Welcome to the Epicor blog community, covering topics to inspire discussion where Epicor thought leaders, employees and partners alike can share insight across industries.
Safety Supply Illinois (SSI) is a distributor of safety products ranging from earplugs to high-end safety equipment, including fall protection and confined space solutions. SSI converted to the Epicor Prophet 21 enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in 2012.
According to SSI Owner/Chief Operating Officer Mary Porter, “The online learning classes from Epicor University were extremely helpful in introducing the new functional aspects of Prophet 21 to our employees. The online training schedule provided by Epicor’s Learning Management System (LMS) allowed me to create, schedule, and track user-specific training timelines.
“The LMS is wonderful for training new users on Prophet 21, and because it is organized by business function, I encourage our existing employees to listen to other classes and learn about all functional areas,” continues Porter. “We are slowly incorporating many of the Prophet 21 enhancements into our business practices with help from the Epicor Learning Center.”
The results speak for themselves. Porter observes, “In the last three years, we have tripled sales, in part because we converted to Prophet 21. In addition to increasing our overall customer base by about 20 percent, we are also attracting much larger customers such as utility companies. The Epicor technology and tools for learning and growing are all there; you just need to access them.” To read the full story of SSI’s success, go here
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
What are today’s biggest ERP deficiencies? What are the most sought-after next-gen ERP features and functionality? And how are organizations around the globe leveraging cloud, mobile, and social collaboration to enhance business performance and responsiveness? The answers to these questions are revealed in our latest global research, which surveyed more than 1,500 business professionals in 10 countries.
For those of you who like the Readers Digest treatment, allow me to break it down for you as to our key takeaways:
Survey results show a high percentage of ERP adoption but no raving fans. Most characterized the utility of their ERP as merely “adequate” or “basic”. This just shows that ERP is not helping companies drive value and growth, and/or interact with customers and employees in the way they’d like.
It takes too long and it’s too difficult to get info survey respondents need. This is an issue that has plagued the enterprise apps business for a long time, and a fact that reinforces that our recent investments in Epicor ERP 10 around ease of use and customer experience are very much on track with market needs.
The survey data shows cloud is becoming more accepted – not just for point solutions, but that organizations have now comfortable with the speed, benefits, SLAs and security aspects around cloud for running all or part (hybrid model) of their mission critical enterprise applications. We feel that many organizations will find a hybrid model to be the best solution to meet their needs (to meet regulatory requirements, multiplant, etc.) and so the flexibility for both on-premises and cloud deployment options and the ability to seamlessly interact across these environments will be key going forward.
On the whole are bullish on ERP capabilities including mobile, social and cloud, believing they offer new and exciting opportunities for improved organizational responsiveness. Mobile, social and cloud are changing business as we know it, and the gap between leaders and laggards will continue to widen.
Over the past few years, Epicor has re-architected our user interfaces to move away from the traditional data entry model. We believe data entry is a last resort on how information should be put into the system. Today information is being broadcast by machines, devices and people; our approach has been to intercept that information so it can be parsed and disseminated quickly and seamlessly throughout the organization.
Organizations know they need next-gen ERP capabilities, but many are fearful of the time, money and effort to have to replace your ERP system. The good news is much has changed in the past few years to improve ease of deployment and make ERP replatforming less daunting.
Many organizations have ERP systems that are 10 to 20 years old, which to learn and use required a lot of training. This is contrary to the way systems are used today by the current generation of users. The addition of things such as social and search serves to dramatically reduce the learning curve. SaaS has helped a great deal – often hardware investment is seen as a big barrier, as is the resources and skill sets needed to manage the infrastructure. SaaS removes these barriers.
By this time next year I predict that we won’t be talking about mobile, social and cloud as “next-gen” methods to extend the value of ERP. So what will we be talking about – what’s next?
I think we’ll be talking about connectivity and collaboration – specifically regarding social systems and machine-to-machine interfaces. We’ll be talking about using Big Data and analytics to move into more predictive realms. The manufacturing and distribution sectors, in particular, have a huge amount of information to unlock.
Posted by John Hiraoka, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Epicor
Did you stay up later then you intended to last night? If you did, chances are you were sucked into a great movie or a favorite book. That’s what a good story does . . . it grabs our attention and holds it until a creative or surprising resolution gives us satisfaction and contentment. But stories do much more than entertain . . . a good story can help us learn and make it easier for us to remember something long after we see it on screen or read it on a page.
A simple example of this is a fourth grade spelling teacher showing the class a trick to spell “rhythm” by remembering the one-line story “Robin Hood Yelled To His Men!” Did you picture Robin Hood in full costume running around Sherwood Forest calling for his band of merry men? I always do. Stories make things easier to recall because they put our whole brains to work, imagining pictures and movement, sounds and smells. Stories power memory.
