The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Demand Planning

It is no secret that demand planning is a process that many businesses go through to remain successful. It allows for the creation of forecasts that will help the business manage their inventory levels. This is beneficial because the business can then use this information to align their inventory levels along with the fluctuation of demand that is placed on a particular product.

Because it is so important, there are multiple strategies that businesses can rely on when it comes to demand planning. As with all other types of strategies, some are better than others. There are also those strategies out there that wind up working against the company instead of for them. When you are choosing your strategy, be sure to avoid these instances of bad advice.

You should use one Strategy for all your Products

There are actually several factors that go into deciding the best strategy to use for any given product. Business leaders should examine things like geographical location as well as the industry in general. While this information may be consistent between some products a company offers, there are also times when each product should be treated individually.

Trying to place all your products into a one size fits all kind of model is dangerous and will not provide the right type of information that is truly valuable. Instead, you should always look at your products individually in order to determine what the true demand for the product will be in the near future.

You should think of Demand Planning as if it were a Program

This is a trap that many businesses fall into. Oftentimes, we tend to look towards the future and wish that we could speed to success instead of going through the process. This is the same issue in some companies that are looking to implement demand planning. They are focused on getting it up and running quickly.

Instead of taking this approach, it is always best to focus on creating a demand planning project that is ran well. While we all want to begin being successful quickly, demand planning is something that should take some time to implement. It is not a program that has certain steps that you must follow in order to be completed. Take the necessary time to carefully analyze the information that you are receiving so that you can gain the best amount of quality data. This will allow you to make the best decisions in regard to your inventory.

If you Plan correctly, you won’t have Surprises

Planning is an important part of the entire process. But, no matter how well you do plan, there will always be something that occurs unexpectedly. To help balance this, you should always have a backup or contingency plan. The most important thing to remember is that there will be surprises and that you must plan for every scenario possible.

In order to plan for surprises, always make sure that you are in a position that makes you flexible. For example, you may find that you need to have a plan to find alternate materials than what you normally use to create your products. Having this plan in place and being able to execute it quickly can help you to manage the times when supplies are out of stock or limited from your traditional supplier.

Don’t Put your Faith in Statistics

Statistics aren’t really all that exciting. However, they definitely have their place in the business industry. In fact, most businesses out there aren’t really using statistics to the best of their ability. Instead, they simply glance at the numbers and carrying on with their daily lives.

Statistics are very powerful. Businesses who have the ability to drive the company towards improvement are those that are the most profitable and successful. Also, when you rely on statistics to make changes to your demand planning strategy, you will find that it is extremely easy to measure the value that is added from your changes. So, along with your forecast information, be sure to review statistics that are related to your industry and your products when making changes to your strategy.

Your Plan should be complicated in order to provide the most Value

Some mistakenly believe that in order for something to work the best way that it must be complicated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, demand planning will work much more efficiently if you are able to keep your processes and strategies simple.

The most important thing with any demand planning process is that the strategy that you choose is geared towards your specific company. Take a look at the amount of support that you will need as well as the amount of information that is already available. You can then choose a strategy that will help work with your company in the best capacity.

Focus on only one Product at a Time

It is true that you should look at each product individually. However, it is also true that you should focus on all your products rather than just one or a handful of your most popular items. You never really know what you are missing with other products when you choose to rely on this method. When a company only focuses on certain products, they may find that their success is not as great as they had expected.

Instead, you should take more of a 360 approach when it comes to demand planning. Look at the various elements of your entire business and look for changes that you can make to improve each of them. Some companies have found that by making some simple changes with some of their lesser performing products that they were able to greatly improve the success of the entire company.

Final Thoughts

Demand planning is critical for companies that are looking to create historical sales information. With this type of information, forecasts can be created that reflect the company’s customers as well as statistical information about the company as a whole. This information can then be used to collaborate with the customers in order to create products that will appeal to them and that will be available when demand is high.

There are plenty of things that a business can do incorrectly when it comes to demand planning. For this reason, it is always best to rely on a specialist to help with the goals that your company has in place. Choosing a partner for this venture is something that you should consider if you are looking to truly gain control over your inventory and the demand for that inventory.

When choosing a company to help you with this mission, be sure to choose one that has experience within your industry. You should also look for a company that takes the time to learn about your company and what is most important to you. This type of company will be the best option when it comes to receiving the value that you deserve to receive.

To learn more about MaxQ and what we have to offer to our customers, be sure to contact us. With our solutions, you will find that your business is able to receive all the information that it needs to rise to the top.

