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How to choose the right ERP solution for your business

All businesses use technology. The most successful businesses have learned that by integrating it into their very core, they can make technology work for them in new and exciting ways. Enterprise Resource Planning, better known as ERP, is designed to manage the most important parts of your business. By using adaptable, cloud-based technology, ERP can accelerate your business, making you more efficient and competitive than ever before.

We have compiled this guide to help you choose the right ERP solution for your unique business needs.

Related reading: 5 signs you need an ERP system

Goals and processes

When you consider ERP systems it is very important to have a clear understanding of your immediate and long-term business goals. In addition to goals, consider the way your business operates. What are your needs? Where are your shortcomings? Have these things clearly in mind before you begin the process of comparing ERP systems. Each ERP system is a little bit different. It is important to choose a system that works with your existing business processes and best practices and will provide assistance where you need it most. Doing so will ensure a cohesive match and as little interruption as possible when it comes to product integration.

Compatibility

As you begin to review ERP systems, you will want to look beyond the technology itself. Consider systems and software you already have and use on a daily basis. Is the ERP compatible with these systems and programs? If not, are there affordable alternatives that you are willing to consider? In the long run, choosing an ERP system that is compatible with existing technology will save you both time and money, as well as the frustration of learning too many new things at once. The simpler the integration process, the happier everyone will be.

Related reading: ERP is about to get friendlier and smarter

Training

As you compare and contrast ERP systems, consider whether training is an important aspect for you and your business. The training that is offered may differ considerably between systems. You should inquire about the following: whether training is included in the cost of implementation or is a separate fee; the scale of training available; training method (i.e. in person, video conference, etc); and whether there are manuals or other supplemental materials available.

Some businesses underestimate the cost and necessity of training and find they do not have the resources needed for training, in order to use their system to its full potential.  

Budget

For many small businesses, a budget will be at the top of your list of concerns when it comes to choosing an ERP system. For this reason, it is imperative that you remember to consider all associated costs, including implementation, licensing, training, and on-going support. Talk to potential ERP providers for a detailed list of fees. You certainly do want to choose a system that you are comfortable paying for.

That said, while the price is a factor, it should not be the most important one you’re deciding. Choosing a system that is cheap, but poorly suited for your business can have negative long-term consequences. On the flip-side, if you choose to spend a little more in something that is better suited to your goals and needs, a well-suited ERP system can positively impact both efficiency and profits. This is one product that is worth viewing as an investment.

More reading: What ERP means for your small business

Comparing cloud ERP to on-premise

Effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) is key to maintaining a successful business, with the advantages outweighing the costs when companies choose cloud computing over IT on premise.

By 2021, 28 percent of all IT spending will be used to support cloud-based infrastructure, middleware, application and business process services, according to GartnerConfidence is growing among enterprises that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), will be able to offer a secure and scalable platform for application development in the future.

Evaluating ERP needs

According to IDC, more than 85 percent of enterprises will soon tap into multi-cloud architectures using a mix of public cloud services, community clouds, private clouds, and hosted clouds. The time is ripe to migrate to this technology. There have been significant advancements in cloud ERP, and the versatility of the technology still enables companies to save money if they plan well for their migration to the cloud.

Taking this into consideration, there are still many factors companies should consider when choosing between cloud ERP and the standard on-premise infrastructure. In addition to the financial and labor costs of migrating to the cloud, the most effective solution depends upon business needs.

Consider your organization’s size and scope, the expectations of your customers, the regulatory environment, the demand of workloads on cloud migration, and how your IT team defines the cloud. To manage cloud infrastructure efficiently, you’ll need to have the correct people and tools in place.

Advantages of cloud infrastructure

The cloud offers companies more agility, giving CIOs the flexibility to form cloud-based solutions that are catered to their company. Cloud ERP provides many benefits to companies who are willing to put in the time and resources to make the switch. It can be especially beneficial to startup companies, small companies or even mid-sized companies, by stimulating business growth while limiting operational expenses.

