Inventory & Accounting ERP Software Blog

6 Tips for Researching ERP Software Vendors

According to research expert Joseph Johnson and a recent Statista report, Google accounts for 86.6% of the global search market with over 3.5 billion searches per day. So, it’s no surprise that most people looking for information navigate to Google as their first source of data. Plus, millions of marketing teams around the world spend their days creating content and designing websites to make it even easier for Google to find and share the information that customers want. When searching for new ERP software for your business, Google is frequently the first source of information. However, there are several other places you can look for information about the right system and tricks and tips for making the most of your Google searches (whether you’re looking for ERP software or buying a new couch). Continue reading for more information on how to research an ERP system and Google search tips to help make the most of your online search efforts.

6 Tips for Researching ERP Software Vendors

Ask People in your Network
Perform a Google Search
Determine What Keywords Are Important to Your Business
Do Your Homework and Read ALL the Information
Don’t Forget About Review Sites
Consider Using 3rd Party Consulting Sites for Complex Business Needs

Ask People in Your Network

When searching for an ERP system to manage your business, the best place to start is to ask for a referral to software that has been tried and tested by someone you trust. Are you friendly with your competitors? Do you have friends in the industry or are you part of any trade organizations? If so, speaking with these people is a great way to get the inside scoop on which systems are best (and which ones to avoid).

Perform a Google Search

Even after you’ve asked people in your network for specific recommendations, you will still want to search those results online and use Google to find other options. When you do search on Google, the more specific you can be, the better the results. Searching for ERP software will yield millions of results and is too generic of a search term, meaning it doesn’t provide enough context around what information you want. Instead, choose your search keywords carefully and try to search based on your industry or specific requirements – for example, ERP software for wholesale business. You can also use Search Operators to help refine your Google search even further. Google has put together a great resource of all their search operators, such as the ability to search a specific site by using the following format: 

Add the word “site:” in front of an existing website URL and then enter your search term to search for information on a specific website – for example, site:www.BlueLinkERP.com “customers” 

 Determine What Keywords Are Important To Your Business

When searching using Google, or when speaking with potential software vendors, consider if some of the keywords you’re using have multiple meanings.  A great example is searching for and talking about inventory management as it can mean many different things in different contexts. For example, when it comes to inventory management…

Do you need inventory management as a company that buys and sells different product?
Do you need inventory management as part of your production processes? Do you need to manage raw materials and finished goods?
Do you need inventory management to manage internal assets and equipment? Inventory that is used internally by you and your colleagues?
Do you need inventory management for rental items?

Each of the different scenarios above imply very different business processes and requirements, so once again, make your search as specific as possible when using Google and read all the information on a software vendor’s website to ensure you’re in the right place.
READ MORE: Blue Link’s Software Buying Guide
Do Your Homework and Read ALL the Information

Expanding on the last point from above, while it can be very time-consuming to sift through multiple websites looking for information, spending extra time in the beginning doing research can save you time down the road. Many software vendors (Blue Link ERP included) provide advanced features that are more industry-specific and can be added to the company’s base software package. When you do find a website/company promoting a specific feature, double-check if it’s available as a standalone product or included with the full set of ERP tools. For example, if you’re searching for inventory management software and find a website page promoting the functionality, make sure to read the information closely to check if the inventory management is a standalone system or included as part of a full ERP with accounting, warehouse management, order entry and processing and more. This will save you time speaking with vendors who only offer a subset of the functionality you need (or who offer more than what you’re looking for).

Don’t Forget About Review Sites

Review sites are another great way to get information about a company and its products before you start speaking with vendors. Many review sites categorize products which can help you create a list of potential vendors to do further research on. When reading reviews, look at the dates of the information and read both positive AND negative reviews. This will help you determine if the reviews are legitimate, what specific areas of the software are good/bad and whether a review is from a disgruntled customer or is cause for legitimate concern.

Consider Using 3rd Party Consulting Sites for Complex Business Needs

3rd party consulting sites such as SoftwareAdvice.com and SoftwareConnect.com are a great resource for creating a list of potential vendors and finding a software solution, especially if your business has very unique requirements. These sites provide free services and will recommend solutions based on your requirements, processes and budget. However, be mindful that these types of sites only recommend vendors that have a paid membership. So while they are great if you have unique business processes and need help getting started, you’re better off performing an initial Google search if your business operates following standard processes.

