June 2015
Letter from the President
by Chris Bohn, APR Supply, UFO President

I'm writing this article as I sit in the airport after leaving Insights 2015 in Nashville.  Once again, Epicor successfully pulled off another epic event with lots of learning, networking and we even got some top notch evening entertainment.  One of the privileges I have of attending Insights is to represent you, our members, to certain Epicor Senior Executives.  Myself and several of the User's Group board members met individually with Celia Fleischaker - Senior VP Worldwide Marketing, Ian Ashby - Senior VP Global Support, and Janie West - Senior VP & Chief Product Officer.  Along with them, we met with the top level Eclipse specific Epicor employees such as Kami Kurth, Mark Artim, Bill Wright, Lisa Grantland, Justin Ward, Sean Smith, Louise Keppel, and Brad Riley along with several other key players.  The point of all this name dropping is just to highlight that we had plenty of opportunity to bend the ear of decision makers at Epicor...and bend them we did!  Just to keep you informed, I'd like to highlight the major points we discussed.  

 

1)   THANK YOU - The overarching message we relayed was one of thanks for the reinvestment in Eclipse.  When you compare where Eclipse was heading just two years ago to where it is going today you see a 180 degree shift in the relevance and importance of Eclipse to Epicor.  There is a consistent message from all levels of Epicor that Eclipse is one of their preferred platforms.  This is evidenced by the dramatic increase in the number of new companies going live on Eclipse and the dramatic increase in Eclipse related staff.  (NOTE: There was some confusion at Insights by a message by Janie West at the Executive Keynote session regarding CONVERGENCE of platforms. This was a joke only that was construed by some as a serious message.  Her message is that convergence of all platforms into one platform to rule them all IS NOT Epicor's objective.  I heard that directly from her as well in our Executive Board meeting with her.

 

2)   Vendor Relations - Epicor has moved into a more closed relationship with third party vendors and as a result we see fewer vendors at Insights than in the past.  This diminishes the value of Insights for many as we want to see complementary products to Eclipse to help improve our businesses.  I challenged Janie West to review that policy and create a more open relationship with vendors.  She informed me that they just hired a new person from Microsoft to manage their Alliance Partner program and expect to see some changes in that area.  She obviously wouldn't commit to any significant policy change at our meeting...but at least she heard us!

 

3)   Enhancements - We discussed creating a more formal process to adding user suggested content from the Ideas site.  There is lots of pressure from many sources for what gets included in each release of Eclipse.  Often, it seems that the suggestions from companies that already purchased Eclipse fall to the bottom of the pile for inclusion in each release.  I don't want this to sound like we, the user's, aren't impacting the direction of Eclipse because we certainly do, but this is mostly related to the new features and not smaller tweaks to save a person a keystroke or two to make their Eclipse use just a bit easier.  We will continue to push this message.

 

4)  Insights - This one may be a bit controversial, but the message the User's Group Board hears repeatedly is that Insights has become less of a value for many companies to send several people and instead opt to send staff to the User's Group's Encounter event in September.  This is an unaudited number but we are estimating about 360 Eclipse users were at Insights this year.  We expressed a consistent message to the executives at Epicor that we would sacrifice the flash of Insights if it meant a lower cost for us to attend.  We discussed classes and what makes a series of classes relevant or not and why we send or don't send people to Insights.  One surprise to them was that our employees don't really need to network with people on other ERP platforms.  They speak a different language and have different issues than Eclipse Users.  We strongly encouraged them to keep Eclipse people with Eclipse people for classes and meals as this is where the networking and relationships happen that improve our use of Eclipse as we learn real world applications from each other.  I have heard that the other ERP platform (P21, Epicor E10, etc.) users feel the same way about us!  

 

5)  Epicor Executive Team - For those of you that follow Epicor, you will know that there has been turmoil at the top for many years.  The result is an inconsistent message as new leaders take over.  Projects get delayed, scrapped, restarted, and changed as each new person brings their perspective to Epicor.   We expressed a concern that a consistent team needs to be in place in order to keep Epicor moving in an accelerated forward direction.  Side note: We are very fortunate that many of the key Eclipse players are still intact through the turmoil of the past!  The joke at Insights by an anonymous member of the Board of Directors, named Rich, was that the Epicor executives should put the word TODAY at the end of their title because they may not be there tomorrow...  Anyway, Joe Cowan, CEO of Epicor laid out his plan for Epicor during his keynote at Insights and expressed that many of the previous senior team was not up to the task.  His mission is to remove the silos of the old Epicor and create a more functional layout.  That mission has required change to put the right people in the right place.  Janie West expanded and confirmed that message and I am cautiously optimistic that their message is true.  The team they build is solid and quite frankly from my opinion is more believable than other executives in the past.

