Monday, May 13, 2013

Quantifying the cost of doing nothing

A recent client meeting reminded me that we often focus on the cost a project and its ROI yet forget the cost of doing nothing at all. 

For example, I received a request from a customer to estimate the cost for their customers to order online, check on inventory availability, pricing, etc.  For their environment and needs, I determined the cost to be approximately $15,000 to implement the technology to allow their customers to have this "self service" capability. 

$15,000 may or may not initially sound like a lot of money to spend on this type of project.  But is it?  In their case, they didn't feel they would have enough of an increase in sales to justify the ROI.

A fair question is: what is the cost of doing nothing?

If one of their customers that annually purchases $250,000 of their product at a margin of 20% leaves them for a competitor who has the 'self service' capability, the cost of doing nothing is $50,000.  Additionally, instead of needing four customer service personnel to handle the incoming calls from customers they could reduce that to three, increasing the 'cost of doing nothing' $30,000 to $40,000 plus benefits.

Whenever you determine the cost of doing any project in your company, be sure to consider the cost of doing nothing in your ROI.  Many times it is a forgotten and significant portion of the equation.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Selecting a New System Success Stories

Chortek LLP's Technology Consulting team recently completed system selection engagements for two of our clients.  The first was for an existing client using Sage 100 which had looked at a service industry enhancement five years ago as well as an industry specific solution that was deemed too expensive.  After evaluating the options and return on investment, they recently chose the industry specific solution since it met all of their needs. It was designed specifically for their industry verses trying to make an add-on work for them at a lower cost.
In the second engagement, the client initially had a good grasp on the solution they were going to choose but after careful documentation of requirements and evaluation of various manufacturing specific software vendors, they found a different solution that best fits the way they do business.  The process allowed them to see their real needs, the options available and while many manufacturing software exists, only a few met their specific needs and one clearly stood out as the best fit.

Chortek LLP's Technology Consulting team specializes in helping businesses find the right software for their needs.  Contact us or visit our website for more information on selecting a new ERP system.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recent SageCRM project: workflow automates complex sales process

Chortek recently helped a client create a workflow in their SageCRM system to automate and manage a complicated sales and customer service process. 

The client gave us a handwritten sketch on a piece of paper that outlined their process for handling a custom fabricated part:
  1. Ordering a sample from a fabricator
  2. Quality checking the sample against the customer's specifications
  3. Returning it to the vendor or shipping it to the customer based on the pass/fail
  4. Once the customer approves the sample, ordering the production parts from the vendor and ultimately shipping the parts to the customer.
Working interactively with our client, we built a workflow in SageCRM that guides their employees through the process, notifies the relevent team members when appropriate, and gives everyone visability of 'where things stand' at any point in time, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you automate your business processes!

Friday, May 3, 2013

AICPA 2013 Top Technology Initatives

The AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) has released the results of the 2013 Top Technology Initiatives Survey:

1. Managing and retaining data
2. Securing the IT environment
3. Managing IT risk and compliance
4. Ensuring privacy
5. Managing system implementation
6. Preventing and responding to computer fraud
7. Enabling decision support and analytics
8. Governing and managing IT investment/spending
9. Leveraging emerging technologies
10. Managing vendors and service providers

If you have any concerns in your organization regarding these items, Chortek LLP's Technology Consultants can assist you with addressing your needs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SData with Sage 100 ERP 2013

Sage 100 ERP version 2013 now supports SData. 

SData is a Sage standard for exchanging information with Sage applications.  Typical uses of SData include displaying data from a Sage application in another application, web page/portal, etc. or editing/updating existing data.

To date there has been very little information available about the Sage 100-specific implementation of SData.  In this brief post I will share the prerequisites for SData with Sage 100 ERP and explain how to configure an SData ‘widget’ in SageCRM that displays information from Sage 100 ERP.

To begin, SData needs to be installed and configured per the Sage 100 Install Guide; it is a separate install listed as “Productivity Application” under the main Sage 100 ERP installer.  Once installed, within Sage 100 ERP, in System Configuration, check the “Enable Native SData Provider and Access within Role Maintenance” box. In Company Maintenance, check the “Allow External Access” box for companies you wish to access via SData.  Finally, be sure to set SData permissions within at least one Role and verify that your test user is a member of that Role.  (Note: as you move beyond ‘testing’, be careful about how you setup security.)

Test Sage 100 ERP 2013 SData URL
Once you have completed the setup steps, you should be able to verify that SData is working by opening the following URL in a browser, replacing ‘servername’ with the name of your server or IP address. 

You should be prompted for a name/password and then your browser should load a very long page listing the entire Sage 100 ERP schema.

A few notes about the URL:

·        If using https: (SSL) be sure that your certificate matches the server name you are using/testing.

