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"The company's fully integrated business management software, Everest® Advanced, addresses the unique needs of growing small and medium sized-businesses (SMBs)
in the wholesale/distribution and retail industries by allowing them to quickly manage and track their business operations online and offline - from storefront to the front- and back-office"
Source : Everest Software Inc.
From Quickbooks to ERP: A Roadmap for Growing Small Businesses
ERP is also known as :
enterprise business software,
enterprise management software,
enterprise resource planning,
enterprise resource planning erp,
enterprise resource planning software,
enterprise resource planning system,
erp small business,
erp software application,
erp software comparison,
erp software for small business,
erp software package,
erp software small business,
erp software solutions,
erp software systems,
erp software vendors.
Collections of standalone, single-purpose software products - even when loosely integrated on an ad hoc basis - cannot adequately address the proliferating needs of
small and medium-sized businesses. As they grow, these companies need more sophisticated, integrated solutions that unify a wide range of business functionality into a cohesive, centralized system to:
- streamline processes
- create appropriate employee empowerment
- eliminate decision-making bottlenecks at the top of the organization
- reduce IT costs, increase productivity and improve the customer
Integrated software eliminates the challenges of learning and maintaining multiple versions of multiple products. It supports real-time sharing of information at every level of the organization and can provide the basis for converging e-tail/retail business models.
The paper also provides a proposed list of relevant evaluation criteria for
selectors of integrated software, a list that includes financials, sales,
customer service, fulfillment, and business analytics.
Few companies ' of any size ' disagree with or ignore the value that business
management software can provide. Whether basic accounting functions, inventory
management, e-commerce storefronts, customer relationship management, shipping,
point-of-sale, purchasing or merchandise returns, these solutions have become
the indispensable foundation that helps streamline operations, create new
revenue streams and provide operational control as business grows. In many ways,
this is especially true for growing small retailers who find that software
solutions can provide prodigious benefits over manual methods that previously
governed business processes.
Of course, as those organizations find traction in the market and grow, their
software needs evolve to encompass greater complexity as well. There might be
more retail or e-tail locations, more sales channels, more products, more
suppliers, and of course, more customers. No longer will simple standalone tools
' a simple electronic checkbook or a collection of disparate productivity tools
' suffice. Instead, the business requires an increasing level of sophistication
in both software functions and underlying technical architecture to accommodate
new business needs and meet a mandate for greater eficiency.
The Road to Integration
Regardless of industry or size, sooner or later, almost al successful businesses reach a point where the scope of their business outstrips the simplicity of their initial (typical y standalone) tool. The basic spreadsheet or single-user solution for managing the books no longer offers the features needed to manage an increasingly complex business.
For many businesses, the next phase involves a broadening collection of software
tools. There may be a new point-of-sale system or a contact management system
followed by a simple inventory management application. Later, the business adds
a new application to track purchasing. Next, the business adopts an e-commerce
application to accept Web orders. Pretty soon, the business has purchased and
deployed a hodgepodge of different applications from different vendors for
different users in the organization. Not surprisingly, this ad hoc aggregation
soon becomes an unsatisfactory way of managing the business. A distinct lack of
integration ensues, creating a host of
challenges that encumber the
organization and inhibit employees from doing their jobs in an optimal fashion.
From wasteful re-keying of data and bottlenecked business processes, to
inconsistent data and ineffective customer service, unintegrated business
software hampers the organization in ways both obvious and subtle. That's why,
today, more companies are embracing all-in-one business software that tightly
integrates functions and data. The many advantages of such an approach ' such as
consistency, speed, simplicity, and efficiency ' present a compelling value
proposition for businesses of almost any size.
If your business has reached an inflection point ' growing beyond simple
personal productivity tools like basic bookkeeping ' you need to carefully
integration of business software can positively impact the
organization and provide a springboard to future growth and success. The
following pages of this white
paper present an objective and informative
overview of the issues to consider when evaluating the merits of integrated
"Managing the Multis"
One of the more apparent byproducts of ad hoc accumulation of software programs in a
small business is the complexity of using and maintaining multiple programs. Consider the impact:
- Multiple Software Applications to Buy, Install, Upgrade, and Maintain
- It's easy to forget that when you have multiple software products cobbled together, it falls to you to manage several procurement cycles with different vendors. You have to
install different programs on different computers for different users. And you need to apply updates ("patches") at different times and
install upgrades on varying schedules. This takes enormous amounts of time - and distracts you from your primary focus: running your business and satisfying customers.
