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We manage risk in our personal lives from issuing car insurance to dental cleaning, in hopes to reduce the consequences of potential unwelcome events. No one wants car accidents or dental problems, right?
Yet what we often fail to do is identify and manage risk in a business environment, similarly as we recognize risk in our private lives. More often than not, companies do not investigate everything that could impact their business, but rather, look only at the obvious areas of risk. They need to engage in proper risk management.
Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling risks that arise from operational factors, and making decisions that balance the risk costs with the benefits.
You might be asking, why manage risk at all? What would happen if we choose to cliff dive in an area that no other swimmers have dove into before, and all it took was a minute of our time to prevent a catastrophe? All businesses encounter circumstances that can be identified and mitigated appropriately to gain positive risk benefits and reduce the impact of negative risks.
Typically, risk is considered to have a negative connotation, but in reality, risk is what provides a business the ability to succeed and we often fail to differentiate between good risks versus a bad risk. For example, if a company decides to increase its product lines to service a different customer demographic, this risk could potentially increase revenue while growing the overall business. If this risk is not taken, the company may remain at the same growth level, or have negative growth due to lack of innovation and customer retention.
That said, there are two types of risk:
- Good risks are called opportunities
- Bad risks are called threats
The goal of risk management is to really minimize potential negative risks, while maximizing potential positive risks. While some companies go without a defined strategy, hoping everything will “work out for the best,” the reality is that businesses must be proactive in assessing risk versus the “hopeful” alternative.
Risk management helps establish the framework in which the project team will identify and develop strategies to mitigate or avoid the risks associated with activities such as a new project, ERP implementation, or upgrade/migration venture.
The risk management process should include the following tasks:
- Risk management planning
- Define the risk management plan
- Risk identification
- Risk register
- Risk statement
- Categorizing notations of risk
- Risk assessment
- Risk responses planning
- Risk monitoring & control
We can take control by consistently evaluating and adjusting our processes to achieve the greatest impact on the success of the business. The process of implementing effective risk management will result in a more predictable and profitable business. To learn about analyzing risks for your businesses, visit our consulting services page to download the whitepaper:
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
National lawn and garden trade publication Today’s Garden Center has selected 100 North American lawn and garden retail businesses for its Revolutionary 100 Garden Center List. Started in 2006, the program surveys garden center owners and managers on how they run their businesses. Each retailer competes on financial performance, management styles, merchandising, marketing and many other areas that determine a thriving garden store, large or small.
Thirteen of the lawn and garden businesses listed this year operate their stores with the Epicor® Eagle® retail business management solution. Hundreds of lawn and garden centers across North America utilize Epicor Eagle to create more efficient, more profitable businesses that result in more satisfied customers and increased customer loyalty.
We are excited to congratulate some of the retailers named that operate their businesses with Epicor solutions:
Alsip Home & Nursery, Illinois
Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Missouri
K&W Greenery, Wisconsin
Petitti Garden Centers, Ohio
Ray Wiegand’s Nursery, Michigan
Steve’s Ace Home & Garden, Iowa
Wannemaker’s Home and Garden, Illinois
Bayport Flower Houses, New York
Stauffers of Kissel Hill, Pennsylvania
Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden, North Carolina
Ken Matthews Garden Center, Virginia
To view the full list of 2015 Revolutionary Garden Center winners, click here.
Posted by Sam Kirkland, National Accounts Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
Excellent service means responding quickly to customer needs. For those providing field service, this means four basic things: being on time, having enough time to do the job properly, having the right skills, and bringing the right tools. As Information Age notes in a recent article, “For mobile technicians, an increased importance has been put on their role to the overall success of the organization, as they are quite often the only interaction a customer will have with the business.”
