Thanks and Happy Holidays.
Making the move to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application feels like a big step. But for a growing business, getting by with a starter accounting system may be costing more than you think.
With an integrated ERP system, you can see what is happening across your business ‒ from inventory to receivables and payable ‒ to monitor cash flow and maximize profit margins. With better insight into the business, you can:
Identify your top customers to build additional sales. Through analysis of the purchases that all of your top customers make, you can identify trends and patterns. That insight will allow you to predict what products and services a customer will buy next. Promotions can accelerate sales and expand your reach into customers.
Automate to increase efficiency. Automated workflows ensure that work is completed efficiently and without interruption. Employees can focus on adding to sales and offering new services when they are not bogged down with paperwork.
Optimize purchasing to keep inventory right-sized. By connecting your supply chain processes and inventory management, you can make better decisions about purchasing. Track turnover and match buying trends to optimize stock on hand. Build on profitable items and eliminate dead stock.
Handle growth without adding more employees. An ERP system allows you to manage more transactions without having to hire more people. Increased profits only follow growth if you are gaining efficiencies as you expand. Most entry accounting systems just don’t scale.
The best part is that ERP has never been easier. With a hosted deployment model, you don’t need to invest in hardware or the IT resources to support it. Hosted ERP allows you to focus on your business instead of IT headaches.
Ready to grow your margins? Let’s talk about building your business with ERP.
Many small businesses, even when they are an established company doing well, can encounter problems and run into a wall, blocking progress. Profits can level off and growth or sales can start to level out. This creates stagnation which can be a difficult challenge to overcome, especially to those who are risk averse. One way companies might overcome these issues is by analyzing existing data in the organization and looking for patterns.
In order to move your business forward and grow, you should analyze and try to interpret the data in your organization. This includes everything from previous financial statements, year-on-year sales figures and numbers, and even KPIs or estimated Vs actual figures. By looking into this data, you will eventually begin to find patterns which can be useful in not only helping you figure out the current state of your company, but in identifying where it is going.
Why should you analyze data for patterns?Most experts agree that there are four reasons businesses should be analyzing their data:
- You can better evaluate past performance.
- You can assess current status.
- You can more accurately predict future potential.
- You can make better decisions that will maximize profits and resources.
What types of patterns should you look for?Many small to medium businesses generate a wide variety of data, and it can be a challenge to narrow down what data types and patterns to look for. To start with, many businesses focus on three main patterns:
- Industry comparisons - By looking at the financial information from other companies in your industry, you can detect overall industry performance and identify any anomalies. For example, if some companies have increased sales and profits, while others are static or decreasing, the more successful businesses may be doing something that you can also adopt in order to improve your sales.
- Actual vs planned performance - By looking at your actual and planned sales you can see how the company is doing e.g., were sales lower than expected? If yes, you can begin to look into why. When compared year-over-year you should be able to see patterns emerging that help you resolve issues or take advantage of new opportunities.
- Trend analysis - This is comparing current and past performance with the aim of finding out where or how your business has changed. Some examples of patterns are how sales are trending, how profits are doing, and cash flow. From here, you can determine how differences have occurred and what corrections are needed.
How do you analyze data and identify patterns?Many businesses rely on spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to store, manipulate, and visualize data, to ultimately spot patterns. But this requires a fair amount of effort to establish and maintain, and as the spreadsheets grow, operations can slow down.
One option many businesses explore is utilizing Business Intelligence software, which allows businesses to easily track data and identify patterns, among other uses. There are a wide variety of programs, so if you are looking to begin tracking data and analyzing patterns, try contacting us today to see what solutions we have for you.
Did you know that, according to Microsoft, there are more than one billion people using Microsoft Office? There is little doubt as to the popularity of this program. While the vast majority of users focus on the threemain programs – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – there is another that is equally useful – OneNote. This note app could be really useful for your business.