The next time you’re using Google or researching systems for your business, keep in mind the above 6 tips for researching the different options to make the most of your search efforts! 

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[VIDEO] Can a Product Matrix help streamline your processes?

Do you have products that come in a range of sizes, colors or other variables? If so, you’re probably looking at a lot of SKU’s that can get confusing and time-consuming to analyze. With so much data, this can present inventory management challenges that would be much easier to navigate if you could streamline the ordering process of these types of products. Whether you’re purchasing these items or selling them, the best and most productive way to go about inputting orders is through a grid format such as the product matrix feature in your ERP system. “ERP” Enterprise Resource Planning is an all-in-one solution for inventory management and accounting and includes functionality for sales orders and purchase orders. If you work in an industry where products have different variables (such as colors and sizes), the product matrix will benefit both the sales and purchasing sides of your business.

Product Matrix

Let’s look at an example: Pretend you are a furniture company and one of the items you are selling are bedframes.

Each bedframe can come in three sizes: twin, queen, and king but it can also come in 10 colours.

Tracking this information alone would create 30 SKUs for just one style of bedframe, not to mention all the other furniture you’re selling! Even if all your inventory is set up perfectly, it will be very time-consuming inputting orders line by line whereas, with a user-friendly matrix, you can enter multiple products of the same style in a fraction of the time. Not only will the matrix allow users to input products and quantities more efficiently, but it will also give insight into your inventory management and allow you to see products by color and by size the quantities available and will not show you the quantities already allocated. This component will minimize inventory errors and give your employees the ability to communicate live inventory levels to the customer placing the order. The Product Matrix can also be extremely helpful if you have multiple warehouses and want to view the data for each individual warehouse.

The video below provides an overview of how Blue Link’s Product Matrix can automate and streamline the management of products and allow you to greatly reduce ordering times.

 

Configurator

Now what if you have a product that has multiple, different variables for a SKU, some are required and others optional?

Let’s look at an example: Pretend you sell cars where there are a lot more variables than just color and size.

For one particular car model, you may be offering three different trim levels. Each trim level will have a predetermined set of variables that you choose, for example, 16” wheels or 19” wheels, leather seats or fabric seats and heated steering or unheated.

This is where your business would benefit from a product configurator feature. Think of the above as predetermined packages that customers can choose from; each trim level is a configured product. Any industry that offers options to its products would benefit from the configurator.

If you’re a company dealing with a lot of SKUs and searching for the right ERP, look for one with order entry and product matrix capability and/or a product configurator to help your business automate this process.

Are you interested in ERP software to assist with automating and streamlining your business processes? Download our guide to learn more about what software is best for you: Software Buying Guide

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Inventory Management Techniques: Consolidated Shipping

Shipping processes are an integral part of any wholesale distribution business and customers today have come to expect superior shipping services – such as quick ship times and easy returns. Trying to satisfy changing customer demands and compete against shipping giants like Amazon can leave your business struggling to keep up. But, for wholesale distribution businesses that ship a high volume of orders every day, there are certain shipping techniques to help your business save money and keep customers happy. One shipping technique available to your business is consolidated shipping.
What is Consolidated Shipping?
Consolidated shipping is when you combine different customer orders into one shipment and then ship all the products to a location that is central to the final shipping destination of each individual order. This can be done by using your own delivery vehicles, or by combining your orders with multiple LTL (less-than-truckload) shipments from various other shippers into one full container/truckload. Instead of individually shipping multiple orders from your warehouse to various locations and customers in another city, you consolidate all those shipments and send them to one central location. Once the orders arrive at the central location, you use local carriers to ship the product to the end customer.
New: Even More Inventory Management Techniques
Example of Consolidated Shipping
Let’s pretend you have 25 individual orders that need to get shipped to customers all across Michigan. In this situation, you could choose to…

Option (1) –  Individually ship each order from your warehouse to the corresponding customer location – therefore paying for the cost of individually shipping each item
Option (2) – Consolidate these 25 orders with other LTL shipments and ship everything to a centrally located warehouse in Michigan, and then use local carriers to ship each individual order to the final customer location

Benefits of Consolidated Shipping
As you can see, in certain circumstances, making use of consolidated shipping techniques can save your company time and money and helps to optimize supply chain logistics. This is especially true when shipping multiple orders across states or internationally. Consolidated shipping not only saves you the cost of having to pay for a full truckload when you only have a few items, but it also helps you save on import and freight charges and can be very beneficial when shipping many small orders to customers in the same area. To make it easy to determine when consolidated shipping makes sense, warehouse management software such as Blue Link ERP can help you identify when to consolidate shipments based on the number of orders, estimated shipping costs and final ship-to location. These features, as part of an all-in-one inventory and accounting ERP system, can help your business manage the entire buying and selling process – from the time a customer submits an order to the picking, packing shipping and invoicing stage.

