Within the EFACS E/8 software, the Quality module connects several aspects of the business, such as the supplier details, works orders, stock, customers and workflows. The Quality Module ensure that any quality concern that is logged is recorded and supervised from the time the concern is flagged until resolution.

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The electronics industry is faced with the most dynamic challenges of any industry. With fierce global competition these firms must compete with how rapidly they can develop and launch new products, especially when they are faced with constant change. In order to be competitive and effective, the firm must incorporate change as a normal business procedure. Implementing a highly-flexible ERP solution can help make some of these day-to-day challenges a little bit easier and therefore creating a more efficient workplace.

 

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Friday, 16 February 2018 09:22

Benefits of EFACS for the Engineering Sector

Exel’s EFACS E/8 is thoroughly invaluable to the engineering sector, and Profitsflow’s Irish customers are reaping the benefits. Each client is able to respond to their specific market pressures with the assistance and flexibility of the EFACS integrated manufacturing system, irrespective of whether they need to manufacture bespoke items, prototypes, tooling or products with high or low volumes. Effective product lifecycle management can be achieved using EFACS Engineering Change Controls  and its fully integrated mechanisms for serial number and batch traceability.

 

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015 00:00

10 Key Criteria for ERP Selection

The 10 key criteria successful manufacturing companies apply when buying or replacing an IT Manufacturing System: A Brief Guide to Software Selection

This article is for anyone considering the purchase of an ERP/MRP system in manufacturing, whatever the size of your organisation. As gathered from our experience in ERP implementation, it presents a short guide to the top ten considerations used by successful manufacturers when buying or replacing an IT system for manufacturing. This article is intended to share our knowledge of what we see as key factors to take into account prior to selection.

The value or return on investment of integrated manufacturing and finance systems to manufacturers is well documented but principally includes both ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ benefits. These can be used to build the business case required to justify the expenditure on ERP. They include:

• Superior Efficiency: Increased annual stock turnover due to the ability to rotate stock more efficiently throughout the year, as excess stock situations are avoided and material purchasing is strictly tied into production schedules.

• Reduction in Annual Stockholding Of Between 10 – 15%: By tying stock requirements into demand (in the form of sales orders and production schedules) streamlined MRP Planning can reduce the average value of stock held by between 10-15% in the first year of implementation.

• Improved Liquidity: Significantly improved cash flow positions, through a) Purchase Invoice Matching functionality that allows only those supplier invoices to be paid that can be traced to original purchase orders and material receipts and b) the ability to start invoice collection immediately upon sales order dispatch.

• Reduction in Manufacturing Costs: Direct and Indirect Labour Costs decline as staff become productive, spending less time spent waiting for overdue raw material shipments to arrive; some staff can be retrained or reassigned to more productive roles; production bottlenecks can be avoided by viewing potential conflicts ahead of time ensuring no delay in customer order shipments.
• Improved Productivity: A single central repository of information for order processing from start to finish eliminates duplication of data.

• Real Time Reporting: Unlimited custom reporting potential using your own data exists, meaning users spends less time having to go searching for information.

With the general pickup in IT spending continuing into 2015, manufacturers considering an ERP system now should consider these very real and significant benefits that accrue.

A recent positive impact in running an ERP has been the ability to allow Irish manufacturers counteract the threat of low cost manufacturing centres coming from Asia. By providing new and innovative ways of interacting with customers via Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and techniques, ERP and CRM together can allow firms to differentiate themselves along customer service factors and help offset the impact of firms in low cost manufacturing centres relying heavily on price.

MRP II / ERP systems now scale to the smallest companies driving competitiveness, and bottom line growth. This article discusses then how to choose a product and vendor that will suit you.

10. Clearly Define The Business Requirement.

The first step in the selection of an ERP Systems is for the management and staff of a company to take the time to agree the objectives of the new system. For instance “Do Goods Received update stock lists? Do people even log Goods Received so that accounts can settle with supplier seamlessly?” When your requirements are clear then decide those that are “Vital” or “Nice to have”. Defining everything as essential will limit your choice and drive up the end price exponentially. This will also give you a false impression of a systems suitability. If a system has all the bells and whistles that’s, great but will you ever be in a position to use them. Don’t overcomplicate your system just because you can.

One well established firm recommends that you don’t specify any changes to your new system for the first year of use following the “GO LIVE” date, forcing users to get used to the new system. After that the specified changes list can reduce by 85%.

Knowing your requirements in advance of speaking with vendors is going to make the choice a great deal easier. The vendor will therefore concentrate on the solution as opposed to teasing the information out of you.

