Harmonize Your Business


How to Manage Inventory in 10 Steps (with Pictures)

Posted by on 4:55 am in Blog, Harmonize Your Business | 0 comments

How to Manage Inventory with a System The first step in managing your inventory is recognizing that it needs managing and that it isn’t being managed now (at least not as it should be).  I won’t say this is half the battle…more like 25%.  One might be surprised at how long a business will struggle along in inventory denial before taking responsibility and admitting there is a problem.  Often awareness that inventory is not being managed well comes in the form of a (hopefully) minor disaster surprise in some operation on your inventory.  Examples might include: Not being able to deliver items on schedule because they had to be ordered unexpectedly (I could have sworn we had five of those on the shelf!) Delivering the wrong items by mistake (Oh…you wanted the 5C1-Zero-3 not the 5C1O3!) Simply being overwhelmed by quantity. (I know it’s around here…somewhere!) The second step is to characterize your specific inventory issues, deficiencies, and needs.  Not all inventory problems are the same–though they are related.  Make a list of the symptoms you are experiencing.  Don’t be afraid to ask other stakeholders what issues they encounter that make their lives difficult. Review your list with other stakeholders. An example list might include: Receiving leaves entire palettes of goods on the warehouse floor and we don’t know to which projects the goods are allocated. Expensive materials come in, but no one checks them for quality assurance until months later…only to discover that the materials are defective. Supply doesn’t keep up with demand because purchasing is ordering the wrong quantities or the wrong products If you already have an inventory system, find out if it is actually being used the way it is intended.  Are the users keeping system data up to date?  If now, why not?  If you don’t yet have a system, you probably should invest in one.  We have our own recommendations, of course.  Why use an inventory system?  Well, the short answer is we are human beings with finite brains.  Eventually, we can no longer keep up with complex management problems.   Oh yes…a brief note about spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are wonderful tools, but they’re not designed to manage inventory. You really, really need a system built on a database for this task, even if you are an Excel guru. Now that you’ve shopped around, perhaps consulted some folks you know and trust, and have picked an inventory system you think will fit your needs, it’s time for some due diligence.  Find out from the vendors if the system can scale as you grow.  Is support readily available?  What about training?  Can the system be configured–or even customized, if necessary–for the specific challenges you identified in step 2?  Request that the vendor come physically on site for an evaluation (some may provide this service for free or a nominal fee.)  Ultimately, you will pick a system and go with it.  WARNING: There are still six more steps. Do not stop here. A system is indispensable, but just having a system will accomplish nothing.  Managing inventory takes commitment. Put someone (almost certainly not yourself) in charge of the inventory system implementation.  Appoint one person only.  Groups (even groups of just 2) are great for brainstorming but horrible at leading.  The person you appoint needs to have a passion for...

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Madrigal xTuple / PostBooks Mobile Client Update

