14 MarLooking for an ERP solution? 4 Questions to Ask

Implementing a new ERP system or overhauling an existing one requires a considerable investment of time and effort. Where do you start?

27 FebIntegrating E-Business with your ERP system

A challenge we often hear from our customers is: "We spend a lot of time handling orders over the phone and through email and fax. We want to build an online store that allows our customers to place orders online 24/7 and integrates with our ERP system."

14 JanStreamlining your Stocktake with Mobility Warehousing
Predicting what the key technology trends will be in five years is a challenging game. Companies that stay ahead of the curve can gain a clear competitive advantage, but choosing the wrong direction can be costly.
What we're hearing from our customers is that there are three main priorities that will shape IT strategy over the next half decade. If there's an overarching theme to these, it's speed; wanting better but also quicker business processes.
BI and analytics
The primary focus for many businesses is currently is business intelligence (BI) and analytics, and multiple agile BI tools are being embraced to address specific business problems.
While a multi-tool environment can be difficult and costly to maintain, Forrester expects it to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Some businesses may reduce their number of BI tools to a more manageable level, while others will just manage the multi-tool environment better.
Users are also seeking more BI control. They don't want to wait for IT to fulfil requests; they want data at their fingertips. This means self-service features, such as semantic layers and search capabilities, will become increasingly critical.
A third major growth area for BI is mobile, with mobile devices now outnumbering traditional computers by 2:1. This year, smartphone sales are expected to grow by 20%, generating 20% of all IT sales and 57% of all IT market growth. 
Omni-channel
Today's customers are highly connected. They expect to experience and interact with brands across different channels, including virtual and physical dimensions, on-shore and overseas. 
Consumers will increasingly research brands online, but then visit a store to pick up purchases. And they will also use stores as ‘showrooms’ before buying goods online. According to Carsales.com research, 95% of customers research online before buying, and 40% of mobile users are shopping online through their device.
To embrace this, businesses and retailers need to offer consistency across different channels, offering the same merchandise, promotions and customer service. Integrating ERP and e-commerce solutions is vital to ensure demand can be met and products delivered.
Document automation
The long-promised move to the paperless office is still very much in transition. Many companies are struggling to integrate paper documents with online systems, particularly as records often need to be archived for compliance.
Dealing with this manually is difficult and expensive. One estimate puts the cost of processing accounts payable documents at $10 to $15 per record.  This is driving adoption of document automation and archiving technologies to take the pain away. 
Invoice automation solutions also allow businesses to optimise the process, and lower the cost of processing supplier invoices.
In all of these we can see an increased ‘need for speed’; an impatience for technology to make life not just easier, but also quicker. Employees want answers instantly, clients want immediate responses, customers want rapid fulfilment. 
ile information and analysis is the future, with a focus on being able to react, adapt and beat competitors at lightning speed and accuracy.

Stocktaking often requires a huge amount of manpower and time, yet, is a mission critical activity that helps the organisation better plan its future purchasing needs and meet customer demands.

29 NovRest Easy with Automation
Predicting what the key technology trends will be in five years is a challenging game. Companies that stay ahead of the curve can gain a clear competitive advantage, but choosing the wrong direction can be costly.
What we're hearing from our customers is that there are three main priorities that will shape IT strategy over the next half decade. If there's an overarching theme to these, it's speed; wanting better but also quicker business processes.
BI and analytics
The primary focus for many businesses is currently is business intelligence (BI) and analytics, and multiple agile BI tools are being embraced to address specific business problems.
While a multi-tool environment can be difficult and costly to maintain, Forrester expects it to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Some businesses may reduce their number of BI tools to a more manageable level, while others will just manage the multi-tool environment better.
Users are also seeking more BI control. They don't want to wait for IT to fulfil requests; they want data at their fingertips. This means self-service features, such as semantic layers and search capabilities, will become increasingly critical.
A third major growth area for BI is mobile, with mobile devices now outnumbering traditional computers by 2:1. This year, smartphone sales are expected to grow by 20%, generating 20% of all IT sales and 57% of all IT market growth. 
Omni-channel
Today's customers are highly connected. They expect to experience and interact with brands across different channels, including virtual and physical dimensions, on-shore and overseas. 
Consumers will increasingly research brands online, but then visit a store to pick up purchases. And they will also use stores as ‘showrooms’ before buying goods online. According to Carsales.com research, 95% of customers research online before buying, and 40% of mobile users are shopping online through their device.
To embrace this, businesses and retailers need to offer consistency across different channels, offering the same merchandise, promotions and customer service. Integrating ERP and e-commerce solutions is vital to ensure demand can be met and products delivered.
Document automation
The long-promised move to the paperless office is still very much in transition. Many companies are struggling to integrate paper documents with online systems, particularly as records often need to be archived for compliance.
Dealing with this manually is difficult and expensive. One estimate puts the cost of processing accounts payable documents at $10 to $15 per record.  This is driving adoption of document automation and archiving technologies to take the pain away. 
Invoice automation solutions also allow businesses to optimise the process, and lower the cost of processing supplier invoices.
In all of these we can see an increased ‘need for speed’; an impatience for technology to make life not just easier, but also quicker. Employees want answers instantly, clients want immediate responses, customers want rapid fulfilment. 
ile information and analysis is the future, with a focus on being able to react, adapt and beat competitors at lightning speed and accuracy.

