General News

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22
Feb

How to protect your SME from Ransomware

Top tips to keep your data safe

Ransomware has been around for decades, but if this is an age-old problem why has it suddenly become a hot topic? We believe there are two main factors at play here. First of all the economic changes over the past 12 months have led cybercriminals to become more aggressive with their techniques and in turn, their methods have become more advanced. Secondly, with an entire country forced into remote and new ways of working, criminals have taken the opportunity to exploit chaos to gain access to otherwise relatively secure networks. 

 

We feel it’s important to highlight at this point that any business can become a victim of cybercrime. Phishing emails can be incredibly hard to spot and websites you use each day can become corrupted without your knowledge, leaving your data vulnerable. You may have heard of one scam in particular, the CEO scam, this phishing email is designed to mimic an email from an existing employee from within your organsiation in the hope of fooling an unsuspecting accounts or HR employee. The FBI are currently still investigating countless records of said scam and it is believed to have taken over $26billion* from innocent businesses across the world. But these cybercriminals don’t just target larger companies. A recent report by Beazley Breach Response found that UK SMEs were 71% more likely to be targeted as statistically they are more likely to be unprepared.

 

What are the most common types of ransomware?

Locker Ransomware – This kind of attack will freeze you out of your applications and device and deny you access to your data until you pay a release fee. 

Crypto RansomwareThis type is probably more familiar to most businesses. The ransomware will encrypt your data rendering it unreadable. Your business will then be prompted to make a payment, usually in Bitcoin, for a private decryption key that will let you regain access to your valuable data. 

 

All ransomware attacks can be catastrophic for any SME, rendering your operations completely dormant until a resolution is met. There is no fail-safe guarantee when it comes to protecting yourself against attacks and even companies that spend millions such as the NHS and Universities fall victim to ransomware. But what you can do is put your business in the best possible position to protect and recover if the worst should happen. 

 

Here are Monpellier’s top tips – 

Emails

Emails are the most common way cybercriminals gain access to your data. Always check the email was sent from a verified source (URL) and never fill in email forms, click links, or open attachments from unknown sources. You can also add a spam filter to your inbox as an extra layer of protection.    

 

Back-up

Your business’s best defence against malware is to continually back-up your data. It goes without saying that backing-up your business data is important but is it time to review your policies and back-up frequency? We recommend having two or three methods of back-up for your data. One of which could be stored in the cloud and another offsite to protect you against different types of attack. 

 

Operating Systems

Have you been ignoring your reminders? Yes, they are annoying but making sure all of your applications and software are up-to-date is important. If you have software that is no longer supported we would suggest you look at finding a new supported solution as cybercriminals often exploit security risks in older versions that are no longer maintained by the provider. 

 

Security 

Security comes in many different forms, from updating your passwords regularly to using two-factor authentication. In addition, to these daily security features, there are many cybersecurity management solutions on the market that your business may wish to consider. In conjunction with our partners at Trustack, we are able to advise on additional security packages to suit your needs and budget. 

 

Awareness 

This might sound like an obvious suggestion but you would be surprised at how many companies fall short due to what they presumed would be common sense. Keep all your employees up-to-date with your back-up policies, encourage regular password changes and share useful information relating to data security to keep everyone’s minds focused on safe practice.  

 

If you are currently using an accounting package that is outdated or unsupported check out our Business Owner’s Guide for replacing accounting software. 

 

If you want to talk to a member of the team about your current data processes drop us an email [email protected] or call us 0191 500 8150. 

 

* Knowbe4.com. 2021. CEO Fraud | KnowBe4. [online] Available at: <https://www.knowbe4.com/ceo-fraud#:~:text=CEO%20Fraud%20is%20a%20scam,sending%20out%20confidential%20tax%20information.&text=According%20to%20FBI%20statistics%2C%20CEO,now%20a%20%2426%20billion%20scam.> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

 

23
Jul

Microsoft Teams Announce Upcoming Functionality

Our favourite new features from the July update

Since March, businesses across the world have adapted and moulded their way of working to meet new challenges. Many of us have become a custom to remote working and Microsoft Teams has become a permanent fixture in our working lives, and with over 75 million daily users it’s no wonder Microsoft has dedicated time and resources to constantly improving functionality. 

The latest change was announced this month (July) and brings with it a whole host of exciting changes that will be introduced over the coming months. Monpellier has pulled together our top 5 features to look out for. 

 

 1. Together Mode 

The sight of our colleagues segmented into multiple boxes on our screen may have become the new normal but Microsoft has created ‘Together Mode’ to bring a more human experience to video conferencing. Together Mode uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place video feeds into the same shared background. The new feature can even make participants look towards the active speaker dynamically by mapping features. Once released Together Mode will initially be able to host up to 49 people at one time and will include a couple of possible backgrounds including a lecture theatre and coffee shop. 