Posted by on 3:14 pm in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Paladin Logic is pleased to announce a Madrigal xTuple / PostBooks mobile client update for the Android platform.  Recently, several security flaws were discovered in OpenSSL.  The community responded quickly and fixed, tested, and deployed the fixes to OpenSSL. The new OpenSSL 1.0.1h release fixes seven different security defects in the popular security software.  According to the OpenSSL Security Advisory – and taken straight from the referenced web page – they are: SSL/TLS MITM vulnerability (CVE-2014-0224) An attacker using a carefully crafted handshake can force the use of weak keying material in OpenSSL SSL/TLS clients and servers. This can be exploited by a Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack where the attacker can decrypt and modify traffic from the attacked client and server. DTLS recursion flaw (CVE-2014-0221) By sending an invalid DTLS handshake to an OpenSSL DTLS client the code can be made to recurse eventually crashing in a DoS attack. DTLS invalid fragment vulnerability (CVE-2014-0195) A buffer overrun attack can be triggered by sending invalid DTLS fragments to an OpenSSL DTLS client or server. This is potentially exploitable to run arbitrary code on a vulnerable client or server. Only applications using OpenSSL as a DTLS client or server affected. SSL_MODE_RELEASE_BUFFERS NULL pointer dereference (CVE-2014-0198) A flaw in the do_ssl3_write function can allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a NULL pointer dereference. This flaw only affects OpenSSL 1.0.0 and 1.0.1 where SSL_MODE_RELEASE_BUFFERS is enabled, which is not the default and not common. SSL_MODE_RELEASE_BUFFERS session injection or denial of service (CVE-2010-5298) A race condition in the ssl3_read_bytes function can allow remote attackers to inject data across sessions or cause a denial of service. This flaw only affects multithreaded applications using OpenSSL 1.0.0 and 1.0.1, where SSL_MODE_RELEASE_BUFFERS is enabled, which is not the default and not common. Anonymous ECDH denial of service (CVE-2014-3470) OpenSSL TLS clients enabling anonymous ECDH ciphersuites are subject to a denial of service attack.   References:  This Security Advisory: secadv_20140605.txt If you have already purchased the Madrigal xTuple / PostBooks Mobile Client – thank you – and you will receive notice that it is time to update your app. If you have not yet purchased Madrigal then you ought to hurry.  Only 1 month remains in our introductory offer of half price for the first 60...

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Introducing Madrigal

Posted by on 6:25 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Power of xTuple, Anywhere As xTuple Gold and Elite Partners, we at Paladin Logic, Limited are always looking for ways to help xTuple users get the most out of their xTuple software.  And so, today we are thrilled to announce the release of Madrigal SO and Madrigal ERP – a mobile port connecting the complete xTuple/PostBooks 4.0 (and later) Desktop client to your Apple or Android tablet. Madrigal SO and ERP are identical applications, the only difference being the number of simultaneous connections permitted. While Madrigal SO (Small Office) is a perfect fit for a small office or single user who only requires one mobile device to connect to his database at any time, Madrigal ERP is ideal for the larger enterprise or retail store that needs multiple mobile devices connecting to the database simultaneously.  However, the two applications can be used together without conflict.  For example, if you start out on Madrigal SO, you can choose to upgrade to ERP at any time and continue to use your SO application without conflict. Both Madrigal versions offer full Postbooks functionality on the mobile device: you can create quotes and populate them with line items, convert the quotes to sales orders, create purchase orders, issue materials, post production, ship, receive, and access and update CRM information.  Virtually every feature or function of the Desktop client is now at your fingertips on your Apple or Android tablet.  And best of all, anything that you do on the mobile client will synch automatically with your database, keeping your business information up-to-the-minute accurate across all your devices. While nearly all of the Postbooks functionality is available in Madrigal on both iOS and Android, there are some differences in how certain things work, owing to the tablet environment.  However, the required actions are intuitive.  For example, since there is no “right click” function on the iOS platform, tapping a finger or stylus on an item in a list brings up the right click menu. At this time, certain higher-level functions for commercial editions are not available on the iOS platform.  In particular, customizations that rely on embedded screens (UIForms) stored in the database will not load. A list of screens that will not load at this time can be found under System > Design > Screens on your Desktop client. On the Android platform, custom screens all load and work as expected. Madrigal is functional on both the 10-inch iPad and 7-inch iPad Mini, and displays well on both.  Owing to differences in processing power, speed, and available memory, the iPad Mini is slightly slower loading complex screens than the iPad, which compares favorably with the regular desktop client in terms of speed. Madrigal also displays well on 10-inch Android tablets. Although the app runs on the 7-inch Android tablets, the view is slightly distorted and may be harder to use. The following table compares the current functionality between the iOS and Android devices:  iPadAndroid Mini (7-inch)Regular (10-inch)7-inch10-inch PostBooks and xTuple StandardYesYesNot RecommendedYes Custom ScreensNoNoNot RecommendedYes PrintingNot yetNot yetIndirectIndirect You can purchase Madrigal SO directly through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, while Madrigal ERP is offered through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program and Google Play Private Channel. Paladin Logic plans to keep Madrigal in stride with xTuple releases. As new versions of the Desktop client are released, Paladin Logic will...

