Is There Such a Thing as Perfect ERP?

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A type of software known as enterprise resource planning (ERP) is designed to take a lot of the effort out of running your business. Essentially, ERP software allows business owners to manage or automate certain critical processes, such as planning, marketing and human resources, all from one place. An ERP can be extremely useful to businesses trying to streamline their operations. For this reason, keen business owners are always trying to find the perfect ERP. But does such a thing exist? Yes and no.

No Two Businesses Are Exactly Alike

Part of the reason why it’s hard to say there’s one “perfect” ERP is because there is too much business diversity for one system to be the best in every situation. Generally, ERP is seen as a type of enterprise application, which is software for big businesses that might even require full teams to keep it running smoothly. Obviously, this isn’t going to be feasible for a small business owner trying to optimize their workflow.

There are, however, ERP systems designed specifically for small businesses. These can play a significant role in helping small business in a variety of ways, such as by cutting down time spent integrating data from different departments.

Successful ERP Software Improves Productivity

The ultimate measure for ERP solutions is how much they can boost workflow productivity. The main reason ERP software is able to make businesses more efficient is because it allows for important functions to be centralized in one place. Simply cutting down on redundancies and non-conforming processes will automatically improve the efficiency of a business. There are, however, more specific ways a good ERP software can improve productivity, such as streamlining the process of business analytics.

Pick and Choose What ERP Applications You Need

For an ERP platform to be truly “perfect,” it needs to afford business owners the option to determine how they use it. Most new ERP systems coming out these days work in phases, meaning you don’t have to integrate the entire program all at once. Not only would this be a tough pill to swallow for most businesses (migrating to new services is a struggle even if all employees are on board with the change, which certainly isn’t typical), it wouldn’t make sense for a business to use something that truly provides it no value.

The more a business can determine how it wants to use ERP software—as opposed to the applications forcing businesses to adapt to them—the better. An ideal ERP should allow for users to intuitively customize the program to fit their needs.

Customer Support Is Critical

By using ERP software, a business is inherently admitting that they can improve daily functionality by utilizing outside resources. If the managers of a business understand that, they should also see the value of finding an ERP provider that offers exceptional customer service and support. You almost certainly aren’t going to be able to troubleshoot every issue that comes up when implementing and running ERP software. Even businesses that can allocate resources to having team members dedicated to maintaining the ERP system need to ensure they can get help when they need it. Otherwise, there can be dire consequences when issues do inevitably arise.   

While it’s difficult to say what specific features make the perfect ERP software, there are definitely aspects to keep in mind when shopping around for an ERP provider. By prioritizing these fundamentals, your business can find the best fit for its ERP. 

4 Tips to Demystify Cybersecurity for SMBs

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Employees of small businesses (“SMBs”) wear many hats. As a result, one of those employees with limited information technology experience might be tasked with formulating and implementing the SMB’s cybersecurity strategy. In no time, multiple cybersecurity options and technical lingo can overwhelm the employee, who might then be tempted to do nothing rather than taking the risk of making the wrong decisions.

An SMB should not allow its cybersecurity strategy to be lost in technical complexity and jargon. These four simple guidelines can help an SMB to take the mystique out of defending the SMB’s networks and information systems from cyberattacks and unauthorized data breaches.

1. Understand that cybersecurity does not begin and end with a firewall.  Medieval cities and castles protected themselves with high walls, but that protection was ineffective as the cities needed to conduct commerce outside of the walls. Likewise, an SMB cannot erect a technology firewall that keeps threats out of its network while still conducting businesses beyond the limits of that firewall. On a broader level, cybersecurity does not exist as a small handful of defenses that stand separate and apart from the rest of the SMB’s operations. A good cybersecurity strategy will integrate an immune system directly into the SMB’s overall business plan and responsibility for cybersecurity will be shared among all the SMB’s employees, all of whom should follow a consistent set of good cybersecurity practices (e.g. avoiding public Wi-Fi hotspots, not clicking on attachments in emails from unknown sources, etc.). Integrating cybersecurity controls will also eliminate piecemeal solutions to unique or particular threats.

2. Don’t get lost with words and labels. An SMB’s employees might nod and profess their understanding of cybersecurity issues, but jargon and terminology can quickly confuse anyone with limited technical knowledge. Some experts recommend creating an analogy between an SMB’s information system’s network and a house. The house’s owners, for example, will lock doors and windows and limit house key access to the people who live there. Likewise, an SMB network administrator might lock a network with dual-factor authentication and the SMB will require its employees to limit access to network passwords. Explaining cybersecurity issues with references to a more familiar environment will give employees a better appreciation of those issues and will further remove the mystery of how a network can be protected.

