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The Distribution Industry Heads to Texas

The Distribution Industry Heads to Texas

On August 29th, EstesGroup heads to Texas for one of the most important events in the distribution industry. Visit us in booths 6 and 7 at P21WWUG CONNECT 2022 in San Antonio August 29th – August 31st! We are proud to be the Platinum Sponsor for this year’s show!

What is P21WWUG CONNECT?

Organized by the Prophet 21 World Wide Users Group (P21WWUG), CONNECT is an annual gathering of Epicor Prophet 21 users from across the globe. Members of the distribution community head to exciting cities (i.e. Atlanta ’21 or San Antonio ’22) to meet, collaborate, and learn more about the Prophet 21 application. Attendees interact and learn from other members of the P21WWUG community, from Epicor consultants and product managers, and from third-party solution providers, like DCKAP, our partner for a pre-show charity walk that will benefit children in need. With multiple days of educational sessions, the event offers excellent opportunities for Prophet 21 users to expand their use of the Epicor P21 application, and better leverage P21 ERP to serve the needs of their organizations.

Distribution Industry Texas Cloud

With multiple days of educational sessions, the event offers excellent opportunities for Prophet 21 users to expand their use of the Epicor P21 application, and better leverage P21 ERP to serve the needs of their organizations. Visit us at CONNECT booths 6 and 7 to learn more about application hosting, cloud migrations, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), IT support and services for companies in the distribution industry, application optimization through partnership with an Epicor Prophet 21 expert, and more.

Who is P21WWUG CONNECT for?

The P21WWUG CONNECT conference is designed to address the needs of a broad base of the P21 community. Attendees of the event range from business owners and executives to managers and functional specialists, in areas such as purchasing, accounting, sales, inventory and warehouse management. This event helps both the members of the P21 community that use the data from the P21 application to make executive decisions, and the folks in the trenches, using the P21 application to make their companies function.

Who will I meet at P21WWUG CONNECT?

Your peers and colleagues, to begin with. End users, power users, local experts, IT admins — individuals who’ve worked with the Epicor P21 system for years and have learned its inner workings, and have solved countless problems in and through its use. They bring their collective knowledge to the P21WWUG CONNECT event, to share their hard-earned lessons with others. Beyond the user community, an extensive vendor area allows you to interact with providers of integrated solutions that enable companies to extend their P21 applications by bringing it into contact with customer and suppliers, and to automate processes internally, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

What will I learn from the Prophet 21 World Wide Users Group?

It takes a lot to make your business succeed. To address your needs, P21WWUG CONNECT offers a range of networking opportunities, keynote speakers, educational sessions, roundtable discussions, and workshops, that address your current challenges and the challenges of the future. 

That said, what you learn depends on what you’re looking for. 

Maybe you are an inventory control manager, already well-versed in the P21 application, but in search of more information about inventory management, stocking levels, cycle counting, or units of measure. 

Or you could be a power user, responsible for data management and updates, and wish to better understand using excel in conjunction with P21, improving your skills in reports, queries, financial statements, data extraction, SSRS or Crystal Reports. 

You might be a developer, looking to learn more about Dynachange, business rules, data streams or business process automation. You might be here trying to extend your P21 ecosystem, interesting in talking with P21 third-party vendors, or attending sessions to learn more about shipping integrations, credit card processing, or ACH integrations. 

Or you might be an uber-techie, concerned with database administration cloud capabilities, cybersecurity or middleware APIs. Many users simply come trying to better understand P21’s Web UI, and whether they are ready to take the leap.  

Business leaders and owners come to P21WWUG CONNECT to talk with other business leaders and better understand the current landscape.

Are you thinking of attending P21WWUG CONNECT? Are you trying to sharpen your business acumen, to make better decisions in rapidly fluctuating times? Perhaps you are trying to better understand continuous improvement in the distribution industry, or you wish to learn how other distributors are dealing with supply chain issues. Your concern might be sales strategy, or mastering the challenges of recruiting, retainment, and employee development. If you’re a business leader, CONNECT might be the place to help you use Prophet 21 ERP to take your business into the future. 

Chances are that if you have questions about the distribution industry, EstesGroup ERP and IT experts at P21WWUG CONNECT 2022 will provide the answers. The event will offer sessions, users, vendors, and experts to help you find the answers that you are looking for. Visit us at booth 6 and 7 this August!

Where and when is P21WWUG CONNECT 2022?

