4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Inventory and Accounting ERP Software

September 16, 2014

getting-the-most-out-of-erp-softwareERP systems are costly.  They also involve a significant investment of other resources to implement and maintain, including human resources and time.  So when choosing a system, you want to go with a solution that will grow with your company and not require replacement in a couple of years’ time.  Investment in accounting and inventory software does not end after the check is signed, and there are several options for extending the life of your system over many years, long after go-live.   In order to get the most bang for your buck, consider the following:

Sign up for maintenance.

Maintenance is an extra option provided to businesses that can vary from vendor to vendor, but is generally designed to cover the cost of annual software upgrades and keep the application in warranty.  These fees usually amount to a percentage of the cost of software licenses, and can be paid on a monthly or annual basis.  The idea is that since most software vendors are continuously adding new features and improving on the technology of their systems, every year or so they release an upgraded version of the software.  Paying for maintenance means you receive these upgrades whenever they are released, as opposed to having to purchase a newer version outright.  It makes the transition to new technology and features easier if you’re upgrading every year instead of every couple of years. When negotiating maintenance fees with vendors, pay attention to the costs to make sure they also include the cost of the actual implementation and consulting time required to manage the upgrades. If they are not included, these additional fees can exceed the actual maintenance fees themselves.

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How to Get the Most Out of Distribution Software Demos

September 8, 2014

Distribution Software DemoChoosing to upgrade and implement new distribution ERP software is a huge decision that affects many areas of a company.  Not only does it provide the opportunity to improve technologies and increase automation, but it also provides a chance to evaluate processes and streamline activities across all departments. This is why the software search and evaluation process should be as extensive as the implementation process itself, in order to reap all the benefits from an upgrade.

Although most software vendors have unique sales processes for working with prospective customers, almost all will include a demonstration stage at some point. To best evaluate your options, consider only participating in demos when you have narrowed the search down to 2-3 vendors. Trying to evaluate too many can result in information overload, in which no decision is made at all.  To best prepare for the software evaluation process, and specifically how to make demos worthwhile, we have outlined some tips below.

Make 80% of Your Decision Before the Demo

Going into a demo, you should already have a good idea as to whether or not the software can meet all your needs, with the demo acting as final clarification.   Most of your time should be spent consulting with vendors on your specific business requirements and current processes, prior to even scheduling a demo.   Aside from reviewing specific features, a demo should be the final piece of the puzzle that reiterates and showcases what you already know – although software UI is an important factor to consider, it should not trump a system’s ability to meet your needs, and a vendor that understands your business and can help you achieve your goals.

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Why Company Culture Should Influence Your ERP Software Selection

September 2, 2014

evaluate company culture when purchasing ERPCompany culture is the set of values and practices shared by a company’s employees, which influences employee interaction, a company’s work environment, work expectations, future growth and strategic plans. This in turn affects employee behavior, physical company infrastructure and design, technology use, working hours, hiring policies and much more. Company culture is important because it directly impacts the success of a company. Companies with an adaptive culture aligned to business goals regularly outperform their competitors. Company culture is important as it not only affects the people you hire, but also influences the partnerships you develop. This is why culture should play a role in your decision-making process for purchasing new ERP software, and deciding which vendor you want to work with. A good software vendor will also consider company culture when selling their product as it can greatly impact the implementation process, training, success of the project and future communication. To aid in finding the best software vendor for your company, consider the following areas of company culture and how they can impact the decision.

Company Growth

If you’re a growing company looking to implement new ERP software, it is important that your software vendor is also growing and continuously looking to improve and expand upon their product offering. Ask if the company has released any new technologies in the past year and what their development team is currently working on. Determine whether or not they have experience working with similar companies and get a feel for how many users the system can support. You will want to work with a vendor who will be able to manage your projected growth and who has helped other companies grow their business as well. Another important factor to consider is how often the vendor provides software upgrades with new features, and whether or not this comes at an additional charge (including for installation).

