General News

will
6
Apr

Financial Business Support

What help is available for my business?

During these uncertain times increasing numbers of SMEs are under pressure to find support. Monpellier has gathered some of the top sources of help and advice at this time.

Information regarding financial SME support is changing rapidly. Here are the current schemes and options available as of 1st April 2020.

Deferring VAT Payments – The UK Government has offered to support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you are a UK VAT registered company and have a VAT payment due between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 this offer applies to you. For more information click HERE

Self-assessment payments – If you are due to make a payment by 31st July 2020 but are financially affected by the corona-virus you have the option to hold off payment until January 2021. Please note if you can pay by the 31st July you should do so. Eligibility can be found HERE 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme – Also referred to as SEISS, has been designed to support self-employed individuals who have suffered income loss due to COVID-19. The scheme allows the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth up to 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. For further information and to apply click HERE

Sick pay support – SME with fewer than 250 employees will soon be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The reimbursement will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP and is currently being finalised. To keep up-to-date with the latest information regarding this rebate click HERE

Business rate holiday (retail, hospitality & leisure) – If you are eligible this scheme will automatically be applied to you. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to provide this support. For more details and to estimate your business rates click HERE
Cash grants (SMEs) – The small business Covid-19 grant has been increased from £3,000 to £10,000 as of April 2020. This is part of a £330bn package of support for businesses, equivalent to 15 percent of GDP. Further information can be found HERE

Cash grants (retail, hospitality & leisure) – This grant is for businesses in the stated sectors and offers a grant of up to £25,0000 per property. For eligibility and how to apply click HERE

Interruption loan scheme – This temporary scheme supports SMEs by giving access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments as well as other beneficial support. Full terms can he found HERE

Commercial eviction ban – Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Further information can be found HERE

Helpful resources

We suggest reaching out to all of the below before you apply to double-check they are still taking applications.

NBSL – Business grants for North East based businesses. Visit the NBSL website.

North East Growth Hub – A useful resource containing business support information, advice and organisations that are providing funding, loans and financial help. Visit the North East Growth Hub website. 

Made Smarter – Support for Manufacturing businesses (North West) who are interested in digital development. Visit the Made Smarter website. 

For help relating to remote working including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and keeping your team working efficiently while at home, Monpellier are here to help. Call us on 0191 500 8150 or drop us an email, [email protected].

18
Mar

Customer Announcement (COVID-19)

In light of the recent developments with the spread of COVID-19 in the UK; we wanted to reassure our customers and make them aware of the business continuity measures that are in place.

Planned work 

Unless advised otherwise, we plan to carry out all of our commitments for installation and project work, but will use remote working to complete any tasks if we feel it is appropriate. If, for any reason, on-site days need to be changed we will provide as much notice as possible.

Contacting us 

Should Monpellier face an outbreak where several or all our employees are required to self-isolate, we have put measures in place to ensure the business can still operate as normal and continue to provide our customers with the high level of service they have come to expect. In light of any disruption, customers will continue to be able to contact us via telephone and email. 

Remote working 

Every staff member has been set up to work remotely, so should we need to isolate the entire business will remain unaffected. 

Suppliers

We are in constant contact with all of our suppliers who have each implemented their own measures at this fluid time. 

 

During any developments over the next few weeks we will continue to update our website and will post further updates on our social media channels, which are detailed below:

www.monpellier.co.uk

Twitter: @MonpellierLtd

 

In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance to your own remote working plans then please get in touch.

5
Mar

One to watch: Integrated Solution for Manufacturers

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

One of the most talked about trends for the next decade is digital integration. As accessibility to digital manufacturing tools, such as cloud storage, artificial intelligence and IoT sensors grows the concept of a ‘smart factory’ is becoming a reality. Manufacturers of all types can  benefit from digitally integrating their operations. 

Integration has been on Microsoft’s radar for a long time and they now have a vast, robust selection of solutions that all work together in perfect harmony. One such solution, which is priced for the SME market, is Dynamics 365 Business Central. 

This all-in-one solution includes modules for; Financials, Purchasing, Inventory, Operations, Warehousing and Projects. 

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite tools and functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central…

 

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) 

To avoid ending up in that all too familiar situation of having too much of one item and not enough of another the MRP functionality within Dynamics 365 Business Central focuses on making tracking bills of materials (BOMs) flawless. It automatically generates order suggestions based on demand and sales, giving you accurate order suggestions at a glance. 

 

Scheduling

Our manufacturing clients often find the scheduling process the most stressful part of their business. Incorrect data or the slightest supply error and your whole schedule could suffer. Dynamics 365 Business Central slims down and simplifies the scheduling process with automatic production orders and purchase orders, action messages linked to balancing of supply and the option to set-up some items with individual reordering policies.

 

Capacity Measurement

Many businesses have the goal to grow in 2020 but with growth comes increased capacity. Dynamics 365 Business Central tracking capacity alongside materials and projects to ensure you never overbook or oversell – or lets you know you need to add to your facility, materials and team.

 

Inventory Items

Keeping track of raw materials, component parts and sub-assemblies can be exhausting. Dynamics 365 Business Central can quickly track these items and ensure you have what you need at all times. Keeping on top of your inventory like this can dramatically increase productivity and reduce time wastage during the production cycle. 

 

Machine Centers

Machine centers are designed to help you manage the capacity of a single machine or resource. Within Dynamics 365 Business Central, Machine Centers lets you plan and manage capacity on multiple levels and had the capability to allow users to store more default information about manufacturing processes, such as setup time or default scrap percentage.

 

Dynamics 365 Business Central and Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. We lead with your business objective and take the time and care needed to plan, customise, implement, train and support the solution that will achieve your goals. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s February Issue.  

5
Dec

How strong is your foundation?

IT infrastructure

A strong IT infrastructure is essential in supporting your business’s overall goals. You need to trust that no matter what is thrown your way that you have a strong foundation to keep your operations running smoothly. 

But what falls under the term IT infrastructure? IT infrastructure consists of all elements that support the management and usability of data and is usually split into four categories, software, hardware, network  and servers.

Since 2001 Monpellier have worked with SMEs in Cumbria and across the North East to help advise, implement and support elements of IT infrastructure. When it comes to building a strong foundation Microsoft Dynamics 365 has you more than covered. Dynamics 365 is a budget-friendly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that can adapt and grow with your business. Perfect for businesses that don’t want to fork out large amounts for their own hardware and onsite server, Dynamics 365 is neatly and securely hosted on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. 

Dynamics 365 is a unified suite, making it a valuable base to your IT infrastructure. Unlike other full-suite software solutions, Dynamics 365 is modular so you only pay for what you need. This gives businesses options to scale up (or down) as their organisation changes. 

 

Applications from Dynamics 365:

Finance – Monitor performance in real-time, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions to drive growth.

Operations – Use predictive insights and intelligence across planning, production, stock, warehouse, and transportation. 

Marketing – Increase customer demand for your products and services and improve marketing results. 

Sales – Go beyond sales force automation to better understand customer needs, engage more effectively, and win more deals.

Field Service – Optimise your field operations with built-in intelligence, remote monitoring, and tools that enable your technicians to deliver quality work

Customer Service – Differentiate your brand, Built-in intelligence delivers faster, more personalised service and adds value to every interaction.

 

These six applications are just a snapshot of what Dynamics 365 has to offer with other applications such as HR, Talent and Retail also available. 

From a user’s point of view, Dynamics 365 keeps all your systems unified and can ultimately reduce training and on-boarding, meaning a much shorter ‘learning curve’ for you and your team. Integration between systems becomes seamless and the size and complexity of your infrastructure stays firmly in your control. 

