“I can’t afford wholesale inventory software, it costs too much”

July 14, 2015

wholesale-software-costsWith any major purchasing decision, budget is an important factor. When it comes to purchasing wholesale inventory software, sticker shock is common for those moving off of introductory systems or manual processes.  However, as with any capital expenditure, buying new software should be a decision made on more than just cost – if you want to make the right investment. The same principles apply as if you were such as seeking new warehouse space. So how come cost continues to be used as a deal breaker? Before you narrow down your software options based on cost, consider the following:

Too expensive compared to what?

Expensive is a relative term.  When it comes to software, make sure you think about what you’re comparing the cost to.  Most comparable Tier 2 systems will fall within a similar cost range, so it’s important to first identify which Tier will have functionality to meet your needs. Many companies start off with an arbitrary budget based on what they feel they should spend, and not on any real world frame of reference.  Are you comparing the cost to other systems? To hiring additional employees? To purchasing more equipment?

How much will it cost you to do nothing?

Another cost to consider is the cost of doing nothing.  Businesses who do not take this aspect into consideration are falling prey to omission bias – the tendency to judge harmful actions as worse than equally harmful inactions.  Not purchasing software can affect costs directly by resulting in a new hire or indirectly through lost productivity. When it comes to hiring employees, good software should replace the need for additional staff which will save you more than just the cost of a system in the long run.

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Why Accounting ERP Software Training is so Important

July 6, 2015

ERP training sessionThere is a reason that training is one of the most costly aspects of software implementations, namely that it’s also one of the most important aspects.  When upgrading to a sophisticated accounting ERP system from introductory software such as QuickBooks, there will be a significant learning curve.  This is not to say that such Tier 2 systems are all very complicated and difficult to use, but instead that the software necessary to help grow your business will require a better understanding of accounting principles and good business processes.  Without this kind of knowledge it’s tough to run a successful multi-million dollar company, and this is where good training comes into play – with regard to accounting functionality, inventory management and other areas.  To help you understand why training is so important, we have outlined some reasons below:

The better trained your employees are on a software system, the more productive they will be.  All things being equal, when employees feel confident using software they will rely on it more in order to perform their responsibilities. This in turn can help automate previously manual processes, therefore reducing the instance of human error.  This also means less time is wasted learning how to use a system every time you want to perform a task, and coming up with workarounds for managing certain processes.  ERP software is designed to improve and streamline processes in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs. A good vendor will work with you to evaluate existing internal processes and explore how they can be enhanced or improved upon with the help of software.

Proper training reduces costs. This may not seem like the case initially, however in the long run proper training reduces not only the costs of on-going support, but also the costs associated with lost productivity.  If you invest time and money on training up-front, employees will be better equipped to handle their daily responsibilities. This will also make it easier for employees to train new hires on the system, and to assist one another with software questions and issues.  If you’re upgrading from introductory accounting software, it is important that employees understand why the system works the way it does, not just how it works. Creating a strong internal network of system experts will make the transition to new software easier for employees, which can reduce the stress associated with such change.

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Food Distribution Software: What to Look For

June 22, 2015

food-distribution-wholesale-softwareThis post outlines specific functionality that one should reasonably expect from Food Distribution Software.

The food distribution industry is very unique in a number of different ways. With numerous standards and regulations set by governing bodies in place, as well as an overall level of quality that must be upheld to customers, it is important to employ a software system designed specifically for food wholesalers and distributors. Most software packages have similar standard inventory and accounting functionality that users have come to expect in a true ERP software system. However, it is the additional food industry specific features such as lot tracking, landed cost tracking, multiple units of measure, and flexible pricing that make a system optimized for the food industry.

Key Features:

  • Lot Tracking
  • Landed Cost Tracking
  • Multiple Units of Measurement
  • Flexible Pricing

Lot Tracking

This facilitates robust product traceability functionality in order to keep records of which customers received specific groups of items or shipments. The supplier and the date that items were purchased are also referenced, allowing managers to track an individual group of products throughout the supply chain, ultimately from supplier to end customer. This functionality is especially important to food distributors as it is a key competency in achieving FDA/ISO/CFIA compliance. Many companies in the food distribution industry rely on lot tracking to track internal and external lot numbers, manage best before and expiry dates, as well as simplify product recalls and warnings in case of an emergency.