The Prophet 21 World Wide User Group will be hosting CONNECT 2022 from August 29th to August 31st at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.

EstesGroup is hosting a pre-event Charity Walk with our partner DCKAP. DCKAP simplifies commerce for distributors. Get better results faster with DCKAP’s simple, yet powerful, product suite. 

Any other considerations concerning this distribution industry event?

To attend P21WWUG CONNECT, you need to be a member of the P21 World Wide User Group.  Are you a member already?  If not, check out the P21WWUG website for more info.

Cloud Server

Walk for Charity with EstesGroup and DCKAP on August 29th in San Antonio! (P.S. You don’t have to be in the distribution industry to attend.)

Walk for Charity at P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio

Walk for Charity at P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio

Technology is on the move. Chase it down at P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio this August. Cloud options, web client deployments, integrations, middleware installations: the road ahead is replete with opportunities and obstacles, with shortcuts and fast lanes — not to mention the occasional blind alley. 

P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio Charity Walk

EstesGroup is excited to be the Platinum Sponsor for the Epicor Prophet 21® event of the year! We will begin the show with a cause dear to our hearts. In the spirit of meaningful motion, DCKAP & EstesGroup teams have banded together to walk for charity at P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio.

Are you attending the annual P21WWUG CONNECT event?

CONNECT is a great opportunity to learn more about Epicor’s P21® application — what it can do, how it can be used and, most importantly, where it’s headed. Applications are always on the run. Events like P21WWUG CONNECT are a great opportunity to catch up and head them off at the proverbial pass.

Run Your Business With Prophet 21®, Walk for Charity with EstesGroup ERP Experts

WHO: EstesGroup, DCKAP, and YOU!

WHAT: A charity walk that will benefit the Save the Children Foundation (FREE to attend, as donations are optional, with FREE breakfast following the walk)

WHEN: August 29th from 7 AM to 10 AM (CST)

WHERE: At P21WWUG CONNECT in San Antonio at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort

WHY: Find community with ERP, technology, cloud, and commerce experts while supporting a good cause!

This is a great opportunity to clear your head, and meet some great people while helping the world, before the P21WWUG CONNECT event activities and festivities commence.

Walk With EstesGroup and DCKAP this August

Get some exercise and enjoy a good meal afterwards! We’ll meet at a designated area on the grounds prior to the P21WWUG Connect event, where we’ll start the day with coffee and refreshments before heading out on the walking path. Then, we’ll provide attendees with a hearty breakfast and grab-and-go goodies, too.

Cybersecurity Insurance Policy Pleasantries

Cybersecurity Insurance Policy Pleasantries

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

Cybersecurity Insurance Estes Cloud Security

How much cybersecurity insurance coverage do you need?

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

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

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

What is cybersecurity insurance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is your business safe?

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

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

Doctor Who Regeneration for Digital Transformation

Doctor Who Regeneration for Digital Transformation

Regeneration as a Metaphor for Digital Transformation

As a Canadian living in the American diaspora, I’ve had fun, at times, playing with my adopted country’s misconceptions of my homeland. I once convinced a room full of Texans that I had a pet wolf back home, à la Jon Snow, and that I culled dinner from the nearby caribou herds with a hand spear. Easy pickings, they were — the Texans, not the caribou.

But as a Canadian, I’ve also fielded my share of awkward questions, most often in relation to my country of origin and its relationship with its ancestral United Kingdom. To summarize: no — we don’t send tax dollars to the queen anymore. And no — I couldn’t give a rip about Harry and Meghan. But when it comes to contextualizing Canada’s relationship with the UK, I often find myself quoting Robert Frost, who was himself quoting an Englishman, when he said, “Canada ripened off the tree — you fell off green!”

Digital Transformation ERP System Upgrades

Not to get too mired in post-modern discussions on post-colonialism, I will admit that I’ve long held onto my commonwealth membership card over the years, pulling it out whenever it was useful. One such case was the matter of Doctor Who. As part of my cultural inheritance, I was rather fond of that man of manners and madness. As a child, I remember wanting a characteristic Doctor Who scarf for my birthday almost as much as that red Michael Jackson leather jacket that was also popular at the time — the one with all the zippers… ah… the 80s…

ERP System Time Travelers

So when I heard that the latest rendition of the “The Doctor” was on the precipice of a regeneration into a new incarnation, it seemed fitting that my mind would wander into the dimension of digital transformation, and pluck a few parallels where they hung out in front of me. For all you time-travelers out there, the EstesGroup has helped countless companies over the years transition ERP systems that were 40+ years old — systems that go back to the Tom Baker era, if anyone is keeping track. For such companies, the shift from a character-based system to a contemporary ERP is enough to tear a hole in a company’s fabric of time. But what does that mean for a company facing such a change?