 

Those are the major issues we covered.  I would look forward to any feedback you have on these issue.  You can send any comments to me at cbohn@aprsupply.com    

Pricing's Impact on Profitability

Matt Turner, epaCUBE

 

Distributors have spent many years implementing both technology and processes to reduce the cost of doing business. Until recently, distributors lacked the software and systems to implement their own pricing optimization program. While pricing, costs and rebates are the most significant variables affecting business profitability, relatively less attention has been paid to automating a process that has the largest impact to the bottom line.

  

The fastest and most effective way for a company to boost profits is to get their pricing right. According to the Harvard Business Review, improvements in price have three to four times the effect on profitability compared to proportional improvements in sales volume. A 1% improvement in price translates into an 11.1% improvement in operating profit, while similar improvements in costs and volume have less impact.

 

It is no wonder that a recent NAW study indicated 60% of distributors surveyed indicated they are planning or currently implementing systems and internal programs through 2015.

 

Some companies have opted for external pricing services to help with their pricing optimization initiative, but outside consultants come with many downsides. In the case of pricing optimization, the distributor may not understand or even be told the rationale behind the results. Since the outsourced service cannot be familiar with the nuances of the distributor's markets, products or specific customers, often the results are not aligned with the strategic and tactical plan. This can create and encourage push back from branch, executive or product management and sales. In addition, making pricing decisions isolated from net into stock or special pricing agreement negotiations with suppliers can often lead to lost opportunities for gross margin improvement or even lost business.

 

Without software like epaCUBE, some companies feel the math is too complex or requires a higher-level user who they may not currently have on staff to operate their own pricing optimization software. That's why epaCUBE's team, with vast experience in distribution, built the software to do the hard work for you. Distributors can now get sophisticated pricing science in a software product which guides them through the process. epaCUBE maintains an industry focus and includes built-in best practices to guide novice users through the process while making experienced pricing professionals more productive. epaCUBE users, even starting with a new employee and inexperienced user, can immediately identify hundreds of thousands of dollars in gross profit opportunities within the first 45 days of using epaCUBE Price Optimizer.

 

epaCUBElogo
"The UFO Advice Column" 
  by 'Uncle' Frank Ousterhout

Dear Uncle Frank,

                I have been a salesperson at other wholesalers but I am new at this company and just learning how the Eclipse system works.  I am told my Calling Queue is very important but what is the big deal?

                Michael from Denver


 
 

Dear Michael,

                Your Customer Calling Queue is a VERY BIG DEAL.  It is how the system tells you that material that is on order by YOUR CUSTOMER is now ready for YOU to actually get to your customer.


                 When you set the Order Status on the status screen to one of the several 'call' statuses, and the status is satisfied, the order will appear in your queue.


                 The most common is 'Call When Complete'.  That means that all items on the order are now in stock and available for the customer.  You then can 1) get the order on your next truck to your customer, 2) tell your customer to come and pick it up, or 3) call your customer to see exactly when they want it.  That is how you provide excellent customer service.


                 Other calling statuses behave as they are listed - Call When Available will notify you when ANY item on the order is available to ship.  Call When Specified will tell you it is now time to call and find out if your customer is ready for the material.

 

                 Be sure you are taught how to 'Log a Call' from your calling queue.  It lets you document your conversation with your customer (and is kept in the log of the order.)  You should set a followup date for your next call if the customer is 'not ready yet'.  When your customer says to check back in 1 week, you just log the call and set the date out a week.  When your customer says that 'you never told me it came in', it is nice to look at your logged calls and politely remind him that you left word with another person in their organization on April 13 at 2:09 pm (because you did and it was in the log.)


                 My IT department even set up a custom view on all our calling queues here to show the customer phone number and the next logged call.  It is very helpful.


                 You can also set up more than one calling queue widgets on your desktop.  When you are covering for another salesperson on vacation, simply set up a calling queue for their orders.  Also, if you are teamed up with an outside salesperson, you can watch their calling queue and process orders in real time.  Otherwise customer order will wait to get processed until the outside salesman finally logs on the system, often in the evening.


                 It is a 'Best Practice' to have an empty Calling Queue at the end of your day.  It means that all order issues have been addressed.  And when you come in the next day, only new items will appear.  The sooner those new items are taken care of, the more excellent your customer service is.  And we all know that we keep customers with great customer service and can lose customers with anything less than great service.

