On-Premises or Cloud ERP? How to Decide.

Once available only to larger companies, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is no longer out of reach for small to medium business.  With so many choices now available, it can be a challenge to evaluate and choose a solution that will be a good fit for your company.  One of the first things to consider is whether to run your ERP system on-premises or go with a “cloud” – or SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. As with anything else, it’s important to weight the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

The big advantages of on-premises deployment of an ERP system is that it allows you to keep your business data in-house and close to its original source. Assuming you have the proper controls in place, you shouldn’t need to worry about data leaks or security threats. If your company works with a lot of very sensitive business data, this might make the most sense.

Generally speaking, your Value Added Retailer will provide you with all the help you need setting up and configuring the system. (At Accountnet, when we work with clients to deploy in-house ERP software, we also provide for the training of users and stakeholders.) However, beyond the initial set-up phase, you will likely need in-house IT personnel to manage the system so it’s important to assess whether your IT staff has the time and necessary capabilities.

There may also be higher up-front costs involved with implementing on-site ERP because you pay for the infrastructure – that is, the servers and data storage.  And oftentimes a company will try to forecast these requirements for several years into the future, so you can end up paying for capacity that never gets used.

The last, but possibly the most costly, reason for avoiding on-premises systems is that if something goes wrong, it’s on you to deal with.

The big reason most small businesses are moving to cloud computing is that these systems are hosted elsewhere – the headaches involved with server maintenance are somebody else’s.  Routine maintenance, data back-ups, equipment upgrades – all of these functions are taken care of by the provider.  Cloud systems also tend to be less expensive, because you only pay for what you use.  Most services, including Microsoft Dynamics GP, allow you to easily scale up as your business needs change.

Critics of cloud ERP argue that when you house the system, you know that it’s physically secure because you control who accesses the system and physical space. With cloud-based ERP providers, you can’t know how safe your data really is. But there is an argument to be made for cloud providers being more secure than your own internal systems, especially if you don’t have sufficient IT resources to conduct regular security audits.

If you’re confused about the best solution for you, contact us at Accountnet.  We can help you with a free needs assessment and make recommendations that best fit your budget.

Business Intelligence: What is it and What Does it Mean for the Small to Medium Business Owner?

Since the introduction of VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 in the early 1980s, small businesses have relied on spreadsheet software programs for budgeting and forecasting — and in many cases the spreadsheet remains the standard tool for analysis and reporting today.  Most business professionals understand how to use Microsoft Excel, and a well-crafted Excel spreadsheet solution may be all the technology that an SMB needs to get started in business. However, as your business grows you may face greater complexities. Maybe you operate in multiple locations or across multiple currencies; maybe you are facing a software audit, or perhaps you are in an industry that requires compliance with regulations like Dodd Frank and HIPAA.  If you find yourself facing these types of business challenges, maybe it’s time to move from spreadsheet-dependent processes toward more sophisticated planning and forecasting tools.

BizNet business intelligence tools | Accountnet, New York, NY

Today’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems offer robust financial reporting capabilities and quick consolidation of financial data which allows finance departments to focus more on key performance indicators instead of having to attend to manual data exports and analysis. New Business Intelligence (BI) reporting software not only provides more and better details of your organization’s data for analysis purposes, it also encourages more input from management. SMBs are increasingly looking for BI reporting software that can be used by managers and other nontechnical users and vendors have responded by making BI tools that are easier to use and more affordable.  Newer technologies such as cloud solutions with web and mobile interfaces, collaborative decision-making, improved data visualization are making BI tools much more attractive to SMBs.

Purchasing BI reporting software definitely represents an investment of both money and time, so before investing in BI tools, it’s important to think about what data you have and what answers you’re looking for. If you don’t keep or have access to quality operational data, then it probably doesn’t make sense to purchase BI software. Or if the volume of data is small enough that one person can look at it and reach accurate conclusions, then you can probably get by without a report writer. However, if your company is ready, then BI reporting tools can help you increase your business’s market share and compete with larger shops. The intelligence gleaned can provide insights into trends that otherwise can’t be seen — for example, the cost of acquiring new customers over time.  If you’d like to learn more about how ERP and BI tools can benefit your bottom line, contact us at AccountNet for a free Needs Assessment.

