July 2020 Newsletter



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Welcome to PSSI’s Update Newsletter

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

July, 2020

UpdateJuly Edition

At PSSI, we think of ourselves as an extension of your business.  Because our consultants have decades of experience in manufacturing, distribution and accounting, we strive to be your go-to team when it comes to getting the most out of your workflow and automation investments.

With each issue of our monthly Update we set out to educate and inform our clients and potential customers about the latest news, advice and innovations in ERP, business process improvement and how to lean out your workflows and operations for greater profitability.  Each month we provide the latest updates & insights from our software partners at Microsoft and TIW Technology, Inc., along with home-grown advice borne of our decades of experience helping companies just like yours.

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.

Blockchain: When Accurate Tracking, Tracing and Recording Matter

We like to keep our eye on technology trends that will affect our clients in manufacturing and distribution.

Today we’ll take a brief look at the role blockchain technology will play as manufacturers settle into a new norm.

Recently, in an article entitled Reinventing the Supply Chain for a Post-COVID World, Paul Fretty of Material Handling & Logistics interviewed CIO Kevin Beasley of VAI, a tech industry solution provider on how blockchain innovation may affect our supply chains in the near future.  While the emphasis was on pharmaceutical supply chains, the lessons for all supply chains are worth noting.  (Fretty’s original post at MH&L can be found here.)

First, with regulation and rising consumer requirements, ERP software will need to be integrated into blockchains to access supply chain data and create an electronic system of records for any company.  In pharma, blockchain can create an electronic record of expiration dates and more, which is vital in helping to protect consumers from exposure to stolen, contaminated, or counterfeit drugs.  But one can extrapolate similar benefits to any manufacturing supply chain.  Today’s cloud-based ERP systems are becoming capable of track and trace, supply and demand planning and route management that can integrate blockchain technology.

Beasley notes that “companies must have a system in place that can store the various data points… [so that] the data being captured [for] products, shortage, and demand can be tracked.”

He notes that “As blockchain technology pushes more to the forefront, COVID-19 has shown some vulnerabilities in our supply chains. Blockchain can provide the opportunity to boost efficiencies and traceability, while also strengthening trust across a range of stakeholders. With supply chains currently struggling to adapt, we need to take steps to ensure our global supply chains are more resilient in the face of unexpected events such as a pandemic, and buyers and sellers need to rethink their approach in anticipation of future events. Blockchain networks could be the answer.”

Beasley goes on to explain how blockchain acts to solidify and ensure the entire supply chain:
“When they record information about a product, combined with any supplier information available, this gives manufacturers a full history of that product, enabling them to have full insight into where a product came from, and they can see what components were added where, and when. This then gets passed upstream to distributors and retailers who should also record touches and any other information regarding that product. Consumers subsequently get a full view of the components in that particular product. In this manner, full transparency is passed along across the entire supply chain, from manufacturers to distributors and retailers, and ultimately to consumers.”

Do you need help with your processes or managing your supply chains?  We’re here, we’re local, we know the territory… and we’re here to help!  We invite you to contact PSSI directly at 877.273.2444.

ALERE: News & Tips for ALERE Users

PSSI has been implementing ALERE accounting and 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. 

This month TIW Technology President Rod Hatcher discusses new e-commerce integration coming to ALERE… managing log-ins… and converting Units of Measure.

E-commerce will become integrated with ALERE! The platform that has been chosen is Shopify, a Canadian multinational e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.  The Mobility module will be used to upload items and their images to Shopify and maintain the quantities available online. Orders that are placed with Shopify will appear in ALERE.  Development is currently underway with the goal of having the integration complete for the next version of ALERE.

The length of time that a password is valid can be set for each user in ALERE. This can be used for four purposes:

  • A company does not wish to force users to periodically change passwords.
  • The company has a policy that requires passwords to be changed periodically.
  • To set a limit on the time a guest user has access to ALERE.
  • A user needs to reset a forgotten password.

Controlling the life of a password is done by going to File, selecting Maintenance, and then choosing Login Options. The following screen will be displayed.

All four password duration functions are controlled by the Life (Days) field circled in red.  Leaving the field blank allows a user to keep the same password indefinitely.  Entering the number of days will require a user to periodically reset their password. The Expires field will automatically calculate the expiration date when entered.

The life of a password also permits control over how long a guest may access to the software.
Check the Reset to Blank box to clear the Life (Days) field and allow a user to reset their forgotten password the next time they start ALERE.  The Manager module has a general report called Logins which can be utilized to list users whose password is set to expire so they can be warned beforehand.

A unit of measure, or UOM as it is commonly known, is the unit in which the quantity of an item is measured. The UOM may be different for the same item when purchasing it, stocking it, and selling it. Therefore, there needs to be a way of automatically converting that unit of measure when going from one UOM to another.  The individual units of measure are first defined as global codes under the UOM code name. The U/M Conversion screen is then used to define the relationships between different units of measure.

The screen is found in the Manager module by choosing Definition and selecting U/M Conversion. Only one side of the conversion requires entry as the other side is done for you. You may have as many U/M conversions as you may need.  Note for manufacturers: Ensure your stocking unit of measure in inventory is the UOM you use to define manufacturing quantities on a work order.

