All News & Views ArticlesCreating Business Systems that Drive Profits
Cash. It’s the lubricant every business needs to run smoothly, but there never seems to be enough of it. One of the quickest ways to to find cash for a cash hungry business is converting your Accounts Receivables into payments. By proactively contacting accounts owing you money and requesting payment, you can see significant improvements in liquidity.
But getting this done takes some organization and preparation. Here are some tips to efficiently shorten you’re A/R time.
- Prioritize – Call the customers with the highest balances due for the longest time first. Then work your way down to the smallest, most recent balances due.
- Prepare – Before making a call, be sure to have all pertinent information at your fingertips to have a robust conversation. You’ll need the A/R customer’s name and phone number, a list of all open invoices and payments for each account that include Invoice date, invoice amount, amount due, discount amount if any, and days past due. You’ll also want to look at notes from past calls indicating when the call was made, the amount due at that time and what promises were made.
- Follow –up – After each call, set a date and time for the next call to follow up on promises made. Also, set a reminder for yourself.
To make the process easier and more efficient, PC Ware has developed an Accounts Receivable/Collections module that works with Sage 300 ERP. It provides all the information necessary to prioritize, prepare for, and follow up on collection calls.
If you need to find cash to feed your cash hungry business, call Zev for a demonstration of PC Ware’s Collections module today.
As a business grows, so does the operational data it accumulates. With a growing mass of data, it becomes more and more difficult to understand how the company is truly performing. And, while data is plentiful, actionable information is scarce. There is simply too much to analyze easily. This lack of accurate, timely information inevitably leads to guesswork and poor decision making. Business performance and productivity end up being monitored using intuition and not operational metrics and targeted financial outcomes.
Often businesses turn to spreadsheets to try to cope with the challenge. But using spreadsheets for extracting and preparing data is a time consuming, error prone and inherently inefficient process. Alternatively, businesses create custom reports which provide the necessary information to facilitate analysis, but this introduces other problems when inevitable database changes make it necessary to rewrite all those reports. New tools are needed to provide timely insight into the performance of the entire organization. I’ll tell you get these tools in just a minute….
Business Performance –Eliminating the Guesswork
To address these problems, many businesses are turning to a flexible and efficient approach to understanding operational performance called Online Analytical Processing (OLAP). This approach allows a business to analyze performance and prepare budgets and forecasts more quickly and accurately. It delivers in-depth insight into true business performance, by enabling analysis of current data without the many limitations of spreadsheets.
Another aspect of OLAP, advanced visualizations, help identify trends in sales, costs, promotional programs and overall company performance. This type of insight is beneficial in any industry. For example, it allows managers to compare performance of different products, enabling the company to identify correlations between sales and contribution margins.
In short, OLAP provides the ability to view the business in a completely different light, which allows decision makers to more effectively manage the growth of the company.
Unprecedented Speed and Power
Businesses that have adopted the OLAP approach have always had the data. The difference is now they can change it into valuable information in time to act. Information is no longer static, it becomes actionable. Executives are able to manage the business with more precision than ever before.
How it works
To describe how OLAP works, let’s use the example of a sales manager looking for opportunities to grow sales. She wants to find products selling well in one region, which, with the right promotion, could also sell well in others. With an OLAP approach, she can use a data exploration tool to connect to her company’s accounting system and easily consolidate, drill down, filter and view different slices of data. In this case, she displays a sales ranking of top products in each region and easily finds products worthy of consideration for additional promotion in other regions. She then takes her analysis one step further to spot emerging growth products by comparing trends of product sales by region over several quarters.
When used for budget preparation or forecasting, OLAP tools enable review and fine tuning of budget projections with all the advantages of multi-dimensional analysis and instant roll up/consolidation within the same tool.
Liberation from the Limitations of Spreadsheets
One OLAP tool we recommend to our clients is Info-Explorer by Orchid Systems. Info-Explorer eliminates the limitations of spreadsheets: faulty data and formulae, different and obsolete versions, error-prone and manual consolidation, potential for error. Data for analysis (called “cubes”) feeds from the accounting database with background in-memory processing. The data is system-generated, giving confidence in its accuracy. Moreover teams are confident they are all reviewing the same data and consolidation of budgets and forecasts across units is an automated process.
Info Explorer allows Consolidation, Drill Down, Ranking, Filtering and Viewing Slices of data. It also makes data visualization simple with easy-to-create graphs and Dashboards with Key Performance Indicators
- Reduce costs and improve productivity with better information.
- Make key business information easily available, resulting in better decision making.