- Multiple Systems to Learn - With different, unintegrated programs, you face the challenge of learning different interfaces, processes and functions. And, since no one person is responsible for every business function, you can end up with a situation where key employees become experts in certain programs - while other employees don't know how to use those same systems. Those
skill gaps can leave your business vulnerable when employees are sick, take vacation, or worse leave the company.
- Multiple Instances of Re-Keyed Data - When an order comes in, your employees can get caught in "application jockeying" - opening
and closing multiple applications and databases to repeatedly enter the same information. You enter the order in the sales system, the accounting system, the inventory system and the shipping system.
- Multiple Hardware Platforms - The challenge extends to hardware as
well . Some applications will require specialized or dedicated hardware systems that
you'll need to learn and maintain. That can involve data backups, security and networking issues, too.
By contrast, integrated business software eliminates these challenges by unifying al functions and data in one seamless system. Al relevant information originates from one system. Users (with appropriate security authentication and clearance) can see shipping information, credit balances, customer contact
information, inventory status, shipping charges, and more al with one multi-user system. That single system provides more robust reporting and analytics that span al functional areas of the business, supporting smarter business decisions informed by al relevant information. From an IT perspective, there are no extra systems to
install , upgrade, maintain, and learn.
Operating in Real-Time
Perhaps one of the most frustrating challenges for small companies is being
able to transact business in a real-time environment. For example, when a
customer buys a product from your Web Store you want it to be automatically
reflected in your inventory system so that an inside telesales person can
instantly see an accurate, up-to-the-second inventory status and make delivery
promises that are based on actual physical, available, unclaimed inventory.
Unfortunately, with multiple applications and systems, that kind of real-time
awareness and intelligence is impossible to achieve. There are too many process
gaps and time lags. Some systems may be loosely integrated with one another '
with custom-built interfaces. However, those systems usually update on a nightly
basis (or even less frequently) ' meaning the most recent information is not
coordinated across disparate applications. Instead of a coordinated team
utilizing one application and one set of recent (and, therefore, the most
relevant) data, you have disparate "islands" of conflicting information:
•Conflicting credit balances/approvals
• Conflicting inventory levels
Conflicting contact information
• Conflicting shipment statuses
Conflicting price lists and promotions
• Conflicting (or outdated) lists of
The result: different people looking at different information can
simultaneously make sub-optimal decisions and customer promises. For example, a
purchasing employee sees plenty of inventory and postpones a replenishment order
' unaware that, on the sales system, a sales rep has entered a major order that
will wipe out existing stocks. Or a sales rep promises prompt delivery of needed
parts to a key customer ' unaware that four hours earlier, a Web order for those
same parts was received, fulfilled, and shipped. Even worse,
information updates ' such as package tracking, inventory status, or backorder
information ' fail to make it to self-service Web pages. Those kinds of
customer-facing errors can greatly damaged company's credibility and cost you
By operating in real-time through a single software solution, your business is more agile, more responsive and more
Scalability of Systems
By their very nature, most small businesses are run by entrepreneurs ' people
who commonly have large aspirations and ambitions to grow their companies. Using
multiple solutions is a hidden trap for a small business, becoming a liability
just as the company tries to expand beyond its initial concept ' such as adding
locations or expanding product lines.
One of the often-overlooked aspects of business evolution at the crucial
early stages of a business' life is that the company must implement solid
repeatable processes that can scale as the company grows ' without creating
bottlenecks and escalation issues. Unfortunately, unintegrated "point" software
solutions discourage this forward-thinking vision, fostering a "plug the hole"
mentality that sacrifices the scalability a growing business needs in favor of a
short-term ix that only temporarily solves the problem at hand and lays the
for future breakdowns.
By contrast, an integrated business software implementation encompasses the
full range of business functions that the company will need to address today and
tomorrow. It enforces a disciplined vision that encourages the small business to
deploy automated, integrated processes that can support an expanded vision of
growth and evolution. In other words, scalability means more than scalable
software ' it means structured, well-designed and scalable processes supported
by scalable software
Productivity Through Employee Empowerment
For many small businesses, it's a familiar scenario ' all major decisions get
run past the owner. How much credit should you extend to a new customer? What
kind of safety stock should you inventory for the coming month? How much of a
discount should you offer a new customer making a major order?