Consequently, mobility has taken on an increasingly strategic role for field-service organizations. Recent Aberdeen Group research has confirmed this trend, finding that 82 percent of field-service organizations identified mobility as a strategic initiative for the service operation in the next 12 months—as a tool to empower the field with real-time intelligence to make decisions and resolve issues to better serve the customer. Notes Information Age:
Companies that understand how to strategically leverage mobility solutions stand to drive efficiencies, improve customer service, and benefit from a more profitable bottom line. With field-based work becoming increasingly complex and time-sensitive, more and more businesses are beginning to focus on the proliferation of mobile solutions, integrated with back-end field service solutions, to help manage field operations and provide the mobile workforce with the real-time knowledge needed to make better, more intelligent decisions while in the field.
Among the emerging mobile technologies that are enabling better and smarter field service: the Internet of Things (IoT), by enabling devices to communicate with one another and send and receive data, and mobile applications that provide technicians with visibility across the organization and the ability to share, store, and view job data while in the field.
In a post on its data and networks blog, Ottawa, Ontario-based SkyWave lists five characteristics organizations should look for when considering mobile technology for its workforce:
- Easy integration. The hardware platform should allow the integrator to customize the solution to ensure easy integration into existing enterprise processes while providing off-the-shelf software applications to enable common functions.
- Modularity, flexibility, and network readiness. The smartest solutions are modular in nature, allowing you to plan for coverage issues from the outset, and to address requirements with options for cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite, and Ethernet networking.
- Programmability and configurability. Programming, configuration, and protocol restrictions compromise access to smart data. Devices based on open protocols and customizable scripting languages provide the flexibility needed to develop and deploy a truly custom mobile workforce solution.
- Minimization of airtime costs. Smarter devices allow for advanced analytics and exception-based reporting at the edge, and enable field workers to access critical data without prohibitive roaming charges.
- Device agnosticism. Compatibility with a variety of Web-enabled devices simplifies and streamlines access to intelligent data. This device-agnostic compatibility can facilitate a variety of custom workforce automation applications, increase productivity, and ensure continuous communication with remote assets, vehicles, and personnel.
It is important to note that the data gathered and communicated through mobility is not sufficient in and of itself. Integrating that data is key. As Information Age comments:
It is how that data is analyzed and turned into usable information that is what will really make a difference. For this reason, data captured through mobile devices must be tied into other systems within the organization’s technology infrastructure—if not, it will get lost.
Not surprisingly, Aberdeen found the top strategic action for 62 percent of best-in-class field-service organizations was to improve data integration between the field and back-office systems. These companies understood that mobility not only made for a smarter workforce, but when leveraged properly, a smarter enterprise.
Posted by HCM Insights Team
Earlier this month, hundreds of independent retailers and users of the Epicor Eagle and Epicor Eagle for the Automotive Aftermarket solutions flocked to New Orleans for the Epicor Insights Eagle Customer Conference 2015. During the two-day event, attendees had the opportunity to participate in educational sessions, learn about new Epicor technologies, network with other users and meet members of the Epicor team.
The opening keynote by Craig McCollum, executive vice president and general manager, retail distribution solutions for Epicor, emphasized how generational shifts in North America, and specifically within independent retail businesses, are changing the dynamics of business. “Think of all of the jobs and industries either transformed or completely eliminated by technology,” said McCollum. “As the next generation of tech-savvy leaders come into fold, businesses need to build upon the existing strengths by including powerful components that have quite often not been leveraged by small, independently owned businesses -- implementation of technology to help make operations more efficient and to lead with decisions that are data driven. As the retail world continues to shift towards new technologies, I want to encourage businesses to embrace change, try to understand generational differences, and remain technologically relevant -- each of these objectives will improve communication across your businesses.”
With more than 60 interactive sessions, participants had excellent educational opportunities to learn how to improve their businesses operations. “I’ve been able to take away great ideas for improvement from every Insights Eagle session to bring back and implement in my business,” said Jay Saxton, sales and operations director at Construction Building Materials, Inc. “The conference is very valuable for any retailer looking to improve their business.”
The final day of Insights Eagle commenced with a keynote by Chris Swecker, former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigations Division and the former global security director of Bank of America. As a former head of the FBI’s Criminal Division, he led all FBI criminal investigations including public corruption, money laundering, organized crime and financial crime matters—spending more than 30 years fighting and protecting businesses against financial crimes. His keynote illuminated recent business security breaches and offered insights into protecting and safeguarding business data.
