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How to ‘divorce’ a bad ERP support partner

If you’ve had an ERP accounting system for any length of time, chances are good that you’ve heard your relationship with your ERP support partner be compared to a marriage. It’s a fitting analogy considering how seldom companies switch out their accounting software — or the partner that supports it.

Often companies stick with the partner that originally implemented their ERP software. Sometimes this partnership works well long-term. A good ERP partner values meaningful relationships over sales and works hard to continue to offer high-quality support in a timely manner.

Other times, the company finds the services from its original partner lacking and starts to wonder how difficult it might be to change partners.

However, the marriage analogy spins off another analogy when you’re thinking about the possibility of switching partners: Divorce.

Is changing your ERP partner truly so difficult that it must be compared to a divorce, or is this where the analogy should end?

Just the word conjures up a mix of feelings ranging from relief to dread. Is changing your ERP partner truly so difficult that it must be compared to a divorce, or is this where the analogy should end? The reality is that switching partners might cause a little pain, but rest assured it won’t wreak the same emotional drama as a messy divorce can.

If you’re not content with your current ERP partner, making a switch might just be in your best interest. Here’s how to “divorce” your ERP partner in 4 simple steps:

1. Let your current ERP partner know your intent.

You’ve stuck with your current partner for this long for a reason. Your first step should be to let them know that you are no longer pleased with their services. Be upfront about your concerns and let them know you are thinking about finding a new partner.

This should prompt them to act, and it gives them a chance to try to fix the issue. After all, they can’t fix what they don’t know is broken. To continue with the marriage metaphor, you can’t expect your spouse to change if he or she doesn’t know what you need.

Similarly, if your ERP partner can resolve the issues, your relationship — or level of support — will greatly improve and you might be able to avoid the sometimes painful process of changing partners. If not, follow through and find a new partner.

2. Choose a new ERP support partner.

By now you’ve lost patience with your current partner. You gave them a chance to address the problem, they didn’t and it’s time to move on to a new partner. Where do you begin? You can find a new ERP partner through a few different avenues:

* Talk to other companies in your industry and see who they use.

* If you’re active in a Dynamics User Group, request recommendations there.

* Check out Bob Scott’s list of top 100 VARs for ideas.

* Google top ERP partners or ERP partners near me.

Once you’ve found one that appears to be a good fit, call them and do some follow-up research to ensure they can give you what your current partner cannot.

3. Fill out a Change Partner of Record request with Microsoft.

Microsoft keeps track of which customers each Value-Added Reseller (VAR) supports so you will need to officially change your partner on file with Microsoft. You can either make the request yourself online through Microsoft’s CustomerSource, or your new partner can initiate the request on your behalf. In the latter scenario, you will need to provide your new partner with your CustomerSource account number and pin and then respond to the email their request generates.

In either case, you will want to stay in close communication with your new partner to make sure you each have the correct information to finish the process. A change of partner request can be completed within a few days. Your old partner will also receive an email from Microsoft notifying them that they are no longer your ERP partner of record.

4. Make the transition.

The paperwork might be finished, but you’re not quite done yet. Remember all that work gathering requirements that you did when you first implemented the system? Your new ERP partner will need to perform a similar task, but on a much smaller scale. They will want to assess how your system is set up and how efficiently it is operating.

Congratulations! You now have a new ERP support partner, hopefully one that is better suited to meet your company’s needs. If you’re looking for a new ERP partner, contact us at 763-412-4300 or info@boyerassoc.com to determine if Boyer is a good fit for you.

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Getting to know your Dynamics GP support specialist

Got a problem with your Dynamics GP software? Rest assured that when you call Boyer & Associates, you will get excellent support from a fun, friendly face. Dan Moore has served as the company’s Dynamics GP support technician for the last five years and he loves his job.

“It’s just something new every day. It seems like no matter how long I’ve been working on this (GP) program, there’s something every day that makes me completely confused, that I haven’t seen before,” Moore said.

For Dynamics GP support, November and December are the busiest months, Moore said, with the second half of the year overall being busier than the first half. On the morning of this December interview, Moore had already handled 14 incoming cases by 11 a.m.

Perhaps the most common issue he sees is stuck batches, an easy fix for the GP support veteran.