That model can work on a very small scale ' but it's easily and quickly
outgrown. As the company expands, it becomes essential to push these kinds of
decisions down to lower levels of the organization. A 50-person organization can
no longer operate like a five-person company, where the founder can make every
pricing, credit and procurement decision. On the other hand, that doesn't mean
that a business owner wants to surrender all control, either.
Disparate software tools can greatly impede the empowerment of your team
members to make decisions. First, the tools are typically not synchronized well
enough to support multi-factor decisions that require data from multiple
applications or data sources ' such as "Is this order profitable at this price
point?" That reduces productivity by forcing a user to consult multiple systems
and manually aggregate data points to arrive at a decision.
Second, most businesses want to control the kinds of decisions and actions
that a user can take. For example, you might want to restrict the types of
credit decisions that a junior-level employee can make and actually enforce an
escalation for decisions that involve greater risks. Creating and embedding
those kinds of business rules across multiple disparate software packages can be
cumbersome at best ' and a time-consuming chore to change or maintain.
With integrated business management software, companies can efficiently
centralize the business rules that will govern their policies and procedures
(and who has what authorities and responsibilities). For instance, an employee
can have the authority to issue replenishment POs for certain products or with
certain suppliers according to a specified dollar limit. The result is that the
organization operates by exceptions, not by rules and achieves new levels of
controlled empowerment, fewer bottlenecks, and increased responsiveness.
Constantly Changing Regulations
In numerous ways, small businesses - like their big enterprise counterparts must comply with a constantly changing array of regulations and standards. Consider just a few examples:
- The Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards, that include requirements and best practices intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data.
- Audit preparation that ensures proper checks and balances associated with a given process are in-place. For example, audit trails that can justify revenues are accurately based on Sales Invoicing procedures.
- Changing sales tax rates to ensure a system is automated and designed to calculate tax and
collect the proper amounts at the state, county, and city-level. Audit trails also provide visibility on accuracy of tax amounts
collected based on delivery method, destination, appropriate tax-rates and exemption rules.
- Changing postal rates and new data for calculating shipment costs (including recent fuel surcharges)
- Use of CVV2 details during credit card processing for reduced costs
Unlike large companies, however, the small business typical y doesn't have the manpower and resources to continual y modify its software to stay abreast of al these changes. An unintegrated
collection of software tools presents major challenges, if only because there are so many different locations that one would need to modify and maintain information and rules.
With an integrated business management software solution, the company relies on one vendor and al updates to meet changing external rules reside in one
central location. This simplifies regulatory compliance.
The Evolution of Multi-Channel Retail
In previous years, business models were an "either/or" proposition. Either
you were a brick-and-mortar company, or you were a pure e-commerce business.
Today, of course, that binary simplicity no longer applies and smart companies
are recognizing the need to support both models ' simultaneously. Many retailers
supplement their storefronts with e-commerce Web sites, catalogs and the
Internet to extend their market reach. The multi-channel approach gives buyers
more flexibility and convenience. For example, shoppers can purchase a product
online and then arrange to pick up the item in the store within hours. Consumers
also require self-service options such as online order status, online payment
options and automated return authorizations.
Warehouses also have simple front-office POS storefronts to handle walk-up
customer business. Some retailers sell and ship materials in bulk to other
vendors. As business models converge for retailers, the pains often begin. For
example, most point-of-sale systems have no inherent understanding of Websales
and vice versa. Integration offers the ideal approach ' combining both
functionality and data to meet customer expectations of a seamless purchase and
delivery process. An integrated software system gives customers the ability to
see real-time availability of stock ' if the item is not available they can
choose another item or go elsewhere to make the purchase. Once the purchase is
made, the stock is allocated instantly so it cannot be sold again to walk-in
customers for instant delivery.
Other companies ' facing increasing margin pressure ' are recognizing that
price alone can no longer be a sufficient differentiator and are quickly adding
services to their business models. That necessitates different information
management needs such as service-ticket management and time billing.
Unfortunately, many underlying software systems have been slow to support these
hybrid models. As soon as the business models converge, the pains begin for
businesses. For example, most POS systems have no inherent understanding of Web
sales ' and vice versa.
Integration again offers the ideal approach ' combining both functionality
and data. When the company sells an MP3 player off its Web site, the sale is
reflected in the same inventory-status screen used on the retail floor.
Integrated systems allow retailers to globally schedule and source orders
based on configurable business rules and accurate inventory data. Using this
solution approach, retailers are able to manage and monitor fulfillment across
all stocking and fulfillment locations including brick and mortar storefronts,
Internet storefronts, warehouses, suppliers, catalog, etc.
