October 2020 Newsletter


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Welcome to PSSI’s Update Newsletter

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

October, 2020

UpdateOctober 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.

A Silver Lining? Pandemic Tax Breaks

Looking for something good to say about the pandemic?  Laura Saunders (pictured), in a “Tax Report” article for The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out several tax tips every business should know (WSJ, 8-22-20).  As always, even one tip can make it worth the read.  And also as always, consult your own accountant and tax adviser for details and eligibility.

Ms. Saunders points out a few tips for this year whether business is booming or on the ropes, realizing that tax strategies aren’t always top of mind during times like these.  But these are tips she thinks business owners should consider now.

* Claim 2020 losses on 2019 tax returns
Section 165 of the tax code lets businesses (and individuals) claim losses on last year’s tax return if a federal disaster has been declared, with the intention of getting cash to victims ASAP.  Not all pandemic losses will be deductible, so revenue drops would not be included as both “sudden and caused by the disaster” (as required by tax code), but added costs, say to a restaurant, for deep cleaning or a payment to escape a lease might.  We are all awaiting IRS guidance on details.

* Next year, carry 2020 losses back up to five years
This year’s Cares Act allows a five-year carry-back of net losses for 2018, 19, 20, as well as removing other restrictions that make this provision valuable to some taxpayers.  A broad array of losses are allowed, and can be used by corporations, including S Corps and partnerships.  However, losses can’t be claimed until returns are filed next spring.

*Switch to cash accounting to defer taxes
Most small businesses already do (or do an accrual to cash conversion at the end of each year for tax calculation purposes), as this method recognizes cash only upon receipt and can thus mean you don’t owe the IRS until customers pay.  The 2017 tax overhaul reduced the revenue level average over three years required to make the switch, allowing firms averaging under $26M to do so.

*Get generous treatment for losses from failed businesses.
Tax code sec. 1244 allows certain owners who sell to use up to $50,000 of net losses ($100K if married) to offset current or future ordinary income, such as wages.  Without this provision, the loss is limited to a capital loss offset only by capital gains plus $3,000 ordinary income per year as a carry forward.  This could work for a lot of C and S Corps, and is worth discussing with your adviser.

*Sell a business tax-free.
Owners selling at a profit can save substantial tax if they can use this provision of Sec. 1202, if you are a C corp and have held stock for over 5 years.  If certain conditions are met, owners can often eliminate cap gains tax on at least $10M of profits on their sale.

Again, discuss these changes with your accountant.  But it sure can’t hurt to bring these tips up.

ALERE: The Power & Use of BOMsPSSI 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 explains a few of the intricacies, and the power behind, ALERE’s multi-faceted approach to Bills of Materials (BOMs). In an earlier edition we talked about Variable Phantom, Adjustable Raw Material, and 2-Dimensional Formula BOMs. This month we will dive a bit deeper into these BOMs and illustrate how they are presented and operate.

The important thing to understand is that these are not TYPES of BOMs. They are modifications to the BOM Child screen and can be mixed and matched within an indented BOM. For example, placing one Variable Phantom under another creates a 2-Dimensional Formula. Since multiple Variable Phantoms can be indented under each other the 2-Dimensional Formula is really an N-Dimensional Formula! It is just simpler to describe it that way.

A Variable Phantom allows a multiplier to be entered which applies to all the components that make up the bill. To illustrate how this is accomplished please use the following graphic as a reference for the explanation.

The purpose is to have the sales order configurator ask how many drone arm assemblies are required. This is done by adding the assembly, part number DRARMASSY1, to the BOM. On the BOM Child screen set the type to Phantom and check mark the Adjustable option. This will add the small white plus sign (in red, as circled) to the phantom icon on the BOM. Lastly enter the question that the configuration is to ask in the Adjustment Description field.

The quantity entered during configuration will multiply each of the items that make up the BOM.
The use of a Variable Phantom in place of a Modular structure requires the use of only one part number, simplifying BOM structures.

Adjustable Raw Material permits any child component to have its quantity changed when the BOM is configured. Take the example of a Kit BOM that consists of multiple components that can have their quantities specified.

The purpose is to have the sales order configurator ask how many of each item to include. This is done as an item is entered on the BOM Child screen: the part number is specified, the type is set to Base Item, and the Adjustable option is checked. This will add a small white plus sign to the bolt icon on the BOM. Lastly, enter the question that the configuration is to ask in the Adjustment Description field. In this case, all the items can have their quantities specified.

The use of Adjustable Raw Material permits one inventory item number to be used for a Kit, or any BOM, where the child parts remain the same but one or more of them can have different quantities.