On a completely different level, think about the history student slogging through dates, data, and textbook explanations about the politics of World War II. Introduce that same student to Anne Frank’s diary and watch as the power of the story taps into his heart, transporting him from the school library to a secret annex in war-torn Europe. Stories make people care and arouse interest.
As difficult as it can be to apply stories to the world of ERP software documentation, top-notch documentation writers and classroom trainers often use examples and real-life stories to capture attention and engage with their students. The following are some examples of how stories can help people understand a difficult concept or remember something useful.
- Several weeks ago I attended a training to learn how to use Epicor software to schedule production jobs on a shop floor. There were many terms in the process that I didn’t comprehend right away and I had trouble discerning between them. The trainer who was leading the class used a story involving a burger joint drive-thru to help me remember how the process worked. For each step in the unfamiliar, she gave me a corresponding step that I understood: waiting in line, ordering, the burger being cooked and put together to my specifications, then lunch bagged and moved to the cashier. Stories reshape information into something meaningful. When embedded in the context of a story, it is transferred to the listener or reader in a unique way.
- When correcting a piece of documentation regarding on-time transaction approvals, I read the material and found myself hopelessly lost (noticing a theme here?). I scheduled a demonstration with a subject matter expert, who used various scenarios to help me understand the many ways that time transactions can be tracked and approved. Through the adventures of Peter Project Manager, Sally Supervisor, and Emilio Employee, I learned different ways to configure settings and how to obtain the desired results. Ultimately, I was able to pass the information along to end users by writing examples like his – what worked for me I knew would work for others. People take time for stories. If you want to maintain an audience’s attention through something tedious, you’re more likely to do it through storytelling.
- When developing a basic training video to teach users how material flows in an out of a distributor’s warehouse, a coworker created an effective piece using a story about a safety helmet. In the story, a customer came shopping for the helmet, went through the sales process, and an order was placed. The helmet was not on hand and had to be purchased, received, and then shipped to the customer. In following the ordered material through the process, the learner could take in the information the developer wanted to convey – how material moves from start to finish – and also learn terminology through the simple example. Explanations, especially of complex processes, benefit from having a beginning, a middle, and an ending.
In closing – those of us who are tasked with taking the complex (or the tedious, or the completely confusing) and interpreting it for others need to use every weapon in our arsenal to do our jobs. Storytelling is effective. And – even in the context of software documentation – it is, occasionally, rather fun.
By Deb Amato, Sr. Content Writer
Implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is not a “once and done” activity. It is vitally important to continue proper maintenance, reviews, and education for your company’s system and employees after go-live.
Whether you went live last week, last month, last year, or several years ago, there are a number of things you can do to get the most out of your system. Like many Epicor Prophet 21 users, you have probably spent a lot of time and effort getting ramped up. Now that you are fully up to speed on the system, it is important to keep the momentum going by developing a timeline for leveraging additional features and processes that will have the greatest impact on improving your business.
Immediate action items after go-live can include:
- Gathering feedback from your management team on current system usage, challenges and desired improvements
- Determining priorities for the next year
- Developing a Business Continuity Plan to protect your data and put failover solutions in place
- Reviewing the Epicor Learning Management System (LMS) for employees with incomplete courses
In the months following, you can:
- Review Business Alerts to optimize productivity and profitability
- Assign additional LMS courses that were not a priority during implementation
- Take advantage of DynaChange to alter the appearance of screens to suit the needsof your employees and business processes, and create your own drilldowns from any field in the Prophet 21 system
- Opt-in for e-mail alerts from the Epicor Customer Web Site
- Develop a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy
- Assign shortcut and efficiency training courses to all end users
- Conduct a process review to prevent the inadvertentintroduction of bad habits
- Create a Business Intelligence framework for your organization
- Review new feature training courses
Epicor Business Consultants can provide you with additional recommendations, roadmaps and checkpoints to advance your business with Prophet 21.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
In the previous blog post, we went over types of part numbering and general recommendations from Epicor. In this post, we will be giving a summary of part numbering options.
Standards for your Customers, Suppliers, and Manufacturers
This section refers to the base part numbering. It may not be within your control to change the part numbering methodologies of your suppliers, manufacturers or customers. It is, however, possible to have your own part numbers for all of the above.
Why Have Your Own Numbering System?
Why not use your supplier or customer part numbers for numbering your own parts? There are a few reasons:
- Consistency: Just as you have multiple customers, your customers will have multiple part numbering standards.
- Elimination of Duplicates: What if two of your suppliers, or two of your customers, happen to both use the same part number to call out two different items? Now you have to come up with some method for eliminating these accidental collisions of data.