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xTuple 4.4: What’s New for xTuple ERP?

Posted by on 4:40 pm in Blog, High Technology | 0 comments

13 days ago, xTuple, who tend to release their products to coincide with Marvel-related events, shipped out version 4.4 on the new Captain America flick’s opening day. We at Paladin Logic, the xTuple Gold Partner of Texas, are proud to elucidate its features for you, our fair customers and technology connoisseurs. Without further ado, let’s dive into xTuple 4.4! The Long and the Short We’ll begin this with “the short”: Many menus and screens on the desktop client have been renamed to bring it in line with xTuple’s mobile web client. Sales orders can now be opened from the line item tab of the Sale screen. More Time and Attendance features have been added to the Manufacturing Edition. Shipments between multiple sites can be processed in the Shipping subsystem. Finance charges can be assessed for overdue payments on invoices. An option that requires items to be reserved before shipping has been added. Perhaps the most apparent (and most significant) update is #1, where the desktop and mobile web clients have been unified in an effort to make switching between the platforms seamless and continuous. As users have a wide variety of choices to access their business’s database — four desktop platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, browsers), and three mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) — xTuple judged that users should not have to learn yet another interface while they are on the go. Hence, this unification will serve to stamp out any confusion that has arisen in the wake of the mobile web client’s introduction. What’s more, critical improvements to existing workflows abound. The ability to create sales orders from the line item tab, time and attendance features, and the renaming of the menus and screens themselves — these features all simplify processes and increase operational efficiency in even more areas. In addition, the mobile web client will eventually support them, making your overall workflows smooth and fluid and enabling you to work wherever you have an Internet connection. Before you implement any major improvements, however, check against this reference guide to ensure that your modules will be compatible. For those of you working straight out of Postbooks, we have a treat for you. With what we are about to release, you can do the above and more. You’ll have to wait a few days before we release the news on Twitter and LinkedIn, however. That’s how cool our surprise...

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It’s Curtains for Windows XP

Posted by on 3:48 pm in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The day of Windows XP is over. Recently, Microsoft announced that, on April 8th, 2014, they will be retiring the venerable  Windows XP operating system.  What exactly does it mean to retire an operating system?  According to Microsoft’s website: After 12 years, support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014. There will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system. It is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Customers moving to a modern operating system will benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities. If your business has been relying on the XP operating system, what does this mean for you? What End of Support Means When Microsoft stops offering support and updates for XP users, this can impact your business in several ways. As noted in the quote above, more modern operating systems offer improved security, improved accessibility, mobility, and manageability, and improved productivity. What this says without saying is, XP will become increasingly less secure, less efficient, less productive, and less manageable. Security risks are a hugely important consideration for business owners. Security risks threaten every aspect of your business operation, and after April 8th, no one will be able to help you address these concerns. “No further updates” means that whatever the current capabilities of this operating system are, that’s how it will stay. No matter how business software improves and grows, XP will be static and will not adapt to new demands and new potential. What Should You Do? As XP phases out, you should be on the lookout for replacement operating systems for your business machines.  This is a good time to analyze how you are using computers in your business — are you getting as much out of them as you can be?  Innovative new business solutions are constantly emerging which simplify, improve, and secure business data and processes.  If you’ve been relying on old machines with old business software, this can be a great opportunity to implement a new solution that will maximize your business’s efficiency and productivity. While many large companies, especially in technology, already rely heavily on computers for business processes, there are many businesses — especially small businesses — which do not.  Perhaps it is a lack of familiarity with the options that are out there, or a lack of confidence in computer-using skills.  Perhaps business owners feel that because they aren’t running mega technology corporations, good business software is not for them.  Maybe they believe it is too cumbersome, or expensive, or complex for their small operations. If you’ve been using XP and are considering how to proceed, here are some useful questions to ask: What business processes am I currently running on computers?  Accounting?  Inventory?  HR? What business processes could or should I be running on computers? What software is out there that could meet my needs?  Does anyone offer scalable solutions, if I need more or less than the standard package? What level of computer skills do I or my employees have?  What business software is the most accessible for our abilities?  Can I afford — or would I want...

