|Eclipse Users Group/UFO Newsletter||
December 2011 Vol 511
Terry Kin, UFO President
Well, the seasons are changing for most of you reading this update. From what I hear this upcoming winter is to be brutal for us Midwesterners.
In October the UFO board met for its yearly face to face meeting in the Epicor Hyannis office. This is a dedicated two day meeting to plan for our activities for the next year. As always it was a productive meeting and I'll update you on the highlights. It was great to be in the Hyannis office and be able to meet many of the hardworking Epicor staff. We also received product updates in many of the Eclipse areas.
We have already started planning for the upcoming Summit. As always our goal is to plan activities that allow the UFO to interact with as many users and members as possible. The UFO marketing group is working hard on that.
The UFO board is very pleased with the new UFO website and we hope you find it easier to use also. The web development group has invested a lot of time in the project and the UFO has invested significant monies toward the development. The UFO will continue to improve the website and the web committee has plans in the works to make that happen. If you have any feedback please let us know.
Low cost training continues to be an integral part of being a UFO member. The board has agreed to provide all archived web training at no cost to UFO members. There are some great classes out there and we hope you take advantage. Also, the training committee and the UFO board have agreed to sponsor all training the first half of 2012 at no cost to UFO members. Yes, all classes free for UFO members!! This is a great opportunity to keep your users current on training.
The UFO board has term limits and at the end of the year we will be having two board members leave the board. Cyndi Skweres (Electrical Distributors) and Dave Constantine (Metropolitan Pipe) have been invaluable resources to the UFO group. We will miss them and thank them for all their efforts during their board tenure. You will be seeing voting forms soon to elect the new board members, please make your voice heard.
In January, the UFO will be facilitating a long term planning session with the Epicor/Eclipse product managers and a group of Eclipse user volunteers. We have been trying to get this planned for quite awhile and I am excited about what this could produce. The general concept is to brainstorm and rank improvements to the Eclipse system, but this is a long term focus instead of bug fixes, etc... Both sides hope this will produce the ideas that will continue to improve the Eclipse platform for years to come.
As always if you have any feedback don't hesitate to contact myself, Mary Barlow, or any other UFO board member.
Enjoy the upcoming holiday season.
Capitol District Supply Co.
3 Steps to Reporting Success - Zerion Group Inc
3 Steps to Reporting Success
Are you frustrated with Eclipse reporting? 1/3 of Zerion's Eclipse customers cite this as their top concern. And, we can understand why. Eclipse is awesome at collecting data, but it's not known for its ability to get the data out. If we told you that we had identified the gaps in Eclipse's reporting, how to make the most of what's available (including the opportunity to cut your time spent on reporting by as much as 96%!), and had three practical steps for putting our solution into practice, would you want to know more? If so, read on!
The Gaps in Eclipse Reporting
The standard reports that exist in Eclipse, as well as interactive reports (or queues), are Eclipse's bread and butter when it comes to reporting. They are meant to cover the fundamentals. However, there are holes in the output you can generate ... lots of holes.
This is somewhat expected with any kind of canned reporting; and, it's not so bad because you can fill the gaps with custom reports (via Report Writer) that perfectly suit your company's needs, taking reporting to the next level. Sweet! But, wait ... there's a catch: most users do not consider Report Writer to be a user-friendly tool. It's not something you can give to a basic user if you're expecting decent results.
Users who have the privilege of running on Solar are privy to something called "Eclipse Reports." This is Report Writer in fancier clothes. It has a much friendlier interface so that an end user can actually extract what he or she is looking for. But, wait ... there's another catch: it's easier; but, it's only easier because it's focused on creating basic reports. You shouldn't expect complex results from Eclipse Reports.
So, if standard reports aren't enough, and custom reports are too convoluted, where's a troubled Eclipse user to turn? At first it may be a tough pill to swallow; but, you'll need to combine the use of standard reports, Report Writer AND a third-party business intelligence (BI) tool if you want to operate at your finest. Standing alone, none of these three tools provides an end-to-end reporting solution. But, strategically executing them together will help you optimize the data that's anxiously awaiting your extraction.
3 Steps to Put it Into Practice
Here's a generic strategy to get you going:
1. Cover the must-do's. You need to start with the fundamentals. You should be utilizing at least these eight standard reports on a daily basis:
- Customer calling queue. This is every salesperson's dream. It allows management of tickets before they go out for delivery, and provides motivation for customer follow-up.
- Trouble queue. This lists tickets that are intended to ship before you have the material.
