ERP

How to Choose the Right ERP Platform

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth

How to Choose the Right ERP System for your Business Growth 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Imagine your company’s software vendor has just announced it’s no longer supporting a program your staff uses, one that over the years has helped you grow your business. Processes continue to get more complicated with data continuing to expand at astronomical rates leaving older systems behind. Your company is left with no choice: It’s time to pick a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for your organization.

There are two major questions that need to be answered: Which solution best suits your company right now? Is there a different solution that will help your pharmaceutical or chemical company grow from a small or medium business (SMB) to a level able to challenge the industry giants?

Choosing the Right ERP System

Before your company can evaluate products on the market, you need to understand what will work best for you. ERP News suggests that if you do nothing else, it’s important to understand the needs of your business.

Before starting the ERP selection process, it is a good idea to analyze the business processes correctly and reveal the areas that you find incomplete or that need to be improved. Source: ERP News

Figue: 1 ERP selection process

ERP selection process

There are 10 critical steps to selecting the right ERP software package:

1.Ensuring it fits your company’s business needs. It’s important to understand what the needs of your organization are now, and in the future; short, medium and long term.

2.Planning an effective budget. You want to get the most effective business ERP system for your organization. What’s the total cost of ownership? What kind of return on investment (ROI) can you expect? Which is most likely to help your company profit and grow?

3.Verifying flexibility and scalability. Just because a package is a top-rated ERP solution today doesn’t mean it can keep up as your needs grow or as market conditions change.

4.Ensuring it can adapt to new technologies. Can your solution of choice support internet of things (IoT) data? Is it compatible with cloud computing? Does it allow work from any location? Is it usable with tablets, laptops and even mobile phones?

5.Is it compatible with your existing business software? Can the new system communicate with your legacy software and devices? Will your users be able to easily access old data alongside new orders and processes?

6.What do similar-sized competitors use? Is there a standard ERP used in your industry? What do your clients, suppliers and business partners use? What do they like and what would they change if given the chance to start from scratch?

7.Research your implementation partner. How much experience do they have in your industry? How flexible is the software and how capable is your partner? Can your implementation partner customize the software to meet your specific, demanding needs?

8.Will it grow with your business? Can the enterprise resource planning application expand, not only in terms of users but into other areas you don’t need today, but might in the future?

9.Does this project have support from upper management? If not, going through all of the other steps is an exercise in futility. Effective research will make it impossible for top management to say no.

10.Does it have a familiar look and feel? Don’t underestimate the effect changing ERP systems will have on your worker. If you don’t have user support, making it work will be tough. One way to achieve that goal is by using software similar to other programs they already use.

One last question to continuously ask along the way might be “What do we have that works well right now? What do we need to function better?”

Top ERP Systems in the US

All of the software giants have ERP systems. Depending on who you read, different companies will be on top. The dominant players are well-known software companies: Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce and others. In no particular order, the most frequently mentioned top ERP systems are:

  • Epicor ERP
  • IFS
  • Infor
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Oracle JD Edwards
  • Oracle NetSuite
  • Sage X3
  • Salesforce CRM
  • SAP Business One
  • SAP ERP
  • Syspro
  • Workday Financial Management

Researching offerings from each one of these major companies will take time and manpower. At this point, you’ve moved on to the next stage: evaluation.

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Evaluating ERP Software

According to SelectHub, choosing the right ERP system includes evaluating criteria based on your company’s needs. Typically, evaluation criteria includes:

  • Customer Relationship Management / Account Management
  • Accounts Payable Reporting
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Benefits Administration
  • Capacity Requirements Planning
  • Material Requirement Planning
  • Bill/Build of Materials
  • Logistics Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Module Integration
  • Installation Type
  • Network Flexibility
  • Employee Training

Companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries should add:

  • U.S. Regulatory Compliance
  • International Regulatory Compliance

Not included in this list is one other critical criteria that can help determine if your company would be vulnerable to attacks: data security.

Where to Start

A great place to start your search for a flexible, versatile, secure and ultimately valuable ERP software package solution is by connecting with an experienced consulting service with a thorough understanding of highly-regulated industries. This should include upgrades and migration, which are commonly ignored.

There are many partners that can suggest a modern upgrade path including an in-depth migration assessment that is risk-free and cost-effective. Whoever you team with, you’ll want to make certain they have extensive experience in your industry with respect to project planning, risk management and strategy.

Our Recommendation: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solutions are easily expandable, extremely secure, and backed by Microsoft’s Azure platform. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) modules include Finance, Supply Chain Management, Business Central and other related—and integrated—products. D365 can be customized and enhanced with other functionality, including products specifically designed for chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Integrated Chemical Management is a perfect example as one of Microsoft’s preferred solutions for these industries.

As a Microsoft product, Dynamics 365 has an advantage over every other competing product: a familiar look and feel. Office 365 and its many predecessors are used by millions of people worldwide. This familiarity helps your staff learn new software without having to learn an entirely new method of working.

Final Thoughts

For every business, selecting the right ERP system starts with an honest evaluation of your company and its needs. Determining where you are and where you want to go are the first steps towards ensuring your investment ultimately turns a profit and helps your organization grow.

It’s a big job, selecting the right partner along with the right software package. Thorough research and proper planning will be key to a smooth transition, but the result will be a much better implementation of a much better product. Are you ready to get started?

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

handling hazardous chemicals

The role of an ERP System in Handling Hazardous Chemicals

The role of an ERP System in Handling Hazardous Chemicals 1920 1080 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • The chemical manufacturing industry is constantly scrutinized for its impact on the environment. Organizations in this industry are required to maintain numerous documents including safety data sheets and hazard labels with pictograms.
  • Hazardous chemicals produced and used by the industry must be properly tracked and managed in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and others.
  • The right ERP systems can help companies keep accurate records of these hazardous chemicals, in order to meet changing requirements.

Chemical Manufacturers – Managing Compliance

The chemical manufacturing industry is required by law to responsibly use, transport and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

According to a 2016 Harvard University report, “There are currently more than 85,000 chemicals in the US that make up the products in our daily lives and few, besides medications and pesticides, have been assessed thoroughly for safety.”

While prescription drugs and pesticides are carefully examined for their effects on humans and the environment, few other chemicals were not. That changed in 2016 with the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Act gives the EPA, “the authority to ban new and existing chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the health of the environment.”

Manufacturers are an integral part of the chemical value chain. The overall supply chain— from raw materials to finished products—now requires hazard visibility that was lacking until recently.

How can manufacturers meet these compliance standards and document what happens to hazardous chemicals?

One way is through the use of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system that makes record maintenance, compliance and visibility easy to maintain. A reliable ERP system is no longer an option but a requirement for chemical companies wanting to act proactively and avoid environmental or human mishaps.