More businesses are using technology to handle credit control in an efficient and cost-effective way. 

16 AugNeed For Speed: the Top 3 Tech Priorities for the Next 5 Years
Predicting what the key technology trends will be in five years is a challenging game. Companies that stay ahead of the curve can gain a clear competitive advantage, but choosing the wrong direction can be costly.
What we're hearing from our customers is that there are three main priorities that will shape IT strategy over the next half decade. If there's an overarching theme to these, it's speed; wanting better but also quicker business processes.
BI and analytics
The primary focus for many businesses is currently is business intelligence (BI) and analytics, and multiple agile BI tools are being embraced to address specific business problems.
While a multi-tool environment can be difficult and costly to maintain, Forrester expects it to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Some businesses may reduce their number of BI tools to a more manageable level, while others will just manage the multi-tool environment better.
Users are also seeking more BI control. They don't want to wait for IT to fulfil requests; they want data at their fingertips. This means self-service features, such as semantic layers and search capabilities, will become increasingly critical.
A third major growth area for BI is mobile, with mobile devices now outnumbering traditional computers by 2:1. This year, smartphone sales are expected to grow by 20%, generating 20% of all IT sales and 57% of all IT market growth. 
Omni-channel
Today's customers are highly connected. They expect to experience and interact with brands across different channels, including virtual and physical dimensions, on-shore and overseas. 
Consumers will increasingly research brands online, but then visit a store to pick up purchases. And they will also use stores as ‘showrooms’ before buying goods online. According to Carsales.com research, 95% of customers research online before buying, and 40% of mobile users are shopping online through their device.
To embrace this, businesses and retailers need to offer consistency across different channels, offering the same merchandise, promotions and customer service. Integrating ERP and e-commerce solutions is vital to ensure demand can be met and products delivered.
Document automation
The long-promised move to the paperless office is still very much in transition. Many companies are struggling to integrate paper documents with online systems, particularly as records often need to be archived for compliance.
Dealing with this manually is difficult and expensive. One estimate puts the cost of processing accounts payable documents at $10 to $15 per record.  This is driving adoption of document automation and archiving technologies to take the pain away. 
Invoice automation solutions also allow businesses to optimise the process, and lower the cost of processing supplier invoices.
In all of these we can see an increased ‘need for speed’; an impatience for technology to make life not just easier, but also quicker. Employees want answers instantly, clients want immediate responses, customers want rapid fulfilment. 
Agile information and analysis is the future, with a focus on being able to react, adapt and beat competitors at lightning speed and accuracy.

Predicting what the key technology priorities will be in five years is a challenging game. Companies that stay ahead of the curve can gain a clear competitive advantage, but choosing the wrong direction can be costly.