So what is so great about OneNote? Here are five things you may not know about this program:
1. It can do math!
If you are in a meeting where figures are flying fast and furious, or you are struggling with some math and have OneNote open, you can use this program to help. Simply enter the numbers into any blank line in a note, add an = sign and hit the spacebar: e.g., (4587×2)-(3900×4)=. The answer should pop up right beside the formula. If it doesn’t, try using different symbols like the asterisk instead of x.
You can also insert more complex equations by clicking on the Insert tab, selecting Equation followed by Insert New Equation. You can then select, draw or even type the symbols to create your equation.
2. There are some great templates
By default, new notes are created using a white background, or ‘paper’ as it is called in OneNote. However, you don’t have to stick with a white background, as there are actually a plethora of templates you can choose from in order to make your notes stand out.
To change the template click on the Insert tab and select Page Templates. A menu will open on the right side of the screen with the different templates to apply to the note. For some users, the templates may be too much. Try looking at the Insert tab and you will be able to select the page color and the lines.
3. It’s also a great recorder for meetings
If you are in an important meeting and don’t want to miss anything, you can actually use OneNote to record proceedings. The first thing you will want to do is to create a new note and enter the details of the meeting. Then press the Insert tab and select Record Audio. After the meeting is finished, you can stop the recording and it should be saved in the note.
While the audio is recording, you can make small notes that should put a play button beside it. When you press the play button, it should start the recording at the time you made the note.
4. You can access it on almost any device
Many times when you are heading to meetings or appointments, you probably don’t want to take your laptop with you so you can take notes. Luckily, OneNote is available as an app for Windows Phone, Android, iPhone and iPad devices. If you log in with your Microsoft account, any notes you create will be synced and available on any device. Check out the OneNote site for links to the apps that you can download and install on your device.
5. It’s easy to share notes with your colleagues
So many business tasks are now collaborative, you will likely need to share notes from time-to-time. With some note apps this can be a bit of a chore, but on OneNote it’s actually quite easy: Simply press File followed by Share and then Get a Sharing Link. This will generate a link that you can send to people you want to collaborate with. When you press Get a Sharing Link you will be able to set whether people will be allowed to just view or edit your note.
If you choose to allow others to edit your notes, they will be allowed to change everything and have changes sync across all versions of the note in their own version of the OneNote app or in their browser. This makes it a great tool for collaboration.
Looking to learn more about using OneNote in your office? Contact us today to see how our solutions can help.
The global market for medical device connectivity is projected to top USD$33 billion by 2019, up significantly from USD$3.5 billion in 2013 - and that could have major implications for health-care providers.
An increase in medical conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes - which require continuous monitoring - are driving growth in the integration of medical devices. Integrating data that comes from various medical devices into electronic medical records (EMRs) has many benefits: It can eliminate the inevitable errors that result from transcription and save time, and in doing so, improve overall patient care.
There is one problem however: For small and mid-size health-care providers, there can be cost barriers. Indeed, in 2012, the largest market share segments were large entities - hospitals, followed by home health care. Both are expected to show strong growth through 2019. As the technology and devices become more popular however, prices should drop quickly, allowing almost all providers to afford it.
Still, a new report from Transparency Market Research expects a compound annual growth rate of 37.8% in the market from 2013 to 2019. Although the wired hardware segment of the market was the largest in 2012 (accounting for 40% of market share), the study predicts that wireless connectivity technology will see widespread adoption, as it, along with related technologies such as Bluetooth, is being used to connect medical devices in all health-care locations, from homes to hospitals.
The growth of this technology, says the study, is being driven by numerous factors, including the need for workflow automation, improved patient safety and increased productivity, to name just a few. If you are interested in learning more about how technology can fit into your practice, please contact us today.
The holiday season is more or less officially upon on us. As with the past few years, tech items like tablets and laptops will be among the most popular gifts given. Beyond that, the next few months are among the best time of the year to buy a new laptop. If you are already looking for a new laptop this season, for a loved one, yourself, or for business, you know that it can be tough to pick one that will be reliable.
