Select Page
Epicor ERP Event: EstesGroup Fall Summit 2020 (Video)

Epicor ERP Event: EstesGroup Fall Summit 2020 (Video)

Epicor ERP Virtual Event EstesGroup

​An Epicor ERP Event to Begin a New Season

Are you ready for change? In June, we gathered friends and strangers together at an Epicor user event covering everything from master file setup to security to embedded customization. To further support this ERP community, we’re meeting again on October 7th for another Epicor event that will raise awareness of new techniques for manufacturers and distributors using ERP software solutions. This fall summit will serve to assist Epicor users with customization and optimization steps that are often overlooked by ERP project teams.

 

Epicor is a large and complex application and can be configured in a multitude of ways. Depending on how you’ve configured your application, different capabilities and different issues present themselves, and understanding how other Epicor customers have addressed these issues is often a great way to add perspective to your own challenges. On the technical front, the tools available for super users often span the skillsets of multiple roles, so for those of you who wear multiple hats by necessity, a better understanding of some of Epicor’s key technical foundations can assist in better maintaining and optimizing your installation. If you’ve experienced work culture shifts because of the pandemic, you might benefit from new Epicor consulting techniques that can address challenging project checkpoints (like conducting an Epicor CRP remotely, for example).

Making the Most of the Planning Workbench

Job management and scheduling are critical to any ERP implementation, but no two companies manage the work orders passing though their factories in quite the same way. Not surprisingly, Epicor offers a number of planning and scheduling tools that often go underutilized. Epicor’s Planning Workbench is one such tool, and integrating it into your suite of management tools can take a little fiddling, and its tendrils extend into Epicor’s part master setup, into its Time Phase and MRP programs, and even into Epicor’s underlying PartDtl table. In this session, we’ll be working though the logic underlying the Planning Workbench and demonstrating how it can be leveraged to keep ahead of quantity and timing issues on your shop floor.

 

SQL Server: Tips and Tricks For the Epicor Administrator

For those in the user community with Epicor experience that dates back to the days of 905 and earlier, the challenges of working with Epicor’s legacy backend are long remembered, like bad memories from another place and time. With the advent of Epicor’s E10 application, Epicor moved to an entirely Microsoft-centric stack, resulting in a much more stable, robust and scalable platform. And now that Epicor’s E10 ERP platform is built upon Microsoft’s SQL Server database engine, there are many new tricks and techniques that can be applied to best leverage the capabilities of the SQL Server RDBMS, while avoiding the common pitfalls of SQL Server administration. Understanding the principles of configuration, tuning and optimization at the database level can have a significant positive impact on your Epicor application’s performance and stability. In this SQL Server session, we’ll provide key insights to keeping your database server running smoothly.

 

SSRS Reporting: Modifying Standard Reports

Speaking further along the lines of Epicor’s Microsoft-centric stack, Epicor’s use of Microsoft’s SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) as its primary reporting platform allowed for tighter integration across the different elements of the application. But the move from Crystal Reports to SSRS was a significant one, given that SSRS differs significantly from Crystal in its fit, form, and function. For users unfamiliar with the paradigms underlying SSRS, simple things like adding a logo or a field to an existing report, in order to address the needs of a given company, are not always self-evident.  In this SSRS Reporting session, we’ll provide some steps that will allow you to make basic modifications to standard reports to help fit them effectively into your business.

Please join us on October 7th

Watch our Epicor ERP fall event preview to begin a new season of ERP solutions.

Planning Workbench 

Presented by Brad Feakes

SQL Server

Presented by Daryl Sirota

SSRS Reporting

Presented by Joe Trent

How to Manage Epicor Part Replacement

How to Manage Epicor Part Replacement

One area of Epicor consulting that we frequently get asked about spins around engineering change orders. Engineering updates to the part master once the company is live has been likened to working on a car’s engine while speeding down the freeway. This is especially true when creating new parts to replace existing parts in existing Bills of Materials. It would be an understatement to say that parts are rather important to ERP systems—even novice Epicor consultants know that parts are one of the foundational building blocks upon which everything else rests.
Epicor Part Replacement Management

How to Introduce Engineering Change Order

Shake-ups to the part structure invariably have tremor effects on the upper decks, so you would want to minimize these by following a careful approach to introducing engineering change order. Such an approach involves two steps: carefully understanding the exposure of the legacy parts to be replaced and planning the update accordingly, and then systematically executing the necessary updates to pull off the switch. In one case you might be renaming a part or a number of parts, to ensure consistency across your part master. But such changes affect a number of areas, so the steps to execute such changes need to be well planned out and executed. The following is a guide to do just that—planning and executing Epicor part replacement within your business system.

