If you’re in the business of selling technology, you know that you win sales when you can solve tough, specific problems.

However, to demonstrate that you can solve a customer’s pain points, you must know technology solutions at a detailed level—you need deep product knowledge. You must also understand the specific needs of your customers so you can communicate which solutions and capabilities are most relevant to them. When you have more comprehensive knowledge on both fronts, you can communicate how your solution is differentiated, relevant, and superior on a functional level.

Take, for example, an automotive manufacturer. Production scheduling is a crucial aspect of their business. Contrary to manufacturers in other industries that may be more focused on cutting assembly line costs, many automotive manufacturers prioritize flexibility.

They need solutions that provide the opportunity to make live adjustments in production scheduling as needed. If new data shows more customers are buying red and black cars than yellow, they can adjust the assembly line to produce cars that reflect that current market demand. A smart sales rep understands the auto manufacturer’s priorities and communicates how their solution provides the flexibility to meet this need.

But simply understanding there’s a need for deep product knowledge is not enough. You also need to know how to best obtain product knowledge and then seek it out continually.

Here are six practical tips to help you stay current on product knowledge—three for companies and three for employees.

What Companies Can Do

1. Embed product knowledge in company culture

This first step is crucial. The importance of product knowledge starts at the top. Executives and other leaders should diligently work to ensure product knowledge is a valued part of your company culture.

Don’t just know your product—talk about it with each other and your customers. Hold town halls with your employees and share how product knowledge will play a central role—if it hasn’t already. Connect employees with internal subject matter experts so that ongoing conversations can be developed about the true benefits of your solutions.

Furthermore, when you meet with customer advisory boards, talk specifics about your solution. Demonstrate your expertise and enthusiasm for addressing your customers’ pain points.

2. Invest in product knowledge training

Once the importance of product knowledge is established in your company culture, follow through. You need to spend time and money on education that delivers information and training to your employees on product knowledge, important product updates, etc.

If you run into pushback on this front, emphasize the long-term benefits you’ll get out of this investment. When a customer feels your sales rep understands their business and specific challenges, not only is your company more likely to win a sale, but you also establish a greater level of trust for a long-term working relationship with that customer.

Working relationships built on trust also foster better communication that can have many unforeseen benefits. For example, your customer may end up providing you with feedback that leads to future innovation for the solutions you offer. But it all comes back to the trust you establish with your customer through product knowledge.

3. Be smart about sharing product knowledge

While providing employees with access to product knowledge is important, be strategic to maximize the impact of your efforts.

First, consider your words. Use plain language so communications and training are simple to comprehend and remember. Also, translate complex industry jargon so it’s easy for employees to share the information with customers.

Second, push out tech updates on an exception basis. This means sharing notable changes to a product. Avoid inundating your employees with unnecessary information.

Third, only send technology updates out to relevant personnel. Mass customize who gets what information based on their job function.

Finally, consider providing in-person workshops given by leaders in your business who are black belts or superusers on a specific solution. Have them go out and share their knowledge on pain points of businesses you serve, as well as the value propositions of your solution.

What Employees Can Do

1. Consume in manageable doses

Think back to your college days. If you crammed for a test, you might get a B—rarely an A.

But, if you studied throughout the semester and stayed up-to-date on reading, the time you needed to study for your test was less intense, you typically performed better, and you were able to retain the information long term.

The same is true for consuming product knowledge. Consume information as frequently as you can—even if it’s only two or three minutes at a time. Read an article while you wait in line for coffee. Watch a short tech update after you put the kids to bed. This doesn’t need to be a heavy lift—just a mindful one.

2. Ignore product release data at your own risk (I learned this one the hard way)

When your company provides you with a product update, use it. It’s part of a good-faith relationship. They are prioritizing the importance of product knowledge, and they want you to as well.

Go a step further. If you receive information that is helpful to you, share feedback and say why you found it helpful. Conversely, if you need additional information, don’t be shy about seeking it out.

3. Pursue information from objective outlets

In addition to the product knowledge provided by your company, seek information from outside outlets. Consider looking beyond tech publications. Professional, balanced publications and think tanks offer credible, researched information. For example, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times have tech sections that can provide a well-rounded perspective.

Technology constantly evolves, and maintaining up-to-date product knowledge is by no means easy. Remind yourself that it’s an investment in your success with your customers. When you can provide them with specific information and articulate how solutions address tough problems, everyone wins.


As we continue making progress through the Epicor Kinetic journey, more reports and processes are now available to our customers to test and provide important feedback that shapes Kinetic innovations. Providing early access helps drive user adoption among Epicor ERP cloud customers and gain interest from prospective users.

New Epicor Kinetic Design Reports And Processes

We have recently communicated to cloud customers that as part of the Epicor ERP 10.2.500.10 Cloud update, they will get access to the following reports and processes, which have been redesigned with the sleek Kinetic User Interface:

Kinetic Reports

  • Sales Order Backlog
  • Sales Order on Hold
  • Scheduled Shipments
  • Open RMA
  • Stock Status

Kinetic Processes

  • Build Project Analysis
  • Build WBS Phase Analysis
  • Capture Project Revenue Recognition
  • Capture WBS Phase Revenue Recognition
  • Project Invoice Preparation

Epicor Kinetic Design Introduction

Epicor ERP Kinetic Design FAQ

As one of the newest additions to the Epicor architecture, Kinetic delivers entirely new experiences to a system and users who have been utilizing Epicor software Products for decades. Here are the most common questions submitted regarding this new technology.

What is Kinetic?

