Infor A+ Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) also known as A+ WEB creates graphical interpretations of user interfaces allowing users to access their data in a modern web-like format. The GUI environment functions as a point-and-click Windows application with the ability to use dropdown menus, radio buttons, and easily export data into Excel documents.

Exporting in A+ GUI/WEB
By clicking the “Export” button from any of the screen options below you can quickly export the on-screen data to a .csv file.
The pages with “Export” buttons are:

There is also an “Export/Graph” button created in Sales Analysis to allow you to export your data to a .csv file and create a graph quickly in Excel.

Example of exported data:

Once in Excel, use F11 to create the graph:

Contact us to get more information on A+ GUI/WEB or have your questions answered on how to set up the export features.

Can you trust Infor FACTS to tell you when it’s time to replenish products in your warehouses? Of course, you can. If you don’t trust FACTS to guide warehouse product replenishment, it’s time to review your data parameters and Order Point (OP) adjusters.

Understanding your FACTS data is key to optimizing the product replenishment process. As a former FACTS user and application consultant I want to focus on how OP for FACTS v7.8+ can hone your product replenishment process.

What Affects Order Points?

Order Points are affected by usage, lead time, and safety stock. When issues occur with calculated replenishment values it helps to understand the relationship between these variables to determine how to best address and remedy the situation.

Ask Yourself the Following:

Check your replenishment parameters for lead time and safety stock. Prolonged supply chain lead times have caused it to be difficult to secure products than ever before.

As a reminder, lead time (LT) impacts your safety stock. If you review your safety stock and think FACTS is not calculating accurately, review your parameters on safety stock. There are parameters for minimum and maximum on safety stock.

Types of Item Order Points for FACTS:

Calculated OP is required and is generally the only type needed for most items. The other OPs listed above are optional and are not intended to be used globally. If you choose to use any other type of OPs than Calculated OP, FACTS will default to the highest value OP.

What if you have several customers that order small quantities of a product and one customer that orders many units at a time?

You want to be sure you have enough product on the floor in the event this customer places an order. To achieve this, FACTS has Average Shipment Quantity (ASQ) OP and Five-high Order Point. ASQ works well if there are few shipments with large quantities. Five-high ASQ is helpful in cases where you have a few customers who buy in large quantities and many who buy in smaller quantities.

Threshold Minimum vs Freezing Order Points

Setting a Threshold Minimum (T-Min) OP can be useful when you don’t want stock levels to drop below a specific point. Whereas Freezing OP waits until it gets to the assigned replenishment value. The advantage of T-Min vs Freezing OPs is if you have your T-Min set at a minimum value and FACTS calculates your OP higher than the set minimum, FACTS defaults to the higher value.

After reading this I hope that you’ve found more insight into optimizing your warehouse product replenishment process. Feel free to reach out and contact us if you need any help reviewing your data, replenishment parameters, and OP adjusters to get the most out of FACTS replenishment data.

The many ways Aktion is invested in your business.

The Acumatica platform continues to evolve to meet the needs of users. This modern, cloud-based solution makes changes easy. It’s architected for flexibility, adaptations and growth. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Acumatica community.

Both Aktion and Acumatica are great resources for understanding the New Releases and the Independent Software Vendor (ISVs) applications that are available to you. Whether you need advanced business intelligence, project management tools or document management, there are so many choices to help you extend your current Acumatica solution. Then there are the excellent new features and releases that Acumatica comes out with a few times a year. The last Acumatica 2021 R2 came out in the fall to great reviews, with users enjoying the many upgrades available to them.

Our current Acumatica customers may already know the deployment choices you have with Aktion. Whether you’re in the Acumatica Cloud or a private cloud setting, there are other options available to you as well. Aktion prides itself on having two, privately owned data centers. As a result, many of our customers trust Aktion to host their software applications in our cloud environment. Not only can this avoid expensive server replacements, but Aktion also has an entire team of engineers to set up, train and support your technology needs.