 

                Regards,

                Uncle Frank

The SECRET Society

Christopher Bohn - User's Group President


 

If you missed our Users Group Session at Insights, I challenged those present to involve more people from their respective companies with the Users Group.  One general rule I can apply to most Users Group companies is that Users Group membership seems to be a closely guarded secret, known only to a few.  At our Users Group booth at Insights, we had people come up saying that they want to sign up their company to the Users Group only to find out that they are already members.  Asking many people that attend Insights if they are a member or not, the answer was they don't know!  All I can say is WOW, what a missed opportunity to take advantage of the incredible value the user's group offers your company. 


 My message is simple.  If you believe that networking is a value to your company...(seriously, can anyone argue that?) then the Users Group provides an excellent tool to extend that networking year round through the under-utilized Users Group Bulletin Boards.  If you attend sessions at Insights, or attend industry events, you will ALWAYS come away with several golden nuggets of wisdom you learned from someone else; a better way, a new process, a perspective you didn't think of before.  If you didn't...you shouldn't have stayed out so late!  That's the benefit of networking in a nutshell. 


 We have a myriad of communities on the bulletin boards that cover virtually every department or functional area in your company.  You should have at least ONE person that subscribes to each community to monitor what other companies are doing, what concerns they have, to provide help to others with their problems and to create a vibrant interactive networking community.  Do you have someone from accounting monitor the accounting bulletin board?  Do you have someone from operations monitor the Sales Orders bulletin board?  How about someone in charge of logistics on the RF and Warehouse bulletin board?   You get the point.  About of the 200 people that attended our session at Insights didn't even know if they had a login to the User's Group site.  To that, I say - if your company valued your education enough to spend the cash to send you to Insights, you should have a login and be utilizing the Users Group site regularly.

    

If you are reading this article, YOUR mission is simple (Yes, I mean you...the one reading this article...no not the other person...I really mean you!). 

 

1)      Ensure your company has at least one person from each functional area with a login to the Users Group website.   Ask around. 

 

2)      Ensure each of those persons SUBSCRIBES to a bulletin board.  By subscribing, they will receive an email when something new is posted.  They don't even have to remember to check periodically.  How easy is that?  What a great tool we offer to extend your networking opportunities.  If you can't figure out how to subscribe, contact the user's group and ask! 

 

3)      Post your issues and tips to the bulletin boards to get assistance from others and to help others.  I guarantee your company will be the better for it.


That's it.  Your Users Group should not be a secret in your company.  The heads of each department should know that you are a member or be a contributing member themselves.  I am incredulous when I hear when a member leaves the Users Group because they don't get value.  I interpret that as, someone has kept the Users Group a secret.  Please do your part to ensure this secret society becomes the WORST kept secret in your company!

How big is your transactional tax footprint?

by Christi Whipple, Avalara

 

6 questions to assess if your sales activities are a compliance risk 

 

At some point, you've probably pinpointed your company's position on a 2x2 matrix to determine its strengths or weaknesses or its position relative to competitors. But have you ever rated your business on sales tax compliance?

 

Many companies get into trouble with state and local tax because they don't know where they owe. Often, the business is growing in some way, either physically in terms of new locations or by expanding its product or service offerings, bringing on more field staff or selling through new channels such as online, at tradeshows or through affiliate programs. All of these are important growth strategies. They also carry sales and use tax implications. The more ways you engage a buyer, the more likely you are to create nexus - an obligation to collect and remit sales tax in a state where you're now doing business. As nexus increases, sales tax gets exponentially more complex or laborious, and it can become difficult to manage with in-house resources, albeit people or systems.

 

Just as you are focused on bringing as much revenue as you can into your business, the states are doing the same thing. Indirect taxes makes up a large portion of the states' coffers and they're becoming more diligent about getting what's coming to them. Miscalculations and failing to register or remit returns aren't something they take lightly. Warnings are for traffic cops, not state auditors. Be found out of compliance and you'll likely be looking at steep fines and penalties on top of any uncollected taxes. 

 

To better understand where you may have sales tax complexity or nexus obligations, Avalara put together a self-assessment survey. Answer just a few questions about your business and sales activities and instantly get a score that will help you determine your transactional tax footprint and risk of non-compliance.

 

The self-assessment includes a guide to understanding how each of the four quadrants - and your score - impacts your business when it comes to sales tax. It's a quick and easy way to uncover any vulnerabilities you may have that need addressing or even just provide peace of mind that you haven't overlooked any obligations. You may also learn that you fall into a higher complexity, higher go-to-market risk area than you thought. Knowing where you fall on this spectrum can be helpful in determining if it's time to add sales tax automation. 