 

9. Choose A Solution Appropriate In Size To Your Organisation and your Manufacturing Process.

It may be stating the obvious but it is paramount to choose a solution that is right size technology for your organisation - as opposed to one which has been unnecessarily scaled down or ‘hammered’ to fit. Choosing the right fit will result in less cost over the project’s lifetime. Some inscrutable vendors have been known to give the software away at cost, only to make up for it by charging a small fortune in service days!


8. Value The Investment Over 3 -5 Years For A True Total Cost of Ownership

Do you want to be locked into a system two years from now with no way of making even the slightest change unless you pay for expensive custom work every time from the authors? Probably not! Ask your vendor how easy is it to make changes to the system once it’s installed. Some products allow the customers to make changes to the system without recourse to the authors for expensive custom development work. Others do not. This can have a considerable impact on total cost of ownership (TCO).

Always ask for an indication upfront of year 2 and beyond maintenance charges on both software and hardware for a true comparison of vendors. (See also point 4 about whether the software will work if you are not on annual maintenance). Identify how maintenance charges are calculated. This will allow you to accurately forecast running costs in the future more accurately.

Find out too if it can connect easily with existing legacy systems or even just your existing MS Excel or Autocad/Solid Works. The ability to connect and transfer data to or from an unrelated system. Eg. Temp monitoring system for fridges.

 

7. Find Out What Is The Likely Upgrade Path For Software.

This is one area often overlooked in the selection process. In choosing a solution today, will you be liable for upgrading to a newer version two years from now? In addition, you may find that any existing versions of any third party products required to run with the ERP application may also need upgrading, entailing additional expense here too. What are the software developer’s plans for this current version? Is the software written in a commercially available development language which is still being enhanced and supported by the supplier? This can greatly increase the cost of maintenance to a system if there aren’t many experienced individuals around to carry out the work in a few years. Don’t buy a system that will be a dinosaur in a few years time.

 

6. Invest in a Dedicated Server(s) to Run the ERP Application

Hardware prices have continued to slide, making the case for a dedicated ERP server considerably more attractive. It has been our experience that companies looking to save a few euro by not investing in adequate IT hardware end up paying more in poor system performance, compatibility problems between ERP and other applications, and general system crashes. ERP can be a considerable hog on server resources to the extent than other office applications can suffer considerably – so invest in a dedicated server! Take the opportunity to upgrade network components if required. A fast server with a slow network connection is a waste of money.


5. Arrange a site visit to an existing customer of the vendor(s).

One of the surest ways of cutting through all the ‘vendor rhetoric’ is to arrange a site visit
to an existing customer and talk to existing users. They are in best position to tell you how it has gone. Look for a clearly defined payback and benefits accrued from running the system. Do they match what the vendor claims? Go prepared with a list of items you want to see and a list of questions you need answered. This is your chance to see the system in action, make sure you see the areas of the system relevant to your company. If possible agree an agenda in advance.


4. Will The Software Work If I Am Not On Maintenance?

Maintenance agreements function somewhat like an insurance contract between vendor and customer, providing access to seasoned product technical experts on issues that the customer’s own staff may not be able to resolve once implementation is complete. Some ERP vendors may tie the ongoing usage of their software in with the issue of whether or not you hold a current software maintenance agreement. In other words it may not be yours to actually own, and if you are not on maintenance the software may refuse to function. Other ERP solutions are sold in perpetuity – i.e. their continued operation is not tied in to whether or not you are currently on maintenance.

In addition, try to find out about the proximity of local technical support staff. Does the vendor have a fully staffed local presence or is it merely just an administrative office? What happens if you require technical support on site at short notice?


3. Database – Proprietary or Standard?

ERP applications that require proprietary databases to run can prove expensive to maintain and lead to difficulty retaining the knowledge base in house to support them. Most IT staff will want to keep their skills profile current, and introducing proprietary non standard databases may encounter resistance that would otherwise act as a hindrance to a successful implementation.



2. Client Server or Web – which should I choose?

A big shift is occurring in the industry, as more ERP solutions are becoming web enabled. In the long term this has the potential to be even more significant than the emergence of NT Server Software over a decade ago. The benefits of deploying a web enabled ERP system lie in the twin areas of cost and time – time in respect of deployment times, from start to ‘Go-Live’ date, can be up to 15% faster as measured in service days, compared to traditional client server technologies; and cost in that web applications allow functional changes to be made much more easily, resulting in less time and less expense overall.