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CRM vs. ERP? What’s the difference?

As technology constantly evolves, so do people. The internet has completely flipped how the sales cycle works and people don’t appreciate old sales tactics like cold calling or unsolicited emails anymore. However, the ability to manage relationships and provide personalized experiences to sales leads and prospects is more important than ever. So how can you do this? Proper software is the key to keeping track of customer accounts, managing communication, categorizing leads and customers, tracking sales history and providing customers and sales prospects with a great customer service experience. Having a fully functional ERP system will allow you to maintain a high level of customer care because all data is stored in one central location. For example, customer service can pull up customer information and create a sales order while looking at the same screen as opposed to spending time switching between systems.

CRM vs ERP? What’s the difference?

The difference between CRM and ERP is that a CRM system is primarily used to help organize information about your customers, vendors and sales leads and manage the entire sales funnel from initial contact, to close and post-sale communication. An ERP system, on the other hand, is an all-in-one solution used for accounting, reporting, inventory management and more.

Some ERP software includes CRM functionality, but a CRM will not include ERP functionality. For example, Blue Link ERP has some CRM capabilities but Salesforce.ca would not have accounting or inventory management capability. So, the idea of “CRM vs ERP” is not a fair comparison. It is important to understand this because depending on your business model, the best option is to have all the functionality you need compiled into one software, instead of dealing with integration issues that could ultimately hurt your bottom line. However, if you do have a more complex sales process and want to stay competitive, it is essential to have both systems in place and you will want them to work seamlessly together. The purpose of both is to make all processes easier for your team and customers all while continuing business growth. The chart below highlights ERP features as well as CRM specific features that would be included in the ERP software. Click to enlarge.

 

 
“If you’re not taking care of your customers, your competitor will.” – Bob Hooey.
 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Your customers are what drive the sales of your business, so of course maintaining relationships is important. That is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software comes into play. A CRM is exactly what it sounds like, a tool to help with your sales funnel and management of customer information. This functionality will allow users to track communication, archive emails, schedule upcoming actions, track leads and prospects and maintain a strong relationship with customers. In any business, relation management is so important that there is actually software designed strictly as a CRM.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and is a business software solution designed to manage all aspects of a company’s operations including accounting, order entry and processing, inventory, warehouse management and more. You may be wondering what that has to do with customer relationships. Well, as a business begins to grow and more orders come in, it may be increasingly harder for your sales team to keep track of all the leads, prospects, and information. ERP software replaces the need for purchasing and integrating multiple standalone inventory, accounting and CRM systems. If you’re looking for ways to help streamline processes and compile data in one system, consider an ERP that has CRM functionality built right into it.

 

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[VIDEO] Improve Productivity With These 5 ERP Review Screens

Review screens in ERP software provide some of the most powerful tools for improving your workflow efficiency. Not only do review screens give you a quick business snapshot, but they also allow you to take action and edit multiple items at the same time. ERP review screens are particularly powerful for managing a large volume of transactions. Blue Link ERP software provides a variety of review screens out-of-the-box, and with every review screen, you’re able to create and save different filters, open and expand on information from the review screen, drill down into specific details, and take action on selected items. Below we take a closer look at some of the more powerful review screens in Blue Link to help manage processes across all areas of the business – Sales Order Review, Quote Review, Purchase Order Review, Production Review, and AP Voucher Review. 

Sales Order Review

Blue Link’s sales order review screen helps with bulk order management and displays all sales orders (SOs) that are currently open that have not been posted. On this screen, you can see all kinds of information about SOs right at your fingertips – such as order status, order type, where things are in the process, customer, destination, shipping method, etc. You can also see important information such as fill percentage which is how much of the order you could fill based on current inventory. Fill percentage displays as a health indicator using an easy-to-see color code system that shows whether the order is ready to move to the next status or if it’s blocked. You can also expand information for each sales order to see line item details, or open up the SO in the Sales Order screen.