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Optimizing your Processes: CRM and Big Data

Posted by on 4:22 pm in Blog, Harmonize Your Business | 0 comments

As social media grows ever deeper in the business and personal spheres, so does the need for the spheres to adjust to them. With a few exceptions (e.g. Turkey recently banning Twitter), they have become pervasive: even more so than the Motorola RAZR V3 flip phone in its heyday. Businesses in turn have picked up on the trend and are starting to realize its inherent power, giving them reach beyond their wildest estimations. Now, CRM is dependent not only on people, but also on the Big Data that they create for your business. What’s more, integrating Big Data with CRM will improve the processes within your CRM solution immensely by virtue of manifesting correlations, patterns, and trends among your customers. These three aspects will better inform you on the way you should build the customer experience, and thus maximize your profits. We will present five reasons from TIBCO Spotfire’s Business Intelligence Blog to integrate: “Better Customer Understanding. CRM analytics can integrate all customer data points including call center, the Internet, email and social media to group customers according to their behaviors. This allows a company to identify the most profitable customers who should receive special offers or get preferential treatment to boost their lifetime values.” “Better Understanding of the Customer-Facing Operations. Analytics will provide proof of how the company is performing in terms of service, sales and marketing. Most CRM projects are launched to drive down costs in these areas; without analytics to demonstrate the ROI of CRM, moving into new areas, like linking CRM with social media, will be hard to justify.” “Decision Support. After defining the value of customer-facing operations, changes can be made to drive operational investments. Companies can answer questions around building new call centers or outsourcing based on this analysis.” “Predictive Modeling. Predictive analytics will allow a company to forecast how customers are going to respond in the future based on their past behaviors and their segmented demographics. For example, a telecommunications company could find out how likely a customer is to turn to another carrier when his wireless contract expires.” “Benchmarking. CRM analytics will allow a company to track over time how well it’s performing related to a strategy or to competitors. Benchmarking analytics in areas like customer satisfaction, retention, cost per customer service call, and revenue per call will expose operational areas that are lagging behind and those that are up or above company and industry standards.” If you feel that your CRM implementation is less than satisfactory, drop us a line or two, and we’ll get in touch with you to evaluate your...

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Will the Third Platform be Your Business’s Third Rail?

Posted by on 9:00 am in Blog | 0 comments

What is the Third Platform, exactly? No, it’s not the name of the platform for a train that will take you to the Promised Land of Success. It’s not the platform that sits under a hidden block containing a climbable vine that will grow skyward to Cloud 9, where coins abound. Rather, it’s actually the third step in an ongoing change in the way business is carried out with information technology tools. The exemplar of the first platform is the mainframe computer, which had its origins in the 1960s and continued to evolve to manage large-scale business operations.  Their powerful processing capabilities, and ability to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, mean that continue to be an important part of large business computing.  The second platform was the much smaller PC, which dominated the period between 1985 and 2005. Now, the third platform is mobile technology, the cloud, social networking, and Big Data that comprise the industrial revolution of information technology. It’s easy to see that more and more people are casually working on smaller and smaller devices, with smartphones doing many (if not all) of the same things a top-of-the-line PC could do in 2004 and more. People that would rather not deal with a monthly cellular service fee will most likely carry out their workflow routine on a tablet instead. The combined influence and popularity of these devices will threaten the profitability of the PC industry’s participants who make solely PCs; “Industry analysts also predict that 2015 will be the first year that more American consumers will access the Internet with mobile devices rather than PCs,” says Mark Neistat of the US Signal Company. Social networking is expanding in developing countries at blistering rates: as Neistat postulates, network access in the Middle East and Africa is projected to grow by about 23%, with the Asia-Pacific area coming in at 21.1% and Latin America at 12.6%. On the continent where it all started, however, social networking won’t gain nearly as much ground in a saturated “market” at 4.1%. Those networks that differentiate themselves from the Big Four (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+) and even from social location services like Foursquare and offer outstanding features — even for a certain niche — will stand to expand even faster. Case in point: Facebook’s Instagram acquisition, which contributed to a meteoric rise (by 17,319% in 2012) in social media traffic. The best network for your business will depend on your focus. If serving customers directly is your game, open up channels on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If you feel the need to get the attention of businesses, a LinkedIn company page will fit the bill nicely, along with a product page if your business has developed one. Twitter and Google+ profiles are good to have as well, as they hold a treasure trove of information to share with your followers. Whichever network you use, they’ll give you an idea of how many people know about your business and want to keep coming back for more. Big Data will be an even more dominant feature in the IT landscape, and is instrumental to effective and efficient in-house marketing campaigns. As your business creates it, Big Data will help you determine which people come back most often, as well as when, where, and why....

