Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ERP To-Do Checklist: 12 Things To Do Before You Write That BIG Check To A Vendor

A mid-market ERP solution purchase can be completed more quickly and successfully if you ask yourself and vendors the right questions.

The Inside-ERP To-Do Checklist is one decision tool you can use to discover what you need and what you need to learn more about. 

Topics include:
·         Top 12 things to ask before you write that BIG check to a vendor.
·         Who should be involved in the purchasing decision and implementation of an ERP system.
·         How to identify business needs and the ERP solution features that meet them.
·         How to conserve cash flow by buying only what you need first, then adding modules later.
·         Future needs to consider, I.E, training, support, software updates and more.

In Real Estate the key is: Location, location, location.  In Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions the key is: Questions, questions, questions. 

You are going to need to learn and ask more than 12 questions before you invest in a solution that has the capability to take your business to the next level, up or down.  The two page list from Inside-ERP is a good place to start.  A second step is to find an educated resource to help you navigate the process. 

Dolvin Consulting concentrates its efforts in helping companies find the right solution to your challenges.

We are here to help if you have questions.  Click here for our contact page.   

Monday, June 27, 2011

Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions, Integration and Information Management.

Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions, Integration and Information Management.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can sometimes be complex.  The driving need arose out of Manufacturer’s need to integrate operations and inventory to drive efficiency.  Simply put, the left hand had an inherent need to know what the right hand is doing.  Today all enterprises need integration to be competitive.  ERP software is designed around departmental or functional (cross department) needs.

Individual modules often contain subcomponents some of which may or may not be needed by every organization.  For example a core component to any ERP system is customer relationship management (CRM).  Often thought of in terms of sales force automation.  CRM modules may include contact management, lead generation, quote and order entry, order status, sales management, pick-pack-shipment, customer service, field service, returns and warranty service. 

Manufacturing models may include material planning, facility management, labor costing, material costing, shop floor control.  Quality control/management is sometimes integrated or a separate module.  Real-time visibility of operations is the key.  You may not be able to ship on-time if you do not have enough material, equipment or labor resources.  Leveling the highs and lows of production to a predictable and manageable level drive efficiency.  This helps to reduce overtime and rush order fulfillment.

Supply chain management is another key area.  Keep your suppliers in the loop, let them know your demand and use that to ensure on time delivery and negotiate better pricing.  Suppliers have no less need to plan than you do.  Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a fundamental component as well as logistics and warehouse management.

Management and executives need dashboards that give a quick overview snapshot of key metrics.  Add to that analytics and drill down capability and the CEO/COO will have the information they need to make informed decisions to be competitive in the marketplace.

These module lists are not intended to be all inclusive.  Some ERP systems have these and more, others have just the basics.  Software tiers are set to match budget and needs.  Global organizations need more modules and the software that has the ability to integrate their operations.  The Small to Midsize Business (SMB) market has the same need for integration, but typically do not need to overkill the solution.  Their demand and budget will not support a tier one solution.  It is like using a machine gun to get rid of a fly on the wall.  Use the right tool for the job.

Why is all of this necessary?  In a word “Planning”.  The more you know, the more you need to know.  Timely relevant information is necessary for planning and decision making.  One consistent notion across time, even to a time before computerized automation, was a need for information.  Computerization of tasks just makes the collection, retrieval, and analysis more consistent.

Finding the right sized solution takes a coordinated effort.  That is where a good consultant can help navigate the many ERP solutions.  A trusted advisor relationship takes time to develop and cannot be rushed.  Perhaps you have one now, perhaps you need one.  It is a wise investment to develop a working relationship with someone you can trust.  Your business’s success depends on it. 

Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors, and specialty Retailers to identify key areas in need of improved efficiency.  Our goal is to earn your trust with honesty and integrity.  We are here to help.

Contact us by clicking here: DOLVIN

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Do IMF, Citigroup, And Sony Hacks Share?