Web applications also offer the long term benefit of technological independence – i.e. they are as confined to, or restricted to work with a limited set of preferred technologies - as would be the case with client server technologies. A technology independent solution therefore can easily be ‘future proofed’ over time. Manufacturers on these systems have more freedom to choose an optimal software & hardware configuration to run ERP, but keep in mind that the system itself may operate best under a particular flavour or type of technology too. Web based systems have the added advantage of substantially lower maintenance for your IT personnel. No complicated software needs to be installed on the users PC. They simply connect through their internet browser. This can also allow your IT dept to get extra life form PC’s as the system requirements will be less.

 

1. Allow Enough Time For Implementation and Training

A crucial area this one. Whichever ERP tool you choose, you will need the assistance of an experienced ERP implementer. Search for one with a good track record here. Don’t be fooled into believing you can save a few euros by reducing the number of training days. Why have an expensive investment go to waste if you’re not willing to devote time & effort in getting your people trained up? Granted you can spread this phase of the implementation out over several weeks or months depending on complexity, but if you’re really serious you’ll want to budget for this appropriately.

It’s much more effective towards the successful adoption of any new technology that key system users are involved from early on in the project. Try to avoid leaving the implementation in the hands of a concentrated few until the very end – just 4 weeks before go-live! During the implementation, regular review meeting should be held to inform key personnel of progress and prevent the implementation turning into a last minute effort to get everyone on board.

This article then has presented some of the key considerations that successful manufacturers adopt when evaluating IT manufacturing systems. We believe that they will prove useful in their application during the selection process. Following these guidelines will result in a more ‘enlightened’ buying decision so that the final selection of a product can take place in confidence.

 

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This Blog details how investing in ERP software can improve your Company’s decision making process.

We buy tools to make products and to increase the work capacity, we install machines and for designing and selling products, we hire people; because we know they are needed for the business growth. Information Technology and software has become a basic need in our day to day life and when it comes to run a business, whether a small or medium sized, one way or the other we are dependent on them.  As long as you can manage spreadsheets and other basic software like Sage for invoicing, account management, you avoid spending capital on other software or technology to materialise the similar need. (That can make your work much easier and quicker).

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has become very popular among large Industries as they use to run their businesses through it. If you think ERP Software is not affordable or you are not aware of its real benefits then this article will help you to know why ERP is real value for the business.

It is important to highlight a few things about ERP and its utilisation in the business process. ERP is business management software which is developed to manage typical enterprise; it is an integrated application that improves the business decision by creating information from every part available to throughout your business operations. Company’s use to handle and store data from every level of business, starting from product, planning cost development, invoicing, accounting, marketing and sales order entry, manufacturing, shipping and payment, financial, warehousing, payroll. ERP software has the collective source of master data which tracks the record of customers / buyers, vendors, product bill, manufacturing work processes and many other records. By maintaining such records help company to improve consistently with the same set of Information. Most of the small sized companies are used to work on Sage and spreadsheets but as the business grows these software starts impacting business results in actual ways which affects the bottom line i.e. lost data, missed shipments, invoicing and so on.

Although Sage provides solutions to many small businesses and it is the most users friendly software but it has certain limitations and still far from being integrated ERP with proper control of auditing and scale the end to end business operations. 

Here are more benefits of ERP:

  • It uplifts sales performance.
  • It improves the visibility of organisation’s financial growth.
  • It helps in managing business operations.
  • It reduces labour costs.
  • ERP improves product’s delivery on time.
  • By consistent business processes and polices throughout the organization it improves customer services and profitability.
  • It upgrades control and planning record

 

ERP software is cost effective, affordable and can be easily customised according to the nature of business i.e. General Manufacturing, Retail, CPG, Life Sciences, Process, Distribution, and Service Industries.

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Profitsflow.com is pleased to inform that it’s technology partner, Nottingham based Exel Computer Systems plc, celebrates 30 years in operation this year. Established in 1985, Exel is a leading force in the provision of integrated business solutions for manufacturing companies and field service providers.  Profitsflow.com is proud to work in conjunction with the innovative firm, serving an increasingly diverse customer base, which includes medium and large manufacturing and field service companies. As authors of the EFACS E/8, Eagle Field Service and Eagle Facilities Management systems Exel and Profitsflow.com are well positioned to assist their customers to achieve competitive advantage through the deployment of a state-of-the-art business solution.

