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Navigator Blog

The Necessity to Digitize Now

Signals bounce between clouds and cityThe global marketplace is not something that is known for standing still. Every year, many businesses get left behind in a market that rapidly changes, and one that demands innovation and evolution. Small-to-midsize businesses need to be prepared to tackle the tide of technological advancement, or else get washed away in the storm. Essentially, not going digital in the modern marketplace is dooming your company to mediocrity. According to Digitalist Magazine, every company is a tech company in a global marketplace like this one. The only way to maintain and grow market share is to innovate, digitally. This is why real-time, integrated ERP systems are becoming the norm in the contemporary marketplace. There are a handful of reasons that digital innovation is so crucial, and why it is absolutely necessary to digitize in the way that cloud ERP can help you accomplish...  

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Learning from Walmart’s Supply Chain Woes

Warehouse stocking Walmart is a leader in competitive pricing around the nation, thanks in large part to supply chain management and inventory control. Nightly stocking and real-time monitoring of purchases means that they’re able to get their customers what they need when they need it. However, the past few years have proved more difficult to manage. In 2014 Walmart acknowledged in a corporate meeting that it was losing about $3 billion just as a result of empty shelves. Keeping online inventory stocked as well as in-store items where they need to be is a whole new challenge, and Walmart isn’t the only one feeling the pinch. Target is also struggling to maintain supply chains and prevent empty shelves. In fact, it’s the main reason that Target’s launch in Canada failed last year. Paula Rosenblum, business analyst and writer for Forbes, said that for the past three years, top retailers have cited unproductive inventory as one of the top three business challenges facing them. Back rooms are filled with products that no one wants. Businesses are facing a difficult balancing act: how can you keep shelves filled, but avoid overstocking with unwanted products?

The Challenges of Stocking Today

  • So many of our products today come from overseas, so re-ordering needs to take place way ahead of time. Shipping could take a month or more, depending on who you're working with.
  • Online ordering requires you to balance two different businesses, often using the same inventory. We’re still learning how to best meet the needs of online customers and merge that with an in-store business model.
  • Cutbacks on salaries and the amount of workers often means that there just aren’t enough people managing the stock.

Intelligent Technology Can Offer the Solution

Here at Navigator, we work with small to mid-size companies just like yours. We know that even though you’re not dealing with the same volume as Target or Walmart, you probably face similar challenges. You need to manage exchange rates and shipping times with trans-continental supply chains, online ordering, and good point-of-sale systems that will be user-friendly for your customers and yet offer your business insights that will help you plan your ordering and your workload. Our integrated platforms offer enhanced analytics to help you determine how to order and how to keep your retail store functioning properly. We’re a leader in creating add-ons that are custom-built to accommodate your growing needs. Interested to learn more?  Click here for more information.

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On Measuring Success

measurements How do you measure success in your company? Is it by quarterly sales numbers? How many 5-star reviews you have on Google? Is it employee or client retention, or perhaps the accolades that your business is rewarded? Numbers are used to measure success because it’s the only definitive measuring device we have. Nothing else shows up on a presentation graph half as well. However, the numbers that you’re using aren’t always the best way to measure your unique business.

Use the Right Metrics

Best selling author Seth Godin has made impassioned arguments for measuring the right thing in order to actually determine how your company is progressing. Because while numbers may be our best vehicle for measuring success, they can also be easily fudged. For example, certain pharmacies will have return-customer promotions offering gift cards to customers who have moved to other locations. However, when you’re counting how many return customers you’ve roped in with the promotion, are you counting the same people gaming the system over and over again? Are you counting the amount of gift cards you’ve given out? Is there a way to measure the amount of true-blue loyal customers that you’ve actually gained through creative measures?

Technology Can Help You Measure Correctly

We’re not saying that businesses need to eliminate measurements! On the contrary, it’s essential that you keep an up-to-date documentation of your performance and operation. It’s the only way to see what’s working and what isn’t. However, a close look at what we’re measuring will determine whether it’s actually matching up with our goals and purpose. There are two primary reasons companies measure the wrong things:
  1. Lack of inter-departmental communication, or communication between management and lower-level employees. This causes a disconnect between what the people at the front lines are seeing, and what people at the decision-making and budgeting level are deciding.
  2. Software that’s not flexible enough to understand your business’ goals. When you compromise with software built for a different business format, you start measuring things that are important to other businesses, and not necessarily yours.
You can overcome both of these challenges with proper business management software. Here at Navigator, we provide solutions and develop add-ons that can answer the needs of your business. Let us show you how our integrated cloud-based platforms improve collaboration between all levels and departments of your business.  We're here to enable you to monitor the things that mean the most. Be sure to register for one of our demo's to find out more.