Highlights from Swecker’s keynote include:
- Fraud Risk Environment is Growing. The number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2014 hit a record high of 783 in 2014, according to a recent report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and sponsored by IDT911™
- Best Practices for Business Data: mitigate the risk of a business data breach with tools like tokenization, egress filtering and limit exfiltration of data, P2P, EMV, Crown Jewel Identification
- Improve Personal Security by implementing the following tactics: patch updates, extra authentication, monitor credit and banking activity, shred unnecessary documents, and educate yourself about phishing
We hope to see you at the next Epicor Insights Eagle Customer Conference, where you can gain valuable insights to drive your business forward. Learn more at www.epicor.com.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
In our previous blogs, we started discussing the need to focus on upgrading employees through skills enhancements, and shared some cool tips and tricks that can be applied in Microsoft Outlook to provide added efficiency and organization. Now let’s expand upon that and discuss another application from Microsoft Office, Word.
Quite often, I see front line employees using the mouse and keyboard to accomplish tasks within Word, which is sometimes a necessity. However, many individuals heavily rely on using the mouse when the keyboard is faster (and thus more efficient). Here are the basic keyboard shortcuts that individuals can use to save time and eliminate the need to drag a mouse all over the screen:
Ctrl + N: This creates a new Word document
Ctrl + O: Open an existing Word document
Ctrl + C: Copies highlighted text or objects in the document
Ctrl + X: Cuts text or objects from the document
Ctrl + V: Pastes text or objects from the document
Ctrl + Z: Undo the last action performed
Ctrl + Y: Redo the last action performed
Ctrl + P: Print the current document
Ctrl + A: Select all text and objects in a document
All of the above keyboard shortcut keys have contextual drop-down menu equivalents, which is where the inefficiency lies. It requires the physical movement of a mouse to drop down menus, oftentimes in multiple, in order to find the command the user wants. If you were to conduct a time study, you’ll likely find it takes 10-25 percent longer to use the mouse with contextual menus than to use the keyboard keystrokes.
Here are some other quick keystrokes and mouse combos your users may have never heard of, but could provide significant value:
The Triple Click: By triple clicking anywhere in a paragraph, a user can highlight the entire paragraph. No more clicking and dragging down, hoping to not race past the paragraph; only having to start the process all over again.
Alt & Drag: This allows the user to create rectangular boxes across text, and then apply the formatting window to change only the area they’ve selected.
Hide the Ribbon: Users can hide the ribbon at the top of the screen by double clicking the Ribbon Name. This creates more visual real estate, and therefore less movement to read a document.
Ctrl + Click: Allows users to select an entire sentence.
Format Painter: Use the paint brush icon to apply a particular format to another area of the document.
Ctrl + Shift + <&>: Users can increase or decrease their text font size by selecting the text to change; to increase, use “Ctrl + Shift + >” and to decrease, use “Ctrl + Shift + <”.
Create an Excel Table: Users can quickly create an Excel table within a Word document by typing a plus sign (+), then pressing the Tab key. Repeat this for however many cells you want in the table and then press “Enter.” The table will magically appear.
Ctrl + H: This opens the traditional Find and Replace window.
Ctrl + Tab: Allows users to jump between the document and the Find menu.
F7: Initiates a Spell Check.
Shift + Arrow Keys: Allows the user to quickly select entire rows of text. This works very well with the Copy, Cut and Paste keys.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of shortcuts, but you should find a majority of them will provide lots of value and efficiency to you and your fellow users. Stay tuned for the next blog, where we’ll be covering great tips and tricks using Microsoft Excel.
Posted by Brad Vance, Epicor Senior Business Process Consultant
Knowing when to replace one’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be a tricky proposition. For many organizations, growth, revisions to the business model, or physical changes may be the drivers of “monitoring the clock” on a current system. On the other hand, symptoms may have emerged that indicate the system’s useful life is running down. These could range from people working outside of ERP to do things that should be part of ERP processes, reliance on a diminishing number of key staff to keep the system operating properly, or finding that the system is struggling to keep abreast of technological developments.