 

2. Dynamic Stage 

The Dynamic layout will optimise and adapt the sizing of different video feeds to maximise screen space and create the most engaging set up for those on a video call. Furthermore, to avoid those difficult moments when people find themselves talking over each other Microsoft Teams have introduced the ‘raise hand’ feature which will create a yellow box around the person wanting to speak next. You can also now choose the chat bubbles feature to make chat appear over the video so you don’t have to keep the chat panel open. 

 

3. Whiteboard

Whiteboard in Teams will soon be updated with exciting extras including faster load times, sticky notes, text, and drag and drop capabilities. This will make using Whiteboard in meetings much easier for those who don’t have access to a touchscreen or Surface Hub to participate. For more information regarding Whiteboard check out our Supercharge your Meetings blog – https://www.monpellier.co.uk/supercharge-your-meetings/

 

4. Transcript 

Although transcription is already available within Microsoft Teams the new live caption update will be able to identify who is talking and attribute the speaker’s name. This feature makes note-keeping incredibly easy and gives you a concrete record that you are able to review after each meeting to double-check that you are happy with what has been recorded. 

 

 5. Slash Commands

Slash commands aren’t a brand new feature but they certainly help you navigate Microsoft Teams as efficiently as possible. You can use a slash command to set your status to “online” or “away”. Alternatively, you can make sure you’re not missing out on anything important with /WhatsNew. 

Some of the best slash commands include:

/Files – Shows the most recent files shared with you on Teams.

/GoTo – Lets you jump straight to a channel

/Call – Initiates a call with someone else on Teams

/Help – Delivers assistance via T-bot

/Saved – Takes you to your saved messages

 

For more information regarding Microsoft Teams and other applications within Microsoft 365 give our team a call on 0191 500 8150 and make the most of your subscription.

 

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.

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

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. 

5
Aug

Are your systems ready?

Reasons to safeguard your ERP systems against change

It’s now over three years since the UK voted to leave the European Union, and with uncertainty still looming most of us have become tired of reading ‘Brexit predictions’. However, there are still many possible changes that are unavoidable, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to the Food and Beverage industry.

Should the UK be forced to trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, additional tariffs will be added to exports. The UK’s food exports are currently estimated at over £20bn[1] per year highlighting the sheer scale of impact this change will have on the industry and the businesses involved. In fact, 60% of surveyed food and drink businesses announced that they have already been negatively affected by the UK’s imminent exit from the EU.[2]

In addition to the possible increase in tariffs other imminent changes (depending on the Brexit outcome) may be affected including; food and drink standards, supply chain delays and the free movement of people (employees).

With all the possible ‘what ifs’ floating around a lot of business within Cumbria and the rest of the UK have used the time to hold tight on any potential core business changes. But is this the right decision?

At Monpellier we believe that now is the perfect time to safeguard your business against any coming changes so that when they do arise your business is equipped and ready. Achieving the ideal production process is no easy task and requires many layers of planning and careful management. This can also be said for upgrading or implementing a new ERP system.

Sage 200cloud recognises the legislation surrounding food and drink manufacturing and gives you complete visibility across your entire supply chain. The intelligent system combines core elements such as manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, accounting and CRM. If your business is involved in importing/exporting or if you are planning to grow your operations next year Sage 200cloud could help you achieve your goals.

Sage 200cloud Key Benefits
  • Improves traceability, therefore, lowering wastage
  • Uses full batch and serial number traceability which lets you track stock across multiple locations
  • Shelf Life Management with added expiration date control

 First published: In Cumbria Magazine’s July 2019 issue

References

[1] Virtual College. 2018. How Brexit Will Impact the Food and Drink Industry. Accessed 24 June 2019, < https://www.virtual-college.co.uk/news/food-hygiene/2018/11/how-will-brexit-impact-the-food-and-drink-industry >.

[2] Rosie Lintott. 2019. Food businesses hit hardest by Brexit: Report. Verdict Food Service. . Accessed 24 June 2019, <https://www.verdictfoodservice.com/news/brexit-impacting-food-businesses/>

22
Jun

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.

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]

 

6
Nov

5 REASONS TO USE SAGE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Until the 1980s when technology and computer software development really progressed, accounting was a long and laborious task, requiring all notations and financial data to be analysed, recorded and stored by hand. Accounting software introduced a quick and reliable method of tracking accounts that has revolutionised the industry.

What is a Sage accounting system?

A Sage accounting system is a computerised package that has numerous facilities to process your financial information. The system collects your information, classifies it and then summarises the data in an accessible way to allow the user to view their financial information in simplistic terms. Just some of the many capabilities of a Sage system include:

  • Ability to print out invoices
  • Updating customer and supplier records
  • Making payments
  • Automatic update of the general ledger
  • Automatic altering of stock levels
  • Automatic calculation of payroll
  • Summarises customer accounts with overdue balances
  • Valuation of stock
  • Analyse sales
  • VAT returns

Due to its early beginnings and market dominance, Sage managed to attract accountants before other packages had the chance. It’s an aging industry, full of traditionalists so those who started with Sage have mostly stayed with Sage.