Additionally, with our proprietary Lean Implementation program, we provide you with a proven process for goal-setting and measuring progress. From the start of each implementation, customers regularly meet with the Aktion team to discuss and reevaluate expectations. The overall goal is to reduce the time period it takes for your go-live.  We strive to increase project delivery both on time and on budget to earn your trust as a trusted IT provider. Finally, during the go-live interview, we ask for a Net Promoter Score, or overall level of satisfaction with your implementation.  “Our objective is to conduct a brief overview of your implementation experience. Our intent is to establish a consistent, repeatable process to better serve our customers,” explained Aktion’s Director of Service, Gary Kirstein.

We’re here to support you and be a partner in helping you build a modern IT infrastructure. Aktion’s team of technology experts provides you with valuable and wide-ranging resources. It’s a great time to be an Aktion customer AND an Acumatica customer. 

It’s been a year or more with many changes in the way we work. Reliance on technology has come to the forefront as we move to permanent remote work or a hybrid setup with part time in the office and part time at home. Cloud computing allows people to access the technology safely and securely that they need to perform their jobs. But handing over the bulk of your IT to a Cloud Services Provider does not absolve you from security threats.

Cyber security concerns grow greater all the time and unless people and companies remain diligent, it can be easy to find yourself the victim of a harmful attack. Below, I’ve listed some ways to educate and thus protect your workforce to enable them to keep themselves and your company data safe.

Firstly, you should provide employees with education opportunities, so they know how to recognize suspicious emails. Whether you’re sending out emails about potential threats or providing courses on best practices, teaching your workforce to be diligent is an excellent first step.

Phishing emails are designed to look like they come from a reputable company or person. These are designed to get you to click – so they tell a story to grab your attention. Whether it’s offering you something for free or telling you there’s been suspicious activity on your account, here are some ways to recognize whether an email is real or just a phishing attempt.

1: Does the sender know your name or is it using a generic greeting? (Hi Bill vs. Dear Customer)

2: Does the email domain match the company exactly? (costco.com vs. costcoenterprisesinc.com)

3: Is the subject line promising something unrealistic? (We have added $18,697 to your account!)

Aside from learning what emails are safe to click on and which ones are not, it’s also good to have some technology measures in place for better protection. These tools can prevent phishing attempts from being successful, but these additional resources on cyber security may also be helpful.

1: Protect your business and home with a secure internet connection. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a more secure connection.

1: Use anti-virus solutions, malware, and firewalls to block suspicious emails from getting through to begin with.

2: Use multi-factor authentication that prevents threats from accessing your data by only guessing your password.

3: A password management tool can help you track and create safe passwords.

The good news is you don’t have to figure these details out by yourself. We suggest becoming partners with a technology solutions provider that you trust. Such a partnership can bring immense value to your company through security best practices and suggestions on the best tools to use to protect your company information. The even better news is that Aktion Associates partners with businesses like yours to provide just this type of support. We have an entire team of cyber security experts. Aktion can also recommend and implement the tools that will protect you from harmful cyber threats.

As distributors, you love your ERP system and all it offers.  The software is designed for processing and storing large volumes of business transactions, such as customer orders, vendor purchases, and invoice lines. The complexity of ERP data cannot easily give insights into customer buying patterns, track vendor performance metrics, or monitor sales trends.

Furthermore, how do you get the data out of your system for your sales and executive teams? Well, you can get the data out if you have someone on staff that can write custom crystal reports. However, wouldn’t it be easier if you had software that provides integrated built-in sales and business intelligence tools?

 

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

With business intelligence software for your ERP, executives see the big picture and what to prioritize next. They can identify issues at the product, warehouse, and customer levels. By using inventory scorecards and reports, executives can easily track values that influence costs, sales, margins, and promotions.

For example, business analytic tools that look at customer life cycle can show you when churn happens and why. In addition, Business Intelligence (BI) can help you identify and address pain points to reduce churn. Further, BI tools can help improve margins and increase profitability.

 

ERP Tools That Fit Your Needs

Pick a solution that will work best for your company. Then, seek out software that will natively integrate with your ERP for an easy transition.  Look for prebuilt templates and reports for the distribution industry. Find a software company that understands your business and needs. This will ultimately make the process more streamline and have your teams running more effectively from day one.