3. Regular training and education will keep SMB employees at the top of their game. Cyberattackers develop and share new hacking techniques with each other every day. The more successful techniques will naturally draw more attention. SMBs should institute a program to regularly inform employees of the cyberthreats they are likely to see, including what clues to watch for at the outset of an attack. SMB’s can keep their employees vigilant without going too deeply into technical explanations of the mode of any cyberattacks. 

4.  Appreciate that not all cyberthreats are stoppable. Regardless of the strength of an SMB’s cybersecurity strategy, that strategy will not prevent every potential threat to an SMB’s information systems network. A belief that every threat can be stopped will lead to layers of cybersecurity solutions and unmanageable complexity. The better course of action is to implement the best practices that are consistent with the SMB’s environment and to take steps to facilitate easy recovery of losses when a cyberthreat does success. Those steps will inevitably include data breach insurance that will help an SMB to recover lost data and damaged hardware and software, and to compensate customers, clients, and third parties whose personal or financial information was lost through a cyberattack on an SMB. Almost half of all SMBs report having experienced a cyberattack. The cost of recovering from an attack can be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, which few SMBs can afford. Data breach insurance provides a final cybersecurity safety net when all other strategies have not stopped hackers from getting into an SMB’s network.

Top 4 CAD and CAM Orthodontist Software

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, April 10, 2017

Many years ago, orthodontists found it difficult to design prosthetics and properly manage their patient’s database. With the surge in 3D printing, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computer Aided Design (CAD) the practice of designing and manufacturing prosthetics for orthodontists is now much easier. With the availability of the right tools, and relevant qualification, an orthodontist can take his career to the next level by designing and sculpting these prosthetics at ease.

However, for this to be effective there is the need for the hardware to communicate with the computer system. This has led to the development of special software solely for orthodontics. Theses software allows an orthodontist to easily design prosthetics, manage data, print the prosthetics capture deep details where the ordinary eye cannot. Much said, let us briefly look at the top 4 CAM and CAD software commonly in use today.

Maestro 3D Ortho Studio

This special software is designed to allow dentists easily inspect, edit and analyze information gotten from each patient’s scan session data. This software only supports data gotten through the Maestro 3D dental scanner and it is available for iPad and Windows.

CEO of Marty Fahey, who has expert knowledge in this field explains that the Ortho studio has five modules with its specific and unique function. “First is the Maestro Ortho Studio Viewer, which allows you to view the 3D models you have created with the Ortho Studio comes with full 3D functionality of panning, zooming, rotation, measurements of the models, and the accompanying patient’s data.”

The base module is used for the management of the clinic, patients, doctors, and their respective case through a database.

The Virtual setup module is designed for the movement of the teeth for both the archs, contact and distance intersections evaluation.

Other available modules are Transition Models Builder Module (creation of 3D models); Brackets Placement Module (for automatic placement of brackets on the teeth); Clear Aligner Module (for the design and construction of the clear aligners); and the PDF3D Module.

Planmeca Romexis Ortho Studio

This is no doubt one of the most advanced 3D and 2D orthodontic and prosthetic imaging and clinic management software out there. It has an easy-to-use user interface that provides advanced tools that will meet the imaging needs of virtually any dental facility.

It supports PCs running both Windows and Mac and fully compatible with 3D images scanned with Planmeca  ProMax. The sophisticated coding of this software allows users to easily analyze, re-design, and re-align 3D models with its vast range of tools.

It also allows you plan your treatment in 3D, especially how each tooth should be moved and placed in its proper position, teeth extraction and interproximal reductions, all these in a summarized detailed treatment plan report.

With the Integrated document management Printing module, you can easily create professional high quality radiology reports and printouts.

It also comes with an optional Clinic Management which allows all Planmaca equipment to be hooked up in a network for easy access. It also allows easy access to different X-ray equipment data, logging of doctors, patient’s files, appointments as well as the storage of individual chair positions.

Geomagic Piano

Geomagic is known for being the pioneers of one of the biggest 3D reverse engineering software ever available. Venturing into orthodontics, the company manufactured yet another powerful 3D software, Geomagic Dental. This software opens a new word of management and design possibility and improved communication model between the dental lab and the office.

The Geomagic Dental Lab is known for producing aesthetically excellent results, reducing less chair time and ensuring better care for the patient.

With the Geomagic Dental you can also design and create precise restorations of prosthetics as it has an advanced connection in the imaging and production workflow.

Geomagic Piano was designed based on research done in more than 10 years and in collaboration with high ranking dental companies in the general dentistry field, dental implants and orthodontics.

It stands out from other orthodontist 3D software with its support for dental chair-side and laboratory systems designed with for the accuracy and automation needed to care for the challenging requirements.