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Making an Effective Transition to New Software

frustrated Between the rapidly-changing tech world and the shifting needs of small businesses, employees today need to be flexible. One company may transition between three different software systems within a year or two. There’s software to manage client contacts, software for editing documents, software for project management, as well as programs for finances, accounting, sales, and inventory. As a manager, your hardest job is acquiring efficient software, then putting it into action effectively in your workplace. Some employees will quickly learn and adapt to new software. Others will have to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Tips to Make Your Transition Easier

  • Explain the overall benefits to them. No one wants change just for change’s sake, and they certainly don’t want it to adversely affect them. Explain the reasoning for the transition, and how it will affect the whole company in a positive way. Once the new software is rolled out, measure positive changes and share the victories that it enables. Celebrate the good moments and reflect a positive attitude.
  • Give some extra time to employees so that they can play around with the software without feeling like they’re wasting time or about to screw something up. You can even consider rolling out a beta version and giving employees some exercises to do. The trouble with new software is that most of us will just learn a couple functions, and never expand past that to learn about what amazing capabilities and access they have.
  • Get official, professional training for everyone. Navigator offers professional on-site training as part of our setup. Having a specialist on hand for the launch to explain it to employees gives everyone firsthand knowledge. This is much better than getting training from third-hand sources that are just learning themselves.
  • Offer additional training for a few select employees in the office. You might choose the department heads, or just open up additional training for anyone who’s interested. Make sure that you’ll have a few people distributed around the office who can help others comfortably with the software. You might also think about mixing younger employees in with older employees, since the younger generation is more likely to be comfortable adopting new tech.
  • Most important of all, choose your software wisely so you aren’t constantly switching to new systems. Investing in a good platform now can save you a lot of grief down the road. You’ll want a program with room for expansion and growing needs. Make sure that you have a plan in place before you launch the new software.
To learn more about the benefits of SAP software for companies just like yours, click here to register for a demo.

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Navigator Named to Bob Scott’s VAR Stars 2016 List

bobscottvarstarsSALT LAKE CITY - December 6, 2016 - Navigator Business Solutions has been selected as a member of the Bob Scott’s VAR Stars for 2016, a group of 100 organizations honored for their accomplishments in the field of midmarket financial software Members of the VAR Stars were selected based on factors such growth, industry leadership and recognition, and innovation. Selection is not based on revenue and those firms chosen represent a wide range of size and many different software publishers of accounting software. “Each year, 100 VAR Stars are picked from the best organizations that market financial software. It is always an honor to recognize those who contribute to the development of our business,” Bob Scott said. Eric Dahl, Vice President of Marketing for Navigator, added "We are again delighted to be included in Bob Scott's roster of VAR Stars.  This recognition speaks to our commitment to provide value of the highest degree, in multiple facets, to our rapidly growing list of clients." About Bob Scott Bob Scott has been informing and entertaining the mid-market financial software community via his email newsletters for 17 years. He has published this information via the “Bob Scott’s Insights” newsletter and website since 2009. He has covered this market for more than 25 years through print and electronic publications, first as technology editor of Accounting Today and then as the Editor of Accounting Technology from 1997 through 2009. He has covered the traditional tax and accounting profession during the same time and has continued to address that market as executive editor of the Progressive Accountant since 2009. About Navigator Business Solutions Navigator Business Solutions is the premier Cloud value added reseller and SAP Cloud Partner of the Year for SAP Business One and ByDesign software platforms, services and proprietary add-on software. Navigator’s cloud first, agile methodology has enabled effective implementations for over 500 small and medium sized manufacturers, distributors, professional and commercial service providers, retailers, and industrial focused companies worldwide. www.nbs-us.com

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7 Key Aspects of Real-Time, Integrated ERP

A web of services stems from a cell phoneMore and more small-to-midsize businesses are recognizing the value of real-time information that is enabled by cloud ERP systems. Further, many of these companies are adopting mobile/smart device strategies, thus enabling employees and executives to gain access to the information they need, when they need it. However, access to real-time information is not the only reason that companies are making this move. Real-time access delivers at least seven additional benefits that can help make a business more competitive in the contemporary marketplace.  