- Improve customer service and loyalty through better customer insight.
- Gain visibility to potential problem areas, report Operational Analytics.
- Faster Budget preparation.
- Budget with greater insight, slicing & dicing both actual and budget.
- Budget in greater detail, with greater granularity.
- Eliminate multiple budget spreadsheets & obsolete data.
- Increase confidence in the accuracy of your data and reduced risk of error.
- Free the IT Department from routine reporting issues.
- Real time – analyze your data in real time, “slice and dice,” with drilldown to Sage 300 data entry screens.
- Include external data – from other application databases (SQL & ODBC), e.g. CRM data.
- Calculations – include user defined calculations on cube data.
- Versatile, economical, flexible:
- From one cube – create and save multiple Views.
- From single View – create and save multiple Charts.
- Dashboards – create your own, based on views and charts.
- Easy formatting – create your own styles to highlight results – e.g. “traffic light” reporting.
- Different users can choose their own input format for budget numbers.
- Standard cubes included for GL, AR, AP, OE/Sales Analysis, PJC, RMA, Budgets, US & Canadian Payroll, Inventory Control, Purchase Orders to simplify getting started and as the basis for your own cubes; works on or off-line.
- Export Views to Microsoft Excel®, CSV and HTML.
- Automate it, optionally schedule and distribute cube extracts with Orchid’s Process Scheduler module.
Info-Explorer allows you to summarize, drill down into and filter your Sage 300 data in real time, including budget figures, giving you a clear insight into your business operations and planning, helping you make the right decision, every time.
Unlike spreadsheets, there is no need to insert, cut, paste and check formulae and any links or deleted columns. This easy manipulation of information is made possible because huge amounts of data are summarized in the background for easy analysis. In-memory technology ensures fast results. Info-Explorer allows easy changing of views without the dangers of spreadsheets or needing spreadsheet knowledge.
You can use Info-Explorer to analyze sales, financial results, costs, inventory, purchasing and supply chain, operations, manufacturing, customer service and more, simply changing dimensions, e.g. product, customer, region, period, employee, etc, for clearer insight. Use Info- Explorer for alerts and investigative analysis, your own detective tool.
You can prepare budgets, forecasts, models in Info-Explorer in detail, then review the results – in the same tool, with up to date Acutuals data. You start by selecting the cube (data subset) required and can add any field not already in the cube. Cubes are sent to users for completion – opening, creating a new workset and entering budget figures. Users can select how they enter and view data, e.g. Dept. in rows and Sales in columns. Other users can select differently. With a range of spread methods, users can work back from totals, or enter each item and period.
Using Info-Explorer for budgeting allows you to have multiple budgets, e.g. best case, worst case and mid-point. After entering budgets, the benefits of multi-dimensional analysis become apparent. Users can “slice and dice” the results, instantly seeing multiple slants on the same data by swiftly swapping columns, using filters or dragging and dropping dimensions.
Once completed, after selecting “Write Back,” your budget will be quickly saved in the underlying Sage 300 database, freed from spreadsheets, re-keying and importing. Users can also share budgets with colleagues by saving their cube on a shared drive or use Orchid Process Scheduler to automatically refresh data and distribute to colleagues.
Try Info-Explorer Lite..!
Try this application for yourself, it’s free! It comes with preconfigured cubes. You can stay Lite or you can always upgrade for more cubes or to modify them. Get a first hand, up close and personal look at this program. Simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put “OLAP” in the subject line. I will get you free access right away.
Take a wholesale food business, for example, that stocks thousands of items, each of which is constantly being sold and restocked. Many of them are perishable. Profitability hinges on selling inventory at the highest possible price before it expires. Managers need to know when food is about to expire so they can offer it to customers who can accept quantities quickly.
To meet this challenge companies have begun to deploy e-mail (or text) alerts that let managers know when swift action needs to be taken. In this example, managers receive an e-mail each day listing every product in every facility that is within 5 days of expiring and another e-mail listing all products that have just passed their expiration date. This allows managers to take immediate action to move aging inventory while it can still be sold such as offering milk to schools who can consume the product before it expires. If necessary, they can trade out the school’s stock with a longer shelf life and deliver it to supermarkets with slower turnover allowing the school to take even more expiring milk from stock.
Improved customer service
Alerts can also be used to let customers know in advance if a shipment is delayed.
At 7 am, managers get a notice of anything that did not ship the preceding day. The can then call customers set new expectations and mitigate problems. This prevents spending time putting out fires by eliminating calls about missed shipments.