90% of accountants in the UK recognise the Sage format because of this, either using it in the past or still use it today, passing it on to their employees and the next generation of accountants. Sage have concentrated on providing users with solutions which benefit them, they include features requested by their clients and have remained loyal to the small and medium sized businesses instead of going to what is more likely to be the more profitable option of the corporates.

Sage understand what their customers need, the industries they work in and advancements in a quickly changing technology. This allows them to improve their package to retain their current users whilst attracting new ones.

The benefits

Rule out human error

By having a completely computerised method of storing all of your financial information, you rule out the risk of human error, such as jotting down the wrong figures or misplacing information. These seemingly small errors can have a catastrophic effect on a business’s financial standing, so having an accurate system is hugely beneficial to the user.

Real time financial information

You can access your account and see all the transactions and your cash flow to date as the system is updated in real time. This is handy if you need to check you can afford unforeseen costs or to confirm which transactions have been processed.

Less time consuming

Data entry can be carried out much quicker than if it were done manually, and the information only has to be entered into the system once, even if it’s to be used for many purposes.

Keep things simple

When businesses grow and develop, accountancy becomes much more complex. Computerised accounting systems sift through all of the data easily and make the process much more straightforward than manual accountancy.

Cost effective

Sage accounting systems are quick and efficient, which makes them much more cost effective than paper based accounting as the work requires less hourly paid work. Furthermore, the systems are usually issued at a very low monthly subscription cost.

So, what next?

If you are interested in finding out more about Sage accounting software, call us on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected] and one of our Business Software Consultants will be more than happy to have a chat with you regarding this.

19
Oct

WHY “WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT LIKE THAT” IS BAD FOR BUSINESS

Struggles with an accounting system may be a sign that it is time for something new. Growing SMEs may quickly outpace an older accounting software system but only few companies are willing to make the move. All of the other companies are staying things like:

“We’ve always done it like that”

“This is what we’ve been told to do”

Using those canned answers tells us a lot about someone. The number of meetings we have had with different clients who say the above two answers to questions is astronomical!

If you are one of those people that find themselves saying any of the above, it is time to sit back and read through this blog post so you can reassess.

Here are several indications that will justify moving to an accounting system with more features and scalability:

User permissions

Some companies have a need to limit certain functions to certain users. Most systems come with basic functional limitations, such as restricting Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable functions. It may be helpful to have more granular user permissions such as access to only purchase orders or a certain bank account.

The key is to balance efficiency with security; that is, users need to be able to access areas of the accounting system they need in order to get their job done without having to constantly locate a supervisor. At the same time, there needs to be a balance so they don’t access areas unrelated to their job description.

Multiple companies and consolidated financial systems

Multiple companies that are the “children” of a parent company may need consolidated financial statements. A more robust accounting system makes it possible to open and view information for multiple companies at the same time.

Or, it set up correctly from the beginning, it is entirely possible to track multiple companies within one set of books which makes consolidated financials a snap. Be careful though, tracking multiple subsidiaries can quickly turn into a mess if not done properly and efficiently.

Number of customers and vendors

Keep an eye on the number of customers and vendors. Each system has their own limits and these limits can get complex quickly. Businesses need to be prepared to switch to a new accounting system before data limits impact everyday business operations.

File size and performance

There may be file size limits, especially if the company manages a high volume of transactions or multiple years of history in one file. It may be possible to condense files or set different preferences to speed up accounting system performance. Performance may be an issue if an older accounting system is installed on a newer PC.

Inventory features

Inventory issues are time-killers and create headaches. If a business needs a different method of calculating inventory or more advanced features than those provided in the “off-the-shelf” software, it may be time to upgrade.

Enhanced customisation

Most mid-market accounting systems provide better customisation such as additional custom fields, better reporting and improved form design. The based models offer standard reports with limited customisation options. However, if  the accounting system is designed correctly, using these reports can usually handle most business owners’ needs.

Manual processes

How many ‘touches’ does it take to pay a bill or create an invoice? If there are multiple approvers and/or data entry takes an inordinate amount of time, then it may be a good time to make a change.

Another clue is using manual spreadsheets to manage processes and information when a reporting feature could make the task simpler and more accurate. It’s easy for companies to get in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Look at processes to see if manual processes can be automated.

Number of simultaneous users

The final reason to switch to a larger accounting system is to accommodate more simultaneous users. Most software packages start out at base level for the core package and offer add-ons as well as an additional charge for each user. There is also a substantial investment in conversion and training as well so it’s important to accurately predict the number of users before deciding to make a change.