To pick a laptop that will be not only be reliable but also make a great gift, follow our four great tips.
1. Think: What will this laptop be used for?Because there are so many different laptops available you can guarantee that there will be a laptop that meets the needs of any user. Before you get buying a laptop for someone else, pause and make a list as to how the laptop will be used.
If you are buying a laptop for someone who will be using it for work, and works on a daily basis with intensive software like Photoshop, then look for one with higher-end hardware. If the laptop is going to be used for everyday work, like word processing, email and spreadsheets, you likely don't need one with high level hardware.
When considering different laptops, it is a good idea to actually try the laptop out in the store to see if it can handle what it will be used for.
2. Go with a company offering great tech supportSupport is a factor many people who buy laptops don't consider. The truth is, there is a good chance that the laptop's hardware may at some point fail. If this happens, the majority of users will contact the manufacturer's customer service department looking for help.
Now, we all know that many companies don't have the best customer service but there are a number of laptop manufacturers with good to even great customer support. Pick a laptop that is made by the manufacturers offering good support so that should something go wrong, there is a better chance of reaching someone who will be able to effectively help.
How do you know which companies have the best tech support though? The easiest way to find out is to do a search on the Internet. You will come up with a large number of results and rankings, most of which seem to agree that in 2013 the top four brands for tech and customer support are:
3. Know the statisticsWhen considering laptops, you also should take into account general statistics. The most important statistic to look at is how long older versions and models from manufacturers have lasted. This can be tough to track down, as many manufacturers don't readily report this information.
What you want to look at is the failure rate of laptops over time. There was an interesting study conducted by SquareTrade last year looking at the failure rate of popular laptop manufacturers over three years. Firstly, it found that one in three laptops will fail or experience hardware failure and need to be repaired within three years.
The study found that Asus laptops actually failed the least - with slightly over 15% of laptops failing within three years. Apple fared in the middle of the pack, with 17.4% of laptops failing within three years. The bottom of the pack was HP, with 26.6%, of laptops failing within three years.
What this study suggests is that the extended warranty plans offered by many companies are likely a good idea, especially if the intended use of the laptop is for business purposes.
4. Look at what other products the manufacturer makesThe laptop industry is an interesting one, with manufacturers often releasing products of varying reliability and quality. It is because of this that ratings that focus on the company as a whole can often miss the full picture. One company that has marginal tech and customer support may actually have high quality business laptops that will last years.
The Internet can provide a good source of answers for you. If you take the information about what the laptop will be used for you can use this to look at the various reviews on sites like Amazon, The Wirecutter or Laptop Mag - which is arguably the best site out there for laptop reviews.
The key here is to not pay full attention to the ratings - stars, %, etc. - instead, look at the reviews offered by users. If you are going to buy a laptop for someone who will be away from the office and power sources for a longer period of time, look for reviews from users that mention poor battery life. If you see more than a few reviews that mention this weakness you should probably steer clear of this particular device.
For the vast majority of business users, you will likely want to look for a laptop which reviewers and users call a workhorse. These are usually devices that are not only reliable, but will be able to handle most business related tasks and are available at an affordable price.
If you are looking to purchase a laptop this holiday season, please contact us today so that you get the best gift possible.
On November 8 the thirtieth typhoon of the 2013 typhoon season hit the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan is widely thought to be the most intense storm to make landfall in recorded history, leaving behind it flattened cities and over 4000 casualties. While disasters of this magnitude are statistically rare, companies should be taking steps to prepare their business for any disaster on any level. To many companies this means developing a business continuity plan, and technology can help ensure these plans are working.
Technology can help small to medium sized businesses develop and execute both disaster recovery and business continuity plans in many ways. Here are five:
1. It helps enable more efficient communication
The majority of business owners and employees now have smartphones, tablets and laptops that they use on a daily basis. What these devices have done is enable better communication, which is also a major part of a continuity plan.