As the technology matures, companies can offer advanced data security and cybersecurity, while also helping your team save time, reduce risk and work smarter. With access to IT devices and programs that are usually reserved for larger corporations, you can also become more competitive in the marketplace.

With cloud ERP, companies can also enjoy a wide variety of options for IT solutions, choose solutions that scale well and have their choice of service providers. The management provided by an off-site team lends an added level of confidence to IT infrastructure. As an added benefit, companies often experience fewer downtimes.

Reasons to maintain on-premise technology

As you consider whether to migrate to cloud ERP solutions, it may be advantageous to perform risk analysis on behalf of your company. Take into account the collaboration needs of your firm, as well as financial operations, training operations and auditing.

Companies in heavily regulated industries may find that it’s not beneficial to migrate all operations to the cloud. The risks also increase for companies that employ more than 500 workers, as the size and scope of the migration will be more complex.

The cost of the switch varies greatly depending on the nature of a company, what infrastructure is needed, and whether the company moves fully to the cloud or opts for a hybrid option. Choosing a firm that will lead you through the process, and offer a cost-efficient solution is essential. This should consist of meeting and planning stages, steps to architect and design solutions that fit into the master plan, and a smooth plan for management of your IT solutions.

Depending on the timing of a migration, you may decide that it’s best for your company to maintain on-premise solutions. This can also be advantageous if your team is not fully prepared such a migration because of its size and scope.

How modern ERP helps businesses make better decisions

According to a recent report, 44% of supply chain leaders have already implemented an upgraded ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or are currently in the process of implementation. Around half of these organizations report undergoing this process simply to replace an outdated software system. However, the key to success with an ERP is fully understanding the benefits it provides. Modern-day, cloud-based ERP systems – such as the Acumatica platform – are invaluable tools to a business owner and management team, especially in a fast-paced decision-making environment.

As a uniquely specialized managed services provider, AppSolute has explored the top four ways that a modern ERP helps businesses make better decisions:

Simplify business health reports

Successfully owning and operating a business of any size is no easy feat. While most business owners have an idea of their company’s overall health, it can be a long and complicated task to fully analyze performance. With a modern ERP in place, you no longer have to wait for reports and analysis from various departments before receiving a full picture. Instead, all the crucial information you need is presented in a comprehensive manner at your disposal. In turn, this allows you to identify your business’s strong points and overcome any minor weaknesses before they turn into critical problems.

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Related: 8 Business Benefits of Having Managed Services

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As your business grows, the day-to-day activity and the operation as a whole become drastically more complex. With a modern ERP in place, you eliminate common time-consuming mistakes like data re-entry with access to real-time data and information across all departments. In turn, each department is able to collaborate with one another more efficiently and effectively. Modern ERP software allows every aspect of your business, from manufacturing to accounting, to operate in sync within a single system. This allows all senior management from numerous departments to offer valuable feedback while looking at the operation in its entirety.

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Related: 5 Signs You Need an ERP System

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Focus on customer retention and pursuing sales leads

With a modern ERP, many repetitive, manual processes can be drastically reduced or eliminated altogether. In turn, this allows employees to focus on other aspects of their job. For instance, instead of spending hours entering data into a spreadsheet, employees are free to focus on customer retention, sales leads or other revenue increasing tactics. Similarly, this eliminates frequent human errors and makes the information more accurate and accessible to management.

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Related: The Difference Between Accounting Software and ERP Solutions

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Fine-tune targeted marketing campaigns

A compelling advantage of using a modern ERP is the ability to track customers from the beginning of their journey to the end. The data is stored and compiled to more quickly and easily identify your target audience. In turn, you can be more confident in your targeted marketing campaigns utilizing this data. Along with saving an immense level of time, it can also eliminate the guesswork associated with marketing and improve your overall ROI by up to 33%.

Remain competitive in your industry

Above all, one of the greatest benefits of implementing a modern ERP system is to stay ahead of the competition. In today’s technology-driven business climate, it is likely that your competitors are already reaping the rewards of the software. While older, standard methods are still utilized, business owners who invest in innovative solutions save time and money in the long run. This allows them to achieve more accurate results and make better, more informed decisions for their business.