 

 

Planning and Review: Steps for Replacing Parts in Epicor

Before making changes, it is a good idea to plan through the changes you wish to make and ensure that all areas of the system that might be affected by these part changes will be addressed. The following tasks should be performed before a change is implemented:

  • Review any cases where the part exists on an open sales order and review any related allocations.
  • Review any cases where the part exists on an open purchase order or purchase order suggestion.
  • Review any cases where the part exists as a job material—this might include open firm jobs and unfirm jobs.
  • Review any cases where the part exists as the part to be made on a job header— this might include open firm jobs, unfirm jobs, and even part suggestions in the planning workbench.
  • Review the cases where the part exists in the BOM of another part.
  • Review the cases where the part is located in a Part Bin as on-hand inventory.

Execution of Part Replacement in Epicor

Once ready to execute the changes, care should be taken to ensure the proper steps are done, and in the proper order:

  • Create the new parts, revisions, MOMs, part costs, etc.
  • Run an update to replace the material parts in any part Bills of Materials.
  • Remove any Sales Order Allocations. Run an update to replace the parts in any Sales Order Lines.
  • Run an update to replace the material parts in any open, firm Jobs’ Bills of Materials. Delete any unfirm Jobs that contain the legacy parts as materials.
  • Run an update to replace the Job Header parts in any open, firm Jobs. Delete any unfirm Jobs for the legacy part. Delete any Part Suggestions for the legacy part.
  • Run an update to replace the parts on any open purchase order lines. Delete any PO Suggestions for the legacy part number.
  • Run a quantity adjustment update to remove the on-hand quantities of the legacy parts. Run a quantity adjustment update to add the on-hand quantities of the new parts, using the legacy part quantities that were previously on-hand.
  • Inactivate the legacy part.

 

Playing the Part in Epicor Part Replacement

Above all, care should be taken to make sure that sufficient communication has been made across the organization, beginning with your designated Epicor consulting team and extending throughout your entire company’s infrastructure. As you can see, such a change affects multiple modules, so you can anticipate that many people and departments will likely be affected by such a change in Epicor. As such, make sure to communicate accordingly. Following the proper steps, you can help keep your part master clean, and your business system running smoothly.

 

 

Looking for more tips from our Epicor consulting team?

Read our white paper on Epicor Part Setup.

Working from Home: Advice from an ERP Consultant

Working from Home: Advice from an ERP Consultant

Tips to Survive a Transition to Remote Work

 

Several years ago, I made the switch from working each day in a manufacturing plant to working from home as a consultant.  My home office was a dramatically different environment, and I wasn’t prepared.  As a consultant, I readily give technical advice to my customers about everything I’ve learned over the years, but I’ve also learned some lessons along the way about working remotely.

 

 

When I work on-site, I see a number of individuals every day, as well as a stream of customers on their way through.  There’s lots of talk, small and otherwise.  Little stories from home, triumphs, jokes, and worries.  And there are meetings to attend, and donuts and coffee.  All that changed when I began my journey as a consultant working out of a home office.  With my wife working, my days were spent alone, and only the occasional phone call or online meeting kept me interacting with others until my wife returned in the evening.

 

Too, the codes, written and otherwise, for personal dress and hygiene were no longer enforced by company or public opinion.  So, I found myself, among other things, sitting in front of a computer in my boxers, wondering about the date of my most recent shower, and making sure the video camera was shut off during meetings so no one would see my free-spirited appearance (not exactly reflective of my constitution as a consultant).  For many (many) years, part of my identity was bound up in the daily routine.  It’s difficult when your identity suddenly changes, as mine did when I became a consultant.

 

So, here are a few recommendations for your new office stay (may it ever be temporary):

 

 

Keep Your Routine

 

I try to get up about the same time each morning.  It’s a little later than if I had to drive to work, but still consistent.  I get dressed for work.  It’s blue jeans and boots instead of slacks and dress shoes, but I’m dressed, nevertheless.  Then the dogs get potty time, and I get coffee.