 

Dynamics 365 by Monpellier

Monpellier are experts in providing custom, integrated solutions and delivering first-class support across a wide range of areas. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation. 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s November Issue, 2019.  

2
Oct

Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution

The age of automation

Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution, (the first industrial revolution involved mechanisation through water and steam, the second electricity and the third nuclear power). The fourth industrial revolution is all about the internet and emerging technologies such as the Cloud, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. In summary, Industry 4.0 is the age of smart manufacturing and atomisation.

 

Industry 4.0 in practice

Manufacturing organisations are a wealth of data however, according to IDC, only 30% of manufacturers are currently investing in transforming the digital operations of their businesses. Monpellier believes this is due to the sheer scale of the data and processes held by most manufacturing businesses. The idea of digitalising all this information and implementing a future-forward solution is daunting, and in some cases not always necessary. Here are our top 5 tips for ensuring your business stays ahead of the curve during the Industry 4.0 revolution.

 

Assess

Firstly, you need to take the time to step back and assess. Spend time (don’t rush) taking stock of existing processes and software/ hardware. Map out how each process currently flows and how you would like it to flow (in an ideal world). After all this work is done, it’s time to reach out and speak to a specialist solutions provider. Your chosen provider can help you devise the best plan to fit your needs and budget, whether that’s a modern ERP solution, moving to the cloud or simply streamlining what you currently have.

Plan

Changing or updating your current solution in any way can cause teething problems. The best way to manage this is to start by assigning a small, invested team to manage the project from start to finish. Ensure your team is perfectly formed with key players from each department, communication is fundamental in the early stages to guarantee the new solution will satisfy the predetermined needs. During the planning stage, you may also want to take the opportunity to cleanse your existing data, this will put you in a much easier position going forward.

Connectivity

Industry 4.0 is all about smart manufacturing and making the most of new technological developments, which has led many organisations to move to a cloud-based system or hybrid architecture (a combination of cloud and on-premise). According to Aberdeen research, manufacturing early adopters are migrating faster than ever due to faster implementation speeds (61%), efficiency in total life-cycle costs (59%) and scalability (44%). Cloud connectivity truly resonates with Industry 4.0 as it supports the operational structure needed for optimal efficiency.

People

Roles once occupied by people are increasingly being handed over to robots and AI (Artificial intelligence), but where does this leave our current workforce? The reality is that humans will still play a vital role in manufacturing but there needs to be a shift in skills. To guarantee your business is ready for the coming change look to recruit people with skills such as knowledge of automation, data, analytics, programming and software.

Implementation

Why not start small? Some manufacturing businesses are kicking off their journey into Industry 4.0 by adding something small such as a sensor to their machinery. Even minor innovations like this can greatly influence a company’s success by gathering all sorts of intelligence. Starting small also gives you a longer period of time to convert your entire workforce to a new automated way of thinking readying them for future change.

 

Manufacturing solutions by Monpellier

Experts in providing custom solutions to manufacturing businesses Monpellier (based in Cumbria and the North East) deliver support and solutions across a wide range of areas from accounting & payroll to CRM and EPOS. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] for a free onsite consultation.

 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s September 2019 issue

19
Sep

Farming for the future

How to start tapping into AI and the IoT

Imagine climbing out of bed before dawn but instead of pulling on your boots and heading into the cold you simply check your PC for any urgent updates on your livestock or crops? This vision is a reality for many working in agriculture thanks to the power of AI the IoT.

 

What’s the difference between AI and IoT?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolves around the simulation of intelligent behaviours in machines of all kinds. For example, a drone using a robotic lens examining the yellow flower of a tomato seedling to estimate the time it will take to become ripe, picked, packed and distributed. In comparison, the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about helping farmers reduce waste and enhance productivity by using connecting machines to gather data.

 

How can it be used?

Technology is constantly evolving and changing the agricultural industry in many ways from driverless tractors, drones, automated irrigation systems and crop health monitoring. Companies such as Microsoft have invested millions into partnerships and sustainable AI and IoT projects to help farmers maximise their profits. And they are not the only ones focusing on smart technology; many companies have developed solutions that work in harmony with Microsoft to combat the coming demand for increased production. The UN predicts the world’s population will reach 10 billion by 2050 which is a massive 2.5billion increase from 1970.

 

Here and now?

As useful as it is to read about the coming technological advances businesses in the North West can often feel forgotten and wondering how and what is available right now. The Azure solution from Microsoft gives you the perfect future-proof foundation to get started with AI and IoT.  Azure is an ever-expanding set of cloud services with over 100 services and end-to-end tools that are designed to meet your exacting needs. Here are some examples of revolutionary solutions that work seamlessly with Microsoft.

SCR Dairy: Cow-monitoring system that gives farmers insight into milk production, the calving process and ensures healthier cows

GrassSat: Subscription service that gives online daily updates on grass cover and clear and actionable visualised maps and charts

 

Microsoft from Monpellier

Whether you’re ready to dive headfirst into AI or just need a knowledgeable partner to help you maximise your existing solution Monpellier can help. Based in Cumbria and the North East Monpellier provide support and solutions across a wide range of areas from accounting & payroll to CRM and EPOS. Give us a call on 01228 550 167 or email [email protected] to start farming for the future, today.

 

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s August’s 2019 issue. 

26
Aug

What’s the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365?

As part of our Jargon Buster Series we’re looking into the world of 365

Microsoft is galloping ahead with their business software solutions and are constantly adding to their plethora of products and add-ons. But in this minefield of new offerings, it’s hard to make sense of what each product is, what functionality they include and how it can be applied to your business. 

Our Jargon Buster Series has been created to cut through the noise, explain each solution in real terms and give you the information you need to make the right decision for your business.  

 

Microsoft 365 VS Office 365

Microsoft 365 and Office 365 seemingly the same thing right? Unfortunately not… 

Office 365 is Outlook plus the usual Office suite sold as a Cloud-based service through a subscription model. There are lots of different Office 365 plans (Business Essentials and Business Premium) that cover your different needs as a business. Subscriptions are calculated per number of users and have the benefit of always providing you with the most recent version making compatibility and upgrades a thing of the past.  

In comparison, Microsoft 365 includes everything you get with Office 365 plus Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security. This bundle gives you Microsoft’s latest operating system paired with a suite of mobility and security tools that gives your data extra protection. 

 

So which option is right for me?

Realistically, the best option is to speak with a Microsoft Partner to ensure your chosen solution is the right fit for your needs. We recommend this because of the amount of options that can be added to your subscription is so vast a consultation with an expert ins simply invaluable.  

However, in basic terms both solutions give you the full Office 365 package, but Microsoft 365 gives you even more (Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security). Apart from the additional features the only differences appear when it comes to device management. Unlike Office 365, Microsoft 365 comes with a single console to manage users and devices. This added feature lets you manage Windows 10 PC’s with an easy-to-use setup wizard. 

 

Free consultation

Monpellier are a trusted Microsoft partner specialising in providing an end-to-end solution and support. If you would like more information on Microsoft 365, Office 365 or other Microsoft products give our team a call on 0191 500 8150. 

22
Jun

When selecting marketing automation software, avoid these 5 pitfalls

5 Pitfalls When Selecting Marketing Automation Software

When used correctly, technology will enable any company, large or small, to reach their goals. Unfortunately, some businesses have had bad experiences with marketing automation tools early on. The wrong strategies and investments will only create problems for both sales and marketing.

To get things right from the start with this type of software, here are five of the most common marketing pitfalls to avoid.

