Blue Link Makes Food Logistics’ FL100 for Food Inventory Software

December 17, 2014

Food Logistics Top 100 Software Vendors

By Matt Picariello

For over a decade, the editors of Food Logistics Magazine have published an annual list of software and technology providers that play a prominent role in the global food and beverage supply chain. With a variety of benefits ranging from reducing food waste to extending shelf life, the technology provided by these companies ensures the safe and efficient distribution of food and beverages to the public. In the 11th annual instalment the 2014 FL100+ list features companies whose products continue to innovate and ensure food and beverage companies can successfully accomplish business goals and objectives.

We are pleased to announce that Blue Link’s Accounting and Inventory Management  ERP software has been included in this year’s edition of the Food Logistics FL100+ list. This marks the second time in the past three years that Blue Link has been recognized by Food Logistics for its contribution to the food and beverage industry. Blue Link is known for providing integrated ERP software geared towards small to medium sized wholesalers and distributors across a wide variety of industries. It is Blue Link’s dynamic components such as lot tracking for traceability, multiple units of measurement and landed cost tracking that make its software so valuable to food distributors across North America and ultimately warranted its inclusion in the FL100+ list.

Lot Tracking (Product Traceability)

Lot tracking is arguably the most prominent feature included in an effective food inventory management software package for food wholesalers and distributors. Lot tracking functionality essentially provides a company with the ability to trace the path of a batch from supplier to end consumer. The magnitude of this specific functionality should not be overlooked by food companies hoping to remain compliant with FDA and CFIA regulations, as each governing body requires proper lot tracking protocols to be in place. With many highly publicized food recalls in the past, such as the Listeriosis outbreak of 2009, the onus falls on the food distribution and wholesale companies to act swiftly and provide tracking information to ensure the safety of the public. In the unfortunate case of a recall, it allows a company to identify specific lots of products to be recalled, eliminating the need to recall every item if only specific groups were affected.

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How Vendors Quote ERP Implementations

December 2, 2014

Implementation Cost StrategiesWhen your company decides to invest in an ERP software system, the term ‘implementation’ will undoubtedly be used on a frequent basis. If you are unfamiliar with ERP systems and are in the initial stages of your software search, you may be unaware of the sheer number of factors present in a typical ERP implementation, and how vendors provide quotes on the process. To help demystify the inherent ambiguity of the word itself, the following list provides an overview of a typical ERP implementation process:

Definition of Scope

The definition of scope, or requirements analysis, is the process associated with analysing and documenting a company’s specific business needs and expectations, and developing a project plan to ensure those needs are met.

Installation

Installation, although self-explanatory, is the actual set-up of the software by the vendor’s product experts on your company’s servers (or the vendor’s servers if it’s a cloud based application) and represents the central component to any implementation of ERP software.

Configuration & Integration

Configuration means setting up the software with your company’s existing information, users, and personal settings. In addition, integration is the configuration of the software to enable communication to existing and external systems.

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Are Unconscious Biases Preventing Your Company from Making the Right Decisions?

November 12, 2014

unconscious biasEvery day people make decisions; some are very simple and therefore unconsciously made, and some involve a lengthy process of evaluating and comparing options before making a choice.  Whether making a simple decision or a complex one, we are not as rational as we tend to believe, and these decisions are often made based on emotions and influenced by our unconscious biases.  These biases influence our everyday actions and are, by nature, unnoticed by us.  They are shaped by our cultural norms and experiences and allow us to quickly filter information to make decisions.  This is where trusting your gut and gut reactions come from – however they can sometimes lead us to make the wrong decisions and misjudge situations. Accepting that your gut feelings may be wrong is very difficult to do, but is necessary to guard against common biases if you want to make the best decisions possible.

These unconscious biases are present in our daily routines but they also represent a significant business risk.    Commonly associated with situations and decisions involving people – such as during the hiring process or when forging new partnerships – they also affect decisions that involve making large investments, like purchasing new accounting ERP software.  These types of decisions are often influenced by emotions and biases – more so than most people tend to realize – and can negatively impact a business if not properly addressed. Examples of these biases are outlined below.

Hyperbolic Discounting

Hyperbolic discounting is the tendency for people to want an immediate pay-off rather than a large gain later on.  This can apply to business owners who would rather spend less money on an easy to implement software solution, than put an investment into a system that takes longer to implement but can provide them with benefits long into the future.  This is why it is so important for companies to begin evaluating sophisticated software solutions while their current system is able to manage their business processes and so the need is not as immediate. Focus should be given to a system that provides a high ROI over a longer period of time, even if the pay-off will not be as immediate.