 

I’m “at work” by 8:00, whether there’s a scheduled meeting or not.  I try to take a lunch break but sometimes I grab a sandwich while I’m working.  (I probably need to work on that.)

 

My day as a consultant while working at home ends in the style of a normal office work routine.  It’s tempting to just keep going when there’s a project that has work left on it, but I try to trim the evening work to a minimum when it’s not urgent.  Just like for the coyote and sheepdog, there’s a whistle at the end of the workday for a reason.

 

Have a Place

 

For several years, I commandeered a bedroom for my desk and accoutrements.  I recently built a small office in my shop and opened that bedroom up for grandkids.  Whatever choices you have, set aside some space that is your work area.  When my grandkids are here during work hours, I have to let them know I’m “at work” and can’t pay them as much attention as I’d like. You’ve probably seen videos of parents embarrassed by their kids, dogs, or husbands in their undergarments wandering into view of the video camera during video chats, or even newscasts.  Secure your place.  And laugh at the unexpected.

 

Get Some Exercise

 

Early on while working at home as a consultant, I started trekking to the bathroom at the other end of the house—a routine enforced by large quantities of coffee.  At least I get a few steps in.  Since acquiring a couple of dogs, I get outside at least a few times a day.  You can vegetate in your home office chair if you aren’t purposeful about stirring.

 

Communicate and Recreate

 

If you don’t get enough time with people otherwise, take a break from work to call a friend.  It’ll do you both good.  Find something you enjoy.  If you can’t leave the house, watch a good movie or read a good book.  We had a video chat recently with all our grandkids and a story visit from “Grandad the Pirate.”  (I hope there’s no recording of that loose on the interwebs.)

 

Be Thankful and Find Your Rhythm

 

You’re working.  That’s a good thing.  Rinse, repeat, and do it all again tomorrow.  As a consultant, I eventually found my working from home rhythm, and I hope I’ve helped you find yours.

 

 

EstesGroup specializes in providing both on-site and remote consulting assistance, aligned with our Managed IT, Epicor ERP, Prophet 21 and CyberSecurity services.

 

 

Is your team working from home?  EstesGroup works with companies to set up and secure remote devices and obtain remote access.  Learn more about our remote offerings here.

 

 

For more advice from Joe Trent, check out his blog: Epicor ERP Data Management Tool, The Tool That Keeps On Giving.

Epicor Optimization Success for Remote Teams

Epicor Optimization Success for Remote Teams

Rock the House by Refining Your Epicor Application

 

After completing an implementation, you can continue fine-tuning your processes to gain maximum return on investment through Epicor optimization.  If your team is working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the temptation might be to stall ERP optimization (Phase 2) steps.  Such delay has been the pattern among Epicor customers over the years.  But home can be the ideal environment for managing these Phase 2 actions.  Epicor optimization activities that improve the utility of your Epicor application can be accomplished via remote work.

 

ERP Optimization

 

 

Improve While in the Home Office Groove

 

By necessity, companies implement ERP with an initial push for the system’s essentials, as to go live in a timely manner with the intention of circling back and further elaborating on the ERP application as time allows.  When implementing Epicor as a customer, I once had a teammate bemoan this delay in the implementation of a certain element of functionality: “If we push it to Phase 2, it’ll never happen!”  The functionality was, to his dismay, postponed until after cutover.

 

His concern was not unfounded: Epicor ERP implementation Phase 2 activities frequently get set aside in lieu of the daily grind.

 

You might similarly worry that if you push tasks to Phase 2, they’ll never happen.  This is a good reason to be proactive in your Epicor optimization.  The remote organizational structures necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 give you time to focus on process improvement, leading you toward improved on-site ERP functionality in the future.  Remote Epicor ERP optimization allows for time to be spent knocking off Phase 2 projects that will help you make better use of your application.