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Related: 6 Best IT Practices for Your Business

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Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of modern ERP systems like Acumatica, and how to get the support you need to maximize them for your business.

5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks to Better Support Your Business

Each and every day, you likely go about your daily business without giving your server much thought. They typically operate 24/7 without much hassle, but like all machines, they do require some level of maintenance.

This is why you need to take a proactive approach.

As you monitor and maintain your server, you will be able to help prevent a possible failure — one that could quickly turn into a disaster. To help guide you, we have created a little tips and tricks checklist. That way, you can avoid costly outages and unnecessary headaches.

Consider These 5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks

Unlike larger companies, you may not yet have a dedicated IT department. If this is the case, you may be currently weighed down by technical tasks that are somewhat out of your wheelhouse. The following tips and tricks are intended to guide you. However, if you are completely in the dark, it’s best that you seek the assistance of a managed service provider.

In the meantime, consider the following:

Tip #1: Update your OS

This may seem obvious. However, there are many businesses that are using outdated operating systems, leaving their companies vulnerable. All it takes is one attack, like WannaCry, for you to face a highly disruptive, potentially detrimental situation. The key here is to regularly update your operating system so that it supports regular patch releases. If you don’t, you may not have issues for months, even years — but eventually, an unpatched server will catch up with you.

Related: 9 Things You Can Do to Outsmart Ransomware Attacks

Tip #2: Clean your server

If you have your server tucked away in a closet, it’s important to physically clean it on a regular basis. Although quality servers have fairly powerful fans, that does not mean that dirt and dust can’t settle in the server’s case. This will increase the temperature within the case, potentially leading to a range of issues — including a potential fire. If your server has filters, clean them on a regular basis and use compressed air to access hard-to-reach places.

Tip #3: Check for potential hardware errors

Review your company’s system logs in order to identify signs of hardware issues. From network failures to overheating notices, it is important that you’re aware of how your hardware is operating. This is particularly important if your system has not been running as expected recently. However, even if there are not any apparent issues, checking your logs for hardware errors should become a standard part of your server maintenance strategy.

Tip #4: Confirm that your backup server is running properly

You may have already gotten into the habit of checking your backup system on a weekly basis. However, are you actually verifying that your backups are working as expected? Often overlooked, this step is imperative in regards to a solid backup plan. Even if you decide to outsource this task, you should still have a firm grasp on all the elements within your plan, including the schedule, backup location, and recovery times.

Tip #5: Move to the cloud

The cloud has allowed companies to reduce to reduce outages, which is why you should move at least a portion of your infrastructure to the cloud. This step will help you streamline your operations, hosting, data storage, and more — all while increasing speed, flexibility, and overall peace-of-mind.

Still in need of support? Please feel free to contact us regarding your IT service needs.

Also, be sure to read the following helpful resources:

5 Signs You Need an ERP System

Keeping your business running smoothly requires using technology that supports automation and quick communication. For that, there are ERP systems that can help you achieve these goals.

But before you dive into the world of ERP, you have to know when it’s time to jump.

Here are 5 signs that will tell you exactly when you need an ERP system.

1. Your core business processes are struggling

From accounting to sales, you need to ensure your core business processes and their respective departments are efficient. But if your core departments aren’t using tools that boost their efficiency, they can struggle to operate at optimal levels.

It’s not just internal processes that suffer – it can also adversely impact the customer experience.

Related: What Does an MSP Actually Do?

On the other hand, ERP systems give you the power to facilitate operational efficiency. You can implement ERP systems that can help automate processes and provide a quick way for teams to monitor progress using a streamlined dashboard all from one database.

With a workflow improvement, you can supercharge your efficiency and make your customers happier than ever before.

2. You’ve got limited access to company data

The ability to access crucial information from your company anywhere at any time is essential for all employees that work in the field. It’s especially true for salespeople who invest several hours of the day in negotiating deals and providing in-person sales consultations to business prospects.

However, if your sales team lacks mobile access to company data, then you’re limiting their potential to nurture their leads. As remote work becomes an increasingly popular way of business, it’s important to have mobile functionality so that your team can access all the information that they need.

