January 2020 Newsletter

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Welcome to PSSI’s Update Newsletter

From your enterprise software experts at
Performance Software Solutions, Inc.

January, 2020

UpdateJanuary Edition

Happy New Year from everyone at PSSI!  

This month as always we’ll provide updates from our solution partners at Microsoft and TIW Technology on the latest releases of their business software.  Software evolves quickly these days, and we want to be sure you’re up to date on the latest technology, as well as the latest news & updates from our recommended software partners.

We’ll also take a look at the disturbing decline of American manufacturing and some thoughts on what might be done about restoring our innovation.

As providers of business software and consulting help particularly to manufacturers and distributors, our goal is to inform our clients, partners and prospective customers year-round about the tools, people and software we utilize to make you more profitable and efficient.

We welcome your feedback at any time.  You can call us at 877.273.2444, or drop us an email at info@pssiusa.com.

The Dramatic Decline in American Manufacturing Productivty

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (11-16-19) titled “Innovation Should Be Made in the USA” brings home the point that decades of offshoring our production capabilities have served to hollow out the innovation core of our our manufacturing employment base.  As authors Sridhjar Kota and Tom Mahoney of MForesight, a private research consortium on advanced manufacturing note, the notion of “manufacture there” has led to its unfortunate counterpart, “innovate there.”

Beginning in the 1960’s the U.S. began offshoring production of consumer electronics where inexpensive assembly lines combined with modern transistors and standardized shipping containers to “catalyze the Asian manufacturing miracle.”  Since 2000, China’s entry into the WTO coupled with its and other nations’ major investments in production capacity accelerated the pace of offshoring.

In time, as reported by PwC and others, U.S. companies moved their R&D facilities closer to China as well.  Today, over 50% of overseas backed R&D centers in China are of U.S. origin.  Innovation gravitates to where the factories are, and today that’s not the U.S., certainly not in numbers like it used to be.  And to be clear: manufacturing matters — especially in today’s high tech economy.

The article’s authors point out the obvious: “the biggest strategic consequence of this profound decline in American manufacturing might be the loss of our ability to innovate, that is, to translate inventions into production.”  While many companies scale up offshore to get access to production and suppliers, many foreign multinationals at the same time have taken advantage of the U.S.’s federally funded university research centers, then use what they learn in their own factories abroad.

While the U.S. remains best in the world in groundbreaking scientific discoveries, we need to convert that momentum into production.  From lasers to semiconductors, from MRI machines to robots, we’ve lost this translational R&D capability.  To reverse the trend, Kota and Mahoney are calling for a new “Industrial Policy 2.0” that focuses on ensuring that hardware innovations are manufactured in this country.  Among the policies they say must be promoted:

  • Creation of a National Manufacturing Foundation to maximize wealth and job creation from our R&D investments that demands that 75% of the results of any value-add of federally funded research be manufactured in the U.S.
  • Invest 5% of the federal science and technology budget on engineering and manufacturing R&D and process technologies, creating translational research centers as innovation hubs around the country.
  • Encourage public-private partnerships to provide grants, loans and direct investments into a portfolio of  hardware companies (which typically require more time and resources than software companies), focusing on manufacturers, especially at the state level.
  • Increase graduate fellowships through greater investment in engineering for qualified domestic students that focus on application and implementation, not just concepts and theory.

Ideas like these might help reverse our long decline in the application of innovation in manufacturing due to decades of offshoring.  One thig is for sure: our current course is not the answer.  Otherwise, as Bruce Springsteen once wryly noted, “them jobs are going boys, and they ain’t comin’ back.”

What do you think?

Do you need help with your manufacturing processes and automation?  We’re here, we’re local, and we’re here to help!  We urge you to contact PSSI directly at 877.273.2444.

PLANNING: A Powerful Component of ALERE Manufacturing

PSSI has been implementing ALERE manufacturing software for over 25 years, and we still think it’s one of the best-priced, best-functioning manufacturing software products you can buy anywhere.  Users appreciate ALERE’s flexibility over many other systems. 

TIW Technology President Rod Hatcher reminds us of the power of the PLAN module in their ALERE Manufacturing software system, with a few comments below…

The Plan module is an enigmatic name for a very powerful component of manufacturing. Used properly, this module can save countless hours of time and perform functions that would be impossible to do manually.