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ERP in the Age of Mobility

mobileerpIn today's market place, business moves faster. People and businesses want to be closer to their data and their customers than ever before, and they are leaning on their mobile devices to connect with such. However, it is absolutely business critical that businesses consider a mobile strategy that is right for their business. The following 7 guidelines, adapted from industry-expert opinions, can ensure that you are well on your way to doing so. 1. Take time to develop a purpose-based mobile ERP strategy There shouldn’t be many limitations to the ways businesses can extend the value of their ERP systems through mobility; however, in order to achieve optimal value, it’s necessary to start with a strategy. A lot of organizations are jumping on the bandwagon of mobility and implementing solutions without a clear purpose or strategy in mind. Unless you have got cash and time to burn, try to avoid this ‘shoot until we hit something’ approach. 2. Craft a strategy based on your users and their needs A strategic approach includes researching the mobile needs and benefits of three key enterprise audiences: employees, vendors, and customers. It also includes exploring some fundamental topics like security, scalability, and innovation. Such considerations may show that delivery and warehouse systems, CRM, and business intelligence are all areas that are ripe for mobile solutions. But let the strategy drive the conclusions. 3. Mirror your company's operational reality One of the key goals of ERP is to process transactions and issue recommendations that drive meaningful operational value. To successfully achieve this goal, an ERP system has to mirror or prototype the company’s operating reality. Mobile technologies empower timely, accurate data capture and analysis by extending the enterprise to places that are not easily supported by workstations, including: warehouses, shop floor, field service, and off-site sales. As organizations become increasingly dispersed, remote, and virtual, expect them to increasingly rely on mobile solutions to ensure ERP data accurate reflects operating realities. 4. Enable mobile devices to function as workstations It is important to ensure a point of reference. So you have an ERP system, it has workstations and users who simply process, insert, update, or view queries. The key to effective mobility when implementing ERP software is to ensure the user understands the mobile device is just another tool the user must understand and use as a workstation. It is not the mobility as the tool, but the mobile device. Once the device is properly configured, it can be used just as easily, and in some cases, more conveniently, as a desktop computer. This need not necessarily be while on the road. It can be on the shop floor as well, where the updates, corrections, and demands can be entered by the supervisor who is making his rounds on the shop floor. 5. Educate end-users on the importance of securing company data Mobile devices can really speed up processes on the shop floor as well as on the road. Other than making sure all your ducks are in a row with the device and ERP, make sure your staff is aware that the security of the device is most important to ensure that the security and integrity of the company’s database remain intact. 6. Serve the needs of those outside the organization - the customers Mobility in the enterprise software arena is not necessarily new; it’s the prevalence of high-power mobile devices with a low barrier of deploying applications that is new. This puts ‘(almost) always-connected’ computing devices into the hands of people inside and outside of the organization. One specific pattern that has a lot of legs is customer self-service. For example, auto-insurance claim initiation by policyholders has the potential to speed up the claims-adjudication process, reducing costs, improving process speed, and (hopefully) improving the total customer experience. 7. Take advantage of the timeliness and accuracy of mobility Mobile technologies provide opportunities to ensure that MRP makes recommendations based on both timely and accurate data. From a timeliness perspective, handheld bar-code scanners give companies opportunities to record inventory movements as soon as they happen. From an accuracy perspective, mobile technologies provide opportunities to minimize data recording errors. Many businesses first record material and labor movements on paper, then transfer those records to a system later in the day (perhaps at the end of a shift). This type of double-entry system is not only inefficient and delayed, it creates risks of data entry errors. The moral of the story? Modern companies need ERP solutions that offer all the advantages of ERP performance while maintaining simplicity, flexibility, and scalability in a fully integrated, cost-effective, end-to-end solution. And, like so many modern, generation X employees, the solution has to be modern and support mobility features to enable employees to work flawlessly anywhere, anytime. Heeding the advice in this report can help your business realize the myriad competitive advantages that adopting a mobile-savvy ERP solution affords. To see how SAP's world-class ERP solutions are empowering businesses globally with mobility, register for a demo offered by SAP's #1 Cloud Partner, Navigator Business Solutions.

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Wrapping Your Head Around SAP’s Growing Cloud Strategy