Information Week recently posted an article on security breaches (click link above).  They highlight some of the more recent breaches and then note that the number of hacking attacks is rising.  The good news is that organizations are confirming the breaches.  A sign that they have a working Written Information Security Plan (WISP).  The bad news is that the number of attacks is already high, we are just becoming more aware of the facts.  Even worse, how many companies have and will be violated and not know it.  There can be a long delay between when a breach occurs and that fact is realized.

Nothing is safe.  You cannot build the perfect mouse trap.  A WISP plan is a must.  It enables a company to be proactive and have a practiced plan to implement when the worst happens.  Just like fire drills in school.  Practice, practice, practice, build confidence and when that event happens, you are rehearsed and ready to resolve the issue, not just react to it.  The public eye will be watching you.

The biggest asset at risk is the company’s reputation.  It can take years to win back the confidence lost in a moment.

The article makes a good point that companies have been busy addressing the regulatory issues and compliance related to those regulations.  Too busy to focus on a multi-tier solution in which all data is encrypted, all processes are reviewed and singularly most important, the employee, or should I say, the human element is addressed.

Andrew Baker from Focus makes good points about this article as well in his blog post Security short-sightedness is catching up to many organizations.  Andrew states: Years of short-sightedness has led many organizations to this place.”  His comments are worth the read.  Bare minimum compliance, security departments seen as a burden rather than asset, and the all important public relations fallout from a breach.

The only real cure is to remove the value of having the information.  Attach no value to having it and you reduce the attractiveness of stealing it.  In the mean time a working WISP plan is the best route to take.  An ounce of prevention is definitely worth the pound of cure.

Dolvin Consulting has teamed up with Cyber Security Auditors and Administrators (CSA2) to provide a comprehensive and complete solution to these threats.  Cyber, Information Technology, Legal, Insurance, Forensic and Human Resource expertise packaged as your solution or to assist your staff.

Click here for Dolvin’s contact information.  We are here to help.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Questions for Buyers of an ERP system.

10 Questions for Buyers of an ERP system.

1)      Financials. How well does the software handle General Ledger (GL), Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivables (AR) and financial reporting.  Are these modules tightly integrated with the rest of the system or is a separate reporting system.

2)      Drill-down capabilities. Do you have the option “see” the data behind summary reporting.  Summary reporting is great to get a quick overview of your financial position, but what steps are needed to see the detail behind the summary.

3)      Sales and order entry. How straight forward are customer sales entered and tracked in the system?

4)      Inventory Control and Warehouse Management. How well is inventory tracked? Does your organization need to manage multiple locations?  What tools does customer service have to manage the relationship between inventory and customers?  Are you including Warehouse Management (WMS) in your solution?  Inventory is basically what you have on the shelf.  WMS is the tracking and management of the movement of inventory, from receipt to shipment.

5)      Integration. The whole purpose of investing in an ERP system is to take advantage of a central repository of information and the efficiency that drives in an organization to reduce operating costs and increase revenue.  Third party solutions often give greater functionality in specific areas like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Payroll/HR, Business Intelligence (BI) reporting.  Before investing make sure you understand how the solution addresses your requirements and make sure the entire system integration is seamless and does not create new silos of disconnected information.

6)      Procurement. How well does the purchasing integrate with the rest of the system.  How well does historical demand drive forecasting?  What tools will you have to manage supplier relationships?

7)      Customer Relationship Management. Does the proposed solution include an integrated Customer/Contact Relationship Management (CRM) module?  In reviewing a new solution, you need integration, not separate systems.  Ask the ERP provider how are prospects and leads tracked, managed and converted into customers. How can you utilize this module to proactively market to your customers and prospects.

8)      Dashboards. Just like in the Financials modules, the other modules of an ERP system need summary information with the ability to drill down to the detail.  How easy is it to find key information that you and your managers need to manage your business?