23 JulTop 5 Enterprise Resource Planning Trends
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) will advance considerably over the next twelve months. The rise of the cloud and a new emphasis on software means a greater flexibility in ERP solutions that can drive a business in new ways. 
Cloud growth leads to renewed focus on agility in ERP 
The next 12 months will see cloud-based ERP solutions proliferate, and many existing software providers will release cloud-friendly versions of their ERP software solutions. 
The option of storing part or all of their enterprise resource planning software and data in the cloud can lead to lower up-front costs for businesses, as they no longer need to make capital investments in server acquisition and system maintenance.  
Instead of hardware, the emphasis will be on implementing cloud-based systems that best deliver a competitive advantage for the company. Configuration of powerful, comprehensive ERP solutions by a consultant rather than a developer will become more attractive. 
ERP goes mobile 
The mobile revolution has the potential to put ERP control in the hands of managers wherever they are. Managers, especially in manufacturing and wholesale businesses, are able to approve workflows, manage customers and inventory, and monitor the performance of their business in real-time. The key to harnessing this powerful decision-enabling tool is a properly integrated ERP mobility system with real-time updates across mobile, tablet and computers, without the need for time-consuming data transfers. 
Mobile ERP will become even more important as businesses and resources become more dispersed.  Ideally, an ERP system should not only update managers with anytime, anywhere information, but also incorporate automation of this information for salespeople, technicians and analysts in the field. 
Customers become a greater part of the solution 
The growth of self-service options and customer portals within ERP solutions means many tasks that would have previously been left to an inbound customer service team will instead be available to customers 24/7 via a self-service portal. 
Customers will be able to generate invoices, reports, browse their purchasing or service history, and plan future orders or services at their leisure. As well as delivering efficiencies and automating processes for a business, this will also lead to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and engagement, since customers will have greater control over their own information. 
We'll also see integration from companies’ customer portals to those of suppliers, business customers and manufacturers, allowing seamless customer views of supplier catalogue data during the purchase process. 
Big data and actionable analytics 
Harnessing big data to make decisions will become increasingly prevalent. Companies who've had ERP systems in place for a number of years already have a great amount of data at their disposal. The evolution of mobile purchasing and the sheer amount of customer and purchasing data will mean the available insights are clearer and more comprehensive than ever. 
The challenge will lie in making sure the data is available to those who most need it, and stored and arranged in such as way that it lets managers see the clearest possible picture of their business. 
Automating as much as possible will allow reliance on ERP recommendations for reordering and warehouse distribution, rather than manual effort and potential for human error. Ideally, reordering should be optimised through the right analysis capabilities to forecast demand.  
When speaking to businesses about implementing a new ERP software solution, we find that many currently spend about 80% of their time preparing data, and only 20% actually analysing the enterprise intelligence it delivers.
Businesses will increasingly invert that ratio in the coming years, as the importance of analytic insights increases to allow management by exception. 
Investment in knowledge replaces investment in hardware 
As ERP and other software solutions are increasingly deployed via the cloud, many organisations will realise the competitive advantage they can leverage by ensuring staff have an in-depth knowledge of the solution they're working with. This goes well beyond the IT department.  
Funds that would have previously been invested in inf

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) will advance considerably over the next 12 months. The rise of the cloud and a new emphasis on software means a greater flexibility in ERP solutions that can drive a business in new ways. 

08 JulCould Poor User Adoption Cause Your CRM Implementation to Fail?
Customer relationship management solutions, also known as CRM or xRM, give businesses of any size the power to use organisational data to enhance the value of customer experiences.  Contact management is the key function used in the business environment.  However, CRM can be integrated with other business or third-party applications to gain greater business benefit.
But will staff actually use your new CRM solution when it’s implemented?  If not, your business risks wasted opportunity, not to mention investment in the system.
CRM can bring enormous benefits to business, but only if users adopt it. Therefore, achieving buy-in at all levels of the organisation is crucial to the success of any customer management software implementation.
Benefits of CRM
From good value to good service – customer relationships have a major impact on the profitability and success of a business. CRM is therefore a vital part of a businesses’ long-term competitive strategy.
Correctly implemented, CRM can be an invaluable tool for your entire organisation, from marketing and sales teams, to customer service and upper management.  
The return from a CRM solution lies with the profitability opportunities associated with improved internal workflows, better intelligence throughout the organisation regardless of who the customer interacts with, and as a result, greater sales and customer service delivery.
For sales personnel, this means easier access to information about accounts, clients, orders and inventories. Management can easily view sales pipelines through dashboard views.  Customers receive faster responses to emails, calls and enquiries, which contributes to improved satisfaction. 
Challenges facing CRM adoption
But choosing to implement a CRM solution is not the only consideration.  Planning must be given to how the users within your business will adopt and use the new system, and whether cross-organisation integration will be achieved.
According to a study conducted by AMR Research in 2002, 47 per cent of companies faced ‘serious challenges’ with business software change and user adoption of their CRM systems. 
So, what is the basis for these serious challenges?
Expecting staff to update a CRM separately from their day-to-day interactions is a sure-fire way for information to be incomplete or omitted from the system.  This is also a source of frustration for staff who frequently operate away from a desk.  And the benefits of the information housed in the CRM are lost if staff can only log on while in the office.
Solution
Key to the success of CRM is engagement of end-users prior to implementation. 
Solicit employee representation and feedback in all stages, keeping in mind that change can be stressful for staff and met with resistance.  Communicate to staff that the introduction of the CRM will require a new mindset, and not just customer management software training.  Include staff in developing business goals for the CRM, not just the implementation.
User adoption can also be increased by ease of access provided by multiple channels or interfaces.  Keep in mind that about 41 per cent of Australian consumers use mobile applications on their smartphone for commercial purposes.  A mobile or online CRM solution is an option that takes the power of CRM and delivers it straight to the user.  This allows staff to check inventory, update price lists, deliver quotes, print invoices, and access customer accounts – all from their smartphone, tablet or laptop.  If your customer-facing staff are increasingly using portable devices, it’s important that they’re able to use the CRM in a way that matches their activity, not just when they return to the office.  
Before considering a CRM solution, think about who in your organisation stands to gain the most benefit from using the system – usually your sales and customer service staff – and work towards gaining their buy-in prior to implementation.  Your CRM solution is only as useful as the data captured and subsequently accessed, so it’s important to ensure it will work seamlessly with users, not against them.  Ensure the customer relationship solution accommodates the way they work now, and the way you envisage they will work in the future.  
About Markinson
Markinson Business Solutions offers organisations a competitive advantage through the implementation of solutions, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM). 
Markinson has implemented over 150 CRM solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics, Sage SalesLogix and Orbis TaskCentre. This gives Markinson a wealth of experience to ensure CRM implementations are a success.
Markinson’s CRM centre of excellence has been recognised with multiple awards:
Awarded by Sage Pacific in 2012 for ‘Highest Revenue for SalesLogix’
Awarded by Sage Pacific as ‘SalesLogix Partner of the Year 2011’