One of the biggest benefits of the Sales Order Review screen is that it only shows orders that you need to do something with and then allows you to take action on those orders. For example, you can start by filtering the orders by Order Status = New, and then add more filters such as those without a customer purchase order. You can then save this filter to use again in the future. Whether or not you use a filter, you can take action on a single order, all orders, or multiple orders. The Take Action button allows you to do things such as:

Print pick slips, pack slips and/or shipping labels
Print invoices
Post invoices
Generate an email
Change an order status

If you’re also using Blue Link’s wireless handheld picking devices, instead of printing pick slips for the warehouse, you can take action from the Sales Order Review screen to release multiple orders directly to the electronic picking device for paperless picking. At the same time, you can change the order status to “Being Picked”, preventing someone else from trying to pick/open the same order.

Quote Review

With Blue Link’s Quote Review screen, you can see all open quotes which is any quote that has neither been cancelled nor turned into a sales order. With the Quote Review screen, all the same basic rules apply in terms of filtering, saving filters, and being able to take action, expanding on specific quotes, drilling down into more information and opening the quote. You can also review all cancelled quotes to perform an analysis on old quotes for customers – or resend a customer an old quote.

Purchase Order Review

With the Purchase Order Review screen you can see at a high level all purchase orders based on their status – for example, sent, approved, unapproved and more. You can also see information such as vendor confirmation, has the vendor confirmed the PO, do we have a PO #, etc. You can then go ahead and take action on one or multiple purchase orders.

Production Review

Blue Link’s Production Review screen is useful for people doing things like assembly, BOM and creating production lots. The screen allows you to see all production lots that are currently in progress that have been started but not yet finished. You can also expand a production lot to see which components are involved. This is the only review screen where you are not able to take action on items, as it doesn’t make sense to manage the production of multiple different lots on a bulk basis in a true assembly or manufacturing scenario. However, you do have the ability to open a production lot to continue to advance and progress it and the screen gives you a general overview of where you are, when things started, whether the production lot has been issued, whether it’s been completed etc.

A/P Voucher Review

The A/P Voucher Review screen (Accounts Payable) is great for your accounting department if your processes require that someone review all A/P vouchers before they get posted. If you’re using Blue Link’s electronic document management system, DocuWare, you’re also able to view images of the A/P voucher from this screen. Using DocuWare, you can import/scan supplier invoices directly into the DocuWare system which will then create unposted A/P vouchers for your team to review. Your team can then simply log in to the A/P Voucher Review screen to review the information and to make sure that everything is correctly allocated to then post the AP Vouchers, or you have the option to double click on the invoice number to open the A/P voucher screen and complete the process from there.

As you can see, review screens are a powerful tool for managing transactions and processes across multiple areas of the business. Combined with other reporting, analytics and dashboards, review screens allow you and your team to quickly and easily make informed decisions about the business and complete transactions.   

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Are Your Employees Overworked? Consider These Two Options

Company growth is exciting! You’ve put your heart and soul into your business, worked hard, hired a team of experts and now it’s paying off. With wholesale and distribution companies, corporate growth, higher order volume and an increase in transactions go hand in hand with an increase in administrative work, data entry, and warehouse picking, packing and shipping requirements which often triggers chaos and panic as employees try to re-evaluate their responsibilities and keep up. Because of this, it could mean it’s time for some revision around the office. Looking at your current workforce is a good place to start. How are your employees handling an increase in workload? How long does it take them to do their jobs at a manual level? At the end of the day, do they feel accomplished or worn out? Your employees are the backbone of your business and as their employer, part of your job is ensuring they remain happy. You may have hired the most talented group of people you can find but if they are feeling overworked and disengaged, their performance may be lacklustre.

Overworking doesn’t just disengage employees; it affects their overall health. A recent study showed that individuals who work 55 hours or more per week have a 1-3 times higher risk of incident stroke than those working standard hours. While this tidbit of information is not to scare you, it is to give you insight into how the stress of a job can impact employee wellbeing. We all know how stress affects our sleep and how sleep affects our day-to-day lives. With about 30 percent of our lives being dedicated to working, let’s try to keep stress to a minimum.