1. The lack of Meaningful Investments

Many executives make the mistake at focusing too much on technology pricing before considering long-term value. As a result of this, they allow for the unsupported implementation of poor-quality automation tools.

It’s important to do some serious research before selecting the first tool which will meet your budgeting expectations. Get everyone on board to choose the right tool without compromising too much on price.

2. Don’t automate the wrong activities

You can and should always automate:

  • Contact management
  • Social media posts
  • Email marketing
  • Content posting

Did you know that you can even automate follow-up scheduling for sales representatives? On the flip side, try not to automate every communication channel. Your audience will soon begin to notice when communications are “canned”.

Make sure to balance automated activities with live interactions from staff members. Within your organisation, get every marketing, sales and customer success agent involved.

3. The lack of strategic focus

It’s essential to understand the connection between marketing and sales. The right combination will have you on your way to being able to fully capitalise on the automated marketing process.

If you don’t have proven methodology, automating the process won’t change the results. The lack of strategic focus can only highlight any existing dysfunction.

4. Separating marketing and sales professionals

At the end of the day, marketing automation can only do so much. To really succeed, businesses should encourage marketing and sales team’s collaboration to generate qualified leads and then follow them through.

When it comes to the digital world, the lines between marketing and sales are still a little blurred. Professional collaboration can improve marketing tool utilisation which in turn drives revenue strings.

5. Don’t use unhelpful benchmarks

The right measurements can have a major impact on the efficiency of marketing automation. In terms of online engagement analytics, quality comes ahead of quantity. It’s essential to make sure your measurement tactics focus on consumers who are likely to convert rather than those who may be identified as low-quality leads.

Why not try targeting conversion pathways? This will provide the number of sales you generate from each marketing pathway. Stay clear of unhelpful benchmarks which will only have a detrimental effect on your business.

  • There are also a number of other pitfalls to avoid involving marketing automation software such as:-
  • Insufficient knowledge of technology and processes
  • Insufficient integration with the CRM system
  • Insufficient attention to cooperation and strategy
  • Not enough support from the IT Department

Make no mistake, marketing automation has the potential for success. When used correctly, it will keep your business moving forward. Get in touch with us today!

16
May

10 Questions Profile – Nick Bevan Technical Director

Name: Nick Bevan
Job role: Technical Director
Time @ Monpellier: 7 Yrs

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
When I was growing up I quite fancied becoming a secret agent which then somehow turned into an Accountant.

2. What is a typical day like working at Monpellier?
My day can be quite varied depending on whether I’m in the office or at a clients site, my time is spent managing and implementing projects and quite often preparing for delivery of presentation to help clients find the right solution.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Technology is evolving daily, I enjoy keeping up to date with emerging technologies such as the Powersuite and Azure developed by Microsoft. I then look at ways to incorporate these products into our solution offering.

4. What are the upcoming trends in the industry?
SAAS (Software as a service) has been around for a few years but we will start to see more companies making the transition to SAAS ERP and effectively putting their ERP systems in the Cloud. I also believe that we will see more reliance on applications integrated into the Cloud passing data between our ERP Solution and office systems

5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the software/tech industry?
We are slowly migrating to an app based culture. I would suggest learning how to create apps and integrate data stored in the cloud is a good start for anyone wanting to develop a career within this industry.
Coupling this with a modern apprenticeship is also a great vehicle to gaining a career in this industry.

6. What advice would you give your younger self?
Probably to push my boundaries outside my comfort zone.

7. What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Normally my two children have a say in this. I also love to find a solution to a problem and as you never know what problems you are likely to encounter then the only way of finding out is to get out of bed.

8. If you had a superpower what would it be?
Growing up I used to constantly be called Inspector Gadget and this seems to have followed me into adult life so I would have to say a modern version of him. Maybe Iron Man.

9. What’s your favorite quote?
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

10. How would you describe yourself in one word?
GadgetMan

If you would like to learn more about Nick or the rest of the team Click Here

25
Mar

Preparing for Brexit: How Manufacturers Can Get Ready Today

If there’s one thing that defines successful businesses, it’s their ability to cope with change. In recent years, we’ve seen the rapid rise of cloud-based technologies, the reshaping of many industries by automation and artificial intelligence, and waves of regulatory change. Now, the UK faces its biggest change in decades, as it starts to separate from the EU.

Manufacturers can prepare for Brexit now by ensuring they have systems that give them a clear, real-time insight into their businesses. The aim is to ensure they can take effective and well-informed decisions, whatever changes in their supply chains or markets.

Companies that use just-in-time deliveries, for example, may need to adjust their lead times and inventory levels. The Road Haulage Association warns that additional checks at the border between England and France could result in significant delays and queues. Some companies will need to increase their inventory levels to avoid the far greater cost of downtime on the assembly line because parts or subassemblies are unavailable. For many companies, there will be a delicate balance to strike, ensuring they can continue manufacturing in the face of uncertain delays, without harming cash flow by overbuying goods. The only way to get it right will be to have real-time insight into the supply chain and stock levels, joined up with the company financials, so that business leaders can understand the impact of any delivery delays, and better understand how to mitigate them.

There may also be increasing currency fluctuation in the future. The Brexit process has already seen the pound devalue against the dollar and the Euro, and there may be further volatility to come. Sharp currency changes can affect the cost of imported goods, and the returns from exports. For companies that operate on tight profit margins, currency fluctuations can have a significant impact on their profitability. To manage this complexity, it will be important for manufacturers to have an ERP system that handles multiple currencies smoothly, so that the business can plan, price and negotiate based on a good understanding of the company’s currency exposure.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK government has said that a temporary tariff regime would be introduced. Although most imports would be tariff-free, tariffs would be applied to the automotive industry and industries that are considered to be “vulnerable and exposed to unfair global competition”. That could see the cost of imported supplies rise. Cloud-based ERP solutions will provide the greatest flexibility to cope with changing regulatory requirements, because they can more easily be updated as new requirements are introduced.

Brexit is likely to result in new documentation requirements to cope with any new tariff, customs or taxation requirements. This may apply not only when trading with the EU, but also when dealing with other countries whose trade arrangements previously depended on an EU agreement. One way that manufacturers can minimise delays is to ensure that all shipments have the right documentation attached, so that pallets aren’t left sitting by the dockside waiting for missing paperwork to arrive. A robust document management solution will be necessary to tackle the increased complexity of international trade, and to avoid the assembly line downtime and customer dissatisfaction that might result from avoidable delays.

Much about Brexit remains uncertain, but businesses can prepare now by asking “what if?”, and working out the information they would need to operate effectively under different scenarios. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a comprehensive ERP suite that spans financials, purchasing, inventory, operations, warehousing and projects. By introducing it to your business now, you can ensure you have the processes and visibility you need to make smarter decisions in the face of unprecedented change.

21
Mar

Preparing for Brexit

After two failed attempts to get the current Brexit deal through Parliament and now with the request of an extension is it becoming more likely that there will be a no-deal scenario? Whilst the government do not want a ‘no-deal’ scenario, it is the outcome that could demand the most rapid business preparation, and it’s appropriate to prepare for a range of outcomes. Sage’s recent whitepaper is aimed at helping businesses plan for a no-deal Brexit, focusing on key areas of impact on your business, along with actions to take to ensure that your business is ready for a possible no-deal.

 

Click here to download whitepaper

 

Preparing-for-Brexit(1)_compressed
24
May

Why selecting ERP software is like getting married

If you’re nervous consider it a good thing…

In one respect, selecting ERP is a bit like proposing marriage; you’d better be sure you’ll get along since you’re in it for the long haul barring a costly and bitter divorce.