Ultimately, if ERP no longer supports the organization’s strategic objectives efficiently and cost-effectively, chances are the clock is winding rapidly towards its end. Not anticipating this event can threaten an organization’s competitive status.
In a timely article on Information Week, Anish Kanaran, channel director for Epicor in the Middle East, Africa, and India, addresses the issue of ERP change:
An ERP replacement project can be a huge undertaking financially and operationally; so make sure that when your current ERP clock runs out; your next system has a longer lifespan. The ability of a system to be scalable and flexible enough to grow and map itself against the long-term objectives of the business is important, but so too is partnering with the right vendor. Choose a provider who makes the right investment in technology. ERP systems that are designed to embrace new technologies as they emerge provide the right foundation on which to build your ERP strategy. Modern ERP providers do the thinking for you. They anticipate change and offer innovative solutions to not just meet functionality requirements but [also] the changing ways that users will need to work to continually improve productivity and ultimately the speed at which you can do business.
Kanaran provides a useful checklist of best practices for resetting the ERP and making sure one’s ERP system stands up to future organizational needs:
- Keep an eye on the technology evolution. Anticipating the rapid evolution of technology and user expectations, and incorporating it into business software solutions, are important differentiators. A good example of this practice is being able to facilitate the sharing of information within your business to improve productivity. Promoting collaboration beyond the four walls of your business opens up conversations with customers and suppliers, making information readily available to facilitate speed and agility.
- Usability means productivity. The easier a system is to use, the quicker your business will start to see value. Unprecedented ease-of-adoption, from management of implementation and upgrades to the ease with which casual users can access information, means unsurpassed usability and productivity.
- Technology on your terms. The system should provide choice and flexibility when it comes to access and deployment, whether you choose to deploy on premise, hosted, or cloud, with access from PCs, tablets, or mobiles.
- Choose the right technology partner. A proven ERP provider will have a long history of successful implementations across a variety of sectors. They will start the process by gaining a deep understanding of your business and objectives and then tailor the system accordingly. They should be experts in your industry and help you to delve into the nuts and bolts of your business. As an objective third party, they can shed new light on business challenges that you may not have realized even exist.
- Make sure scalability and performance are high on your list. Enhanced performance, scalability, and ease of deployment will boost business agility and growth. Being able to grow with your business and adapt to change is essential.
Time, as the old rock song says, keeps on slippin’ into the future. For businesses that want to keep soaring higher, keeping close track of the ERP clock will help them avoid being grounded by obsolescent software.
Posted by ERP Insights Team
Recently the Epicor Users Group (EUG) reached a new milestone by having our 4000th member contact sign-up for the group.
The EUG is a completely independent group of users helping users of Epicor software products. It’s a non-profit organization comprised of a volunteer board, product liaisons that act as a bridge between Epicor and Epicor users, and more than 30 regional groups worldwide. The group formed in February 1995 as the Data Works Users Alliance, then changed the name to Epicor Users Group in March 2000.
As Epicor expanded worldwide, so did the user base. We merged EUG with groups from the UK and EMEA, and since have gone further to add groups from Australia and Sweden. Along with our continued partnership with Epicor, we are hoping to reach even more users through our forums, regional user group meetings, special interest groups, discount training and other offerings.
- Membership has grown by over 50% in the last three years and increasing fast.
• 1,095 new users added in 2014
• Over 9,000 forum posts
- 3,200 EUG members in the US.
- 1400+ EUG members in over 40 countries from afar as Fiji to Tanzania.
- EUG represents 21 different Epicor products from Avante to ERP.
- Introduced the new Premier Partner membership to help Epicor partners engage with members.
- EUG holds many events each year including regional meetings, webcasts to the major Insights events around the world and looking to coordinate product specific conferences.