Disparate software packages are not without their advantages. Chief among
these: the relative simplicity and straightforwardness of their design typically
translates into easier configuration and simpler options.
That doesn't mean, however, that integrated software solutions must
necessarily be difficult to configure or customize. Some popular vendors for
small businesses base their software on industry-standard, market-leading
technologies (and hence are easier to find qualified people to support them).
Simplified deployment and customization can also be achieved in integrated
What to Look For in Integrated Business Software
Depending on the size, industry and vision of an individual company, software
needs will vary. However, for companies in retailing, distribution, wholesaling
and e-commerce, there are several important characteristics/functional sets to
look for and that require careful consideration. The following is a useful set
of criteria to help shape the initial stages of your evaluation process.
Ideally, look for a solution that encompasses real-time accounting
information ' and eliminates the need to reconcile information from multiple
systems. An integrated system will eliminate double entries and improve tracking
and reporting through a complete ' single ' audit trail of all transactions.
Integrated financial systems provide in-depth audit trails identifying who
made updates ' as well as where and why. The structure and control of this
information supports smarter decentralization of traditional financial
processes, enabling you to involve more people without sacrificing efficiency
and accuracy. For example, sales personnel can collect money from new orders;
the shipping department can independently generate invoices prior to packaging
and shipping products; or, customer service reps can access customer balances
and A/R aging details.
Web/e-commerce functions are complex. During your evaluation,
it may be helpful to find an integrated solution that can accommodate a wide
range of features, such as product-catalog publishing, shopping-cart processing,
inventory/product availability, order tracking, freight calculations, sales-tax
calculations, credit-card processing (with fraud protection), cross-selling/
upselling/suggestive selling, Web promotions and coupons to name just a few.
It's also important for some B2B companies to present
customized views of products and pricing for specific customers. These can vary
based on location/ region, quantity pricing, restricted access to authorized
dealers, affiliate revenue tracking and other functionality.
On the retail floor, integrated software solutions can help
support sophisticated strategies for understanding (and meeting) buyer
preferences and patterns (as well as suggestive selling of accessories, for
instance). Look for a solution that can increase efficiency by providing
automated prompts and alerts during the sales process for appropriate up-sell
and cross-sell opportunities.
With the right information, you can empower your direct sales
and channel sales teams to present and negotiate multiple pricing models using
sales tools that provide details and then update proposals automatically. You
can effectively manage all aspects of the sales cycle, from lead opportunity to
By interfacing with accounting information, integrated software helps
companies manage complex processing of returned
merchandise authorizations (RMAs), including all interactions with
customers and suppliers. Integrated solutions can increase customer satisfaction
by automatically generating internal alerts (i.e., low-stock warnings) and
notifications to customers such as advanced shipping. A single, unified
repository of customer contact information ensures greater accuracy and
consistency. Finally, Web-based 24x7 customer self-service is quickly evolving
from exciting innovation to a standard, expected feature from any software
licensor. Integration is essential to achieving Web service because it requires
accessing information from numerous functions: inventory, sales accounts,
credit, accounting, shipping and more.
Integrated business software helps you leverage your previous
purchasing histories to obtain improved terms from suppliers and vendors. Tying
into inventory supply can also enable you to automate the initiation of purchase
orders to replenish stock.
In shipping/receiving an integrated solution should increase business
accuracy and efficiency by utilizing pick tickets to prioritize shipments and
then integrate with popular shipping manifests.
Integrated solutions also help simplify key processes such as drop shipments
and blind shipments, as well as just-in-time inventory management. Integrated
solutions automatically prompt users to generate a purchase order at the same
time sales are entered. Product and quantity details are copied directly to the
purchase order to save time and ensure the right product gets delivered. Drop
ship purchases orders can be generated in a batch at the end of the day. The
Integrated System can track the inventory level of products separately for each
store and warehouse location. Staff in a West coast store can view how many
units are available in their location, as well as other locations from the same
screen. Reorder points can be maintained separately for each product allowing
online shoppers to make intelligent purchase decisions based on the varying
demand of each store.
Serialization and scanning/tracking your inventory gives you precision '
every package, every component, every SKU ' from the receiving dock, through
your warehouse or store, until sold and shipped/delivered.
Inventory Management & Replenishment
An integrated solution will help you create and manage
multi-dimensional product collections using advanced Item Matrix functionality.
