Six Supply Chain Planning Strategies to Maximize Your Company’s Performance

Supply Chain

An efficient supply chain is critical to achieving order accuracy and customer satisfaction. Companies must take the initiative to improve the training of supply chain employees and periodically review their relationships with key vendors and shipping agents. Additionally, they should consider automating their inventory management processes to conserve costs and human resources. Below are six supply chain planning strategies designed to help maximize a company’s overall performance.

Enhance Training Programs for Supply Chain Employees 

Well-trained employees are the foundation of an efficient supply chain. In order for employees and supply chains to operate most effectively, all employees should understand how their individual jobs are critical to the overall functioning of a company. Training programs should be detailed and thorough and should encompass the following points:

  • An overview of the fields of distribution and logistics
  • The order picking and packing process
  • Inventory management strategies
  • Shipping and transportation operations
  • MRP & DRP concepts
  • Communication skills to use during vendor and customer interactions
  • The importance of accuracy and meeting deadlines

 

Whenever possible, supply chain employees should be recognized for mastering key elements of the training process. By providing recognition and incentives, employees remain engaged in the process of mastering the fundamentals of supply chain activities.

Automate the Inventory Management Process 

One of the most effective ways to improve supply chain functioning is to invest in a proven inventory management system. An automated inventory management system increases efficiency through auto-populating inventory fields with default codes for product attributes when appropriate. By automating inventory procedures, companies can save valuable time and money by eliminating the need to manually enter all inventory data. Automated inventory management systems are particularly useful for the apparel industries and others that have an endless number of types of product attributes such as size or pattern.

Consider a New Quality Management System to Monitor Workers

A shortcoming of many manufacturing and production companies is the absence of a quality management system that monitors supply chain employees. While there is usually no shortage of quality management systems that track sales performance, many businesses do not employ any formal type of quality management system to monitor shift workers. A quality management system permits company strategists to identify supply chain inefficiencies, top supply chain employees and effective training strategies. The introduction of a quality management system to monitor supply chain employees will help keep employees engaged and focused on accuracy.

Monitor Vendor Performance 

Purchasing managers and operating officers should regularly evaluate the performance of their vendors and suppliers. Two key performance indicators to monitor are timeliness and order accuracy. A vendor’s repeated errors or failure to adhere to shipping promise dates affects the functionality of a company’s entire supply chain and can be detrimental to customer satisfaction. A long pattern of performance failures should prompt a company to explore the use of another supplier.

Keep Shipping Costs Competitive by Regularly Comparing Rates 

One of the best ways to control costs for your company and your clients is to keep shipping and handling charges to a minimum. As a key member of the supply chain team, a company’s shipping manager should regularly compare shipping quotes from key shippers and freight forwarders. While ensuring a speedy and safe delivery should always be the primary concern for a company, it is also important to keep prices competitive by periodically exploring the rates of new shipping providers.

Choose an Industry Leader to Facilitate Your Supply Chain Planning  

By enlisting the support of an experienced supply chain automation specialist, your company will be another step closer to maximizing profits. With nearly three decades of experience in offering software solutions to companies in the manufacturing and distribution arenas, MaxQ Technologies, Inc. (MaxQ) has established itself as a trusted leader in supply chain planning solutions. Please contact us to learn how we can help your business optimize its supply chain performance. We look forward to hearing from you.

 


Generic Inquiry Changes in Acumatica 5.3 explained

Generic Inquiry Changes in Acumatica 5.3 explained

In Acumatica version 5.3 you may have noticed some mysterious warnings appearing on your generic inquiries. I could not find any documentation on why this started showing up. After a little digging this is what I discovered.

Problem

Let’s start with a simple test generic query.

Just use the SOOrder table

1

On the Results Grid add OrderNBR and CustomerID_Description and you will see the warning.

2

Generic Inquiry has automatically joined to the BAccount table to get the Account Name (customerID_Description – BAccount.AcctName) to be displayed.

Acumatica created the following SQL Statement to retrieve the SOOrder records. Not so easy to understand, lots of things going on.

SELECT TOP (33)  [SOHeader].[OrderType] [SOHeader_OrderType],  [SOHeader].[OrderNbr] [SOHeader_OrderNbr],  [SOHeader].[CustomerID] [SOHeader_CustomerID],  [SOHeader].[NoteID] [SOHeader_NoteID],  (SELECT TOP (1) [NoteText] FROM [dbo].[Note]  WHERE ([dbo].[Note].CompanyID IN (1, 7) AND 32 = SUBSTRING([dbo].[Note].CompanyMask, 2, 1) & 32) AND [Note].[NoteId] = [SOHeader].[NoteID]) [SOHeader_NoteText],  (SELECT TOP (1) COUNT(*) FROM [dbo].[NoteDoc]  WHERE ([dbo].[NoteDoc].CompanyID IN (1, 7) AND 32 = SUBSTRING([dbo].[NoteDoc].CompanyMask, 2, 1) & 32) AND [NoteDoc].[NoteId] = [SOHeader].[NoteID]) [SOHeader_NoteFiles],  [SOHeader].[CuryID] [SOHeader_CuryID],  [SOHeader].[CuryInfoID] [SOHeader_CuryInfoID] FROM SOOrder [SOHeader]  WHERE ([SOHeader].CompanyID = 7) AND ([SOHeader].BranchID IS NULL OR [SOHeader].BranchID IN (5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13)) ORDER BY  [SOHeader].[OrderType] ASC,  [SOHeader].[OrderNbr] ASC OPTION(OPTIMIZE FOR UNKNOWN) /* 00.00.00.00 */