Adding Xcelpros’ Integrated Chemical Management solution to the One Microsoft Ecosystem provides a comprehensive way of ensuring compliance. ERP components cover Supply Chain, Finance, Manufacturing, Quality, Document Management and Chemical Data and Documents.

Being proactive

Business processes would be simpler for bulk chemical and toll manufacturers if they could regulate hazardous substances using inventory receipts from a purchase order or production order system. Dangerous chemicals can be monitored more closely, though, when using an integrated chemical management system that tracks each chemical in every stage from raw material to finished product and wastes.

Unified systems like ERPs can help identify hazardous substances and evaluate them. Manufacturers are then informed of the risk levels regarding the use and distribution of their chemical products.

Identifying these hazardous substances early also allows manufacturers to act proactively, resulting in better safety.

Book your free consultation to learn how an ERP system can help handle hazardous chemicals.

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Developing a Prototype/ Standard Operating Procedure for Worker Safety

Even after manufacturers implement hazardous chemical safety procedures, theres still room for error. Mishandling and mismanaging these chemicals can jeopardize workers’ safety. Since working with these chemicals is a part of the job, production and distribution becomes a serious business challenge. Documenting safe handling steps and ensuring dangerous products meet all current regulations helps protect the companies when accidents occur.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its suite of business tools integrates into SharePoint and OneDrive. SharePoint is a document collaboration system. OneDrive is more storage oriented. Combined with Dynamics 365, they provide the ability to develop a standard operating procedure or prototype process to handle chemicals. The result is a series of documents that help avoid chemical accidents and enhance worker safety on the shop floor.

Better Equipment Maintenance

Documenting equipment maintenance in a chemical plant is a tedious task. Microsoft Dynamics 365 boosted with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors eliminates much of this drudgery. It lets workers know when to take preventive actions. These maintenance “calls-to-action” are generated automatically by D365 systems. By removing the potential of errors from manual entry, the automatic notifications also boost regulatory compliance. This integrated system also lets chemical manufacturers create a complete equipment maintenance, repair and operations plan.

Figure: 1How an ERP System Helps Manage Hazardous Chemicals

How an ERP System Helps Manage Hazardous Chemicals

Systematic Record Maintenance

Many chemicals used by manufacturing companies require detailed labels. These labels include their chemical composition, risk factors, expiration dates, safety procedures and special handling instructions. Government agencies require a consolidated record listing the chemicals, their quantities, distribution, costs, etc.

Manually tracking the massive volume of data in legacy systems leads to errors. Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Integrated Chemical Management is one way to properly maintain that chemical data. Information is made visible at the individual chemical or consolidated level. Chemical companies are assured of safely using, distributing and disposing of their hazardous chemicals through an automated workflow that makes it easy to add and edit chemical data.

Meeting Compliance Standards

The ERP systems described earlier apply to regulations at many levels, not just those from the federal government. They can include notifications of additional requirements based on the shipping destination. That location can be one community within a nation or a different country.

Chemical companies looking for an ideal ERP solution that helps meet local and international documentation requirements should take a close look at what D365 and ICM have to offer.

According to the 2017 Hazard Communication Survey:

  • 70% of participants pointed to compliance as the single largest priority for their company.
  • 80% of them cited monthly obligations to create, print, or affix workplace labels to containers in their inventory as a challenge.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and ICM provide an embedded chemical management solution for storing chemical data. That data becomes a globally harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) compliant labels and Safety data sheets. Using D365 and ICM is an ideal way to reduce GHS-related compliance issues.

Summary

An advanced ERP system like Microsoft’s D365 can easily become the backbone of an organization’s hazardous chemical record keeping. This sophisticated software system helps the company function and grow while also keeping the environment and communities safe. Microsoft’s Chemical Manufacturers Supply Chain solution provides a cutting-edge system to ease record maintenance, streamline the overall chemical supply chain, track inventory and warehouse management processes and create a platform for productivity and growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Integrating chemical data into an ERP system is necessary for chemical manufacturers to comply with rules and regulations from many sources.
  • Microsoft’s integrated ERP software working with ICM provides a smooth flow of records. It tracks hazardous chemicals, prints GHS labels and generates safety data sheets.
  • Chemical manufacturers concerned about worker safety, protecting the environment and avoiding government penalties will only benefit from the right ERP system.

Explore our Products page to learn about the different ERP Solutions available to jumpstart your evaluation process.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How Microsoft's ERP System works with the Retail Industry

How Microsoft’s ERP System works with the Retail Industry

How Microsoft’s ERP System works with the Retail Industry 2402 902 Xcelpros Team

The Changing Retail Industry

With the rapid pace of changes in the retail industry, especially some of the more dramatic changes that have emerged over the past few years, it’s become increasingly important to have full control over your business. Now more than ever this means investing in software that supports the changes seen across the retail industry in recent times, and into the future.

Today’s retail consumers are much more informed, and looking for a safer, more streamlined experience regardless of purchases made online or in-person at brick and mortar locations, which are still very much in demand. The omnichannel shopping experience is quickly becoming a key point to longevity in the retail industry. This means offering a safe and consistent shopping experience, integrating your CRM, ERP and eCommerce systems for a more unified view of your customers, and being able to quickly scale and adapt to support new applications and services as they develop.

96%

of emerging businesses that excel in their respective industry rely on some form of ERP solution.

Source: Aberdeen Group

15%

of executives believe AI could fundamentally change which companies win and lose.

Source: UST SmartOps, 2020

36%

Small businesses with ERP systems can make decisions with 36% less time than they did without the solution.

Source: Aberdeen Group

This has become a great opportunity for retailers to modernize and streamline their operations which can lead to greater long-term profitability as the industry continues to evolve. For this, businesses need a complete solution like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Commerce, the evolution of their Dynamics 365 Retail product line, able to offer a complete and unified solution across different channels with maximum scalability.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce

One of the first words when it comes to enterprise planning, Microsoft has been developing their Dynamics 365 products for many years, and the latest version of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Commerce offers unparalleled access to a lot of cutting-edge technology for businesses in the retail industry.

Microsoft’s newest retail ERP solution helps streamline many different areas like merchandising, inventory and order management, warehousing, financials and more. In fact, the exact same technology powering Dynamics 365 Commerce has been driving Microsoft’s storefronts around the world for years to deliver a secure, scalable, compliant solution that offers a world-class shopping experience.

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These are just a few more ways Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce supports businesses in the retail industry.

Figure: 1Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail ERP Solutions

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail ERP Solutions

Omni-channel shopping experience

With today’s consumers focused on quality, the right software helps ensure the experience is the same across different devices online and in-store with the ability to offer more increasingly popular options like Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS), curbside pickup and next or same-day shipping. These trends are becoming staples for many looking to avoid long lines and queues.