With a multitude of chat apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and iMessenger, companies can set up group chats that can be accessed via multiple devices from nearly anywhere. This means that you can get information out fast, with a higher chance of reaching the people you need to during and after a disaster.
Combine this with virtualized systems like email and VoIP, both of which are usually hosted off-site and are highly likely to remain optional during a disaster, and you further boost the chances and effectiveness of communication.
2. It makes developing plans easier
Let’s face it, when developing a recovery or continuity plan, there is a ton of factors that you need to consider and actually plan for. These plans can get complicated and hard to track and manage very quickly, and any plan that is either overcomplicated or poorly managed runs the risk of failing when implemented.
This is why there are numerous well-designed software options that allow businesses to not only develop, but track, implement and share recovery and continuity plans with greater effectiveness than manual systems.
What’s more, is many of these solutions are created using industry standards and can often help you apply proven methods that may not have been previously possible.
3. It makes recovery easier and quicker
Traditional data backup systems require a physical backup like a hard drive or tape. When you do need to recover systems, it can take hours or days. Now, many IT partners offer cloud backup services which store your information in the cloud.
When you need to recover data, you can usually log on to any computer with an Internet connection and have your files and data back in a fairly short amount of time. This means that your company can return to as near full operation status as quickly as possible without much loss of time and consequently, profit.
4. It makes coordination during a disaster easier
As stated above, most professionals have multiple devices that allow them to connect with colleagues and customers with ease. Business owners therefore have a variety of quick and easy ways to try and connect to employees in a time of emergency, allowing for a higher chance of coordinating and executing a plan of action.
5. It helps minimize disruptions
By employing technical solutions like virtualization and cloud services, essentially moving services off site, you will be able to remain operational or recover quickly. This is largely because many solutions have redundant servers, so if one fails another can take over and still keep your systems available.
There are many ways technology can be employed in order to make planning for disasters and even recovering from them less challenging. If you are looking to learn more about how technology can help your business, get in touch.
The accounting department can be a tense place at the end of the month. Trying to close the books when department managers haven’t gotten in all their reports. Long hours spent entering data into spreadsheets. The pressure of getting income statement and sales reports to the boss on time.
The worst part is that all that time is spent looking backward. Reporting on the transactions that happened last month. There’s no time to look at what’s coming, let alone plan for it.
There’s a better way
When you use a basic accounting program, you need to use spreadsheets to manage everything but the most basic transactions. Combining all those spreadsheets is time consuming and prone to error. An ERP system replaces the spreadsheets with integrated data and flexible reporting.
With a fully integrated ERP system, data is being collected and recorded from every transaction, from every department as they happen. Dashboards and reports can instantly reflect activity across the organization. Reports are generated automatically and can be customized to meet industry-specific requirements.
With a fully integrated ERP system, instead of spending time closing last month’s books you can analyze trends and look for opportunities. Opportunities like:
- Identifying sales trends so you can adjust purchasing to match demand.
- Increasing the profit on your next project by knowing that the cost of your materials is going up.
- Closing a branch that is not meeting expectations, before you sink even more cash into it.
- Reducing excess inventory with a promotion to move an end-of-season product.
More affordable than you imagine
The ERP systems available today are cost-effective and easy to use. Choose software that will be easy for your employees to learn to use. The faster they start looking forward, the sooner you will reap the benefits of ERP.
Let’s talk about how you can make your accounting team happier, especially at the end of the month.
The key ingredient to many successful businesses is good connections. This might be links with customers, suppliers, or colleagues, etc. Simply put, companies that can connect with their stakeholders will be better able to build a strong brand. And for many companies the best way to connect is via various social media platforms. If you are having trouble connecting with people, it may be because it is too difficult for them to find you on social media in the first place.
If you are struggling to make your existence known on social media, and missing out on those all important connections, then here are five tips to make you easier to find.
