Product Recalls and the Need for Pharmaceutical Distribution Software

February 25, 2015

product-recallsAs you can imagine, the pharmaceutical industry is characterized by many regulations and an abundance of meticulous standards that must be met by suppliers and distributors. As an increasing number of products enter the marketplace, the need for tight control measures becomes more prevalent in order to ensure public health and safety. The onus now lies with the suppliers and distributors to meet (perhaps exceed) the standards in place. However, despite these standards certain circumstances have arisen where products have needed to be recalled in the interest of public health. Some of the most prominent drug recalls in terms of scale and magnitude include:

(1) Fenfluramine/Phentermine (Fen-Phen) – developed by Wyeth-Ayerest Labs was recalled in 1997 after 24 years on the market. Fen-Phen was a popular weight loss drug taken by approximately 6.5 million people to help combat obesity. After many users began experiencing heart disease and other related illnesses, the FDA set a recall in motion. The result was roughly $14 billion in damages paid to victims.

(2) Cerivastatin (Baycol) – developed by Bayer and was prescribed to patients as a treatment for high cholesterol and was later linked to a severe muscle disorder. It was recalled in 2001, after roughly 4 years in the market. Damages paid to victims totaled roughly $1.2 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

3 Traits of the Perfect ERP Sales Lead

February 10, 2015

Guest Post by Samantha Hornby

Perfect Sales LeadAs a sales person, I speak with prospective customers every day to try and understand their wholesale inventory software needs to determine whether or not our solution would be a good fit.  Based on the industry they are in, features they are looking for, budget and business processes, it is easy to determine fit after only a 10-15 minute discussion.  As a software vendor however, I am also looking for certain characteristics of the companies I speak with that would also make them great to work with.  Just like companies evaluate vendors, vendors also evaluate companies and there are certain traits that make for the “perfect ERP sales lead”.  These traits usually imply that a company is looking to build a long-term relationship with their ERP vendor, are open to improving processes and believe in the power of software to help them do so. They see implementing software as a strategic investment and not a necessary evil. Below I have compiled a list of the most important traits that I watch out for, and based on my experience, having these traits plays a significant role in the benefits gleaned from implementing new software.

The best ERP sales leads…

Are not limited by budgets and timeframes that are set in stone.  I know what you’re thinking – of course an ERP software vendor would love for all customers to have open wallets, and that sales people all have dollar signs in their eyes, but this is not always the case. When it comes to a project as significant as finding new ERP software, it is important to have a budget in place and to understand what your company can afford.  But even more important is making sure that you’re finding the best solution for your company and not missing out on opportunities because of budget.  Smart and innovative companies recognize that there are a lot of unknowns when first establishing project plans, budgets and speaking with vendors.  Having some flexibility when it comes to ERP software costs is important to significantly improve business processes and find the right software for your company.  This is why costs should only be one of several factors that affect your decision, and not the end-all, be-all. In addition, having a hard timeframe, could lead to a rushed implementation in which case you don’t spend the time properly evaluating software fit and function.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Printing Reports from your ERP Software

February 3, 2015

ERP-reportsThe history of ERP Software, and before that, accounting software, has leant heavily on reports. In earlier, batch-based systems, users would generate reams of pre-posting edit reports on impact printers every day. At month end, several more forests were destroyed in the name of audit trails and frozen-in-time reports.

As software evolved, the accounting software system started providing users with more timely and meaningful data, and many a sales manager or business owner became accustomed to finding a stack of sales analysis reports on the desk each morning. And again, at month end we now saw management reports being printed by clerical employees and filed for management meetings, and some of these reports were even actually looked at by a manager every once in a while.

We’ve now evolved to a point where modern ERP Software provides all the information you may want in electronic form, whether by on-screen dashboards or timely auto-emailed PDF reports, and many other modalities. And for the most part you always have the ability to re-create (or reprint) any report or document retroactively. There’s really no need to print a report unless you plane to use it at that exact moment in time. And yet…so many businesses still print reports at specific times and file them somewhere – perhaps out of habit or a fear of losing data. The true cost of doing so is measured not just in paper and printer ribbons or toner, but in terms of the time it takes to print and file, and the real estate costs of all those filing cabinets.

So let’s once again examine a scenario: you print the accounts receivable aging report at the end of each month, and file that report in a filing cabinet. I don’t. We are both asked to provide the auditors with the aging report from 7 months ago. So I click my mouse a few times, get to the report selection screen, enter the report date, and generate a PDF that I email to the auditors. Elapsed time: 40 second. Meanwhile, you’re still walking over to the filing cabinet. Once you get there, you’ll have to find the report, walk it over to the scanner (or fax machine, heaven forbid), etc.

In reality, assuming you are using an appropriate, modern ERP system with proper backup processes in place, I cannot really think of any reason to print a report that you’re not going to use immediately – and even then, perhaps your tablet or notebook computer would suffice?

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Is Cloud Based Wholesale ERP Software Right for Your Business?

January 27, 2015

is-cloud-erp-software-right-for-your-companyDeciding to make the switch to a fully integrated ERP system as a wholesale distribution company – whether you’re transitioning from existing software or manual processes – requires a lot of time and resources.  It also involves making a choice between implementing a system on-premises or hosted through the cloud.  So which method is better suited for your business? Although there is no single right answer to this question, there are certain elements that could make a strong case in favour of a cloud solution.  Companies are increasingly opting for this method from the get-go, and others are switching from their current on-premises installation. To better understand why and when it would make sense for your company to seriously evaluate hosting software through the cloud, let’s first take a look at exactly what we mean by each implementation method.