Epicor Kinetic provides a clean, intuitive and easy to use experience for all ERP users. By utilizing modern research in user interface design, Kinetic delivers consistency in navigation, simplified visuals that reduce the clutter and noise from your daily tasks, and improved accessibility and productivity. Over time Epicor Kinetic design will be applied to all ERP forms.

What is the difference between the Kinetic and classic versions of forms?

Designed with the user in mind, Kinetic forms have a streamlined user interface with expandable and collapsible panels which provide easy access to information but only when you need it. Classic forms have a tab structure which requires you to click through tabs to get to the information you need, oftentimes requiring more clicks to access data. In most applications the functionality and business logic will not change. However, the layout and navigation will.

Can I still run the classic version of a form that has been converted to Kinetic?

Yes, you can choose to run the classic version of any Kinetic form. You configure the default form to use in Menu Maintenance for each form. The default value is to open the form in the Kinetic UI, with the ability to override globally by an administrator or by a user.

Can I still use classic forms that have not been converted to Kinetic during the
transition?

Yes, during the transformation you can use both classic and Kinetic versions of a screen. Forms not yet converted will open in the same smart client window. You will continue to log into one system from the same home page. When you select a menu item, the form will either open in Kinetic or the classic version depending on your settings and whether it was converted yet.

Can I customize a Kinetic Report or Process form?

Currently, you cannot customize a Kinetic form. Customization capabilities will be available in an upcoming release of Epicor ERP.

Can I personalize a Kinetic Report or Process form?

Currently, you cannot personalize a Kinetic form. The personalization toolset will be available in an upcoming release of Epicor ERP.

What if I currently have customization on a form that was converted to Kinetic?

You can still use your customized forms by launching the classic version. By default, the application opens any form in the classic UI when you have customization attached to it.

As an administrator, can I globally set access to Kinetic forms for all users?

Yes, as an administrator you can define Kinetic as the default form that launches for each form and user.

Can I still use a custom report type on a form that was converted to Kinetic?

Yes, you can still generate the same report output that you do today.

How do I submit feedback on the Kinetic forms?

We want your feedback! Please send your feedback to Kinetic-Feedback@epicor.com. If you run into an issue, please submit a support call just like you would do for any other issue in the software.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


The Epicor Prophet 21 Emerging Business Program was designed and introduced to assist distributors with 10 or fewer users with implementing Epicor Prophet 21 Software using a simplified implementation approach.

Epicor Prophet 21 Emerging Business Program Introduction

This implementation approach relies heavily on distributor employee’s dedicating enough time to learn Prophet 21 Software functionality through our Epicor Learning Center via on-demand online training courses. These courses are then supplemented with phone support with Epicor consultants to ensure the distributor’s employees understand and can adapt their daily processes to Epicor’s best practices. The goal is to get the distributor on Prophet 21 using core functionality, with the expectation to grow and leverage additional Prophet 21 features and functions in future years.

Included Software

All Core Prophet 21 Software Functionality will be available. however, with the aim of the crawl/walk/run methodology, the Emerging Business Program will focus only on the implementation and training of specific modules. These are noted under Emerging Business Program Professional Services.

Optional Software

The below optional software may be implemented in Phase 1 of implementation.

  • DynaChangeTM Portals – included by default and allows for customized portals and dashboards to be created for reviewing open orders, purchase orders, or to do sales trending graphs, etc.
  • Epicor Forms Package – included by default and allows for customization of the Epicor forms (order acknowledgement, quotes, invoices, etc.)

Note that both Epicor and Encompass Solutions have other optional software and service offerings to complement the Prophet 21 Software. These are available to be implemented in a future phase after go-live. After implementation is complete, continue to work with your Partner Representative. They can help you identify other complementary products to support your growth.\

Epicor Prophet 21 Emerging Business Professional Services

Throughout your implementation, you will work with Encompass Solutions Consultants or Epicor directly, at your direction. Either organization will serve as your primary support during the deployment of the Prophet 21 Software within your organization. The different consultants are explained in more detail in your statement of work. Forecasts for the number of hours that may be required with each of these consultants, based on our past experiences and knowledge, to successfully get an organization live on Prophet 21 Software.

Your statement of work details hours engaged with the following groups:

  • Professional Services Consulting
    • Resource who will oversee the implementation, evaluate issues/risks and coordinate resources.
    • Resource(s) who will work with you over a series of remote engagements to complement your employees’ learning from the Epicor Learning Center.
    • Resource who may be on-site for two days of go-live support.
  • Technical Consulting – if applicable, resources who may work with you on the technical aspects of the Prophet 21 Software, such as the installation and deployment of Prophet 21 Software to your computers.
  • Data Conversion Consulting – if applicable, resources who may work with you on importing data into Prophet 21 Software.
  • Tools Consulting – if applicable, resources who may work with you on training or assistance with DynaChangeTM Portals or Epicor Forms Package.

During the implementation, over the series of Epicor Learning Center web courses and web-engagements with a consultant, we will work to get your employees trained on the following in-scope modules:

  • Basics of Order Management (entering orders/quotes/RMAs)
  • Basics of Inventory Management (item setup/bins/receiving/adjustments)
  • Financial Management (customers/credit limits/vendors/credit memos/AP vouchers/AP checks/convert PO to vouchers/general ledger/generic financial statements)
  • Purchasing (create PO, direct shipments, supplier management)
  • CRM (contact management, customer notes, customer alerts)
  • Reporting (general reports/inquiries as baseline in Prophet 21 Software)

We also have the following assumptions regarding your organization/implementation.

Note: if any of these assumptions are not accurate for your organization, please review the optional professional services offerings and discuss with your sales account executive.