1. Use your actual name When it comes to social media, you want to be easily found. When your customers try to find you, they will almost always enter the name they call your company by. Therefore, your profile on social media needs to register this name even if it isn't your company's official name. Use the same name in various places on your profile e.g., in the About us section and even in your posts if it fits. If they can find more than one of your social media profiles (because you have used the same company name for all of them), there is a higher chance they will connect with you.
2. Become more recognizable We are highly visual people and when we see patterns, will normally begin to associate it with something. Many of us are also on more than one social media platform, so companies can leverage this in order to gain more connections.
Try having the same profile picture on all of your profiles too. What this does is make you and your brand more recognizable. If people are looking at other social networks that you have a presence on and they see the same profile picture, they are more likely to recognize you as the same company and potentially be more willing to connect with you. If you change your picture on one profile, be sure to update it on the others.
3. Create more social emails We don't mean start emailing people asking them to connect, as this will likely drive people away because they will think you are spamming them. Instead, try putting links to your social media profiles in your email signatures with a suggestion to connect. Because you likely send a fair number of emails out on a daily basis, having links to your social media profiles can help increase the chances of people reaching out and connecting with you.
4. Don't use multiple email addresses It can be tempting to use different email addresses for each social media platform - this can help track integration and engagement - but in truth, this can actually confuse people and could make more unnecessary work for those who manage your profiles.
Many personal users have only one email for social media, largely because it's easier to manage and quickly look at traffic. So, in order to make things easier for you or whoever manages your company's social media, it might make sense to just use one email address for all of your profiles.
If you have already used more than one email address for different social media profiles you have two options: You can choose to change the email addresses so that they are all the same, or you can simply link the other email addresses so that they are included in all of your profiles.
The most professional looking option is to pick just one email as it will reduce uncertainty as to what email address to use when customers want to contact you via your social media pages - e.g., email you about your products.
5. Make your website social Finally, you likely have a website. While many people will find you on social media, it is a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your website. The reason for this is because it helps you build your brand image. It is a way of letting people know that you are not only on the Web, but also have social media profiles and that as a company you interact.
The most popular way to display your social media presence on your website is to include icons on the homepage, or in the footer. When you click on each of these, a new window or tab opens and takes you to the relevant social media page.
In general, the more locations you broadcast your social media presence, the higher the chance of gaining more connections. It follows that the more connections you have and the more active you are on your social media profiles, the greater consumer interest and engagement is, and the stronger your brand identity becomes. Over time, you should see an increase in sales and ultimately profitability.
If you are looking to learn more about how to leverage social media in your business, please contact us today.
Communication is one of the most essential components of business, and one of the main ways many companies and customers communicate is through email. One of the most important elements of the email is the part that many people either struggle with or ignore - the subject line. If you don't write strong or appropriate subject lines you will may risk the fact that the email will go unopened.
Here are five tips on how you can write better subject lines for your emails.
1. Standardize where possible
There is a good chance that as a business owner or manager you often have emails asking the same question or that you send out similar emails on a daily, or regular basis. In order to be more effective and save yourself a little time, why not standardize the subject line for similar emails. For example, if you send out a weekly update with important information to suppliers, use the same subject line such as - 'Weekly Supplier Update DD/MM to DD/MM'.
If you and your employees use a standard format like this you could see a decrease in requests and confusion over content and what exactly the email is about. This in turn means fewer reply emails and questions and therefore more time to focus on other tasks. If recipients get used to seeing this standardized subject line then they know what to expect from an email and the message about what the email is about is more easily communicated..
2. It's ok to use some abbreviations
Despite whatever your teachers might have stressed about grammar through school, abbreviations and acronyms are actually fine to use in email subject lines. The key here is to only use those that are commonly known. For example, FYI (for your information) and RE (regarding) are perfectly acceptable to use.
If you are going to use specific acronyms or abbreviations that people may not know, you need to reference the meaning in some way. An easy way to do this is to use them in the body of the email first, and explain what they mean the first time you use them. For example, WRT (with regard to) which is increasingly used but not necessarily universally known.