Related: 8 Business Benefits of Having Managed Services

You can get this done by taking advantage of an ERP system that leverages cloud technology. For instance, your sales team will be able to track the status of a sales order while on-the-go from their smartphone device or tablet using a mobile powered-ERP system. That helps them save time and make better decisions based on real-time information.

3. You’re using several software programs for different reasons across different departments

When your sales team finalizes a deal, your accounting team should be updated with the information as soon as possible so they can keep track of each expense for the month.

But if both departments are inputting and gathering information from different software programs to fulfill different tasks within each business process, then your operational efficiency will tank.

Why?

Because each software program lacks direct communication. Moreover, updating and upgrading each software program can be time consuming. Conversely, an ERP system allows you to streamline your business processes and enhance operational efficiency thanks to its ability to work on a software platform that’s integrated using a single database.

4. Your IT support is too slow

When you have several departments using a variety of software applications, it can transform support for IT-related issues into an ordeal. Your organization will require more staff members and resources to constantly address problems with each individual program.

If you’re not careful, you can end up stretching your IT support thin, causing extended downtime, and even affecting your overall less productivity.

Instead, an ERP system can help simplify IT support by helping IT managers assess issues from one central location. This helps to facilitate quick and agile operations and increase business productivity.

5. You can’t scale with current systems

If you want to grow your business, you have to use the tools that will help you get tasks done in innovative ways. But if you’re using legacy software systems that take a long time to complete tasks, it can hinder your business growth.

Related: 5 Ways Managed IT Services Help Growing Businesses

With ERP systems, you can easily scale your business. You have the option to buy the resources you need and customize the system to evolve as your business does.

Have ERP questions? We have ERP answers

Whether your accounting is struggling or you lack mobility, you have to understand when it’s time to get an ERP. By knowing the signs, you can help streamline your business processes to enhance operational efficiency and your overall profits.

ERP is About to Get Friendlier and Smarter

ERP is About to Get Friendlier…and Smarter

erp get friendlier smarterEnterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are known for providing good information to key business units. However, it’s not often known for being user-friendly, especially in comparison to modern cloud-based apps. As ERP moves toward mobile devices, it’s important that the user interface not only accommodate popular smartphone platforms, but also be more user-friendly and smarter.

As suggested in “ERP software gets a makeover,” posted by Bruce Harpham on CIO.com, modern ERP solutions support the operations essential to a business’s success. For example, the accounting team can manage financial operations and the supply chain team can manage inventory and vendor information needed to fulfill customer needs. While most ERP systems have been able to keep up with industry trends, offering features aligned with new business practices, they haven’t kept up with the ease of use that many consumer apps have mastered. As many business leaders have experienced, cumbersome systems can frustrate users and lead to poor user adoption. Without consistent and proper use, businesses then lose out on much of the value that ERP brings to the table.

Improve User Adoption and Optimize ERP with Smarter User Interface
In recent years, ERP vendors have been making efforts to update the user interface. Cloud ERP and mobile ERP are trending, offering a next generation ERP that can be used on mobile devices, like smartphones and wearables. Improving the user interface doesn’t necessarily mean an entire IT system overhaul. On the contrary, Sage Software offers a variety of dashboards, workflows and other integrations that can streamline the ERP system you have in place. Sage is also partnering with other technology enterprises, like Salesforce, and adding specialized capabilities within their ERP products. Less switching between applications and more efficient workflows can improve the productivity of your employees and provide more value from your ERP system.

Businesses can take steps to improve the user interface within an existing ERP system by outlining how certain tasks are completed, in what order, and by using the employees that complete those tasks. Insight from the front line can lead to the most efficient workflows or forms and eliminate wasteful practices. Then, you can work with a vendor to customize the dashboards, features or functions that further optimize your ERP system.

Contact AppSolute Consulting Group for guidance with making your ERP solution friendlier and smarter to improve productivity and get the most out of your investment. By AppSolute Consulting Group, LLC, Microsoft, Acumatica, and Sage Partner based in New York