When speaking with with businesses seeking inventory management software, the terms Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is often used interchangeably. Although ERP software has warehouse management capabilities, they are not the same, and there are areas that set them a part. It's important to understand the definition and difference between these terms when talking to software providers.
Both WMS and ERP software systems are the backbone to any distribution and wholesale business - without them, the business wouldn't be able to function. This blog post aims to educate you on the similarities and differences between warehouse anagement and ERP software.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is mainly used to manage the movement and storage of inventory. It tracks the movement of each inventory item such as the item being picked, packed, shipped and received. The key differentiator between ERP and WMS is that WMS systems provide intelligence on optimizing inventory based on real-time information. Reports can be generated to indicate the optimal location for each item to be placed based on historical data and trends. In addition, WMS are often standalone systems, requiring other modules like accounting and customer relationship management.
On the other hand, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software automates business processes across all departments of a business including accounting, inventory management, and customer relationship management. The main purpose of ERP software is to facilitate the flow of information between all functional areas. ERP software has many of the same capabilities as WMS software such as tracking the process of inventory items - picked, packed, and shipped. It's important to know that ERP software is an integrated all-in-one solution - it's not necessary or recommended to have other systems working in conjunction with ERP software. Often times, it becomes counter-productive to have multiple software applications managing your operations. Having multiple applications will decrease productivity and efficiency through duplicate entries - and don't forget rekeying errors.
Both these systems are a part of supply chain management and aimed to help businesses manage their resources in the most economical way possible. They report information based on real-time data in a variety of ways and can be stored on a server and on the cloud. Each system and module comes with its own price tag - starting from a few thousand, to upwards of hundreds of thousands. Not every warehouse needs a WMS - they're complex and the initial and on-going costs are expensive. Many ERP systems have the main functionality of WMS systems at a lower price-point. There are different levels of inventory management software and it's best to understand business needs when searching for systems.
If you could be granted one wish when implementing a new software system, what would that one wish be? Many companies start their software search for various reasons; outgrown, outdated or cumbersome software. The number one requirement all companies are looking for is reliable software to manage their warehouse and distribution operations. Reliability has many different dimensions in its definition in the software industry.
Here's a 3D look into inventory management and accounting software:
1. Reliable Accounting, Inventory Tracking, and Software Modules
You need to make sure your software provides sound accounting practices that enable an accurate representation of your data. For example, your software system shouldn’t be able to record negative inventory values. Also, having lot tracking functionality will allow you to properly deal with regulatory issues such as product recalls. These are just a few examples of the key functionality reliable software should have, along with other customizable modules to meet your specific needs.
2. Reliable Implementation Team
After selecting a software provider, the next stage is software implementation. Reliable software starts with a team who cares about streamlining your business processes and sets it up for growth. Reliable software consultants will act like an employee of your company and strive to understand your internal operations of your business to best implement the system and offer suggestions to improve efficiencies.
3. Reliable After-Sales Support
Once the software has been implemented and installed, it's important to know you'll be able to call on your software provider for assistance. Support personnel should have a solid understanding your business processes, the product and accounting practices to provide customized help. You need to feel confident in the individuals running the 'behind the scenes' show as they will be the people you deal with on a go-forward basis.
At the end of the day, it’s important to make sure the level of confidence and support carries on after the sales process because that's where the real relationship begins. Reliable software is defined by trustworthy business practices and the people behind the software.
Many software companies provide users the option to have regular updates to their wholesale management software. If you’re an individual who appreciates the latest and hottest technology products on the market, then you’re sure to understand the importance of keeping your software up-to-date. If you don’t appreciate technology nor see it’s true value, this blog post will help you understand the reasons that will prompt you to upgrade your wholesale management software.
Top 5 reasons why you should upgrade your software:
1. New hardware required
When purchasing new hardware, chances are you’ll need to reinstall your wholesale management software onto your new servers. As you’ll be incurring re-installment cost, it’s the perfect time get up-to-speed on the latest software advancements and powerful server capabilities through an upgrade.