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Three reasons not to ignore professional services software

Three reasons not to ignore professional services software

Professional Services Software

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In the professional services software industry, your assets are not in nuts and bolts, but in ideas, inspiration, and relationships. Consulting and legal firms are in high demand, and need a unique perspective on customer satisfaction and project management. Their customers are looking for tangible ROI while employees are wondering about the next step.

More and more firms in the professional services industry are turning to software to manage and measure their company’s operations. But how can a software program measure that which is, essentially, intangible? And will your firm see ROI on the investment?

You may be tempted to let professional services software go; it’s too much trouble or maybe it seems like there is too little to be gained. Trust us, we have three big reasons why you shouldn’t ignore this trend.

 

  1. The first big reason to employ professional services software is to stay within budget. A robust and scalable software will handle all expenses from business meetings and travel expenses to materials and contractor billing. If your firm is doing this all manually, the biggest waste is time consumed in shuffling papers. Small mistakes such as overdue or unpaid bills will quickly put you over budget.
  2. Project delays cost time, money and face-value. Clients are less likely to stay with a firm that breaks a contract due to any “unforeseeable circumstances.” What you need from day one is a software program that will keep your project on track. Timely project completion keeps your clients happy and loyal. A professional services software will analyze all the data and requirements associated with a project and produce realistic timelines and milestones. When one stage is completed before or after a deadline, the entire project is re-scaled to account for this variable.
  3. Maximize employee accountability and productivity. With an all-encompassing software your employees have access to relevant information and are responsible for reporting progress each step of the way. Management is able to view expense sheets, plan details and recommend tactics based on quantifiable progress.

Don’t miss out on the next contract because your firm can’t handle it. Trust your next big deal to a reliable and robust professional services software. To talk more about this, or anything else, please Contact Us. Thanks.


Increase Quality with the Right Distribution Software

Increase Quality with the Right Distribution Software

Distribution Software

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Quality is the elusive goal many companies seek, but it is difficult to find. The costs of analysis, review and tighter management tend to drive businesses away from seeking quality, and lead to pursuit of value (quality and costs), or just being an industry leader in price wars. With the right distribution software, quality is attainable for small and medium distribution companies.

The quality mindset continually studies your systems, processes and results and seeks to find areas to improve. As improvements are applied, the quality mindset continues to review and apply strategic changes to improve.

The right distribution software will increase quality through the following four ways:

  1. Information – Distribution affects all aspects of your business. If your product/service is not distributed to the right people, you will not get customers. If distribution is done poorly with bad timing, you lose customers. If you have the right information, including tracking your distribution, keeping track of inventory in each location, knowing customer reorder rates and more give you the tools to increase quality.
  2. Inventory management – Tracking, forecasting and planning inventory can be a mathematician’s headache. The right software can make this easier by helping to remove the unknowns and the issues your management face with managing inventory.
  3. Event triggers –  Reordering product, identifying slow-moving products, and organizing warehouses are all events that can be predicted mathematically. The right software will give your management and employees objective means to decide and act. The objective triggers decrease human error and increase quality.
  4. Communication – The right distribution software facilitates communication between vendors, customers, and shareholders. Reporting functions, user accounts, and automatic responses all create more communication. Communication is key to building a quality process and the right distribution software will increase communication while reducing costs.

 

Businesses who desire to increase quality in their distribution processes can do so easily with many new software systems. MaxQTech offers different distribution, customer management and enterprise resource software solutions that will help companies increase quality. For information on how our systems can improve your quality processes, please contact us.


Security is Top Priority for Distribution Software

Security is top priority for distribution software

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Distribution Software

The retail business is one of the fastest evolving sectors in this economy. Retailers from mom-and-pop to mega-chains are leveraging the power of distribution software to streamline everything from sales order entry, to inventory planning and forecasting and warehouse management.

But with the rapid evolution of distribution software and the mobility that it facilitates comes with a price. At the latest National Retail Federation’s 10th Annual Conference and Expo in New York City, security was on the top of everyone’s lists.

According to Tech Page One, reporting on the NRF Expo that ended January 14th, “one retailer…uses MDM (mobile device management) applications to let workers locate inventory and ship it to customers.” Some warehouses have a BYOD policy in place with firewalls to protect company data, but that solution still leaves companies vulnerable.

While employee devices can be programmed to locate and track inventory and the status of a shipment, their capabilities are still limited. What about inventory planning and forecasting? How can you manage warehouse operations from a remote location, and simultaneously track sales orders and shipments from multiple remote locations?

While the obvious solution involves unique devices used only for warehouse operations, what software will be running on those devices? The most secure solution for the distribution industry is a robust, scalable software that works on the management level as well as the level of daily operations. When you invest in distribution software, you are investing in the most secure strategy on the market.