  • Wholesale Distribution Customer in Prophet 21 core verticals
  • 10 or less concurrent users of Prophet 21 Software
  • Single company
  • Single physical inventory location
  • US-based customer and location
  • Does not require service & maintenance or light manufacturing as Phase 1
  • Does not require a high level of production order processing as Phase 1
  • • Does not require Epicor Commerce Connect, any API integrations, nor WWMS as Phase 1
  • Does not require any other add on packages that are not approved as an Emerging Business add-on for Phase 1 (see below under Emerging Business Prophet 21 Software)
  • Deploy as SaaS or On-Premise
  • Will dedicate time to online learning and working with Epicor consultants via the web to learn Prophet 21 best practice flows with the understanding of the crawl/walk/run methodology.
  • Will use the Epicor provided/default Chart of Accounts
  • Does not require Epicor to migrate or convert legacy software data into Prophet 21
  • Does not require multi-currency functionality in Phase 1
  • Does not require importing/container functionality in Phase 1

Optional Professional Services

There are several options for the Emerging Business Program when it comes to professional services. Please review to see if any of these apply to your organization/implementation. These options will impact the number of hours quoted for professional services. Purchased options are disclosed on the statement of work.

  • Chart of Accounts Option – Instead of using our provided chart of accounts (COA), this option allows you to use a custom COA.
  • Data Conversion Option – There are three different data conversion options. By default, the Emerging Business Program does not include Epicor Data Conversion services. However, you may choose to select a Standard or a Static-Only conversion. Hours will update based on the option you desire. The different options are noted under the section “Data Conversion.”

If you do any other unique processing of inventory or offer any unique services, please inform your sales account executive to do a review of the process to see if any additional services or software changes are needed to account for such.

Epicor Learning Center (ELC)

For your implementation to be successful, you will participate in online, on-demand, Epicor Learning Center (ELC) courses throughout your implementation. The Project Manager will work with your project team to assign courses each week for your team to take. The ELC includes a testing engine that enables distributors to uncover areas where their employees lack in their understanding of the Epicor Prophet 21 Software. It is critical that your employees are given time to complete these learnings. Otherwise, the timeline for the implementation and success of employees being able to do their daily jobs in the Prophet 21 Software will be jeopardized.

Implementation Phases: Crawl -> Walk -> Run

The Phase 1 goal of implementing Prophet 21 within your organization is to get you live and operational using Prophet 21’s core functionality. This is considered a “crawl” phase. After your organization has completed the implementation and operating on the Prophet 21 Software, you will then work, at your determined pace through self-education on the ELC, or with consultants, on expanding to use more Prophet 21 functionality to maximize business efficiency and positioning for growth. Expanding on functionality and leveraging more of the tools in the system (such as advanced demand forecasting) would put your organization in the “walk” phase. The final phase “run” is where your organization leverages much of the Prophet 21 Software functionality and complementary products (such as EDI / Wireless Warehouse / Data Analytics). Epicor Business Consulting services can help you get to a point where you are maximizing system use and are operating in a LEAN and efficient capacity. Epicor Business Consulting can also assist with your growth in helping grow to new locations or assist in supporting merger and acquisitions.

Implementation Timeline

The below outlines the training and milestones for a typical six-month Go-Live timeline to implement the Prophet 21 Software. Throughout this implementation journey, your Project Manager will work with your organization on ensuring tasks and training are completed timely to not jeopardize the planned go-live date. Implementing the Prophet 21 Software, even at a “crawl” stage, is no small task because of the robust functionality and hundreds of business scenarios the system supports. Our goal is to get you operational on Prophet 21’s core functionality with minimal business disruption. For the implementation to succeed, your employees must be given time every week to dedicate to training and completing required project tasks.

Epicor Prophet 21 Emerging Business Program Overview implementation milestones

Optional Data Conversion

The scope for Data Migration and Conversions is dependent on the Data Conversion option you may choose. Our consultants will support the customer data migration and conversion activities for up to the number of hours budgeted for data migration and conversion activities. If choosing an Epicor Data Conversion option, Encompass Data Consultants will assist with cross-references, importing your data into Prophet 21 Software, and working to resolve import errors. Your team is responsible for extracting your legacy-ERP data, populating Epicor-provided mapping sheets, and correcting errors in the data reported by the conversion routines. Encompass can provide consulting on extracting data or populating mapping sheets, however, this would be out of scope, and a change request added for additional hours. Data provided by your team must adhere to the applicable data map file requirements (provided by Encompass). Multiple iterations and corrections to the data by you or data conversion will jeopardize the scope to complete all data migration services within the allotted hours budget.

The data conversion options are:

Default – None – No data conversion services are included in your contract. Your organization is responsible for hand keying in or importing data into Prophet 21 Software without Epicor assistance. If data assistance is needed, a change request can be executed during the implementation of Epicor services.

Static Only – If this option is chosen, Epicor Data Conversion Consultants will assist with one import of select static data, which includes:

  1. Customer – Includes customer, customer address, and linkage to price libraries (as created by the customer), primary ship-to, and customer contacts.
  2. Alternate Ship-Tos – Includes alternate ship-to and ship-to addresses.
  3. Vendors – Includes vendor, vendor address, vendor purchase accounts, alternate suppliers.
  4. Suppliers – Includes supplier, supplier address, and existing vendors for suppliers.
  5. Inventory Items – Includes item master, item location, inventory supplier, item description, item UOM, and supplier by location.

Standard – The data conversion efforts include one import of static, one test import of dynamic data, and one final import of production (go-live) dynamic data. These data imports include:

Static Data:

  1. Customer – Includes customer, customer address, and linkage to price libraries (as created by the customer), primary ship-to, and customer contacts.
  2. Alternate Ship-Tos – Includes alternate ship-to and ship-to addresses.
  3. Vendors – Includes vendor, vendor address, vendor purchase accounts, alternate suppliers.
  4. Suppliers – Includes supplier, supplier address, and existing vendors for suppliers.
  5. Inventory Items – Includes item master, item location, inventory supplier, item description, item keywords, and supplier by location.