9)      Solution Fit. How well does the software fit with your current infrastructure and business culture? Is there a clear growth path to follow as your business grows?  You do not want to invest the time and energy to upgrade only to find out that you need to repeat the process again in five years.  What changes will be needed to make the change to implement the new solution?

10)   Return on Investment, Return on Value. Before you can calculate any return you need the proper metrics to measure the effectiveness of your current operations.  Know where you are now and where you want to be in a few years.  Evaluating how the proposed solution meets the challenges becomes easier and provides the basis on calculating Return on Investment (ROI).  A more important metric may be to calculate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return on Value (ROV).  How much more productive and engaged will your staff be when they understand that they are in control and not just merely keying data into a black hole?

Dolvin Consulting works with their partners VAI and IBM to deliver the right solution.  Contact us by clicking here for a no-pressure consultation.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Learn the 7 best practices for making Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing work.

Focus Research has published a short white paper on the seven best practices for making Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing work.  The article highlights the following seven points:

Best Practices Checklist
1.       Delegate responsibility to employees on the floor.
2.       Ensure that line employees are properly trained.
3.       Information systems must give employees a holistic view of operations.
4.       A flexible work force and flexible machines are both important to achieving JIT production.
5.       Visual controls are an important element to managing JIT production.
6.       Accountability and governance are key.
7.       Stability in production operations is a requirement.

When you review this list do you see the important underlying message? What appears most is the need for leadership.  A true leader empowers those that he serves and delegates the responsibility and holds those people accountable.  Notice again that a true leader serves others, not the reverse that so many people incorrectly assume is the role of leadership.  That would be a dictatorship and history has proven that only works for a short period of time.

Dolvin Consulting works with its partners, VAI and IBM to build the resources that real leaders can utilize to empower their workers.  Click here for Dolvin’s contact information.  We are here to help.

Friday, June 17, 2011

WISP Vault - A Smart Solution for Protecting Your WISP Data

WISP Vault - A Smart Solution for Protecting Your WISP Data

Whether you are a company large or small, data breaches to Privacy Information are always possible as long as the human element is involved.

With data breaches becoming an almost every day occurrence, businesses of all sizes need a surefire alternative to keeping their Written Information Security Plans, files and information protected while following state and federal requirements. From state-to-state, a Written Information Security Policy (WISP) is required of organizations and establishments that must include how the WISP Plan will prevent such compromises (pre-breach) and what to do after a breach happens (post-breach). Failure to comply will result in hefty fines. Congress is cracking down on such offenses and businesses are the ones who have to pay, meanwhile, precious information which has been stolen can cost you more than just money. How will you tell your customers and clients that their personal information has been hijacked?

Now there is a smarter way to work with key-company critical data. Dolvin Consulting in partnership with Cyber Security Auditors & Administrators (CSA2), along with BMC Group, proudly introduces the WISPvault.

What separates this data security concept from any other is the highest protection for your WISP Plan, files and materials at efficient cost-conscious pricing, which puts you in control. A complete set up is easy and requires little time.  There are numerous customizable layouts and the feature-rich intuitive Windows-based interface offers dragand-drop capability, as well as other simple to operate features.

The WISPvault is effortless to update and only takes minutes. There is the option of managing it yourself or having a knowledgeable team assist you. A special team is assigned to you for the life of your site. Support is available 24/7 to answer any questions and aid in solving problems to keep your vault running smooth. The WISPvault offers the highest caliber of security with sophisticated encryption software, multiple firewalls, and powerful virus detectors and geographically dispersed secure servers.

Encompassing all aspects of cyber security, the WISPvault is the easiest method for executives; advisors and decision-makers to quickly access secure data. This essential solution allows businesses to stay a step ahead of the hackers and avoid breaches that are low cost and simple to navigate. You are at risk of being breached?  Can you afford not to have your data protected?

