February 16, 2017
Are you in the middle of launching new ERP software or planning an implementation in the coming months? Without effective communication guiding your rollout, even the most powerful, useful platform will go unused. Set your implementation up for success by creating an effective launch communication plan. Let these 5 questions guide you.
- How will this system make the lives of my colleagues better?
- What influencers can I ask to champion the rollout?
- How will we educate people about using this new tool?
- How will we set expectations for day of go-live?
- How will we sustain engagement on our new ERP system?
January 17, 2017
Navigator Business Solutions, cloud pioneer, SAP Gold Partner, and perennial award winner within the ERP SME space, has again been in the news recently. To better understand how Navigator drives success year over year, Carolyn Horiel from the Cloud Ecosystem and Channels team sat down with Grant Fraser, Navigator President and CEO, to learn what makes them tick and what he sees as the future of business solution industry. Tell us a little about Navigator. Founded in 2005, Navigator’s headquarters is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and employs 60+ staff to support sales and services nationally. We are an early adopter of using a cloud solution, signing on as a SAP Business ByDesign partner in 2009, and making the switch to ByDesign internally here at Navigator in 2013. When and why did your firm become a SAP Cloud Partner? Cloud is the future, although that was not as obvious in 2009. We felt that we could provide better value to our customers, especially the smaller ones removing the hardware/database component. We also felt the recurring revenue of the Cloud was attractive, although cash and margin is challenging in the initial years. We felt that in 5 years (back in 2009) that 80% of all ERP sales would be Cloud, so we better get started now. As it turned out – in 2009, we had 0 new customers, 20% new customers in 2010 were Cloud, 2011 it was 40%, 2012 was 60%, 2013 was 72%, 2014 was 86% and so on. Now all of our new customers are implemented on the Cloud. What would you say is Navigator’s niche market; what separates you from other partners? Our focus on the Cloud separates us from most – we have more Cloud experience and provide a fixed price implementation, and off the shelf integration tools to EDI, eCommerce, Sales Tax, Credit Card, Shipping, POS, and Configurator. We provide rapid response to prospective customers, and current customers’ needs for proposals, demos, and solutions. We have core competency in manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and professional / commercial services. We have developed special functionality for Life Sciences, Capital Equipment and even Cannabis. What major business benefits has Navigator realized from forming a partnership with SAP? Our long term competency has been manufacturing, and the SAP product line has allowed us to expand our offering to wholesale distribution and professional and commercial services. Through the SAP Ecosystem, we have leveraged our products and abilities to winning customers in every state in the continental US, and through our development efforts and SAP extensions, through other SAP partners to every continent. Finally, SAP’s support of the Cloud has helped drive some great growth for our business. Okay last question, balancing so many business priorities day to day, how do you unwind? I like to cook for my family and I have become a decent chef. Outside of the kitchen, I do enjoy spending time on a houseboat on Lake Mead with no cell phone, and no email. But, that doesn’t happen very often. Thank you Grant. Your insight into the industry and why Navigator is so successful has been a tremendous learning experience for me. You truly run your business by your personal philosophy, “luck happens when skill and hard work meets opportunity.” It’s not mystery why Navigator has been chosen as a perennial SAP Cloud Partner of the Year. Navigator runs not by luck, but by your skill and tenacity while supporting SAP cloud customers. To learn more about Navigator and how they can bolster your business through the Cloud, click here.Read more
December 28, 2016
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 SolutionHere 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.Read more
December 27, 2016
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 MetricsBest 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 CorrectlyWe’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:
- 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.
- 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.
December 19, 2016
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.