Its purpose is to:

  • Generate time-phased recommended work orders and purchase requisitions based on the current demand in the system.
  • Allow conversion of selected recommended orders into work orders.
  • Allow conversion of selected recommended orders into purchase orders when integrated with ALERE Accounting. If not linked, then provide a report listing purchase requisitions.
  • Recommend changes to existing work orders and purchases orders by suggesting which ones to change quantities on, pull or push the date needed closer or further out, and to suggest orders to cancel because they are no longer required.

The Plan module is designed to be integrated with inventory, order entry, and purchasing on the accounting side and work orders, scheduling and bills of material on the manufacturing side.

This integration is necessary to fully support all the planning functions. However, integrating with just the Order module in ALERE and an inventory module can support minimal functions.

Approval Tooltips
ALERE provides a structured approach to approving sales and purchases. Up to four levels of approvals can be requested and, once initiated, ALERE will shepherd the process along by automatically notifying the next person or persons whose authorization is required.

Tooltips are used to provide you information on where in the approval process your document lies.

The progress of the approval process can be checked by hovering the mouse cursor over ‘Submitted” on an order and a tooltip will appear. The tooltip contains one line for each required approval. The name of the employee and the time of approval are shown if approval has been granted. Otherwise, the line shows the description of the approval group.

Want to Learn More About ALERE?  

TIW has a 7 minute Manufacturing Overview Video on YouTube that gives a concise summary of what manufacturing software can do for youClick the link below to see why ALERE may be a great fit for your manufacturing operations.

  • Interested in a trial version for your organization?

PSSI can work with you to understand better what a manufacturing software system can do for you.  For information on obtaining a trial version, contact Larry Lukasik at the number below.

To learn more, call us any time at 877.273.2444, or visit us on the web.


ALERE Manufacturing Overview (7:00)

In this issue of Update

  • The Dramatic Decline in American Manufacturing Productivity
  • Who Is PSSI?
  • Tips & Best Practices: 
    • Bar-Coding… ERP Project Tips…
  • Planning with ALERE Manufacturing Software 
  • 7 Minute Manufacturing Overview video 
  • Overview of Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019
  • Free White Paper: Software That Matters
  • Business Process Improvement: The Importance of Flow in Lean Mfg.

Who Are We?

Performance Software Solutions, Inc. is a northern Indiana-based reseller of enterprise accounting, manufacturing and distribution solutions from leading brands including Microsoft, TIW Technology and Sage Software.  We have been serving the small to midsize manufacturer and distributor, mostly across the Midwest, for over 30 years with a team of business consulting and software experts that is second to none.

PSSI specializes in helping manufacturing and distribution firms solve some of their most difficult process and technology problems.  Though we implement software solutions (including Microsoft Dynamics Business Central and TIW’s ALERE), we are most tightly focused on people, workflow and process improvement.  We’ve helped hundreds of companies like yours over the past 30 years improve their operations, process flows, automation strategies and their bottom lines.

Need help with your systems?  Learn more at www.pssiusa.com or call any us any time at 877.273.2444

Looking for some prudent advice before investing in software? Check out our Knowledge Bank.

Click any of our links BELOW for tips and best practices on planning for software…

Why Bar-Coding Matters in Your Warehouse (Part 1 of 2)
Why Bar-Coding Matters in Your Warehouse (Part 2 of 2)
3 Tips To Recover From a Derailed ERP Project

Overview of Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019 Release

Ever wonder how Microsoft itself thinks about its newest release?  Read on for highlights of recent comments (straight from microsoft.com) on what lies ahead…

Dynamics 365 Business Central provides a complete business application solution designed and optimized for SMB organizations. Since its launch in April 2018, Business Central has seen increasing adoption by organizations looking to digitally transform their businesses. In the October ’18 update, we updated Business Central to include on-premises deployments as well. The latest version, the April ’19 update, brought an update to Business Central that improves the productivity of users.

The independent software vendor (ISV) ecosystem is important for customers who want vertical or horizontal solutions for Business Central. We will accelerate this ISV ecosystem to begin moving new and existing customers to Business Central online. To achieve that goal, the following development pillars define the 2019 release wave 2 update:

  • Service fundamentals: Laser focus on performance, reliability, supportability, and security is essential to ensure that service quality remains ahead of the growth in service usage. Accessibility, already in a strong position, must be preserved.
  • Modern client: With the 2019 release wave 2, users access Business Central in the browser, Windows 10 desktop app, mobile apps on Android and iOS, or in Outlook. We accelerate our investment in speed and productivity features for the modern browser experience, achieving a major milestone in its transformation into a world-class desktop experience for new and expert users alike. The 2019 release wave 2 is the first version that does not include the Dynamics NAV Client connected to Business Central (also known as the Windows client). The modern clients now support so many productivity features that the Windows client is discontinued for Business Central going forward. The legacy Dynamics NAV client remains supported in the April ’19 update and earlier versions in alignment with the support lifecycle.
  • Modern developer tools: The 2019 release wave 2 is the first version that does not include the classic development environment (also known as C/SIDE). The modern developer experience based on Visual Studio Code with Azure DevOps, and an AL language that supports an extension-based approach to customization, now supports developing large apps such as the base application from Microsoft, and so C/SIDE is discontinued for Business Central going forward. The classic development environment remains supported in the April ’19 update and earlier versions in alignment with the support lifecycle.
  • Empower ISV acceleration: The 2019 release wave 2 update delivers a set of features designed to simplify ISV development for new solutions and, specifically, for streamlining the migration from the source code customization model of Dynamics NAV to Business Central. The Dynamics NAV business has been driven by strong vertical ISV solutions, surrounded by add-on solutions. For the 2019 release wave 2 update, our focus will be streamlining the path for ISVs to bring their solutions—and in turn their customers—to Business Central online.
  • Customer migration tools: After enabling Dynamics NAV ISVs to bring their solutions to Business Central online, the next step is to simplify the journey for existing Dynamics SMB customers coming from Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP, or Dynamics SL to migrate from their current on-premises solutions to Business Central online. A set of tools already exists; these will be enhanced with the 2019 release wave 2.

Limited extension to the Business Central online localizations is planned for the 2019 release wave 2 in order to prioritize the service fundamentals work ahead of expanding the service footprint. Additional partner-developed localizations will be added following the 2019 release wave 2.

BC365 release 2019 represents yet another step in the continuing evolution of the product formerly known as NAV, and PSSI is committed to keeping our clients and prospective clients up to date on the latest changes.  Continue to follow this newsletter for news and updates in the future. 

Thinking about integrating Dynamics 365 Business Central into your business?  Or just have questions about the process, or need advice and recommendations?  Call us any time at 877.273.2444, or visit us on the web.

We’re here to help!

Click HERE to read our popular white paper “Software That Matters” on the ins and outs of purchasing an ERP System.

Commentary: On Business Process Improvement

A word on… Business Flow and the importance of Lean Manufacturing.

Larry Lukasik is the President of Performance Software Solutions, Inc. (PSSI).

As the sophistication of today’s ERP solutions continues to grow, more and more companies are learning to leverage the data captured by these systems.  Business analytics is as much a part of a modern ERP system as was planning, scheduling, supply chain management, and shop floor reporting in previous iterations of the software.  A business fully expects to be able to gain better insights into the day to day performance of their business by reviewing key metrics generated from these systems.

Performance numbers on things such as: customer/vendor on time shipments, inventory turns, lead times, margins by product line, actual dollars vs budget dollars and quote closing rates are metrics that I typically find at most companies.  All of these contribute to helping management identify areas to focus on as well as provide the data necessary to quantify changes to business processes.

There are however a set of metrics that we often find lacking at many businesses.  These metrics can provide invaluable data on making improvements in the business.  When looking to assist a company with improving its business performance, one of the first set of numbers we look for are related to business process flows.

For each major business process, regardless if it is sales, administrative, production, warehousing or accounting the first thing you need to know is: What is the heartbeat (rate of demand) for the process? How many orders/sales lines do we average each day… how many invoices are we sending each day… what is our employee turnover rate… how many of these widgets are needed each day…  how often do I pick this item for shipping each day?

Companies that have embraced Lean Manufacturing philosophies have found that by knowing these rates, they can reengineer processes to be much more productive.  Waste that typically creeps into every business process can be more easily identified and eliminated once you have a better understanding of how it needs to flow each day to meet the ongoing needs of the business.

It is not unusual when seeking this information, that business leaders tell me that “there is no average day here” and “we are a custom house and there is no standard flow here.”  While I agree that not every business flow has a steady heartbeat, I can tell you that the 80/20 rule typically reveal itself often, if you are willing to capture and look at the data.  Every company has “exceptions” to the rule, and you should treat these items as exactly that, exceptions.  The fact remains that 80% of what your company does typically does have a flow to it, and if you can streamline that, you will have ample resources to handle the exceptions when they arise.

In my next installment, I will provide some examples of “flow” at businesses that were not so obvious, but once identified contributed significantly to improved performance and profitability.   Keep in mind, business analytics should not only show you the obvious, but also the hidden trends that lead to opportunity.

-Larry Lukasik, PSSI, January, 2020


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