Changing the Way You Think About Business Software (ERP) and Technology

For 20+ years, DGG has really been in the business of changing the way our customers think about business, accounting, and ERP software. Changing the way you think about business software and technology can make you a lot of money. I’m thinking that perhaps we should have been talking about this for a long time.

Why? Our customers know that we’re different because we’re deep in both business and technology. Being deep in business changes (or should change) the way you think about software and technology in general. Using technology in business is like using a car.Photo of a man looking at the screen of his laptop.

The car is the hardware and infrastructure. The cables and racks and servers and operating systems (for example, Windows Server or Linux). Information Technology (IT) professionals spend a great deal of their time keeping the car working and tuning it up. I was talking to a customer’s IT support a week or so ago. He was lamenting the fact that the previous support person didn’t have individual servers for each piece of software: email on one server, web services on another, and accounting software on yet another. From an infrastructure standpoint, I completely agree with his objective. But polishing and tuning up the car doesn’t get you anywhere. Having the car (or server) running well is a precondition or prerequisite for everything else.

The gas is the application software. I’m not thinking about server software: SQL, email, etc. I’m thinking about Word, Excel, accounting, and business operations software. In order to go anywhere (in business or in a car) you need gas. This is the place many businesses (and IT departments) fall flat. They have new hardware on which they spend thousands of dollars with software that’s 20 years old. Old gas is bad for engines; old software can be equally bad for companies.

The result of old software is that businesses begin to think in terms of the software capability they have. Twenty years ago, we were happy that software worked and was stable. If we started the day with 10 in inventory, invoiced 2, and the computer said we h ad 8 left, we were ecstatic. Today, we expect the features we thought were whiz-bang in 1992. A car with 1992 gas sputters along, wheezing–if it runs at all. A business just creates a huge amount of work and “fights” its software by using Excel, ACCESS, and other tools to do the heavy lifting.

Finally, there’s the driver training. Anyone who’s taught a 15-year-old to drive knows that without training, the best place for the car and the gas is in the garage. Without proper training, you can hurt yourself.

And here’s where the analogy of the car vs. business technology breaks down. If your car doesn’t run, you don’t have gas, or you can’t drive, you find out pretty quickly. You wind up walking, pushing, or having a heart-to-heart conversation with a telephone pole or police officer. If your business technology isn’t optimal, you can run for a long time (harder, with more difficulty) without realizing it.

I’ve seen businesses run into the ground because they didn’t use the right software or didn’t use software right.

There’s more information on business software on the DGG site, and our Profit Tools eBook can provide some ideas.

 

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.

Keeping Your ERP Software Up To Date

Companies that keep their software up to date seem more satisfied overall with their systems. I’m not sure why this is, but I know that it helps them avoid all kinds of issues. Older versions of software seem to cause more software compatibility problems these days than in the past.

Here’s the pattern I see:

Windows Vista was a major change in operating system for Microsoft and many Windows users. It was also a disaster from a PR standpoint. I never had many problems, but some people did. As a result, many skipped this version. Software publishers didn’t have the mass of customers moving to the new version, so many software bugs weren’t worked out.

Windows 2008 Server, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and Windows 7 used many of the same technologies as Vista. The recession hit just as many of these products were coming out. Businesses (and users) have updated to these technologies as they had to. Many businesses are still updating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

The software products that didn’t get a full test under Vista (because relatively few businesses implemented it) are now getting tested under Windows 2008 Server and Windows 7.

Bingo! Problem!

Solution: Clients that keep ERP software (and other software, for that matter) up to date are generally more satisfied in the long run.

Quick Accounting Software Productivity Boost, Anyone?

DGG will begin offering quick tips (30 minute webcasts) on Thursday afternoons. We’ll begin with casts covering the products Sage ERP ACCPAC, Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solution, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. We’re looking at some other potential offerings. The Q1 2012 schedule is available now at http://www.dgginc.com/cms/webcasts.htm, and you can register at http://dgg.eventbrite.com.

Join us.

 

ERP and Operational Software – How do you see them?

ERP software and business software can be a stairway to reach your goals.I really think that businesses have two basic ways of thinking about business software and technology. Either it is a glorified typewriter and bookkeeping system or it is a strategic asset that will help reach goals.