 

What’s standing in the way of your success?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can give you a clear picture of every single customer or prospect’s areas of engagement. So often, distributors have disconnected systems that leave a lot of sales opportunities on the table. There are many reasons to look at a CRM solution and many ways in which one can help you provide a better experience to the customer and provide your team with a powerful sales management tool.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it needs to do all of this and more easily and in an integrated way.

Many distributors who look at a CRM solution have similar pain points that include:

Accuracy = Time Savings

Not only is double entry of data time consuming, but it also creates quite a bit of room for error. If there’s even one instance where a department must re-enter information, there will be omissions and errors, leaving your data incomplete and incorrect. CRM software eliminates this need by eliminating redundancy, as well as giving you cleaner and dependable customer data.

Insights = Quality Interactions

You already know that you want to provide the highest level of customer service possible. Detailed customer profiles let you maximize the impact of each touch point with true insight. Whether from sales, marketing, customer service or support, being able to see the bigger picture empowers your team to collaborate towards one end goal. A CRM solution gives you both insight and analytics so you can see greater revenue growth.

Engagement = Customer Loyalty

Increased customer engagement depends upon accurate information across all divisions. Instead of running one system for marketing and one for sales, you get full integration and one source for all the customer and prospect data. This integration improves the quality of each interaction, which translates to higher levels of customer satisfaction. As we all know, the happier your customers are, the more loyal they become.

A complete CRM solution will increase revenues and customer loyalty by breaking down the barriers between departments.  You can now forecast and plan for a superior and customized end user experience, from anywhere.

If you’d like to learn more, Aktion Associates is an Infor Gold Channel Partner. We sell and support Infor CRM software, the CRM solution that distributors turn to most. Use the links above to learn more about this Infor solution or reach out to me directly and we can get the discussion started today.

 

Distribution Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Can Do More Than Just Provide a Financial Snapshot

When someone references the term KPI, most often we think about financial data – the good old bottom line of profitability. Are we making money and where? This is for good reason. Business leaders have to keep a close watch on the financial health of the company by looking back at past events and by attempting to predict and thus steer how the company performs in the future. It’s natural to prioritize the KPIs that give visibility into the health of the entire distribution operation.

But monitoring KPIs is no longer just for giving you financial data or only a good fit for giant distribution companies. In order to keep up and get ahead, small and medium sized distributors also need to think seriously about how to harness KPI data to move the company forward. Below you’ll see some very quick KPI definitions and then I’ll talk about how you can use this information to steer your organization more effectively towards success.

Historical Data: Looking backwards into past business performance is usually termed historical KPI data. Summaries of completed projects, viewing their profitability, and looking at past trends can help you formulate how you approach your forward-looking business plan.

Predictive Data: Looking into the future is typically called predictive KPI data. Your management team can set goals to guide how decisions are made. In distribution, this might mean analyzing demographics and understanding the profitability of certain products.

Ok, that’s good information, but how can you improve your KPI tracking as a distributor?

Many existing distribution ERP platforms, such as Acumatica, now come with a pre-defined set of KPIs to help you get started. You should expect your ERP to have interactive dashboards that are easy to set up, adjust and change by an employee’s role so each person has access to the information they need. This is something that Acumatica Distribution Edition does seamlessly. With the click of your mouse or even a tap on your mobile screen you can drill down into data for clarity and understanding.

While a great starting point, once you master those base KPI sets, you can move on to tailoring them for metrics specific to your distribution operations. Make this a transparent and group process to be sure your department heads are invested and able to obtain the data they need to streamline how they perform their jobs. The dashboards and views you set up will enable all your teams to become more effective and in turn, more profitable.

We have found that many of our distribution customers look at KPIs in relation to inventory. They need to be able to have real-time visibility into where their inventory is and the reorder costs. Determine profitability at the product and warehouse level to better control costs across the entire supply chain.

Other important areas that you will want to be sure you can track closely include:

Aktion Associates is a Gold Certified Acumatica Partner. Please reach out to me so we can either set up an Acumatica Distribution demo or to get the Distribution ERP discussion started.