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What is Sales Acceleration Technology?

Posted by on 9:36 am in Blog, High Technology, Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s understandable that you would ask. After all, the terminology spawned in what has recently been an unexplored field. However, most of the technologies encompassed under this label aren’t quite as novel as you may think. It is a collection of technologies that have been developed to improve various aspects of the sales process. Ken Krogue, a proponent of sales acceleration technology, argues that it builds upon the foundation laid by sales-related CRM and marketing automation, and leverages other technologies to bring in more sales faster: “It’s gathering real-time sales intelligence from LinkedIn, InsideView and ZoomInfo. It’s having something relevant to talk about when you call a new prospect besides just the weather. It’s connecting with social media, lowering costs, raising visibility, and generating leverage.” Sales acceleration by its nature requires a complete overhaul of sales department operations. It incorporates technologies in various categories into an overarching strategy of increased sales, including remote sales presentation (e.g. Citrix’s GoToMeeting), sales email (e.g. Hubspot), social networking tools (e.g. LinkedIn), and gamification (such as Hoopla), among many other categories that Krogue specifies here. Any effort to increase efficiency and profitability with these technologies is contingent on your company actually utilizing them for those goals, says Krogue. “[Some companies] made 22 dials a day before they used our power dialer, and they make 22 dials after. It’s crazy. That isn’t sales acceleration. 170 calls a day is sales acceleration.” Like any major change in sales procedure, it also requires that sales employees possess minds with the energy and openness to learn. Based on the list I’ve linked above, how do you think you want to streamline your sales process? Are you using too much technology or not enough of it? In what area(s) could you improve? These questions will help to guide your decision toward taking on sales acceleration at full...

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5 Reasons to Look for a Cloud-based ERP Solution

Posted by on 12:02 pm in Blog, Harmonize Your Business, High Technology | 0 comments