Dynamic Data:

  1. Open Invoices (open Accounts Receivable) – Includes invoice header and line.
  2. Closed Invoices (for sales history) – Includes invoice header and line.
  3. Open Accounts Payable Summary – Includes voucher header information.
  4. Inventory Quantity On Hand – Includes item QOH, linkage to bins (as created by the customer), item lots, and item serial numbers.
  5. Item History – Includes item history information (quantity sold per item per month) used for advanced demand forecasting (Note this does not include purchase-related history).

Encompass Provided Chart of Accounts

An additional chart of accounts is included within Prophet 21 with the Emerging Business Program. You will have the ability to remove, edit, or add accounts if you desire after setup. Note that any edits will require you to edit mapping to the financial statements. The mask XXXXX-XXX is fixed and cannot be edited. The last three digits are a branch designation (allowing for different income statements or balance sheets for different locations, if desired).

If the “canned” chart of accounts or mask is not suitable for your company, you may choose to key or import in a customized chart of accounts. If you wish to load your own accounts, please inform your sales account executive as this option adds additional professional services setup/configuration hours to your contract.

For more information on the Epicor Prophet 21 Emerging Business Program, contact Encompass Solutions today using the link below.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


The Article “What You Need to Know About Cloud Computing” was previously published on the Epicor Shop Floor, Here.

New technology can be scary. Not Terminator scary (not yet, at least), but it has the power to completely transform the way we all do business.

The rate at which it’s changing and evolving can be overwhelming, and it won’t stop anytime soon. Especially when it comes to cloud technology.

According to one recent IBM study, businesses plan to move 75% of their non-cloud applications to the cloud within three years.

So, what is cloud computing exactly?

In a Nutshell: What Is Cloud?

From storage to software, if you’re getting/using it over the Internet, it’s cloud computing. “Cloud” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources over the Internet.

When you take a picture on an iPhone, it gets backed up and stored in the cloud. When you stream a movie on Netflix or a song on Spotify, you’re accessing it from the cloud. Banking apps, social media, and even Fortnite all rely on cloud servers.

In professional settings, organizations often deploy their business systems in the cloud. Before, these systems were hosted on servers physically located at the business (“on-premises”). But now, everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, to inventory management applications, to point of sale software, and more runs in the cloud.

What It Can Do: Benefits of Cloud

Greater Innovation
Did we mention technology is changing quickly? Rather than racing to catch up, cloud allows you to compete at the forefront of your industry.

Because cloud deployments let you pay over time and as needed, the latest innovations are now just as accessible to smaller businesses as the larger enterprises.

Lower Total Cost
Cloud transforms your IT resources from a cost center to a profit center. Hosting software on-premises racks up a huge amount of cost and risk—buying servers, powering them, maintaining them.

When you outsource that computing power to the cloud, someone else gets to deal with it, while you get to focus on growing your business through strategic initiatives.

Increased Flexibility
Also known as “scalability.” The cloud enables you to customize IT resources to your specific business needs—both now and in the future. Add users, increase bandwidth, boost storage capacity, and more. Whatever you want, whenever you want.

Being able to scale up or down ensures users always have what they need to be productive.

Improved Performance
Cloud providers regularly update server hardware to the latest and greatest. Plus, customers get the most up-to-date software delivered automatically.

Rest easy knowing that you always have the most powerful, current software available. You don’t have to burden IT staff with time-consuming updates and upgrades.

More Security
This is probably what keeps you up at night. Data hosted on-premises is vulnerable to break-ins or even natural disasters. Without a proper backup, you could lose that data forever.

While it’s true that no data is 100% safe, data stored in the cloud is much more secure. Cloud providers continuously update their servers to combat the newest threats. Plus, your data is consistently backed up in separate servers, often thousands of miles apart.

How It Works: Different Types of Cloud

While there are many different types of cloud services available, each one offers unique benefits that enhance a business’ operations in a number of ways.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Examples: Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 apps, MailChimp, Epicor ERP Cloud

Most commonly used for: Out-of-the-box solutions

The most common type of cloud service, SaaS is software that users can access over the Internet.

SaaS may require a subscription fee to access the app from any compatible device over the Internet. Sometimes, you can even download the software directly to your computer.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Examples: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Most commonly used for: Database management, development tools, operating systems

PaaS is a big one for developers. A PaaS business rents out its technology library.

You can use it for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. No need to buy underlying hardware or software. Instead, you can focus on developing and managing apps.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Examples: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud

Most commonly used for: servers, networking, storage, and more

IaaS companies rent out an entire IT infrastructure. You can pay to use theirs rather than hosting everything yourself. Servers, storage, networks, operating systems, you name it. All available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Because this model is so broad, it also allows for the most flexibility and customization.

The Verdict: Cloud is the New Norm

Cloud computing continues to grow year over year. Moving your business systems to the cloud can be a large, overwhelming change. But there are definitely some obvious cloud computing benefits.

Cloud is a tool that empowers business owners. And it can be a foundational piece to any digital transformation journey. It’s worth it to evaluate your business to see if the cloud is right for you.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Every year, millions of workers brave the cold to perform year-end full physical inventories in the final weeks of the fiscal year – with mixed results. While this annual ritual is in many cases the only way to reconcile inventory variances incurred throughout the year, it doesn’t need to be.

Cycle Counts That Count will help you implement better cycle counting on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis starting in April and let you potentially conduct your last ever year-end full physical inventory that same year. The final full physical will validate your efforts at daily counting and provide management with the data they need to determine when to switch to a cycle only inventory process.