Unlike a real-life bride or groom though, the ERP software vendor you fall for isn’t likely to turn down your proposal. The onus is solely on you to evaluate the options and select the one that’s right. We’d be concerned if you weren’t nervous.

We’re betting you’re considering ERP software because you desire to better manage supply chains, inventory and customer relationships while simultaneously offering a valuable and efficient ecommerce shopping and checkout experience.

We’re also betting a significant portion of your time is spent doing necessary yet seemingly trivial tasks that don’t add value:

  • Entering data manually
  • Retrieving data that’s siloed from complementary data
  • Enduring inefficient inter-departmental workflow or reporting

You know many of these routine chores can be handled much more rapidly and efficiently by integrated software systems.

It’s why you’re considering ERP.

These systems can automate business processes and make managing your business more efficient and profitable. However, ERP systems can also be costly, difficult to integrate, and challenging in terms of measuring ROI.

The secret to a happy ever after is choosing the right partner.

Here’s how:

What is ERP?

It might be helpful to think of ERP as the key that unlocks silos in which data is often trapped due to departmental affiliation, organisational structure, or human reluctance to share.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is engineered to collect, organise and interpret data from a variety of business activities including:

  • Customer relations
  • Supply chain
  • Inventory
  • Purchasing
  • Human resources
  • Finance
  • Sales
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering

Without ERP, the bulk of your data is without context, perspective or connection.

Only when you’re able to mine, organise and develop it into insight can it deliver on its promise of helping you make better business decisions. Accessing the data, making sense of it, and doing so in real-time are formidable challenges.

The idea behind ERP is to help organisations become more agile, efficient and make data driven decisions that result in better business outcomes. The data compiled in an ERP system is often presented in a dashboard that decision makers can use to monitor and manage their businesses in real-time.

Even though enterprise software is a relatively mature vertical, the global ERP spend is expected to increase more than 36% over the next four years. Hidden within that growth is change. Increasingly, legacy in-house ERP systems are migrating to the cloud.

How can an ERP solution help you?

Think of your business activities as parts of an engine…

The ability to look under the hood while the engine is running can be invaluable when trying to decide whether to pull over and do preventative maintenance, take it to a shop for immediate repair, or keep going for as long as possible because all is well.

ERP software can provide the vision a business needs.

ERP systems are designed to provide rich overviews of the applications running on an organisation’s computer networks. Besides being able to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time, ERP systems can integrate business departments by tracking workflow, identifying duplication, and ensuring data integrity.

ERP software can save organisations money by:

  • Automating certain employee job functions
  • Eliminating single-purpose software
  • Securing all company data in one place
  • Creating a single analytics or reporting location
  • Making it easier to accurately track inventory and sales
  • Speeding collaboration between employees in different departments

It might be helpful to think about ERP on three levels when trying to match software solutions to your organisation’s individual needs:

  1. As an ERP system or single solution relied upon for all of an organisation’s software needs.
  2. ERP as a supplement that may be integrated with existing software or tools.
  3. ERP as modules, or collection of related software (marketing/sales or finance/accounting), that may be used for mission critical business functions but also integrated with existing software that may be separate or possess a different level of sophistication or focus.

Besides the insight ERP can provide, it can also address some of the agility issues with which businesses must cope.

ERP software can provide an on demand real-time snapshot of what’s happening on the backside of your business. It’s not something customers will see, but it can provide a competitive advantage by helping you make faster, smarter, data driven decisions.

The drawbacks of ERP

If you’ve already spent big money implementing an ERP system over a number of years, you’re not alone.

As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to budget for a certain spend per user per year. You might be able to negotiate volume discounts, but depending on the size of your company, understand it can also cost a significant amount to implement ERP systems. Consider the recurring costs as well as the fact you could spend between 10-15% of the total cost on yearly software renewal fees.

Other considerations that can impact cost, integration time, and functionality include:

  • Whether you’re integrating existing software with new ERP software
  • Whether you’re starting from scratch and weighing cloud ERP vs in-house ERP

The IT resources necessary for the scenarios outlined will vary and thus also impact cost and duration of implementation. The vendor you select may implement the software itself, partner with a third-party consultant, or leave it all up to you.

Additional ERP challenges may include:

  • ERP ROI – it can be difficult to measure efficiencies, value or the total return an ERP produces.
  • Data migration – it can be costly, difficulty and time consuming to transfer data and maintain quality and integrity.
  • Employee training – to take full advantage of ERP, employees must use it which could require training that reduces productivity and increases costs.
  • Reliance on lone vendor – the vendor you select will be responsible for upgrades and customisations and must remain in business for years for you to reap the full benefit of an ERP system.

Identifying exactly what your objectives are by implementing an ERP, evaluating the IT and infrastructure necessary to integrate and maintain the system, and mapping out exactly how you’ll track, and measure success are crucial in staying on budget and on time.

Identifying and understanding these items well in advance will not only help you select the right vendor but also contain costs and improve the odds that implementation won’t drag out for years to come.

Selecting the right ERP software

Selecting the right product and the right vendor hinges on intimately understanding your organisation’s needs and appropriately evaluating competing systems side by side.

Here are six things to consider that can help you make a more intelligent decision:

Objectives and requirements

Why exactly are you interested in an ERP system? What problem are you trying to solve?

Outlining ultra-specific objectives will help you identify narrow requirements ERP software must meet to be purchased. To avoid being influenced by vendor marketing, you might consider listing your requirements before you begin researching options.

Reminder: mobile ERP

When identifying your requirements remember to balance them with your employee policy on mobile devices. While mobile ERP isn’t new, the BYOD trend is and should be considered when balancing the advantages of using ERP on the go and ensuring data is secure.

Measuring ROI

When you begin researching ERP options you’ll notice no shortage of warnings regarding how difficult it is to measure ERP ROI. Fortunately, articulating ultra-specific goals as you’ll have already done will help.

You might measure ERP performance by:

  • Reduce headcount by X% in Y (months)
  • Increases employee productivity by X% in Y (months)
  • Reduce inventory by X% that results in Y accounting improvement
  • Increase customer touches by X times that increases lifetime value by Y (amount)
  • Improve accuracy of manufacturing cost quotes by X% in Y (months)

Reminder: cloud considerations

When figuring out how you’ll measure performance be sure to consider differences between in-house and cloud ERP. While cloud ERP is often user friendly and may require less in-house to maintain, it also means sensitive data will be stored off-site. Conversely, an in-house ERP may allow you to store sensitive data closer to home but doing so could require additional staff for system maintenance. Either decision can impact your IT culture and headcount.

Demystify the demo

You’re ready to see software demonstrations.

You may want to provide a demo script that outlines specific functions, workflows, or features you expect to see during the demo. You might feel as if directing the demo with precision will save time and help you better determine whether the software meets your goals.

An alternative approach is to simply provide the vendors with a goal and see how they respond…

Remember, you provided the vendor with several of the goals you expect ERP to help you achieve:

Do the salespeople spend time learning about your business, asking follow up questions about how you’ll use ERP, and voluntarily incorporate your goals in the demo?

The demo you receive can be extremely revealing in terms of what kind of partner the vendor will be over the long haul; implementation, customisation and support.

Get the real price

To select the right solution for your business, understand exactly how much the project will cost at each stage:

  • Upfront cost
  • Maintenance
  • Support
  • Recurring costs

Having a thorough discussion about price can prevent future surprises and disappointment. It can also help you shape a contract both parties can be happy with.

Reminder: customisation 2.0

Customisation is crucial in squeezing every bit of value from ERP software. However, too much can result in major cost, overruns and delayed implementation. Over customisation can also result in higher upgrade costs. Unless a specific customisation provides a competitive advantage or measurable benefit, consider saving the extra time and money custom coding often requires.