Often when companies are experiencing growth and the current workforce can’t keep up, there are two major ways to handle the increase in order volume, administrative work and daily tasks:

Option 1: Hire someone to help manage the increased workload

Option 2: Invest in ERP Software to automate processes and decrease individual employee workload

 

Let’s consider a simple example of a 10-person company, where 2 employees are customer service reps (CSR) who input telephone orders. Normally, the reps work 40 hours a week, but business has been booming; the average of 50 orders a day, doubles and now the two CSR’s are working overtime to ensure timely delivery of orders. When one rep wants to take a day off, it is difficult for the other to ensure all orders are being inputted properly. Inventory is coming in faster than before, mistakes are being made and orders are delayed. If this continues, business growth will halt. The last thing you want to do is offer customers less than exceptional service. To manage the growth the business is facing and minimize employee stress, management is thinking about either hiring a helping hand or investing in software.

Based on the above scenario, there are several factors to consider. The first is Cost which refers to the implementation and maintenance of the software vs. salary and benefits for a new hire. Make sure you look at all factors including time off for the employee and the possibility of necessary extra features. Secondly, Longevity refers to how long the software will last vs. how long the employee will stay with the company. At this stage, you should be deciding if you want to grow your team (short-term) or grow the company (long-term). Next, it’s time to think about The Future. Make sure the option you choose is in line with any expected growth you have for your business and your strategic long-term goals and plans. Finally, consider your Return on Investment (ROI) to get a clear understanding of what your costs are vs. benefits. Look at hours saved, error reduction, new opportunities etc.

It is important to consider all these factors when your business starts to grow and your employees are the ones feeling overwhelmed with the increase in work. Think about your current workforce in combination with your strategic business growth to help decide what is best in the long run. If you are still unsure of what to do take a look at a few of the benefits ERP Software can provide:

ERP automates tasks and streamlines the flow of information, which helps reduce human error and manual work
ERP provides tools to your sales team and helps with the automation of processes
ERP is transferable – anybody can be trained, as opposed to unique processes that only one employee understands
ERP solutions provide an easily accessible, centralized database to manage all of your company’s information
Robust software can stay with the company for a long time (average employee turnover rates are increasing, with a national average of 36.4% in 2019, a 9% increase from 2018.)
Intangible benefits – quicker response time and more informed decision making

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Don’t Let These ERP Software Misconceptions Fool You

There is a lot of confusion around ERP software. Firstly, what does ERP stand for? What makes a system considered ERP? What’s the difference between QuickBooks and ERP? How do I know if ERP is right for my business? This uncertainty makes it difficult when searching for new business software, especially as many software vendors tend to define and use ERP differently. In its simplest terms, ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and is a business software system designed to manage all aspects of your company’s operations – accounting, inventory management, contact management, sales, warehouse management, purchasing, order entry and more. It is the combination of all these features within one system that truly defines software as ERP, and this is also what makes it different from systems like QuickBooks – which are designed to manage one specific aspect of a company’s operations (such as accounting). Below we demystify some of the other common misconceptions associated with ERP software to help you figure out if ERP is right for your business.

“I’ve heard that ERP is only for very large organizations.”

ERP systems are designed to automate processes across an organization and facilitate the flow of information from one department to another.  Although this may lead some companies to believe that their processes aren’t extensive enough to warrant such software, there are varying types of ERP software systems with the ability to coordinate a few and many processes.  And, while there are different types of ERP systems available in the market, ERP software is generally designed for businesses that have outgrown introductory software such as QuickBooks and are looking for more robust functionality.

“I’ve heard that ERP software is very expensive.”

ERP software systems can vary significantly in price depending on the complexity of the business requirements. Introductory software can start at as little as a couple of hundred dollars a year while the cost for a top of the tier ERP system can be in the millions.  In addition, the more complex your business processes the more expensive ERP software will be as you begin to add users, features, locations etc. However, when trying to determine a budget and compare pricing, it is important to look at not only all the costs involved with purchasing ERP but also all the cost savings involved – and not just in dollar value. For example, ERP software will automate processes across your organization which can lead to a decrease in order entry errors, lower management costs and reduce the time needed to handle specific processes. ERP also allows your company to grow and increase sales volume without the need to hire additional staff. Businesses should focus on their company objectives and the value received from an ERP system instead of just the price tag.

“I’ve heard that ERP implementations can take years.”