 

Let’s look at some of the optimization steps that your ERP team can do from home:

  • Data Cleansing: It’s not uncommon for a company to look back at its data and note the places where data discipline has been found wanting or where additional data could be updated to improve downstream processes.  Use remote ERP team time to query the data out of your system, massage it in Excel, and run updates through Epicor’s Data Management Tool (DMT).  DMT is a great tool when it comes to data cleansing—use it to your advantage.
  • Improving visibility across the enterprise: This is a great time to improve visibility to processes and data throughout the organization.  This is necessary in any organization, but even more so when the workforce is distributed.  Dashboards provide the simple kind of visibility that streamlines business processes and improves communication across your company.  But dashboards take a certain amount of quiet time to work through the underlying queries and predict how users might look to access the data.  Remote work gives your team those quiet hours.  Similarly, a well-done SSRS report can save time and effort, and remote work assignments to create these reports can help bridge communication gaps.
  • Enhancing existing modules: It’s not uncommon for customers to buy more functionality than they actually use at cutover.  Each functional area within an organization likely has some application capabilities that have gone underutilized, and Epicor optimization often begins with revisiting usage. You can also introduce or refine existing supplier and customer price lists, or even dust off the Buyer’s Workbench or the Fulfillment Workbench and put them to use in relating supply and demand.
  • Implementing new modules: Beyond utilizing existing licenses, some customers may take this time to implement new modules entirely.  Case Entry and Field Service are customer-facing modules that often get pushed to Phase 2 and are comparatively easy to do when implemented on top of an existing system configuration.  Project Entry is another module that can provide benefits when implemented on top of a live system.  Similarly, a customer looking to implement product configurator, to further enhance order entry and engineering processes, recently reached out to me, and remote consulting was a good way to address this Epicor optimization step.
  • Bullet-Proofing: Once a company is live, a number of places where processes can be tightened up always surface, such as missing steps or missing data that can create downstream troubles.  Optimization of your Epicor application can be remotely organized to help with tightening up or bullet-proofing existing processes.  Extended properties are a simple way to make fields mandatory or read-only, which may be of use in a given situation.  Similarly, a few well-placed BPMs can assist in providing extra validation or automation as needed. Cumulatively, these simple fixes go a long way in standardizing a given process.

Do More Than Float While Working Remote

 

Even if you’ve always used on-site consulting for your ERP implementation, you can, with a simple click into a web conferencing tool, have an expert consultant helping you with your Epicor optimization.  Sure, face-to-face meetings can be the ideal way for you to manage your team, and we’re all excited to eventually get our projects back in the office, but many Epicor ERP optimization project activities can be completed through remote consulting.

 

Looking for ways to use remote work time to improve your existing Epicor ERP implementation?  In addition to Managed IT, Epicor ERP, Prophet 21 and CyberSecurity services, EstesGroup also specializes in providing remote consulting assistance.  We’ve been working remotely with customers for years, providing the necessary assistance to knock off optimization tasks that help companies make better use of their Epicor application.

 

 

 

Learn a few more ways to use remote consulting to boost your team’s performance by checking out our blog on COVID-19 Remote Consulting Strategies in Epicor ERP.

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Why Buy an ERP Software?

Businesses who are happy with the money they’re making and don’t wish to grow or to improve their relationships with their customers often don’t think about the need for ERP software. However, those businesses are few and far between. For the rest of us, the need for streamlined business processes has never been greater. ERP software helps businesses remain competitive by providing tools necessary for operating efficiently.

Why Do We Need an ERP System?

Gone are the days of companies have an employee or a department specifically devoted to manually entering information. Gone are the days when customers only had one choice when it came time to order the products they need. Today’s business processes must be done quicker and more efficiently than ever in order for a company to keep pace with its customers’ demands. An ERP package helps you to provide quick, accurate, and efficient service to your customers by providing a centralized hub in which all of the data from the various departments is managed.

The following symptoms show that your business is ready for an ERP package:

  • You’ve outgrown your business software and it is no longer capable of doing all of the things you need it to do.
  • Your existing business processes often result in missed deadlines, wasted materials, unused machines or labor, and other inefficiencies.
  • You need to track data across existing systems or in multiple departments and you’re unable to do so.
  • You don’t have the transparency you need in all aspects of your business to make informed decisions as to future opportunities.
  • Your employees are often tied up with tasks that could be automated.
  • There is little communication or information sharing between the various groups in your organization.
  • You’re spending too much on licensing fees, staffing, training, operations, and labor all for the sole purpose of integrating multiple applications.