Gauge vendor viability

As the enterprise software space consolidates, companies may not wish to support all of the products they acquire in perpetuity. Acquirers may choose to sunset a specific product or notify customers it will no longer support a product after a certain date.

This is a risk that anyone considering ERP software must be concerned with.

For ERP providers that do not appear to be acquisition targets, it’s important to see their balance sheets so you can assess their financial strength and whether they’re likely to be around for the long haul.

Conclusion

Be sceptical when researching ERP systems online.

Much of the content claiming to help you select and implement the right ERP system is produced by the very people trying to sell it to you or by:

  • Outfits collecting leads to sell to ERP vendors.
  • Publishers who are paid by ERP vendors to be included in guides, handbooks or whitepapers.

This doesn’t mean the content isn’t accurate or potentially useful. Just be mindful of the source and whether a conflict of interest may exist.

Selecting the right ERP system requires disciplined attention to detail but a rather simple strategy:

  • Understand exactly what you need
  • Identify precisely how you’ll measure performance
  • Understand exactly what the vendor will provide
  • Check on the vendor including unconventional references
  • Pinpoint the price including recurring costs and incentives and penalties
  • Gauge vendor’s financial health and strategic direction

Good luck with the proposal. Just be sure they’re the one.

So, with all that said, we would like to propose to you that you get in contact with us as we might be the one and we don’t want to slip through your fingers and be the one that got away. Contact us here to organise a free consultation and demo, or call us on 0191 500 8150 to speak to a Business Software Consultant.

30
Jan

It’s time to upgrade your EPOS system

When was the last time you updated your point-of-sale (POS) system? Four years ago? Seven years ago? Do you even remember a time when you were able to refer to your POS software as being new?

If you can’t answer the last question, chances are pretty good that your POS software could use a good revamping. Even if you’ve updated your software within the last five years, you could still be missing out on some pretty ground-breaking technology.

But admitting your business could stand some streamlining is a far cry from justifying the time and money that inevitably goes into any major upgrade – especially one to your central means of sale. Business owners experience this kind of hesitation for a whole host of reasons, but sticking with a system that has been around long enough to have sold Fred Flintstone his footmobile may be causing more problems and costing you more than you realise.

If your POS system has fallen to the bottom of your priority list, you’ll want to be on the lookout for these eight signs that it’s time to treat your POS to a makeover.

Software is slow, buggy and complicated.

The first, and most obvious, sign you need new POS software is that your current system is just, well, old!

If customers have to question whether their transaction is even going to go through, or if you’re working with an ancient system held together with dirt and tape, it’s time for an upgrade. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I constantly battling with a platform that freezes or blinks out every time I issue a gift receipt?
  • How many times a week do I have to restart and reboot?
  • Is training new employees a hassle because of how convoluted each task is?

User friendliness has become an industry standard among even the most feature heavy systems. There are loads of ultra-simple, ultra-slick platforms out there; you shouldn’t continue pulling your hair out over old software. Customers will inevitably take note, so your system should instill confidence in your patrons and demonstrate the pride you take in your business.

Out-of-date hardware.

Think of how often you replace technology in your personal life. Most people wait no longer than two years before they start itching for the latest smartphone. While you may not want to replace your POS hardware quite that often, the average setup is going to be outmoded after four to seven years.

Most new software isn’t compatible with older hardware anyway, and that’s not just because POS vendors want you to spend more money. The actual reason is that older terminals, receipt printers, cash drawers, etc. just can’t accommodate the level of functionality available these days.

For instance, many of the newer POS systems operate on sleek tablets that have better operating systems than their much bulkier, much more expensive predecessors. New hardware is visually appealing, space-saving and convenient, allowing you to free up counter space even while giving your store or restaurant a little more style.

Outdated features.

Yes, at one point, tracking your inventory was cutting edge, but now it has become pretty standard. Depending on the level of functionality you’re working with, it may be time for you to step into the 21st century. For instance, think of how much time your average consumer spends on the internet. If you aren’t finding a way to connect with your customers online, a huge source of revenue is going untapped.

Here are some of the features you won’t find in older software:

  • E-commerce features (online stores, online ordering)
  • Social media integrations
  • Digital receipts
  • Mobile, real-time reporting
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Email marketing campaigns

When it really comes down to it, if you aren’t offering these features, your competition will be. Think about that the next time you pass up on an upgrade.

Limited integration capabilities.

Do you spend time exporting valuable business information as CSV files that then have to be imported into third-party programs? Constantly jumping back and forth between multiple programs just to finish your daily paperwork isn’t doing you any favours. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take care of all your back-office business within a single program? Well, you can!

Depending on your needs, there are POS systems out there with all the in-house features necessary to completely manage your business. Even if you need something outside the standard capabilities, most modern platforms offer integrations designed to supplement any areas your POS might not cover. Why work harder when you can reduce transferring errors and get all your work done in one place with a new system?

Outdated payment processing.

If you haven’t jumped on the contactless bandwagon, it’s high time to do so. Not only is it a good idea to upgrade your payment processor to protect yourself from fraud liability, but the way we pay for things is also diversifying. More people are expecting to use Apple Pay or Android Pay when they shop, and if your system doesn’t support NFC payments, you will lose their business.

Another element of payment processing is to consider integrating your credit card reader. External credit card processors can slow down transaction times and add extra steps to your reporting process. Most POS vendors have made it to a point to integrate with a selection of merchant services providers, and some even offer in-house payment processing, making it easier than ever to nail down a competitive rate.

Still not cloud-based?

Most recently, cloud-based technology has become increasingly entrenched in the business sector. By the year 2020, a study estimated that more than 80 percent of businesses will be using cloud-based systems, which makes sense considering how the cloud has already invaded the consumer tech realm.

There is a swath of benefits to using a cloud-based system, but if you’re not totally convinced, some POS systems offer hybrid technology, which incorporates the best of both locally-installed and cloud-based platforms.

Too expensive.

One of the perks of the technological jump is the increased affordability of POS systems. Not only is the software generally cheaper and offered at a month to month rate, but you’re also not having to invest in costly hardware. And when we say ‘costly’, we don’t just mean in terms of the monetary sacrifice you make when purchasing huge terminals, servers and backup servers. We’re also referring to the time, energy and frustration that older, high-maintenance systems demand.

This is where cloud-based technology can really come in handy and keep more money in your wallet. Technical support is either free or significantly less expensive, updates are automatic, and trained professionals are monitoring and maintaining the servers housing your data so you don’t have to.

You’re contributing to global warming.

Okay, so maybe that’s just a slight overstatement, but let’s face it, the ‘going green’ buzz words are all around us. Customers want to feel like they are leaving a smaller carbon footprint, and if your business offers them ways to do it, they are more likely to return.

Find software that emails electronic receipts, invest in a mobile POS that you can take tableside or onto the sales floor, send orders wirelessly to a kitchen display instead of printing tickets. Take it a step further by digitising your books with online inventory management, marketing campaigns, payroll management and accounting.

Final thoughts.

If you found yourself nodding along to any of the points in this article, then it’s probably time to consider an upgrade to your point of sale system. Whether you need new hardware, new software, or both, the system around which your entire business revolves is no place to skimp.

Here at Monpellier, we can help you recognise your business needs, and refer you to the best EPOS system, software and hardware that will help you to help your business. Call us on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected] to organise a meeting today!

18
Jan

Why SME business owners need accounting software

Why most accounting systems don’t measure up to today’s business environment

As an SME owner, it is good to be updated and well acquainted with current trends in the business world. Using accounting software saves hours of time compared to handling the books manually and is usually more efficient than a spreadsheet.