Most businesses say it is the latter (a stairway to their goals). Think with me for a minute about that, though. Some of the very same businesses that would agree with the idea that ERP and operational software is a strategic asset would also admit that their software is 10, 15, or perhaps 20 years old. Some companies we’ve worked with have software that still forms a critical core of their business processes that is older than this.

Twenty years ago, overnight delivery was in its infancy. The internet was not yet widely known. In fact, many small and mid-sized businesses still kept books manually.

A car that is 20 years old (say 1992 model) might or might not have air bags. Until 10 years ago, most low-end vehicles didn’t have airbags as a standard feature. Ten years ago, most cars sold did have airbags, but second-generation airbags (the kind that don’t break bones and cause internal injuries) weren’t mandated on cars until 1998.

Here’s the bottom line: a computer system that’s even 10 years old is out of date. A business that believes it is taking advantage of the newest and the best that has a computer system that old is kidding itself.

It’s interesting that most businesses we work with that have old ERP, accounting, or operational software systems also want to revise their processes. They recognize that their business software is holding them back. Perhaps they’re worried about the Gladys Principle. Or maybe there is another reason.

So I ask you: Why do businesses do this to themselves? One reason is cost. Ok. I understand that. But as someone said about education, “If you think education costs a lot, you should try ignorance.”

Another reason is simpler than most businesses will admit: inertia — “A body in motion tends to stay in motion in a straight line until acted upon by an outside force.” Change is hard. Sorry. It is in our DNA.

Sage Delays 6.1 Version of ACCPAC ERP Software to Mid 2012

According to the latest word from inside Sage, the release of its ACCPAC ERP software version 6.1 has been delayed until at least the middle of next year, most likely June. We expected it. This version is an ambitious (and very good for ACCPAC users) upgrade in plumbing. It’s the right thing for Sage to delay it until it’s right. Preliminary looks are very promising, both in terms of the out-of-the-box experience and the customization possibility.

Our website has more information about Sage ERP ACCPAC implementation and support.

A quick YouTube Demo of the new look and feel was in a prior post.

Accounting Software Hotfixes: Where do they come from?

We had a client with a problem: a history file had corrupted records in it. The accounting software’s “Data Integrity Check” came back “NOT!!” The database software vendor’s tool just hung after reading about 3,000 records into the file. But…no problem…the database vendor had a tool to remove the corrupt records. And we did.

Instantly, an inquiry that had been getting an error started running all the way through…like cold molasses. For those of you that have no clue what molasses is, let’s just say it was excruciatingly slow. I’m impatient. If my computer takes 2-3 seconds to do something, I’m doing the three-finger salute (Ctrl+Alt+Del). This was taking a good 45 seconds. And the diagnostic utilities from the accounting vendor seemed to be in a loop. One day I let them run for 8 hours…the process still didn’t finish.

I got the bright idea to try loading the data on another database vendor’s product (the accounting software gave me a choice of 3). Low and behold, it was instant. I tried the query on the first database vendor’s SQL query utility. Bang! Instant result.

So–let’s see–the problem is not corrupt data (that problem has gone away). The problem isn’t in the data itself (it works on another database). The problem must be in the software.

Monday I got the result from the vendor: The hotfix will be available on Wed. We’ll see if that fixes the problem.

Note: It was available Tuesday. It fixed the problem!

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Accounting Software – YouTube

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 has been out going on a year now. Version 6.1 is due soon. This overview from YouTube is still worth watching for the direction of the product. As we noted in our review of the product, the new development environment is based on Google Web Toolkit (GWT). The next version is supposed to have more of the environment converted to the new UI. When the UI is fully converted to the new development environment, we’ll review it again. Accounting software selection and industry specific software are our special areas of expertise.

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Overview – YouTube.

1099 Repeal Passed

We’ve been following the 1099 reporting change issue that was included in the Healthcare Act. The US Senate has now passed the repeal, which is headed for President Obama’s desk. All indications are that the President intends to sign the bill. Small and mid-sized businesses can sigh in relief. I’m not so sure what Congress intends to do to bridge the revenue gap left by the repeal of this measure. Seems to me that the original estimate was counting on this to raise in the range of 40 billion for health care. I didn’t check the number, so I could be off.
Senate Approves 1099 Repeal, Sends Bill to President