Monpellier has extensive experience helping clients select the best accounting systems for their situations. If you need help determining what kind of system is best for your business, give us a call on 0191 500 8150 or email [email protected]

10
Oct

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

Business accounting software scraps human error that is part and parcel of doing everything manually. Instead, it enables you to easily access the vital information without the hassle.

Even better still, there are numerous cloud accounting software options available. Finding the right accounting software can be a difficult decision to make but there are five ways to help you in your search for the right solution.

Choosing the right accounting software

1) What are your accounting software requirements?

It is vital that you take into consideration how much money your business pulls in annually when it comes to choosing the right accounting software. A business that pulls in several million yearly will require a different software solution to a company that invoices thousands. The way your business operates is also something you must take into consideration as there are a large array of different accounting software systems available.

You need to consider software that is designed specifically for your business and what you do; there are plenty of systems that are industry specific and you need to find your niche and theirs. Whether it be manufacturing, hospitality, retail or commercial, there is a suitable system and plan available for you.

The software that you eventually decide on is going to make bookkeeping easier for you, you still need to be financially literate in order to use it effectively. Despite the software sophistication, it  is still only there as a tool to help and guide you, rather than do the work for you. You need to know what to do with the software once it’s in place.

2) Have you considered cloud accounting apps?

Cloud accounting applications come with an entire assortment of beneficial features:

  • They can be accessed anywhere
  • No software licenses or servers need to be purchased
  • Upgrades and patches are done automatically
  • You can access them from any device with a web browser
  • Your records are kept safe and secure at a data centre rather than a filing cabinet
  • Many cloud accounting apps integrate with your other cloud apps, saving you time

3) What is your accounting budget?

Business accounting software is available to you no matter what your budget is. Generally, you can access apps for a low monthly price that scales with your business so the larger your organisation, and the more features you require, the dearer the price.

Accounting software allows you to pay on a monthly or yearly basis. You can choose a subscription that meets your business needs rather than buying the software outright and having to update later. If you decide to purchase a year long subscription, you will also often pay a discounted rate.

4) Have you thought about accounting add-ons?

Add-on features generally allow flexibility, functionality and personalisation. The incorporation of an accounting app add-on may allow you to access the software remotely, accept payments online and link your e-commerce software with your accounting software. Additionally, you can incorporate your tax software as it’s generally compatible.

Before deciding on your accounting app, consider which software you are already using. Does it integrate with any accounting software? Integrations can save you significant amount of time on paperwork: as you avoid handling the same data.

5) Have you sought out expert advice?

Using your accountant when you are making the decision about which software would suit you is not a necessity, but it could help you choose something that is going to be compatible with what they have in place already. Additionally, your accountant is probably in a much better position in terms of knowledge and experience to make an educated decision on what would suit you and your business best.

Alternatively, you can ask us to make a recommendation based on your industry, business and specific requirements.

The team here at Monpellier have years of experience working with accounting software, and are partners of numerous software companies, allowing us to provide you with an agnostic recommendation.

Give us a call on 0191 500 8150, or email [email protected] and one of our Business Software Consultants will be able to book you onto a free demo today!

15
Aug

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR NEXT CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

How to choose the right software

The amount of information recorded and exchanged during any one construction project is monumental. It has been estimated that the average construction project suffers 150% cost overruns and that projects over run more than 50% of the time!  A lack of clear and accurate information exchanges can lead to project costs rising and mistakes being made.

 

By implementing software that complements each stage of your unique processes studies reveal you can increase motivation, quality, organisation and return on investment.

 

When choosing the right software for your business there are four main factors to focus on.

 

COST

Although the initial cost of implementing a new solution may seem daunting to any business the long term savings are undeniable. The logic remains simple,  by implementing software such as Pegasus CIS you can reduce delays, errors and frustrated employees. Software also increases the accuracy of your forecasting meaning you can budget effectively.

 

REAL TIME

The speed in which things change and progress within any construction project is vital but it is also essential to ensure all parties are kept completely up to date. Software assists with making sure deadlines are met and that the latest information is available to all those who need it at the touch of a button.

 

REPEAT CUSTOM

By using up to date software you will be able to provide a better quality of service to your clients which means an increased chance of repeat business and a larger revenue stream. An efficient, timely and cost effective project are founding pillars that any client looks for in a construction project and by ensuring your software solution fits your needs you can highlight this each time.

 

CASH FLOW

The construction industry suffers from higher levels of insolvency than almost every other sector. What’s surprising however, is that this insolvency is often due to a lack of financial control and poor management.  By following tried and tested financial models and monitoring your cash flow with sophisticated software you can break the construction trend and deliver projects on time and on budget.

 

If you are interested in reaping the benefits of a system that has the capability to adapt to your unique processes then give one of our specialists a call on 0191 500 8150 or email us at [email protected].