Today’s ERP systems are evolving at a breakneck pace, leading traditional methods of bookkeeping to retire from service for good. Records for purchases, production, sales, and even the dreaded returns are no longer at home in bulky file cabinets. Your staff are frustrated that they can’t access your data on the road. Even the top-of-the-line ERP systems from the late 2000s have seen better days. Having observed some indications of a need to upgrade your ERP system (or to get one in the first place), it’s time to consider five reasons to level it up to the cloud. 1. Savings abound in an upgrade. When you’re unloading your data from any and all of your in-house servers, you’ll enjoy an immense lift in upfront costs, operating costs, and time spent waiting on upgrades and services. How? Your servers draw electricity constantly, your IT managers install updates and features on them and maintain them at a relatively high price, and you may buy even more of these servers to commission and maintain. You’ll save some sanity from the unthinkable loss of your data from failed servers. And, if you want to save your IT professionals, they can oversee the status of their cloud-based database, assist other staff on connectivity and usability issues with the system and other IT-related inquiries, and ensure that any local database backup you choose to keep is secured and up to date. 2. Cloud systems are scalable and robust. You can claim as much or as little space as your business requires, and it can grow with your business. Even though you’re buying into a subscription model for large-scale storage, other ERP system owners like you are buying into the same scheme, which means that hosting comes in at a collectively low price. Chances are that even the larger space will still be cheaper than what you could feed your own server for the same time period. A good cloud ERP provider will even back up your data regularly and frequently to prevent any massive loss of data in a disaster. 3. Your staff will be relieved…mentally and physically. Rather than your staff grow more and more frustrated over modules that try too hard to work properly, they will have more time to focus on what they do best. The ideal cloud ERP software will have documentation that explains the modules in simple and informative language. It will then get out of the way as employees learn the modules and memorize easy ways to arrive at specific areas of the modules sooner. 4. More employees can access critical data. With the right technology, your database can go wherever you can find an Internet connection. The synchronization of data between mobile devices and on-site workstations is a boon to traveling executives and local staffers alike. Executives are finding more and more reasons to have their data with them at all times, especially CRM contacts, while employees working on premises sometimes need to walk away from their primary workstation to accomplish other tasks. Ultimately, it means that everyone can enjoy improved accessibility and mobility. Few ERP solutions have yet to take on the mobilization of databases, so you’ll be presented with a wide variety of options supporting data synchronization. 5. Implementations are much more efficient. Since the system is...

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5 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your ERP

Posted by on 5:26 pm in Blog, Harmonize Your Business | 0 comments

Technology is always improving, and ERP software is no exception.  For manufacturers and distributors, having efficient, smart, and integrated ERP technology can make the difference between surviving and succeeding.  Gone are the days of hand-written records of production, purchase, and sales.  Dusty file cabinets are not the way to maintain your data reports.  But ERP is more than just keeping your data on a computer. Here are 5 signs that it might be time to upgrade your system. 1. You don’t have an ERP system. Don’t be discouraged – this is more common than you think, but it’s never too late to shift from physical record-keeping to something more efficient and consolidated. And the good news is, ERP software is much more advanced today than it was even a few years ago, so jumping on board now means you will have to spend less time and money upgrading an old system. 2. You have an ERP system, but it’s not in the cloud. Older ERP systems offered some good functionality, but were unfortunately tied to your local machine. There was a huge risk associated with these systems, since if anything happened to them, the data essential to your business could be lost. New cloud-based ERP systems offer a layer of insulation, providing routine backups as well as secure off-site storage. Not to mention, having your data in the cloud means that you can access it anytime, anywhere. 3. Your ERP system doesn’t do what your business needs. Many ERP systems provide basic services and functions of general use, but these are often not useful to businesses with highly specialized needs. If your manufacturing business has unique requirements, it might be time to look for customizable ERP software. When you’re looking for a new system, try to find something that can be readily adapted to your needs. Many closed-source ERP solutions are resistant to customization. Open-source software like xTuple can be more agile. Ideally, you will find an expert who is willing to get to know your business’s needs and develop a solution that’s right for you. 4. Your ERP is too hard to use. The whole point of getting good ERP software is to minimize the amount of time you and your employees have to spend managing data. It was designed to make the business of business more efficient, more cohesive, and less burdensome. If you have to spend too much time training employees how to use the system – or if it takes you too much of your own time to use the software – then it might be time for a change. Keep in mind, though, that if you do switch systems (or if you’re starting fresh with your first system), there will be a learning curve at first. It may take a little time to get used to the new software and processes. However, actually using the software should be easy and painless – not another source of stress. 5. Your ERP system doesn’t manage your whole enterprise. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, but too many ERP systems focus on only specific business processes. Some are great at handling supply chain logistics, but are hamstrung when it comes to sales. Some handle purchases and sales, but can’t handle CRM (Customer Resource Management) or vendors. Some...

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