“The really complicated ones aren’t very common,” he said. Many times, he can troubleshoot an issue in minutes, though occasionally the problem takes a couple of days and additional resources from Microsoft to fully fix.

Moore grew up in Great Falls, Mont. Right after high school, he worked as a pin setter mechanic for a local bowling alley before deciding to attend college with a friend at Concordia University in Moorhead, Minn. Moore took a wide range of classes including vocal performance, business management and philosophy.

Moore landed his first technology job through a temp agency, working on Microsoft’s Dynamics GP licensing support team and then GP software support. He spent about five years at Microsoft before hearing about the job at Boyer & Associates.

“I like it. I can’t complain because I work from home,” Moore said. He lives in West Fargo, N.D., with his wife, Vanessa and their four cats: Zander, Squall, Casper and Luna.

Asked about his hobbies, Moore said, “I’m a simple man, aka boring. I like to just relax.” He occasionally builds computers for friends who want a custom build, but otherwise spends much of his time relaxing with Vanessa and their feline friends.

Need help troubleshooting your Dynamics GP software?  Call 763-412-4326 or email gpsupport@boyerassoc.com to talk to our fun, friendly GP support technician.

Moore’s favorite pastime is watching TV, whether he’s Netflix binging or settling down to his favorite TV show, “House.”

He was once asked in a job interview what his favorite movie was, a difficult question to answer since he prefers an eclectic assortment of movies. Thinking fast, he decided to go with a unique answer.

“I decided I’m just going to say something funny and act serious,” he said. With a straight face, he told the duo interviewing him that his favorite movie was “Maid in Manhattan.” The woman stared at him as if trying to decide what to think and the man hid his face, trying to stifle his laughter.

“It was hilarious!” Moore said.

In the end, he’s glad he ended up on the Boyer & Associates team.

“I’ve been so used to jobs where you’re just expected to do a perfect job and it’s not really celebrated when you do a good job. They (at Boyer) do a good job of letting you know that you’re appreciated or important when you do a good job,” Moore said.

He described his fellow staff as both professional and friendly and said he appreciates the more relaxed atmosphere of a smaller company that focuses on its people just as much as results.

“I like the people that I work with and for. Even more so than money to me that’s probably the most important aspect of a job,” Moore said. “If Boyer never goes out of business I might just retire from here.”

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Are you getting the most out of your ERP software? 8 signs you’re losing money on your accounting system (and tips to improve)

Accountants naturally want to make the most of their resources. Whether it’s choosing the best vendor for paper stock or deciding which software is the best long-term investment, smart choices by the finance team can have a significant effect on the success of a company.

How can you tell if you are (or aren’t) using your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to its optimum potential? Here are 8 signs that you are not getting the most out of your ERP system:

1. You’re on a Microsoft maintenance plan but not upgrading.

There’s nothing like wasted money to make an accountant cringe, yet that’s exactly what you’re doing in this case. If you are already paying Microsoft’s annual maintenance plan for your Dynamics ERP software, then you might as well take advantage of the perks it offers.

Those perks include the latest service packs and hot fixes to keep your system running at peak efficiency. Talk to your ERP support partner to see what maintenance plan you have and what you can do to make the most of it.

2. You’re not on a maintenance plan at all.

Somewhere along the line, you let your Microsoft maintenance plan lapse. Maybe you were looking to save some money that year, or you were frustrated that you were paying for it and not using it — or maybe you just forgot.

No matter the reason, if you’re not on a maintenance plan, then you are not taking advantage of all that Microsoft offers to keep your system running smoothly. Microsoft maintenance plans are intended to keep clients up-to-date on the latest key features that will help keep the system running well.

3. You have Dynamics ERP modules that were implemented but never used.

This is perhaps the top sign that you are not using your ERP software to its maximum potential. If your company or your ERP support partner took the time to implement a module in the first place, they likely did so because they believed it would be useful to business operations. The fact that it’s unused is a red flag that you could be making better use of your accounting software.

4. You don’t follow the processes installed in the ERP system.

Life gets busy, and it’s easy to skip steps to rush to the end, especially if that end involves a big paycheck for your company. Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? There’s a reason slow and steady wins. Following the process might take a little extra time, but it generally produces better, more consistent results that will ultimately improve your company’s bottom line.