3. KISS your subject lines
We don't mean actually bend forward and smooch your monitor - that would be a little weird. What we mean is 'Keep It Stupid Simple'. When writing subject lines try to keep these as simple as possible. Don't use confusing words and don't write long sentences. That being said, don't go too far the other way either. Sometimes one to two word subject lines may not be enough to get across the point of the email and may actually provoke questions or confusion. Take a look at the subject you write and ask yourself if it is as simple as possible, yet clear enough to avoid any misunderstanding.
4. Be as specific as possible
While keeping it simple is important, you also need to keep subject lines specific. A great subject line will tell the user exactly what the email is about. For example, if you are inviting customers to a webinar on your newest service, a subject line that says something along the lines of: 'Webinar in November' is ambiguous and likely to get ignored.
Writing something like 'New Service Webinar Invitation Dec 16' is much more specific and likely to create that necessary spark the interest for users to click open the email and read on.
5. Write actionable subject lines
The reason many of us send emails to colleagues is because we want them to do something. We want them to act. Because most people are busy, and don't want to spend time trying to decipher what a sender wants then simply adding the intention and desired action in the subject line can be worthwhile.
For example, if you need a colleague to edit the monthly sales report putting a line like 'Monthly sales report' may cause the employee to either ignore it, or put it to the side for later, largely because they may think it's a report, or not something that they need to act on. A subject line like 'Edit Monthly Sales Report' immediately informs the recipient that you are requesting an action. It also saves you time having to go into lots of information in the body of the email too.
Looking to learn more about how you can save time and improve productivity in your organization? Get in contact with us today to see how we can help.
Facebook has become one of the most popular websites on the Internet. For businesses it has become one of the essential marketing and communication platforms. In order to keep users coming back to the site, and using this platform, Facebook regularly releases updates. One of the most recently announced developments will do away with a security feature.
If you have logged into Facebook recently, you may have seen a notice at the top of the News Feed page informing you that, "In a few days we'll [Facebook] be removing an old Facebook setting called "Who can look up your Timeline by name." Seeing this message could create a bit of confusion as to whether it is a big deal to take real notice of or not.
What did this setting do?
In previous versions of Facebook, starting from when Timeline was introduced, you could type in individual or company names to bring up their Facebook Timeline. This security setting allowed you to set who could find your Timeline if they entered your name.
Why is Facebook removing it?
Before the more recent changes to Facebook, such as the introduction of the new search feature, the only way to find Facebook users was to search for them. Now, users can be found in numerous ways and the most obvious is by using the new Graph Search (Facebook's new Search Bar).
Because of the numerous ways to find profiles, and the related security settings, Facebook has announced that they will remove this security setting largely because it is redundant. It should be noted that Facebook isn't removing the ability to search for users by name, just the setting that controlled who could see your Timeline.
What will happen now?
The biggest change is that now anyone will be able to look up your name and find and view your Timeline on Facebook.
Should I be worried about the removal of this privacy setting?
For businesses, this change is actually a positive one. All users will be able to find your Facebook Page, which is something you want. You are still in control as to who can see individual posts and updates. In general, your Page will continue to be visible, but the chances of seeing increased visits solely due to this development are pretty slim.
That being said, any change to the security settings on Facebook mark a good time to conduct an audit of your Page and Timeline. Log into your Page and press the Lock icon in the top-right. Take a look at security settings, including who can see what content. For many businesses, this should be public - as long as the content posted on the Page is aimed at being openly viewed.
If you are posting pictures or updates that you only want a select group to see, be sure to set the security settings when you create posts. This can be done by pressing the arrow beside Post. It is a good idea to look through your Timeline and ensure posts, updates, Likes, shares, etc. are shared with the appropriate people. You can do this by pressing on the cog in the top left and selecting Account Settings followed by Privacy and Activity Log beside Review all your posts and things you're tagged in.
Looking to learn more about the role of Facebook in your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.