November 2020 Newsletter



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Welcome to PSSI’s Update Newsletter

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

November, 2020

UpdateNovember 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

What Should Businesses Expect in 2021?

Covid-19 as we all know has rocked small business in particular more than any event in modern history.  Over 100,000 businesses have been driven under, so far.  Sadly, the smallest businesses have been hit the hardest, while the online giants thrive, prosper and grow.  The rich truly are getting richer.
Today we thought we’d cull a few of the best tips and trends on what to expect in the year ahead as we all struggle to get through the downturn.

  1. Working remotely is the new norm.  What was a small but growing trend the past few years has risen to become a tidal wave of work-from-home staffing.  That’s not going to change.  In a recent Global Leadership Summit survey, over half said that at least half their employees would work from home (or in “non-traditional offices”) in 2020.  Google Hangous, Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams have made video conferencing ubiquitous.  Small businesses that can smartly adapt to a remove workforce culture will attract a new generation of skilled workers.
  2. Big data is no longer the exclusive domain of big businesses.  Big data is essentially the collecting of every bit of data that goes into a digital transaction.  Credit card transactions, Facebook posts, profile updates, tweets, and a whole lot more create a complex web of intricacies, intimacies and insights.  Tools like Twilert and Social Mention can help small businesses set up alerts whenever certain keywords are mentioned in social media.  Your call logs can be a valuable source of added info about customer service and client interactions.  VOIP phone systems often include these logs.
  3. You need a social media expert.  Increasingly, small businesses need to be seen on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Social media is expanding across all demographics.  Live video is slowly replacing blogs and posts.  Audiences want dynamic, interactive content that pulls them in.  “Influencers” importance continue to expand and grow.  Data mining and analytics will up the game for social marketing strategies.
  4. Automation software is becoming a great field-leveler.  According to Yarro, a national association of small business owners, “recent research by McKinsey Company of 2000 work activities across 800 professions, shows that 45 percent of work related activities could be automated. Where larger corporations allocate resources to hiring, training and managing a large workforce, smaller businesses have the flexibility to replace manual processes with automation.”  Accounting, process flow and customer service are among areas that can most quickly benefit from increased automation – and there is little time to waste, as automation here is what allows small companies to operate like big ones.
  5. The gig economy is here to stay.  The side-gig economy is already producing over $700B of output and turning traditional employment on its ear.
  6. Tech driven customer service is growing, and it’s the future.  It’s tricky finding the proper balance between technology and the human touch (at PSSI, we lean heavily toward the latter), but many customers prefer to receive help online rather than call a company.  Younger customers are comfortable with these newer approaches; older companies need to remember this.
  7. Mobile-centric employee communications are a must.  Today’s younger employees are permanently attached to their phones and tablets.  Future workers will only become more tech-savvy.  Even email is being replaced by video chats, Facetime and Skype-like technologies, encrypted messaging (WhatsApp), text and apps like Slack, Basecamp and HipChat.
  8. Cloud computing: it’s not just for big business any more.  Microsoft’s fastest growing division is its cloud services.  Ditto for Amazon.  These companies provide massive repositories of data and applications, and the cloud-based services to go with them.  Business is moving to the cloud faster than ever before.  The tide is turned and momentum is gaining.  If you haven’t looked at putting your critical business infrastructure in the cloud, 2021 is certainly the year to get started.

These are only a few of the trends that are here, and here to stay.  To stay in the game, companies need to look forward in 2021 and beyond, and either embrace the changes coming, or be run over by the competitors who employ them best.

ALERE: The Power of A Few Well Placed Shortcuts

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 shows us the utility of manufacturing operation email automation, and how to add shortcuts for adding supplier and customer item numbers.

Manufacturing Operation Email Automation
Automatic email communications have proven to be a valuable business tool. They keep customers up-to-date, notify suppliers of changes, and make sure company personnel are informed of important information. Now ALERE v16 has the ability to send out alerts to internal personnel when certain manufacturing operations have begun or have been completed.

Individual route steps on a work order can be flagged to send email notifications. When the email rule is created, the Action is set to Post and the popup under Document has the choice of either WO-Started or WO-Completed.  Notice the “Send email” checkbox in our sample screen at the top of this column.

The alert can be a key to triggering manufacturing actions that need to be taken.

Adding Supplier and Customer Item Numbers Shortcut

Adding new customer and supplier item numbers can be a time consuming processes. While it can be done when bulk entering the item numbers on the Inventory Item Master Customer and Supplier tabs, there is a shortcut that can be employed during the process of entering an order.

On both sales and purchase orders, enter the inventory item number and the customer/suppler item number at the same time on the Line Item tab. When the orders are saved, ALERE checks inventory to see if the customer/supplier number already exists for each line. If they do not, then a message (shown above in the red circle) is displayed.

Answering ‘Yes’ will add the customer or supplier item number to their list in inventory. This is an elegant way to add these numbers without interrupting the order process or remembering to enter them at a later time.

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

  • What Should Businesses Expect in 2021?
  • Who Is PSSI?
  • Tips & Best Practices: 
    • Achieving a Happy Inventory Level
    • 5 Tangible Benefits from ERP
    • 3 Simple Yet Powerful Business Operational Statements
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: One for the Techies!
  • ALERE Software Tips: The Power of a Few Well Placed Shortcuts
  • 7 Minute Manufacturing Overview video 
  • Free White Paper: Software That Matters
  • President’s Commentary: The Annual Physical Inventory

Who Are We?