The 2-Dimensional Formula allows a Variable Phantom that is indented a level below another Variable Phantom to be multiplied together, and then find a result that will be used to determine the total materials to use. To illustrate how this is accomplished use the following graphic as a reference for the explanation:

On the graphic please take note of the red circle. The first question asks for how many cells horizontally and the second asks for how many vertically. If, for example, during the configuration process the first answer is 2 and the second answer is 5 then the result would be 10 (2 x 5). The two components indented under DRYSOLVERT would be multiplied by 10.

As long as the chain is unbroken this logic can actually be applied to more than 20 BOM levels. The 2-Dimensional Formula permits for example the computation of surface area, the volume, or the weight of constant cross section shapes.

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

  • A Silver Lining?  Pandemic Tax Breaks
  • Who Is PSSI?
  • Tips & Best Practices: 
    • Expert Advice on Technology Investments
    • Ransomware: Forewarned is Forearmed
    • How the 4th Industrial Revolution is Transforming Manufacturing
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: Functionality Changes
  • ALERE Software Tips: The Power & Use of BOMs
  • 7 Minute Manufacturing Overview video 
  • Free White Paper: Software That Matters
  • President’s Commentary: “Not So Obvious Benefits” (Conclusion)

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 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…

Advice From The Experts: Technology Investments
On Ransomware: Forewarned is Forearmed
How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Transforming Manufacturing

Take Note! Exchange Server 2010 No Longer Supported

Keith Goedde points out an important notice via Dynamic Communities, that Microsoft’s trusty old Exchange Server 2010 will no longer be supported effective TODAY.

While panic is not called for, upgrading is.  Read below Goedde’s commentary on what you need to do now if you’re running ES 2010…

As of October 13, 2020, there will be no further security or patches, fixes, updates, or available support. Nothing.

While we understand that making a change can be a nuisance, NOW is the time to act on updating your Exchange server. Your business has been missing out on a host of benefits found in more recent versions, so any “pain” you experience from upgrading will quickly be forgotten when you have access to more modern, convenient functionality.
Further, believe us when we say that every hacker and cyber-criminal is just waiting to attack platforms still on Exchange 2010. They know businesses that don’t upgrade will be vulnerable, and they already have plans in place.

Two actions you must take soon to protect your business

1. Determine what version of Exchange you are running (if you are not sure).

With Microsoft Outlook running, press and hold CTRL while you right-click the Outlook icon in the notification area, at the far right of the task bar.  Then…

  • Click Connection Status
  • Move the horizontal slider all the way to the right. Under the Version column heading, note the number that appears
  • Compare the number to the versions that will be out of support on October 13, 2020:

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, 14.0.639.21
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1,
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP2,

2. Explore your move to a modern workplace. 

If you are running one of the Exchange versions listed, your next action is to make a choice about what you want to do next. The most natural choice is to upgrade to Exchange Online/Microsoft 365 (Office). However, if for some reason moving email to the cloud is not possible for business reasons, you can upgrade to Exchange 2016/2019.

A migration project can take time to plan and this is one project you do not want to push off. There are considerations and decisions to make throughout the process, whichever choice you make. You need time to choose a partner that can help you review migration plan options and make the best decisions for your organization.

While you are considering your choices, remember that the move to a modern workplace encompasses far more than email and office productivity. Choose a partner that has the depth and breadth to help you manage your system beyond implementation. This includes improving your security posture; monitoring and optimizing licenses; and providing insight and guidance on how to get the most value out of your software investment.

Business Central Functionality Changes

Microsoft has announced changes to functionality over time in its Dynamics 365 Business Central application systems.  Below we’ll recap a few so our current users can keep up to date about recent changes.  This is a partial listing; you can find a more complete listing here.

So-called “deprecated features” will not be available in future versions of Business Central, which can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, a feature may no longer be relevant, or something better may have become available. If you use a feature that is listed in this topic, either the feature itself or an extension of it, you should look for or develop an alternative.  The following table gives a few examples of what we mean by “moved, removed, or replaced.”

TABLE 1: State  
The capability has been moved from local functionality to W1 because it was no longer specific to one or more country versions. The capability was combined with other related functionality to eliminate redundancy.

When you have recorded special prices and line discounts for sales and purchases, Business Central ensures that your profit on item trade is always optimal by automatically calculating the best price on sales and purchase documents and on job and item journal lines.  The functionality is replaced with new calculations that you can extend to include additional sources or calculation methods. The current capabilities will be available, and can be used in parallel with the new, until 2021 release wave 1.

You can use Business Central in the Windows client that is installed on your computer.  Business Central continues to evolve the modern client experiences where users work with Business Central in the browser, Windows 10 desktop app, or mobile apps on Android and iOS. The legacy Dynamics NAV Windows client is no longer available for deployment. Instead, users can switch to the modern experience in the browser, the Android/iOS mobile apps, or the Windows 10 desktop app (available through the respective stores).