Regain Lost Sales
Another use of alerts is to note exceptions to normal customer buying behavior. Say a customer who normally purchases every two weeks misses a purchase. The system alerts sales people who can call their customer and inquire into customers situation. This can be an early warning system helping sales people win back a customer who is giving a competitor a try.
Up to the minute status
A final example is reporting new orders. A report can be sent with figures for all sales that occurred within the last hour so managers can stay up to date with sales activity and take immediate action if it varies from the norm.
Managing by exception
In general any “exception” – expiring inventory, missed shipments, delayed orders and the like, can be spotted, flagged and alert managers to the need for corrective action. The final result is that the business doesn’t operate for long outside of normal values.
If you have a dynamic business and keeping everything running normally feels like a constant wrestling match, we can suggest ways to help you get – and stay –on top. Call Zev at (845) 371-1975
This month we are considering the question: What is truth? No, we haven’t gone off the philosophical deep end; the question is a practical one for solving business problems. What truth do you base your decisions on?
Finding Too Many Truths?
Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” For many organizations, there are many versions of the truth. Different reports from different sources are analyzed in different ways, each presenting a different picture of reality. This often results in managers needlessly arguing about what the problem is, how big the problem is (or is not), who is to blame for the problem, and whether or not there is a problem. Basically arguing about everything but how to solve the problem.
A Common Example
A product is manufactured at one location, warehoused at another, and sold from a third. A reasonable question would be: Is there enough supply to meet demand or is there a problem? Seems like a simple question, right? But if there is more than one data source, say three different inventory reports, the trouble starts. Is there any double counting in the reports? Is everything accounted for? What about product in transit? And so on.
WANTED: Single Version of Truth
To break through the logjam, managers need a Single Version of Truth (SVOT). One set of data pulling together and reconciling all sources, data that is easily understood, and understood in the same way by all. With one version of truth, the management team’s time and energy can be focused on problem solving.
But how does an organization achieve SVOT? Many make the mistake of working on improving data accuracy first. Jean Ross, Director of MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Information Systems Research, suggests a radically different approach, “Declare it.”
Getting to one version of the truth “doesn’t have anything to do with accuracy, it has everything to do with declaring it,” Ross said. “Once you tell everyone ‘This is our single source,’ they work pretty hard to make it more accurate.”
“Declare It” Works in the Real World
In a post on www.informationweek.com, guest poster rcoffield64 gave an excellent example of exactly how the “declare it” approach works:
“At one department I worked with, I was surprised by how many project managers reported that they were too busy running their projects to update critical information in a department-wide database. Telling the project managers to update the information for the good of the organization (and their careers) did no good. Then the department got a new department head.
“Being new to the organization, the new department head started using reports from the department-wide database. When she asked why the reports did not reflect the new contract award dates, her division managers cited, ‘we suggested that new dates be passed up the organization by word of mouth.’ But project managers were not updating the information about their projects in the department-wide project database.
“The new department head informed her division managers, she was going to print out the Scheduled Contract Award Date report for their divisions before their individual weekly meeting with her. And they discovered, she wanted any discrepancies in award dates cleared up before she met with her manager or other people outside the department who had even limited access to the department’s project database.
“Big Surprise! Within a couple of months, all of the scheduled projects award dates in the database were being reviewed and updated regularly. People inside and outside the department were using the award dates in the database instead of calling around the department to get an answer.
“When people are accountable things happen.”
We think that sums it up very well
Not long ago, we were called by an executive team who had recently taken over a profitable eight figure business. Though they had ambitious growth plans, it seems that they were unable to find a way to profitably grow the business. The firm was profitable, had good products and solid distribution partners. The executive team was not lacking in skill or knowledge. Yet something was making in impossible for the business to grow.
It turns out that the barrier wasn’t something in the way but something (two things, actually) that were missing.
The Missing Ingredients
You see, though the overall business was profitable, it was impossible to tell which products were strong contributors to the bottom line and which ones weren’t. Investing in growing the wrong products could be disastrous so it was impossible to invest confidently in anything.
The two things that were missing were visibility of product cost data and the ability to optimally plan production. Fortunately the solution to this problem is well known. I fact it is one we have implemented for business after business.
A Simple Solution
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system tracks cost at a detailed level. It tracks inventory and the cost to build it. It turns a demand forecast into optimized production and procurement plans. With detailed cost data, the profitability of each product line can be determined along with what investments would be required to grow the profitable ones. With an ERP system, this business would be able to invest with confidence.