5. No one in the office knows how to train new staff on the ERP system.

This shows that your current employees don’t know as much about the system as they should. If they can’t adequately train new users, then how can you trust that they are using the system properly themselves? Having the best, fastest ERP system in the world is no use if it simply sits in the corner gathering dust.

6. You still rely mainly on spreadsheets.

You might never get completely away from spreadsheets, but if you’re working more in Excel than you are in your ERP system, then you’re probably not using the system to its highest potential.

7. You don’t ever update (or back up) your data.

A system is only as good as its data. If your data is out-of-date, then your system is probably not working as well as it could. Similarly, skipping backups can leave you in the lurch in the case of a security breach or malware attack. It’s important to take good care of your ERP software, and that means doing regular maintenance work on the data contained within it.

8. The ERP system isn’t integrated with any of your other business management software.

Perhaps your Dynamics ERP system works great — all by itself. If it isn’t integrated with your other software, however, then you are likely wasting time rekeying the same data in more than one source.

Not getting the most out of your ERP? Here’s how you can!

Maybe you already know you’re not using your ERP software to peak efficiency. Now what?

Here are a few steps that can put you on the road to making better use of your current accounting system:

1. Sign up for a Microsoft maintenance plan!

This is the first and perhaps biggest step in improving the efficiency of your Microsoft ERP software. You can easily justify the cost to yourself or to your boss by describing the increased use your ERP system will get, maximizing the ROI on your initial investment in the software.

2. Stay up-to-date with ERP software upgrades.

Now that you’re signed up for a maintenance plan, don’t forget to use it. Scheduling out your upgrades during slow times for your company will minimize disruption and keep you on a good rhythm for staying current.

3. Communicate regularly with your ERP partner.

This is a simple way to make sure you are on top of the latest upgrades available. Microsoft often relies on its Value-Added Resellers (VARs) to offer support to Dynamics users and help them implement cumulative updates, hot fixes and more. If your current partner is not doing this adequately, you might want to consider changing ERP partners.

4. Join a user group community (GPUG, SLUG and NAVUG).

These user groups are intended to connect Dynamics ERP users and provide them yet another resource to make the most of their accounting software. Each group typically hosts at least one annual conference to educate/train users. Their online communities are quite active, enabling users to ask questions and get feedback from other users, often within the same industry and with similar issues. Choose the user group that corresponds with the ERP product you use:

5. Attend ERP educational events.

The best ERP partners offer continuing education for their clients. Ask your partner what training or events they offer and take advantage. If your partner doesn’t offer events, check out Boyer’s event calendar and join our clients for user-based educational events designed to help you make the most of your ERP software.

6. Add modules or ISV solutions as needed.

In some cases, you might not be getting the most out of your ERP system because it’s not integrated well with your other software. Further analysis might show that you need to replace those solutions with another module that’s available within your Dynamics ERP software, or perhaps a third-party bolt-on product can provide the integration necessary to allow all of your business management solutions to communicate together and increase efficiency.

7. Invest in a Business Intelligence solution.

BI talk is trending on numerous technology platforms, and with good reason. Your data is not helpful if you can’t interpret it or use it to determine what your next steps should be. Such in-depth reporting tools used to be reserved for large enterprises but not anymore. Today, even small businesses can harness this technology to gain insight into their data and make the best business decisions for their company’s future. Make the most of your ERP system by benefitting from the data you’ve collected. Boyer & Associates partners with two companies to offer top-of-the-line Business Intelligence solutions.

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Boyer hires new ERP consultant Minneapolis ERP reseller continues to grow

Boyer & Associates continues to grow its Dynamics ERP consulting team with the addition of Mary Bricco. The Wisconsin native has 18 years of experience as a NAV developer.

Bricco comes highly recommended by another Boyer employee, Janet Gallia, who worked with her for 7 years until moving to Boyer. Bricco said Gallia spoke very highly of her new job and it took little convincing for Bricco to apply.

“She really did catch my attention right away. She just loves it here (at Boyer),” said Bricco, who is glad to be part of a smaller, closer-knit team and working with Gallia again.

“I’m looking forward to working with a small team of people and there’s so much new stuff to learn right now,” Bricco said.