- Review PO backorders queue. Verifies POs that were backordered at the receiving dock to find out when they will actually arrive.
- Freight audit report. Assigns freight to sales orders from procurement POs with freight on them.
- A/R Collection queue. Designed to help A/R people systematically collect monies due.
- Unavailable queue. Tickets that were attempted to print but couldn't because some items weren't available.
- GMROI report. Helps to analyze what your turns are for your company.
- Transfer register for disputed. Helps you resolve discrepancies between what was shipped and what was received from branch to branch.
2. Get help creating custom reports. Face the reality that you need custom reports, but don't waste your time getting them. Reporting is an investment; but, it will quickly produce an ROI with time saved (and possibly knowledge gained). In fact, custom reporting is one of the most common reasons that clients utilize our services. Whether you hire us, Eclipse, or someone else, recognize that it may take you 40 hours to develop the same report that a seasoned consultant can create in three. Someone who knows his or her way around Report Writer can get at data that most users can't, often producing a better, more functional report in less time. Even if it can't be done in Report Writer, custom programming can usually deliver what you need.
For example, Zerion recently cut the time Bakersfield Pipe & Supply was spending on a report by 96%. The Purchasing manager said, "I had to let you know the time that you saved me with this. Because merging three reports was so tedious, it usually took me a day and half, maybe 12 hours from start to finish. From the time I ran the [new] report, tweaked it, and sent it completed was 30 minutes! I am doing my happy dance! Thank you and thank you again!"
Also, another customer was spending 3 - 4 hours creating a rebate report for a vendor once a month. We developed a custom report by adding columns and formatting to the exact specifications of the vendor. This reduced their time to just 30 minutes each month.
3. Sharpen your intellect with 3rd party software. Even with the best use of Eclipse's canned reports, and well-done custom reports, there are no intuitive capabilities to speak of. In other words, you don't know what you don't know. These are reactionary tools that don't necessarily solve problems. Even with Report Writer, you must first know what questions to ask it.
This gap can only be filled with third-party BI software. Expanding your reporting capabilities will enable you to identify opportunities, such as with sales, inventory and financials. You'll more clearly understand your performance so that you can gain efficiencies and make smarter decisions.
There are several options in the Eclipse space for you to consider, but we happen to be partnered with phocas. We choose to work closely with them because we believe their solution best fills the void for Eclipse users. Just a few of the things we like about them are: a fixed implementation fee; a user interface designed for the end user, not an IT person (which eliminates the IT bottleneck); and, a subscription model with a quarterly opt-out, meaning phocas stays engaged. Also, for the second year in a row, phocas has been named BI Vendor of the Year at the Software Satisfaction Awards. To date, there are over 50 Eclipse customers on phocas; and, we've personally been involved with 40 installations.
The Good News
The conclusion we assume you're coming to is that, unfortunately, there's no easy answer for reporting with Eclipse. There's no cut and dried solution and no out-of-the-box perfection. But, there is good news: there's amazing data of all kinds multiplying every minute on your server; and, it can be retrieved, compiled and analyzed to greatly enhance your company's performance ... it just takes a little bit of cobbling.
Zerion (www.zeriongroup.com) is an alternative, independent Eclipse services provider. We've provided customer-centric consulting, implementations, customization and training to over 200 distributors nationwide. Every Zerion team member has worked for a distributor and is focused on supplying knowledge and delivering efficiency. Our mission is to help you maximize your Eclipse investment with more accessible, less expensive solutions.
Special Offer for UFO Members
Try us today and get a custom Eclipse report for 25% less. Contact Tony King during the month of December at 1.877.872.1726 or email@example.com and mention this newsletter to get your discount.
Who Can I Register for Training Classes?
By Mary E. Barlow, Executive Director Eclipse Users Group/UFO
Who Can I Register For Classes?
1) If you have a login for the Eclipse Users Group website, you may register for or drop yourself on classes. Just click the "Register" button on the class description page.
2) If your status is delegate, alternate or admin for your company on the Eclipse Users Group website, you may register for or drop others on classes.
How do I register others if I have one of those statuses?
You can find the answer to that on the FAQ s - Click the About Eclipse Users Group main menu button and click FAQ. Scroll down that page to find UFO Training.
Can you show me?
1) Login and go to My Profile; 2) Click Company Contacts; 3) Click Edit next to the person you want to register or drop; 4) You are now editing that person's information. Scroll down that page until you see the class listing. If a class is open for registration it will say "Open" and have a box to check; 5) To register this person just click the box; 6) Click "Update". An email will be sent to the person telling them that they are registered for the class.