Should Every Business Buy an ERP Package?

The simple answer to this question is: Yes. While small to medium businesses may be able to get by on a patchwork of different software, multiple systems are less effective for your business processes as they quickly become outdated and also require a lot of manual and duplicate entries. ERP systems streamline the various processes you use in your day-to-day operations, working off the same, shared database. This not only gives you a complete view of all of your processes and how they relate to one another, but also improve collaboration and provide you with the analysis you need to make decisions that will impact your bottom line.

Additional reasons why every business should buy an ERP package include:

  • Automated management of business tasks which free up employee time for other critical work.
  • Reducing errors that come with manual entry, saving your company’s precious resources, including money and time.
  • Increased productivity due to real-time coordination between groups within your organization.
  • Creation of a clear audit paper trail that can withstand the compliance regulations of your industry.
  • Reduction of labor costs and IT expenses.
  • Improving customer relationship management by allowing your sales department to have the information they need about the customers they deal with and the information they need to know about inventory and availability.
  • Flexibility to handle organizational growth and its impacts to each individual department.
  • Knowing that your software is up-to-date, secure, and maintained and that there is support available if you should have any questions.

We Can Help

EstesGroup is a certified reseller of Epicor products, including Epicor ERP and Prophet 21. We also provide ERP consultations, regardless of what system you select for your business. We will not guide you toward our own products if they are not a good fit for you. Contact us today for a free, in-depth consultation so that we may discuss your business processes with you and find a solution that will advance your company’s initiatives.

Are you looking for an ERP system, or have questions about what ERP is best for your business? Ask Us.

The Company You Keep: Deploying Company-Specific Customizations in a Multi-Company Environment

The Company You Keep: Deploying Company-Specific Customizations in a Multi-Company Environment

Setup is crucial for a successful company-specific customization in an Epicor ERP multi-company environment.

Maintenance of the Epicor ERP menu in multi-company environments can be unintuitive, and many customers come to us looking to better understand its capabilities and its limitations.  One area of special frustration is the deployment of customizations in multi-company environments.  Deploying company-specific customizations—especially since ERP version 10.1.600—has been a point of confusion.  Fortunately, once the steps are understood, the act of getting your customizations to the menu becomes less ambiguous, even if a little cumbersome.

 

When creating customizations, you can develop one that is specific to a single company or one that applies to all companies.  Let’s assume you were making a customization of the Epicor ERP Part Maintenance form.  For instance, perhaps you thought the Part Maintenance form would look better with a big green spot:

Let’s also assume you wanted the big-green-spot version deployed only to the company you were working in (in the case below, this would be the “EPIC06” company).  As such, you’ve saved the customization by not setting the “All Companies” flag and allowing the company to remain the one you’ve been working in.  This creates what is called a “company-specific customization”:

Now, deploying this customization to the standard “System” menu is not possible—the customization is not available when you click the “Customization” drop-down in Menu Maintenance:

To deploy the customization to the currently company without affecting all companies, navigate to the “Actions” menu in Menu Maintenance and select “Copy to Current Company”:

When this is done, the application makes a copy of the system menu.  In doing so, the new menu carries over a number of values from the original menu: the Menu ID, the Name, the Security ID, the Parent Menu ID, and even the Order Sequence is carried over.  But a number of key fields change.  The duplicate menu is no longer a System Menu, as it now has a Module type of “UD.”  The menu no longer applies to All Companies, as the owning company is now the company in which it was deployed. 

Most importantly, the “Customization” drop-down now allows you to select the customization that you’ve created:

When deploying a company-specific customization in a multi-company environment, the above steps allow you to create a menu deployment that will replace the system-based menu deployment for the company in question.  To demonstrate this, log out of the application and back in. 

 

As you can see, only a single menu node for the Part form is displayed:

And when this single node is selected, the customized version of the Part form that was previously created (big green spot and all) is displayed:

If, for some reason, you need to revert to the base “System” menu, you can always delete the duplicated menu from Menu Maintenance.

 

The ability to manage company-specific customizations in a multi-company environment is of great importance, especially in environments where companies have vastly differing business requirements and require highly-specific form deployments.  Such capabilities will keep your requirements aligned with your environments and keep you user base in good company.

Have any feedback or questions about customizations?