cloud2As the cloud becomes the primary model for both IT and line-of-business professionals around the world, a certain amount of refinement and fine-tuning is a healthy part of the process. In other words, now out of its infancy, the cloud is growing up.
Highlighting this trend, SAP announced the results of a global survey conducted with Oxford Economics that showcases the fact that the cloud business model has not only become mainstream – indeed, over two-thirds (69 percent) of businesses surveyed expect to make moderate-to-heavy cloud investments over the next three years – but that companies are increasingly shifting from using the cloud for productivity and efficiency to specific business benefits like innovation in supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, professional services, life sciences, talent management, collaboration and analytics.
"The cloud is a very powerful model in which to operate," said Don Whittington, CIO of ASR Group, who participated in an in-depth interview about the company's use of cloud computing. "It is one that lets us eliminate rote work – such as matching orders and balancing books – and enable employees to become more analytical. They can use their time to look for ways to better the business." In late 2014, Oxford Economics surveyed 200 executives from around the world and compared the results with the same survey fielded in 2012. Respondents work for companies headquartered in 11 countries, including the United StatesBrazilGermany and China, and comprise C-level executives, business-unit heads, and IT and operations executives representing banking/capital markets, retail, consumer products and telecommunications industries. The findings reflect that companies with meaningful experience working in the cloud remain enthusiastic about its potential to reinvent their businesses – and in fact, many say it already has. Key findings of Oxford's study include: Cloud strategy is more than here, and SAP is investing heavily:  Just about all (99 percent) of survey respondents say cloud computing is part of their company's business strategy today. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of businesses expect to make moderate-to-heavy cloud investments over the next three years, and they also plan to increase their migration of core business functions to the cloud. In fact, within three years, nearly all respondents say that innovation, R&D and supply chain will be "somewhat or mostly" cloud-based. Cloud has a transformative impact:  In the follow-up survey in 2014, nearly one-third (33 percent) of respondents said the adoption of cloud computing has had a transformative impact on their business performance. This reflects a sense that cloud adoption and the changes that come with it are inevitable for businesses. To this point, greater investments are expected across lines of business in coming months and years. Big Data is getting bigger:  Real-time use of Big Data is also growing in strategic importance, with 59 percent saying they use the cloud to better manage and analyze data, anytime from anywhere – a 10-percentage-point increase over 2012. "As we've long believed, the cloud is far more than a means to lower total cost of ownership; it's a platform for doing business in entirely new ways," said Rob Glickman, vice president, SAP Cloud and Line of Business Marketing. "These survey findings confirm the trend. Early cloud adopters are now seeing strong returns on their initial investments, and they can feel satisfied that their strategy of embracing the cloud is now proving to be extremely beneficial to their business." Navigator, SAP's top global partner for small-midsize cloud solutions has adopted the cloud in a big way. With more than 100 cloud customers, as well as leading the industry on vertical solutions and innovations, Navigator is a trusted partner, working to make every customer a best run business. Navigator hosts weekly live demos of SAP's industry-leading cloud product.  Click here to register.  

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Questions To Ask When Considering Cloud ERP

clouderpAs a manufacturer, but really even as an everyday regular Joe, you’ve undoubtedly heard and read the buzz about the cloud. A simple definition of the cloud is that it is a network of servers, some of which perform online services and some which allow storage of and access to data. Technology companies with a heavy consumer focus are leading the charge in promoting cloud solutions and are battling vigorously for attention and dollars with the aim of having people entrust their digital lives to them. With the above said, manufacturers oftentime have different priorities than consumers who are primarily concerned with being able to access their music or photos at anytime from anywhere. For example, medical device manufacturers have an even greater set of concerns that introduces regulatory compliance into the equation. Highly regulated device manufacturers are focused on innovation, patient safety and operational efficiency, but nothing is more important that complying with federal and international requirements like Title 21 CFR Part 11 or standards like ISO 9000 & 13485. Regardless, the prospect of trusting the operation of your business to a cloud ERP solution could scare you, but it shouldn't.  If you are considering the cloud, the secret is selecting a cloud ERP solution that works for your business.  To clarify, one that meets your standards for security, as well as your processes and regulation requirements if such exist.  There are countless players in the cloud, so it is crucial to ask at least the following questions prior to finalizing your decision. Is it secure? Security can be a major source of anxiety when considering a cloud-based solution. However, a cloud solution that is designed to meet the specific needs of a manufacturer can easily overcome these concerns. A cloud ERP provider needs to make security, privacy and high levels of information technology (IT) controls of paramount importance when designing a solution. A viable cloud solution uses stringent infrastructure and operational security measures to protect the underlying network, servers and application, all while controlling access to sensitive corporate data. Data centers must include state-of-the-art technical security measures, such as electronic and remote (yet secured) access; up-to-date firewalls and malware protection; and physical security measures, such as perimeter fences and live monitoring. With these measures in place, information resides in a cloud solution optimized for most industries, and is even more protected than an on-premise server and/or data center. Does it meet your compliance and regulatory requirements? A cloud-based ERP solution must be offered in a regulatory compliant IT environment. It should be a robust, highly available solution with all the necessary standard operating procedures to meet the requirements of national regulatory authorities.  Examples of such include (but are not limited to):