Summary of Options
There are several numbering options outlined below. Epicor recommends the third, “semi-meaningful” numbering system for most companies.
Meaningful Part Numbering
This is where the digits of the part number each have a specific meaning, resulting in the ability for a knowledgeable user to know what a part number translates into. However, having a completely meaningful system makes for a very complicated structure, and necessitates a strong engineering organization to control the part number assignment. Some companies choose to only use a fully meaningful part numbering system on their finished goods.
Non-Meaningful Part Numbering
In this case, the part number itself does not mean anything significant. This could be a sequentially assigned number, or can appear to be random. Also, sorting by part number is totally meaningless. When searching by part number, you must know what you want.
Semi-Meaningful Part Numbering (Recommended)
This is a system where there is some meaning in the part number—defining the type of part, but not down to every final detail. Not all attributes of the part are defined. At some point, there becomes too many attributes to track in the part, so a sequential number is assigned to differentiate from other similar parts. The actual description and differences are stored in the part description, as well as the part’s drawing.
To learn more about part numbering rules, best practices and recommended formatting, download the white paper ERP Part Numbering Standards for Manufacturing here.
Posted by Tim Shoemaker, Senior Principal Consultant, Epicor Professional Services
Congratulations to Steve Schnur, director of merchandise planning and analytics at MGM Resorts International
, who was recently nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Constellation Research Supernova Awards. The polls are now open, you can vote for MGM here
The fourth annual SuperNova Awards
program celebrates and recognizes individuals who have overcome the odds to successfully applying emerging and disruptive technologies within their organizations.
Success of MGM’s Business
MGM has unusual retail challenges that heighten the importance of large quality data sets and analysis tools. For example, normal retail forecasts forward demand with just two components -- trend and seasonality -- while MGM has many other added layers of complexity.
MGM wanted to incorporate business intelligence (BI) for decision-support to put the tremendous wealth of its data to optimal use to speed of issue and opportunity identification, for more timely resolution and action, to drive overall improved business performance and responsiveness. MGM had an existing relationship with Epicor Software, and had leveraged Epicor Retail solutions for Store (POS), Merchandising, and Sales Audit successfully in the past. Working with Epicor, MGM incorporated the Epicor Retail Business Intelligence solution into its daily operations for greater control over the volume and velocity of data, and for distillation of valuable insights for improved decision-making.
- BI is now used routinely by nearly 100% of MGM’s staff, including 150+ personnel at or above the assistant manager level
- MGM empowers users with self-service access to the reports most relevant to their roles and responsibilities
- Data made available by BI is used to shape business decisions and improve outcomes
- MGM now identifies performance issues and opportunities faster and at a more granular level
- BI solution is configured to automatically generate 350+ reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
- MGM cut its data collection and reporting labor requirements in half -- before 80% of effort was spent collecting/cleaning data, and 20% using it; now this equation has been flipped
- Now more time can be spent applying the lessons learned from data to run and build the business
Read MGM’s full SuperNova Award profile here.
The voting period is now open and ends Tuesday, September 30, 2014. Cast your vote now by visiting MGM’s project profile here:
Winners will be revealed during the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 at Constellation’s Connected Enterprise
innovation summit located at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay in Half Moon Bay, California.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
Since Mercedes Medical of Sarasota, Florida, first started using Epicor’s Prophet 21 software in 2004, their sales have almost doubled. Margins have increased by 15 percent, and A/R days outstanding have decreased by about 20 percent. In addition, sales per employee have increased by almost $100,000.
Every year, the company benchmarks against competitors in the healthcare industry, looking at everything from inventory, to gross profit margin, to financial performance. “We consistently perform at the top of the benchmarks, and I think our Prophet 21 system has a lot do to with it,” says Chief Operating Officer Andrew Wright.
Analyst firm Nucleus Research found that the Epicor Prophet 21 implementation enabled Mercedes Medical to improve visibility and efficiency, accelerate collections, reduce bad debt, and increase profits, for an estimated ROI of 605 percent
and an average annual benefit of over $2 million. To read the full story, including a detailed financial analysis by Nucleus Research, go here
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
Epicor has been listed as one of the world’s largest software companies in Software Magazine’s
Software 500 ranking, now in its 32nd year. The Software 500 is a revenue-based ranking of software and services providers, and suppliers, targeting medium to large enterprises, IT professionals, software developers, and business managers involved in software and services purchasing.
The Software 500 ranked Epicor at 103 based on total software and services revenue of $896.1 million and a growth rate of 12.44 percent.
“The Software 500 helps CIOs, senior IT managers, and IT staff research and create the short list of business partners,” says John P. Desmond, editor for Software Magazine. “It is a quick reference of vendor viability. And the online version is searchable by category, making it what we call the online catalog to enterprise software.”