Customer relationship management solutions, also known as CRM or xRM, give businesses of any size the power to use organisational data to enhance the value of customer experiences.  Contact management is the key function used in the business environment.  However, CRM can be integrated with other business or third-party applications to gain greater business benefit.

21 JunKey Features of a Successful Stock Management System
Stock or inventory management is the process of overseeing the flow of items into and out of your inventory.  A well-functioning stock management system keeps stock costs under control and helps to achieve positive cash flow.  
Ensuring the right stock is at the right place, at the right time is critical to manage supply chain volatility.  Stock control software can streamline operations by consolidating sales information, and giving employees access to current and reliable inventory data. 
But what passes for an effective stock management system and what features should you look for?
Stock management software should ideally deliver up-to-date inventory figures, comprehensive financial management and fast, easy reporting capabilities in one easy-to-use interface.  It should address the following functions as a minimum:
Inventory management
A stock management system should give you the capability to monitor changes in customer demand, and track input costs for improved production capabilities. This will increase purchasing efficiency and reduce delays in new inventory orders.  It will also allow your employees to access up-to-date and reliable information on current inventory, thus achieving complete inventory control.
Financial management 
A good stock management system will also allow you to update, monitor and implement special pricing structures across various locations, customers and products throughout the financial year.  It will also help you keep track of accounts and perform various banking and reporting functions off-site. 
Customer management 
Your stock management system should allow you to quickly track customer orders, update profile information and record sales figures. 
By increasing the speed of your transactions and providing customers with up-to-date inventory information, you will increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and capture more revenue in the long term. 
When considering inventory software, remember that the goal of implementing a solution is to keep your businesses’ cash flow on track by better managing operating capital.
If you’d like to know more about how stock management or enterprise resource planning software can help your business succeed, contact the business software specialists at Markinson today. 

Stock or inventory management is the process of overseeing the flow of items into and out of your inventory.  A well-functioning stock management system keeps stock costs under control and helps to achieve positive cash flow.  

09 MaySee Our Software Solutions at the Brisbane Truck Show
Following our involvement in the recent AAA Expo, we’re excited to also be exhibiting at the Brisbane Truck Show from 16 to 19 May 2013.
Visit us at Stand 258 (Plaza Level) and learn more about our ERP and retail solutions for the commercial vehicle industry, including MomentumPro and Shopkeeper.
We’ll be demonstrating our new internet and channel integration products for parts catalogues and streamlined electronic order processing, in addition to our new mobile solutions for field-based auto aftermarket sales teams.
The Brisbane Truck Show is the premier event in Australia for the transport industry, showcasing the latest in heavy vehicles, technology, engineering and innovation.  It runs over four days at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre:
Thursday 16 May 10am to 6pm
Friday 17 May 10am to 6pm
Saturday 18 May 10am to 6pm
Sunday 19 May 10am to 4pm
Follow us on Twitter to find out what we’re doing each day at the Show! 

Following our involvement in the recent AAA Expo, we’re excited to also be exhibiting at the Brisbane Truck Show from 16 to 19 May 2013.

21 MarVisit Markinson at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo and learn more about Automotive Aftermarket Software

Workshop owners and managers facing the challenging realities of change in today's industry will learn how to improve their businesses at the 2013 Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo. Find how the latest developments in automotive aftermarket software can make your business an even greater success.

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