December 8, 2016
SALT 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.comRead more
November 15, 2016
In 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.Read more
October 17, 2016
As 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
October 12, 2016
Have 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.Read more
October 11, 2016
It seems that most companies want to do something related to cloud deployment these days. With analysts quoting expected revenues higher every day and the desire of businesses of all sizes to cut fixed costs, it is no wonder we are watching the cloud in the sky with rose-colored sunglasses. It is key to note that this transformation is not an easy one – for partners or vendors. It requires executive-level commitment to transform and accept that this new cloud reality is, well, cloudy. One thing seems to be consistent though: these unchartered skies require bold pilots, supported by an army of wingmen, or more specifically a partner like Navigator, who has the right skills and gumption to make it happen. For the customer, It’s a full commitment … one that has to start with all levels of the organization recognizing the risks today and benefits of the future. Change is not easy and requires organizations that are willing to commit to it wholeheartedly. If they don’t, they are likely to not be here in the future. Cloud is here to stay and hopefully you and your company are as well. So where do you start? And what do you need to consider on the cloud journey? Organizations that have been successful in the transformation seem to have some key best practices they follow. They are the true Red Barons – their fearlessness allows flight. While bravery is no blueprint for success, some suggested flight plans they took may help you embrace similar successful company attributes in your own organization.
- Commitment to the cloud is not optional. This is not about simply saying “we are a cloud company.” Being a true cloud company requires that every member of the team be willing to be the pilot, co-pilot, and spokesperson for your cloud strategy if and when needed. If you are part of a company embarking on a cloud strategy, do you understand the benefits of the cloud and how it will fasten and secure your company for the future? Is everything you do aligned to becoming a cloud company? For example, Navigator, SAP's #1 Global Partner for Cloud Solutions, moved all of its operations to the cloud so to better align itself with the rapidly growing cloud market. Grant Fraser, CEO of Navigator, had this to say. “Moving to the cloud is a transformation. It’s certainly not something you can just hire a sales team, and say, ‘It’s on cloud’. By moving to the cloud, we had to rethink our compensation model for our sales and service people. We had to rethink our marketing approach. We had to rethink our sales approach. We had to rethink our delivery approach. We also had to worry about cash. Basically, we had to transform our company to be cloud, because in cloud it has to be that much quicker, more efficient, and it’s all cloud speed, and that’s quite a transformation from being just on premise.”
- Aviate, navigate, and communicate. No part of your organization will remain untouched. Cloud is not a sales, marketing or services transformation. It is an end-to-end change in the way you do business today. This means that sales, marketing and services need to work closer together and fly in formation to provide holistic solutions to customers. Gone are the days with operational silos when a product was marketed, software was sold, services implemented, and support follows when a problem arose. With cloud, your customer can cancel the contract easier, and partner/service teams might not be able turn profit until many months after contract signing. Support is ongoing. Marketing has to be able to demo more often and propel more demand to increase reoccurring revenue. Plan your flight formation together. If you are not flying together and the landing gear is not engaged, you risk all going down.
- Perform a flight check. Set and manage your cloud targets. Most pilots do not get in a plane without performing a safety check with a focus on fuel levels. Without fuel, pilots become pedestrians – and a flight plan is crucial. However, because cloud revenue numbers seem so enticing, and it is what the future holds for software and service, I often hear of partners and vendors charging forward without a plan. It is key to have a plan – you safety check often and refer to later if you need to change course of action. Basic questions you will need to answer include sales and solutions goals. For example, is the goal to phase out your on-premise business in favor of a cloud one? If so, do your employees and flight staff have the skills to do this? Your sales organization will have very different compensation and targets. Make sure that they are on board as everyone needs to be with their new cloud reality.
- Short-term sacrifice may be needed. This is especially true for those companies coming from a traditionally on-premise software delivery model. Many born in the cloud companies are not yet making money in the cloud. Those who are entering into the cloud from an on-premise software delivery are often trying to figure out how to rebuild the plane – fully-loaded, no life vests without landing it. This is not an easy task. Everyone seems to have a different solution depending on their appetite for risk. Separate funding for cloud will need to be carved out and that may mean making some difficult choices – perhaps even landing the plane for a while. Forget about thrust and drag, lift and gravity; an airplane flies because of money and investment.
- Different skills required to take flight. Sales has to be able to sell value, not products. The focus has to shift to many smaller deals instead of one (or few) big ones. Marketing needs to be a key part of the organization, delivering lead volume to sales consistently while focusing on customer retention and acquisition. The key to the sale is now the Line of Business owner and success in the cloud will mean making sure you are speaking to them in their language, and effectively articulating what they care about. If these employees do not exist today in your organization, you may have some difficult hiring decisions to get your workforce ready to fly the plane – and safely.
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