It was back in 1985 that Dr John Ellis, Exel's founder and current Chairman, established Exel Computer Systems having recognised a distinct market need for capacity planning systems whilst working on research projects at PERA. This led to the development of the first version of EFACS, a Unix and Informix based software solution for capacity planning and manufacturing. Over the last 30 years EFACS has grown from a capacity planning and production solution into a fully integrated comprehensive business solution, incorporating full ERP, Financials, CRM, Field Service, Document Management, Business Intelligence, Workflow, and Mobile Applications.

Profitsflow.com’s emphasis they place on continued product development and understanding real business needs through continuous support of, and close partnerships with their client base. In Ireland, Profitsflow.com provides local expert support and development services to a number of companies on Exel’s platform.  These companies span many diverse industries. It is testimony to our commitment to their customers that all of our earliest customers have upgraded to the latest version in order to benefit from our investment in technology and the new features available. 

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015 00:00

ERP Solutions that Work

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a constantly evolving field. Every year we hear about new features, support models, and deployment options. But when it comes time to get a new ERP system, what is the best ERP platform?

ERP investments have a long life, typically 15 to 20 years. In order to determine which ERP system is best, we must explore each and every phase of the ERP lifecycle. We have to consider what drives people to actually acquire the ERP system, what leads to success during the deployment, and then we have to consider what IT leaders need to do to administer and maintain the system.

Obviously, an appropriate system has to be able to meet the base requirements of the enterprise. A manufacturing company, for example, must have the appropriate manufacturing modules. The best products, however, have features that address the problems that we see at each stage of the ERP project.

What are the differentiating features?

Data Integration: The ability to incorporate data from across the business.

Workflow: The ability to create and manage business processes.

Financial Consolidation: Functionality to incorporate data from different operating units and from different countries. These capabilities are key to both supporting executive projects and to supporting enterprise growth.

Budgeting: This presents a challenge for many ERP platforms. Budgeting processes require business leaders to review actual data and to make commitments on future spend and performance. Since this data isn’t just a record of an actual transaction, it can really stress rigid data models.

Data Management: Finally, a system should encourage clean data. Dirty data frustrates reporting, business growth, end users, and executives!

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015 00:00

ERP Industry Progress

    Companies looking to improve their links across various functions, such as inventory control, accounting, and human resources may find the answer lies in ERP software. Enterprise Resource Planning systems allow businesses to improve their operations infrastructure, enabling businesses to share information and make decisions more quickly across multiple departments.

    Enterprise Resource Planning has come a long way in recent years and significant progress has been made to modern ERP business solutions. Many Companies spending for ERP projects is expected to keep growing.  52 percent of Companies plan to invest in significant IT infrastructure and computer upgrades. Some software providers are already making evident changes to their ERP platform design to address such concepts as that of automated business landscape transformation

    With ERP investments on the rise, some experts have suggested the technology will significantly impact some industries more than others. According to an accounting and advisory firm, the Manufacturing market, in particular, will be affected by cloud-based ERP software. The company went so far as to say that manufacturers not leveraging this technology will remain stagnant. Cloud-based ERP is not expected to just benefit large manufacturers either. In fact, small and medium-sized companies are already integrating their ERP business solutions with collaboration technologies, analytics and mobile applications to stay ahead of the game.

     While such platforms are considered ideal for going head-to-head with competitors, Manufacturers with cloud ERP systems can also establish themselves as industry leaders. One to watch for the Food Manufacturing and Engineering industries across Ireland.

 

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Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

6 Common ERP Implementation Mistakes

We have all heard about ERP implementation projects that have failed, gone on long past the planned implementation time, or gone way over budget.  In such circumstances, it is all too easy to blame the vendor or the selection team.  However, normally the fault in these cases lies in the planning and execution of the plan prior to system selection and purchase.  Detailed below are six of the most common mistakes found in ERP implementation projects.

 

1: Poor Planning/Explanation of New ERP

Planning is absolutely necessary if you want your ERP project to succeed. You simply can't Wing ERP implementation. Companies that explain up front the business case for upgrading, the benefits to the company and employees, and any changes in the end user experience are the most successful. The software will work, the hardware will work, but it doesn't matter unless the users buy in. There is nothing more powerful than user perception, and if they decide the system doesn't work, it won't. If you feel you do not have the in-house capability to properly evaluate ERP systems, consider hiring an experienced third-party, vendor-neutral consultant, who has experience implementing ERP solutions at companies in your industry.