We use data every day to make decisions in our personal lives. Aggregated restaurant stars, movie reviews and Google ratings drive our purchasing choices while the entire world checked health data points daily during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. We rely on data because it is objective and based on facts. Unfortunately, many critical business decisions are still made using a gut feel or because that’s the way things have always been done. It’s also the reason why so many things can go wrong.

In an increasingly competitive construction landscape, using accurate data and real-time Business Intelligence (BI) tools to develop fact-based strategies takes the guesswork out of managing a construction business.

Streamlining data access and analysis to enhance decisions

Information coming from disparate sources leaves executives with a muddled perception of their company’s performance. And while many construction companies use reports from their ERP systems, this frequently requires time-consuming custom queries, while producing static reports that are outdated as soon as they are shared. By the time the reports reach relevant manager’s or executive’s desks, the information does not reflect a current picture, and forces them to make decisions on incomplete information.

Accurate, timely data empowers executives with the knowledge to make better decisions that will drive overall business success.

For instance, the finance department needs a current and accurate picture of site performance to understand any risk, cash position, and project profitability, to name a few key performance indicators. Company controllers and bookkeepers can use the information to maintain better financial oversight, while identifying potential challenges to profitability and opportunities to be more efficient. A site manager may use the same data to see how to manage labor, optimize deliveries and identify underperforming suppliers.

When executives have access to accurate, real-time data, they can effectively manage their business’ profitability and growth. ‘The BI Survey’ by BARC found that 84% of companies that have implemented business intelligence report making better business decisions, and 41% report increased revenue.

Business intelligence at the heart of decision-making

Business intelligence software, such as Aktion Analytics, provides access to actionable information that will serve as the foundation of effective, data-driven decision-making.

Aktion Analytics was created for non-technical users with minimal training.  Dashboards are updated automatically, represent real-time insights, and can be personalized with relevant KPIs. Aktion Analytics also gathers data from different sources and integrates it to give users a complete picture of the business, while providing a single source of accurate data that the entire business can trust. Aktion Analytics makes the information accessible from anywhere via mobile devices to facilitate decision making even when out of the office.

A modern, successful construction business will utilize accurate data and technologies such as business intelligence to make informed decisions that help drive business growth.

As I have mentioned in previous installments of this blog, the last 18 months have shined a bright light on construction companies and how they do business. From preconstruction to close-out, a lot of companies are taking a step back to see how they can improve, not just in the extraordinary circumstances of the past year but moving forward into the “new normal.”

Bottomline: efficient and responsive workflows have become even more critically important.

So, first and foremost, what is a construction workflow?

Workflows are abundant in the construction industry and vary depending upon what your company does specifically. But, in a nutshell, workflows are the coordination of tasks between people in an organization. They include the passing of data and information, and the action that is required based on that data. They also usually follow a hierarchy of approvals and privileges based upon job description. But the goal is that they are optimized to maximize profits within the organization. Examples could include the accounts payable process, payroll processing, the submittal process, RFIs and close-out. The workflow is basically, “how do we get from point A to point B?”

But, as simple as those sound, a lot of companies have found a lot of ways to improve on these processes.  When looking closely, there are usually a lot of inefficiencies, redundancies, and opportunities to improve the quality of work. All of these can lead to completing work in a timelier manner, using fewer resources, and resulting in happier customers, and ultimately more profit.

Where are the problems?

While every business is different, the workflow problems are usually very similar. In fact, they almost always fall into one of three areas.

Stop for a moment and think about your company’s many workflows. Can you think of places where there are breakdowns in any of these areas? The good news is that these breakdowns can be fixed.

So how do we fix these workflows?

To succeed in correcting workflow issues, you need to focus on four main areas and there is a simple acronym that can help you remember:        CASE – Collaborate, Automate, Standardize and Eliminate. Let’s have a look at each area.

