Windows 7 64-bit: The change to 64-bit is here…watch your business software

I was reminded again today about the reason we’ve been recommending that clients continue to ask for Windows 7 32 bit. We were helping a client install PFW for Windows 5.9 when we got a “Runtime error 449” (I think that was it). A Google of the error returned the information that 5.9 client was evidently not compatible with Win 7 x64.

Until all your software is up to date, and all your printers are new, we still recommend that you order 32 bit. Yep, it’ll be older, but it might just work with your software and printer drivers.

Every Business Can Be More Successful…With Less Work

I truly believe that every business can be more successful with less work. In fact, I’ve spent the last 25 plus years of my career helping businesses do this. Don’t get me wrong. What I do isn’t without pain for businesses. I’ve yet to meet the client that wakes up on Monday morning thinking, “I think it would be fun to replace a big chunk of the software I use to manage my business!” Or perhaps, “The week wouldn’t be complete without dramatic change in my business.”

Using computer software technology to improve business success isn’t without pain, but few worthwhile things are without pain. Every time I’ve decided to improve my physical fitness, whether it was walking, jogging, lifting weights, or swimming, there were times in the next few months that I just knew I’d made the wrong decision. When my muscles ached in the morning, asking me, “Why did you do that to us again?” I knew that pain makes gain.

So I truly believe that every business can be more successful. Define success as you will: more profit, fewer hours, more customers, more satisfied customers, etc.

Now here’s the big thing: Even though every business can be more successful, what I personally do can’t necessarily make your particular business more successful. As much as I like doctors, I don’t need an OB/GYN. I just don’t have the right parts. My wife, on the other hand, got much benefit from the help they provide (we also got a few kids in the bargain).

The one thing I’ve believed all along is that when I can’t help someone, I tell them. We’re going to expand that into a more significant statement in the new year. Until now, think about how you might make your business more successful.

I believe every business can be more successful…with less work.

The TRUE Cost of Laser Printing

This is probably nit picking. Too bad. I’m hacked!

DGG has an old Okidata Color Laser Printer (C5150N). It’s a great printer, particularly since I think I paid something like $700 for it, a duplex unit, and an extra tray.

It’s been having some problems lately. Actually, I’ve been having some problems lately. It needed a new drum unit. I thought I’d save some money and do an internet search for a cheaper drum unit. I saved 50%, but the drum I ordered didn’t work. So I ordered another one from a discount dealer. That one didn’t fix the problem either. So now I’ve ordered at twice the price from a vendor that I know will come through for me. Guess that’s a lesson for me on trying to go cheap.

Anyway, all of this caused me to take a look at the cost of a new laser printer. You can buy new color lasers with duplex and a network connection starting around $300. I decided to check out the cost of toner.

The toner cartridges for my Oki are rated at 5,000 pages of output. No one gets that because that rating is at 5% coverage. Why have a color laser if you’re going to print 5% color? My documents are more like 15% to 25% (or more) color. So I get around 2000 pages. The toner cartridges are $25 each. Not bad.

So I looked at a new OKI. Toner cartridges: $48, rated for 1500 pages. Yep, that’s right 1/3 the toner for double the price. Then I started really looking closely. ALL the low priced color printers ($500 – $1000) seemed to follow this pattern. Some of them had toner cartridges that cost OVER $100 with ratings of around 2000 pages. Geez.

Morale of this story: Watch the cost of the toner. Laser printers are like razors. They lose money on the printer and stick it to you on the toner!

Webcast: Inventory Management with the Right Data From Your Software

Several weeks ago, I did a series of three webcasts on Inventory Management. It covers the data you need from your ERP software or accounting software and how to make the decisions related to inventory management. I put the first on YouTube, but had to cut it into three parts to get it all uploaded. The second and third sessions were more extensive and would have taken at least four parts. So we’ve set up a Vimeo Pro account for the videos that we do. Take a look at the first part of the Inventory Management webcast.

More information on ERP software and accounting software is available on the DGG site.

Middle Managers: Get Involved in Accounting Software or ERP Software Purchases

Ok, so I missed this article for several months, but as the local paper used to say, “If you haven’t read it, It’s still news.”

I’ve been involved in enterprise software projects for just a little shy of 30 years now. Most of my experience has been in small and mid-sized business, where this type of software is sometimes referred to simply as “accounting software.” This article points out that most mid-level managers are either unconcerned about software or feel that they are not listened to.

As a consultant, I can tell you that detailed information is the key to selecting and properly implementing software. Without the mid-manager’s perspective, it is easy to miss important details that later affect the implementation.

Bill Ives’ article gives the details of the survey.

We’ve been fortunate to get middle managers involved in our implementations. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking the detailed questions that middle managers know the answers to. Our process assures that when we are involved in an accounting software implementation, we get as much information as possible.

Accounting Software: Measure Profit and Increase It

Accounting information is backward looking. I know you’ve read this before.

Even when an organization produces financial statements just a few days after month end, the data that makes up the statement is related to something that happened last week, last month, or last quarter. Financial statements say nothing about what is happening now (present looking) or what will happen in the future (forward looking).

What Information Do You Need From Your Accounting Software?