You Purchased an ERP System and Your Employees Won’t Use it – What Happened?

Over the 17 years that Accountnet has been a leader in the accounting software industry, we‘ve seen the competitive landscape change drastically.  As systems become more complex, overly aggressive integrators and VARs tend to make outrageous promises to potential customers just to close a sale. Most of these vendors fail to recognize the most important aspect of an ERP implementation: the software itself is only half of what is needed to be successful.

change-aheadObviously starting with good software, like Microsoft Dynamics, is a prerequisite for a successful ERP implementation, but the reality is that your internal workflow processes and organizational issues are the most important things to address when deploying an ERP solution. Key among those processes and organizational issues is user adoption – that is, making sure your employees embrace the new system and the changes it brings.  Many of our competitors provide their clients with canned training modules because they don’t concern themselves with user adoption – and they think about training as just a minor deliverable of the larger contract. Unfortunately, failing at user adoption will lead to failure of any ERP solution, no matter how well the software works.

Another reason companies fail when deploying a new ERP system is that they don’t have a grasp of the bigger-picture and don’t know where to begin when it comes to designing their system to meet internal workflow and operational needs.  At Accountnet, we differentiate ourselves by ensuring that our customers have clearly defined business processes that can be mapped to the transactional nature of the software. We help with this critical piece of planning so that your staff and management truly understand the new system, what is expected of them, and how it all ties together in a way that makes the company more efficient and effective.

Once the business processes and supporting workflow transactions are determined, you still need to define employee roles and responsibilities. Just because a staff member has been trained to create a work order or process an invoice doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand their place in the overall process. Moving to an ERP solution may involve significant changes to job roles, so it is important that you have a framework for defining and instituting these changes. Management and your HR department should be involved in this process.

Many ERP vendors and project teams are relieved when they finally go live with a system – they consider the project “delivered” at that point. At Accountnet, our work doesn’t stop at launch. In reality, most user adoption issues are identified well after a system has launched, and most of the benefits don’t kick in for a few months, when all employees are comfortable with their new roles and how to use the system to manage their daily tasks.

If employees abandon the software and revert back to legacy processes, then the ERP is at risk of completely failing to deliver any value whatsoever. Having an effective change management plan will ensure that your staff is not only prepared to adopt the new system, but that they will continue to improve their individual and team performance in the weeks and months that follow. The investment in ensuring strong user adoption has returns that exceed the investment multiple times over.

Affordable Cloud ERP for Small to Medium Businesses

Cloud ERP Solutions | Accountnet | New York, NYNot too long ago, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software meant spending tens of thousands of dollars, and required months of customization and training, which made this essential business planning tool out of reach for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).  But with the advent of cloud ERP solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics, young companies can finally take advantage of what is becoming a business-critical tool to help better manage and track production, order processing, cash flow, orders, payroll and much more.

SMBs have already embraced cloud technology for resource-intensive functions like data storage, web hosting and email, but many are still struggling to find solutions for managing day-to-day business processes. Failing to get a handle of these processes can hinder a company from moving ahead with the critical planning required to grow the business. Many SMBs start with QuickBooks and build on it, integrating spreadsheet solutions and/or third-party add-ons, cobbling together home-grown systems for managing finance, purchasing, sales, etc.  Even the best of these systems will present problems scaling, and they lack the robust tracking and reporting features that would offer management the necessary insight to make better business decisions.

Microsoft Dynamics GP is a great solution for SMBs that find themselves searching for an ERP provider, as there are no hardware purchase (which means a lower initial capital investment), it’s fast and easy to implement, and minimal training is required for anyone already familiar with Microsoft Office products. Dynamics GP provides incredible flexibility and allows your staff to access to the system regardless of their location. This, in turn, allows for greater collaboration across your supply chain or project team by giving them access to critical data in real time so that they can better plan their workloads and respond to changes or delays.