  • US Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
  • DCAA (defense contractors)
  • 21 CFR Part 11 compliance
What benefits will the solution deliver in the short, medium, and long-term? Everyday, more companies are delivering cloud ERP solutions. Cloud-based solutions that are delivered on a qualified infrastructure mitigate risks and the variability often associated with on-premise deployments. A cloud deployment delivers the financial benefit of moving from capital expenditures to operational expenditures, allowing device companies to be more capital efficient. They deliver predictable security, reliability, availability and expense management to help minimize risk. Cloud deployments are simpler and more rapidly deployed than typical on-premise solutions. Some, but not all, deliver the same globally-accessible, full-strength ERP solutions as their on-premise versions. Finally and as stated previously, when/if your business is choosing a cloud-based ERP solution, you must ask the right questions as part of your decision.  It is imperative that your company choose the right solution for your industry; not a square peg - round hole solution that serves as more of a headache than anything.  The business needs to select a comprehensive solution that provides high levels of security, regulatory compliance, all the while delivering predictable costs that are easy to predict, budget, and grow with.  Only then should a business put its heart and head in the cloud. Navigator, SAP's top global partner for cloud solutions, hosts live web demos every week.  To learn more, and to register, click here.

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3 Concerns That Keep Service Companies Awake at Night (and how to put them to bed)

servicesHave you reached the point where running your business is running you ragged? Wouldn’t you prefer to concentrate on service delivery and client satisfaction, instead of fire-fighting back-office tasks?  Are you actively managing projects, or merely juggling them? Can you quickly determine how your business is performing at any point in time, or do you assume being busy is indicative of a profitable operation? Are you driving managed growth, or just getting bigger? These worries plague many growing, mid-size service companies –from accountancy practices to business consultants, engineers, advertising and marketing professionals, recruiters, researchers, estate agents and translators. Here, we identify the top 6 challenges that are common to all these businesses and show how you can address them, once and for all, with more streamlined ways of working and joined-up thinking. 1. Balancing Supply & Demand for Resources Just as with any factory, capacity management is crucial to your business. The workload you can accommodate is constrained by the basic equation of time multiplied by people, so it’s vital to avoid over-commitment that will compromise quality. At the same time, you’re challenged to optimise resource allocation, as your workforce is largely a fixed overhead and under-utilisation will negatively impact your bottom line. When your firm was smaller, you were probably able to determine availability and schedule projects using a whiteboard, calendar planner or spreadsheet. But as you hire additional people with diverse skill-sets to support increased business activity, the process of allocating resources and managing your workload manually starts to reveal its inadequacies as deadlines slip and profits slide. What's Needed? Clear, current and accurate visibility into supply and demand across existing and upcoming projects with integrated Work In Progress reporting that allows you to allocate resources more efficiently and profitably. 2. Omptimizing Cash Flow to Maintain Your Liquidity No matter how much revenue you’re generating, cash flow is critical. Late payments not only cost a business in lost interest, they can affect the financial sustainability of the business. That’s why getting the job done is only half the story – billing and getting paid on time is the other. Again, when your business was more compact and manageable, you could probably get by with manual invoicing processes. But growing in size is often accompanied by growing complexity. You probably have multiple concurrent projects and a larger workforce than in the early days. Some staff may work full-time on a project while others may be spread across several jobs at any given time. You incur expenses of various kinds, some billable, some not, and you may bill for materials as well as time. Your staff are more than likely charged out at different rates, depending on their skill set, experience and seniority. If you’re still relying on spreadsheets and documents to generate invoices, and reactive phone calls for credit control purposes, chances are you’re not getting paid promptly, either. What's Needed? A streamlined order-to-invoice business process with fully-integrated time and expense management and automated billing functionality, in order to achieve visibility into point-in-time project costs, generate error-free invoices and enforce timely payments. 3. Ensuring On-Time and On-Budget Delivery Your ability to deliver projects on time and on budget is critical to revenues and reputation – it’s what keeps you afloat and keeps your clients coming back for more. As your portfolio expands, your operations demand greater flexibility, reflected in the way you resource projects. You may need to bring in temporary or freelance workers, consultants, subcontractors or outsource partners to provide the manpower or expertise needed to fulfil the requirements of the job. Spreadsheets and even most project management software don’t work optimally in a distributed environment, affecting your ability to plan adequately and deliver projects within agreed timescales and budgets. Juggling complexity, your business developers or account managers may artificially inflate estimates and schedules when bidding for a new project (making your firm less competitive) or swallow the overage (affecting your profitability). They may even end up having to surprise the client with additional costs and delays (potentially tarnishing your reputation). What's Needed? A collaborative project management capability that enables team members to visualize forecasted resource, plan, execute and track project deliverables and share progress reports with stakeholders. Want more information?  Click here.

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