The Software 500 ranking is based on total worldwide software and services revenue from the 2013 fiscal year. This includes revenue from software licenses, maintenance and support, training, and software-related services, and consulting. Suppliers are not ranked on total corporate revenue, since many have other lines of business, such as hardware. Financial information is gathered by a survey prepared by Rockport Custom Publishing, LLC using public documents and company input. It is published in print as well as posted online at www.softwaremag.com
as both a digital edition and searchable database.
“We are honored to be recognized in the 2014 Software 500 ranking,” said Kathy Crusco, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Epicor. “Our position in this prestigious list is a testament to our commitment to providing a new approach to enterprise resource planning and business management solutions and services -- empowering Epicor customers to succeed in operational excellence.”
The 2014 Software 500 list will be released in the October issue of Software Magazine, as both a print and the digital publication, which is distributed on October 8, 2014.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
A recent article on searchautoparts.com details the dramatic increase of eCommerce sites in the automotive aftermarket:
E-commerce growth in the aftermarket is lapping brick-and-mortar growth. According to an April 2014 Hedges & Co. report, online sales of auto parts grew nearly 16 percent between 2012 and 2013, from $3.8 billion to $4.4 billion, and online sales (excluding auctions) are projected to pass the $5 billion mark in 2014. Brick-and-mortar stores actually showed a sales decrease of 1.5 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The move from brick and mortar to online commerce is one of the most important trends in this sector, changing the way that parts are sold across the complex aftermarket supply chain. Manufacturers and distributors no longer sell to a limited number of channel partners, but rather to a broad array of jobbers, distributors, retailers, vehicle owners, and maintenance personnel through proliferating online connections.
To help meet this demand, Epicor established the Epicor Parts Network, a broad portfolio of Web-based, business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce solutions for automotive parts distributors and vehicle service providers. Epicor Parts Network includes the Epicor Parts Network B2B eStore (formerly Internet AutoParts), Epicor Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) parts and labor estimating solution, and cloud-based Epicor Parts Network (formerly AConneX) parts trading solution. Together, these eCommerce tools connect approximately 26,000 auto parts distributor and jobber locations and more than 170,000 registered aftermarket service providers and dealership users.
“Distributors, jobbers, and service dealers continue to set new records each year for B2B eCommerce volume and value,” notes Scott Thompson, vice president, automotive eCommerce for Epicor. “This growth is playing a vital role in keeping the aftermarket’s traditional channel healthy through increased efficiency, bay productivity, and, ultimately, a superior consumer experience at the repair shop.”
To find out more about Epicor solutions for the automotive aftermarket, go to http://www.epicor.com/Industries/Retail/Pages/automotive-aftermarket-software.aspx.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
There are many opinions on the subject of “proper” part numbering systems within the manufacturing world. Many companies will fall into what can be called an “accidental” part numbering scheme, and still others end up over-thinking their designs. This blog series will present you with guidelines for developing and using good part numbering techniques within a manufacturing company.
The first thing to note is that a part number is generally not a description of the part; there are separate fields for holding the actual description, as well as part class and product group. Having part numbers defined by whether a part is purchased or manufactured is not recommended, as this can change over time. Anything that can change should not be embedded into the part number.
Every part has a “Part Number,” which is also the primary index for the part table; this may also be called an “Item Number” or a “Stock Keeping Unit” (SKU). There should be only one part number set up for each item that is kept in stock. We assume that each part number represents a specific item, and there are no duplicate items.
Here are 4 different types of part numbers you should be aware of:
- Manufacturer Part Number: Since you may have multiple manufacturers for any one part number, it is possible to have multiple manufacturers and multiple manufacturer part numbers assigned to any one of your part numbers. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is able to store cross-references to multiple manufacturers’ part numbers.
- Supplier Part Number: A supplier part number is the number that your supplier/vendor labels your part. Your supplier may be a manufacturer, or they may be a distributor for another manufacturer. Since they may reference their part number differently than the manufacturer, you can create a three-way tie between your part, the manufacturer part, and the supplier part.
- Customer Part Number: The ERP system can also have a customer part number cross-reference. Since multiple customers can purchase the same part, there can be multiple customer part numbers that reference your part. Customer part numbers also have their own descriptions.
- Internal Part Cross-reference: This final part number option is to create an internal, secondary method of calling out a part number. The internal number can be used as a shortcut to a longer part number, or it can modify any serial numbering methodologies for the base part. It is also possible to have multiple internal cross-references.
In the next post of the Part Numbering Standards for Manufacturing blog series, we will be giving a summary of part numbering options. For more information on Epicor consulting services on this and other aspects of ERP, visit here
Posted by Tim Shoemaker, Senior Principal Consultant, Epicor Professional Services