It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to figure out (through a process of interviewing) what information a manager really needs to do her job. The technique was developed over 20 years ago at Harvard, and it always surprises the people who go through the process: information that is critical to the operation of their company isn’t available.

Your accounting system can tell you what went well and what went wrong. This is important information. But you need to supplement this information with additional information that looks to the present and the future.

Today’s accounting software does more than produce financial statements. It collects the information needed to look to past, present, and future. For more information, take a look at Profit Tools.

Xerox Machines and Accounting Software

Somewhere in the last few months, I’ve started using copy machines (Xerox) as an example of the way businesses can improve profit through technology. During presentations, I ask audiences if there’s anything they know their copier should do but don’t know how to do it. I get a lot of hands. I ask about specific things like duplex and making booklets. “Do you know how to do them on your copy machine?” I get few hands.

“Do you think your copy machine will do things you don’t know about?” I get lots of hands.

Some of those things probably don’t make any difference to your business profitability. Some of them might. Here’s the catch: if you don’t know they’re there, you can’t take advantage of them.

Next to most accounting / practice management / operational / ERP software, copy machines are pretty simple. So if you don’t know about features on your copier that could save you money or make you money, how likely is it that your software could make you more productive or help you close more sales?

And…as a matter of fact…most copy machines have similar features. If you know Xerox, you probably have a good idea about what Lanier copiers will do.

That’s where software consultants can help your company: we know the features of the software you have, and how other businesses are using those features to make and save money. Call us. We usually find significant savings or profit in your existing system. And if you need new accounting software or ERP software, we can help with that as well. You might also be interested in our research on the Top 10 Accounting Software packages.

STATICS ™ Business Growth System is ideal for implementing and profiting from these features.

Are Your KPIs Related to Your CSFs?

There is a great deal of talk about Dashboards and Business Intelligence in tech circles today. A dashboard (in my mind) is basically a collection of a number of indicators (gauges) that help a manager judge how her part of the business is doing. There are sales dashboards, marketing dashboards, manufacturing dashboards, and so forth.
While business intelligence normally includes a dashboard component, it also contains (again in my mind) tools to allow managers to locate sources of issues. Image of a corporate dashboard. The terms “drill down” and “ad-hoc query” are perhaps overused, but the idea is simple: a manager sees an “exception” in the data presented, and uses the business intelligence tool to find the reason for the exception in the detailed business data.

ERP systems are including pre-formed dashboards, usually centering around financial measures and financial data (for example, accounts payable and accounts receivable agings).

The biggest issue with these pre-formed KPI (Key Performance Indicator) dashboards is that for any given business KPIs need to be related to CSFs. CSF stands for Critical Success Factors. Every business has at least 3 and no more than 6 CSFs. They are the critical elements that drive the business to success. Without success in these areas, the business will not prosper or grow.

Does this imply that pre-built KPI dashboards aren’t useful? Or that pre-constructed business intelligence can’t help a business? No. But it implies that at least somewhere among the measures, each business should be sure to include key performance indicators that measure effectiveness in each CSF area.

HP Dumps PCs

Interesting news this week: HP is dumping it’s PC business. HP is also dumping WebOS at the same time. I remember when HP took over Compaq. At the time, we were a reseller and service center for Compaq. We could order parts overnight from Atlanta or closer. The warranty reimbursement rates were good, and we were able to offer clients a quality product at a reasonable investment, with the assurance that we could provide the service after the sale.
Soon after HP took over, they announced a minimum inventory requirement. I don’t remember the exact number, but the amount was more than 50% of the total warranty repairs for the previous year. Needless to say, I’m sure HP lost a great number of smaller repair centers. Our response was to move to other suppliers.
And now HP is dumping PCs. Ok. Same strategy as IBM? Will HP be as successful?

Do You Know Our Software?

If You Don’t Know Our ERP Software, How Can You Help?

This is perhaps the most common question I am asked by companies thinking about letting DGG take a look at their systems. The second question is “How can you teach me anything about our business?” I’ll deal with #2 in a later entry.

Knowing What Accounting Software Can Do Is Most Important

Inventory has some common characteristics. Businesses stock it in bins, shelves, tanks, etc. Checking%20Spreadsheet.jpg
They usually number these in some systematic way. Some inventory expires. Some has lot numbers or serial numbers. Some items have warranties. Inventory items usually have some common demographic features like item numbers, descriptions, min and max quantities, sales history, price, cost, quantity, etc.
Most systems that deal with inventory deal with these things. If you know one system, you can’t say that you “know them all,” but you have an excellent starting point. A learning theorist named Piaget said that we have “hooks” or “categories” that help us learn. Once these categories are formed, learning is easy. Until they are formed, learning proceeds slowly.

The More Languages You Know, the Easier Software Becomes

Some business people are surprised when I tell them that I’ve developed computer software in about two dozen different languages over the last 25 years. It could be more. But once you know one language, adding an additional language is pretty easy. It’s the same with ERP and accounting software.

A Systems Example

A couple of days ago, I visited with a client that had been trying to make a Windows 7 workstation work with their accounting software for over a year. I knew a little bit–but not much more than that–about the software. According to the company, the vendor had spent HOURS dialed into the system trying to fix the problem. In about 15 minutes I had them up and running.
I didn’t need to know the software to solve the problem. I needed to know how software worked!