WorkNC Dental

WorkNC is an open CAM milling software that allows you easily calculate the safe cutterpaths putting into consideration the tool shape, holder’s position and the machine geometry giving you the highest level of reliability and safety when you mill.

The software has a user friendly interface that is easy to navigate and comes in three versions; 3+1 axis, 3+2 axis and full 5-axis machining available on Windows and IOS.

It also comes with an optional implant module allowing one the ability to fully automate the implant based prosthetics.

In conclusion, though many technicians are unable to access most of these software, whichever one  you chose depending on your budget and knowledge, getting the best result is what 

Choosing A Lead Tracking Software That Is Effective

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lead tracking software has gain preeminence and has emerged as a critical part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs. Unlike other CRM software lead tracking software are optimized to help marketers grasp fully how well their marketing endeavors are resulting in sales (revenues) streams.

By tracking the performance of leads, sale and marketing departments are better placed to understand how best to undertake their marketing campaigns, understand the avenues that are capable of yielding positive results as well as the avenues that need to further enhancement.

With this in mind, the world of business IT has produced a plethora of software to handle this tasks. There are numerous lead tracking programs that sales and marketing departments of various enterprises can turn to. Some of the lead tracking software are available as software as a service; other are available as freemium programs; others still are available for purchase. In this regard, the market segments for lead tracking software has matured enough to cater for the needs of different marketers and salespersons.

However, despite the plethora of all the best tools for management of leads online, one thing should always take precedence whilst choosing a lead tracking software – is its quality. Regardless of the price tag that a prospective software comes with, it important for marketers to ascertain that the software they purchase or use suffices to perform the required task.

Herein, we will look at some of the pertinent tasks that a proper lead tracking software should handle. In doing so, marketers will be better placed to make a decision when it comes to using/buying a lead tracking software.

#1. Manage The Leads – Management of leads is the process of tracking leads right from the prospective stage where potential clients make inquiries to when they purchase the goods of services, with the sole of steer the process towards conversion. A proper lead tracking software should be capable of tracking leads throughout the sale cycle. The software should, therefore, enable marketers to follow the progress of the various leads and thus help marketers anticipate the needs of the leads. This eventually improves customer service and improves on sales conversion.

#2. Keep Track Of The Quality Of Each Lead – A proper lead tracking software should be able to track the quality of the various leads in a lead scoring system. Leads scoring system enable marketers to discern serious leads from the rest of the leads, thus allowing for far better conversion rates. Other factors such as the provision of up-to-date contact information by leads should be accounted for by the system while determining serious leads.

#3. Lead Analysis – Finally, a proper lead tracking software should enable marketers to analyze the various sale cycle. The purpose of analyzing a sale cycle is to determine the various phases in the cycle thus enable marketers to understand which activities result in better conversion rates or which activities negate lead conversion.

The three qualities above help marketers come up with the best marketing strategies that lead to more conversion and thus better revenue on a quota-to-quota basis. It is not just a matter of using a lead tracking software because it is labeled so, one should consider the value the software has in the marketing process.

Why Companies Need CMMS to Be Sustainable

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, November 18, 2014
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Sustainability has become a hot topic as of late. Companies are no longer expected to simply succeed on a financial level but to do so in a fashion that impacts the environment as little as possible. Various strategies can be implemented to accomplish “going green” but it’s often looked at as nothing more than an additional expense necessary to stay on the good side of public opinion. But, while not untrue, there is much more to the equation than simply appeasing the public. There can also be significant financial benefits to operating a company with sustainability in mind.         

Often left out of the conversation when discussing a company's sustainability, CMMS or Computer Maintenance Management System software, can actually be the defining tool that leads any sustainability effort. CMMS software is used to streamline and coordinate a company’s maintenance operations as well as to help make informed, cost effective managerial decisions. When looking at a company’s sustainability a good rule to follow is “less is more,” less fuel, less emissions, less of a carbon footprint in general. It is here where CMMS software truly offers the most to companies looking to evolve into more environmentally conscious entities. After all if less is more, than efficiency has to be the paramount concern to get the very most out of a limited resource and efficiency is exactly what CMMS software offers to companies. It is through this efficiency that companies can begin to see significant financial benefit. Let’s take a look at a few areas in which CMMS software can aid companies in achieving a more sustainable environment:   

Fuel Efficiency

As fuel costs nationwide continue to rise, companies have begun to adopt an efficiency standpoint out of necessity. CMMS software can offer businesses a significant leg up when it comes to becoming more fuel efficient by targeting and identifying areas in which fuel usage exceeds what is absolutely necessary. By identifying these areas companies are then able to repair vehicles and systems to ensure that they are running as fuel efficiently as possible.


