Encompass is honored for reaching status for more than twelve years

Greensboro, North Carolina, November 1, 2022– Encompass Solutions has achieved the Gold Partner recognition for 2022. Recipients are selected by Epicor Software Corporation based on Employee Certification, Customer Support, and Customer Satisfaction. Gold Partners exhibit deep expertise in manufacturing and ERP systems; their experience distinguishes them in the field.

“I’m excited about our continued partnership with Epicor Software and the Epicor Partner Community. Also, being part of a growing organization like Encompass Solutions is why I get up in the morning!” Jason Claggett, Managed Services Manager of Encompass Solutions.

Encompass Solutions has a longstanding relationship with Epicor and its focus on Epicor ERP business solutions, has allowed them to deliver mission-critical ERP software solutions, custom development services, and process improvements for businesses in the manufacturing and robotics, and automation industries. Professional services in ERP consulting, project management, EDI, and ERP software implementation, upgrades, training, and more.

“It’s an honor for Encompass to be recognized as a valued partner by Epicor for over twelve years. Our continued partnership with Epicor allows us to build better relationships with our customers. It feels great to know Epicor is supporting us in our success.” Rob Cummings, Senior Financial and Operations Consultant.

Epicor Certified Partners

Epicor Partners have been specially trained and certified to provide Epicor software solutions, project planning and management, training, and ongoing support services. Extensive training and experience enable them to offer the highest value over time.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass offers professional services in ERP consulting, project management, EDI, and ERP software implementation. We specialize in enabling manufacturers of every size with full-scale ERP/MES implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems. Our expert consulting and IT staff deliver the tools, training, and confidence manufacturers need to address emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth. Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs, identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions. We ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of the industry with business systems to fit the build. Encompass is a certified Gold Partner of Epicor.

To learn more about Encompass Solutions, please visit www.encompass-inc.com.

Recently, we’ve been receiving many questions on Epicor’s Lifecycle Policy. This blog will outline the currently supported versions of the Epicor ERP system, the difference between Active and Sustaining support, and the upgrade options available.

Release Lifecycle

Like other software packages, Epicor Kinetic requires frequent patching. These can be for cosmetic (Updates), functional enhancements (Releases), or wholesale architecture changes (Version). Regular patching is necessary to keep the software running smoothly or plug security holes to keep you and your data safe. Epicor’s cadence is defined and outlined in the graphic below of how often you can expect updates, releases, and versions from Epicor. 

Support Lifecycle

Support is an essential part of any software package, and when things are running smoothly, you seldom need it. However, when issues arise and you need support, having an active support contract is the difference between being down for a short period versus an extended outage. The chart below shows what you can expect from a support contract. 

Active support gives you full access to Epicor phone support, security updates, and new issue investigation, to name a few. Sustaining support gives limited phone support, access to the latest release, and an online knowledge base. While you will no longer be able to purchase new modules under Sustaining support, you can purchase additional users for your version.

Review the comprehensive FAQs for Epicor’s support lifecycle. You will need a valid Epicor EpicWeb ID to review the guide. 

Product Lifecycle

All good things must come to an end. Or so the saying goes, right? The good news is Epicor software supports versions back to Version 8.03.400 and earlier under their Sustaining support model. Below is a chart outlining the transition date for each version of Epicor Kinetic ERP. If you are on the Epicor Public Cloud model, you never have to worry about being out of Active support – more on this option below.

What are the Options?

Your options are straightforward. On-premise customers have two options:

  1. On-premise upgrade: As long as you have an active maintenance contract with Epicor, you are entitled to the latest version of the Epicor Kinetic versions. This version can be installed in your server farm, a hosted server farm, or your cloud subscription (i.e. Azure, AWS, Google, etc.)
  2. Migration to Epicor SAAS Cloud: You can migrate your on-premise database up to the Epicor public cloud. Doing so provides a future of hassle-free upgrades and allows you to get back to running your business.

No matter which option you choose you will need to do something if you are on Epicor ERP 10.2 or earlier. To have a conversation about upgrading your Epicor software, email info@encompass-inc.com.

Learn how the world-leading OEM engine tooling provider, Rhinestahl, leveraged Epicor Kinetic to improve efficiency.

Rhinestahl Case Study

Epicor ERP is adding more capabilities for integration with the release of Epicor Automation Studio, a low-code/no-code integration platform as a service aimed at average business users. Automation Studio enables organizations to integrate their Epicor products and automate workflows end-to-end across apps, data, and teams.

The Challenge

By not implementing integrations, employees at enterprise organizations can’t access the data they need in the apps they use every day, such as Salesforce, ADP, and ServiceNow. This creates data silos, where employees are forced to: search for data across apps, re-enter data several times, and constantly context switch across applications to accomplish tasks.

Learn more about Epicor Automation Studio below:

Epicor Automation Studio

Everyone is talking about the cloud, especially manufacturers who are evaluating a cloud ERP solution for their business. However, if you don’t quite follow what they’re saying, it comes down to this—using the cloud is using data and systems through the Internet.

How You Already Interact With Cloud Technology

While The Cloud may seem abstract, you likely already interact with and use cloud technologies every day.

  • Do you update a Facebook profile?
  • Do you check your bank balance from your phone?
  • Do you stream movies or music?
  • What about playing games online?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are using cloud technology.

Cloud technology has permeated our everyday lives. Now ask yourself, is it as simple for businesses to leverage cloud technology? The answer is yes.

Businesses leveraging cloud technology improve operations in several ways. Examples include improving your cash flow, increasing business capabilities, and simplifying processes for their workforce. All these benefits are realized through the use of an access-from-anywhere platform that is more reliable than traditional ERP deployments that place hardware on-premises.

How Cloud Makes Innovating Easier

By enabling cloud technology at every level of an organization, businesses remove the anxiety associated with security, backups, and verification of backups. Offsite storage becomes a thing of the past and maintenance of hardware and software can be done away with completely. Troubleshooting and upgrades can all be handled with a fraction of the effort.
Perhaps most importantly, connectivity is more reliable in the cloud. This means teams can remain connected and productive anywhere and anytime they need.

Manufacturers questioning whether now is the time to move to the cloud, the answer is a resounding yes. Cybersecurity, IT projects, maintenance activities and more can be removed from the equation with a cloud ERP solution. This leaves your businesses to take care of the business, and make time for customers, employees, and partners.

Simplicity And Dependability of a Cloud ERP Solution

On-premise ERP deployments give businesses a sense of confidence that their data is safely stored just down the hall. While that peace of mind and control is reassuring in theory, in practical terms it can be quite a drain on your IT staff. Maintaining both hardware and software is a headache most IT departments would gladly do without. Cloud enables businesses to shed the tether of physical systems in favor of a more agile and simple solution. With a cloud ERP solution, your teams can focus on running your business more efficiently and taking better care of your customers’ experience.

Cloud ERP solutions operate under the safety of redundancy. Cloud technologies store data securely in multiple data centers locally, regionally, and even globally. This dependability is designed to help businesses maintain system uptime and access no matter what adverse conditions may befall a specific region. These data centers are managed by industry professionals whose sole focus is keeping systems up and running at optimal levels. This frees up resources and capital for your business to focus on growth and improving user experiences across departments. As a result, collaboration among internal teams gets better, the complexity of your information technology resources is reduced, and overall business performance improves.

“The rise of the collaborative workforce and workspace is underway. Increasingly, tech-savvy mobile users are ready for collaborative workspaces with deep integrations to the software they use daily. Collaboration is a key element that helps create the future of work.”

– Worldwide Team Collaborative Applications Forecast, 2019–2023: Collaboration Growth Impacts the Future of Work, IDC, Doc #US44662619, August 2019.

If your business is in the progress of growing or you want to grow, adopting a cloud ERP solution could be an easy way to increase capacity and output without taking on additional software, hardware, or IT personnel. A cloud ERP solution can be scaled up or down with ease, as well.

Savings found in the Cloud

Cloud ERP Solutions are a cost-savings component of business that reduces overhead.

What’s overhead? simply put, overhead is what doesn’t make you money. This includes things like accounting, insurance, and rent.

Antiquated approaches to IT can be a huge source of spending for businesses with maintenance, update tasks, and utility bills, not to mention the extra space servers take up. When working in the cloud, the costs of doing business are driven down. Here’s how.

Reduced Cost of Ownership

Cloud computing removes upfront hardware costs, and the pay-as-you-go subscription model eliminates large initial layouts for software. Easy setup and cash flow-friendly monthly payments make it even easier to see why cloud deployments are so popular—especially when you add the fact that Epicor cloud business software deployments typically cost 25–40% less* than on-premises deployments.

Competitive Advantage

Technology allows your employees to turn on a dime. The cloud provides access to data at a user’s fingertips, ensuring that no matter your company’s size you can compete with enterprise-class technology. The time and money cloud computing free up for your business translates into a lean, nimble, and competitive advantage.

Employee Productivity and Loyalty

With cloud ERP solutions, you can run your business from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Give your employees the ability to produce wherever they happen to be. This enables a better work-life balance that translates to greater loyalty and output. With improved employee loyalty and buy-in, talent turns over less often, this further improves your savings in retaining talent versus having to train new employees more often.

Minimize Downtime With a Cloud ERP Solution

Downtime can cost a company dearly. Cloud ERP solutions can ensure your apps are up and running when you need them most. Cloud-based SaaS applications are proven to minimize downtime, reduce the costs that go along with it, and keep your people productive. Epicor ERP has a service level agreement of 99.5% uptime but performs well beyond that promise with a historical uptime of 99.98%.

Safety, Stability, And Access

Backups are an integral part of any IT department. However, when your backups are stored on-site, you are vulnerable to all manner of internal and external compromises. This can include natural disasters, fire, rogue employees, malicious actors, and the list goes on. any one of these mentioned exposures could cost you irreplaceable data.

The Cloud is the only truly safe place for your backups because they are housed where natural disasters, fires, and all those other potential pitfalls can’t touch them. True backup—the safe keeping of a redundant set of data—is best left to the cloud. It’s the safest, most affordable, and most efficient way to make sure that if you lose everything, all is not lost.

When it comes to stability, cloud systems are simply more stable, better monitored, and more secure than any on-premises system. Unless you have an impenetrable data center protected by intrusion detection, fire suppression, advanced power grids, backup generators, environmental monitoring, and six separate HVAC units inspected every day—all connected by multiple T3 pipelines from multiple vendors and all in a distant geographic location—you’re not as safe as you think.

Accessibility, as in who you want to have access to your systems and who you want to keep out, is a big deal in IT. Add to that lost devices and you’ve compounded the problem. Lost laptops are a billion-dollar business problem. However, the greater problem is the loss and possible theft of the sensitive data stored on those laptops. When your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it no matter what, no matter where. Not only this, but you can lock out anyone when it comes to using that device and you can remotely wipe data from lost laptops at any time.

Now, are you ready to explore the benefits of a Cloud ERP solution for your business?

Deciding to invest in ERP software for your business is a huge milestone and signals your business is moving in the right direction for growth. Financing ERP software is one option you may want to consider if sticker shock has left you hesitant to proceed with purchasing a system for implementation.

Fortunately, it is not all that difficult to finance ERP. By leveraging these options, you can continue running your business as usual without committing a big chunk of your budget at once.

Another attractive option for businesses considering the purchase of an ERP system is the option to leverage a software tax deduction through IRS Section 179.

Contact Encompass Solutions today to learn more about your ERP financing options.

Why You Should Consider Financing ERP Software

If you’re already evaluating an ERP system and the price tag has put the brakes on your project, fear not. You don’t have to commit all that capital to an ERP software purchase all at once.

At this stage in the buying process, you likely understand how beneficial an ERP system can be for a growing business. Everything from accepting and processing orders to managing inventory and shipping to financial reporting can be completed in one, unified ERP system. Whether you purchase your ERP software as an out-of-the-box solution or customize it to your specific needs, the price may be high.

Fortunately, financing options are available to you that can make that purchase a far more manageable process.

Here are some things to consider in favor of financing your ERP implementation project:

  • Preserving capital through a financing option will allow you to start your implementation project immediately, leaving your precious capital available for use in other areas of your business.
  • Taking advantage of flexible payment options means you can structure the terms of your payment to fit your unique needs and business objectives.
  • Leasing ERP software is easy, simple, and intuitive. You can finance your ERP purchase as easily as you finance a home, car, or other common purchase.
  • Reduce long-term debt exposure through financing your ERP system to maintain a better Balance Sheet. With less debt, you will have access to more capital to further improve your business processes or expand operations.

Your ERP Software Financing Options

Manufacturers may be surprised to find that they have an array of options to consider when financing ERP software purchases. Loans and grants are just two of the most common options available.

Government programs allow manufacturers to apply for and be awarded grants and low-interest loans to put towards ERP software projects. A business needs to satisfy only a few criteria before it can be considered for such government-sponsored financing programs. You can find a sampling of such funding and grant programs at the manufacturing.gov website.

Alternatively, a company can work with an ERP implementation partner to scope out their project and approach private lenders who specialize in ERP financing.

Whichever option you choose to pursue, Encompass Solutions is experienced in financing ERP for manufacturers and can help you, from start to finish.

We’re Here to Help

Encompass Solutions works directly with companies that specialize in financing ERP software purchases. With our help and these strategic partnerships, you can manage your buying process more easily. That leaves you more energy to focus on things like implementation and training your employees on how to use ERP for the greatest benefit.

By working with us and our financing partners, you can break up payments into manageable sums spread out over time. This results in a powerful ERP system for your business and a low monthly payment that is easy to manage.

Our partners can help you finance ERP software and projects, including:

  • Software licenses – Perpetual and subscriptions.
  • Services such as implementation, project management, consulting, and training.
  • Prepaid, Multi-year SaaS agreements
  • Hosted Applications
  • Customized Website Development Costs

With financing terms available for between 24 and 60 months, you can reap the benefits of ERP now and worry about settling the bill later.

Consider working with Encompass and our partners on your next ERP project to leverage such benefits as:

  • Budget-friendly monthly payments with no large up-front costs
  • Conserve cash with 100% financing
  • Match cash outlay with benefits of the solution
  • Aggressive fixed rates
  • Credit approvals up to $250,000 without financial statements
  • Preservation of existing credit facilities

Want a better idea of how your financial plan will be structured? Use this intuitive ERP financing calculator to get answers to your ERP financing questions today.

If you have not read the writing on the wall, cloud-based technologies and digital transformation initiatives are quickly becoming the focus for enterprises around the world. Providing more security, reliability, and mobility, cloud technologies simply provide too many benefits to ignore. However, their adoption is not always easy. As with any significant change at the organizational level, cloud ERP implementation challenges can stack up quickly. Here are the top 5 challenges in cloud ERP implementation and how you can address them before they impact your success.

Cloud ERP Implementation Challenges

While there are far more than five challenges that cloud ERP implementation may present to an organization, these are what we have found to be the most common. Several of these challenges are compounded by the increased reliance on remote workforces and the inability to meet in person due to environmental factors.

1. Change Management

While the age-old adage is nothing is certain but death and taxes, in business the only constant changes. For most people who are comfortably entrenched in the predictability of a routine, change can be a “four-letter word”. In most cases, change will be unsurprisingly met with resistance.

Change management will be one of your biggest hurdles in moving towards a complete cloud ERP solution from a system that was either previously on-prem or a hybrid deployment model of on-prem and cloud-based.

The easiest way to address the inherent resistance to change is to illustrate where things will improve. This is done not just by saying things will be new and modern. Show where those improvements will take place, and the cost savings and gains in productivity that system users and the company can expect to reap.

2. Focus

The last several months have pretty much done away with the divide between work life and personal life for a significant portion of the global workforce. Transitioning to remote work from home has presented unique challenges for enterprises of every size.

The result has been a muddying of work hours, family obligations, self-care, and a host of other responsibilities in one venue, without end.

The ability to focus on implementation can be a challenge in the best conditions. In a completely remote environment, where distractions are abundant, maintaining focus will be a challenge that presents itself consistently.

To overcome distraction and maintain focus, set aside specific windows of time for core project components. Businesses need to be open to scheduling compromises with employees and their families when the lines blur between work and home. By compromising on specific project hours, there is a higher probability of remaining focused on the progress of your implementation project. The remaining work time can be more fluid as the separation of workday duties and household obligations continue to muddy.

3. Security

One of your project initiatives may be an effort to move towards heightened system security. This is a great feature of Cloud ERP. However, during the implementation phase, you may not have advanced security in place to maintain your sensitive data. This security becomes even more difficult to maintain between remote resources, like staff and their workstations.

Make it a point to understand the risks upfront. You can take on the challenge alone, hire a consultant, or work in tandem with your implementation partner to find the right protocol for your case. A simple step, like password-protecting Wi-Fi connections, not allowing users other than staff to utilize remote workstations is a necessary first layer of security.

Firewalls and network security software should follow. If you do not provide the hardware your staff will be working from while remote, you may want to consider doing so. A small investment in this area can result in big savings when you consider the alternative.

Lastly, have a plan in place, both documented and practiced, with your staff. Make sure they understand the risks and the results of a security breach and demonstrate the protocol they are going to follow moving forward.

4. Access, Permissions, and Productivity

Yeah, I know that’s three things but each build on the former to deliver a complete effort. So, in the interest of time and space, they’ve been combined.

Not everyone on your cloud ERP implementation project will need access to all components of your system. Working with IT to designate the proper permissions will be critical in ensuring that staff remain on task and don’t have an opportunity to ruin transitioning data, either by malice or mistake.

Provisioning web and mobile access may fit into this implementation scenario, too. If your staff has spotty connections based on their location, consider bolstering their coverage through their provider to ensure your project isn’t impeded by poor connectivity. This is usually as simple as flipping a switch on the provider’s end. This way, you won’t lose precious time in the event cloud cover conceals the satellite internet connection of your data analyst in rural Illinois.

5. Knowledge

When leaping on-prem and, in many cases, outdated data management systems, tribal knowledge, and training will be integral as you move forward.

By relying on your most knowledgeable IT professionals and department heads to deliver their expertise during the cloud ERP implementation process, you have your top minds tackling your biggest challenge yet. However, there will be scenarios for which even they are not prepared. This is where training can be one of your biggest assets. Whether training is provided by your vendor or consultant of choice, or you have chosen to produce your training plan, enabling your project staff with defined direction and knowledge will ensure their success.

Lack of familiarity with a new environment is sure to produce plenty of anxiety and opportunities for missteps. Proper planning can help to mitigate these pitfalls. Having an experienced and knowledgeable guide through the process can eliminate them. That is because every implementation is different, and every company is different. With the experience of an implementation professional, there is a wider breadth of experience to draw from in the event an obstacle presents itself.

There will inevitably be some unexpected challenges for even the most experienced vendors, VARs, and consultants to guide you through. However, doing your research and taking the time to get familiar with the nuances of a cloud ERP implementation will impart the confidence and understanding any business needs to go through the project on their own.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of the Industry.


The recent Financial Service Network (FSN) survey on Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting (PBF) showed two key characteristics for those organizations that produced the most insightful financial forecasts. First, was the ability to leverage non-financial data. Second, was the application of advanced analytics. We will look at how the most successful organizations expand their vision beyond the narrow financial view of the future to produce more valuable foresight in their PBF processes.

Finance: The Home of Truth

The financial component of enterprise resource planning, whether part of a full-fledged ERP system or a mom-and-pop shop running Quickbooks, has historically been the ‘home of truth’. Finance was where everyone turned for answers since the only quantitative test of performance and sustainability was the P&L and the balance sheet. Finance largely birthed the IT function in a bid to automate the production of some of these answers. Most famously, in the production of payroll. Despite this, finance has now lagged in technology investment for some years, being overtaken by marketing, sales, and operations.

With new technology at their fingertips and an increasingly scientific approach, other functions in the business have begun to answer their questions, collecting and analyzing their data. The numbers in marketing may still be a little hazier than in finance but marketing has begun to offer insight into things that finance cannot, or has not. Market trends and consumer behavior tell leaders not just about what is but what might be. This forward-looking insight has often contrasted with finance’s view of the future.

The Past, Give or Take

Finance’s view of tomorrow has, by contrast, been rather singular in its source – the past. Predictions of tomorrow have been based on the evidence of the most recent year, with management’s desire for growth most often being the biggest factor steering the positivity, or otherwise, the forecast for the year ahead. Only negative macro factors have dissuaded forecasters from positivity about the bottom line and all the pressure that brings to bear on sales for revenue growth and operations for ever greater efficiency.

The figures from FSN’s report might suggest this had changed. 72% of finance leaders say their forecasting processes are now inclusive, drawing on sources from across the company, but dig further into the figures and this starts to feel more like an aspiration than a reality.

78% of the senior finance executives surveyed agreed that greater use of non-financial data is the best way to improve their PBF process and outcomes. 76% recognized the importance of connecting with more stakeholders from outside of the finance function to improve the accuracy of forecasts. The need to connect with other functions and share data is acknowledged.
But 74% say they are struggling to identify all relevant non-financial data sources. Why? Over 55% of respondents say that the lack of involvement of non-finance personnel is amongst the greatest barriers to forecast accuracy.

The obvious conclusion is that the connections between finance and the rest of the organization just aren’t there.

Additional Barriers

The lack of cross-cutting relationships through the business is not the only issue blocking the better application of non-financial data for improved forecasts. A quarter of respondents say their senior managers do not appreciate the value of non-financial data. And surprisingly, 23% delegate non-financial data tasks to more junior staff despite 43% of respondents ranking it in their top 3 sources of ‘most insightful data’.

Insightful it may be but there remain concerns about the quality of non-financial data when compared to the sources with which finance professionals are more familiar. 41% of CFOs are concerned about its integrity and believe it is less reliable than financial sources. This may well be true but these issues can be addressed, with appropriate weighting and analysis. The potential value of the data is clear, to ignore it would be nonsensical.

Taking Steps

So, how do finance leaders address these issues to improve insight into their planning, budgeting, and forecasting?

Relationships across the business rely on reciprocation and communication, not just shared goals. Finance has to be able to bring value to the other functions of the business if it is going to extract value back.

That value comes from the insight finance can bring. Most functions in the business are seeking better analysis of their situation and environment, and finance should have the skills to deliver that.

That comes with a time penalty of course but increasing automation of the base functions of finance should be releasing resources. This is a great way to apply the released resources to improve results.

Relationships will be hard to build without the soft skills of communication, and this is another area where finance has historically fallen. In our interactions with younger members of finance teams, we consistently find a lack of training on offer in anything beyond technical skills. This frustrates the ambitious and leads them to move on. Training then offers a two-fold benefit to the business: better collaboration and a greater chance of retention.

This isn’t to say technical skills aren’t important. Finance leaders need to be constantly up-skilling their teams in planning and analysis, and equipping them with the right tools to apply their learning. Then, they can efficiently integrate non-financial data into their models, improving forecasts and returning value to the other business functions.

As FSN says in its report, “Mastering non-financial data is the key to being able to forecast accurately and further into the future.” The only way to do this is to enhance the relationships that finance holds across the organization, by investing in the skills of its people.

For more information on ERP and the future of financial systems, read the FSN report on the topic – HERE

About Prophix

Prophix develops innovative software that automates critical financial processes such as budgeting, planning, consolidation, and reporting — improving a company’s profitability and minimizing its risks. Thousands of forward-looking organizations in more than 90 countries use software from Prophix to gain increased visibility and insight into their business performance.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of the Industry.

Once upon a time, ERP systems were reserved for companies with hundreds and often thousands of employees, multiple locations, and even global points of operation. Who ever thought of evaluating ERP For start-ups?

Those days are gone, ERP has been re-imagined and redesigned to fit the build for companies of just about any size. These powerful and affordable software solutions can streamline your daily operations and make your start-ups success much easier to achieve.

While you may still think your start-up, small or medium business isn’t ready for ERP, you may be missing out on some essential tools that will set you up for positive outcomes and scale as you grow. You may be small now, but that won’t be the case for long. You may already have more business than you can handle.

In any case, you need to be able to manage the company operations and responsibilities to your stakeholders, staff, and customers. Evaluating ERP for start-ups is the first step into satisfying those responsibilities and making good on your obligations.

ERP will make your start-up run more efficiently, drive consistent outcomes, and deliver the data you need to inform business decisions.

This data comes from all the departments of your organization, including finance, sales, operations, inventory, and more. It delivers your staff a single source of truth they can rely on to improve their performance and deliver on the expectations your start-up must satisfy to succeed.

Here are just a few ways to begin evaluating ERP for start-ups.

When to Begin Evaluating ERP For Start-Ups

While each unique situation will dictate the process of evaluating ERP for start-ups, these indicators will reinforce the idea that it’s time to start looking. The more these examples crop up in your day to day, the stronger a candidate you are for implementation.

Waste Is Plentiful – Whether it’s time or capital, waste is one of the biggest contributing factors to a start-up’s success. Whether you are building widgets or delivering a service, processes that produce waste leave room for improvement. This is one of the areas of business management that ERP shines most.

Consolidating software and housing all your data in one central location is perhaps one of the most valuable moves your start-up can make. It cuts out the time spent searching for reports and invoices or delays when production materials can’t be found in the warehouse or worse, were never ordered when safety stock ran low.

Demand Is Outpacing Delivery – Not entirely a bad problem to have, right? Think again. If you get a reputation for missing deadlines and leaving customers with a sour taste in their mouth after doing business with you, know your competitors are waiting to step in and deliver.

Customer Relationship Management, production planning, scheduling, and Sales Management tools provided by ERP solutions ensure you have the tools you need to manage volume with a lean staff, budgets, and space.

Erroneous and Duplicate Data Is Abundant – Multiple points of data entry between disparate systems slow down your operations. It also leaves room for errors and errors can end up costing your critical customer accounts.

ERP ensures you only need to enter data once. That data can easily be verified within that same system. Add to that the risk of human error at the point of entry is kept to a minimum and your business does not suffer.

This means data used downstream is more likely to be accurate and ensure your orders, supply chain, and analytics give a true picture of your start-up’s performance.

You’re Missing the Forest For The Trees – the metaphor may seem obscure, but it’s about as apt as can be when we’re talking about access to the bigger picture of your business’ performance.

ERP will give your start-up the visibility it needs to see how you’re delivering on KPIs, grant access to analytics that illustrate where investments need to be made or scaled back, and superior reporting tools that show everyone you’re on the right track.

What to look for when Evaluating ERP For Start-Ups

By now, it should be clear that ERP can be a real boon to businesses at any size. However, for the start-up environment, there are specific qualities that make some ERP solutions better suited than others. Here are the most basic qualities you can evaluate in your search.

Cost vs. Price – while the two words may seem interchangeable, when it comes to ERP they most certainly are not. The true cost of not implementing an ERP system can easily be higher than shouldering the price of purchase.

Price is also not about what you can afford right here, right now. Keep in mind that sticker shock is just as real for enterprise-wise software. However, we have to remember that these are powerful systems that take a lot of time and engineering to develop. Not to mention save resources immensely but cutting down errors and non-revenue generating tasks. Fortunately, grants, tax write-offs, and financing are available to make the lessen the impact of the purchasing process on your overall business operations.

That said, the price of your system should be in line not only for the tools you need now but also those necessary to facilitate easy expansion as you grow. Which leads to the next characteristic to consider when Evaluating ERP for start-ups, scalability.

Scalability – Often, businesses evaluate ERP software vendors and decide what they have to offer is too rich and expansive for what they need here and now. That may be true. Instead, they may opt for a static product that is meant for small-scale operations that don’t expand capability or functionality as a business grows.

You also need to consider the future development of the product. Patches, updates, and versions that build on the ERP’s current state are essential to keep up with Industry as a whole.

It’s important to understand where your ERP vendor’s vision for their product will lead. Does that vision for the future include the functionality your business will need to remain competitive? Are they developing tools to enhance UI, automate manual processes, and facilitate superior eCommerce or self-service portal interactions?

Scalability is also a consideration for those evaluating open-source ERP solutions. Open source ERP vendors might only develop a product up to a certain point, package it, and sell it. Further development may cost significantly, fall on your shoulders directly, or be left up to the user community at large.

Accessibilitythink about who is going to use this system. Will they find it intuitive? How much training will they need before they can use the ERP system to its full potential? What about ongoing maintenance and customization to your unique business components?

Accessibility also means permission. Can you easily segment who gets to see what in the system or is it a free for all with the data available?

When evaluating ERP for start-ups, make sure to get plenty of demos that include your company workflow. If possible, get an NDA in place so you can see that workflow in real-time with your own data. This will give you the best picture of what is possible and how transactions, projects, and reporting progress within any given ERP solution.

Who to consider as a partner when Evaluating ERP for Start-Ups

If you’re currently Evaluating ERP for a start-up, this information is probably quite intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Vendors, consultants, value-added resellers, industry peers, investors and stakeholders all have a vested interest in your success.

Consider what it means to partner with an experienced implementer and reap the benefits of streamlined project methodology, knowing where to avoid pitfalls, achieve quantifiable milestones, and lead to Go-Live success.

Encompass Solutions here to help, let’s talk about where you’re going next.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

Cloud ERP deployments benefit businesses in a big way. They offer security, agility, and can enable your business’ adoption of other modern technologies. However, Information Technology (IT) departments can be one of the greatest sources of resistance when it comes to the adoption of cloud ERP solutions.

Cloud ERP Solutions

Business leaders looking to leverage the benefits of cloud ERP solutions don’t just need to do their own research on cloud ERP deployments. They also have to be able to make the compelling case for transition and convert resistance from IT staff. Adopting a Cloud ERP system is a significant change for the business as well as the departments charged with maintaining integral systems. Namely, your IT department. Here are 7 ways to get IT teams on board with cloud ERP software.

1. Understand And Communicate The Need To Take Action

A healthy sense of urgency can move things in the right direction more quickly than one might think. The call to action from the top of the food chain can grab attention and get all of your business’ moving parts moving towards a much-needed change. It takes compelling arguments and exceptional storytelling skills to communicate why the move to the cloud is what your company needs.

Features, functionality, and, most importantly, benefits to how business gets done every day need to be conveyed. Help your staff to understand that if you are not in control of your digital transformation, your competitors will make that choice for you. Doing nothing can leave you in a poor position to capitalize on beneficial tools as well as leave you vulnerable to the shortcomings of traditional ERP deployments. Advancing your business with more advanced technology signals to top talent that your business is doing what it takes to excel in a competitive marketplace.

2. Don’t Short-Sell The Impact Of This Transition

Transition to the cloud isn’t just an infrastructure change, it’s a change in how your company operates both physically and philosophically. A new way of thinking and working can upset the way your IT department has functioned for years, if not decades. Acknowledge it is a huge change and show your teams you are committed to equipping them with the tools they need to thrive in a new environment.

3. Actively Listen To IT Concerns

Spending time with your IT employees and listening to their questions and concerns will impact buy-in considerably. In many ways, it is your IT staff’s job to think about what could go wrong in ay given scenario involving your business’ technology. Here are some examples of what you might hear:

  • “Cloud ERP providers won’t understand how unique and complicated our business is.”
  • “Putting our data in the cloud is way too risky.”
  • “Our compliance regulations won’t allow us to use the cloud.”
  • “What will my job be after we move to cloud-based ERP?”

Show your staff that you are actively listening by taking notes, repeating back what you heard, and commit to coming back with answers at a later time. This effort of active listening and showing that you are genuinely interested may well be the best thing you can do to remedy concerns.

4. Get Help In Addressing Concerns And Answering Questions

You may have the perspective needed to move the business forward, but IT staff have the benefit of boots on the ground when it comes to working with technology hands-on. Their concerns are valid and may appear as imposing roadblocks. However, their intent isn’t to scare you into submission. The challenges created by new technology are those keeping your IT staff up late at night and working long weekends. If you are not equipped to provide answers to their concerns, consider enlisting the help of experts to make your case. An experienced partner, vendor, or consultant can provide credibility to your arguments and lay IT fears to rest with the information they are looking for to confidently follow your lead.

5. Learn From Experience

At this point, your company isn’t the first in your industry to move to the cloud. More and more companies are making the move to cloud ERP, from small and medium business to enterprise-sized organizations. Your industry counterparts can deliver invaluable wisdom when it comes to approaching the problem of how best to make the transition to cloud-based ERP systems. This includes both what to do and what not to do. Alternatively, you can enlist the help of a trusted ERP partner to connect you with reference customers that can share their experiences. Value can often be found in following.

6. Make It Clear What IT Will Look Like Post-Transition

IT arguably has the best vantage of a company’s business processes, not to mention how data and customers “move” through the organization. Cloud ERP is designed to help free them of cumbersome tasks, like troubleshooting. When left unencumbered by the burden of these activities, opportunities for cross-functional business process improvements emerge. This can take the form of helping users leverage technology more effectively or assisting with the cleaning and maintaining important data. Essentially, IT transitions from a non-revenue generating department and one of enabling your revenue-generating business components.

It’s important to understand and communicate that the nature of technology work will change for your IT staff. Though, development, configuration, and break/fix work will still exist—along with the need to manage your relationship and activities with cloud ERP vendors. Help your IT employees understand the tremendous technology and business value they will provide after you’ve made the move to the cloud.

7. Create The Plan. Execute The Plan.

Undertaking digital transformation and owning your company’s technological evolution is wrought with distractions and pitfalls. It can be easy to lose your way along the path to your goal. Without a sound change management strategy, you may find yourself very far from your intended outcome, if you ever reach your destination at all. Set up milestones and clear goals for your IT staff to ensure your project is a success.

Maintaining a team mentality may be your biggest asset of all. It cannot be overstated how important it is to offer consistent support and provide the assistance and advice teams need. Don’t forget to celebrate the little victories along the way to complete your transition to the cloud. With discipline and determination, your project will be a success and you’ll be experiencing the benefits of cloud solutions before you know it.

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.