Cycle Counts That Count Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying About The Year-End Full Physical Inventory And Love The Cycle Count

An effectively implemented cycle count program can, within 9 months, effectively do away with conducting a full physical inventory. That’s right. You can free your organization from the dreaded yearly shutdown that pulls staff away from their families during the holiday season and closes your shipping doors for a week. Now, what if we told you that our workshop would ensure you’d never have to perform another year-end full physical inventory, ever? Contact Encompass today to set up your workshop and we can help you perform cycle counts that count!

We can work with you to level work out over sessions that coincide with your low periods:

Cycle Count Project Management

Partner with your Encompass team to lay out a simple project for implementing daily or weekly cycle counting for your organization. The audience should include senior management, such as plant managers, the controller, or the executive team, as well as staff responsible for inventory control.

Our first workshop will review how a typical daily cycle counting program looks, how much time will be required to conduct daily counts, as well as case studies in efficiency gained by accurate inventory adjusted on a quicker basis. A series of planning documents will be provided and reviewed during this session which will create a custom-tailored implementation plan for your organization.

Our second workshop will include the same audience. The consultant will review your implementation plan with you and then provide training on setup, configuration, and daily processing of counts in Epicor. The goal of the session is to provide you with a simple roadmap you can follow to get the program up and running immediately for a small subset of product while you complete the implementation plan and ramp-up to include all products over the following 45 days. The session will be recorded to be used by staff for reference in the future.

Your First Count Workshop

We will schedule a follow-up session with our consultant and your finance and warehouse teams to work with you on setting up and processing your first cycle count.

Quarterly Reporting Workshop

We will then follow up with your inventory control team and workshop with your inventory control team to review your first 90 days of results, and help this team prepare their first cycle counting efficiency reports back for management.

End of the Year-End Workshop

In this workshop, your consultant will review best practices for a year-end full physical inventory and work with your team as they prepare to answer a critical question for management: Is this our last year-end inventory.

The agenda will include time to:

  • Review cycle count reports to determine how well parts are being counted based on ABC codes.
  • Review methods to identify problem parts based on recurring variances and suggest probable root causes.
  • Provide best practices for preparing for the full physical.
  • Provide Suggestions for reconciling year-end results and evaluating the cycle counting program’s success for the year.

Encompass are ready to partner with you today. For more information please speak to your consultant, Customer Account Manager (CAM) or our team at sales@encompass-inc.com.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Encompass Solutions’ Managed Services offers a simple, structured patch management cycle to keep your on-premise Epicor installation aligned with Epicor’s update cadence policy.

The Encompass patch update program keeps your Epicor ERP system running at peak performance. This update cadence keeps your business in sync with the latest iteration of your Epicor software. The benefit Encompass provides is a dependable and iterative service that leaves you more time and energy to focus on revenue-generating activities for your business.

Stop spending time on tedious back-end tasks that can distract your teams from making real headway in the form of productive work.

What Is Patch Management?

Patch management is a component of overall system management that generally includes acquiring, testing, and installing multiple patches. Common patch management tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining knowledge of available patches
  • determining which patches are appropriate for specific systems
  • Proper patch installation
  • system testing prior to and following installation
  • Documentation of configurations and procedures

Patch Management Service Schedule

The whole patch process takes roughly two weeks to complete before the cycle is ready to start anew. Here’s how the Encompass Solutions Patch Management Service works:

Day 1 – A new patch is released from Epicor Software Corp. and notification follows

Day 2 –  Epicor ERP system patch updates are disseminated and installed

Days 3 through 12 – Testing of processes and Unique Business Cases (UBCs) takes place in the production environment to ensure no process is impeded with new patch rollout.

Day 13 – After testing is completed, the new patch is pushed to the live Epicor ERP environment.

Day 14 – A new patch is released from Epicor Software Corp. and notification follows

an image of the encompass solutions Epicor ERP Update Lifecycle - Managed Services patch management

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


For customers on cadence, the Epicor Cloud Operations team will deploy your Epicor ERP Cloud update version 10.2.500.10 next week. This routine update includes enhancements to product quality and Kinetic user experiences. Testing is optional. For more details, please read this email and refer to the release notes in the 10.2.500 folder on your EpicWeb Customer Portal.

What To Expect During Epicor ERP Cloud Update Version 10.2.500.10

Pilot Update 

  • Tuesday, February 11, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM Local Server Time

Production Update

  • Saturday, February 15, 4:00 PM to Sunday, February 16, 8:59 PM Local Server Time

While the 10.2.500.10 update deploys, your application may be unavailable for 30-60 minutes during the update window. Once complete you will be prompted to update the Epicor ERP Smart Client. If you happen to encounter unexpected behavior, please open an EpicCare case and include 10.2.500.10 in the details.

More Kinetic Experiences Are Here In 10.2.500.10, we’ve updated five reports and five processes (below) with the sleek, new Kinetic User Interface. As these and other Kinetic forms are periodically enabled in your environment, there will be nothing you need to do. All business logic is exactly the same. Simply enjoy the ease-of-use, modern design, and clear interface.

Like what you see? We rely on your feedback to drive our Kinetic innovations, so we encourage you to share your thoughts. Epicor’s customer experience team will randomly contact several customers to gather input, but please email Kinetic-Feedback@epicor.com at any time to send your comments or request a call.

For more information about the new Kinetic experiences, watch this 90-second video and check out Frequently Asked Questions.