REPORTS 204-207
You can generate external-facing documents, such as sales invoices and order confirmations, that you send to customers as PDF files.  The reports in the 204-207 range are replaced by the following updated reports in the 1304 to 1307 range:
204, Sales-Quote -> 1304, Standard Sales-Quote
205, Order-Confirmation -> 1305, Standard Sales-Order Conf.
206, Sales-Invoice -> 1306, Standard Sales-Invoice
207, Credit-Memo -> 1307, Standard Sales-Credit Memo
The No. of Copies field is removed from the new reports because of performance reasons and because selection of the quantity to print works differently on modern printers. To print a report more than once, users can list the same report multiple times on the Report Selection page for the document type in question.

You can personalize pages and configure profiles by adding or removing fields, and Business Central will save your changes.  The shift to AL caused the legacy personalization and profile configuration features to become outdated, so we have introduced new tooling. In this release, existing personalizations and configurations are discarded, and you must use the new tools to recreate them. Your new changes will be kept in future releases.

You can export data to an Excel workbook.  The Excel COM add-in was installed along with the Windows client. Now that the Windows Client is no longer available, neither is the add-in. To export data to Excel, use the Edit in Excel action.

You can print documents such as invoices automatically, without prompting the user or without the user choosing to do so.  This feature was tied to the Windows Client, which is no longer available.

When we move, remove, or replace an object, breaking changes can result in other apps or extensions that use the object. To help our partners identify and resolve breaking changes, we have created a Breaking Changes document that lists known issues and suggestions for what to do about them.

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.

“Not So Obvious Benefits…” (Conclusion)

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

In my previous post, I explained the dilemma a small fabricator had with the flow of raw materials.  Due to the volumes that they purchased and some limitation regarding space in their facility, they were forced to store inventory in their yard.  They ordered structural steel products (strip/angle/bar/tube) every three/four weeks so that they could accumulate a truck load quantity for a discount from their distributor as well as receive free freight.  If they ordered less than a truck load, they paid a premium for the material as well as incurring a delivery charge.  These additional costs wiped out much of the savings that could be realized if they could reduce the material handling time in their facility.

Their purchasing manager met with the steel distributor to review what options might be available to them.  He explained what they were trying to do and that they were looking for a partner to work with them.  The steel distributor did not want to lose their business, but didn’t see a way where they could help without incurring additional cost at the distributor.  After some negotiation, the distributor agreed to a three-month trial of daily deliveries.  Here is how the program would work.

Each work cell would carry enough inventory for about one to two weeks of the various materials they used.  This inventory was broken into two bundles for each size/type.  When the operator cut the bands on a bundle of steel, he triggered a Kanban reorder card that was faxed to the steel distributor.  The distributor would bundle the stated quantity of material that was being consumed and deliver it the next day.  The material came at the discounted price based on a truckload volume and no delivery charge would be added.  The customer was billed every week and had to pay within 10 days of receipt of invoice. In addition, the customer had to guarantee that the truck would be offloaded within 15 minutes of arrival so that it could make additional deliveries that day.  After the three months, both parties would review the program to determine if it should be continued.

Here are their findings…

For the manufacturer

  • Be being able to store limited quantities of material directly in the cells, the operators no longer had to go out to the yard and find and move material to the cells. This not only reduced material handling time, but the material no longer rusted which saved additional rework time.  Since the material cost had not changed, and there were no delivery charges, the manufacturer was delighted with the results

For the steel distributor

  • Here is where some unexpected benefits appeared to the delight of the distributor.  With small daily deliveries to the company, logistics planning became much simpler.  Each day the driver knew he would be making an AM delivery to the manufacturer.  Because everything was pre-bundled to specific quantities, the manufacturing company could quickly unload the truck and move the material directly to the work cells.  The truck would be back on the road within 15 minutes of arrival and making other deliveries.  Previously, when making deliveries of a truckload to the manufacturer, it wasn’t unusual for the process to take a couple of hours.  This greatly limited the runs the driver could make in a day.  In addition, the cash flow for the distributor improved as the customer was always paying within 10 days.  The process worked so well for the distributor that they formalized it into a special program for all of their local customers.  They found that they could deliver more material in a week to their customers when small quantities were ordered instead of full truckloads.  The elimination of batch processing at the distributor helped them plan material flow much better within their facility

Trying something different is always a challenge.  The steel distributor while hesitant at first was willing to go the extra mile for a good customer.  Being willing to deviate from the “that’s the way we have always done it” mindset, the distributor found a new opportunity to improve their business.  Don’t let your prejudices get in the way of exploring new opportunities.  You might be surprised by the results!

-Larry Lukasik, President
October, 2020

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