Energy Efficiency

Regular maintenance on any system is absolutely imperative when it comes to maximizing energy efficiency. By tracking various systems, performance, and status, CMMS software streamlines the process of monitoring and upkeeping multiple systems to ensure that as little energy is wasted as possible. For example an HVAC system in disrepair will use much more energy for the same amount of output and performance as one in good condition, resulting in higher costs. By incorporating CMMS software a company can manage these systems to ensure not only that they are running at full efficiency at all times, but also that repair costs are kept to a minimum through regular maintenance.        

LEED Certification

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system to ensure that structures are being designed and constructed to green standards. As public opinion continues to evolve towards a “greener” sentiment, by obtaining certifications such as this companies can help facilitate larger profits as a larger percentage of the public is more likely to patron them. CMMS software can help aid in obtaining this and similar certifications by offering broad asset tracking and reporting.

About the Author
Brett Chesney can be contacted at outreach.assetpoint@gmail

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Advantages Of Using Data Collection Software For Surveys

Barbara Spagnola - Thursday, August 07, 2014

Conducting surveys is a common practice in many organizations. Many companies use them in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their products. This information is then used to improve any future merchandise introduced into the market. Government entities use populace data from the census and other sources in order to properly adjust proposed activities and policies to better serve their constituents. In the scientific field, they are particularly useful in helping sociologists identify, track and explain emerging trends in the community.

One major hurdle often encountered when doing surveys is that it can be difficult to process through a large number of respondents quickly. It’s time consuming, inefficient and expensive. This greatly reduces the effectiveness and viability of the procedure itself. While a smaller sample size might be easier to analyze, it tends to offer less accurate results compared to statistical models with a larger number of participants.

Fortunately, modern technology has developed an answer to this dilemma. There are now many professional-grade programs that have been specifically designed to deal with survey data processing. They are commercially available to any organization that needs its services. These applications offer a host of advantages for anyone who regularly does large amounts of info aggregation.

Good survey data collection software should be fully customizable. Every enterprise has a different set of interest points; the program has to be flexible enough to handle the differing categories that are relevant to a particular survey campaign’s purpose. Survey attributes have to be capable of data entries that range from simple numbers to dynamic tables, sourced questionnaires, all the way up to charts that use cutting-edge logic algorithms.

The beauty of digital survey solutions is the inherent networking capability of all modern computer paraphernalia. Built-in integration to the most widely used office suites will allow you to share, access and archive your information faster and easier than ever before.

Enterprise-level survey data collection software is run by very powerful mathematical models under the slick façade of its user interface. This allows the program to churn through high volumes of data in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken to do it manually. Harnessing its impressive calculation abilities, a user can access on-the-fly progress meters and trend spotting at any point during the processing timeline.

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Security Software for Your Business

Barbara Spagnola - Thursday, August 07, 2014

There are quite a few different things that you should keep in mind as a business owner in order to make sure that your company is streamlined and operating in a way that will be beneficial to everyone involved. This would include making sure that all the facts that were necessary for your employees were laid out in such a way that they could easily take care of them throughout the day. Although the performance of your employees is going to be one of the prime considerations for your company, you also need to consider the fact that the technology that your company utilizes needs to be secured as well. This is not only a good idea because of outside resources that are trying to breach the security, but also because, unfortunately, there are times when people inside the company may have tried to breach the security as well.

One of the things that you want to do regularly is to make sure that any software that you are using is updated so that any security patches that have been included on the software are also included on your computers. As long as there is software that has some type of loophole that can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals, it is going to be a concern. Most legitimate software companies are going to look for ways to plug those holes as quickly as they are discovered, and at times, those updates may take place on a regular basis. If possible, try to have this done automatically so that manual updates are not a time-consuming part of your employees work day.

The security inside of the workplace is also something that needs to be considered, as it is not always outside sources that are trying to take advantage of loopholes within your company. One of the ways that this may be seen is if you own a company that does regular MICR printing, as you would want to have security measures in place so that your employees would not have unnecessary access to the printers or to the paper that goes into the printers. Unnecessary access to the printers can be locked down through software and network changes, and you can purchase printers that are locked so that only certain individuals have access to the paper. This is normally a good idea for check printing, and it is a good idea for the printing of prescriptions and other secure items as well.

One other thing that you should consider when trying to protect your business from unscrupulous individuals is the malware and viruses that tend to affect all of us at some time or another. The security loopholes that are put into place by those malicious viruses can affect your business in a number of different ways. They can even shut your computer down altogether, making it impossible for you to work until it has been cleaned of the virus. This is costly and time-consuming, so running high quality antivirus software is imperative for eliminating these types of security risks.

About the Author

Leroy Stevens is the author of this article about MICR printing. He is a small business owner who utilizes check printing software for his business.