Powerful customer insights

Even now, customer data has become extremely valuable for driving AI and ML solutions to create personalized experiences designed to boost sales and increase customer retention. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce is built with AI and ML in mind to further enhance customer engagement along with the ability to integrate to other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection.

Warehouse and inventory management

Growing to be equally important is the ability to more accurately predict and manage product stock levels along with up-to-date pricing. Today’s customers don’t want to chase phantom stock counts from store to store when they can easily give their business to another retailer, right from the comfort of their home.

Powerful Integrations

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 products have always been highly adaptable and configurable, able to integrate with numerous existing applications and services offering a unified experience across different platforms. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce is no different, able to directly connect to a multitude of modern and legacy systems for reporting, compliance, and more to help protect your investment in previous systems.

What’s Next

As emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Augmented Reality (AR) continue to advance, the retail industry will continue to be fraught with the challenge of trying to keep up – including providing modern, personalized shopping experiences to today’s savvy consumers to help retain loyalty across different channels. More and more businesses in the industry are looking for technology partners that understand their challenges and can offer support for modern solutions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce is a scalable solution that can be made to work for anything from SMBs to larger multi-brand or multi-company organizations helping Increase your revenue and brand loyalty with better engagement. Better focus your operations to reduce costs and boost efficiency over your entire supply chain.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance?

How an ERP system can help improve Manufacturing performance? 1920 1080 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Installing modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software comes at a high cost for manufacturing companies. They want to use their software investments to maximize manufacturing performance.
  • Manufacturers can best use their ERP model by letting their production line and vendors work in tandem with the software to streamline processes.
  • ERP systems are no longer a part of the business backend. Newer tools and applications like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning are changing ERP systems. All of these technologies affect overall return on investment (ROI).

Introduction

The general benefits of using a comprehensive tool like ERP are well known by most manufacturing organizations regardless of size. However, there are still ways with which ERP systems can be used to better overall operational efficiency in manufacturing, streamline existing processes and improve the production line. How solutions like ERP become the catalyst in generating ROI are usually the difference-makers for the manufacturing sector.

Mid-size businesses’ adoption of ERP software will grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2014 to 2020.– alliedmarketresearch.com

As more companies modernize their ERP, they want to understand how they can adapt and manipulate their current practices to maximize their technology investments. First, understand how ROI is calculated in terms of ERP in the manufacturing industry.

Figure 1:Determining the ROI of Manufacturing ERP

Determining the ROI of Manufacturing ERP

Calculating the ROI for ERP Manufacturing: A Comprehensive Look at the Benefits of Installing an ERP System

Every organization has specific short and long term goals in mind when installing an ERP system. While the ROI might be a relative concept for every manufacturer, certain common areas can help decide the benefits an ERP system brings to your company:

  • Does the ERP system help streamline production processes and improve overall production line efficiency?
  • Does it reduce human intervention, lowering the cost of labor for data management and analytics?
  • Does it help better manage purchases, procurements and inventory?
  • Does it provide real-time visibility across the production line for improved communications and faster response times?
  • What other tangible benefits in terms of cost savings and profit gains can you see after installing the ERP system?

Answering these questions lets you calculate the ROI for your ERP.

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The Road to Better Manufacturing ROI: Improving Manufacturing Performance with ERP

01.Efficient Machine-to-Machine and Machine-to-Human Interaction

In today’s cloud-dominated software world, everything is connected through the Internet. Manufacturers can enhance their ecosystems by making real-time connections between the workforce and machines. When everyone from the top floor to the shop floor can view the entire production line, it lets skilled workers use smart manufacturing techniques to save time and effort.

Using ERP software to adopt smart manufacturing techniques helps manufacturers avoid production delays while efficiently tracking material and equipment. Using these methods will generate significantly more revenue.

Figure 2:ERP in the Manufacturing Industry

ERP in the Manufacturing Industry

02.Better Inventory Management

Large-scale manufacturers can afford to hire a larger workforce to manage their inventories. Small and mid-scale businesses lack that luxury so inventory problems can cause financial losses. Efficient larger companies are looking for a centralized network that can keep track of raw materials, incoming and outgoing shipments plus maintenance schedules.

A sturdy, modernized ERP system is designed to handle these tasks where older legacy platforms fail.

ERPs allow companies to get real-time data on their inventory, allowing them to better predict and manage inventory. Every manufacturing company—large or small—understands that accurately managing inventory is a must if it wants to avoid stock-outs and related production delays. A robust ERP system improves ROI by helping manufacturers more accurately manage inventories.

03.Forming a Competent Skill Base

Advanced software and or mechanical tools can only help boost ROI when the workforce is trained in how to use them. An ERP system is no exception. When an ERP is integrated with cutting-edge applications like IoT, machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence, training becomes critical. Having a well-trained, expert workforce lets companies take full advantage of their ERP. Taking the time and spending the money to train staff reduces problems and provides long-term profit gains.

Key Takeaways

Making these changes in your manufacturing ecosystem will help you maximize the benefits of your ERP system. They will also solidify your work standards and technical competencies.

  • The cost of installing a modern ERP system for manufacturers is countered by improving the return on investment.
  • Regardless of size, manufacturers should look at ERP software as an integral part of their production line. Training their workforce in how to use its many features will boost overall profits.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How choosing the right ERP system can boost your company's growth

How choosing the right ERP system can boost your company’s growth

How choosing the right ERP system can boost your company’s growth 1202 452 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

According to the latest Mckinsey research, agile organizations are healthier and more likely to meet long-term performance KPIs than their counterparts. Moreover, such organizations are more likely to achieve:

  • greater customer centricity,
  • faster time to market,
  • higher revenue growth,
  • lower costs, and
  • a more engaged workforce.

One way to improve the agility of your organization is to employ an ERP solution. Here we explore the advantages of utilizing an ERP system and outline five ways the right ERP system can improve agility and help you grow your business.

40%

of all companies won’t survive in the next ten years if they fail to figure out how to change and transform their business to accommodate the latest technologies.

Source: East Innovations

Benefits of Implementing an ERP Software Solution: Key Areas

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) as a business process management tool can enable organizations to manage day-to-day business activities like:

  • accounting,
  • procurement,
  • marketing,
  • human resources,
  • project management,
  • risk management,
  • compliance, and
  • supply chain operations.

The right Enterprise resource planning software application allows these different departments to communicate and share information with the rest of the company.

Figure: 1Different departments integrating through an ERP

Different departments integrating through an ERP

In other words, ERP software helps your business by making it easier for different departments to cooperate with just one interface.

Book a free assessment to learn about the right ERP system for your company.

