Friday, April 29, 2011

The Five Most Serious Challenges for CEOs in 2011

The Five Most Serious Challenges for CEOs in 2011

This quick read article notes five points for executives.
1. Keep your existing customers happy and you will have a strong business.
2. Concentrate on providing value, not hype, to find new customers.
3. People learn about you by using the Internet, so keep your website updated.
4. Deliver what your customers want, not what you think is good.
5. Planning is good, but implementation is better.

A common theme: Your customers come first!

Dolvin believes that to be successful you need to serve others needs first.
Click here for our contact information.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mergers & Acquisitions: What Happens When the Company Whose HR Software You Just Purchased Gets Acquired?

Mergers & Acquisitions: What Happens When the Company Whose HR Software You Just Purchased Gets Acquired?

This scenario is quite common in not only Human Resources (HR), but also in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions as well.  Is the Merger and Acquisition (M&A) just a ploy to grab a bigger market share or is it really a chance to broaden a portfolio of products. 

Here is the question: Is the new entity larger than the sum of the parts or is it just a bigger jigsaw puzzle?

There are many issues that come up.  Will my company still receive the support it needs?  How will I get support?  Do I now have a new contacts that have to learn about me and my business?  What happens when the contract I have expires and it is time to renew?  What will I be forced to change and when?

This article from the Technology Evaluation Center (TEC) is worth the five minute investment to read.  Then look at your software supplier and ask them what is on the horizon?  Are they fully committed to your success and invest/re-invest in their product?  No one has a crystal ball that actually works, but you may want to ask your supplier what their future plans are and do they plan to acquire or be acquired?

Vormittag Associates (VAI) has and continues to make a commitment to their customers and partners that they will remain independent.  In business since 1978 VAI has made their mark by being a trusted resource

Dolvin works with VAI and IBM to ensure there is a good fit between your challenges and the solutions available.  We look forward to helping you meet your challenges today and tomorrow. 

Contact us for more information by clicking here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Virtual Warehouse: Maple Leaf Farms

Virtual Warehouse: Maple Leaf Farms

VAI Integration: Fork lifts with built-in computer, automated scaling system, palletizing process, large volume…
Established in 1958, an Indiana based company, Maple Leaf Farms implements S2K Warehouse Management software from VAI. As North America’s premier producer of duck products, Maple Leaf Farms needed to achieve all their objectives with one solution. Maintaining product quality and freshness throughout the inventory process was their goal. Fork Lifts with built-in computers, automated scaling systems and a palletizing process streamlined this complicated manufacturing process.

Maple Leaf Farms is another example of how a great company such as VAI works with its customers to understand their needs and find and apply the appropriate solution.

Dolvin hopes that it can help to fulfill your technology challenges.
Click here to learn more about Dolvin and our success working with companies like yours.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

IBM Systems Magazine - Build or Buy?

IBM Systems Magazine - Build or Buy?

Michael Ryan writes an interesting and timely article about software evolution. The article does not go into great detail, nor should it. This is not the forum, that would be a White-Paper. What is interesting is that we seem to have come full circle in software without realizing what has happened.

In the "old" days computing was relatively expensive so companies used what Michael says was time-sharing. This gave companies a budget amount to schedule each month. They also gave up some flexibility which created a need to develop systems in-house.

Developing systems in-house increased expenses, but gave total flexibility. This sometimes presents the problem in having have enough talent available to take advantage of the latest trends in computing. 

Enter software companies and their evolution of creating prepackaged software. We write about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions here, but many exist. These can sometimes have the disadvantage of forcing a company to change their business practice or risk instability in making modifications.

Today we see Software as a Service (SAAS) offerings. There are as many benefits as there are disadvantages to these solutions. Each case needs to be evaluated.

Dolvin works with companies to see what solutions fit specific challenges. We encourage you to read the full article and then contact us to see how we can help you find the best-fit solution.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Virtual Warehouse: Robert Weed Plywood

Virtual Warehouse: Robert Weed Plywood

VAI Integration: Train/Rail car unloading, truck loading, fork-lifts/removable RF devices, picking process, manufacturing process to build pallets…
Indiana based Robert Weed Plywood has been manufacturing and distributing building materials since 1966. The S2K Warehouse Management System streamlined their Train/Rail unloading process to their distribution center. Fork lifts and removable RF Devices allowed the picking process to build pallets with accuracy and product precision.