It’s because accounting software reduces or eliminates redundant data entry, like entering the customer’s address on the quote, then the work order, and then the invoice.

If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, low or no inventory and a handful of customers, you may not even need accounting software, or there are free or low-priced accounting software options available. SME business owners who carry inventory, have more customers or employees will save time and have more accurate records if accounting software is used.

Most accounting software is much easier to use than it once was, and some small business accounting software was designed for ease of use by a person with no accounting background at all.

One of the emerging trends is cloud computing, otherwise referred to as web-based accounting or cloud accounting. It is one of the revolutionary things that has swept the world by storm since it has reduced some of the burdens that are sometimes associated with the use of traditional accounting systems.

Doing small business accounting online is something that everyone will eventually adopt and this is because of the following benefits that many SME owners enjoy.

It provides real access to your financial and accounting information.

The ease of access to accounting information of your business is what makes cloud computing a must have for your business. All you need in order to access your company’s up-to-date financial information is an internet connection.

When you  have the connection, you will be able to see the financial position of your business from anywhere in the world at any time. As the manager, therefore, cloud computing allows you to move around from one location to another, but still be informed about how your business is doing, as opposed to the past where this information was only accessible in the office.

Reduces overhead costs.

Accounting for the longest time has always added extra expenses to any business. This is because the business owner had to hire a service accountant. However, with cloud computing, what you need to do is pay the subscription fees and you are ready to go. This will save you a considerable amount of cash in the long run.

Remember to figure support costs into your accounting software budget. Some accounting software provides a fee-based support by email or phone from the moment you start using the software. The accounting software may have an online user forum where you can ask questions as well. It is often a good option to have fee-based  support when your question is about how to use a feature.

Easy and secure sharing.

The use of emailing accounting information belongs to the past. Presently, almost every small business owner is using cloud accounting to share the information about the financial position of the business to different business stakeholders. Furthermore, you do not need to back up all the files using the USB stick!

Data backup and security.

The cloud computing provider you choose usually ensures that the security for your data an never be compromised. In case of a system failure, the accounting information for your business is always backed up and you should never worry about data loss.

Automatic upgrades.

Using cloud computing for your business will never require you to update it. This is because the provider updates it automatically from the server. Isn’t this a great idea? It is because other accounting software will require that you updated them from time to time whenever a new version is available. The automatic updates save time and allow you to do constructive work or engage in other activities that would improve the business.

Enhances business efficiency.

When all the above benefits are taken into account, you can conclusively agree that the efficiency of the business will be improved. When the overhead costs are reduced, the business will definitely have better savings, provided that the income generated is kept constant. On the other hand, you will spend less time collecting and checking the accounting books.

It’s important to note some accounting software is designed specifically for industries such as construction, manufacturing and wholesale distributors. If your small business is in an industry with specific accounting requirements, they may be accounting software with features to meet those requirements, such as Pegasus CIS, or Sage modules such as Bill of Manufacturing.

Before you buy accounting software, talk to other people who use accounting software in businesses that are similar to yours. Discuss what they like about their accounting software, and what needs improvement. You may find that there is no perfect accounting software out there, but do not be discouraged.

The goal is to find the accounting software that best meets your needs.

So, what next?

If you are considering implementing a new accounting software service, and know what your business needs are, but not sure what the next step to take is, we can help.

Give us a call on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected] and speak to one of our friendly Business Software Consultants.

7
Dec

HOW TO MANAGE STOCK LEVELS USING EPOS SYSTEMS

Smart stock management is easier said than done. Every retailer knows that optimising stock levels is a key part of running a successful business, yet few have truly mastered this exact science.

Today’s stock control systems aren’t just for big chains. As the technology has matured, it’s become accessible even for the smallest independent merchant.

The integration of stock control with a feature-packing EPOS system is now the norm, meaning that you don’t need to buy two separate systems or worry about integration. This setup also vastly improves the accuracy of your stock levels.

So, let’s take a closer look at how EPOS systems can help you manage your stock levels.

Overstocking versus understocking

Having too much cash wrapped up in stock causes a huge problem for business. Insurance and storage costs rise, while obsolescence threatens to create dead stock that you simply can’t sell. Eventually you may be forced to sell excess stock at a significant discount merely to make way for next season’s products.

Keeping too little stock can be equally damaging. Customers can’t buy empty shelves. An ‘out of stock’ notice acts as a direct incentive for customers to visit your competitors.

Stock levels in an EPOS system give you a highly accurate picture of current stock levels of every single product. Reporting functions let you comb through historical data to understand how quickly each product sells at a given time of year, allowing you to plan deliveries and purchase orders with precision.

Automated purchase orders

Furthermore, EPOS systems allow you to assign reorder points for individual products. At the end of a specified period, the software will check which stock levels are at or below their reorder points. Purchase orders are then automatically populated with the relevant products and quantities. The user can tweak the figures and send the purchase orders electronically.

This function turns stock ordering from a painful marathon into a straightforward sprint. It reduces human error, helps prevent overstocking and understocking, and frees staff time for more important tasks.

Promotions

Another key to stock management is discounting. Promotions, sales and seasonal events shift stock that’s struggling or can increase average order value. Of course, a poorly planned deal can dent your finances and cause cash flow problems.

Give your promotions the best chance of meeting their goals with an EPOS system. Look back at how previous events affected sales of certain items or product categories. Learn from what worked, and what didn’t. Examine profit margins and stock levels to determine which products to promote and the type of promotion you should run.

Summary

The stock data in an EPOS system is extremely valuable to your business, but it’s true worth is determined by how you use it.

To find out how to harness EPOS data to efficiently manage your stock, speak to one of our Business Software Consultants by calling 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected]

5
Dec

TOP TEN TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE CLOUD ACCOUNTING

If you’re thinking about setting up cloud accounting, it is important to consider some of the below points in order to get the most out of the cloud. We would also strongly advise that you discuss the move with us, so we can help identify the best software for you based on your needs.

Plan your approach

Before you start, be sure to outline your objectives and what you want to achieve through the use of cloud accounting. There is a lot of information available about best providers, as well as a whole host of add-ons to consider. If you clearly define how you want to utilise cloud accounting, you will avoid signing up for an add-on that you don’t need.

Find your match

Once you’ve identified what you want out of cloud accounting, you will be better positioned to select software that suits your needs. If you already have an existing e-commerce platform, it is important to consider how that will integrate with your chosen cloud accounting software. The choice should come down to the specific needs of your business, the accounting experience of the users, and your personal preference regarding the user interface.

Make sure your internet can handle it

Is your preferred product available offline? Does your company have sufficient bandwidth to handle hosting the cloud? It is important to check the internet requirements before your sign up to a software contract. A robust internet connection will ensure that your software operates efficiently to give you the best experience possible.

Know what your costs cover

It is relatively easy to become bamboozled by pricing structures when searching for the right software. Make sure you know what’s included in your package. That way you will avoid any nasty surprises, and won’t have to pay for any additionals that you thought were included. Most cloud packages and add-on providers work on a monthly subscription, but offer discounts for 12 month sign ups. By getting this right from the start you will be able to factor your accounting costs into the cash-flows, and make the most of any savings.

Make the most of training

Like any new software, when you first start using a cloud accounting it can be quite daunting. As you start to use it on a daily basis, questions will arise and it’s helpful to know that support is available. Whether through your software company or your accountant, it’s reassuring to know that you are supported.