If your SMB is ready to make the move to better business planning using an ERP system, start by outlining the problems with your current set-up.  What gaps are you trying to fill by adopting an ERP (you may have different needs depending upon whether your company is manufacturing- or project-based).  Don’t be in a rush to choose, and make sure to get advice from the experts at Accountnet.  We’ve helped hundreds of clients spend less time struggling with outdated processes and more time strengthening vital client relationships and building their businesses.

Small to Medium-sized Businesses Should Consider Cloud Accounting

These days, even the smallest organization has probably shifted at least a portion of their operations online.  Think about your business marketing: by now, you’ve probably been handling many of your communications tasks online, using your website, e-newsletters, social media feeds, and a variety of other tools we now take for granted to get your marketing message out to your audience. It should make perfect sense, then, for small to medium-sized companies to think about adopting other cloud-based solutions, including full-featured enterprise resource planning (ERP), to replace outdated manual processes or legacy software that may be costing them more than it would to move to the cloud.

Cloud Accounting for Small to Medium Businesses | Accountnet NYCWith the cloud computing industry finally coming into full maturity, there are now plenty of affordable, pay-for-what-you-use products that allow companies to shift from capital to operational expenditures. In addition to simply not wanting to carry the overhead of an internal IT department to deploy and maintain an internally hosted solution, there are a number of good reasons why your small to medium-sized business should think about moving to the cloud. Here are three:

  1. Maintaining an internal accounting or ERP system may require continual upgrades of outdated hardware.  Keeping servers performing optimally may not be as cost-effective as a cloud solution. Hosted systems, like Microsoft Dynamics GP, run in a dedicated environment that is maintained by the host with no annual upgrade fees.  You can say goodbye to expenditures for upgrades to server hardware and software.
  2. One of the hidden (but perhaps one of the biggest) benefits of running your ERP system in the cloud is business continuity and disaster recovery. Even the best internal IT staff can’t guarantee 99.9% uptime, but most cloud ERP providers can and do. Additionally, many smaller companies haven’t taken time to establish adequate disaster recovery plans. Having a cloud solution in place that allows for live cut-over should disaster strike can be the first step in forming a sound DR plan.
  3. Security is something even the smallest company needs to worry about: client and vendor records, finances, payroll – these all require high levels of security. Hosted Microsoft Dynamics GP runs with encryption and includes authentication protocols and security policies to prevent unwanted access to data, and can also be configured to meet industry-specific compliance requirements. Also, purchasing from a Microsoft Value Added Reseller (VAR) like Accountnet, ensures that the data center and technicians managing your system have been carefully vetted.

At Accountnet, we have helped hundreds of companies take the step towards the cloud.  We offer a free phone consultation and a no-obligation review of your software to help you determine the right solution for your company.  Drop us a note or give us a call at 212-244-9009 to get started.

Small Healthcare Companies Choose Acumatica Cloud ERP Over NetSuite

Acumatica is an integrated set of web-based business management tools: accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), content management and more.  Designed to improve the productivity of small to medium sized companies, more and more healthcare organizations are making the move from NetSuite to Acumatica, a better choice for businesses that require deeper functionality and more flexibility for integration and customization.

acumatica-health-care-erpWith Acumatica, managers and employees can access their business applications and data anywhere, anytime, using any browser, at prices that are very competitive with NetSuite. Acumatica’s integration of a document management system also allows your staff to create and share internal information and attach supporting documents (such as forecasts and receipts) directly to screens, articles, and transactions, ideal for health care providers with multiple locations that need to share and consolidate patient payment records and receipts. Information sharing is accomplished using role-based security policies, so each person in the organization sees only what they need to see.

Acumatica runs on a standard Microsoft Windows Server platform using Microsoft SQL. By developing on proven tools used by thousands of developers, Acumatica can adapt to business process changes that many growing business undergo  with extensibility and customization options that are superior to many competing cloud ERP systems.

Davis Medical Electronics, a small business healthcare company located in California that sells cardiology equipment and supplies, considered NetSuite but ultimately chose Acumatica because of its competitive pricing and the benefits that cloud technology provides.