Yes, ERP implementations are time-consuming but they don’t have to take years to implement. For SMBs, most implementations will take weeks or months to complete and include employee training, some form of data migration as well as system set-up and configuration.  Depending on your business processes, requirements and resources, it is easy to predict how long the implementation process will take. For example, when it comes to employee training, the more people to train the more work will be involved.  And, if employees have several different responsibilities across departments, this can also add to the necessary training time, as well as how “technical” and familiar your employees are with software in general.  With data migration, if your data requires a lot of “clean-up” (for example, deleting duplicate records), and if you need to move data from multiple sources, this can also affect the time required for implementation.  In general, the better prepared your company is before the implementation begins, the faster the implementation will be, allowing companies to begin using new software sooner. Lastly, the vendor’s schedule plays a large role in how long implementations take.  If you want to Go-Live on a specific date, make sure you start the search well in advance to account for other implementations on the vendor’s schedule.  While ERP software implementations definitely require significant time and resources, the more time dedicated to the initial implementation, the sooner you will be able to see a return on your software investment and start reaping the rewards of an all-in-one solution.

“I’ve heard that when you customize ERP, you can’t upgrade it.”

With customization, many businesses fear their software will never be upgraded when new versions are released.  This can be true depending on the vendor, and so keep this in mind when speaking with sales representatives and consultants.  If you anticipate having a lot of custom work done, find a vendor that will upgrade this work alongside the version of the software at no additional charge.

“I’ve heard that a high percentages of ERP implementations fail.”

While you may have heard that many ERP implementations fail, this is not a stat that can be applied across the board. It can be scary when you hear that an ERP implementation that took many years and cost millions of dollars ultimately failed, however, these types of situations apply to very large and complex operations. Many of which the implementation failure is due to a combination of very complex requirements, and a lack of communication between the customer and the software vendor. With SMB ERP implementations, the failure rate is quite low, and there are various ways to protect your business from the worst-case scenario. Make sure you spend the time vetting different software applications AND the software vendor you will be working with. You want to be able to trust the vendor and build a meaningful partnership. Just like any relationship both parties must take responsibility for their actions and accountability for their part in the implementation for it to be successful.

“I’ve heard that implementing ERP software leads to layoffs.”

Although ERP systems can better perform a lot of the tasks that employees do manually, it does not automatically replace the need for people in a company.  ERP systems only compliment employees’ jobs by allowing them to spend more time on important tasks and less on menial ones by automating processes, reducing manual work and eliminating errors. However, because ERP streamlines and automates processes, it provides the benefit of reducing the number of people that need to be hired in the future when dealing with company growth.

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Canadians Selling into the United States: Sales Tax Compliance

Canada and the United States are often referred to as brothers or even besties. Sharing a border means it’s easy enough for businesses to sell to customers on the other side but in reality, it can be quite complex. For one, tax laws are very different between the two countries; if you have an upcoming audit and your finances aren’t in check, you could be facing a real-life nightmare. Using a software system such as Blue Link ERP to manage your sales, accounting and finance, means you have access to our partners at Avalara who provide a solution that can help you ensure you’re up to date on tax changes and compliance. Taxes, while not the glamorous side of any business, is necessary to understand.

As a quick overview, the difference between the Canadian and the United States Sales Tax systems is that Canada uses a Value Added Tax system separated into three categories as opposed to the Sales and Use system in place in the U.S. You may notice that there is no federal sales tax imposed in the United States because every state governs their own tax laws.

 

So, yes, United States tax compliance is a tricky beast – and it’s not just a problem for your retail counterparts. Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, you need to understand and consider the different tax implications for your business. Here are a few key compliance issues to be mindful of if you’re a wholesaler or distributor selling to our southern neighbour.

Consumer use tax
When people say “sales and use tax” this is the “use” part of that term. Use tax can be triggered in several ways:

Operating a central purchasing department with inventory transfers to multiple locations
Offering promotional items or free samples
Using goods in-house originally intended for resale

Physical presence
Sales tax obligations aren’t just determined by your factory or warehouse location. If you sell online, attend tradeshows and expos, or have sales reps or affiliates in the United States, you may have to register and file returns in those states.

Remote sales
Each state has its own laws for sales tax. Most have economic nexus rules, so regardless of physical presence, sales activity that reaches a designated threshold creates a compliance obligation.

Tax-exempt sales
A lot of U.S. sales tax law includes provisions for exemptions. In some cases, certain items aren’t taxable, but in others, specific organizations or businesses are tax-exempt when making qualified purchases. In those cases, you’re required to collect a valid exemption certificate to support each untaxed sale. To complicate things further, both the rules and forms are different for each jurisdiction.