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost tracking allows a food distribution company to account for all the costs associated with getting inventory from a supplier to their warehouse. This allows a company to arrive at its ‘true inventory costs’, which may include duty, brokerage, freight, insurance, and storage, in addition to the cost of the inventory itself. Landed cost tracking provides important information to business owners and decision makers when making purchasing and pricing decisions, as well as aids in maintaining target gross margins by accounting for the total inventory cost, and not just a sub-section of it.

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Moving Checklist: Office Move

June 5, 2015

Guest Post by: Samantha Hornbymoving-checklist

Blue Link ERP recently moved office locations and for anyone else who has ever moved locations, I think you will agree that it is not an easy exercise. Luckily for us, we were only moving a couple of clicks down the road, and didn’t have to deal with the added complexity of moving further.  As part of the moving committee I was heavily involved in the entire process, and learnt quite a few tips and tricks that I wanted to pass along.  I have also included the moving check-list that my team and I put together, which is a great starting point for getting organized.

Tip #1 – Create a Moving Committee

One of the first things you will want to do when preparing for a move is to create a moving committee. This team should be comprised of a handful of people from different departments who volunteer to take on the added responsibility of the move.  Make sure those involved in the committee will be able to manage the added work without neglecting their regular responsibilities. Having people from different departments makes it easier to ensure nothing important is missed and leaves room for flexibility when it comes to scheduling work.  It is also important that someone with decision making authority is involved with the committee in order to approve expenses and major decisions.

Tip #2 – Create Documentation to Organize the Move

In order to stay organized throughout the entire move process it is important to keep track of responsibilities, contacts and dates.  You will see in Blue Link’s moving check-list that specific to-do items have been categorized based on whether they affect the old office or the new, whether they are administrative in nature, or if they apply to the actual move date.  Each item on the list should be assigned to an employee on the moving committee, given a date of required completion and assigned a priority level if necessary. Certain tasks, although important, can be addressed after the actual move itself.  Another tip is to keep a list of move contacts all in one place for easy access. This may include the moving company, new building manager, service contacts for any installations or renovations, phone and internet contact etc.  We scheduled meetings with several contractors and companies for the same day, and having a list of contacts made on-going communication much simpler.

Tip #3 – Do Not Overwhelm Yourself with Too Many Choices

When it came to Blue Link’s office move, some of the more minor decisions ended up taking the most amount of time.  When it comes to decisions such as fabric colors for new office furniture, although this is important, having too many options can drag the decision making process into something that is longer than necessary. Just like we preach to our clients the dangers of evaluating too many software vendors, too many color options are unnecessary in order to make a decision.  Define a budget and ask for a couple of recommended options based on quality and design, instead of sorting through all available choices.  For certain businesses, interior decorating may be of higher importance, but for most businesses you will be able to choose the best option without sorting through every available design.

Tip #4 – Throw a Party!

Moving office locations can be stressful, but no matter the reason, it should also be treated as an exciting opportunity. Get staff involved in the process and excited for a change of scenery by keeping them updated throughout the move process and providing information on things to do and places to eat in the area around the new office. Celebrate with a party once you’re settled into the new office, inviting friends and family as well as close customers.  Moves can be expensive, so the party does not have to be lavish, but it will help employees adjust to their new surroundings and deal with the stress associated with a move.

Download the Ultimate Office Moving Checklist!

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Front-end Appearance and Back-end eCommerce Integration Define the Online Shopping Experience

May 28, 2015

online sales channelIn recent years, the ever-growing popularity of eCommerce has continued to soar. As a result, both emerging businesses and older enterprises (that have traditionally stayed away from online sales channels) are finding themselves exploring this new avenue for growth.  Around the clock availability, speed of access, wider selection of goods and services, accessibility, and ultimately convenience are benefits of eCommerce that many consumers expect or demand. E-commerce is not ready to completely replace its bricks and mortar counterpart, as salesperson interaction is still important to many consumers; however, it is important to at least provide the option of an online sales channel to consumers. If your business already does online sales (or you’re looking to get started), here are 4 factors necessary to run an effective eCommerce website:

Pricing and Quality of Products

In order to be successful in any business the price point of the products and services offered must be match both demand and quality. With a seemingly endless list of online retailers, online shoppers have access to hundreds of different options on various web stores. Savvy consumers will compare your offering to similar products in the market in order to determine the best possible option to fulfill their needs. Therefore, it is very important to have a pricing structure that is consistent with the quality and brand, and the ability to respond quickly to supplier and competitor pricing. In order to act swiftly to industry changes, a strong back end software system is crucial; one that ensures any internal changes made to pricing are reflected automatically on your website with proper eCommerce integration.