2. Keep up with technology trends and advancements
Just like the value of a car depreciates in value when it’s driven off the lot, the same holds true for technology – if you don’t embrace change. Since technology evolves rapidly, it’s important to stay current to take advantage of those technological changes that will impact your business.
3. Allows you to easily adapt with incremental changes
It’s more manageable for users of wholesale management software to digest small changes without feeling overwhelmed. Users will be able to retain more information and training they receive.
4. Increase user productivity and efficiency
As your business grows, so does the amount of work. Upgrading to the latest software lends ways to streamline operational processes. Employees can spend less time with mundane tasks and more time on value-added projects.
5. Cheaper to upgrade than purchasing a new system
It’s much cheaper to digest periodic upgrade costs than purchasing entirely new wholesale management software. Over time, if you haven’t upgraded your software over several years, the cost of upgrading will equate to purchasing a whole new software system.
It’s easy to keep pushing off upgrading your wholesale management software, but over time it will catch-up with you. Be sure you recognize the importance and reasons why you should regularly update your software.
Searching out inventory and accounting software for wholesalers and distributors is an important and involved project. When doing so, you want to select appropriate software vendors that best suit your company’s needs.
Here are the top 5 questions to ask ERP software vendors:
1. What’s the estimated cost of your ERP software?
It is always good to ask for ballpark figures of the full software and implementation costs. At the same time, you need to be honest and upfront with your software budget to vendors. By discovering the cost of software and comparing it against your budget, you’ll be able to realize if you can afford pursuing the software vendor as a potential candidate. For advice on setting a realistic budget, download our Software Buying Guide.
2. How is your software deployed - what deployment options do you offer?
There are two common deployment methods – Hosted (SaaS) and On-Premise. Once you understand each deployment method and select the one that best suits your company, it’s important to identify software vendors who use your chosen method. If software vendors offer both, it’s worth asking if you can easily switch from one deployment method to the other.
3. How often do you release new updates for the software?
One of the most common reasons for implementing new software is to enable growth. Therefore it’s vital that software companies are constantly developing and debugging the software to ensure they don’t fall behind and stay ahead of the technology curve. Upgrading your software on a periodic basis is beneficial to stay current and increase efficiencies.
4. After-sales support – what are your support desk hours?
Depending where your company is located, you may be in different time zones than your software provider. It’s important to know what core business operation hours you’ll have for support assistance and identify which software vendors can meet your requirements.
5. What do their clients have to say?
With any significant purchase, it’s important to perform reference checks. Ask for a list of customers you can contact and ask them about their experience and relationship with their software provider. Why wait until the end of the process to do reference checks? Try taking a look at software vendors website as there may be a client testimonial page.
Now that you have 5 key questions to ask software vendors, download our Software Buying Guide to further understand important factors to consider when seeking out inventory management and accounting software for wholesale/distributors.
Have you ever owned a car for longer than you thought you would? Many reliable car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota build cars that are driveable beyond a decade. Personally, I own a 12 year-old Honda Civic and believe it or not, she still holds her form and runs like a beauty. I’ve done a few minor repairs over the past 12 years but no major work – oil and filter changes, tire changes, new brake pads.
We all know the importance of vehicle maintenance, so why discount software maintenance? With any car, you’ll need to maintain it to ensure it continues to run smoothly and will be able to reach its maximum life expectancy. In a recent blog post, we’ve mentioned the importance of maintenance in the world of inventory management software.
Minor repairs and routine maintenance is expected and must be done but when do you draw the line between constant repairs to an old car and just buying a new one?
Another example that I see too often is wholesalers and distributors having dated inventory management and accounting software. In many cases, business owners will throw money at their software company to have workarounds built into the software long after the software has become obsolete. Even worse is throwing money into a software system that you can’t see your company grow with. At some point, you’ll need to figure out your diminishing point of return.
Also, it may be a good idea to periodically do a sanity check of your software. One of our clients performs a major ERP software review every 2 years to decide if he’s outgrown the software or if it is capable of helping them continue to grow.