To simplify, we can manually create a simplified SQL statement that will provide what we need to see to understand what is Generic Inquiry is doing.

First it returns all of the SOOrder header records.

Select OrderNbr, CustomerID From SOOrder Where CompanyID = 7 Order By SOOrder.OrderNbr

3

Next, it then loops through each of the customer ids and retrieves the AcctName. It caches the results so that for each name it only does the BAccount look up once.

Select AcctName From BAccount Where BAccountID = 2470 And CompanyID = 7

From BAccount Where BAccountID = 260 And CompanyID = 7

Select AcctName From BAccount Where BAccountID = 262 And CompanyID = 7

Example of this in SQL

4

With bigger record sets this can get very inefficient.

Solution

So how do we improve the performance and get rid of the warning. Easy!

We add the BAccount table to the Tables tab on the generic inquiry.

5

Create the relations between the Tables  (join).

6

Replace the default customerID_Description with AcctName from the BAccount Table and warning disappears.

7

Now when Acumatica executes the query it runs the equivalent of:

Select SOOrder.OrderNbr, BAccount.AcctName

From SOOrder Inner Join BAccount On SOOrder.CompanyID = BAccount.CompanyID

And SOOrder.CustomerID = BAccount.BAccountID

Where SOOrder.CompanyID = 7

Order By SOOrder.OrderNbr

A much more efficient SQL query. Mystery solved.


Distribution Software Features You Need to Get Ahead

Distribution

To stay competitive in today’s distribution market, it’s almost a given that you’re going to have to use modern software and process automation. This is especially the case if you have a small operation and operate in multiple channels. Tools such as distribution software can specifically help your business successfully compete with larger ones. Here are some features to look for inside of distribution software to remain competitive in your day-to-day operations.

Integration with e-commerce Services

If you run a business that handles multiple different distribution channels, one feature that you absolutely need to have is integration with your e-commerce services such as your on-line stores, eBay and/or Amazon.

The important thing is to try to ensure that any item purchased online through any of your online stores is properly recorded in your ERP software. This is why integration is a such a necessary feature. A one-click solution to integration in a disparate number of online storefronts is exactly what you need to process your orders efficiently. With integrated systems, your inventory and orders can be maintained in one master locations and won’t need to input all of your information twice. The automation will take care of it for you allowing for quicker response to your customers and a complete view of all your sales operation statuses in one system.

Point of Sale Options

Another useful feature to use in areas where it’s applicable is the point of sale integration. Integration will be particularly salient if you have a brick and mortar operation, or if any aspect of your business has you selling to your customer in-person at any time. This could even work for much smaller operations. Integrated point of sale systems with distribution and inventory systems is of particular importance to such operations. Again, you really don’t want to have to input the same thing multiple times. Additionally, inventory allocation and updating can be handled automatically in these cases as well.

Another aspect of this that’s important is the fact that having point of sale integration with distribution services is critical if you have multiple sales happening across different mediums all simultaneously. So, if you have an online portal and a brick and mortar location that are both processing sales at the same time, having an integrative software tool that can handle this kind of multi-channel point of sale approach is an absolute necessity in order to make sure that you’re properly keeping track of the distribution process

 

Multi-Location Integration

Once again, this is a feature that will matter more depending on how large your operation is and how many physical warehouse locations you have. Stocking the right amount in the right location is always a complicated issue. This can be solved by using the right combination of demand planning and distribution requirements planning software. These software solutions will help you determine the what, when and how much to replenish your inventory at the most optimal levels.

Supply Monitoring

Having a systematic way to order, monitor and expedite supplier orders is also a necessity. By automating standard supply chain order process, planners and buyers will be allowed to focus on the exceptions and better buying deals. It is important that accurate lead time be maintained at all times.

Mobile Compatibility

To make sure that you fit your customers and employee expectations, compatibility with mobile platforms is often a must. This includes smartphones and tablets. IBM reported in February 2016 that almost half of all online traffic for this year Valentines’ Day season was done on mobile devices. Without mobile support you would miss out on almost half of your potential customer orders, can you afford that?

For more information about distribution software services, please contact us today.


Power BI embedded to offer greater compatibility, accessibility

Power BI

Microsoft’s youngest member of the company’s collection of programs for businesses, Power Business Intelligence (BI) will allow for integration into mobile applications.