To see the screen shots along with the instructions just click this link for a 1 page PDF document.
Who Can I Register for Training with Screen Shots
Eclipse User Harry Cooper Supply Drives Efficiency Through Billing
Harry Cooper Supply is a leading regional plumbing, heating, cooling, waterworks, refrigeration, municipal and electrical supply company with three locations in Missouri. The company is an Eclipse operating system user and has outsourced their billing to Billtrust since 2007.
Larry McMullin, Harry Cooper Supply's Corporate Controller, says that when the company was originally investigating billing providers, they looked for a partner who had experience with Eclipse, expertise in both paper and electronic delivery and the ability to accommodate Harry Cooper Supply's unique requirements. Also important was the partner's reputation and customer service process. Ultimately, Harry Cooper Supply chose to outsource the delivery of their bills to Billtrust, a company based in New Jersey with print and mail locations in seven regions across North America.
Harry Cooper Supply now uses a variety of Billtrust tools to streamline their billing process and secure significant savings. A key part of their outsourcing success has been working closely with Billtrust to migrate their customers to electronic delivery and payment channels. Another important area of savings came from a technology Billtrust calls "bullpenning," which allows Harry Cooper Supply to reduce postage and processing costs by delaying the sending of low-dollar invoices so they can be combined and sent in a single envelope. Mr. McMullin estimates that Harry Cooper Supply saves an average of $20,000 per year with the bullpenning tool and other electronic billing services Billtrust provides.
Another key advantage for Harry Cooper Supply is that Billtrust has enabled the company to streamline the billing cycle: "We have absolutely no manual handling of any invoice," Mr. McMullin reports. "Our personnel are engaged in other more productive practices with our customers."
In addition to eliminating manual invoice handling at Harry Cooper Supply, the Billtrust service gives the supply company's customers instant access to an online portal where they can view and pay their invoices on a Harry Cooper Supply branded site. Approximately half of the company's customers receive invoices electronically via email, fax or online channels, and the use of Billtrust tools generates about 30% savings.
Harry Cooper Supply also receives robust marketing support from Billtrust: "The marketing assistance offered by Billtrust has been excellent. They provide several different tools, such as bill inserts, and the ability to place personalized messages on bills to help market our company," said Mr. McMullin.
Over 400 wholesale distributors use Billtrust's services, including 121 Eclipse companies.
"We've grown quickly because we focus on continuously improving customer performance with strategic billing services," said Flint Lane, Chief Executive Officer and President of Billtrust. "We're proud to partner with an industry leader like Harry Cooper Supply to enhance their business operations."
Eclipse users can learn more about the support and savings opportunities Billtrust offers at www.billtrust.com.
|Vendor Partners - Do You Have a Recommendation?|
By Bill Fitzgerald, Vendor Relations Committee Chair
Season's Greetings! Can you believe that it has been a year since we created Vendor Partnerships with the Eclipse Users Group/UFO? Since last year we have approved 15 Vendor Partners, held 14 Free Vendor Webinars and published many vendor articles in our newsletters. We hope you have found this information helpful.
The By-laws were just updated, and voted on by the member delegates, to include the Vendor Partner Memberships. Vendor Partners do not have a vote in Group affairs. They do not have access to our Bulletin Boards or any of our member information. If you or your company participate in a vendor presentation you must contact them individually with your questions or for further information. We do not provide any member contact information to Vendor Partners. The information they provide to the Eclipse Users Group/UFO on the Vendor page, within Newsletter articles or presentation webinar is meant to give you access to businesses which may or may not be of benefit to your company. The UFO is strictly providing you access to their information. If the product or service in a vendor presentation has generated interest for a member, it is the responsibility of that member to contact the vendor, perform their own due diligence regarding the product or service and consult with Epicor on a potential integration. Purchases or any contractual agreements between a member and the vendor are outside the scope of their Eclipse Users Group membership.
Goals for 2012 include:
- Adding the vendor recommendation form to the Users Group website, making it easier for our members to nominate vendors.
- Identify non-technical vendors whose services/products would be valuable to our membership.
- Have vendors provide case studies describing how their products have been successful.
We want to hear from you about great vendors whose services/products you feel could benefit all members. Currently, the Users Group has 15 vendor partners but we are always on the lookout for more. Check out these vendor partners on the Users Group website by clicking the link below.
Vendor Recommendation Form - Click this link and recommend a vendor.
Eclipse Users Group Vendor Partner Page
Thanks in advance for your assistance! We wish everyone a joyous holiday season!
