor has made a commitment to provide us with tools to rationalize our work processes and give us the information we need to make intelligent decisions, and we know more is coming.

 

Interested in reading about the other new features in 10.2.400? Read our first blog in the series “The Good, The New, No Ugly: Epicor ERP 10.2.400”

 

Have we wet your appetite about Epicor ERP Automated Sales Order Entry? Just give us a shout. We can talk about this stuff all day.