New to ERP? Interested in understanding specific software functionality? Having technical issues? Blue Link has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to get you on the right path to finding accounting and inventory ERP software that works for YOUR business.

Click on a question for the drop down answer.

ERP stands for “enterprise resource planning” and is essentially used to describe software that is designed to manage all aspects of a company’s operations including; accounting, order entry and processing, purchase orders, quotes, invoices, inventory management, contact management and warehouse management. Unlike introductory software, ERP is a fully integrated solution where information from one aspect of the software flows through to information from other aspects. The system is designed to heavily automate processes across multiple departments and across multiple areas of functionality.

ERP software is characterized by a single database and point of entry, which eliminates the need for double entry. Although ERP solutions include functionality to manage the main business processes of any wholesale and distribution business, true ERP solutions also provide advanced functionality that can be added-on such as: point of sale, lot tracking, landed cost tracking, eCommerce integration and mobile barcode scanning. ERP software is typically implemented once businesses have outgrown their introductory, standalone systems.

For more information on when your business should consider moving to ERP, how much it costs, and the different deployment methods, read this blog post..

The term “cloud” is often used interchangeably with the terms “hosted” and “SaaS”, and refers to the software deployment method. Essentially, with cloud implementations, the client pays the vendor an ongoing “subscription” fee for access to the software (off-premises) via the Internet. The software lives on hardware and servers maintained by the vendor who then also manages upgrades and backups.

Cloud computing refers primarily to the physical location of the software system. With cloud computing, the system is physically located off-premises and accessed via the cloud (internet).

SaaS (Software as a Service) refers primarily to the payment method of accessing software, whereby a client pays a vendor an-going monthly or yearly fee for access.

Hosted refers to the fact that the software provider is responsible for the software and the hardware it is installed on (hosting).

If you’re interested in a cloud implementation, this article can help determine if a cloud solution is right for your business.

The term “cloud” is often used interchangeably with the terms “hosted” and “SaaS”, and refers to the software deployment method whereby the client pays the vendor an ongoing “subscription” fee for access to the software (off-premises) via the Internet. The software lives on hardware and servers maintained by the vendor who also manages upgrades and backups. In contrast, on-premises implementations are installed on the client’s server, on-site and the hardware is managed by the client. Although there is no right answer as to which method is best for your business, there are certain instances where one would be better than the other.

For a comparison between the two, click here.

Landed costs are those sometimes hidden costs that are involved in making goods available for sale. This includes the total expenses incurred to purchase, transport and import goods from one place to another, within a country or across continents. Typical landed costs might include freight, duties, handling fees, insurance and other charges that, if ignored, would distort the cost of the product being sold. A landed cost will therefore involve the calculation of three main elements: the actual cost of the goods; transportation and insurance; and other government fees
assessed on the goods.

For more information on landed cost tracking, download our whitepaper, Why Landed Cost Tracking Matters.

Lot tracking, or batch tracking, allows for product traceability to keep track of which customers received specific groups (or shipments) of items and when they were received. The supplier and date these items were purchased are also tracked allowing managers to track an individual group of products (or shipment) from the supplier to their own warehouse and ultimately to the customer.

For more information on lot tracking, download our whitepaper Better Inventory Management Through Lot Tracking.

The enterprise software industry is typically divided into 3 different tiers and/or segments: Tier One introductory systems such as QuickBooks, Tier Two mid-market ERP systems such as Blue Link ERP and Tier Three, top-tier or Blue Chip solutions. Each different Tier is geared towards companies of a particular size, with certain business processes and future strategic plans. QuickBooks and ERP systems fall into different software tiers and therefore are not directly comparable. The relationship comes from the fact that once a businesses grows out of Tier One solutions (such as QuickBooks), the next logical step would be to implement a Tier Two or true ERP solution. ERP solutions provide much more advanced functionality right out of the box such as multiple units of measure, multiple company and location management, and multi-currency. They also do not have limitations when it comes to transaction volume, number of users or database size.

Learn more about Replacing QuickBooks and the Difference Between ERP and Introductory Systems

The cost of ERP depends on several different factors, and so the answer will vary by company. Most ERP solutions price based on number of users, functionality, implementation services and deployment method (whether you want a cloud-based or on-premises solution).

No matter which deployment method you choose, there are specific factors that contribute to cost. These include license fees for on-premises implementations and monthly fees for hosted/cloud, maintenance fees for upgrades and warranty, implementation fees for data migration, training and set-up, external consulting and customization costs, infrastructure upgrade costs and internal costs. With cloud-based solutions, infrastructure upgrade fees do not apply, as the software is hosted on the vendor’s servers. Sometimes components that are not usually included in out-of-the-box software packages are also available as needed at an additional cost, and can most often be added at any time. Examples include lot tracking and eCommerce integration.

In general when it comes to Tier Two ERP costs, you’re looking at implementation and license costs in the $10,000’s for on-premises solutions, and monthly hosting fees in the high 100’s to 1,000’s.

For a specific example of what ERP will cost a medium size company, download our ERP Pricing Guide.

For mid-market ERP software solutions, a typical implementation takes anywhere from 3-5 months from the time a decision has been made and an agreement signed. In some cases this timeframe would be shorter (especially when dealing with small or start-up companies), and longer for much larger businesses. In general, software implementations take time based on data migration, training, configuration and the vendor’s schedule.

For more information on the specific tasks involved with each part of the implementation, download our ERP Implementation Guide.

EDI stands for “Electronic Data Interchange” and, in it’s simplest form, is used to exchange documents between trading partners. EDI represents a set of standards, outlining formats for information that can be electronically exchanged between two parties. For example, it allows for easy communication between locations, for big box retail stores it helps track and update inventory, it enables the sharing of information between vendors and distributors and can even be used to transmit financial information and payment in electronic form (Electronic Funds Transfer or EFT).

To learn more, download our whitepaper What is EDI?

RDP stands for “Remote Desktop Protocol”, and is a Microsoft licensed technology. RDP is available for a large range of computers, tablets and other devices, including most Windows and Mac computers, iPads and iPhones, Android devices, and systems running Linux or Unix.

RDP allows users to use one of the above devices and then over the internet or a local area network (or both), connect to and run all kinds of software which physically resides on one or more servers somewhere else – and NOT on your computer or device.

Learn more about RDP and the Cloud.

There are several different ways in which you can integrate your website with your ERP system, and this will depend on how much information you want to share between both systems, how often you want that information to be shared, and whether or not you are looking to implement a B2B website or B2C website.

Simply put, eCommerce integration is the coordination between a company’s eCommerce site and back-end accounting and inventory (ERP) system. Proper integration enables the flow of information bi-directionally between the two systems meaning data only needs to be entered into the system once. This results in various efficiencies such as inventory levels automatically updating at the back-end as product is sold on the site and at the front-end as product gets added into inventory.

Learn more about the different options for eCommerce Integration.

Still Have More Questions?

Learn more about the software search by downloading our Software Buying Guide or contact us for more information.

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