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Pharmaceutical Distribution Software – What to Look For

August 24, 2014

Pharmaceutical ERP FeaturesAs a pharmaceutical company, the products you sell are controlled under a number of pieces of legislation, and it is imperative to abide by these rules in your distribution processes. The best way to manage all aspects of your company’s operations is to implement proper ERP software designed for pharmaceutical distribution companies. In addition to the standard inventory and accounting functionality found in most ERP systems, a solution designed for pharmaceutical distribution will also include more sophisticated product tracking and management functionality to help ensure that you’re adhering to regulations. Controls can also be set up, like system alerts based on user defined settings, and strong reporting to show that you have been compliant.

Key Features

● Lot Tracking   ● DEA & State License Expiry Management

● NDC # Association of Product ● Customer SKU Classification

● Revision Control   ● Pedigree Management

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The Importance of Inventory Management Software for Companies that Drop Ship

August 14, 2014

drop-shipping-inventory-managementTraditional distribution processes usually include product moving from a manufacturer, to a wholesaler or distributor, to a retailer, and finally to an end consumer. Sometimes, manufacturers, wholesalers or distributors will also be certified to drop ship product. In the case of a retailer, drop shipping refers to a service offered by another member of the supply chain (let’s say manufacturer in this case), whereby the retailer takes customer orders and shipment information, and transfers these to the manufacturer right away. The manufacturer in turn will then ship product directly to the end consumer, so the retailer does not actually hold much physical inventory on hand. This same process applies to wholesale or distribution companies who purchase from other distribution or manufacturing companies that drop ship as well.

This is commonly found in the eCommerce arena, and specifically with Amazon. Although Amazon holds a lot of their own inventory they also generate drop shipping of product by other distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers. As the end consumer ordering product from Amazon, you pay on their website and receive emails from them with your order information, so you would never know that the product was not being sourced from their warehouse unless they specifically mention this.

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The Customer is King: 4 ERP Tools for Better Customer Management

August 4, 2014

Customer Relationship ManagementERP software is designed to streamline all aspects of a company’s operations – this includes inventory, accounting, contact management, order entry and processing, warehouse management and everything in-between.  As a wholesale distribution company this allows you to process and ship more orders with fewer people, ultimately achieving the goal of any company; increasing sales while reducing costs.  However, any successful company will know that it takes more than efficient processes to grow sales; it also involves managing customer relationships and keeping customers happy.  The customer is King, and proper ERP software can provide you with tools to better engage your customers while making their lives easier as well.

CRM

An ERP system with an integrated Customer Relationship Management component allows you to keep track of all of your vendor, prospect and customer information in one central database. A strong CRM system lets you input customer data, log field changes and sales rep information, set follow-up dates, maintain a record of verbal and email communication, specify primary contact information and link to any outstanding invoices or quotes. Using a CRM will help your company stay organized and keep customers satisfied, ensuring that any information about customers and prospects is easily accessible with action items clearly displayed.

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Mobile Sales Applications and Other ERP Tools for Sales Reps

July 23, 2014

sales-rep-erp-toolsTraditionally being a sales rep meant going to door to door to sell product, attending trade shows, showing product demos and cold calling prospects in order to meet quotas. Even though modern sales reps may perform some of the same tasks, a successful sales rep will do more than just sell product.  Instead they will work to develop long-term partnerships with their clients, challenging them to implement processes and technology to improve their businesses and achieve their goals. This means sales reps must nurture clients before, after, and during the sale, and establish themselves as an expert in the industry. With social media and the internet, it is more important than ever for sales reps and companies to differentiate their businesses by the service they offer, knowledge they provide and relationships they develop.  Information previously only available to sales reps is now accessible to anyone with access to the internet and today 93% of the buying process starts with an internet search.

“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right, starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal.” 

Jill Konrath, Author of the Best Selling Book Snap Selling

As a business owner, it is important to employ the right processes and provide your sales team with the appropriate tools in order to develop these types of partnerships with clients.  Having sales tools that are a part of your back-end ERP system will help sales reps in the field, while still maintaining a single database for other departments in the company.

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