Throughout our nearly two decades in existence, we have worked to accomplish our core mission of “users helping users”. The main focus is education as we are a multi-product user group and support the whole range of products offered from Epicor. However, we also provide the opportunity for help and insight from other users, which is just as important, and the fact that it’s wholly independent is critical.
In a time where global collaboration is increasingly a part of doing business, it’s exciting to see this among users in a group like ours. Our goal is to sign-up our 5000th users before we close out our 20th year.
To learn more about the Epicor Users Group, view video below from the Insights conference and visit www.epicorusers.org.
Posted by Bill Wolfe, Vice President, Epicor Users Group (EUG)
According to the Manufacturer’s Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, manufacturing will continue to grow faster than the economy as whole in the coming year. Manufacturing production is expected to grow 4.0 percent in 2015 and 3.6 percent in 2016, with growth drivers being energy infrastructure, the housing supply chain, transportation infrastructure, medical care expansion, widespread growth abroad, and less domestic policy uncertainty.
An Industry Week article addresses five manufacturing trends likely to shape the market in the coming year:
- “SMAC Stack” adoption [will] gain speed. A manufacturing comeback is being driven by SMAC: social, mobile, analytics, and cloud. The SMAC Stack is becoming an essential technology tool kit for enterprises and represents the next wave for driving higher customer engagement and growth opportunities. The need to innovate is forcing cultural change within a historically conservative "if it's not broke don't fix it" industry, and SMAC is helping early adopters in the manufacturing market increase efficiencies and change.
- Social media [will] further impact business model innovation. Social media is forcing manufacturers to become more customer-centric. The traditional business-to-business model is becoming outdated because today's connected consumers are better informed and expect products on-demand. This consumer purchasing style is not only having an impact on brand-oriented value chains, but is transforming traditional B2B to B2B2C models.
- Internet of Things (IoT) will increase automation and job opportunities. A renewed focus on science and engineering education is cultivating a manufacturing workforce that can manage highly technical systems and allow for greater automation. This frees up employees to put their talents to work on R&D, which is helping to redefine what it means to have a career in manufacturing. Further, IoT allows for condition-based maintenance, which is driving efficiencies as businesses save on labor and service costs.
- Greater capital investment. Recent government and industry reports show an uptick in capital investment funding. As manufacturers become focused on capturing value through innovation, original design, and speed to market, they are increasing spend for upgrading plant, equipment, and technologies.
- The emergence of "next-shoring." The rise of a more technical labor force to manage supply chain operations—combined with rising wages in Asia, higher shipping costs, and the need to accelerate time to market to meet retailer and consumer demands—has led to more companies shifting their manufacturing strategies from outsourcing overseas to developing products closer to where they will be sold.
A recent column in Forbes sees the last point as a question, with reshoring (i.e., next-shoring) and offshoring remaining an ongoing debate in the sector. According to the piece, both strategies have their challenges:
- For reshoring: labor (i.e., finding skilled labor), rising electricity costs despite the decline in natural gas and coal prices, a more stringent domestic regulatory environment, and the fact that for many companies overseas markets are growing faster than domestic ones
- For offshoring: rising labor costs (particularly in China), the inherent disadvantages of a longer supply chain, and issues related to quality management
Finally, while manufacturing production is rising, manufacturing employment will not grow remarkably because of it. Manufacturers continue to get greater productivity from their established assets.
Posted by Manufacturing Insights Team
Recently, we posted on the rise of collaboration as a key element in today’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). That topic points to a broader necessity: the need for connected ERP.
For businesses whose operations increasingly span the globe, connectivity is not an option but a strategic imperative. One reason for this is the accelerating pace of change and innovation driving market demand. Markets are inherently dynamic, often volatile, and supply networks that are widely dispersed and highly nuanced need to access information as it emerges, when it emerges, accurately, anywhere. This is necessary for operational efficiency, but also for effective collaboration, meaningful analysis, and informed decision-making. In this fluid environment, companies are also changing more rapidly, growing organically, acquiring new products and services, and taking on new partners (and dispensing others) to increase the power and value of their supply chains.