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

  • Blockchain: When Accurate Tracking & Tracing Matter
  • Who Is PSSI?
  • Tips & Best Practices: 
    • 1st-Time vs. 2nd-Time ERP Buyers: What the Users Said
    • Manufacturing Metrics and ERP
    • Tips for Evaluating Your Current Info & Reporting System (Is It Time?)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: What Is “Customer Insights”?
  • ALERE Software Tips: New e-commerce… Log-In Management… Units of Measure
  • 7 Minute Manufacturing Overview video 
  • Free White Paper: Software That Matters
  • Commentary: Tips for Improving Inventory Accuracy Quickly – Standardizing UoMs

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 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 complex process and technology problems.  While 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 archives.

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

First-Time Buyers vs. Second-Time Buyers: What the Users Said
Manufacturing Metrics and ERP
Tips For Evaluating Your Current Information & Reporting System (Is It Time?)

What Is Microsoft Dynamics 365 “Customer Insights”?

MSDynamicsWorld.com contributor Hannes Holst has provided an overview of the Dynamics enhancement product known as “Customer Insights,” a powerful tool in the hands of the right user to map, match and merge customer data from a variety of data sources to achieve enhanced business intelligence.

Customer Insights is designed to allow a power user to extract data from additional outside data sources into one repository capable of providing consolidated reporting and data insights and analysis.

As Holst writes in an article here:

“One of the big benefits is reduced development costs compared to more manual methods for combining data from different databases. This makes sense, especially in a scenario in which several report designers are collaborating. Using Customer Insights, you can create a defined set of data mappings from different sources so your report designers focus on the reports, not on finding and building the relationships in the data. This reduces development time and minimizes the risk of individual mistakes. Especially when new staff joins a company, it is possible to make them productive in a shorter amount of time.”

An amusement park uses Insights to consolidate data from different sources to help represent the individual history of a customer, then for example uses this info to send an email after a regular visitor has an unresolved complaint and stops coming.

A restaurant and hotel chain uses Insights to unify data from customers, including table reservations, room reservations, customer surveys, vouchers, service incidents, weather and TripAdvisor reviews. The resulting personalized services include special offers for individual customers, business insights, such as better understanding of complaints and targeted communication through a newsletter.

Holst does make a point of noting that “Customer Insights is designed for tech-savvy users, such as data technicians who have a deep understanding of data sources, databases, tables, and fields. Customer Insights is designed to unify data from different data sources to provide an accurate foundation of all available customer data.”

Holst adds: “Customer Insights offers the possibility to enrich the customer profiles with additional data—particularly the brand affinities of a demographic group. For this, the admin can select a demographics group defined by birth date, gender, and zip-code and add brand affinities to these records.”  In other words, you can mix and match data sets from external sources to create unique profiles across lots of customer data to personalize your client messages, interactions and marketing.  In a nutshell: enhanced business intelligence.  It’s the future of business systems.

Dynamics Business Central 365 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.

Getting Lean – Tips for Improving Inventory Accuracy Quickly: Standardizing Units of Measure

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

One of the key requirements for leveraging your ERP business system is to demonstrate inventory accuracy.  Companies that have managed to achieve 95% accuracy levels on inventory reporting realize the many benefits it provides.  Customer fulfillment rates improve, production interruptions are reduced and productivity improves.  Planners are able to more closely match supply with demand which typically allows these businesses also to enjoy better cash flow.

In the pursuit of inventory accuracy there are two key areas on which to focus: solid procedures, and discipline with moving and reporting inventory usage.  While these are the primary areas to focus on, you should not forget about the little things either.  One often overlooked aspect of inventory accuracy is units of measure (UOM).  While most people believe that UOM’s are rather intuitive and therefore of little value, I found them time and time again to be a source for reporting errors.  These error typically occur at three key inventory points: annual physical inventories when people unfamiliar with the various UOM’s are counting; the receiving dock when inventory is purchased in one UOM and then converted to a different stocking UOM; and during order picking when product is packaged with multiple items within a bag, box, or container.  It is at these critical counting points that a user will typically take a glance at the UOM to make sure they “get it right.” The clearer your UOM’s codes are, the easier it is for the user to get it right.  Here are some tips for tightening up your UOM’s.

  1. Standardize List of Codes
    1. Your organization should have a predefined list of the approved UOM codes with explanations documented.  If possible, these codes should be preloaded in your ERP system and secured so that no one can create or amend existing codes without approval.
  2. Standard Format
    1. All codes should be three characters or less, generated in lower case and excluding periods (“.”)  Example; ea, lb, ft, etc.
    2. Avoid issues of pc., pcs, PC. PCS, all being used.
  3. Only one version for each type of measure
    1. Example ea or pc, not both; box or ctn, not both
  4. Default – Stocking UOM
    1. Some commodities are purchased in a different UOM than typically used in the organization.  Decide how the commodity is used in your company and make that the default UOM.  Use the UOM conversion feature found in most ERP solutions to allow your company to place orders in the vendors UOM but receive them in your default stocking UOM.

These simple guidelines will make reports and inventory documents easier to read, allow your people to more easily learn the language of your company and reduce the numbers of inventory reporting errors.  Little things count.

-Larry Lukasik, President
July, 2020

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