  • Sensitive company data stays “in-house”
  • Software allows only registered devices and users access to information
  • Warehouse managers have at-a-glance capabilities for inventory planning, forecasting and tracking
  • Automatic Data Collection integrates with your ERP for company-wide accountability

Our industry solutions for distribution software are loaded with functionality and flexibility so you can run your business and safeguard your investment. Contact us to get started today!


Perpetual Licenses vs. SAAS

Perpetual Licenses vs. SAAS

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SaaS (Software as a Service) is relatively new software product made possible by the cloud. In the past, the vast majority of software products were made available via one-time installs and used “perpetual licenses.” A perpetual license gave a business the exclusive, perpetual use of the software that they bought. Businesses were legally limited in the amount of times they could install each program, but up until the last 15-20 years, software companies had no practical way to prevent multiple copies.

Today, with Microsoft and Adobe both offering their business software suites on a monthly subscription platform, the industry is changing. For businesses, the difference between the former perpetual licenses and SaaS is significant.

Perpetual Licenses

Perpetual licenses cost more up-front, but a business could use one indefinitely if it was not a core part of your operations. Licenses can allow for selling your software once your company decides to stop using it. The disadvantages for perpetual licenses were substantial, though. The up-front cost of the software and the need to update any core components to your business created logistics and budget strains.

Many companies would have to update on a periodic basis. These updates required software engineers to install the new software, update old files, and upgrade out-of-date hardware. The install time created down times for each business. Individual employee’s computers all needed to be updated also. Installs could sometimes take weeks or months of planning.

SAAS

SaaS attempts to offer a solution to business’s many problems with perpetual licenses. The idea of software as a service is as old as “You’ve Got Mail”, where AOL offered dial-up software suites on a monthly subscription service. SaaS has only recently grown in popularity and usability as advances in networked computing (the Cloud) has enabled companies in some cases to offer cheap and free data to software users.

SaaS solves the problem of expensive installs because, once installed, the software is typically updated automatically for the life of the subscription. Also, the integrated nature of subscriptions gives support feedback immediately. This feedback gives information to the software company, enabling patches and customer support to be more efficient.

SaaS also creates interesting resources businesses never had with Perpetual Licensing. Cloud based control panels give companies the ability to control their business remotely, set up multiple offices without expending capital (employees work from home), and offer customer service 24/7. The cheaper installs (no one-time software fees) also give companies access to larger software suites. This allows for greater customization and integration of multiple business systems (Customer Service, HR, time management, accounting). Companies can order SaaS plans that are customized and implemented by a 3rd Party, reducing the costs of initial installs, and preventing the need for hiring software engineers, programmers and designers if software is not your business.

While there are some disadvantages to SaaS, for a business whose main thing is not software (manufacturing, service, retail, etc), SaaS can revolutionize the way you do business.

To find out how SaaS programs can benefit your business, please contact us.


About Distribution Software

About Distribution Software

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Distribution Software is a software solution that aids an organization in their supply chain process. Most companies have more than one department that directly affect inventory. Using distribution software can greatly help with inventory management.

In general terms, inventory management refers to the method a business uses to handle its tangible resources and material to make sure that it is readily available. Inventory management allows a company to use their inventory assets more efficiently to maximize its revenue.

A company’s distribution pipeline generally requires that products are stocked in a warehouse and then transferred from one location to another in the distribution chain. Distribution software automates managing inventory levels by using SKU or UPC at their warehouse locations.

To keep large warehouses organized, the software package helps identify bin locations for individual products by the UPC/SKU number. Employees can be directed to those locations for shipments, pull products when needed, and make room for new products. Employees can also be directed while putting product away as well as being notified to replenish picking stock from bulk storage areas.

Real time inventory monitoring of each product stored in a warehouse is an important function of distribution software. Products that are running low can be identified.  Re-orders can take place, insuring that the demand for the product can always be met. The software can also forecast product demand based on previous customer ordering history.

A Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) program. VMI means that it is up to the vendor to replenish inventory for a customer based on some predefined parameters. The customer does not send the vendor purchase orders but instead supplies the vendor with usage or Point of Sales data. It is up to the vendor to decide when and how much inventory to ship to the customer. This gives the vendor a tremendous opportunity to maximize its sales and get closer to the end user of its products.

MaxQ Technologies offers distribution software. For more information contact us here.


IDC Forecasts SAAS Will Be The Fastest Growing Area of Enterprise IT Through 2018

IDC Forecasts SAAS Will Be The Fastest Growing Area of Enterprise IT Through 2018

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International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2018, 27.8% of the worldwide enterprise software market will be SAAS applications. According to IDC, just 16.6% of enterprise applications were SaaS-based in 2013.

