Monthly Archives: January 2016

Find Your Business Intelligence Story….

Written by Oksana Slipenkyj.

Our article on Business Intelligence begins with a story….

It waSnoopys a dark and stormy night, when you needed to drive to a restaurant that you’d never been to before. Your car was covered in ice and snow, you didn’t have a snow brush, the wipers stopped working, your headlights were dim, the dashboard gauges barely visible and the GPS wasn’t turning on. Driving through a blizzard to somewhere you don’t know how to get to, without any aids or tools is almost impossible, and not something most of us would like to try.

Now imagine the car you’re driving is actually your organization, and the blizzard is our economy. That restaurant you’re trying to get to – that’s your company’s strategic objectives – increased market share, improved cash flow, new products and so on. The navigational aids are the Business Intelligence tools that help you steer your organization.

Business Intelligence is a set of tools or techniques that transform raw data into useful information for analytic purposes.

DataThese days, lack of data is not the problem. Your various systems – ERP, Quality, Warehouse Management, CRM, HR – all produce large amounts of raw transactional data about customers, products, sales, production and so on. The challenge is to be able to transform this data into meaningful, actionable information that you can use to gain results.

So what has your data done for you lately?
Information is an asset, and one that can help you gain a competitive advantage.
However taking all those gigabytes of raw data and coming up with meaningful measurements takes a few steps.

What are your company’s Key Performance Indicators?
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are metrics that help you evaluate your success – these can be things like sales targets, sales opportunities, product performance, manufacturing bottlenecks – whatever your company wants to track and measure. KPI’s can help you answer basic questions like: Questions

  • Who is buying what? And who is NOT buying.
  • Where do our sales come from?
  •  Is our inventory at the right levels?
  •  How can we make our production even more efficient?
  •  What have our Account Managers been doing?

KPI’s can lead you in making both operational and strategic decisions that directly impact your bottom line.

Transform your Data into Information and compare to your KPI’s

Analytic tools take your raw data and turn it into something you can actually use.

Phoenix Systems offers a variety of BI tools that work with your SYSPRO data and other databases.

There is no one size fits all solution, there is a suite of tools that you can utilize in the way that makes the most sense for your organization. These range from customized reports, automated report delivery, Analytic tools, Dashboards, and more. They can be available on demand, on a desktop, or on a mobile device or through email.

Business Intelligence tools are also scalable, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Pick a few key areas to focus on, and some key performance indicators and this will give you the most payback.

Visualizations help with decision-makingCharts

Present your information in a way that makes sense to you – you can go far beyond traditional grids and use graphical elements – they aren’t just a pretty picture – they can help you visualize large amounts of data quickly and aid in understanding and decision-making.

BIIf you don’t have this kind of information today, how do you make these decisions? Do you go by gut feel? Do what you’ve always done? Do what your competitors are doing?

There is a better way. It’s called Business Intelligence. Running a business without BI tools is like driving a car in a snowstorm without working headlights or gauges. It can be done, but you can get there faster and safer with a few tools.

Luckily our dark and stormy night story does have a happy ending. While the current economic forecast is challenging, you have lots of data, and there are many options for how to use this to help your company succeed.

3 Comments

Filed under Phoenix Systems

Annual IT Budget ~ What to keep in mind..

Written by Larry Hack.

It strikes me every year how the IT budget, capital and services, is either ignored by companies, or underestimated. Further, the successful operation of an ERP/Accounting system on an up to date IT infrastructure will add hugely to the value of your company, however, this too is underestimated. Why is this?

If one Googles “IT Budget for companies” there are many tools to be had to assist in planning your budget. There are also sites which recommend how much spending there should be on IT. It is suggested that an average of 5.2% of annual revenue should be spent in this area. Some say between 4% and 6%. I read a white paper put out by American STRUCTUREPOINT Inc. which states:

Deciding on a budget requires more than just flinging numbers onto a spreadsheet. Today, businesses are confused and uncertain as to what an appropriate IT budget is, and they don’t have a clear vision for how these funds should be spent”

In my experience many clients wait to the last minute to replace hardware. Then the upgrade ERP decision often rests on the hardware decision as old ERP is usually not supported on current technology.

Some of the driving factors to stay current with your ERP and update your servers/IT infrastructure every 3 to 4 years include the following:

ERP: Annual license fees are paid which ensures access to continuously improving software not only in new functionality but also in the areas of performance and optimization. The old saying “If it ain’t broke let’s not touch it” is less true these days as I would suggest that there is more benefit to be gained by upgrading your software. Take advantage of reviewing your business processes and retraining you staff. Usually with staff turnover it is common to find that newer staff has had minimal exposure to how to use the software properly nor have any understanding of its capabilities, never having been shown properly. Often there is frustration and lack of adoption of the software purely because of lack of knowledge. This leads to staff using “side systems” such as Excel and others and this in itself creates inefficiency  and reporting is done outside of the ERP system with resulting duplication of effort and various “versions of the truth”.

IT side: Security, Security, Security. (Internet threats, access by which members of staff to which data, remote access by offices in other locations local or worldwide. Working from home? A huge topic these days! This requires careful setup and maintenance. What about backups? More disk space is needed as so much data is collected. We do not want to purge history as we want to be able to analyze this more and more. Then we need multiple servers because we want TEST companies, upgrade companies and so on. Server virtualizations, dual processors, SQL databases and Microsoft operating systems upgrades.  This is a lot to comprehend!  Then we have new “Cloud” and “Mobility” solutions to factor in together with needs you may have for bar-coding solutions from an IT standpoint.

American STRUCTUREPOINT urges one to consider IT as an investment into the operations and flow of communications, rather than a cost of doing business. With proper budgeting, your company’s systems can be deployed in a way that enhances your ability to respond to varying changes in the competitive business environment. At least pause and re-consider your approach to this topic as we move forward into 2016. We at Phoenix Systems are of the same view and would like to help you with this process, if you would allow us.

Comments Off on Annual IT Budget ~ What to keep in mind..

Filed under Phoenix Systems