 

Bring the results to your technology provider and talk them about your concerns in managing sales tax. Ask about integrating Avalara AvaTax software into your billing system, ERP or ecommerce solution to handle these compliance functions automatically for you.

 

Complete the assessment

 

Did You Forget or Never Knew??

By Elizabeth Richardt - CappUSA

 

Requiring Ordered By in Sales Order Entry using Contact Maintenance

 

How many times has someone said; We need the "Ordered By" field to be a required field, but we do not want to use "Authorized Buyers" in Customer Maintenance. We want to select from an existing Contact or Create a New Contact if needed.
 

There is a Control Record that needs to be set: Validate Name In "Ordered By" Field Against Customer Contacts

 

Now to Require the Field in SOE

Go to the Header Screen and highlight the "Ordered by" field 


Right Click on your mouse and select "Customize Input Field Properties"


 
"Select Property to Customize" window will open. Select "Required"

Step 1: General Settings

Check the box "This Property is Enabled"

Enter in the message your employees will see if they try to skip this field, then click "Next"

i.e. Select Ordered By or "New" to enter new Contact


Step 2: Refresh Property - this is optional. Click Next

Step 3: Specify Conditions to Apply Property

Click the box "Always execute this property for all users"

Click "Next"


Step 4: Specify Exceptions to the Property

If you want to create Auth Keys for Exceptions, you can

Click "OK"

If you want to bring attention to a field by changing the color, you can also do that.  In this example, you will see that I have the "Ordered By" field background color as 'RED", letting them know it is a stopper, it has to filled in.  The "Sales Source" field is "GREEN" for a quick eye catcher.


To change the Color, right click in the field and Select "Customer Input Field Properties" and then Select Background Color.  A Color Pallet will open, select your color and select "OK"


Now you are ready for requiring "Order By" with the Contact File.  Click on the "?" or Press "F10" to see available Contacts or Select "New" to create a new contact.  You can also type in an existing name.


 

Remember - If you need me to cover a topic for you please send email to

sis@cappusa.com

Enhancement Committee News

by Kevin Stevenson, Enhancement Committee Chair


 

Insights 2015 recently concluded and was a productive conference for the Enhancement Committee.  The Ideas Site, which serves as the backbone for our committee was discussed in two separate meetings with Epicor executives Celia Fleischaker, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, and Janie West, Chief Product Officer.  The discussion centered around our ongoing desire to include your top ideas in upcoming product releases.  Although we're still working on the details, it's good to see the Ideas Site has the support and attention of top Epicor executives.  If you haven't visited the Ideas Site in a while, now is a great time to submit your thoughts and vote on your favorite ideas.

 

We received a renewed commitment from Eclipse Product Development to resume our community deep dives - a process that reviews every active idea in each one of our 12 communities.  This review ensures the Ideas Site remains up to date and helps move ideas toward implementation.  Next up for this deep dive process is the Pricing & SPA community.

 

The Insights conference also resulted in several new volunteers for the Enhancement Committee.  Once these new volunteers come on board, every Enhancement Committee position will be filled - something we've been trying to do for a long time! 

 

Finally, if you haven't already registered for Encounter 2015, the annual Eclipse Users Group conference, you should act quickly.  This year's conference will continue to have an educational focus and is offered to you at a very reasonable cost.  The annual face-to-face meeting of the Enhancement Committee will occur following the conference, so look for more exciting news at that time.


In This Issue
June Training

DateClassLoc/Presenter
June 1stNew Hire #1 Eterm Basic System Navigation Web - Zerion

June 2nd
New Hire #2 Eterm Basic System Navigation SalesWeb - Zerion
June 3rdNew Hire #3 Eterm Basic System Navigation PurchasingWeb- Zerion
June 4thNew Hire #4 Eterm Basic System Navigation WarehousingWeb - Zerion
June 11th
Sales Queues & Reports
Web- Zerion
June 
16th

Why You Need a Partner Not a Web store Provider

Schmitt ProfiTools Vendor Product Presentation
June
16th

What You Do (and Don't) Need to be Better, Faster, Stronger

Zerion Group Vendor Product Presentation
June 16thYour Insights on Insights 2015User Discussion Roundtable
June 18thWorking with Reports EtermWeb- Zerion
June 25thWhere Did That Price Come From? EtermWeb- Zerion
June 25th
Purchasing Workshop Minneapolis
On-Site class- Zerion
June 26th
Inventory Workshop, Minneapolis
On-Site class - Zerion
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