To simplify sales and use tax compliance, consider automating time-consuming tasks like rate calculation and updates, preparing sales tax returns, and managing exemption certificates. Avalara, a leading provider of cloud-based tax compliance automation solutions is a Blue Link partner with a SaaS-based solution that connects directly with Blue Link ERP, so you can handle sales and use tax compliance within your existing system.

 

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Blue Link Pharmaceutical ERP Software Partners with Pharma Solutions USA Inc

With a focus on SMBs in the wholesale and distribution industry, we at Blue Link ERP understand the complexities of buying and selling inventory. It is this understanding that originally helped our team identify a market lacking an affordable, robust wholesale and distribution software solution – the pharmaceutical market. As with any company needing to manage distribution processes, pharmaceutical wholesalers and distributors require sophisticated tools for managing inventory, warehouse operations, selling and shipping product and tracking customer accounts. However, unique to this industry is the need for additional, complex features to help pharmaceutical wholesale distributors adhere to industry regulations and compliance standards set out by the FDA and other governing bodies. It was this understanding that led Blue Link ERP to develop a custom solution for the very sensitive pharmaceutical market back in 2013. As part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, we are continuously upgrading the software to meet changing compliance requirements and are always looking for new opportunities to partner with other leaders in the industry. It is this commitment that led to our official partnership with Five Rivers RX (now under the new brand and company, Pharma Solutions USA Inc) as our outsourced compliance team. To share with you more about how Blue Link ERP and Pharma Solutions are working together, I recently got in touch with Jessica Dunkin, Director of Client Relations at Five Rivers RX and you can read our conversation below.

Samantha: Why don’t you start off by telling us more about yourself and Five Rivers RX.

Jessica: My name is Jessica Dunkin, and I am the Director of Client Relations at Five Rivers RX. At Five Rivers RX, our mission is to support the pharmaceutical supply chain by providing actionable guidance and excellent administrative services with a focus on client care across compliance, commercial, and quality solutions.

Samantha: How does Five Rivers RX help companies in the pharmaceutical industry?

Jessica: Since its inception in 2015, we have been providing a comprehensive suite of solutions for any business along the pharmaceutical supply chain. To name some examples, we conduct state licensing assessments, help companies obtain licenses and manage their renewals, provide quality and compliance support, and help our clients in all aspects of their businesses through working with one of our senior consultants.

Samantha: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today?

Jessica: The continuing consolidation of the drug supply chain. Additionally, misguided legislative action which can have ripple effects throughout the supply chain. We have seen states pass legislation in attempts to control the manufacturing or sale of opioids, for example. This legislation tends to allot the licensing boards the ability to draft new regulations surrounding the sale and or distribution of opioids into their state. This then brings on exuberant fee increases in permits for multiple business models as well as additional taxes for manufacturers. All these things together have caused many entities to stop doing business in certain states thereby creating a situation where both generic and branded products are no longer being sold there.

Samantha: What makes the partnership between Blue Link ERP and Five Rivers RX so great?

Jessica: I am excited about the partnership because of our parallel focus on the pharmaceutical supply chain. In Blue Link ERP, customers get an ERP system with a distinguished customer base. Knowing businesses small and large have trusted Blue Link to handle their inventory management for over 20 years shows Blue Link’s dedication to not only supporting the supply chain but also in supplying great service; two things we strive to do.

Samantha: If you were to offer small businesses in the pharmaceutical industry one piece of advice, what would it be?

Jessica: My advice to small businesses in the pharmaceutical industry would be to speak with a knowledgeable consultant regarding state licensing, reporting, and DSCSA requirements as early on in their set up as possible. Something as simple as setting up shop in a state that might exempt their business model could potentially add months to their licensing timeline and thousands of dollars to their budget due to the need to obtain accreditation in lieu of a home state license. This could absolutely affect launch times or even push them into a title model with a wholesaler again costing more money upfront. Knowing basic requirements and timelines around state licensing and other prerequisites could be the difference between a successful launch and an incredibly delayed one.   

Working with Five River RX allows us to combine the sophisticated software functionality offered by Blue Link ERP with the in-depth compliance knowledge offered by Five Rivers RX. This allows our team the opportunity to continue to develop important functionality for the pharmaceutical industry while relying on Five Rivers RX to provide insider knowledge of the ever-changing regulations side of the industry.