What Does This Mean for ERP?
First, ERP must be easily integrated with services from any source and data in any format. It must not only support the elimination of siloed information that has been the bane of many an organization, but also go beyond its transactional roots to empower and connect “information workers” wherever they exist in an organization, either formally or informally. For ERP, this means flexible integration: a move beyond permanent, formal EDI connections to seamless connectivity at the business level on an ad hoc basis as well as through standardized methods.
How ERP version 10 Addresses Connectivity
For Epicor ERP version 10, connections to other systems and data take many forms. For example, ERP 10 has nearly 1,400 services that interact with callers through more than 20,000 operations. Operations are the primary way ERP 10 conducts business, usually by conversing with the ERP 10 Client Application, mobile devices, or browser forms. However, there are other ways to engage Epicor ERP 10, including interfaces designed for bulk data import/export through flat structures or EDI formats. ERP 10 also allows users to define ad hoc data views, which are convenient slices of information that can be visualized and updated in dashboards or used as easily invoked APIs.
Many ERP customers have multiple establishments (i.e., offices, plants, warehouses) and sometimes multiple ERP instances (Peer ERP). Epicor ERP 10 can federate these instances together to form a single-enterprise ERP system. Federated ERP is loosely coupled, which means resource data such as customer and part records do not require complete synchronization.
All these approaches to reaching out to other systems and data are available through Epicor ERP 10. It has the capability to manage high throughput shipping transactions for distributors, business workflows that automate complex interactions with partners, or even a simple data entry form from any device.
ERP 10 is designed to provide the right tool for the right task, anywhere in an organization’s value network.
Ready to learn more? Visit here http://info.epicor.com/FY15-Microsite/.
Posted by Epicor ERP Insights Team
Education is a necessary and ongoing process throughout the stages of owning a retail business management solution: implementation, stabilization, optimization, and growth. During Epicor Insights Eagle Customer Conference 2015, attendees will gain valuable experiences on how to better utilize the Epicor Eagle and Epicor Eagle for the Aftermarket retail business management solutions to gain insights into their business, employee development, and ultimately the bottom line.
Why should education matter to retailers? Simple—change is essential to success. Education is one vehicle for change, allowing employees a chance to learn new things, refresh a stale job, implement a new technology, enable teamwork between experienced workers and new hires, and open up a channel for retailers to communicate the company direction and goals to employees. A variety of sessions will be offered during the two-day conference such as: Improving the Customer Experience; Preventing Loss in the Back Office; and, The Connected Consumer – A Guide through Social Media.
Retailers gain the following by participating in educational opportunities:
- Competitive advantage
- Enriched customer service
- Improved employee confidence
- Better morale – clear direction, vibrant learning, strong improvements, rich rewards
- Acceptance of leading edge technology
The conference will connect hundreds of retailers looking for opportunities to learn and network with their peers. “Without Insights, you really don’t have that kind of opportunity to go get that kind of training,” said Frank Shope, owner of Hart Ace Hardware. “It’s invaluable and I’m a huge fan of Insights.”
Watch this video to hear what other retailers had to say about participating in previous Insights conferences.
Investing in training and education is a must. A 2014 Huffington Post article indicates that companies investing $1,500 or more per employee per year on education and training average 24 percent higher profit margins than companies with lower yearly training investments.* Additionally, the Association for Talent Development (ATD, formerly ASTD) states that technology continues to play a significant role in the delivery of training. As the world economy continues to grow, talent development will continue to have an important and valuable role in organizations.**
We hope you’ll join us—and your peers—in New Orleans, February 2-4, 2015, to drive your business forward! For more information about Insights Eagle and to register, visit www.epicor.com/insights-eagle.
Posted by Monica Green, manager, content management, retail distribution solutions for Epicor
*Source: Huffington Post. “Not Investing in Employee Training Is Risky Business” by Emad Rizkalla (June 2014)
**Source: ATD. “2014 State of the Industry Report: Spending on Employee Training Remains a Priority” by Laurie Miller (November 2014)