On-premises software was historically the only option available to companies looking for wholesale ERP software which made it more feasible for larger companies.  On-premises refers to software applications installed on-location on a client owned server.  This requires up-to-date hardware and either internal or outsourced personnel for IT management.  It also requires a bit of a larger initial investment when it comes to cost as companies buy the software licenses outright.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Your Entire Company Can Benefit from Accounting and Inventory Software

January 20, 2015

accounting-inventory-software-for-all-employeesTrue accounting and inventory software is designed to manage all aspects of a company’s operations, and should provide benefits to employees in every department. Frequently described using the term “ERP” or “Enterprise Resource Planning” Software, this level of software streamlines business processes across an entire company.  When specifically applied to wholesale distribution companies, that would include managing processes from order entry through to invoicing the customer and everything in between. For this reason, these types of systems are not comparable to introductory software such as QuickBooks, but in fact are designed to replace those systems once a company reaches a certain level of growth.  Although QuickBooks (and similar systems) are popular and widely used, trying to compare introductory software to Tier 2 or ERP software would be like trying to compare a cell phone with a smart phone.  Sure a cell phone can place calls and send texts and do those things really well, but a smartphone provides added features such as internet access and often replaces the need for having to perform tasks on a separate device (such as sending an email, checking your bank account or taking a picture).  Many features that introductory systems lack – because of the nature of the software and target market – are inherent features of ERP. These include custom reporting capabilities, automation across functions such as sales orders and purchase orders, and robust inventory management. Proper accounting and inventory ERP software allows users to work from within the same system, on the same database, across departments.  Here are some examples of the benefits that can be gained by each department:

The Accounting Department:

  • Report writing tools to create custom reports in order to share visual data with investors/stakeholders
  • Compliance tools to proactively maintain accounting standards and keep balanced books
  • Automatic reminders and notifications that can be emailed (internally or to customers) to notify people of overdue accounts, sales history, etc.
  • Features for managing A/R and A/P

Read the rest of this entry »

eCommerce Integration with Inventory & Accounting ERP Software

January 7, 2015

ecommerce-erp-integration-optionsAs eCommerce continues to grow in popularity, online storefronts are now relevant beyond just the large retail companies, and in some industries necessary to remain competitive.  Many companies engaged in industries that historically stayed away from online sales channels, including wholesale distribution companies, are now branching out into distributing their products online, both through B2B sales tools and B2C direct to consumer.  For these wholesale distribution companies, although they have added a new sales channel, their back end processes will remain the same – they must still manage the inventory required to fulfill these orders and process sales into an accounting system.  This is where eCommerce integration between an online storefront and back-end inventory and accounting ERP system comes into play.  But what exactly does this mean, and what options are available for doing so? In order to answer these questions, you must first ask yourself a few others:

  • How many orders to you expect to receive online each day?
  • Do you have dedicated staff for managing orders and picking, packing and shipping?
  • Should anyone be able to purchase from your eCommerce store, or do you want to restrict which customers can?
  • Do you also sell through other eCommerce channels (such as Amazon or eBay)?
  • Do you have different pricing for different customers?

Answering these questions and others is important to determine exactly how sophisticated the ERP and eCommerce integration needs to be, which type of eCommerce store is best suited for your business, and how much it will all cost.  Consider the following options:

Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Need to Migrate All that Data?

December 30, 2014

Minimize amount of data migrationData migration is just one part of the entire ERP implementation process, but tends to represent the largest percentage of implementation costs aside from employee training.  Data migration involves mapping information from old software to new, according to labels, titles and structures, and includes additional “massaging” or “cleaning up” to ensure bad data is not brought into the new system. Common examples of data that gets transferred are vendor, customer, and product information, as well as historical sales data, A/P and A/R outstanding, open sales orders, GL account numbers and balances, inventory quantities – essentially any data that is necessary.

The high costs associated with data migration are easily understandable when dealing with older companies who may have 30 plus years’ of information to accurately move over – often from outdated systems.  However, even as a start-up or newer company, there is usually some amount of data migration in the form of inventory items and customer or vendor information that will need to be imported into your new system. Aside from cutting down on costs, there are also other benefits to reducing the amount of information being moved over into a new ERP system.  These include decreasing implementation time-frames, and preventing garbage /outdated information from polluting your database.

One option to cut back on data migration costs is to perform your own “data migration” by manually re-keying information into a new ERP solution.  Although less costly from a software purchase perspective, this method involves a lot of man-hours, meaning time and labor costs.  In addition it can be error prone and very cumbersome.  As a truly start-up company this may be a viable option if the amount of data to migrate is negligible, however the amount of work necessary to manually perform this task generally outweighs the costs.  It also does not account for the expertise needed to update data already migrated prior to Go-Live, in order to have the most up-to-date information.

Instead of trying to entirely eliminate the need for data migration, explore your options for reducing the amount of data to migrate, and determine exactly what information is necessary to keep. Bear in mind that you can continue to maintain your existing database of information on its own computer for the rare cases that you do need to look up very specific historical information.

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