Kinetic Reports in 10.2.500.10:

  • Sales Order Backlog
  • Sales Order on Hold
  • Scheduled Shipments
  • Open RMA
  • Stock Status

Kinetic Processes in 10.2.500.10:

  • Build Project Analysis
  • Build WBS Phase Analysis
  • Capture Project Revenue Recognition
  • Capture WBS Phase Revenue Recognition
  • Project Invoice Preparation

Epicor Cloud ERP Update Schedule

Here is the latest information on the release and update schedule for Epicor Cloud ERP.

To learn more about Epicor version numbering and deferred release upgrades, see the bottom section of this post.

​The Cloud ERP environment is updated as indicated in the table below. Each date represents the day your update is complete. Keep in mind that these dates and update notes are subject to change without notice at the behest of Epicor Software Corporation.

​Update ​Pilot ​Production
​10.2.500.5 ​19 Nov 2019 ​23 Nov 2019
​10.2.500.7 ​17 Dec 2019 ​21 Dec 2019
​10.2.500.8 ​14 Jan 2020 ​18 Jan 2020
​10.2.500.10 ​11 Feb 2020 ​15 Feb 2020
​10.2.500.13 ​24 Mar 2020 ​28 Mar 2020
10.2.600.2
(Release 10.2.600)
​17-18 April 2020
(one month to test)
​16-17 May 2020
The Public Cloud Deferred Customers environment upgrade options for major release are as indicated in the tables below. Subject to change.
​​Upgrade 400 to 500 Pilot​ ​Production
Flex Option 1: ​10.2.500.xx ​Week of 16 Dec 2019 ​25-26 Jan 2020
​Flex Option 2: 10.2.500.xx ​Week of 20 Jan 2020 ​22-23 Feb 2020​
NotePrior to 10.2.500, if you chose to defer your upgrade, you continued to receive 400.x updates up to your scheduled deferred upgrade date.
With 10.2.500, if you choose to defer your upgrade, you will not receive any 400.x updates after the 10.2.400.11 update.
​​Upgrade 500 to 600 Pilot​ ​Production
Flex Option 1: ​10.2.600.xx ​Week of 22 June 2020 ​25-26 July 2020
​Flex Option 2: 10.2.600.xx ​Week of 20 July 2020 ​22-23 August 2020​
NoteWith 10.2.600, if you choose to defer your upgrade, you will not receive any 500.x updates after the 10.2.500.13 update.

Epicor ERP Cloud Version Numbering and Timing

A typical Epicor ERP version number is ‘10.2.500.7’. In this example, ’10’ represents the Product, ‘2’ represents the Version, ‘500’ represents the Release, and ‘7’ the Update level.

  • Updates. Updates are generally applied on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Updates are applied to the customer’s ‘pilot’ environment on Tuesday or Wednesday evening, and then promoted to ‘production’ environments during Saturday night local datacenter time. You may test if you like, but these are non-disruptive updates to our system, and do not introduce schema changes. We avoid month-end and calendar year-end for your convenience.
  • Releases. Releases are scheduled twice a year with black-out dates to avoid calendar year end. Because they tend to be larger releases and may introduce new functionality release upgrades are installed into a customer’s pilot environment no less than one month before their promotion to production, allowing customers to test the new features and updates.
  • Versions. Version upgrades occur approximately every 18-24 months. These often include changes to schema, user interface, and business objects. Like release updates, testing is required, so the upgrades are applied to the customer’s pilot environment thirty days prior to the scheduled production upgrade. Customers also receive an additional sandbox environment for more extensive testing.
  • Products. Product updates are typically more involved; and accordingly, we allow extended time and support to test and prepare before introduction into production.

Deferred Release Upgrades

If your business is subject to fluctuating seasonal demands or other time constraints, Epicor offers its premium “Epicor Public Cloud Flex Option,” which allows clients to defer upgrades for up to 90 days, for an additional subscription fee.  With the Epicor Public Cloud Flex Option you may select among two or three alternate pre-selected dates for your upgrade.

Regardless if you select this option and choose to stay on cadence or select a later date to upgrade, you still receive the standard one month to test releases in the pilot environment. Customers with this option would not have the full 90 days to test upgrades, but rather have the option to test and upgrade up to 90 days later if business needs require. Please contact your Epicor Sales Representative for more information.

Change Notifications Preferences

Use these steps to manage your notification preferences in order to receive alerts regarding Cloud releases.

  1. Navigate to System Setup > System Maintenance > System Monitor. From the Actions menu, select Notifications Preferences.
  2. The In-App Notifications User Preferences window opens. In the Select Roles section, specify the following:
    – In the Titles/Levels field, to receive notifications, you must select either User-PowerExecutive, or Manager.
    Note: If you select a different option, or if you enter your own title, you will not be included in the scheduled in-app messages or email notifications.
    – In the Functions/Departments field, you can specify your specific business detail.
  3. In the Types of Business section, define your Primary Sector and Primary Industry.
  4. Use the Select Interests section to indicate what type of notifications you want to receive. Note: This area is configurable and depends on your admin settings.
  5. Verify your email address in the Email field.
  6. Select the Send Notifications via email too checkbox if you are not a regular user of Epicor ERP and you want to receive notifications using email.
  7. Click Close.

Upgrading Custom Items in Cloud Environments

If you are upgrading your cloud environment, you can use the Unique Business Component Dashboard to locate and then update your custom items. To learn how to upgrade your custom items, watch the free, self-paced Epicor University course “Upgrading Custom Items in Cloud Environments”. This course is designed to assist System Administrators in understanding the tools and processes to effectively manage Unique Business Components during a system upgrade. To take the self-paced course, click here.

Alternatively, Encompass is here to help as your Certified Epicor Partner. We can help you upgrade custom business items in cloud environments any time you like. Reach out using the Contact Us link below to discuss your next project.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


With Industry 4.0 taking the lion’s share of headline space, smart manufacturing technologies are bigger than ever. For many manufacturers, these concepts can seem more than just a little intimidating, if not worthy of some cautious scepticism. Fortunately, there are manufacturing technologies that have been proven by years of practical application. Industry 4.0 concepts support them with more informed data and more efficient process improvements. We’re looking at you EDI. The concept of a digital twin is another one of these manufacturing technologies anyone can implement to improve operations.

What Is A Digital Twin?

The term “digital twin” refers to a digital replica of a physical asset. This asset can be any common hardware found on any factory floor. This includes heavy equipment, a smart machine, a robot, a work cell, an inspection station or a manufacturing line. These “Physical Twins” are anything that can provide data to the Digital Twin for interpretation. Connection bridges the physical and digital to create a cyber-physical system, whereby data flows through and informs a process.

The digital twin concept can be broken down into three distinct parts:

  • a physical product
  • a digital/virtual product
  • connections between the two products

Digital Twins birthed in the Apollo Missions

The digital twin is a true example of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) at work.however, the concept outdates the term Internet of Things by decades.  The term was coined by John Vickers of NASA in a 2010 Roadmap Report. however, the concept goes back even further in the NASA toolbox when the Apollo program utilized digital twins of the Command Module, Lunar Module and Lunar Rover to carry out maintenance, support, and troubleshooting activities.

How Are Digital Twins Used In Manufacturing?

As we stated before, the connection between physical and digital twin creates a cyber-physical system that feeds real-time performance data to operators, analysts, and managers.

Individuals and groups fulfilling these roles within an organization can leverage industry 4.0 concepts to analyze and interpret data to make sound predictions and carry out appropriate actions. Here, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) all come together to troubleshoot, raise alarms to identify potential problems, view maintenance conditions, support the various condition-based maintenance required to maintain seamless operations.

How Do The Components Of A Digitial Twin Work Together?

Analytics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) technologies all have a  hand in making Digital Twins work for manufacturers. Here’s how they come together to deliver leaps in process and operational improvement:

  • Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT): Connects the physical and digital systems to provide accurate data in real-time.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Intelligent software analyzes the data, provides an interpretation of what is physically taking place, what outcomes or problems may arise, and what actions should be carried out to maximize performance.
  • Machine Learning (ML): Builds on scenarios, both experienced and potential, to execute analysis more quickly and orchestrate improvements for the physical counterpart, ideally, without human intervention.
  • Analytics: Additional tools that simplify the data to communicate, diagnose, predict and prescribe actions to optimize the operation of physical systems.

How Do Digital Twins Optimize Or Diagnose To Improve Operations?

By leveraging the data they receive, Digital Twins get a snapshot of how machinery or other physical systems operate throughout a process. The data serve to build a picture of what is good performance and what is bad or what is streamlined and what is bottlenecked.

Optimization comes into the picture when historical data can inform future operations to “say” this didn’t work well last time, let’s try something else. One example of how digital twins are used in optimizing machines emerges with the maintenance of power generation equipment such as power generation turbines, jet engines and locomotives. How can we make this piece of machinery more efficient? Let’s look at the historical data and improve on past performance by trying other tweaks our engineers and machinists can implement. Or, better yet, what hypothetical concepts can we experiment within the digital realm? The same is true for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. In enterprise architecture (EA), architects create EA blueprints as a digital twin for the organization.

A more relatable example may be found in autonomous vacuums. Many homes now employ robotic servants to clean while their owners are away. Digital twin technologies could effectively map the optimal vacuum path of a room and then employ that strategy to mitigate wasted energy and clean living spaces more quickly.

Diagnostics are another huge component of digital twins’ utility. By referencing historical data for machinery, a digital twin may be able to predict maintenance intervals, make service recommendations, and ensure downtime is kept to a minimum. In his case, the digital twin isn’t relegated to just one machine or just one plant. IIoT technology can connect like-machines across an organization or several organizations to show a more complete picture of how machines perform under an array of conditions. This includes when they are most likely to breakdown or characteristics that can indicate a serious issue is looming on the horizon.

Leveraging The Digital Twin

To be certain, a digital twin and the technological concepts it relies on are no substitute for a skilled workforce. Those autonomous vacuums don’t dust or polish just yet. However, digital twins can inform and supplement your skilled workers to better utilize their machinery and improve operations overall. By now, it should be clear that implementing the concept of a Digital Twin within your organization can yield real benefit. Consider adding this invaluable tool as a complement to your business operations and remain competitive.

Epicor ERP delivers this technology in the form of a production environment. This component of the solution allows users to map their entire production process or even back-office process for simulated activities. This way, any company using Epicor ERP can experiment with their mad scientist and what if we tried this ideas on how to improve operations without the hassle of interrupting day-to-day operations. The result is a fine-tuned approach to process improvement that can be utilized in real-time after pushing the changes into the live Epicor ERP environment.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


This article was previously published on the Epicor Shop Floor – you can read the original post here.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution—also called Industry 4.0—is already having a huge impact on the manufacturing industry. It leverages some of the most exciting technologies of today—including big data, artificial intelligence and robotics. Unfortunately, a massive skilled labor shortage in the manufacturing sector is threatening the promise of Industry 4.0. Understanding the ins and outs of the problem will help businesses minimize their impact. Here are four aspects of the skilled labor shortage in manufacturing that are worth evaluating.

1. The Skills Gap In A Skilled Labor Shortage

According to a 2018 Deloitte study, job opportunities in manufacturing have been growing at an impressive double-digit rate since mid-2017.

However, the report warns of a skills gap. Industry 4.0 is creating tech-heavy jobs that are not readily available from current talent pools. Industry 4.0 is creating tech-heavy jobs that are not readily available from current talent pools. This will leave about 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018-2028. Deloitte forecasts the potential economic impact of such a labor shortage in manufacturing to be USD $2.5 trillion.

Worse, it’s not manufacturing alone that needs data scientists and robotics engineers. These jobs are in high demand across a variety of industry sectors—including healthcare, education, and retail.

Companies are training from their existing employee base as one option. But a 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report found that internal mobility still presents a challenge for many enterprises.

2. An Aging Population

The Pew Research Center shared that 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day up until the year 2030. The 72 million Boomers currently in the U.S. comprise a little more than a quarter of the population. The aging of this demographic can have a significant effect on the supply of skilled talent.

Even if an impressive number of Boomers are taking up entrepreneurship, they’re still not working in the kinds of jobs that manufacturing companies will be looking to fill.

3. Millennial Must-Haves

Given that Millennials are expected to outnumber Boomers (73 million to 72 million) in the United States this year, they’re the most obvious demographic to lean on for jobs. There’s mixed news on that front with respect to labor retention.

Gallup reported that Millennials are the most likely generation to switch jobs—6 in 10 are open to new opportunities. Other research shows that they’re not any more likely to do so than their predecessors—Gen X. Manufacturing companies can learn from research that shows that Millennials place high emphasis on workplace attitudes and managerial styles over other must-haves. Millennials will job hop even within companies to test out the best fit.

4. A Growing Gig Economy

Workers are now acting as free agents by choice—making freelance work their primary source of income. About 20–30% of the working-age population in the United States and Europe take on some kind of independent work. The gigs either supplement income or are the primary source of revenue.

Such a significant shift can have repercussions on the labor shortage in manufacturing. Employers might have to retool jobs to the freelance or contract model to make opportunities more attractive to the right talent.

As these skilled labor shortage statistics show, the United States needs the right talent to truly ride the next Industrial Revolution to success.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

 


Encompass Solutions recently celebrated another successful go-live with a longtime partner and client. This company has several divisions, though this project took focus on Medical Device Manufacturing With Epicor ERP. The project focused on on-site locations in the United States and Costa Rica. The company’s primary Epicor team consists of three resources, supporting approximately 700 employees. The medical device manufacturing company utilizes several Epicor ERP components including all major modules, Advanced Material Management (AMM), Quick Ship, and Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

The Project

The project scope was to upgrade an existing Epicor 9.05.702a to Epicor 10.2.400. The upgrade project would also need to account for hundreds of custom BPMs, Dashboards, Reports, SQL Tools, and linked systems that had built up over the years. Additionally, a transition to an FDA validated environment with proper change control was necessary. All of this happened on a typical non-holiday weekend, with some manufacturing departments on-site and actively working.

The Encompass Solutions Team was responsible for:

  • Project planning and estimating
  • Project management
  • Technical assistance uplifting customizations, reports and dashboards,
  • Hardware configuration and sizing recommendations
  • All aspects of the data conversion
  • Conversion planning and preparation
  • System test planning

The Plan

An Encompass Solutions project manager was handed the sequencing and timing authority to map the timeline, deliverables, and overall upgrade project plan. At a high level, there were timelines created for Test Conversions, Technical Uplift Tasks, UAT, and Validation.

The project would follow Encompass Solutions’ standard upgrade methodology. This began by estimating the uplift effort, as that would drive the remainder the schedule.

The Execution

Once the project plan was established, Encompass and the client stood up the new 10.2.400 environment and performed the first pass conversion.

The next phase of the project, and most lengthy, focused on uplifting and unit testing over 800 objects (UI customizations, reports, BPMs, dashboard, and more)

Once the uplift was complete, a second pass conversion was performed. This served as the first conversion where we started to look at the length of the conversion, cleaning up errors and started to put together the conversion validation steps. This conversion served as the basis for system test.

System test planning started three months prior to the test. The actual test was conducted over a three-week period by the client and Encompass Solutions.

Upon completion of system test, we executed a third pass conversion.  This served to further test our conversion process and procedures. This also provided a clean database for the client to perform their validation process as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. After FDA validation was complete, we executed a fourth pass conversion to finalize all conversion weekend steps, processes validations, timing, and reconciliation.

As part of planning, a series of test and practice installs took place prior to Go Live. During the weekend of Go Live, the project was within15 minutes of the anticipated Go-Live time. Encompass was onsite for the event, and post-Go Live, as needed.

“Perhaps the most surprising detail was that [Encompass] have taken ownership of most errors and bugs and seen them through resolution, which takes a lot of work off our team.”

– IT Business Analysis Manager

The Results

Go live was a smooth process. The client was able to successfully make jobs, ship parts, and collect payments. Aside from a few hiccups, 90% of the users are having a better experience with the updated Epicor ERP system. Of the 10% that didn’t have as great of an experience, these were mostly due to changes in behavior from Epicor 9 to Epicor 10, almost all of which were discovered during UAT. This means that during Go-Live there were very few surprises.

Next Steps

The company’s next steps including taking the Epicor 10 foundation and expanding it to two more locations in 2020 and a third in 2021. The client has already invited the same Encompass Solutions project team to assist in those future projects.

Encompass has also been engaged to support projects that will provide order integration with the client’s European operations, implement a vendor management inventory solution, as well as bring additional sites onto Epicor ERP.

Company Details

  • Established: 1999
  • Location: USA, Costa Rica
  • Industry: Manufacturing, Medical Devices
  • Previous System – Epicor ERP 9.05.702a
  • Current System – Epicor ERP 10.2.400
  • Deployment – On Prem

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.