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How to Determine Ball Park Cost Estimates for ERP Software

November 5, 2014

estimating-erp-costsInvesting in an ERP software system is an important event in your company’s history. Your company is growing and you have decided to eliminate the redundancies of outdated manual processes, to take advantage of the operational efficiencies inherent in ERP software. As you begin your software search, before evaluating different vendors, it is always good practice to establish a ‘ball park’ estimate to ensure that your expectations are aligned appropriately with the vendors that you are meeting with. To determine a rough estimate, you need to establish your software cost to services cost ratio. Have no fear, it is much simpler than it sounds, as many experts agree most firms will adhere to a 1:1 ratio. That is, a company should budget double the price of the software to account for the services needed to install and maintain an ERP system.

The first step involved in calculating a ‘ball park’ estimate is to estimate a software list price for the number of users that you need, then double that number in order to account for the software to services ratio. If the number you arrive at is one that you are uncomfortable with, it may be time to adjust your company’s expectations of an ERP system, or perhaps reconsider if you’re even ready for the investment. However, if this number is something that is reasonable and within consideration, you have passed the first barrier and are ready to answer 6 additional questions to gain a more accurate figure:

  1. How many users will you require?

If the number of users is relatively small (less than 5) you will often pay more for services. This is because many ERP platforms require a minimum number of users, which is often five or more.  Certain vendors may also sell user licenses in packs as opposed to single user licenses.

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ERP Software Sales: trick or treat?

October 30, 2014

ERP-Software-SalesAs we get ready to dish the Halloween candy, I’m seriously contemplating dressing up as the nefarious “ERP Snake-oil Sales” guy. While they’re not as common as they used to be a few years ago, they’re still out there. It sometimes seems like choosing an ERP Software system is a little like trick or treat – some will trick you, and other will treat you well.

 I was reviewing the post on how to select an ERP Vendor, and doing so reminded me of a couple of stories that prospective customers have shared with me recently about the “other” type of ERP salesperson – the “promise them anything to get the sale” type – thankfully a diminishing breed.

In one case, the salesperson answered “yes” to every question about functionality. The prospect was suspicious, so after doing a little research and finding something the software did not do – according to the vendor’s website – he asked the question, and again got a “yes”. TRICK! Happy ending here – he knew he should run away from this sales person as fast as possible.

The other one is not such a happy story. To close a sale (and make quota for the quarter), the salesperson deeply discounted the monthly fees, and got the customer to sign on the dotted line. However, the fine print stated that the monthly fee would increase (by close to 100%) in year 2, and imposed a minimum 3 year commitment. TRICK!

My recommendation is this: an ERP salesperson who tells you what you want to hear, who always answers “yes”, is more likely to be a trick. One who tells you what you need to know, and is willing to answer “no” when necessary – now that’s a TREAT!

 

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POS Functionality & eCommerce Integration for Wholesale Distribution Companies

October 16, 2014

POS and eCommerce ERPAs B2B and B2C eCommerce continues to increase in popularity, the line between wholesale, retail and eCommerce channels has started to blur. Wholesale companies, previously restricted to buying product from the manufacturer, storing in a warehouse and then selling and shipping to retail and distribution companies, are now starting to offer their product through other sales channels and to different consumers. With eCommerce sales expected to reach US $1.5 trillion by the end of this year, it’s no surprise that wholesale companies are interested in a piece of the eCommerce pie. Many wholesale companies have also branched into the retail space, by opening showrooms for their product, exhibiting at trade shows and building actual brick and mortar retail stores.  In order to account for these new sales channels in an all-in-one system, it is important to look for proper inventory and accounting ERP software, with point of sale (“POS”) functionality and eCommerce integration options. This way all data can be stored in a central database, and consequently inventory levels and availability will be accurately reflected no matter which sales channel an order comes in from.

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Understanding the Challenges of Credit Card Processing

October 8, 2014

credit card processing

Guest Post by Robert Hyman of HiTech Merchants

E-commerce and the trend to replace paper checks with electronic payments is quickly driving credit card acceptance to the forefront of B2B commerce.  As such, there are a number of challenges that must be dealt with when your business starts accepting card payments.  Three of them are discussed below.

One challenge is determining the true cost of credit card processing.  Complicated pricing models make it difficult to understand the real cost of accepting card payments. For example, interchange differential pricing charges a qualified rate, a non-qualified rate and an interchange differential fee all on the same transaction.  Calculating costs with this model is understandably difficult and time-consuming.  Interchange plus pricing represents a more transparent pricing model.  Interchange plus pricing charges a simple mark-up above the base cost set by Visa and MasterCard allowing for a common price structure to compare one processor to another.

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