·        The string “ABX” refers to the Sage 100 ERP company code that you previously configured to “Allow External Access”.

·        The string “$schema” will return all the tables from Sage 100 ERP. 

Here is an example of another URL and the resulting screenshot I receive:

In the above example, notice that the URL includes the additional string “AR_Customer” which is a primary customer table.

Technical note: If the Sage 100 ERP data schema gets altered, perhaps by adding a User Defined Field, the ‘Contract’ that SData uses to send/receive information is automatically regenerated, so an SData feed should always reflect the ‘live’ Sage 100 ERP schema.  Fundamentally, the list of tables/fields/etc., i.e. schema, available from Sage 100 via SData is the same schema that is available via ODBC, with a few exceptions (additions) to address parent/child tables.  (An explanation of how that works is outside the scope of this post.)

Simple SData widget within SageCRM
To create a widget on the SageCRM interactive dashboard using the above Sage 100 ERP 2013 SData feed, follow these steps:

1.      Within the interactive dashboard, select Template, SData Feed Template. 

2.      Click new.  On the Feed Properties tab, fill out the fields similar to the following screenshot (using the full URL from above, replacing with your server name).  Note: if you leave the user name and password fields blank, SageCRM users will be prompted for a name/password, or, they can save one when they add the widget to their dashboard.

3.      Click the Assigned Users tab to assign/make available this specific ‘SData feed’ to teams/users.  Don’t forget this step!!  Click Save.

4.      Within the interactive dashboard again, select New Gadget, Create Gadget.  Choose SData List.

5.      Choose ‘Use pre-configured SData feed’ and select the SData feed you saved above.  Click next.

6.      You should be able to select ‘AR_Customer’ as the entity.  Click next.

7.      Select all or certain fields using the checkboxes.  Click next.

8.      Optionally add a filter.  (In my example, I set ‘include data where PriceLevel is Equal to 1’ to only get a subset of customers.  Note that this filter is saved with the SageCRM user’s dashboard, so a different user may use the same SData feed but with different filters.

9.      Last step: give it a name and optionally a description.  I named mine “Customer – Price Level 1”.  See below for a screenshot of the resulting widget.

I hope this helps you begin experimenting and thinking about how you can utilize SData with Sage 100 ERP.  I’ll post more examples in the future.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New planned Sage 100 ERP 2014 Features

Sage recently announced some new features planned for their upcoming release, Sage 100 ERP 2014. This version is planned out later this year in November.
  • Auto-completion for lookup entries
  • "Keep window open" settings available for custom reports and G/L financials
  • Sage Mobile Sales
  • Sage Mobile Service
  • Account Billing and Payment
  • Online self-service payroll history
  • Sage Inventory Advisor

We will be writing more about these features in future blog posts.  All features described are also subject to change before the final Sage 100 ERP 2014 is released.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rebranding in process: C&G Consulting --> Chortek LLP

Over the past couple of months, we have been analyzing the brand message of the firm and our position within the marketplace.

After extensive research and analysis of our brand message and evaluation of our firm's name, we are very excited to announce that C&G Consulting and Chortek & Gottschalk have officially changed its name to
Chortek LLP.
We decided to roll C&G Consulting, our Technology Consulting division, into one unified firm incorporating our tax, accounting, forensic accounting, and merger & acquisition services. We are all officially Chortek LLP.

The name change is a result of the research we conducted and our objective to remain firmly planted by the roots of our founder, Sam Chortek, while also strengthening our position as a firm that is forward-thinking in our approach to client service.

This announcement of our new firm name marks the beginning of a multi-month project to analyze our brand and how the firm needs to be positioned within the marketplace. Over the next few months, you’ll move through this process with us as you begin to see the transformation of Chortek & Gottschalk into Chortek LLP.

We welcome you on this journey and appreciate any feedback you share with us.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Recent project: Importing cash receipts from bank is saving hours per day

C&G recently assisted a customer with importing large volumes of cash receipts from their bank, freeing up hundreds of hours per year.

The customer's bank receives payments in a lockbox and sends scanned copies of checks to our customer.  In the past, our customer used the check images as their source to manually enter the cash receipts into Sage 100, typically requiring one full day to complete on a high volume day.  (Deposits range from approximately $50,000 - $300,000 per day.)

The bank was able to provide a file of this data (customer, invoice, check number, amount, distribution, etc.) and C&G developed a 'smart' validation/import process for this file.  The validation process attempts to "clean up" data from the bank's data entry personnel and matches invoices to customer IDs even if the customer did not provide their ID on the check stub.

The customer now only spends time cleaning up miscellaneous issues from customer payments and they are saving hours every day with their streamlined cash receipts process.