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4 Signs it’s Time to Upgrade Your Distribution ERP Software

May 20, 2015

time-to-upgrade

As a small business owner it is inevitable that some of your time will be spent putting out fires, and dealing with issues as they arise on a daily basis.  For wholesale distribution companies this may include: time spent searching through various systems and files to find information on specific orders, doing physical inventory counts to determine actual inventory volume and calculating different price levels for customers when vendors change their costs.  Although the flexibility to do this is often seen as a benefit of being a small business, it is important to not let it get in the way of executing other projects and achieving your strategic goals. As a business owner, you should try to avoid becoming so overwhelmed dealing with everyday tasks, and putting out fires, that you’re unable to focus on the core success factors of your business.  One solution is to begin looking for a more robust distribution ERP software system in order to streamline operations, automate processes and reduce the amount of time spent manually managing your business.  Although this may be one of the most important reasons to upgrade your existing software, four more are outlined below.

  • Your current systems lack integration with one another.

Lack of integration may include all or a few of your existing systems such as: accounting, CRM, inventory management and eCommerce.  Although each of your existing software systems may work perfectly well independently of one another, as your company grows the issues that arise from lack of integration will start to become more and more obvious.  Working with multiple disparate systems means that the same data must be entered several times, which can lead to keying errors and inconsistent information.  In addition, if one system gets upgraded, this version may no longer be compatible with your other systems for managing simple tasks like importing and exporting data.

  • Your current system is no longer supported, has reached its end of life, or is a sunset program and will no longer be developed.

Just as you have a business to grow and manage, so do software vendors, which means they may discontinue development on older systems in order to focus on more modern and lucrative software initiatives.  Although this issue is unavoidable, it is important to be proactive in finding a new solution when this happens.  With no support or further development, your system is more vulnerable to security threats and will no longer receive system patches.  As with purchasing insurance, upgrading your software system is more beneficial when carried out pro-actively in order to protect your business from future issues.

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4 Benefits of Optimized Reporting and Analytics in an Organization

May 12, 2015

small-business-reportingLiving in the information age, the success and longevity of a business depends largely on how it is able to collect, process and interpret data from a multitude of sources, including one’s own inventory and accounting ERP software. Effective reporting and analytics go beyond the collection of the data itself, involving a broad spectrum of reporting techniques to provide management with valuable information that will assist in making insightful business decisions. Reports concerning inventory, production, and sales all reflect the bottom line of a business, and should be reviewed on a consistent basis to uncover trends and opportunities. However, as a business collects more data, the difficulty lies in actually finding the time to review the information and draw conclusions that will help grow the business moving forward. Ideally, an optimized reporting process would inform managers of only the most relevant information they need in order to make well-informed decisions. Inventory and accounting software with robust reporting and analytics can help business owners automate and streamline the reporting process. Reporting has become increasingly important to small and large businesses alike, and if set up appropriately, can provide the following benefits:

  • Increased Communication:

By implementing an effective internal reporting system, you enable information to flow upward, downward, or laterally, reaching the intended recipient in a timely manner. Automated reporting techniques, which come in some inventory and accounting platforms, take this notion one step further by allowing for reports to be emailed to specific stakeholders on a regular basis (perhaps daily, weekly, or monthly).

  • Increased Productivity:

In order to remain productive in today’s ultra-competitive environment, organizations must be flexible enough to respond swiftly to industry changes and opportunities. A large emphasis has been placed on meeting the unique needs of targeted consumer groups in order to distinguish oneself in the market. In order to achieve these goals, businesses need an inventory and financial reporting system that supports this notion and provides relevant information to management in a timely manner.

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