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5 Ways a Modern ERP Can Help You Grow Your Business

Large ERP solutions often slip to the bottom of IT management’s agenda, but the growth benefits of ERP solutions—seamless, end-to-end integration across functions and business units—make them a fundamental asset for most large companies.

Moreover, the next generation of modern ERP solutions offers even more promising capabilities, both functionally and technologically. Below we explore just a few of the ways a modern ERP can help you grow your business.

Enhanced Insight and Visibility

ERP software provides complete access to important business processes by making data from different departments easily accessible to senior management. It provides a birds-eye-view of daily business operations like:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Manufacturing
  • Order Processing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Project Management
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and
  • Data Services.

The boost in visibility enables decision-makers with the information they need to not only control daily operations but also improve inefficient processes and reveal opportunities for growth.

Better Reporting and Analytics

Accurate and complete reporting helps businesses plan, budget, forecast, and communicate the state of operations to the organization and other interested parties, such as investors and shareholders.

ERPs make big data and big business a good match because they enable your team with a single, unified reporting and analytics system for every process. You also enable your team to analyze and compare functions across departments, without the hassle of multiple spreadsheets and emails.

Greater Efficiency and Performance

By linking far-flung departments, ERP systems make it easier for your team to interoperate. The easier it is for your team to interoperate, the easier it will be for them to produce high quality work, and perform at their best.

“Higher the efficiency, the higher the profitability!”

Properly implemented, an ERP software suite can greatly reduce or eliminate repetitive manual processes, which frees up your team to focus on revenue-generating tasks. ERP systems can also aid in the adoption of industry best-practice, and alignment across the organization.

Stronger Data Security

ERP software improves data security by limiting input to a single system, thus eliminating the avenues by which a hacker could infiltrate the system and/or steal information. Both on-premise and cloud-based ERP systems provide a higher degree of security than the alternative, i.e., merging information from multiple systems.

Additionally, most ERP software runs on a single database system, which enables centralized backups of your critical and sensitive data.

Improved Supply Chain Management

The feature-rich working environment of an ERP suite provides a range of important supply chain advantages and play a key role in several aspects of the creation and maintenance of a superior supply chain management process, including:

  • Supply Chain Planning – ERP systems offer an easier and more flexible way to establish and alter the supply chain parameters.
  • Purchasing, Procurement and Execution – ERP software applications provide a more effective way to manage the procurement and supply of goods, services and other resources that are needed to operate a successful supply chain.
  • Monitoring and Maintenance – The ability to monitor, review and alter supply chain efforts and activities in real-time is essential for ensuring your business can maintain the flexibility needed to stay competitive and ensure cost-effective operations.
  • Measurement and Assessment – ERP systems offer superior information aggregation and organization, which makes it easier to identify and address undesirable variances throughout the supply chain.

How to Choose the Right ERP System

There is no one-size-fits-all ERP system for every business, but there are features that distinguish it from other types of business software, including:

  • Common database – Most ERP advantages stem from a common database that enables organizations to centralize information from numerous departments, and eliminate the need to manually merge separate databases.
  • Single user interface – ERP systems provide the same user interface (UI) and have a similar user experience (UX) across all departments and roles. In other words, everyone uses the same interface and sees the same thing when they interact with the software.
  • Process Integration – The right ERP system will enable your team to unify a diverse set of processes, and connect workflows that play crucial roles in the company’s success.
  • Automation – A basic feature of most ERP systems is the ability to automate repetitive tasks like manual data entry, which saves time, improves efficacy and minimizes human error.
  • Data Analytics – the most valuable aspect of an ERP is how it breaks down information silos, enabling your team to mix and match data from any part of your business into insightful reports.

Conclusion

The prospect of streamlined business functions and major boosts to productivity make ERP systems a good investment for any business owner. But which ERP system is right for your business? The answer to that question depends on your business.

Ultimately, the ERP system you choose for your business should not only make work easier, but also enable your team with the tools, time and information they need to improve business processes and set your company on a trajectory for growth.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Guide to Adopt Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP: Upgrade or Migrate

Microsoft Dynamics 365 The Need to Upgrade

Microsoft Dynamics 365 The Need to Upgrade 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Series Introduction

Learn everything you need to know about upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Finance & Operations enterprise resource planning (ERP) software through our easy to understand, informative series. We’ll cover reasons to upgrade, features and benefits, prerequisites, moving from on-site to the cloud, change management, data migration, budgeting, updates, backing up, considerations and final thoughts.

Why Upgrade to Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations?

Change is the only constant. We define it in our daily lives as, “the process of undergoing a transformation or transition.” We see this transformation every day with every new regulation, every new discovery and every new trend. Transformative trends are driving all industries: chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, manufacturing, distribution and others. Keeping up with these market trends and more importantly, staying ahead, is the key to being a successful company.

Many companies are reluctant to upgrade their software from stand-alone siloed programs to an ERP. Others don’t want to change from a comfortable older ERP to a newer version even though the older version is obsolete. Why don’t they change? Because some leaders are scared that an upgrade may disrupt business operations. Lack of a proper budget or resources plus insufficient information and proper guidance hold them back.

These companies are not alone: one of our customers is currently in this same situation.

Alpha Customer is a high-performance, mid-size pharmaceutical manufacturing company. It has been running an older ERP system for more than 20 years. Recently, its legacy application failed to recover after regular maintenance. The ERP crash brought operations to a grinding halt. Everyone across the enterprise was forced to perform previously automated functions manually. This means manually inputting sales orders, confirmations, purchase orders, invoices and everything else.

Lucky for them, the company was just a few weeks away from a planned go-live update to Dynamics 365. The staff could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Reasons to Upgrade

Continuing to use unstable systems poses significant risks to business operations while hampering growth opportunities.

Companies expect software to work. They expect it to do a specific job or series of jobs, do them well and not fail. They expect stability. Anyone who has ever dealt with an unstable operating or financial system knows that fixing them is not a simple “rip and replace” job. Upgrading older systems requires extreme caution and planning from the standpoints of cost and the critical business functions they perform.

Many business leaders enjoy working in a comfort zone: they overlook inefficient systems and processes. The result of staying with a dinosaur system is spending a lot of time and money building complex customizations that now need constant updates to keep up with business needs.

Some systems are so old, it prevents chemical and pharmaceutical companies from meeting various regulations. Compliance failures cause unwanted audits, fines and penalties. Despite your efforts, the old system seems to be always “in repair.” Keeping it going continually drains your IT resources and budget.

Ultimately, it becomes critical that these companies continue spending on customizations just to keep lights on and meet today’s needs. With the current rate of change, the cost of doing nothing is significantly amplified.