If your business is hitting a wall (or a ceiling) let us help you determine whether the right system can be the solution. Call me at 845 371 1975.
Motorola MC9200 barcode scanners support next-generation mobile computer applications used by today’s growing businesses.
Built on the gold quality standard of Motorola’s industry-leading MC9000 series, the MC9200 mobile computers boast best-in-class barcode scan engines, a highly intuitive interface, and rugged construction. This makes them ideal for managing assets and inventory in warehouses and manufacturing plants, replenishing stock in retail stores, tracking baggage on airport tarmacs, and locating weaponry and vehicles on military bases.
In fact, their proven construction promises lasting performance in environments with a wide range of conditions. These mobile computers perform in areas with extreme temperatures and high humidity. A sealing rating of IP64 completely protects these mobile devices from dirt, dust, and liquids typically found in industrial workspaces. And, they withstand multiple drops onto concrete from distances up to 6 feet guarantee lasting operations.
Motorola added versatility to the handheld MC9200 mobile computers. A gun-style handle simplifies use, as does their six interchangeable keypads and 3.7” high-resolution backlit color VGA touchscreen display. These features improve comfort and usability, whether reading barcodes in bright sunlight or scanning them in subzero temperatures. They also protect against user fatigue, which enables top productivity in any setting.
Government-grade security safely controls access to enterprise devices, data, and networks without impacting performance, thanks to FIPS 140-2 Level 1 certification. Advanced connectivity in the form of a WLAN 802.11 a/b/g tri-mode radio, voice-over WLAN, and Bluetooth v2.1 EDR enable wireless communications with multiple devices and easy integration with virtually any LAN.
- Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3
- Both 1D Laser and 2D Imager Scan Engines Available
- Dual core 1GHz OMAP 4 processor
- 3.7” Color VGA Display
- IP54 Seal Rating
- Withstands Multiple 6ft drops to concrete
- Temperature rating of -4° F to 122° F/-20° C to 50° C
- Extended range scanner (up to 45 ft.)
- 802.11 and Bluetooth
- 512 MB/1 GB RAM; Flash up to 2 GB of memory
- Integrated one-piece gun handle
- Durable battery design
- Torque Cell construction
- Tuned external bumpers
- Insert molding
- Internal magnesium frame
- Touchscreen design
- Inventory counts
- Process management
- Price verification
- Inventory counts
- Price management
- Telephony, walkie-talkie and speakerphone
- System monitoring/ dashboard
- Inventory counts
- Process management
- Maintenance (MRO, safety and weapons inspections, fleet tracking, vehicle maintenance)
- Asset tracking and visibility (IT assets, military supply chain, inventory control)
Government (State, Local and Public Safety)
- Asset management (inventory, MRO, audit)
- Inspections/ maintenance
- Security screening/ mobile data access
- Code enforcement: building permits, health, fire, sanitation
- Fleet management
- Secure freight tracking
- Asset management (inventory, baggage tracking)
- Inspections/ maintenance
- Fleet management
- Secure freight tracking
Government (Federal, State, and Local agencies)
|PHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS|
|Dimensions||9.1 in. L x 3.6 in. W x 7.6 in. H
23.1 cm L x 9.1 cm W x 19.3 cm H
|Weight||27 oz./765 g (includes battery)|
|Keyboard||28-, 43- and 53-key;
Terminal Emulation (5250, 3270, VT)
|Display||3.7 in VGA resolution; color|
|Power||PowerPrecision Improved battery technology
for better battery management; Lithium ion
battery 2400 mAh
|RFID Tag||Integrated UHF Gen2 tag (Premium models only)|
|IST||Sensor technology (Premium models only)|
|CPU||Dual core 1GHz OMAP 4 processor|
|Operating System||Android 4.4.4 with Mobility Extensions (Mx), turning Android into a true enterprise class OS Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 7.0 Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3|
|Memory||512MB/2GB; 1GB/2GB (Premium models only)|
|Expansion||User accessible 32GB SDHC card slot|
|App Development||PSDK and EMDK available through Zebra Support Central Web site|
|Data Capture Options||SE965:1D standard range scan engine
SE1524-ER:1D extended range scan engine reads up
to 45 ft./13.72 m away
SE4500:Omnidirectional 1D/2D imaging engine
SE4750:Next generation omnidirectional 1D/2D
imaging engine for faster data capture. Available
for Premium configurations only in three models –
Standard Range (SR), Mid Range (MR) and DPM.