She’s especially excited to meet her new clients and noted that interaction with clients has always been her favorite part of consulting.

“I like learning about clients and what they do and what their business is, and my experience is they’re always eager to tell you,” she said.

She’s had the opportunity to consult for some unique businesses. Working with a company that sold to wineries in Napa Valley at one point, she was astonished to discover bottles of wine that cost thousands of dollars or were as old as the Seventeenth Century.

She was also intrigued to see how a company that employed only visually impaired workers adapted the workplace to fit the employees’ needs and how quickly a food bank distributed large donations of food to area food shelves.

Bricco started working as a developer around 2000, while raising her three daughters. Her first position in the industry was as a receptionist at ABC Computers. Her boss knew she had gone to school to learn development so handed her a book one day to see how much she could figure out on her own. She has been working on software development ever since.

Bricco lives in New London, Wis. with her two cats and 5 chickens. Her daughters Tonya, Angie and Wendy are all grown. Tonya is a NAV developer like her mom and Angie recently married, giving Bricco a son-in-law.

Bricco spends most of her spare time outside, riding her bike, hiking, camping and in the winter, snowshoeing. She’s particularly fond of Potawatomi State Park in Wisconsin. She is a Green Bay Packers fan and twice won raffle tickets for seats in the second row just behind the Packer bench.

For now, Bricco is getting settled into her new job and learning more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, the company’s cloud ERP.

“Microsoft obviously has decided cloud is the way to go so that’s what’s going to happen and we need to embrace it,” she said. She expects to work both with on-premise and cloud ERP solutions.

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Dynamics 365 practice grows with new hire Lex Edison is back as cloud ERP consultant

As more companies think about moving business operations to the cloud, Boyer & Associates is readier than ever to help them make that transition. Lex Edison of Chaska has rejoined the Boyer team as a Dynamics 365 Business Central consultant.

Boyer & Associates has supported Microsoft’s cloud ERP since it debuted in 2016. With prospects now waiting in line for Boyer to help them implement the accounting solution, the company is hiring additional staff to help with the influx of new clients.

Long-time Boyer clients might recognize Edison’s name. He worked at Boyer from 2005 to 2010 as a Dynamics GP consultant and programmer. He left because he missed Texas but soon discovered he missed the Boyer team as well.

“I don’t think I should ever have left Boyer,” Edison said. He’s glad to be back and is excited to be on the Business Central team, focusing mainly on cloud-based implementations.

“I’m happy to be back, and I’m looking forward to working with Business Central.” — Lex Edison, returning Boyer consultant

“I’m happy to be back, and I’m looking forward to working with Business Central,” Edison said. “I’m really comfortable with the people here. I think they do things right, we have a really good time and we are well positioned to do things in the B.C. world, which is where I think the world is going.”

Edison has 13 years of senior level experience implementing and supporting Microsoft’s Dynamics ERP software. Most recently, he worked as a senior Dynamics GP consultant at OTT, Inc. He has also been working with Dynamics 365 Business Central, learning more about the product and helping with the occasional implementation.

In Edison’s view, cloud-based ERP solutions like Dynamics 365 have a distinct advantage over their on-premise counterparts: fewer software issues. He said when he worked with on-premise systems he would often start a project only to discover a previously unknown problem that had to be fixed first.

That’s less common with cloud solutions, Edison said, because developers can be more proactive about fixing issues before the client even knows to request support for the problem.

“You just don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff with the cloud so I really am very much a cloud proponent. Not only is that where the world is going but it’s going there for a reason,” Edison said.

While he’s a supporter for the cloud in general, he’s specifically a fan of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central. He said the cloud ERP works well and is much cheaper than similar products available on the market for medium-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations.

“It’s extensive. It works. It’s very full functioning, robust. I think it’s great,” Edison said.

Jack Boyer, president of Boyer & Associates, is glad to have Edison back on staff. He referred to Edison as a “strong accountant with tremendous abilities to stick to and solve complex technical problems.” He added that Edison’s background with a variety of accounting systems gives him a unique ability to see multiple ways to solve difficult problems.

Edison earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from North Dakota State University. Having worked as both an accountant and a consultant, he’s able to speak both languages and better help clients solve problems — his favorite aspect of consulting.