Delaying the migration to a modern ERP can impact not only internal systems and processes but a company’s speed-to-market, customer service, profitability, competitiveness and more.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 – The Differentiator

Companies using an older version of Microsoft’s “legacy” ERP find that upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 streamlines operations. It allows them to allocate IT resources and budget to other pressing needs since maintenance costs are dramatically lowered.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations is Microsoft’s flagship ERP. The application includes industry best practices. It was designed to fit the needs of these industries right out of the box:

  • Manufacturing (Discrete, Process and Mixed Mode)
  • Distribution
  • Retail (Operations and POS)
  • Oil and Gas
  • Food and Beverage
  • Finance etc.

What sets Dynamics 365 apart from its competitors are the included features and functions designed for the process manufacturing industry. Dynamics 365 offers best-in-class functionality for process industries like chemical, pharmaceutical, life sciences and Biotechnology. These industries benefit the most in upgrading to the latest version of Dynamics 365.

ERP solutions began years ago. They continually evolve and adapt to changing regulations and industry requirements. Microsoft Dynamics 365 continues this trend. Major updates are scheduled twice a year, keeping your company in compliance with the newest regulations.

Real-Life Stories and Data Points

Companies leaders must ask themselves: Is upgrading to Dynamics 365 the right choice for their companies?

There are many other ERP solutions out there. Will Microsoft Dynamics 365 work for your business?

Many companies can answer “yes” to both questions. They successfully upgraded to Dynamics 365 and achieved their intended project objectives.

Success stories

  1. 1. A specialty food company needed a platform to efficiently manage their inventory and orders between their warehouse and distribution center. The older ERP could not handle the increased sales volume during the two-month holiday season. Microsoft Dynamics 365 tracks inventory data in real-time through mobile devices, which is exactly what the company wanted. By upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and making use of its included real-time data tracking and sending functions, it created multiple benefits. Employees could make more informed decisions. They could serve their customers faster and more efficiently. Customer service improved.
  2. 2. An Italian aircraft manufacturer wanted to shift its ERP system to the cloud without disrupting its facilities. The company chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, ensuring its five global facilities remained up-to-date. This helped the company reduce IT costs while streamlining the data flow between them.
  3. 3. A shipping giant was facing data accessibility challenges and severe security risks. By upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365, it gained data accessibility and security while reducing overall operational costs. Another benefit was automatic prediction of maintenance needs letting executives concentrate on developing new products and services.
  4. 4. A global weather company handles almost 17 billion data requests from 1.5 billion people every day. The high request volume also makes it an ideal advertising platform. The company was struggling to balance transitory weather events and advertisers trying to reach affected markets. After making the switch to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, it can track data in real-time. This function lets us make informed decisions on allocating inventory to meet advertiser expectations.
  5. 5. A not-for-profit healthcare network transformed its patient engagement with the support of Microsoft Dynamics 365. Running a Microsoft ecosystem single platform combining Office 365 and Azure, one of the doctors developed a business application with PowerApp. It gave physicians and nurses visibility into each other’s teams, helping them collaborate more effectively.

Making ERP upgrades like those above must be planned before starting the change. Requirements include a thorough understanding of the current business needs, aligning them with product capabilities. Unfortunately, some companies learn the hard way that their decisions during the upgrade were not in their best interest, costing them time and resources.

Real-life upgrade failures

Upgrades require a significant investment and failures can be heartbreaking. ERP failure stories can teach us valuable lessons on avoiding such failures in the future. Some notable disasters include these.

In 2013, a famous cosmetic company invested $125 million and almost four years of work in an ERP project that became a disaster. The company started testing its new ERP system in Canada, quickly realizing it had problems. The software’s failure to perform required processes required sales reps to perform more work, not less.

A series of problems costing millions in lost sales, expedited shipping fees, declining customer service levels and other expenses caused the company to ultimately end its relationship with the ERP firm.

Investments & Failure in Dynamics 365 Adoption

In 2000, a major sporting goods manufacturer spent $400 million on a software upgrade to its ERP system. The upgrade was supposed to help the company manage its supply chain and make its demand forecasting more efficient. Instead, the upgrade caused $100 million in lost sales and a 20% decrease in stock prices. How? Through an unresolved transient error causing a total system failure.

Dynamics 365 Adoption Statistics

In 2004, Hewlett-Packard (HP) decided to upgrade its ERP system. The intent was saving money, creating shorter delivery times and improving its global distribution network. The result was catastrophic. Instead, the company suffered a $160 million loss while 20 percent of all orders were trapped in the older ERP system.

Any ERP system failure is painful and expensive to companies and their leaders, especially when proper planning and more investigation could have uncovered the issues above. Customers should not have to pay for the mistakes of their vendors.

Still, failures like these are more common than you think. The monetary losses mentioned in these examples do not fully represent the dangers of a poorly planned upgrade: they could easily be three or four times more expensive.

81%

Organizations are either in the process of implementing ERP software or have completed Implementation.

Source: Panorama Consulting Solutions

Your Benefits from the Upgrade

As companies begin exploring upgrade options, they will face challenges and difficulties in finding the right software for their needs. Fully understanding the requirements and reasons in upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the best way to minimize problems and maximize your upgrade budget.

Ensuring the success of an ERP upgrade starts with clearly understanding the size and scope of your upgrade desires. Create a detailed plan, estimate your investment budget and timeline, determine your company’s needs, weigh all available options, set achievable targets and goals, and then choose the ERP solution that best fits your specific needs.

Picking an ERP solution that can handle anything you can throw at it – like Dynamics 365 – is always a good choice.

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations has many benefits. For example, with Dynamics 365 you can:

  • Eliminate incompatible software with one simple, powerful platform
  • Eliminate the risks and challenges associated with outdated systems
  • Enhance the productivity of your company with streamlined processes and workflows
  • Allow your company to grow with a scalable solution
  • Reduce integration and maintenance costs by having everything under one familiar roof

Upgrading to the right technology at the right time is imperative. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not just an application: it’s a comprehensive platform with seamless and easy connectivity to other Microsoft products like Outlook, Word and other third-party applications.

D365 is the evolution of Microsoft from a company providing individual solutions to having the Microsoft One Commercial Partner (OCP) organization designed for enterprise customers.

Microsoft Eco System

Make Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics Your Top Priority

Weighing up all the benefits and new features available, upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in 2021 should be at the top of your to-do list.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365, enjoy a secure, convenient, and up-to-date system. Reduce integration costs. Securely connect to all your apps and increase productivity.

Key Reasons for Upgrading to Dynamics 365

Consider upgrading to Dynamics 365 when:

  1. 1. Your system lacks the comprehensive functionality to meet your current business needs. A growing business requires an agile system to support it. Investing a lot of time and money in customizing an old system to meet your current needs may well be a needless waste.
  2. 2. Your most-used applications are no longer supported or were replaced.
  3. 3. Finding support for an older system is a major problem.
  4. 4. Your infrastructure needs an expensive overhaul so shifting it off-site to the Cloud is a less-costly alternative.
  5. 5. Productivity in the warehouse, on the production floor and in the sales suffers from lack of mobile access to important data.
  6. 6. You are finding it increasingly difficult to integrate with other portals or systems.
  7. 7. Your current system no longer meets data security and other regulatory requirements.