SE4600:Extended range omnidirectional 1D/2D
imaging engine reads as far as 30 ft./9.14 m
SE4500-DL:2,6 1D/2D DL imaging engine reads 1D, 2D
and PDF codes on driver’s licenses
SE4500-HD:1D/2D DPM imaging engine reads a
wide variety of DPM marks on metal, plastic and glass
|Operating Temp.||-4° to 122° F/-20° to 50° C|
|Charging Temp.||32° to 104° F/0° to 40° C|
|Storage Temp.||-40° F to 158° F/-40° C to 70° C|
|Humidity||5% to 95% non condensing (Condensation Resistant Configurations Available)|
|Drop Specification||Multiple drops to concrete: 6 ft./1.8 m across the operating temperature range; meets and exceeds MIL-STD 810G|
|Tumble Specification||4,000 3.28 ft./1 m tumbles at room temperature per IEC Tumble Specification|
|Scanner Exit Window||Corning GorillaTM glass|
|Sealing||IP64 (electronic enclosure, display and keypad) per IEC Sealing specification|
|Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)||±15kVdc air discharge; ±8kVdc direct discharge; ±8kVdc indirect discharge|
|ADDITIONAL MOBILITY DNA SOLUTIONS|
|All-touch Terminal Emulation (TE), powered by Wavelink,
enables the easy conversion of “green screen” TE apps into HTML5 intuitive all-touch apps that run on Zebra’s Android mobile computers — without writing any code. (Available on Android models only in 2H 2015.
|Created to complement Google’s Software Development Kit for Android, Zebra’s EMDK provides a comprehensive toolkit to make it easy to integrate all the functions in our enterprise-class Android devices, from bar code scanning to payment processing.|
|WIRELESS DATA COMMUNICATIONS|
|WLAN||Android: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/d/h/i/k/r
WinCE/WEH: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/d/h/i
|Data Rate||802.11a: up to 54 Mbps; 802.11b: up to 11 Mbps;
802.11g: up to 54 Mbps; 802.11n: up to 65 Mbps
|Frequency Range||All country dependent: 802.11a – 5 GHz;
802.11b – 2.4 GHz; 802.11g – 2.4 GHz; 802.11n – 2.4GHz and 5GHz
|WLAN Security||WPA2 Enterprise, 802.1x; EAP-TLS; TTLS (CHAP,MS-CHAP, MS-CHAPv2, PAP or MD5); PEAP (TLS, MSCHAPv2, EAP-GTC); LEAP, EAP-FAST (TLS, MS-CHAPv2, EAP-GTC), WPA2/AES, CCX v4, FIPS 140-2 and IPv6|
|WPAN (Bluetooth)||Stonestreet stack: Bluetooth 4.0 plus BLE or WBA
Microsoft stack: Bluetooth V2.1 with EDR
|VOICE AND AUDIO|
|Audio||High quality speaker, microphone and 2.5mm headset jack|
|Push-to-Talk||Workforce Connect PTT Express (client included) with headset and speakerphone
modes; wired headset support
|Voice Directed Picking||TekSpeech Pro Certified; compatible with 3rd party VDP clients (WEHH and CE7 only)|
|PERIPHERALS AND ACCESSORIES|
|Cradles||Single-slot Serial/USB, 4-slot Ethernet, 4-slot charge only, forklift; extensive line of Zebra-approved and validated printers; 4-slot battery charger; cable adapter module; snap-on magnetic stripe reader; modem module; full set of holsters; full set of cables; Zebra approved CAC Reader for government apps|
|Printers||Supports extensive line of Zebra-approved and validated printers|
|Charger||4-slot battery charger|
|Other Accessories||Cable adapter module; snap-on magnetic stripe reader; modem module; full set of holsters; full set of cables; Zebra approved CAC Reader for government applications|
|Visit www.zebra.com/mc9200 for regulatory information.|
|Tolerant to typical artificial indoor and natural outdoor (direct sunlight) lighting conditions. Fluorescent, Incandescent, Mercury Vapor, Sodium Vapor, LED3, 450 Ft. Candles (4,844 Lux) Sunlight: 10000 Ft Candles (107,640 Lux) Tolerant to typical artificial indoor and natural outdoor (direct sunlight) lighting conditions. Fluorescent, Incandescent, Mercury Vapor, Sodium Vapor, LED3: 450 Ft. Candles (4,844 Lux) Sunlight: 8000 Ft Candles (86,111 Lux)  LED lighting with high AC ripple content can impact scanning performance. Available on Windows now; available on Android 2H 2015 Available on Windows now; available on Android in the near future Available on Windows only  Available on Windows now; available on Android in 2016|