The best software solutions allow you to create and manage customized product
collections and user defined attributes such as size, color, style, pattern, and
width. The creation and management of unique SKUs for each attribute combination
is done automatically by leveraging wizards. You simply select the options you
want to be available for each attribute, and the wizard will do the rest.
Price changes and promotions made in the software are
immediately reflected on your Web store and price lists used by other sales
channels. Promotions can be rolled out to all customers or restricted according
to date-based coupon codes that you configure.
Analytics & Business Activity Monitoring
Nowhere are the benefits of integration more visible and
valuable than in business analytics. Robust integrated solutions aggregate data
from all transactions into a "warehouse" that you can examine and analyze. Spot
trends, uncover seasonalities, create "dashboards" of indicators ' all of which
pull data together in ways that collections of software cannot. A system that
has all business rules tied to key performance indicators and based on business
rules can optimize work-low, set alerts and create tasks. This allows you to be
pro-active in reaching customers and employees.
The Advantages of Integrated Business Software
- Increased revenue and profits
- Smarter and faster decisions
- Greater competitiveness
- Increased productivity
Why Multi-Vendor Integration Isn't the Answer
It doesn't take long for a savvy business owner to recognize the challenges
that a collection of disparate software packages presents. For many the first
attempt at addressing these issues starts with relying on the vendors to
integrate their programs with popular peer applications. For example, a popular
small business bookkeeping package builds an interface to a sales-automation
system. Then, you would want to tie in an inventory-management package or a POS
register. Next, your purchasing system has to integrate with your
To connect all of these disparate systems, you're relying on numerous
software vendors to collaborate effectively and deliver what you need with a
minimum of finger-pointing when problems occur. In this scenario you have
several vendors who must each support integrations to multiple competing
software packages (most of which you license vs. own.) This takes vendor focus
away from why you purchased their package (e.g. features and performance) and
relies on them to devote resources simply to integrate their software in
multiple ways for your business.
Finally, these software packages are all on different development and release
schedules ' which easily wreaks havoc on integration compatibility. It's a
fragile chain of modules ' leaving you at the mercy of multiple vendors to
continue to support their third-party integration work in sync with multiple
development/release schedules. This has proven to be a dubious proposition at
best. As a result, many companies are captive to the "lowest-common denominator"
factor ' they use fairly outdated software simply because they cannot risk
upgrading and potentially losing their integrated connections to other
third-party packages. This carries opportunity costs because your company cannot
avail itself of new and advanced features that could improve business
operations, and therefore, productivity.
If you are researching Integrated Software Solutions to help manage your
business, we hope you will consider Everest Software®. If you have any questions
about Everest Software or the integrated solutions market, please call us at
About Ali Jani, Chief Technology Officer
Ali is a co-founder of Everest Software and is responsible for the roadmap
and design of all Everest Software's products. With more than 15 years
experience in software engineering and development, Ali has successfully
developed, marketed and installed several commercial
off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. Prior to Everest Software, Ali was one of
the co-founders of Accel Inc., playing an instrumental role in the rapid growth
and sale of the $35 million company. In addition to his role at Everest
Software, Ali pioneered the development of digital video interactive (DVI) based
applications built on Intel's DVI program. Ali graduated from Virginia Tech with
two Bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.
About Everest Software
Everest Software empowers companies to manage every function of their
business more effectively. The company's fully integrated business management
software, Everest, addresses the unique needs of growing SMBs in the
wholesale/distribution and retail industries by allowing them to quickly manage
and track their business operations online and offline; from storefront to the
front and back office. Everest Software is committed to providing customers with
the service, support and expertise they require to increase efficiency and
profitability with a solution that provides an unmatched rapid return on
Everest Software, Inc.
21631 Ridgetop Circle, Suite 100
Tel: 800.382.0725 / 703.234.6600
Chief Technology Officer
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary.
- The Road to Integration
- "Managing the Multis"
- Operating in Real-time
- Scalability of Systems
- Productivity Through
- Constantly Changing Regulations
- The Evolution of Multi-Channel Retail
- What to Look for in Integrated Business Software
- Customer Service
Management & Replenishment
- Analytics & Business Activity Monitoring
- The Advantages of Integrated Business Software
- Increased Revenue and Profits
- Smarted and Faster Decisions
- Greater Competitiveness
- Increased Productivity
- Why Multi-vendor Integration Isn't the Answer