If you are experiencing any of these issues, you know it’s time to upgrade.

Key Takeaways

Continuing to use an unstable older ERP solution is an unnecessary risk to company operations.

Only consider upgrading to a newer ERP such as Dynamics 365 after evaluating the software’s ability to handle your businesses’ day-to-day operations and achieve short- and long-term business goals.

Consider the potential value for your upgrade investment. Ensure the return on investment from the ROI makes sense as does the total cost of ownership and productivity increases.

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a huge economic and transformative value to your business.

If your enterprise is still using an older Microsoft ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics Nav, Microsoft Dynamics GP or SL or any other legacy system, it is time to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Conclusion

This concludes Part 1 of the 10 part series, which provides and considerations for upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics 365. In upcoming articles, we will provide all the information you need in evaluating the business case for the upgrade.

Stay tuned for more…

Get a free consultation to learn about an upgrade or migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Adoption Made Simpler with Agile

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Adoption Made Simpler with Agile 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Adoption Made Simpler with Agile

Based on a wonderful piece from our friends over at McKinsey, Explaining why Companies and system integrators need to dispel the myth that agile can’t be applied to ERP, instead of adopting an agile approach towards ERP transformations. While every ERP transformation has its unique challenges, these challenges are much less of a hurdle for organizations taking an agile approach.

Get a free consultation to know how your ERP transformation can be made agile and successful.

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Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency

Visible and Shareable Data Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency

Visible and Shareable Data Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Covid-19 and its variations, a trade war with China and ongoing cyber attacks are just some of the problems supply chain managers are still facing in 2021. Similar issues may occur at any time making supply chain managers nervous and cautious.

One way to improve overall supply chain performance is through accurate data collection plus improved vendor communications. Knowing what you need and when you will need it is important to keeping inventories under control.

Working closely with vendors is especially important when seeking diverse raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) sources. Being able to pivot from a supplier in one country to a different firm halfway around the globe can make the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one. Having more than one source helps make your supply chain resilient.

Critical components of a secure supply chain are:

  • Accurate, real-time data available to decision makers any time, anywhere
  • Detailed knowledge of each supplier and who supplies them
  • A diverse, geographically spread-out network of suppliers
  • Sharing appropriate data with vendors to ensure adequate inventories

Figure: 1Critical components of a secure supply chain are:

Critical components of a secure supply chain

All of this is based on data available through Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices.

Data Collection in the Digital Age

The IoT lets companies connect real-time monitoring devices to a wide range of production machines. Each IoT device can then be connected to a Microsoft Azure IoT hub. The hub can signal when completing a manufacturing process or reaching an inventory threshold, for example.

Each data point goes into a secure, cloud-based network allowing authorized users to see the real-time progress of each production run. When appropriate, that data can be shared with vendors. Sharing select data with vendors lets companies maintain balanced inventories, informing them when supplies of a particular precursor chemical are running low, for example.

Performance data from many individual machines can be combined into one real-time data stream. When it is analyzed by as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management inventory forecasting tools, pharmaceutical manufacturers can then reach out to their diverse vendor base, ensuring a constant flow of raw materials.

The same general process for raw materials coming into a plant applies to finished products leaving it.

D365’s Supply Chain Management module includes inventory tracking tools. Pharmaceutical manufacturers will know where every labeled and scanned product is at any point in time.

For example, say a company has part of a product manufactured in Asia and then sent to Europe for additional assembly. A Supply Chain Management dashboard containing data from a Microsoft Power BI report can let a company know of a major shipping delay, such as the Suez Canal blockage last year. Having all of this information in one spot at one time lets company leaders decide if they want to wait for the blockage to get fixed or ship the materials by air.

Having a diverse supply chain in terms of raw material providers and finished product shippers provides additional options and security.

Supplier Knowledge

The more a company knows about its suppliers, the better prepared the company is when disaster strikes.

In an article on supply chain mapping, Sedex states companies should:

  1. 1Learn where primary suppliers and their suppliers are located. Having detailed supplier records helps accomplish this task.
  2. 2Integrate this information into a single data source.
  3. 3Conduct a risk assessment to determine where to focus their attention next.
  4. 4Research each supplier so your company is aware of any risks to them.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management provide a single shareable data source. If, for example, a trade war breaks in one region, a company can sort through its supplier list and find out which companies are affected.

Xcelpros has a unique approach to ensuring decision makers have information critical to them. Xcelpros can create analytic reports using intelligence gathered in Microsoft Power BI. The reports can map geographic locations, such as those of raw material providers. The Power Bi report is then embedded in a D365 Supply Chain Management dashboard, giving executives “at a glance” views.

Combining the artificial intelligence capabilities of Supply Chain Management with the analysis functions of Power BI lets executives know what is happening in terms of potential supply chain disruptions and where they might occur.

Power BI features include:

  • Transforming data in shareable graphics
  • Explore data obtained from many sources
  • Share customized dashboards and data, such as between Sales and Inventory Control

Having geographically-dispersed vendors also helps.

Supply Chain Diversity

What happens when your primary API supplier’s workforce is decimated by another round of coronavirus infections? For example, say Supplier A does not have enough healthy workers to produce the quantity of essential materials at the right quality point. If your company has other vendors who can fulfill your order requirements, nothing changes with your customer. If you don’t have back-up suppliers or ways to get the finished products to them, it could cost you.

A study by the Hackett Group found that those with a diverse supply chain had lower overall operating costs and spent 20% less on buying.

Effects include a higher return on investment (ROI), lower prices to the manufacturer’s customer and improved customer service, an article in Supply Chain states.

Working with small and medium-sized business suppliers (SMBs) has several advantages over only dealing with large multi-nationals. These include:

  • Efficiency at the local level
  • Innovative services
  • Faster delivery when the SMB is closer to the plant

Figure: 2Advantages of working with SMB Suppliers

advantages of small and medium-sized business suppliers (SMBs)

“The companies that build resiliency into their supply chains will be best positioned for success and growth as they will have an adaptive advantage in the face of change and volatility,” Supply Chain states. Having options in terms of near-shore and off-shore suppliers lets, “companies spread their risk, mitigating the impact that social, political and geographic incidents could have on raw material price and availability.”

Supply chains that are diverse in terms of location and their ability to provide raw materials and precursor chemicals give pharmaceutical manufacturers the ability to survive disruptions.