“I like helping people. If you don’t you should be doing something else. I like being able to take a problem and solve it and make it work for a client,” he said.

When he’s not busy at work, Edison is a long-time Vikings fan and has been known to brew his own beer. He and his wife LaDawn live in Chaska.

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Dynamics 365 Business Central: A History of Names

From Madeira to Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft’s cloud ERP solution has gone by several names in its short three-year history.

To make matters more confusing, Dynamics 365 Business Central now includes the on-premise version (Dynamics NAV) on which the cloud product was based. Many resellers were already referring to the cloud solution as “NAV in the cloud.” Now the two share the same name and same functionality but different deployment options.

But wait, there’s more. It’s common for people to shorten the name to simply Dynamics 365. This gets confusing because Dynamics 365 encompasses an entire family of business applications:

  • Dynamics 365 Sales
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service
  • Dynamics 365 Field Service
  • Dynamics 365 Talent
  • Dynamics 365 Retail
  • Dynamics 365 Marketing
  • Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation
  • Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central

These Apps, as Microsoft calls them, can be bought individually or mixed and matched to fit a company’s needs. This is great news for businesses looking for a custom-made business management solution but can be confusing when discussing Dynamics 365 with other users who might very well have a completely different setup of apps and capabilities.

But we digress. To help clear up a little confusion, here’s a history of name changes specific to Dynamics 365 Business Central, the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for small to mid-sized organizations:

One last note: The Finance and Operations version still exists as a separate app. It also offers ERP functionality but is geared toward larger companies, typically with 250 or more users.

If you’re looking to replace your current accounting system with an ERP cloud solution for a small or mid-sized business, Dynamics 365 Business Central might be the version you need. Contact us to set up an appointment or attend a webinar to get an inside look at the capabilities available for your business.

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Move over NAV, the cloud is taking over Microsoft takes another step toward fully cloud accounting

This week, Microsoft’s cloud accounting solution for growing businesses is taking over its predecessor, if only in name. As of Oct. 1, Dynamics NAV will officially be referred to as the on-premise version of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

At first glance, it might be easy to shrug off this news as just another name change, but the significance of this decision cannot be overlooked. Microsoft’s world-renowned Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution has just been relegated to the “on-premise version” of its newer alter ego, the cloud ERP.

It’s a small but significant step that reflects Microsoft’s not-so-subtle push toward the cloud. As cloud technology moves from trendy to mainstream, the software giant has stepped onto the field of accounting software solutions with a formidable weapon.

The competition is fierce — Sage Intacct and NetSuite have already established themselves in the world of cloud-enabled ERP products — but Microsoft is quickly gaining ground.

Microsoft didn’t release Dynamics 365, its first Software as a Service (SaaS) accounting solution, until the fall of 2016. At the time, Dynamics 365 vaguely resembled Dynamics NAV, one of the company’s top-of-the-line on-premise accounting solutions, but the new offering didn’t quite have all the capabilities of the powerhouse ERP.

Dynamics 365 received a major upgrade this spring, giving it the same capabilities as its predecessor with the bonus of being a cloud ERP solution deployed on the company’s fast-growing Azure platform. With the latest change Oct. 1, Dynamics 365 moves to the forefront.

Building the Cloud

Accounting software is not Microsoft’s first step into cloud computing. Back in 2006 when Amazon started turning heads as a pioneer of cloud services, Microsoft was already quietly working on a similar project of its own.

Windows Azure launched in 2010 as the company’s first cloud computing platform but did poorly. Four years and several revisions later, the renamed Microsoft Azure started gaining traction. Now, Azure’s revenue is growing rapidly every quarter and has skyrocketed Microsoft into the cloud wars as one of the top five cloud providers.

As of April 2018, Microsoft held a 13 percent market share of cloud infrastructure, a significant growth that shows no sign of slowing down. If anyone doubted Microsoft’s ability to move from a computer and packaged software company, those doubts are long gone.

Microsoft’s shift in focus from on-premise ERP to cloud ERP is just the latest in a concerted effort to become a fully integrated business cloud solution. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started using the phrase “mobile first, cloud first” almost immediately when he took control of the company in 2014, and the company has worked tirelessly to make the slogan reality.