Microsoft made this announcement during its build conference in San Francisco earlier this month. With the introduction of its embedded capable version of the software, the company hopes that more people, particularly application developers, will be able to use the software. This version will utilize the company’s Azure Stream Cloud service and it is targeted toward independent software vendors.

“You can now take the Power BI data visualization and reporting functionality, and directly integrate it within your own applications,” Scott Guthrie, executive VP of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise business, said during the conference.

Power BI Embedded through the Azure Cloud would be priced in line with other applications that are currently available on the platform.

Power BI was introduced to the Office 365 platform in 2014. It supplies data analytics capabilities and users can create visualizations and data reports across their organization. Guthrie also noted during the conference that application developers can utilize the embedded version without having to require end users to be aware of the software as a part of their application experience.

According to Microsoft, there are approximately five million Power BI subscribers as of March of this year. With this announcement, the company anticipates that user base will grow as access increases.

MaxQ Technologies, Inc. specializes in reselling technological solutions for multiple industries including manufacturing, distribution, consumer goods and professional services. I Feel free to contact us for your business technology needs.

 


Power BI: Fixing Problems

Power BI

If you’re new to Power BI from Microsoft, then chances are good that you’re going to encounter some issues with using the program exactly the way you want. Here are some problems you may encounter as you make your way through the program, including some solutions as to how you can potentially solve them.

Lack of Access to Reports While on the Go

Power BI has been often thought of as primarily a desktop application. In general, the reports that Power BI generated was being read in a thoroughly immobile situation like at your office or in a conference room. But if you need to view reports on the go for whatever reason, the service has recently updated to allow for mobile reading.

It’s available in the Windows 10 mobile app as well as the app for iPhone and reports are that it will shortly appear in the Android app as well. In the app, this is accessible from the menu icon with three lines in the top left corner next to where it says “My workspace,” for example. This involves opening the tile when you’re in focus mode and then hitting the option to open the report you want.

Trouble Forecasting Sales

Using modern computing technology such as Microsoft BI to predict and manage sales is one of the more popular ways to use it. You can do this in Power BI using something called Cortana Analytics. According to the site, this gives you 95% accuracy when it comes to reporting. Once you activate the prediction you gain access to a number of different visualizations such as predictions per person in terms of money earnings so you can see a comparison.

Trouble Comparing Groups in Graphic Detail

There are plenty of tools for doing a very basic comparison between two groups, but if you want a visualization that has a significant amount of specificity. One option is to use the gap analysis visualization that was recently announced from Microsoft. The tool specifically helps show how two groups are different when it comes to multiple different traits and categorizations. That way, you can see instantly whether one group performed better in one particular category over another group, how much better the first group did in terms of the gap in performance, and so on.

This also includes the ability to organizing the gaps however you want, such as showing which category gap between the two groups was the largest.

PowerBI gap analysisDifficulty with Showing Shopping Behavior

Obviously, the crux of just about any business is going to be the shoppers or clients. In the case where shopping is done online or in another information-rich environment, it’s important to focus on the possibility of accurately depicting the behavior of the consumers of your products in visual form. After all, this is often useful for both intra-company external use. One option for doing this inside of Power BI is called the Sankey Bar Chart. The chart makes it easy to show important aspects of the process such as drop-off.

So, when you’re trying to figure out exactly where a major drop-off for your product is, this chart is useful. It works through a bar chart that quickly shows the difference between various stages of any process like your shopper’s user experience. Each of the bars will be connected since each of them represents a different part in the process. The connections between the bars will show what exactly is dropping off. That way, viewers can figure out what the problem is in their process and immediately put effort into correcting the issue. Creating value for viewers is the important thing in the process, after all.

PowerBI Sankey Bar Chart

Data integration Issues

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to easily get all of your data or the data of viewers into the program, one thing that you can now do as of approximately a year ago is combine Excel BI and Power BI Designer. Essentially, Excel is a program you can integrate with Power BI. If you have the 2013 version of the program, you can use Excel Workbooks to publish whatever you want right into Power BI. This also lets you share any analysis, data, or other types of visualizations with other people also using Power BI.

If it so happens that you don’t’ have a version of Excel such as Excel 2013, this doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of luck, however. You can instead use a similar reporter-creating tool inside of the software. It’s possible to import data from other sources this way directly and then model it and publish it straight to the service that Power BI provides.

Lack of Universal Data Access

Power BI now has the ability to allow you to access cloud services directly from it. So, if you previously had difficulty with importing and streaming data due to using a different program or a version of Power BI that didn’t work well with this, you will be able to use these new capabilities

Falling Behind Competitors Due to Time Lapse

Many options for metrics often have a lapse between when you first activate them and when they portray the metric. This is one of the advantages of Power BI, specifically that you can portray everything in real-time on your dashboard. It means that you can fix any issues that come up in your business exactly as they occur without a delay.

For more information on Power BI and related topics, please contact us today.