Performance Software Solutions, Inc. is a northern Indiana-based consulting firm and 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 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…

Achieving a Happy Inventory Level
5 Tangible Benefits from ERP
3 Simple Yet Powerful Business Operational Statements

Business Central 365: Here’s One for the Techies

Geek alert: Microsoft continues to make major investments in its Business Central Dynamics 365 ERP suite (formerly NAV).  Today’s post is mostly for the IT nerds and system administrators out there.  Blogger Kim Congleton, COO of New View Strategies reveals some new enhancements with the recent (October) release of Wave 2 of Business Central.

This is a partial (edited) listing; you can find the article’s full text here. A few key highlights…

Improved Overview and management of available database and file capacity
It is now much easier for system admins to get an overview of the database and file capacity available for their Business Central Environments. Not only will this facilitate your system management, this insight is critical if you have a large database you are trying to manage: the standard database for Business Central is limited to 80 GB, often a surprise to customers upgrading from on-premises NAV. This facilitated view will enable customers to more easily monitor as they approach this limit, so they can discuss with their partner options for resolving.

Schedule data update of application features enabled through Feature Management
This feature gives admins the ability to control when they take advantage of features that require a data update.  As an admin, having the ability to test anything that results in a data update prior to it affecting one’s production environment is certainly important, at the very least to avoid any disruption in service.

Notify users of high-risk changes in selected setup fields
This enhancement is coming soon (not here yet) but it’s a valuable one – when values in Setup tables are changed, admins will be notified by email, and can evaluate whether the change makes sense and is valid.

Define retention policies
One can now specify when to delete outdated data in tables that contain log entries and archived records. It’s important to keep the data in your database clean; especially with an 80 GB initial limit for size, this becomes critical. Being able to define retention policies and have the system automatically purge the records is key to keeping the database clean. The change log entry table is a perfect use case for this feature – depending on what you have turned on in the change log this table can grow seeming exponentially and can spiral out of control.

Database Access intent changed to read-only for frequently used reports
Long-time NAV users lived through the days when running reports used to lock the database and slow down the system to the point of precluding any transactions. This feature will change the frequently used reports to read-only out of the box, so you don’t have to remember to update them. This a nice feature that admins can use on other reports as well if there are performance issues.

Restoring environments to a point in time in the past
Coming very soon, this enhancement allows admins to roll back to a restore point in the last 30 days, and even restore to a sandbox first to test. For companies with a significant number of transactions, or where it is critical to not lose data as part of an outage, this is huge!

Congleton concludes her post by adding “Microsoft is going all in on providing a robust ecosystem of tools and platforms that can be used to extend and tie into one’s ERP system. Also, when we look at the improvements in Azure and other areas you can see how BC is benefiting from those improvements as well.”

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.

Relief!… from the Annual Physical Inventory

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

There is a crispness in the air and the holiday season is upon us.  That can mean only one thing… the dreaded annual physical inventory is just around the corner.  I don’t know about you, but I really disliked this activity when I was working in the manufacturing sector.  There is an enormous amount of time and labor thrown at this activity, and there is little payoff.

When I inherited the responsibility for the process at one of the companies I worked at, I met with the CFO to review the procedures and set our goals for the upcoming event. During that discussion, I asked why we needed to do it. His response was that it ensured the accuracy of the balance sheet for the company for tax reporting purposes.  The company took an inventory every year and adjusted its inventory records and GL balances prior to finalizing their year-end financial reporting.  They had been doing it this way for years.  Our inventories started on the second shift on a Thursday with organizing and counting, spanned both shifts on Friday and then finished up counting and tag entry late Saturday with all audits and final reporting complete by Sunday afternoon.

After spending 60+ hours at the plant over those four days, there was one thing I was sure of…I would never do that again.  I knew we needed a plan to get out of this, so that became my personal goal.  Eliminate the need for these inventories.  I can tell you that it took me four more years to realize my goal, but by our fourth year, we demonstrated a variance of $15,000 against an inventory value of $1.2mm.  Our CFO and auditors agreed to simply sample our inventory from that point forward, and we never took another annual physical inventory.  I want to share some quick thoughts with you on how we were able to accomplish some of this.  While there are numerous issues that contributed to this success story, there are a few key activities that greatly simplified the process and set us on a track to succeed.

There were three key issues that I implemented to get us on the right track.  The first was housekeeping. While we did not implement a full Five S effort, we did go about cleaning and better organizing the plant.  Every container in the plant had to be labeled with the company approved part number.  From the minute raw materials arrived to when they shipped from the plant, no container ever moved without an ID.  Additionally, we zoned the plant and gave employees specific responsibilities for keeping their areas organized.  It didn’t hurt that our company president was an ex-marine fighter pilot, so getting and keeping it clean was well supported.

Secondly, I needed a way to allow us to enter, compare and audit inventory tags much faster.  While we used a bin location system in our finished goods area, the rest of the plant was just one big location in our information system.  This meant that we needed to count the entire plant, then pull and enter several thousand tags before we could begin audits. Waiting for these audit reports was extremely inefficient.  Fortunately, our information system allowed us to create multiple locations within the plant.  I aligned these new locations with the housekeeping locations we had established in all of the departments.  We could now issue tags by small zones (100 – 400 tags), count, pull, enter and immediately audit areas.  In some cases this allowed the zone teams to complete all of their physical inventory activities in one shift.

Finally, I broke our annual physical inventory into three distinct pieces: Pre-Inventory, Inventory, and Post Inventory.  Each piece had a separate set of goals that we worked on and honed every year.

In my next installment, I will identify the key activities for each of these pieces.  Check back in with me in next month’s Update newsletter.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Larry Lukasik, President
November, 2020

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