Dynamics 365 reflects multiple integration points with other Microsoft cloud products, further enhancing the allure of the newest offering. Dynamics 365 works seamlessly with such well-known products as Cortana, LinkedIn, Outlook, Office 365 and Power BI.

Cloud-ready Options for GP and SL

While on-premise ERP solutions might be fading in popularity, Microsoft is fully aware that some businesses are simply not ready to take the plunge into cloud accounting. The company’s Dynamics GP and SL solutions, for example, have withstood the test of time and kept their place among cloud ERP solutions on the market.

Microsoft intends to continue supporting both products, with one key caveat. The company is now offering cloud-ready solutions for its current GP and SL clients. An Azure-based offering lets on-premise customers of both products continue using their current platform in a hybrid form. They can now deploy a cloud-replicated version of their data, test for errors and make the move to the cloud seamlessly whenever they’re ready.

Similarly, current users of Dynamics NAV (now Dynamics 365 Business Central on premise) can opt to move to the cloud version with a simple upgrade. In other words, move over on premise and make way for Microsoft cloud ERP!

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Boyer & Associates is pleased to announce the addition of a new consultant to our Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central team. Janet Gallia will join the Boyer team on Sept. 17.

Gallia has more than 35 years of experience working in the technical industry, specifically with Dynamics SL and NAV.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Gallia started out in her early 20s working as a secretarial dispatcher for Ohio-based NCR Corporation. One day her supervisor overheard her walking a client through a cash register fix over the phone and suggested she study to become an engineer. She passed the course with flying colors and was soon in the field repairing registers for the company.

“It was so much fun,” she said. She’d always enjoyed repairing her own televisions with replacement parts from Radio Shack so the job change was a natural shift for the young single mother.

She excelled at the work and was eventually promoted to instructor, relocating to the company’s headquarters as one of three women on a team of 150 at NCR’s technical institute. She moved with the company again in 1989, this time to St. Louis, Mo. with her two boys, Sean and John.

In addition to her 14 years at NCR, Gallia also spent 11 years with Sikich Technology Group, an accounting and technology services firm in Missouri. Most recently, she was the Advisor System Architect at DXC Technology, formerly called Tribridge.

“I like solving problems and I love documenting and training and just doing what I can to help someone achieve a goal, and I also love mentoring,” Gallia said.

“It’s going to be a wonderful mind meld of all of our experiences and I think we’re going to be able to provide the client with the very best.” — Janet Gallia, new Boyer consultant.

At Boyer, Gallia will be a consultant working from her St. Louis home for both Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics NAV clients. Gallia was impressed with the integrity and intelligence of the Boyer staff and is excited to work with a team bent on excellence.

“It’s going to be a wonderful mind meld of all of our experiences and I think we’re going to be able to provide the client with the very best,” she said.

For her part, Gallia has a strong background in project management, implementation, consulting, report writing and more for distribution, manufacturing and nonprofit organizations. She has spent 15 years working within Dynamics SL and another 11 with Dynamics NAV. She has a bachelor’s degree from Provident University, several SL and NAV certifications and is a past president of the Solomon (SL) users group.

Gallia said she often gets so engrossed in her work that her husband of 15 years, John, bought her a dog to give her an excuse to leave her office. Now, her loyal teacup Maltese, Sophia, prompts her every couple of hours to get up and stretch for a few minutes.

Outside of work, Gallia loves to cook, sew and attend Nineteenth Century reenactments with her husband. Gallia makes their costumes and she and John participate in pirate reenactments and festivals centered around steampunk, a genre that incorporates Victorian era designs and steam-powered technology with science fiction time travel.

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Prepare your Dynamics ERP environment for a disaster

In the past, protecting your DynamicsEnterprise Resource Planning(ERP) environment with backups was just a precaution. It was done in case there were some sort of physical disaster like a fire, earthquake or power outage that would destroy your systems and leave them unrecoverable.

Today, computer viruses and ransomware are a major concern that can cause you to lose data.

Ransomware infections in the past just targeted a few file types and encrypted those files. Today they are encrypting all files on a system and can leave an entire ERP system unusable.

The perpetrators of these ransomware infections do give you an opportunity to pay their ransom in Bitcoin, usually starting out around $5,000, but there is no guarantee that the files will get decrypted. There have been reports of people paying the ransom and still being stuck with a down system.