Watch our featured video to hear Pat Chown, owner of Foundation Distributing, describe how he goes about his software check-ups.
Moral of the story, you need to know when it’s appropriate to part ways with your old treasures and be able to make the jump to a better investment for your future.
For someone who doesn't follow American football regularly, I always know when the Super Bowl weekend will be- the first weekend of February. The pure fact that I refer to the Super Bowl as ‘American football’ is probably a good indication of my passion for real football, more commonly known as soccer in North America. There's always so much hype built around this event that it's hard to avoid; morning radio talk-shows hosts give their predictions, social media is buzzing with speculations, and your friends are talking about it. Even though I don't fully understand the game of football, I still find myself wanting the Super Bowl experience.
While the majority of true NFL fans look forward to the game, others look forward to other elements that come with the Super Bowl. It allows people of all interests to enjoy one of the largest sporting events of the year! For many, a big draw is the Super Bowl's entertainment; such as performances during the half-time show and commercials. There's even speculations whether Kelly Clarkson will forget words to the American national anthem like Christina Aguilera did at last year's Super Bowl.
Planning and successfully broadcasting one of the biggest sporting events on national television takes a diverse team of experts. Without an expert team managing the game, on-air commercials, performers and entertainers for the halftime show, the Super Bowl experience wouldn't be what it is today. Similarity, running a successful business takes a carefully crafted team of experts. Whether your team consists of talented employees or partnering businesses, it’s important to know you can rely on their intelligence.
For wholesale and warehouse businesses using inventory management software, it’s important to have subject matter experts who will be able to handle all aspects of your operations. Having a highly knowledgeable team of inventory management software consultants should help you discover your software business needs and provide ongoing advice for daily operation efficiencies. Other important team members include developers who not only helped create the software but are also responsible for keeping the software up-to-date with new advancements, and the support team who will have in-depth knowledge of the software in order to respond to your requests.
At the end of it all, it’s the individual parts that make up the sum experience. For now, enjoy the Super Bowl experience.
For our friends south of the Canadian boarder, the countdown to American Thanksgiving has begun. Only 2 short days away from the big holiday, excitement must be in the air. The origin of Thanksgiving came from giving thanks before and after the harvest cycle for a good harvest. Many communities united at churches to thank mother nature and rejoice after the hard work. Nowadays, thanksgiving is a giant feast and a secular holiday. Many new traditions have immerged from this holiday such as Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Turkey Run, NFL and CFL Thanksgiving Classic and Black Fridays.
(Photo Created -Creative Commons crd!)
The Thanksgiving feast has become the main event - with many Thanksgiving dishes. All of the various traditional Thanksgiving food consumed during Thanksgiving dinner reminds me of the ERP software my company sells.
There are 4 main dishes to any Thanksgiving meal:
1. Turkey (the essential)- Like turkey is the main dish, a basic software system to organize and run your business operations will act as the backbone to your operation - your business would not be the same without it.
2. Cranberry Sauce, Gravvy and Vegetables (the toppings and sides) - These would be the components and modules which customize your software to your unique business requirements.
3. Stuffing (the flavour) - The bird is only as good its dressing. The mechanics, technology, and people behind the software will be a strong factor to your software experience.
4. Pumpkin Pie (the sweets) - Sometimes the main course is just too filling and there's no more room for dessert. Staying within budget is important and some of your 'wants' can't make the cut. It's nice to know some of your future desires can implemented into your software system at a later date.
A digestive drink (like Grappa) is a great way to settle a huge meal. Many after thoughts of functionality and capabilities may come to mind once you've got a good handle on the system.
ERP software is my comparison to Thanksgiving dinner. What do you compare Thanksgiving to?
With the recent tragic news of Steve Jobs death, one of America's greatest computer entrepreneurs and inventors, we have a lot to learn from the legacy he has left behind. We can learn from his vision of creating a simpler and better life by making products that were "the intersection of art and technology". Being an ERP software company, we appreciate his innovation and courage to be different. Apple's introduction of "i" products (example: iPod, iPhone, iPad, iLife) have challenged the technology industry - stretching our hunger for innovative solutions. In this blog post, we capture three of the best Steve Jobs quotes and explain their impact.