Weed Plywood is another example of how a great company such as VAI works with its customers to understand their needs and find and apply the appropriate solution.

Dolvin hopes that it can help to fulfill your technology challenges.
Click here to learn more about Dolvin and our success working with companies like yours.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is Microsoft Excel an Effective Business Intelligence Tool?

Is Microsoft Excel an Effective Business Intelligence Tool?

Whether or not you like Microsoft, their Excel spread sheet software is widely used.  It places data analysis in end-user hands.  No need to wait for the Technology Department to create a report for you or wait some more time as you find you need new data, or a different sort order, summary or relationship.

Excel is a great tool.  It puts in the hands of capable end-users the ability to organize and summarize one of the most important assets of a company, its data.  That is data analysis, but is this Business Intelligence (BI)?  By some definitions, yes it is.  You see totals, but can you draw conclusions from the reporting?  Can you forecast future trends?

For some organizations, they may only need to know how many widgets were sold over a given time period to a certain sales region.  For other companies trend analysis, seasonal forecasting, data modeling are needed.  I am not indicating that Excel cannot perform these functions.  What I am saying is, should you be doing this in Excel? 

Is Microsoft Excel just a data analysis tool or does have true Business Intelligence (BI)?  Are you using Excel and linking to the original data or are you creating silos of disconnected data?  How much time does it take for you to take the raw data and generate the finished reporting product?  Do not take offense, but are you or your users skilled enough in not only in Excel, but in your ERP software and its repository of information enough to be sure you are accessing and getting the correct information?

Modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have a relational database and sometimes include a data warehousing option, either directly or via a third-party solution.  A third-party solution provider is a trusted supplier for the ERP Company that has detailed knowledge about the data and the relationship it has to operations.  If there are multiple reports needed, these services are good places to start.  It is usually easier to take something that works and tweak it to fit your needs, than start from scratch.  You will have a greater level of confidence that you at least are getting the correct information to analyze.

How can you best use Excel?  Your job depends on it!
·         Link to the original data source and filter out the data you want or do not want.  Do not trust that you have the most recent data.  Do not create isolated islands of information.
·         Create reusable reports and macro functions so the results are repeatable.  You do not want to repeat your efforts every time a request is made.  Creating smaller reusable report calculations that are “Tested” means that you can reuse them again without as much worry.  Make sure you document every step.  It will take more time at first, but in the long-run you will save more time.
·         Consider your audience and decide what type of output, graph, grid and colors to use that best highlights your results.
·         Have some method of cross checking your results.  Always verify your totals to ensure accurate reports.  Think of this like a news reporter having accurate notes and a reliable source.   Make sure you are not doubling or omitting data.  It is better if you find this out, than your prospect, customer or boss.
·         Learn advance time saving features of Excel, like Pivot Tables.  Pivot Tables enable you to quickly change analysis perspective.  For example summarizing sales by customer, then by part number.  A Pivot Table easily allows you to change the axis to be part, then customer.
·         Job security or time waster?  Are you the only one who can perform this reporting function?  How is it repeatable?  Are you now tied to your workstation every month for X-period of time to create this report?
·         There are a number of resources available on Microsoft’s web site as well as virtually limitless selection of books, online courses, and training schools/individuals.  Start with the no-charge ones.  Learn and practice what you can.  That way should you need the fee-paid training, you will know what you do not know.

At Dolvin we work with companies to help them streamline their computer operations, reduce costs and become more efficient.  Utilizing a comprehensive ERP solution is part of that solution.  The developers have extensive knowledge of their database and have numerous pre-build solutions that you can run to get timely information to manage your business.  We concentrate on the back-end so you can work on running your business, not your business system.

We invite you to contact us to find out how we can improve your operations.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Virtual Warehouse: Waytek Inc.

Virtual Warehouse: Waytek Inc.

VAI Integration: Carousel, conveyor belt system, RF scanners…
Waytek, Inc. uses S2K for Warehouse Management. Solutions include carousel, conveyor and RF technology. Waytek, an electrical part supplier, improved warehouse efficiency and inventory accuracy and created a faster turn around time for shipping.

Waytek is another example of how a great company such as VAI works with its customers to understand their needs and find and apply the appropriate solution.