Maximise your capacity for collaboration

Cloud accounting allows you to collaborate with your finance team and share data with your accountant. This combination of real time cloud technology and your financial advisor’s expertise allows you to get the advice you need when you want it. Make sure you use it!

Take advantage of your online storage

The majority of cloud accounting packages have the facility to raise and retain copies of sales invoices online, whilst being able to email them to customers. This saves on postage costs and space in the office. Similarly for purchase invoices, you are able to scan in the invoice and attach it to the transaction. The most common cloud accounting packages are HMRC approved.

Secure your data

One of the most common concerns when it comes to cloud accounting is data security. However, storing your data in the cloud actually increases your levels of security since the data resides in the cloud rather than on your hard drive.

Think beyond the finance function

A common mistake when moving to cloud accounting software is to consider it only from a finance perspective. The reality is that there are several efficiencies that can be made beyond finance, whether that’s stock control, point of sale or rota management. It’s therefore vital to contemplate how all operations of the business will be affected by cloud accounting, and how this will impact on all employees’ roles and responsibilities, not just those in finance.

Be ahead of the game

In a world where we want instant access to our data and expect instant responses to our questions, there’s no doubt that cloud accounting is the future of finance. Such a fundamental change can be a scary prospect, but the benefits of a successful transition both in terms of time and money can be vast. The earlier you and your team start on board with cloud accounting, the more comfortable you will be using the software, giving your business a competitive edge.

So, what next?

If you’re interested in discussing where cloud accounting software can take you, speak to one of our Business Software Consultants who’ll be able to help by either calling on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected]

30
Nov

HOW A CRM SOLUTION HELPS SMES

To survive in today’s market, the relationship that you have with your clients is crucial. From acquisition to retention, your business growth depends on maintaining a strong connection with your contacts. As you might have heard before, it is five times more expensive to attract new customers than keep current clients. First, you need to evaluate your performance in building relations with your contacts.

Here are six metrics to measure your sales customer relationship:

  • Contact frequency
  • Sales closing rate
  • Cross-selling and up-selling rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Satisfaction score
  • Lifetime customer value

CRM software can portray all of your customer relationship touch points

As an SME, you need strategies that will help you remain active with your clients. To meet this requirement, you should map all the interactions between your business and customers. CRM is there to help you set up this process and automate those interactions.

Organisations that are thoroughly familiar with their clients can build up custom responses and anticipate their requirements and needs. They can set templates or automate emails based on those frequent requests.

What should an SME want from their CRM?

Nowadays, SMEs use CRM to deliver measurable advantages that help the enterprise to drive profitable growth, attain operational excellence, and generate revenue. It provides seamless end-to-end integration, flexible implementation, and offers comprehensive functionality.

Also, CRM includes client-facing departments like marketing, sales and support. It provides meticulous reports and a 360 degree view across all interaction channels and customer touch points.

The advantages of using CRM for SMEs

Improved sales success and customer profitability

Reduce the sales cycle and increase close rates with automated sales processes, lead management, quote creation, and order management. Use powerful sales management tools to streamline the entire process. Manage and record new opportunities with relevant data, such as probability, potential competition, source of the lead and deal closing date.

Minimised costs

Costs are commonly high with sales and marketing operations. With CRM software, your team can increase efficiency, accuracy, avoid errors and reduce money spent on operations.

Track and run marketing campaigns

CRM makes it easy to view all marketing goals and activities plus lead generation and follow up. Users are able to drill down relevant activities within a marketing campaign like opportunities, communications, responses, projects, planned budget and actual cost. This comprehensive view of marketing campaigns minimises the guesswork and utilises the marketing resources to their highest potential.

Consistent and efficient customer service

Client service experts can run cases from the first contact to the final resolution. It can access a rich knowledge base of service information and can quickly and accurately cover all customer needs with automated routing and queuing of service requests.

Improved client relations

Armed with advanced and user-friendly CRM tools, companies are able to handle client requests more quickly, which enhances and improves the customer experience.

Seamless integration

The CRM solutions can easily integrate with all other business applications and systems. For example, your EPOS can integrate with your accounting software, giving you a better overlook of your business operations.

Improved decisions

Empower managers with comprehensive customer insights, relevant reports, and a complete view of marketing, sales and customer service history, so they are able to identify the opportunities, trends and issues that guide their decisions.

Business growth

Through seamless end-to-end business operations and processes, you can manage client-related business processes throughout the whole organisation and along the value chain. Starting from a marketing campaign and initial contact through payment and delivery. CRM gives an integrated view of potential and existing customers, opportunities, activities, competition, products and services, quotation and sales orders.

Improve service delivery and product development processes

With a thorough understanding of your customers’ preferences and buying habits with CRM, you can provide value-added services and best-in-class products that are difficult for competitors to duplicate.

Good CRM software is a compass for your SME. Know exactly where you are with your clients and prospects, what direction to take to keep them satisfied, and what obstacles to overcome to close deals with them.

Marketing, sales and support

Developing your marketing, sales and support department to their full potential is crucial for building excellent and robust customer relations. CRM extensively uses customer related information by integrating the areas of sales, marketing and service, and verifying the creation of client value.

With procedures and processes that build a business management model centred on a 360 degree approach to the customer, CRM solution enables SMEs to proactively run their customer interaction for maximum business profit.

The proper CRM product is capable of transforming the way SMEs are winning and retaining clients, by building an interconnected workplace that extends across business solutions and web environment.

The CRM system offers a platform for business agility, enabling the SMEs to adapt their processes smoothly to constantly changing market dynamics, orchestrate business operations across and beyond the organisation, and transform themselves into client-centric organisations.

It provides great breadth and depth of functions by assisting the most comprehensive range of end-to-end processes that address specific business needs. Most importantly, the CRM applications are user-friendly, versatile and cost-effective solutions, suitable for SMEs to improve their marketing, sales and support efficiencies.

Finally

CRM software helps SMEs turn prospects into customers, grow sales and client profitability and improve customer satisfaction.

To find out more about the best CRM for your business needs, or if you are ready to take the next step, it is time for you to speak to one of our Business Software Consultants by either calling 0191 500 8150 or emailing [email protected]

29
Nov

IS ONLINE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Businesses are increasingly opting to use cloud-based services and software to meet their business needs. Rather than purchasing software, businesses are logging in and accessing the software on the internet.

These services are a form of cloud computing. They perform the job of traditional accounting software, but work over the internet, So, is online accounting right for your business?

Online accounting software explained

Most businesses accept that they need some form of accounting software, especially if they’ve been going for a while. It can make it much easier to perform jobs like invoicing, and helps you keep on top of your record keeping.

A common accounting software set up is to have the accounting system running from a central network server on your premises. The people who need to use the system can then log in to the server to access it.

Online accounting software works in a similar way. The main difference is that instead of the data being stored on a server in your business, it gets stored on a server (or servers) which you can access over the internet.

Pay by the month for online accounting software

That means, of course, that you need an internet connection to log on and access your financial information. But it also means that you can log in from anywhere (as long as you have an internet connection). This is a real benefit if you have remote or mobile workers.

Using online accounting software can therefore offer more flexibility. Workers are no longer tied to the office. They can catch up on your bookkeeping or invoicing from home or on the road. In fact, many online accounting software packages even allow you to log in from a smart phone.

Unlike traditional accounting packages, there’s not usually a big upfront charge for online accounting software. Instead, you typically pay a flat monthly fee. Depending on what features you want from your online accounting software, the fee can be relatively low.

It doesn’t automatically mean that online accounting software is cheaper. But it does help to avoid big, one-off expenses. It can also make it easier to scale up as your business grows. You simply pay for the additional licenses as you need them.