Examples of the Best Quotes by Steve Jobs:
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose" - Steve Jobs speech at the University of Stanford in June 2005
At the beginning of Steve Jobs career at Apple, he was given $1 a year, along with stocks in the company. The quote above illustrates his determination and drive to change the company's landscape and has made him one of the most admirable businessmen. Steve Jobs' bold move in the computer, digital music and software industry is exemplary. We can only hope to have such a huge ripple effect within our respective industries as Steve Jobs did.
“We’ve gone through the operating system and looked at everything and asked how can we simplify this and make it more powerful at the same time.” – ABC News
In this quote, Steve Jobs illustrates a strong emphasis on the user-experience. It's not about how brilliant your software can be- if your software outsmarts your users, it's useless. One of the driving forces of new development is creating powerful software that is as simple as possible for users. We can truly see that Steve Jobs believed in this simplicity and positive user-experience through the evolution and development of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. A perfect example of Mr. Jobs striving for simplicity is through rebranding "Macintosh" to "Apple" - users will be able to easily identify with the icon - taking out the processing step of associating Macintosh as a type of Apple.
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Inc. Magazine
Apple, under the direction of Steve Jobs, did an excellent job in anticipating the next product that consumers would want.In order to stay competitive, Steve Jobs has taught us to never to feel complacent as users demand more and you can always reach new heights. The importance of development in the software industry is crucial to survival. Without innovation and improvements, technology companies can quickly become obsolete.
We give many thanks to Mr. Steve Jobs for allowing us to live our iLife- making it simple and stylish. We will always remember to "Think Different".
QuickBooks is a great piece of accounting software for small businesses – particularly “mom & pop” and sole proprietor operations. Many start-ups rely on QuickBooks as a cheap way to get the business up and running. However, many businesses soon discover its limitations and before long find themselves in desperate need of a new system to accommodate their growth.
Although some variations and add-ons exist for QuickBooks to bring the software to the enterprise-level, it is still primarily an accounting package that lacks functionality like robust inventory management. Business owners often search for integration software to bridge some of the gaps in QuickBooks but their search eventually leads them to ERP software.
For distributors and wholesalers, it is particularly important to be running an integrated inventory and accounting (ERP) system. Even some of the smallest distributors and wholesalers cannot run their business efficiently without a proper ERP system. When you are shipping many orders a day, drawing upon thousands of items in your inventory, it is of paramount importance that your software system is up to the job.
Over time users will hit stumbling blocks with QuickBooks as their company grows in size. Whether it is exceeding the number of products SKUs supported, exceeding the overall file-size cap or having their software grind to a halt with heavy use, at some point many businesses will hit that stage. With QuickBooks you have few options in these circumstances – either start from scratch with a new data-file, try to make do with its limitations or move onto a larger system. Any best-of-breed ERP system will allow for a substantially larger collection of items, transactions and users.
In summary, QuickBooks is a great system to start your business with but when you are ready to take your business to the next level, it is ERP software that you are looking for.
With the Labour Day long weekend behind us, it's back to reality - the end of summer vacations, kids back to school, students getting back to the books, parents and adults back to work and saying goodbye to the beautiful summer weather. Although many of us were singing the summer time blues last week, for many September marks a new beginning and new year - a great time for change and to initiate some new projects. With staff returning back from vacation and having a full staff on deck, many new projects and strategic goals can now take full swing.
For example, here at Blue Link we're currently working on showcasing the important of Ecommerce and Webstore Software with Inventory and Accounting Integration
. To kick start our efforts, Demac Media ( a Magento Partner)
is hosting the first ever Canadian Magento Ecommerce Forum in Toronto this Thursday (September 15 @ 6pm). This provides the opportunity to network and talk shop with industry experts - plus Blue Link will be there to answer any back-end software integration questions.
To register for this event: http://www.magentocommerce.com/company/events/ecommerce-forum#register