2: Not understanding/Using key features of New ERP Software

Without knowing features of the new ERP Software, companies miss opportunities to automate business processes, complete functions faster, and meet business objectives. In addition upgrades, enhancements, and maintenance are more costly, and less likely to succeed. Create a master list with all features, tracking usage, and periodically reviewing the list to determine which features are being used and which are the most helpful. This knowledge catalogue can be used to train new employees, write test scripts, and assist with audit, compliance, and reporting requirements. The only way to determine for sure is to load test the system. The most accurate way to load test a system is with load testing software and scripts and with real users. If you just use scripts, you won't see the effects of user mistakes, and if you just use people, you can't really simulate the effect of batch jobs and EDI. But if you can't do both, pick one and run with it.

3: Not having the right people on the ERP implementation team

Sometimes Companies do not bring the right people together from the very start of an ERP implementation. Companies should focus on gathering key participants from across the staff force, from finance, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, and the warehouse, in addition to IT staff. The benefits: employees who are actively engaged with the ERP implementation, who have an investment in getting it right, right from the start. A lot of customers think they can save money by eliminating the Project Manager and doing it themselves. For an ERP upgrade, this could be fatal. A consultant Project Manager's focus is on upgrades so they know any pitfalls. Navigating these pitfalls ahead of time will make all the difference in an on-time/on-budget ERP Upgrade.

 

4: Not investing in training up Employees on ERP

A lack of proper training is one of the most common reasons that ERP projects fail, and it can also result in employees resenting the new system because they don't understand it. Making sure employees have a chance to become comfortable with the new system before it goes live will do wonders for your chances at ERP success. If you make training and frequent communication with users a top priority, it will hugely benefit the ERP implementation. Classroom training and a Knowledge Vault of recorded videos to help employees to adapt to new ERP Software will go a long way in a successful ERP implementation strategy.

5. Not performing a Mock Go Live of New ERP System

A mock Go Live is the time when you find out whether everything will go as planned ahead of time. It is also the point when you capture timings for all the different Go Live tasks. If you don't practice under the same conditions you'll have when you plan to go live (e.g., if Go Live is on a weekend, mock Go Live needs to be on a weekend), you will run into issues that you never planned for, such as: Do I have access to everything on a weekend? Will we run into backups or maintenance windows? Are the offices open? Some of these may sound trivial, but when you are under pressure and have spent thousands on a new system, the last thing you want is to be delayed because you missed something that was easy to catch.

6. Not having a maintenance strategy

By not applying maintenance, their systems will quickly become obsolete (from a technical perspective) as will their business processes. With improvements in installation technology, customers will experience only limited disruption when implementing support packs. ERP upgrades don't happen every day or every year. So it's important to utilise the most experienced technology consultants to keep your system running during the upgrade. If you're like most companies, you probably have several consultants and internal people working on the project. If it is down all the time, no work is done and money is being wasted. Experienced consultants will know the ERP system and will keep it performing during the ERP upgrade.

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Unable to get data from your system

Your business needs to make important decisions, Poor reporting capabilities can delay a business and waste valuable time in improving the business.  Limited reporting capability can lead to a poor user experience which inhibits roll out and adoption of new products. Poor reporting capability also relates to vendor enablement - usually there is no simple way of getting all your suppliers on the system. And poor data which is heavily reliant on the data provided by suppliers.

 Old, “clunky”, unintuitive screens

Today’s global business world is more complex and interconnected than ever, constantly posing new challenges on productivity and business agility. There is therefore a growing demand among companies for enterprise applications that are intuitive and easy to use. ERP providers must improve their software in order to meet these demands.

  Lack of visibility of customer data

Nowadays, it’s all about Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  Do you have it? Is there effective communication with your business customers? Can your business specifically target markets with a marketing/email campaign? Is there inadequate customer contact and call centre support? Are there inadequate service options offered to your customers?

  Old systems cost more to maintain

Old ERP systems can take away the innovation from your company’s IT budget. How much of your business IT budget is devoted to innovation rather than maintenance? The mobile workforce can’t perform efficiently with an outdated ERP System.  Old ERP doesn’t satisfy the appetite for real-time information. Old ERP systems generally make reporting an onerous and error-prone exercise – leaving organisations to manually generate reports and create budget or forecast spreadsheets. To compete, businesses need modern ERP designed for today’s needs.

 Lack of or Poor support

Very often older products go “end of life” with no backup support available.  Sometimes, support can be made available via freelancers, old distribution agents for the product, or groups of individuals coming together with the objective of providing a support service in return for a secondary income.  Do you really want to put your business on the line?  These people may not be available when most needed.  And for those cases where there still is “official” support, it is often the case that one or two “seasoned” support consultants are retained to service the few remaining clients on that product or version.  New entrants to the support team are only trained on current products.  This can mean increased cost, lack of availability when most needed, and ultimately longer down time.

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