Online accounting software helps your accountant too

Additionally, online accounting software enables you and your accountant to look at the same information at the same time but from different locations. This improves your communication and saves time.

One of the principal advantages of online accounting software is that teams working together have instant access to real-time data. It’s ideal for multiple branch operations.

But is online accounting software secure?

Businesses usually have one main concern when considering online accounting software: security and backup. With your data stored on an external server, how can you possibly know it’s safe?

The answer is to take the same safety precautions you would for any cloud computing service. When choosing a provider, do your homework carefully.

Make sure your chosen online accounting software has a good track record of keeping data safe. Look for an ‘uptime guarantee’ too – this promises that the system will be available when you need it.

Check for specific information about how and where your data will be stored. Ask the online accounting software provider how often they take backups and where they’re stored. If the answers to your questions are vague, think carefully before signing up.

Having said that, it’s worth comparing the risks of an online accounting software package with those of running software in-house. When you weigh up these factors, you may find that using online accounting software will actually reduce the risks.

So, what next?

If you are looking for a change of accounting software, whether it be cloud or on-premise, it is important to do your research. Here at Monpellier, we match the correct accounting software with your business needs. To find out more, speak to one of our Business Software Consultants by either calling 0191 500 8150, or emailing [email protected]

23
Nov

ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE VS EXCEL SPREADSHEETS

Some argue that off the shelf accounting packages aren’t as good as Excel spreadsheets to manage your finances. Although Excel can be customised to a way that could work for you, there are multiple reasons why software ranks supreme over the Excel spreadsheet method.

Ease of use

A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is basically a blank slate on which you can store important financial figures. You can type in any numbers and use simple calculations to create the figures you want to tally. However, if you aren’t an Excel expert, then you won’t know how to tabulate your finances.

A safer option is to use accounting software, like Pegasus Opera 3 or Sage 200. This is more powerful software is just as easy to use as an Excel spreadsheet, with an added benefit of built-in analysis and automating features. You don’t need an accounting degree to keep your books when using accounting software.

Visibility to your economic health

Your financials may seem easy to track in Excel at start-up, but after years of experience, you begin to generate a much larger volume of figures.

Tracking and analysing important financial data becomes harder and more time consuming. With accounting software, it can provide you with balance sheets, income statements, profit/loss statements and reports on your products or services. A few clicks of the mouse and you can share reports with regulatory agencies or review the data that you need to make the quick business decisions that drive business.

Improve productivity and profitability

Accounting software can offer visibility into business operations that can improve productivity and profitability. Monitor supply chain, manufacturing operations, project or service management, human resources, and other business elements in this single software platform. Learn what products or services are your most profitable, streamline operations, and keep on track with your strategic goals. Excel simply can’t provide this type of insight.

5 reasons to use accounting software vs spreadsheets

Hit the ground running

An easy-to-use dashboard is one that you don’t have to set up yourself and it will give you confidence from the get go. When you have a clear financial view from the start, you don’t need to worry about making uninformed business decisions.

Your data is accurate

Your company’s real-time financial data is kept in one central place – online, in the cloud. Bank statement lines are fed into your software – it’s automatic, and reduces the amount of data entry and potential mistakes.

Out-of-box reports

Get most of the reports you’ll ever need, with a few clicks – no need to wait for month end. Real-time reports and budgets are easy to view and share. Tasks like sales tax returns can be completed quicker than if you did it using Excel.

Up-to-date information

Create the information any of your employees might need at a moment’s notice. Your SME will be equipped to manage its finances better and more accurately. This is especially important around tax time when data will be shared. Financial tax information is always up-to-date and ready to share.

You’ll have a clean audit trail

All of the historical information that your employees may need is available at their fingertips. A proper audit trail ensures your data cannot be compromised. It also records every business transaction. This includes sales contracts, payments to employees, and more. Having a complete audit trail reassures employees about the validity of the company and meets the tax department’s needs.

Conclusion

Excel is a great program for storing small amounts of simple data and it can provide basic levels of accounting functions. As your business grows and you have more data to track and monitor, you’ll find greater productivity and profitability with an accounting software solution.

Please contact us for more information about accounting software options that can improve your bottom line more effectively than Excel spreadsheets! Either call us on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected]

15
Nov

CREDIT MANAGEMENT AND CASH FLOW

Cash flow: a definition.

Cash flow, the ability to generate enough cash at the right time to meet liabilities, is one of the most common inhibitors of business growth and the key reason for insolvency, affecting profitable and unprofitable companies alike.

According to research, small and medium-sized companies are owed nearly £40 billion as a result of late payments. The findings highlight that 60% of SMEs are now experiencing late payments, with the average overdue payment figure totalling £38,186.

10 tips for improved cash flow

Pegasus Software have put together a list of 10 tips for improved cash flow for SMEs:

  1. Where possible, capitalise on financing options such as loans, to help mitigate against the impact of cash flow volatility.
  2. Run regular credit checks on your customers. Circumstances can change quickly, so ideally this should take place every six months.
  3. Ensure you know the history of your largest customers. For example, if directors have a history of bankruptcy, a degree of caution may be necessary.
  4. Be bold. If a customer regularly defaults on payment terms, are they worth the resources it takes to service them and chase down payments? Turning away business might seem counterproductive, but could positively impact the bottom line.
  5. Consider your credit terms and look at introducing 14-day payments or small deposits for the largest customers. Look into offering a small discount for early payment.
  6. Invest in a software solution with robust financials, to generate invoices automatically and in a timely manner, provide alerts when payments become overdue, and facilitate immediate action to recover debts.
  7. Ensure you have a clear credit control policy in place and create a series of automated letter and email templates to communicate appropriately with customer and recover late payments.
  8. When chasing payment, always act appropriately. Be firm, polite and diplomatic.
  9. Monitor your cash flow closely and in real time. Dashboard applications will help you prepare for things going wrong by giving you a clear picture in an easy-to-understand format.
  10. Review cash flow processes and resources on a regular basis and set realistic targets to ensure continued improvement.

Managing customer debt effectively

Pegasus have Credit Control Software called the ‘Credit Management Centre’ which provides credit controllers and those involved in debt management with a centralised, easy-to-use tool which consolidates all of the information needed for effective credit control.

Easy to understand, real-time graphs display your overall financial status so you can quickly see what is owed, who owes it and how much money has been promised by customers. This gives you all the information you need to improve cash flow, reduce bad debts and improve the overall financial position of your business.

Key features of the Credit Management Centre

  • Easy to understand dashboard views of the overall financial position of your company and customers.
  • Drill down behind key financial information, customer accounts, and transactions.
  • Powerful filters allow you to manage customers that are over their credit limit and/or have overdue invoices.
  • Create and organise customers into user definable Credit Management Groups according to their Debt Define custom Action Types and Outcome Types to be used with diary actions for recording activities and follow up reminder via Notification Services.
  • Record and revise Promised Payment against individual transactions or at account level.
  • Integrates with the Opera 3 Sales Ledger with instant access to the Account view for historical information.
  • Easily put accounts on or off stop, increase or decrease credit limits, and reorganise accounts into different Credit Management Groups individually, or in bulk.
  • Dispute invoices and record the appropriate reason code.
  • Print Statements, Copy Invoices and produce Debtors letters.
  • Keep on top of actions due for completion with the Diary view.
  • Additional Credit Management reports including: Promised Payments & Diary Activities that can also be exported directly to Excel.
  • Integrates with Pegasus Instant Messenger (PIM) and Pegasus XRL.

Check out the video demo of the Credit Management Centre here

Contact one of our Business Software Consultants to see how upgrading to Opera 3 can benefit your business. Either call 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected]