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An Encompass customer in the Industrial Heating industry recently fell victim to an opportunistic ransomware attack that had encrypted all internal system files, as well as their Epicor application files. As a result, work was unable to continue, bringing operations to a standstill. Encompass’ Managed Services (MS) were enlisted to help get things back up and running. The company requested this case study on their ransomware recovery project be posted anonymously.

Ransomware Recovery Project Background

The company’s network fell victim to a severe ransomware attack. Unfortunately, it had affected all internal systems, including backups. The attack took down the company’s systems completely in a matter of hours, forcing the company to rebuild from scratch.  Fortunately, the company was able to save its Epicor Database.

The Plan

Initially, there was no internal plan in place at this company to address the initial attack or the fallout from such an event. The results from the attack were a focused effort to get systems up and running as fast as possible as well as restore a state of operational functionality.

Objectives for the engagement with Encompass Solutions’ Managed Services team were to recover system use, rebuild what was lost, and establish backups.

A plan to instate standard operating procedures that would minimize the potential for reoccurrence and maximize the efficiency of response and ransomware recovery followed.

The Execution

The company’s staff were able to provide Encompass with the necessary documentation, in the form of a blueprint of the existing Epicor environment, to rebuild the system in a more structurally sound way than the original.

Encompass’ MS team worked with corporate IT staff to ensure backups and other security precautions were in place moving forward.

Overall, Encompass has just been a great asset to our organization. We have been through both a major Epicor upgrade and recovery process with them, and I am extremely impressed with everything they have done.  They definitely make my job easier.

– C.R., IT Manager

The Results

Encompass’ managed services team were able to work with the parent company to reestablish a stable network and functional Epicor system in less than one week.

Next Steps

Documented SOPs were put in place to routinely establish backups and test recoverability on a regular basis.

This company was pleased with Encompass’ level of service and expedient reaction to the situation. The two organizations will continue to work together on future Epicor projects and system maintenance.

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 Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s technical series on ERP tools, particularly the Epicor DMT, wraps up today with a look at all the variables you’ll run into when building your ERP system and how learning about your errors is even more important than learning about your successes.

My actual experience with a manufacturer of fabric belts for large conveyor systems (Fenner Dunlop Americas) saw two uses of DMT: One for a major upgrade, a second for updating their Method of Manufacture/MOMs.  In the first case, we used DMT scripts to upload data from an older version of Epicor to a newer one.  Similar to a new installation, we pulled data out of the source system and formatted it in several dozen spreadsheets for uploading to the new target system. Knowing how the data was structured in the old Epicor system was a big help. For new Epicor customers, extracting and massaging the data from a non‐Epicor legacy system is quite a project; in such cases DMT is an invaluable tool.

Where The Epicor DMT Comes Into Play

In the standard product, an engineer would have to run a “where­‐used” report to determine which part revisions used the raw material; it could be just a few dozen or it could be over 100. Each part revision would require changing in the Engineering Workbench, one by one. It is a time consuming and manually intensive process.  So we developed a process starting with a Business Activity Query (BAQ) which went out and extracted only the MOMs affected by the change. The BAQ was developed specifically for subsequent use in DMT, i.e. column headings matched those required by DMT, we extracted all columns required by DMT (because we already knew the “rules” for MOMs) and only those optional columns we needed to update.  We then entered Excel column formulas specific to the change(s). E.g. if the old raw material was a polyester yarn and the new material was a nylon yarn, unit weights and other factors specific to the textile industry (ever hear of a “twist contraction” variable?) could be entered into a formula that resulted in the new variables for the MOM.

Once the extract and validation of the Excel data was completed, it was simple to format the final output for use by DMT.  Testing a few rows in a copy of the LIVE database, we could easily validate the final updated MOMs.  In fact, we could use the original BAQ extract programs to look at the updated data in the TEST system and quickly evaluate the results. Once we got the process down, we turned what would have been a 100+ hours of manual updates in Epicor to an electronic process that ran in just a few hours.  Once documented, the process could be reviewed, validated (the client was ISO compliant) and repeated as­ needed.

Of course like any software tool, DMT has its quirks. We learned the hard way that despite how illogical a data template may appear, it was critical to supply the required information in exactly the format requested. And interpreting the error logs is sometimes an exercise in the art of editing.  I highly recommend acquiring and using the free “Notepad++” data editing tool; it can help you read a jumbled up error log file and it is essential to always check the final DMT file you create from Excel, prior to uploading it to DMT.  A common mistake is to save an Excel spreadsheet as a comma­‐separated variable file and the resultant ASCII file has extraneous commas and/or columns or just plain garbage. And if your data (e.g. Descriptions) contain commas, you must enclose them in double­‐quotes (or just use a wacky character as the delimiter­‐even safer).

Words Of Caution For Epicor DMT

Just remember that “with great power comes great responsibility…”. So before you change data in a system, make darn sure you’ve chosen the correct target database, since DMT will not issue any warning whatsoever if you update LIVE instead of TEST (not that I’ve EVER made that mistake!) and will merrily chug along, processing the data with the full expectation that the operator knows what the target database should be.

This is why it is CRITICAL to always test your DMT script before you run it in a production environment. Note that if you don’t have a recent copy of LIVE for test purposes, you should seek out technical services that can assist you (usually by taking a copy of your most recent backup of LIVE and bringing it up on a similar environment) this is something that Encompass Solutions as an Epicor certified partner does on a regular  basis and offers as a managed service.

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 Industry.


Patrick Miskill’s series on ERP management continues with a closer look at how the most powerful tool you can get for managing your system, the DMT, works alongside the most important feature, the Method of Manufacture, or MOM. That’s right, love your MOM is stll the best advice ever. 

The Epicor ERP system, like similar systems from SAP or Oracle, contains hundreds of tables in a single relational database.  The database is almost irrelevant; however, the logical “rules” regarding how the data exists in the database is critical.  Generally speaking, ERP systems consist of simple code (e.g. Unit of Measure) tables, then more complex entity tables (e.g. Suppliers) and finally transaction‐based tables.  All these data must follow rules for “referential integrity” and the underlying database engine must keep track of the data and enforce the rules whether we are talking a few dozen rows of data in a single table or millions of rows of data in hundreds of tables.

The Ease Of Epicor DMT

The beauty of these “back door” tools is that they are quick and easy to load and run. And they also provide instant feedback to the user as to the program’s progress. Either a row insert succeeds or fails.  You can test a single row in just a few seconds; it if fails, the Data Migration Tool provides an error log telling you why it failed.  Error messages can be somewhat cryptic, but usually, it is straight­‐forward.  E.g. you are missing a required column (e.g. the “Company” column). And when all else fails, you can always go enter a row via the standard product then look at the resulting data in the underlying table(s) to deduce what the business object requires. Each DMT template lists the required and optional columns with a basic description of the data. As long as you follow the “rules” the data loads from the spreadsheet, just as if you keyed it manually into the system.

Some data relations, however, are quite complex and even the data template from DMT will cause you “instructional anxiety” (that feeling you get when you read an IKEA instruction guide and say, “What the heck?”). Rule­‐of‐thumb:  Just follow the rules, get one data set to load OK, then attempt a larger data set until you get it right.  Big mistake: Run a spreadsheet with tons of rows without testing and end up with garbage in the system, or better yet, a crashed system!

Case‐in‐point:  Method of Manufacture 

Epicor stores the Method of Manufacture (MOM) for a part as a series of operations and materials linked to the finished goods Part and Revision. It is the “how­‐to” cookbook to make something as simple as a screwdriver or as complex as a 747. It may consist of a single Operation with one or two raw material parts or it can be multiple sub­‐assemblies, each with their own operations and materials. It provides not only the “how­‐to” instructions to build something but it also contains estimates for the labor and burden rates to perform the operations.  These estimates are critical to any manufacturer since they provide the baseline for each manufacturing job in determining how well the actual product conforms to the method and whether the actual costs are in line with the estimated costs.

In the Epicor Production Management module, before a single MOM is created, all dependent data must be loaded into the system.  Example, all raw material parts must be entered, each with a given unit cost. All machine resources used in the manufacturing process must be loaded and activated.  All labor resources (Employees) must be entered along with their labor and burden rates. All operations must be defined and assigned one or more resources. It is an enormous engineering task to get these data entered and all the relationships established properly so that the Epicor ERP system’s production jobs can begin tracking and documenting each step of the MOM, including capturing all related costs for management review.  When done correctly, a company can then take advantage of the “Holy Grail” feature of ERP: MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning, where the system can analyze demand and forecast part, labor and machine requirements for meeting that demand).

Of course just as in life, “things change” like the cost of raw materials, labor rates and then you always have “Acts of God.”  For example when the earthquake off the coast of Japan struck in 2011, the resulting tsunami wiped out many manufacturers along the western coast of the country, leaving companies like Toyota in a serious bind as their “just­‐in‐time” processes ran out of parts and sub­-assemblies needed to manufacture cars and trucks. Imagine the sleepless nights that production managers must have had, re­-engineering their MOMs and seeing their MRP rules flushed down the proverbial toilet!

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 Industry.


Database Health Check: Epicor Data Scrubber Utility

It’s good practice to check that your database health is at an appropriate level on a periodic basis. Over time, it’s possible to build up orphaned records, detail records that contain values that do not total to summary records, and other things that can cause performance and data integrity issues.

As long as you are current on maintenance, Epicor supply a tool that lets you check that your database is in tip-top condition, and will provide programs to resolve any issues that are uncovered. This is recommended not only before an upgrade to ensure things go smoothly but on a periodic basis for optimal database health.

The data scrubber utility is a collection of commonly applied data fixes, which the support technical team has gathered together into a package to do a “health check” of a customer’s system. They are continuously adding to it as they find additional opportunities.

The process:

  • The customer would log an issue requesting from support, we can do this under our customer’s site ID
    or Run the program against the database of choice
  • Each sub-routine will stop when it finds an invalid record and create an entry in a log file, then move on to the next routine (no tracking of the specific errors at this point)
  • Generates a log file which gets sent back to support.  Support will then send the relevant fix programs back to the customer
  • The customer runs each fix program, which will show all the relevant records and provide a chance to fix all, some or none of the records. This gives the customer enough information to troubleshoot the cause of the data problem and to fix it at source

This collection of assessment algorithms is new in the last few months, but the ‘fix it’ programs have been available individually for some time now.

An assessment should be considered as a maintenance routine and should be run for database health for all customers periodically, anyone going through a Business Process Review and anyone considering an Upgrade.

We will consider using this utility to get ahead of any E10 upgrades for database health and troubleshooting. We want to ensure that our customers upgrade with ‘good’ data. For larger databases, it may take a good couple of days, but it is really worth it!

The utility was discussed in several sessions at Epicor’s Insights 2015, so many of our customers will have heard about it and maybe asking themselves questions.

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 Industry.