These and other findings are from the recent IDC report, Worldwide SAAS Enterprise Applications 2014–2018 Forecast and 2013 Vendor Shares.  The recent Forbes article IDC Predicts SaaS Enterprise Applications Will Be A $50.8B Market By 2018 summarizes the results.

Why SAAS Is Accelerating In The Enterprise 

  • Product life cycles are continually under pressure to deliver greater sales in less time, leaving little time to launch products successfully. Companies are relying on SAAS-based analytics, CRM and marketing automation applications to address their time-to-market requirements, as on-premise systems are often much slower and expensive to install and use.
  • Greater availability of analytics to measure and improve decisions. Analytics and business intelligence (BI) SAAS applications are often deployed within days or weeks instead of months it often takes to implement on-premise systems. Enterprises are using the advanced analytics and BI functions of SAAS applications to create their own unique measures of performance and quickly create dashboards to manage with greater accuracy.
  •  SAAS-based ERP systems are one of the fastest growing of enterprise applications as manufacturers look to unify geographically diverse locations within a single system.  Legacy ERP systems that are on-premise lack this agility, and to replicate it, companies running on-premise systems alone need to buy multiple licenses. This gets very expensive and takes time to implement, while SAAS-based systems are often up and running within weeks.
  • The economics of cloud computing and SAAS applications put enterprise customers back in control of their IT spending and budgets.

 

SAAS-based systems can give your company a time-to-market advantage against competitors and drastically reduce your IT costs.

Contact us and let’s discuss how MaxQ Technologies, Inc. can help you get to your goals.


Subscription Software: Making It Deliver

Subscription Software: Making It Deliver

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Subscription Software

Participating by subscription improves customer service on both sides of the desk. While this statement may seem somewhat self-absorbent, it is quite truthful. Using subscription software, the customer receives an experience enhancing their business or personal activity with a provider enterprise.

Merchant Delivery

Subscription services are present in a number of business models and product offerings over many industries. They are prevalent in these representative fields:

  • Software
  • Advertising
  • Communications
  • Equipment sales
  • Financial services
  • Real estate
  • Travel
  • Database/Knowledgebase Access
  • Education
  • Membership

Subscriptions are available within other industries and serve to enhance consumer enjoyment of reading, entertainment and health/fitness activities. Most subscriptions have low startup costs and reduce a customer reluctance to try, which is the lure that attracts participants.

Subscription Benefits

Consumer benefits make this model appealing to the masses. Because customer loyalty is important, it puts them in control as the merchant does everything possible to provide the best experience possible. The result is an organization’s focus to retain and grow their customers by providing ongoing positive and valuable experiences for their customers.

Pleasing the consumer is important as this means a better chance on an upselling that will result in higher billing and renewals. This will help an organization to build on success with retention instead of churn, which means a higher ROI on customer acquisition investment. Patterns of consistent recurring revenue mean an organization has more predictable and consistent business model.

How it Works

While up-front cost of acquiring each customer can be higher, but the cost of retaining and service each one you get is much lower. Recurring payments help an organization maintain predictable cash flow, improve billing accuracy and provide excellent customer service practices. Automation allows the process to be very efficient and easy to manage.

Once a subscription contract is active and initial payment received, the system does the rest. Your customer receives a customized statement/invoice dependably and the company experiences reduction of administrative costs.

Contact us to learn about the various ways we can help your company apply the subscription model of business.


MaxQ Charge It! – Credit Card Accounting Demystified

Credit Card Accounting Demystified

MaxQ Charge It! for Dynamics SL

Scenario:

  • Invoice for $100 processed for Customer ABC using a Credit Card
  • Credit Card Fee of 3%

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charge-it

Step 1: Invoice to Customer ABC processed  – $100 balance in AR for Customer ABC

Debit                      Credit
A/R $100              Sales $100

Step 2: Batch Close – Customer Credit Memo
– Credit Memo ($100) created for Customer ABC leaving $0 balance on their account
– Credit Card Fees ($3) captured & booked to the expense account defined in Charge It! Setup
– Clearing Account is defined in Charge It! Setup

Debit                       Credit
Clearing $97           A/R $100
Fees $3

Step 3: Batch Close – Invoice to Credit Card Company
– Invoice ($97) created for Credit Card Customer defined in  Charge It! Setup
– $97 AR balance for Credit Card Customer

Debit                      Credit
A/R $97                 Clearing $97

Step 4: Payment from Credit Card Company

Debit                      Credit
Cash $97               A/R $97

– Payment ($97) for Credit Card Customer  created & applied