Read Davis Medical’s case study on the Acumatica website.

Acumatica is sold only through Value Added Retailers, like Accountnet, because of our experience in technical consulting, CFO-level expertise, accounting experience and technical service. If you would like to discuss how Acumatica can help streamline your operations and realize significant long-term cost savings, contact us for a free needs assessment.

Your Company is Growing – Is it Time to Invest in an ERP System?

Cost control is a high priority issue for small to medium businesses. Everything costs – staff, office space and equipment, inventory of materials or products you may sell – all these are necessary investments for future business success, but can also create negative cash flow and lead to excessive debt.

Enterprise Resource Planing SystemMany business owners are outside their comfort area when it comes to selecting accounting software and business automation systems.  Do we really need it? Is it worth the cost? ERP solutions can become very expensive once you add up the cost of the base product, customizations and add-ons, etc.  How do you begin to select a high quality ERP and determine if and when you will reap a return on your investment?

Start by thinking about your business’s tangible costs. These include what you spend on things like inventory, distribution, IT support and labor.  A good ERP system, like Microsoft Dynamics GP, can help you reduce your tangible costs by improving your operating processes. For example, better purchasing and supply chain management helps you avoid over-ordering and reduces lost inventory.  ERP systems also improve communications among and between employees and managers, which leads to greater productivity. Greater productivity from your work force results in quantifiable savings.  These are just two way that illustrate how using an ERP system can bring visible ROI very quickly.

But implementing an ERP for your business has benefits that are not as immediately obvious.  The insights gleaned from having a consolidated view of all your data allows you to make more timely business decisions. Some of the more intangible benefits may include:

  • Improved customer response time
  • Enormous savings of time and effort for data entry
  • Uniform reporting according to industry standards

Accountnet is a Microsoft Gold Certified partner and can help with the whole process of helping you move towards an ERP solution, from planning through implementation.  We work with you to determine your specific needs and select the right products, and then help customize, configure and train your team.  Because MS Dynamics products look and work the same as the familiar Microsoft Office suite, the learning curve is shorter which helps you reap the benefits faster than with other ERP solutions.

Contact us today for a free phone consultation and needs assessment.

Five Business Benefits of Microsoft Dynamics SL Cloud ERP

Cloud ERP with Microsoft Dynamics SLCloud computing.  It’s been a buzzword for the past few years, but the reality of cloud ERP systems is only starting to penetrate much of the business community’s consciousness. What was once a major concern for companies considering adopting an Enterprise Resource Planning system — the cost — is no longer an obstacle.  Cloud ERP solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics SL, provide greater economic and operational flexibility to smaller businesses and project-based companies that once believed that these sophisticated systems to be out of their reach.

  • Quick set-up.  Instead of the weeks and months required to purchase and set-up a new server, load, configure and debug software, cloud-based ERP solutions can be deployed more quickly, which helps your company see a faster return on its investment.
  • Reduces capital expenditures and operational costs.  Many project-based businesses (creative agencies, consulting firms, government contractors) are not in a position to invest thousands of dollars on IT infrastructure each year and hope to stay profitable.  Using a cloud ERP solution means that all the software updates, security patches and hardware infrastructure costs are included in a set monthly fee based on the number of people using the system.
  • Scales up as your business grows.  Microsoft Dynamics SL cloud-based ERP allows you to adjust users and applications according to the changing needs of your business.  Since there is no capital investment and no IT team needed, you can change course as your business situation dictates.  Testing and rolling out new applications is much easier, risks are mitigated and training costs are reduced.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.  A cloud system’s core function is to provide the infrastructure for business continuity, so when disaster strikes you can focus on your people and facilities instead of worrying about your data and day-to-day operations.
  • Improved Security.  Contrary to the belief that data stored in-house is more secure, what is often overlooked is the fact that Cloud ERP providers are likely to have much more experience securing data than your internal IT people have.  The reality is that business data centers are usually no more than locked rooms that do little to protect against natural disaster or break-ins.  In many cases, cloud computing is likely to be more secure than your current set-up.