Fishman Flooring Solutions Implements Sales Management Plus - Company Sees Great ROI Quickly
Fishman Flooring Solutions Implements Sales Management Plus, a leading CRM and Analytics Software Application
Company Sees great Return on Investment in Just a Few Months
Implementing SMP is easy to do, integrates directly with Eclipse, and allows you to show immediate benefits to your sales team. The team at Fishman Flooring Solutions has shown it is not only possible, but that your team can see a return on investment for your software dollars in a short timeframe.
Fishman Flooring Solutions is a "one-stop shop" distributor providing solutions to the Flooring Industry. Solutions include a large selection of Commercial Resilient Floor Coverings, Industrial Flooring, Polished Concrete Systems, Finishing Borders, Stair Treads, Waterproofing Systems, Moisture Remediation Systems, Setting Materials, Sub-floor Preparation products, and a full line of Installation Tools and Supplies. Fishman has been using the Eclipse ERP since 1995 and joined UFO in 1996.
In April 2011, Fishman signed a contract with SMP for Sales Management Plus; less than 8 weeks later, Fishman's customized Sales Management Plus database was up and running, and the team was off to the races - managing customer and contact data, logging customer activities, managing new sales opportunities, creating reports with a few clicks of the mouse, and executing targeted marketing efforts seamlessly. Just six months after the rollout, the team is seeing results in improved sales efforts, accountability and collaboration.
Involvement of the entire team made getting Sales Management Plus off the ground turnkey - regional sales managers, sales team members, IT and marketing all provided input and played key roles throughout the implementation and rollout process. The results: users were amazed with the amount of information, availability of options to log, track and manage the sales process, and the flexibility of reporting and query options (allowing users to do what they needed, rather than attempting to extrapolate what they need from generalized monthly reports). Said one user, "this is an awesome tool, and provides information to us on a day by day basis instead of having to wait on end of month reports. Information is easy to input and extract."
D Clark, VP of Marketing said, "We are now armed with information that we can customize, to compliment the strengths and build up the weaknesses of our sales team. Each individual has the ability to customize the information they need to support their sales and marketing efforts. Each individual person has their own style of selling and SMP allows them to customize the information that works best for them. Salesman using SMP have improved their sales and has strengthened our position in the market."
The Fishman team had many great things to say about SMP when interviewed about the product, its effectiveness, team adoption and more.
Why was it important for your organization to invest in a sales management and CRM system?
"We believe that information is key, and should help improve our professional sales team to be a cut above our competition. We want to be able to partner with our customers and provide them with solutions that will enhance both parties to improve the climate of business."
How has Sales Management Plus improved your sales management processes?
"We are able to view the activities of our sales team on a day to day basis, instead of waiting till the end of the month. We can now identify the pros and cons and help our people instantly."
How has it improved your marketing processes?
"WOW! We can identify fast moving and slow moving products, like 'right now'! We can promote products and track the progress very easily on a daily basis, instead of having to run main frame computer reports. It makes running promotions much easier. It is easier to watch for trends."
How is it improving vendor collaboration and reporting?
"We know exactly what vendor product are selling and not selling. We know what vendor lines are improving our business and which ones turning into anchors. SMP gives us hard information that we can share with our vendors at a moments notice when we are traveling or meeting with the vendors."
The thing we like the most about SMP is...
"The amount of information that we can customize and organize for our management team's use, and the individual salesman use."
Sales Management Plus is a SaaS, software-as-a-service model, providing a collaborative tool to sales and management teams. With Sales Management Plus, teams can go beyond basic CRM (customer relationship management) and delve deep into what makes a customer tick, by monitoring buying behavior, marketing promotion success rates, quality of the sales activities and new opportunities coming down the pipeline. In addition, Sales Management Plus provides many reporting options - from canned basic reports, to custom-report-writer tools that can generate powerful pivot tables to deliver on a user's exact needs. Sales Management Plus integrates directly with Eclipse, has key hooks into MS products such as Outlook, Word and Excel, and is available in mobile and tablet platforms for salespeople on the go.
To learn more about Sales Management Plus or how it is changing the way Fishman Flooring Solutions manages sales processes, contact Joe at JoeRaventos@GoSMP.com. You can also visit us online to view more information and a quick 10-minute demonstration at www.GoSMP.com.
Harry Cooper Supply Company
Four Generations of Family drive this Multi-disciplined Distributor into a Second Hundred Years
Harry Cooper Supply enjoys a long and prosperous history. Started over a hundred years ago in what many call The Queen City of the Ozarks, Springfield Missouri, by Harry Cooper and he has been succeeded by J.H.G. Cooper, James H. Cooper, John O. Cooper and John T. Cooper.