Learn More About Blue Link Pharmaceutical ERP Software 

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Keep Your Books in Balance with Accounting ERP Software

Not too long ago – in the closing years of the last century – computerized accounting software seemed to be the solution to the problem of the rising cost of hiring and retaining a staff of full-time accountants and bookkeepers. After all, computerized systems can automatically process all entries to ledgers, track debits and credits, and provide balanced “books” at the end of the year. Therefore, it seemed logical for businesses to take advantage of this new automation and decrease manual accounting expenses by using cheaper – but less accounting-educated – data entry staff.

While manual accounting processes usually entailed the careful monthly balancing of the general ledger to ensure that debit balances equal credit balances, and the preparation of financial statements using the trial balance amounts, computerized accounting systems automate these processes. Accounting ERP software provides trial balance as a built-in report and most packages will not allow posting of an entry to the general ledger until the debit and credit balances are equal – all actions which are intended to ensure the integrity of the accounting structures. But not all accounting systems are created equal and so even with computerized accounting software, you can still run into issues with balancing your books. Therefore, it’s important to understand the limitations (and opportunities) of the different systems on the market.

A History of Computerized Accounting Software

Back in the 1980s, when computer use was still rare – at least in most SMBs – well-trained bookkeepers would keep meticulous books, doing the regular monthly balancing. Even where computer software was being used, there was still the same level of discipline, with errors caught right away or by the end of the month at the latest.

By the 1990s and into the 2000s, a new staffing trend followed the introduction of second-generation automation. Employers spent large amounts of money on new computer accounting systems and then tried to recoup some of that expense by hiring people with reasonable keyboard skills as opposed to expensive bookkeeping abilities. Often, these new employees would lack a full understanding of the necessary controls in accounting. Data would be entered without any regard to its accuracy in relation to ledger balancing. The result? Bad accounting data and an increase in manual work.

Today, many small businesses don’t have dedicated Chief Financial Officers or Controllers on staff, and instead, they rely on contract accounting at year-end. This makes it difficult to catch and rectify errors when they happen and when such data errors are not caught and corrected within a short period (days or weeks), you end up having to deal with detailed backtracking to unearth the mistakes. This wastes expensive hours paid out by your business to the contract specialist hired to sort out where and when the incorrect entries were made. In some extreme cases, this might mean tracking back through 12 – 14 months’ worth of data entry. This can lead to mounting financial accounting expenses, and possible legal or taxation problems. However, even when using accounting software as part of your daily routine, you can still face issues if you aren’t using the RIGHT system as not all accounting systems provide the same checks and balances. Entry-level accounting software such as QuickBooks provides many benefits such as ease of use and minimal training, but because of the software’s simplicity it is easy to make mistakes or delete transactions without creating an audit trail and the system will not automatically check to ensure everything balances.

Accounting ERP Software

The preferred approach is to find an all-in-one accounting ERP software in conjunction with hiring people who understand how accounting processes work. Accounting ERP software not only provides functionality for accounting and financials but also inventory management, contact management, order entry and processing, purchasing, warehouse management and more. Proper accounting ERP software will identify inaccurately integrated data as it occurs, or at the next possible occasion. For transactions posted within the system, a warning (of inaccurate data input) happens automatically; if the situation is caused by external, third-party software, the system will still identify the problem, and give the user a timely warning.  This eliminates the need to integrate, multiple standalone solutions, and means that integrity and reliability are already built into the entire system, considering commonly encountered third-party input.

Let’s look at an example.

Pretend you have a manufacturing division at your business, and you use Excel (a third-party software) to record information. Now, if someone enters incorrect data into the spreadsheet, without the right system, the erroneous data will not be caught before entry nor realized afterwards. This may go unnoticed for months. However, with an all-in-one accounting ERP system like Blue Link, the software will catch the incorrect entry by making its check of all entries, including those incoming from third party sources, and alerting you to incorrect data. It will not allow further entries until all accounts are correctly balanced and it will alert the next user and identify the incorrect entry or entries.

Although having accounting ERP software in place is a great start to making sure your books are always balanced, you still want to have people on staff who understand accounting processes, especially as your business grows. This ensures that your team is using the system appropriately and taking advantage of all the opportunities for automation that accounting software provides.

 

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