Dolvin hopes that it can help to fulfill your technology challenges.
Click here to learn more about Dolvin and our success working with companies like yours.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Questions and your Trusted Advisor

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Questions and your Trusted Advisor.

You might be old enough to remember the days before cable television when there were just a handful of networks and a pretty limited number of broadcast entertainment choices.  You might even remember the test patterns found early in the morning.  Since there was a monopoly on the networks, "they" decided what was of value to you and when you could see it.  Since there were no alternatives, we watched.  Only other alternative was to pick up a book or talk to someone.

There was a time when there were only a handful of ERP solutions available.  Many were dependent on the available hardware.  Small and Mid sized businesses had even fewer choices given the platforms available to them (i.e. affordable).  Over time hardware options grew and so did the applications.  The demand for quality ERP solutions probably helped drive the development of new technologies.

So today with so many choices out there, how do you narrow the field?  There are still plenty of suppliers that like to try and dazzle you with shiny brochures and canned demonstrations.  If there are different sales and delivery people, some driven by commission and others by implementation, there can be deployment issues.

First and foremost, you need a trusted advisor.  Someone that will ask you questions so that both of you will better understand the real challenges to be resolved.  You know, the ones that keep you up at night.  The ones that if you do not get fixed, you are out of a job and/or your company folds.  Yeah, that type of issue, not just the superficial ones. 

Everyone would like to streamline their operations, reduce cost, and become more profitable.  There are a lot of companies dedicated to do just that.  It is the "How" that is important.  There must be clear goals for the solution.  Clear goals, clear solutions. 

Your current supplier may have improved solutions, but they might not address your real challenges or they might not fit your budget.  Changing your current supplier can be a difficult choice.  No one really wants to change Lawyers, Accountants, Therapist or ERP supplier.  Who wants to go through that emotional pain of looking at what is not working?

If you change nothing or keep doing what you have always done, then is it reasonable to expect different results?

Maybe your organization has multiple solutions from multiple ERP suppliers.  Maybe you feel that you are paying too much for maintenance.  Most people agree that to increase efficiencies across an organization you need an integrated solution.  Not just one that integrates separate systems.  How well does the solution match your business?  Will there be a lot of modifications or does the solution match your business processes?  How easy is it to make changes, if they really are necessary?  Who is available to make those changes?  Do you have the option to access the ERP supplier directly?  Are there other third parties that can provide support? 

As you already know there are a lot of questions that must be looked at in regards to who will provide your technology services.  What about your business?  Do the people working with you actually "Listen" to you?  Do they talk at you or talk with you?

Do you have the resources to implement a new solution?  Perhaps one that relies on a different technology base?  How versatile is your technology department?  Do you have one or is your ERP supplier your extended department.  Perhaps a hosted or Cloud based solution will meet your needs better.

A good solution fixes today's problem.  A great solution solves your business challenges.  A great solution looks at your Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). 

With the right resources the transition can be made better, but there will still be uncomfortable feelings.  Kind of like one of those procedures your doctor says are necessary when you get to a certain age.  You know you will be uncomfortable for a while, but better in the end.

You will know you made the right decision, when after six months after implementation, you look back and say to yourself "I cannot believe we did not do this earlier".

In this article we talked a bit about what type of conversations and the questions you should be discussing with your current or future ERP supplier.  Specific questions will depend on your business and your challenges.  We at Dolvin Consulting would like to help you find your questions.

Click here for Dolvin's contact information.  We would love to ask you some questions and learn more about what keeps you awake at night.  You might be surprised that you are not alone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

WMS Power Video

WMS Power Video

VAI's S2K for WMS controls and tracks inventory for all industries...
S2K Enterprise is a fully integrated ERP solution with a Warehouse Management System that offers a complete solution for tracking and controlling inventory. Businesses need faster turn around time, real time information, warehouse accuracy, fewer returns and the latest technology to make this all come together. VAI offers training, support services, software updates and technology offerings to provide businesses and customers with the tools to enhance their business operations and stay competitive.

Integrated Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are another example of how a great company such as VAI works with its customers to understand their needs and find and apply the appropriate solution.

Dolvin hopes that it can help to fulfill your technology challenges.
Click here to learn more about Dolvin and our success working with companies like yours.