After having practiced the plumbing trade for 20 years, Harry Cooper established the company in 1908 to provide the supplies needed by Springfield's plumbing contractors. In the 1930's, when the Rural Electric Administration came into being, the company added a full line of electrical products. Today, Harry Cooper Supply Company offers a complete line of plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, PVF and electrical products. They maintain locations in Springfield, Joplin and Branson, Missouri selling to contractors, industrials, municipalities, cooperatives and institutions.
Maintaining the proper inventory and maintaining quality service across many traditional lines of trade requires a strong foundation of both people and technology. Eleven years ago, the Harry Cooper Supply folks realized a need to enhance the tools used to run their business. According to Larry McMullin - Corporate CFO - the group set out on a journey to replace their "homegrown" business system with the best the market had to offer. After exhaustive research, they selected four potential candidates. "After our deep dive exploration of the four candidates, we came to the conclusion Eclipse was the 'Cadillac" of the industry. Eclipse met our needs for expansion, data management, business tools and ran on the right kind of platform."
Early on Harry Cooper Supply harvested data from the system to make better business decisions and to closely monitor the activities at their warehouses and three showrooms. They utilized the internal Eclipse pricing and velocity matrix as well as other key areas of Eclipse to enhance their return on investment. As with many organizations, Harry Cooper Supply wanted to apply more "science" rather than "art" to their pricing regimen. This is when they were introduced to the Eclipse Strategic Pricing Associates (SPA) companion product.
Mr. McMullin shared, "We first heard of the work of SPA through Eclipse. After checking out the results of several distributors who used the Eclipse system and thoroughly checking behind the scenes, we presented a recommendation to the Cooper family. Thankfully, they approved the SPA implementation." Today Harry Cooper Supply is preparing for their third set of pricing recommendations for the SPA pricing system. Each year data is forwarded to SPA for scientific analysis. The data is turned into a series of pricing recommendations - which are internally reviewed by the pricing team.
Due to the nature of their businesses, various pricing team members are responsible for reviewing the data for each of the various business units. Once reviewed, these recommendations are uploaded into Eclipse where they take precedence over the standard Eclipse pricing system.
This whole system sounded almost too simple and straight forward and as the interview with Larry McMullin moved forward I was determined to find the "gotcha's' which must be buried in
the details. When pressed for comments on the initial start-up, McMullin quipped, "We really were surprised to learn that SPA's advertised 90-days to results motto was attainable. David Bauders and his SPA team assisted and guided us step by step throughout the process. We never ran into any unpleasant surprises but it needs to be noted that the 90 day to results required a dedicated effort from every member of the pricing team."
Most progressive distributors benefit by learning from the issues of others. After initial conversations with other users Harry Cooper Supply Company knew training would be absolutely essential to success. SPA offered up a number of sessions to help personnel understand the scientific pricing journey about to be embarked on. SPA provided more than a world-class algorithm for analyzing pricing - they provide a process.
Harry Cooper Supply discovered that up-front education is paramount, but Larry indicated that continued refresher and review training is necessary. Those in the sales profession are constantly bombarded with the message "your price is too high". It's easy for even the most hardened professional to find themselves slipping back into a price-driven mentality. The company allows lots of flexibility on the street level - so retelling the price/margin/value story is important.
All of this would be a great story, but in keeping with Harry Cooper Supply's location in the heart of Southwest Missouri - we said "show me". Certain competitive situations can have an adverse effect on margin levels. But the show in "show me" indicates an overall upward margin trend that closely mirrors the potential gains outlined in Strategic Pricing Associates presentations. And, this does wonders for a distributor's bottom line - regardless of their location.
The Harry Cooper Supply Company is marching forward four generations strong. In a 2009 interview with the Springfield Business Journal, the Cooper family was asked why so few family-owned businesses don't stick around for a 100-plus years. Their answer was exactly what you would expect from straight-talking Missouri stock, "In most family businesses, the first generation starts it, the second generation builds it, the third generation fritters it away". Obviously, this family is the exception."
At Harry Cooper Supply values are important. Family values, community values and providing a strong value to their customers all run high in their thought process. The use of Eclipse and Strategic Pricing Associates allows them to maintain their value and provide world class service in a highly competitive world.
The information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by UFO and while we endeavor to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to this newsletter or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the newsletter for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data arising out of, or in connection with, the use of the information in this newsletter.