Written by Alan Heyman, CSA2 Managing Director

For further information, please contact: Dolvin Consulting

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Network Security Checklist

This two page report from Cisco highlights the need to review your network security.  Of course there is more to security than just wires.  This is a good starting reference point.  Start with the checklist, then use your consultant to help you navigate this field.  Your consultant may be able to help directly or by generating a referral to someone or who can connect with the needed resources.

As the article points out, start by identifying key areas and take a step by step approach.  Security is not just a technical issue, it is a business continuity issue.  This is part of operating a business in today's world.  No less important than sales or marketing.

Small companies do not fly under the radar anymore.  Any vulnerabilities will eventually be found and exploited.

The article makes several good points, some noted already, and another important one is to focus on Return-On-Value (ROV), not Return-On-Investment (ROI). 

Consider the harm a breach will do to your business.  Lost revenue, litigation.  Loss of customer confidence is likely going to be more costly than the remediation costs.

Do not make the mistake of taking a piece by piece approach.  Your organization is going to need a unified strategy.  That is where your consultant will be able to help.  Remember that a significant portion of attacks come from internal sources (employees).

In addtion to the questions asked in the article, you may consider answering the questions below.


We can be contacted through the following link: CONTACT US

  • What software and/or applications do you use to prevent a cyber attack?
  • What measures do you take to ensure your security and information is not infiltrated by hackers?
  • Are you prepared in the event a breach does occur?
  • How would you inform your clients and customers if a breach happened at your company?
  • What would you do to gain back the trust and confidence of your clients and customers?
  • Do you use any type of virtual space to hide and protect your documents?
  • Are you in compliance with state and federal pre- and post-breach requirements?
  • Do you know what a Written Information Security Plan (WISP) is?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wholesalers move toward intelligent warehouses

IBM Forward View

Read the PDF story:PDF
Wholesalers move toward intelligent warehouses...

For wholesalers, even the most organized warehouse is a source of cost and inefficiencies, ranging from basic overhead and energy costs to paper-based processes that can lead to errors. Fortunately, new IT capabilities are helping to make warehouses intelligent, interconnected and instrumented to enable smarter operations. By integrating business processes with technologies such as voice recognition, RFID and motion-sensitive automation, the warehouse is shedding both costs and inefficiencies. And by putting their warehouses in order, wholesalers are discovering that leaner operations can be greener as well.

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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

VAI's success at Miller Paint featured in the IBM National Ad Campaign...

IBM PartnerWorld

Read the PDF story: PDF
VAI's success at Miller Paint featured in the IBM National Ad Campaign...

Can a particular blue boost sales? It can—when it’s the right blue at the right time. For Miller Paint, spotting color trends and having the right paint in stock adds up to repeat customers. IBM and IBM Business Partner Vormittag Associates, Inc. (VAI) set up a system that links salespeople with inventory and headquarters with sales trends. Daily sales went up immediately. Miller Paint saw a 100% return on investment in eight months. In one year, they saved $130,000 just by being able to match colors more quickly. Want innovation for coverage? Talk to VAI.

Miller Paint 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, June 1, 2011

Five Critical Points for ERP Success

Focus Research has produced a two page quick read five point overview of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation failures. 

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) has been around for over 30 years but it is one of the least understood areas of enterprise software. ERP implementation failures are common but they can be avoided. This brief offers you the five key tips for a successful ERP implementation.

You'll learn:
  • The business value of ERP
  • How ERP can drive operational change
  • How to find an ERP solution that fits your unique business situation

Read the full document here.

  1. ERP is about business value.  It is a business investment, not a technology one.
  2. Business fit.  How will it actually make you more efficient.
  3. Transformation.  Change is the hardest thing to do.  Will the benefits be worth it?
  4. Change Management.  Today success depends more on training and education.
  5. Sponsorship.  ERP is for the Enterprise.  You need consensus at all levels


As the article points out, no short list can describe all the factors required to implement an ERP system successfully.  Consultants can help your implementation, but you are ultimately responsible for its success or failure.

We at Dolvin Consulting are here to help.  Contact us here.