Understanding Your Options

When it’s time to choose a provider, contact us at Accountnet for a preliminary ERP needs assessment and a more detailed conversation about your options.  We can tell you about our services: customizing Microsoft Dynamics SL for your unique business needs, integration for connecting your ERP with related programs, consulting around security protocols, disaster-recovery capabilities and much more.

Microsoft Dynamics an Affordable Business Management Solution for Non-Profits

For non-profit organizations, finding ways to improve operations with minimal staff and resources is always a challenge.  Technology plays a vital role in helping non-profits reduce administrative costs and enabling them to do more for less, but many organizations are not financially capable of implementing quality accounting and CRM systems.  Additionally, the number of products available on the market makes it difficult to properly vet and select a system that fits your company’s specific needs.

Microsoft DynamicsEvery non-profit organization is different. For example, social service agencies need robust reporting to meet regulatory compliance and securing future funding.  Professional associations may have multiple networking events to organize as well as tracking certification of its members.  And special interest groups (like civic or religious organizations) may rely heavily on fundraising initiatives.

Because Microsoft Dynamics SL and GP are among the top recommended accounting tools for medium to large-scale businesses and organizations, they are often overlooked by non-profits who may think they need $50,000 to implement this type of enterprise solution. But cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics products are now being offered with non-profits and smaller-scale businesses in mind.  With a cloud ERP hosted solution your organization will be able to use MS Dynamics SL or GP for a lower subscription fee instead of paying for an entire software package and the hardware necessary to accommodate a full-blown system.

In addition to the affordable price point, there are other benefits of MS Dynamics cloud ERP:

–          An online solution is general deployed faster compare to setting it up on premises;

–          The low monthly fee makes it easier to manage your organization’s cash flow; and

–          A cloud-based solution helps minimize your internal IT overhead.

Why MS Dynamics for Non Profits?

MS Dynamics provides non-profits with solutions that help ease operational management – financial management, business information analysis, human resource management, grant management and customer relations management.  This gives you full control over your business processes and provides insight to vital business intelligence and financial information anytime, anywhere.

Accountnet has always stressed building customer relationships based on trust over quick sales. In effort to help you make the right business purchasing decisions, we take the time to work closely with you in order to map out a customized solution to meet every NPO’s unique needs.  Get to know more about how your organization can benefit from cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics through Accountnet, a MS Gold Certified ERP partner.

Improve Organizational Performance with ERP Software

With the American economy showing signs of recovery recently, it’s a good time for businesses to start shifting their focus from cost reduction to improving organizational performance.  Of key important to professional services firms and other project-centric companies is the need to identify trends that can be used to make informed business decisions going forward.  Decisions around new market opportunities, acquiring and retaining customers and perfecting operational processes are all affected by the quality, accuracy and timeliness of the information on which they are based.

ERP Software | Accountnet | New York, NYThe information you need to monitor and drive your company’s performance can be overwhelming and difficult to collate across multiple systems. Your ability to expose relevant data and turn insights into action will determine how successful your company will be as the economy continues to improve. If you don’t currently have Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, you are likely relying on multiple databases and processes to track purchase and invoice requisitions, employee expenses, and project costing and accounting.  Getting a “big picture” view can be quite a challenge, not to mention time consuming.

ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics can speed up the time it takes to gather information while also allowing you your executives to spend more of their time addressing more pressing questions. By employing a flexible ERP system, either desk-top or cloud-based, you can automate processes and generate reports to meet differing stakeholder needs.

Using an ERP system can help your company break through information silos to establish a single view of critical information as it applies to specific projects, resources, team members and customers.  Microsoft Dynamics is an especially powerful tool as it allows you to monitor and report on all information, activities, project budgets, costs and billings which can help improve financial performance.

Although cost reduction won’t likely disappear from your overall goals, the need to expand your focus to take advantage of growth opportunities is a must. The benefits of automating processes and workflows using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is possibly the single most important step you can take to increase efficiency and help your company turn insights into action.