Having this information is one thing. Letting the people who have what you need in time to get it to you is also vital.

Supplier Communications

“Effective communication between buyers suppliers helps support long-term goals by building a strong and trusting relationship in which both parties are comfortable sharing information and working together to support these goals,” a report by the ISS Group states.

“Communication builds trust and ineffective communication demolishes it,” a Canadian Center for Science and Education report cited by ISS states.

Giving suppliers advance knowledge of the types and quantities of needed materials can prevent potential problems, such as running out of stock. Companies can improve risk management when vendor communications share real-time data over a secure, cloud-based network. Microsoft D365 provides the data sharing and security functions required by today’s top pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Dynamics 365’s Finance module provides data sharing between a company and up to 15 legal entities. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer wants to share some inventory information with a partner to ensure the production plant has enough raw materials on hand for a special project. D365 Finance permits sharing the reference and group data but not transactional information like the name of the customer requesting the project.

Sharing the information between a manufacturer and its vendors is based on an important assumption: there is accurate, timely data.

Supplier communications also lets companies monitor product quality. Quality assurance is critical, especially in terms of medicines, drugs and other pharmaceutical products requiring regulatory compliance.

Summary

Supply chains can be very fragile as the debacles from 2020 have proven. Having accurate inventory information, knowing how each supplier is affected by activities and events beyond their control and communicating with them will help make your supply chain more resilient.

Book a free assessment to get started with our data management solutions built for supply chain resiliency.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

ERP and Big Data

ERPs Make Big Data and Big Business a Good Match

ERPs Make Big Data and Big Business a Good Match 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

What does “Big Data” mean to you and your company? To many, the phrase means large quantities of information from different sources, data that changes by the second. For example, it can refer to the temperature of a chemical process where a small variation makes the difference between good product and wasted materials.

A common big data definition is, “a collection of data that is huge in volume yet growing exponentially with time,” guru99.com states. The “4 Vs of Big Data” are:

Figure: 14 Vs of Big Data

4 V's of BigData

  • Volume, in terms of data coming from multiple sources at the same time
  • Variety, which can be flow volumes, temperatures, production costs and other information calculated separately
  • Velocity, referring to the speed of information from application logs and device sensors (IoT)
  • Variability, data flows when a machine is running and stops when the production cycle ends

“Big Data” can also refer to lines from sales contracts referencing products, volumes and/or quantities from several customers. From a supply chain perspective, those same sales numbers require raw materials plus labor and machine operating time to produce them.

In the past, “Big Data” often referred to information from one department such as Production or Sales. One of the biggest challenges with big data is providing information siloed in one department to other areas that need it.

There are even challenges to searching big data, which includes getting results based on the query. When the query isn’t phrased correctly, or a required document has a naming error, important information is left out.

A key challenge is overwhelming volume.

  • The New York Stock Exchange generates one terabyte of data each day
  • Facebook cranks out more than 500 terabytes of customer-uploaded photos and videos every day
  • A jet engine generates more than 10 terabytes of data in 30 minutes of flight

By the Numbers

Many businesses are drowning in data, not all of which is useful.

  • 8%: the number of businesses using more than 25% of internet of things (IoT) data available to them
  • 10% – 25%: Marketing databases containing critical errors
  • 20% – 30%: Operational expenses directly tied to poor data
  • 40%: The growth rate of corporate data with a study by SiriusDecisions finding organizational data typically doubles every 12-18 months
  • 40%: the number of businesses missing business objectives because of poor data quality
  • $13.3 million: The average annual cost of poor data quality

Big Data Costs

Big Data comes with costs, especially for in-house networks. Once data is obtained, it gets stored before being analyzed. Data is usually backed-up in case something happens to damage, destroy or in the case of hacking, hijack it.

The actual costs of this data varies based on business size and need. Estimates place the lowest range at $100 – $200 per month to rent a small business server. Installation costs typically start at $3,000 and go up from there.

Big Data includes up-front as well as hidden costs. Up-front costs most people see consider includes:

  • Software tools to manage and analyze data
  • Servers and storage drives to hold the data
  • Staff time to ensure the physical devices work properly and to manage the data

These costs scale proportionally depending on the business’ storage and retrieval requirements and the processing power required to gather the data.

Hidden costs usually refer to the bandwidth needed to move data from one source or site to another. While we might consider it a simple task to download a movie on a cellphone, moving terabytes of data between servers can be significantly more expensive.

Accurately estimating big data costs is basically impossible without a detailed look at each company’s specific requirements and needs. However, online research estimates them to be anywhere from several hundred dollars per month for a small business to tens of thousands of dollars per month or more. Infrastructure costs alone can easily top $1,000 – $2,000 per terabyte (TB) with qualified outsourced consultant pricing averaging between $81 – $100 per hour.

Big Data Limitations

Having access to large volumes of data is great – when a company knows what to do with it. Especially when servers are in-house, big data has its limitations. These problems include:

  • Software tool compatibility, such as different types and brands of databases
  • Correlation errors, such as linking incompatible or unrelatable variables
  • Security and privacy from the standpoint of only exposing your data to the eyes of qualified people

From a mechanical perspective, one industrial device might use a Siemens programmable logic controller (PLC). Another device can use a Rockwell PLC and a third could be from Mitsubishi Electric. These different devices add additional layers of complexity.

Using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) architecture is one way some larger companies are resolving PLC compatibility issues. SCADA includes computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces.

Figure: 2Big Data Limitations

Big Data Limitations

Resolving Big Data Issues

One way pharmaceutical companies can resolve rising big data issues, especially those caused by using older, legacy systems is with a modern ERP. Enterprise resource planning software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) resolves many of these incompatibility issues.

Data integration is a major big data problem for companies that use one database in production and another in finance.

D365’s data integrator is a point-to-point integration service used to integrate data. It supports integrating data between Finance and Operations apps and Microsoft Dataverse. The software lets administrators securely create data flows from sources to destinations. Data can also be transformed before being imported.

Dual-write—a related D365 function—provides bi-direction data flow between documents, masters and reference data.

This type of data collection raises potential ethical issues when accessing large quantities of personal information, which could include contact information for patients enrolled in a new drug study.

Installations by professionals experienced in working with pharmaceutical companies can organize data and help strip out personal information. Removing it reduces the chance of a HIPAA (health insurance portability and accountability act) violation.

Being a cloud-based product, D365 also cuts down many of the personnel costs associated with big data management and maintenance. Microsoft assumes those costs along with the burden of data security.

Conclusion

Having a lot of information lets companies make accurate, informed decisions. Problems crop up when data is kept in departmental silos. Using an ERP to integrate information across departments removes many barriers to sharing information, which leads to more accurate sales and inventory predictions, reducing overall costs and boosting profits.