System Regeneration

Digital transformation is like a regeneration in the Doctor Who series. ERP systems are a new incarnation of the Doctor — they come into being, replacing their predecessors. They go on adventures, solve problems, and take their companion companies to unexpected places. And in so doing, they amass monumental amounts of experience and ingenuity, and ultimately encapsulate the worldview of the time in their rows and their columns.

The worldviews themselves amount to the business requirements of the organization, as they relate to the system in question. Worldviews are not fixed in time, and evolve gradually, as the system is further modified, fine tuned, reconfigured, and integrated with other systems. While this worldview continually changes, the changes are rarely as abrupt as a new body fitting an old suit. 

A migration to a new ERP system, on the other hand, amounts to a much more radical shift in worldviews. The challenges really have to do with the wisdom and knowledge that is bundled up inside the legacy system, and with finding a way to translate that information into the new ERP system without compromising the integrity of the new system.

Don’t blink — it’s no easy task. In this context, the question you must ask yourself relates to how you approach a regeneration, knowing that it must happen. This might be a good time to lean on the good Doctor for assistance. Fortunately, there are several of them from which to choose:

You might approach the needed changes in the spirit of the Tenth Doctor and simply exclaim “I don’t want to go!” That is, you can fight the new system and cling to the old, as it slips away, like breath on a mirror.

Or you might approach an impending regeneration in the spirit of the Eleventh Doctor, understanding that “times change and so must I.” That is, you can get ahead of the transition and maximize the time you have, to remember as much of the legacy system as possible, such that it is not forgotten in the new system. 

The truth is, regardless of your reaction, some form of digital transformation is inevitable. Any moment now, he’s a’ comin’.

I’ve had many customers migrate simply because the current state was no longer tenable: ancient hardware, out-of-date operating systems, applications lacking the faculties to keep up with the current needs of the business, much less lead them into the future.  

I‘ve also seen customers delay a regeneration until the 11th hour, or a minute before midnight, and have thus dragged into a transformation without preparation. When it comes to transformation, preparation is key. Good preparation allows you to understand the business requirements that underly your legacy system. This gives you a better chance of incorporating your requirements into your new system, without trying to forcibly alter the new system to mirror the old.

In working with system implementations, one comes to understand that over the course of a company’s existence, systems change. And that’s ok, that’s good. You’ve got to keep moving, so long as your system remembers all the systems that it used to be.  

We all wish that our digital transformations would have an orchestral accompaniment as the universe sings our legacy systems to their sleep. The truth is, you have to provide the soundtrack. And that soundtrack is a manifestation of the attitude you bring into your system’s story. The song of your legacy system is ending, but the story of your organization never ends — as long as time passes really slowly, in the right order, and the next season does not get cancelled.

Are you seeking an ERP system or technology update?

Talk to our consultants now to begin a conversation that will make your system sing. Get help now with business processes, ERP implementation, digital transformation initiatives and digital transformation strategy. Ready for digital transformation in ’22 style? Go cloud, and get ERP business consulting experts for time-consuming hard and soft digital technology upgrades. Create the ultimate user and customer experience with new cloud computing platforms, without losing historical data. Meet customer expectations by combining a new version of your ERP solution with cutting-edge technology and optimized control over both the data migration process and migrated data. Hoping to use a newer version of your software to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic? Use cloud hosting technology to compete with the best of digital businesses, incorporating third-party integrations easily, to maximize machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other cloud-based digital transformation services.

Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

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

Hybrid Cloud Hybrid Workforce

Solutions Like Microsoft Teams for Remote Teams

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

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

Benefits of the Hybrid Cloud for a Hybrid Workforce

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

Digital Transformation Results in More Access, Better Resources

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

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

What Cloud Does Your Hybrid Workforce Need?

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

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

Can Public Clouds Turn Hybrid Workforces Into Hybrid Monsters?

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

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

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

Putting Your Software Testing Strategy to the Test

Putting Your Software Testing Strategy to the Test

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

Software Testing ERP Implementation

Testing basics, testing methods

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

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

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

Corrective actions

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

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

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

Test again and again

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

More complex testing

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

Automated testing

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

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

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

Ready to test your software in the cloud?

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

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