To protect your ERP environment from ransomware, first back up your databases and files to either an off-site or cloud backup that cannot be encrypted by these infections. Next, test restoring your data on a regular basis. Backups are worthless if they cannot be restored.

If you would like assistance with what to protect for your specific Dynamics ERP environment, contact Boyer & Associates at 763-412-4300 or info@boyerassoc.com.

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Boyer & Associates by Boyer & Associates - 10M ago

It’s Tool Time! … Or perhaps new ERP tool time?

By Mary Huhn, CPA, CIA

How does an organization know when it is time to change its ERP structure or upgrade its accounting system? If it is time, then how does an organization go about deciding what comes next?

Typically, the ERP change process starts at the top. Perhaps the organization’s management has an issue that cannot be solved with current processes and technology. Maybe the issue can be solved with current processes and technology, but the resource demand to solve it is too strenuous on the organization to complete on an ongoing basis.

In essence, ERP changes typically stem from a need to record and report new data that is required at a high level to make key business decisions. Specific to my experiences, examples include inventory tracking, job and resource scheduling, compliance or regulatory data, and loss of support from vendor supporting the organization’s current ERP product.

The most critical step in the ERP selection process is finding out what is truly important in a new system — for that organization. What’s important for one organization might not be the best fit for another.

Continuing with our example, management states they need new information. Currently, the users don’t record or report that data. Does this mean it’s new ERP time? Not quite.

The first path is to see if processes around data entry need to be updated so that the data can be recorded. This step involves ERP users as well as IT to review if the necessary fields and tables are available for data capture. If not, then the next step is for IT resources to work directly with the organization’s current ERP vendors to see if configuration is viable for recording the new data needs.

If these two steps come up short, then the organization has reached “new tool time!” This is one of the scariest, and yet possibly most fruitful, ventures an organization can take.

A new ERP system can open a wide variety of options to an organization. It can reduce resources, eliminate non-value processes, streamline cumbersome processes, etc. The next step in the ERP selection process is the most critical. That is finding out what is truly important in a new system for that organization. What’s important for one organization might not be the best fit for another.

Typically, the ERP change process starts with one issue, but rarely is that one issue the sole reason for an ERP change. Most likely, the issue is like the piece of straw that broke the camel’s back. Digging and discovering the other underlying issues that need to be solved is the most critical piece of an ERP implementation. Otherwise, the organization is solving a puzzle for which it doesn’t have all the pieces or the picture of the desired end result.

Digging and discovering can also be called interviewing or just plain talking. This step typically involves the project leader holding conversations with three groups of people:

  • Talking to management to see what their concerns, issues and problems currently are with reporting. What upcoming problems do they foresee needing to be solved by data? What pressing questions come up on a regular basis that could be alleviated by having additional data?
  • Discussing with users their current issues with data entry and recording. What processes slow them down in the current system? What data are they recording that no one views? What data are they not recording that they feel is important?
  • Chatting with IT. What are their current struggles with the system? What would they like to see in a new tool? What systems have they worked with in the past that may work well in the current environment?

Then the organization reviews results of these conversations to find common threads throughout the three groups’ concerns, weighting issues that seem to be more concerning or alarming. After these initial conversations, it’s a good idea to walk away and then come back the next day or week to revisit the interview results.

During this process, the organization is looking for the three main issues. Typically, the key issue will be the problem that started the process, but there are often two more clean, clear main problems. Reviewing the current day’s review with the previous review will help. Do the declared main issues from each review match?

If so, then the project leader is ready to present to management the base scope for the new ERP search and implementation. If not, then the steps need to be repeated. It might help to remember that the main driver is from management. Their issues always take precedence. If needed, the project leader can repeat discussions with them and specifically ask for their three biggest wants from an ERP change.

Once the three main issues are declared and management has agreed, these three issues then become the first items to review against for matches with ERP systems, partners, integrations, and all other decision items throughout the new project’s life.

Mary Huhn (CPA, CIA) is the lead accountant at Northern Industrial Sands in northwestern Wisconsin. She recently went through the ERP selection process with the organization and is currently the project lead for their new ERP implementation.

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