Collaborate: Hopefully, there is a reason you have hired the people that you have hired. Because they are good at what they do and are critical thinkers when it comes to solving problems and completing tasks. A great quote I always remember is from Lee Iacocca. “I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”

The problem a lot of companies face is that whether this is true or not is of no consequence if those employees cannot collaborate with each other to improve processes. Employees must be empowered through collaboration.  There are lot of available tools to help employees collaborate across companies and improve workflows.

Automate: Administration of workflows is a huge drain on company profit. Reducing data entry, approval pathing and general clerical work not only makes your workflows more efficient, but also more accurate. What if your staff could do their work in half the time? What if something that takes two people could be done with just one? There are a wide range of workflow automation tools in the construction industry to accomplish this reduction in manpower.

Standardize: Very often, as companies grow and expand, they also become more and more compartmentalized and siloed. Your project managers use different software than your back office. Your sales guys use different software than your estimators. And all their data is kept in different places in different forms. The more “common” your platforms are and standardized your process, the less redundancy and potential for error. In addition, the data being kept in a common data platform makes it easier to access and utilize, which reduces manpower.

Eliminate: This one is a bit “all encompassing” and really applies to the three previous letters in the acronym (but let’s face it. CASE is a lot better than CAS). To improve on workflows requires eliminating a lot of things. Eliminate redundancy, eliminate excess manpower, eliminate human error, eliminate inefficiency, eliminate silos, eliminate compartmentalization. There is a laundry list of things to eliminate to improve your workflows and make your company more efficient.

At Aktion Associates, we understand your workflows and understand how to optimize them, because we’ve done it for years. We utilize a consultative approach to your software and IT needs. We offer multiple solutions for most of your workflow issues. We work to understand your business first and suggest a solution based on what will make your business better.

Contact us today for a system review and see if we can make some suggestions to improve your workflows.

Businesses of all types and sizes find themselves relying more and more on technology.  To stay functional, every modern company needs some type of IT assistance. Running a company is challenging enough without dealing with constant technology headaches. But once you decide you’re ready to hand off some or all of your IT responsibility to a managed services provider, how do you figure out who to talk to when there are so many choices?  It can be daunting to evaluate and select the right technology partner for your business.

Below are three key characteristics to consider when deciding on a managed services provider.

1: Industry Expertise

Start by checking potential MSPs to be sure they’re familiar with your industry. So many generic MSPs really aren’t able to address industry-specific problems that might arise. With industry expertise comes knowledge of the ins and outs of your technology. This means knowing what requirements a particular piece of software needs to operate smoothly or which upgrades are necessary in order continue business as usual. The goals should be to keep your infrastructure healthy and eliminate downtime. When you partner with an MSP that knows the platforms your business runs, you gain confidence in the health of your technology.

2: Responsive Hotline Support

This builds upon the previous point, in that industry expertise is also extremely valuable in a hotline support team. A team of technology experts who can answer your calls quickly and efficiently should be another key factor in your evaluation of MSPs. Not all help desks are created equally, and unfortunately some businesses find themselves getting used to long wait times and speaking with people who can’t directly address their issues.

A good technology partner brings a full bench of support to every customer support issue. Whether a request is best resolved by a network engineer, an application consultant, or a software engineer, this program ensures that the appropriate resource is assigned to you. Be sure your new MSP has a proven case management and escalation protocol for timely and efficient issue resolution.

3: Remote Monitoring

Active monitoring and management of your system will keep it running smoothly. Remote monitoring items can include a cloud environment or server hardware, operating system status, and network performance. An MSP can also give you additional support such as database troubleshooting related to system uptime. You also might ask the providers if they can give you timely notice of developing issues, provide security, and perform regular system maintenance.

Providers now need to be able to offer a multi-layered approach to ensure each customer’s success. As with any partnership, you want to be positive the MSP you choose fits your needs and understands your overall business goals.

Because Aktion excels at each point listed above, we believe that these unique qualities set us apart from the competition. Our experience as a technology provider focused on the construction, distribution and manufacturing industries gives our customers complete technology peace of mind. Our goal is to protect your technology, both primary business applications and the platform that they run on.

If you’d like to discuss Aktion’s Managed Services features and benefits, please reach out and I’d be happy to get you started on your Managed Services journey.