Boost Your business ROI with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and manage big data efficiently. Book a free consultation to learn more.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

warehouse management techniques

Warehouse management techniques in 2021: Tips to increase efficiency

Warehouse management techniques in 2021: Tips to increase efficiency 1202 451 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies face greater risks when it comes to inventory control than some other industries. Why? Because some of the same chemicals used to make effective medicines can also create addictive street drugs. For example, ephedrine, which is used to treat breathing problems, is also an active ingredient in methamphetamine. The Food and Drug Administration has strict rules for companies making and distributing drugs. All companies, especially those in the pharmaceutical sector, want to run their warehouses efficiently. Common efficient warehouse management includes:

  • Maximizing and optimizing all available space
  • Keeping inventory to lean levels
  • 50% of enterprises spend more than $1.2 million each year on cloud services
  • Using inventory tracking technology efficiently
  • Organizing the workforce so its time is used wisely

Warehouse management best practices also emphasize the “3 C’s”: control, coordination and communication. Standard practices, where control is maintained by only one department, usually results in difficult coordination and communication between departments such as sales and finance.

Enterprise resource management (ERP) software with warehouse management and inventory control modules can help manage warehouse inventory.

Maximizing Warehouse Space

Maximizing warehouse space includes stacking items logically, and using vertical space to your advantage.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests hazardous chemicals be labeled with hazard warnings and the chemical name. Other chemical storage tips from the CDC include:

  • Keeping all stored chemicals, especially flammable liquids, away from direct sunlight and heat.
  • Keeping like chemicals together and away from those that might cause a reaction if mixed.
  • Storing liquids in unbreakable or double-contained packaging.
  • Storing flammable materials, acids and highly toxic or controlled materials in dedicated cabinets designed for those purposes.
  • Storing volatile and odorous chemicals in a ventilated cabinet.
  • Keeping all unused or empty compressed gas cylinders in a dedicated storage area.

Figure: 1Maximizing Warehouse Space

ERPs and Inventory Management Techniques

Use ERP to Run Lean

ERP software often includes warehouse management tools and technology designed to help companies balance inventories with current and future needs.

For example, warehouse management is integrated into Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management. There’s even a connected Warehousing app available on the Google Play Store and Windows store that connects cellphones and other mobile devices to the network running D365’s Supply Chain Management. Each device must have its own copy of the app and be configured to connect to the local warehouse computer network.

Microsoft’s warehouse management module apps let workers use their cellphones, tablets or other connected devices to perform activities such as:

  • Printing and reprinting labels
  • Generating license plate numbers, confirming item types and quantities on a license plate or pallet and splitting full license plates
  • Starting production orders
  • Get information about particular items in a location

These warehouse management software settings can be configured to allow users different permissions in different warehouse locations. Software such as Microsoft Intune is used to mass deploy settings and service warehouse mobile devices.

Once devices are configured, cellphone cameras can be used to scan many common barcodes, including QR codes.

Another important part of the warehouse management module is the Transportation Management function. It lets workers register when a driver arrives, noting the driver’s name and license number, tractor and trailer number plus the location in the warehouse (e.g., Receiving Bay 1, Shipping Bay 3, etc.).

A key function for the pharmaceutical industry is setting work audit templates to interrupt an inbound order. Since many medicines require strict environmental controls, workers can be prompted through the audit template to check the temperature in delivery containers. They can then be told to check a particular container at a particular point in the receiving process.

Another method of boosting efficiency and controlling warehouse inventory is by requiring warehouse workers to confirm the product, location or quantity when they pick items. This reduces the likelihood of inventory errors caused by inaccurate counts.

Improving Efficiency With an ERP

When IDC conducted its 2018 survey, 45% of independent service vendor customers preferred the lift and shift cloud migration method for moving business applications. Combined with cloud computing, 69% of end customers understand the positive implications of using cloud-based software. These include agility, scalability, cost effectiveness, efficiency and others.

Is Cloud Computing Worth the Cost?

One reason many companies purchase an ERP is its ability to help them run their day to day operations more efficiently. One example is the ability to use an intelligent warehouse management system to cluster purchase order putaways. Workers put away products in a specific area and then pick multiple license plates at once before putting them away in different locations.

In a related activity, workers can check incoming product quality before technically receiving it and taking ownership of it. D365’s Warehouse Management module lets users log these checks with mobile devices.

This same intelligent warehouse management system also lets pharmaceutical companies efficiently process purchase order returns. The item is entered into Supply Chain Management and then scanned, starting the process. Items being returned are picked and sent through the warehouse process using mobile devices. The software also creates the shipment and load.

Similar configuration settings help inventory, procurement and delivery management become more efficient. Workers are no longer moving randomly from place to place within a warehouse, picking items from six different locations for a single order. Instead, they might pick items for six different license plates from the same general location, move to a second spot and add additional items. By using this method, each worker’s time is used to maximize the amount of actual work done, achieving more production.

ERPs and Inventory Management Techniques

Six of the most common inventory management techniques are:

  • Bulk shipments
  • ABC Inventory Management
  • Backorders
  • Just in Time (JIT) shipping
  • Consignments
  • Cycle counting

An innovative warehouse management system helps executives decide when buying in bulk is appropriate and when going lean is better. How? By sharing data with sales, finance and other departments. Warehouse managers can see what sales are coming up and know what raw materials to order.

The same situation applies to deciding what to produce and what to have in inventory based on importance. Data shared between systems lets managers make and adjust these calculations.

Backorders are becoming more common as Covid-19 related issues delay raw material shipments. While using them is a common warehouse management technique, effective ERP software helps firms control backorders and order materials from alternate suppliers.

Just In Time (JIT) inventory management reduces the amount of stock available at any given time to the bare minimum. Using D365 Supply Chain Management lets chief executive officers understand the complete supply chain. They can decide what items to get only when needed and what to buy in bulk.

Combined with precise inventory tracking to know when a specific medication is approaching its expiration date, pharmaceutical manufacturers can use consignment selling with confidence. Alerts will let them know when they need to refresh a seller’s stock.

Cycle counting, where workers count only a small quantity of product, is rendered nearly obsolete by an ERP. Using barcodes and electronic scanners, warehouse managers have an accurate idea of inventory at all times.

The Future of Warehouse Management

The future of warehouse management systems isn’t workers running around with pencils and clipboards. Instead, it’s automating many manual processes with real-time access to critical data.

“Warehouses will be built on current effective process-driven technologies such as widespread supply chain automation, hyper-effective robotic technologies and yes, plenty of drones to go around,” 6 River Systems predicts.

Leading that charge will be artificial intelligence-enabled ERP software coupled with industrial internet of things (IIoT) sensors. This combination will enable pharmaceutical companies to more efficiently track materials as they run their businesses.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

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