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5 Tips to help improve your inventory & warehouse management

Managing inventory and warehouses are synonymous, yet each has its responsibilities. Noting the difference between the two makes sense when we want to improve our internal processes.

Inventory management deals with items, managing movement of items, forecast trends, and managing pricing and stock quantities, to name a few.

Warehouse management is the physical aspect of your operations. Warehouse management involves transparency into multiple locations, warehouse mapping, where your items are and empowering staff with tools they need.

While both have some process and management differences, they tend to face challenges tightly linked.

Loss of inventory control is often the cause of many operating issues. These can stem from more than just one area. Ultimately the consequences of such lead to audit problems, loss in revenue and efficiencies, angry customers, poor employee morale, high inventory holding costs and others. We’ve identified five common challenges around the loss of inventory control and offer you tips on how to improve your inventory and warehouse management.

  • Human Error:

    When an item has been misplaced or miscounted, it can affect all levels of operations. Relying on your staff to manually count or randomly decide where things should go can have a huge ripple effect throughout the life of an order, or the entire organization for that matter.

    • Tip: Reducing paper such as pick tickets, scratch pads, and count sheets by implementing scanning abilities. Implementing barcode scanning results in less uniqueness and helps to have consistency in how your team captures information. You also help eliminate work for the warehouse manager, who typically would gather count sheets and other papers.
  • Imbalance of inventory

    : Too much stock can sometimes be caused by placing a purchase order for more than needed. Or the reverse, not having enough quantity on hand can also happen. Both instances are due to a lack of transparency in the warehouse.

    • Tip: Don’t let inventory pile up. Products we typically order on request should be sold as soon as we receive them. Ideally, you will have zero non-stocked items in your warehouse. Any quantity of non-stocked items should be regarded as excess. Consider adopting SKU rationalization. SKU rationalization is when a business decides whether or not to keep certain SKUs or eject them due to a lack of profitability. SKU rationalization involves weighing up several factors, including fulfillment costs, demand consistency, and return rates.
  • Inaccurate Location

    : Your system says that inventory items are in one location when they aren’t. Incorrect location details mean delays in order processing, mistakes in inventory counts, unnecessary POs and more.

    • Tip: Proper warehouse mapping, preferred primary location, and proper labelling of shelves are critical. While some items may be significant and easy to see and identify, others can be an ocean of little parts crucial to an order. When your warehouse process has mapping and structure, shelving locations or bin locations are correctly labelled and used. A sensible solution will use label printers with scanning features built right into your software. This tip may take time to put together, but it will help significantly improve the tracking of your inventory items within the warehouse.
  • Garbage in and garbage out:

    Data entry isn’t necessarily the most challenging task; however, it is one of the areas where mistakes most commonly occur. Aside from typos, data entry errors happen because of inconsistencies within the inventory and warehouse management. Another area that causes inaccurate data entry exists within the software’s user privileges granted to team members. Without user permissions properly defined, team members can unknowingly and unintentionally contribute to inaccurate data. For example, a warehouse clerk may have the ability to search for an item but shouldn’t necessarily have the ability to change an item’s location or inventory number.

    • Tip: Eliminating manual data entry is the first step in avoiding inaccurate data, and bar code scanning is the place to start. Using barcodes and scanners avoids incorrect inventory numbers, wrong warehouse location, inaccurate counts and more. It also means less staff time spent keying in information from a piece of paper or Excel spreadsheet. Making sure your team member’s roles are clearly defined and matching the software’s user permissions to reflect such is key. Good software will allow many different functions to be turned on or off globally throughout the application. Ensuring you have controlled parameters and user privileges will make a significant difference.
  • Antiquated thinking & systems

    : “we’ve always done it this way” is a sentence we’ve all heard or even said too often. It is true that while a business may have seen success for over 30 + years by operating with the same processes, it stands to reason that in the modern world, those old ways don’t always serve your business best.

    • Tip: Keep your processes contemporary by streamlining and automating otherwise manual tasks. In addition to the tips mentioned above on avoiding human error and location accuracy, other ways of automating your inventory and warehouse management include wave picking, dashboard reports, and cloud-based solutions that give you anytime and anywhere access; contemporary solutions you should consider for your business.

Spire is a fully integrated accounting and business management software system that has the wholesale distribution business in mind. Our robust inventory module includes lot and serialized tracking, multi-warehouse, multi-company, multi-user, and multi-currency.

SwiftCount is a recognized and approved Spire Integrated Technology Solution that offers warehouse management and contemporary functionalities. With modern technology and a user-friendly interface, businesses using Spire & SwiftCount see significant improvement in their warehouse management and easily find the ROI in this solution within a reasonable time frame. To learn more, visit  SwiftCount

Fostering and Strengthening Client Relationships

Healthy client relationships are a crucial part of the success of your business. Fostering and strengthening these relationships requires more than just capturing the financial transactions of your business. It involves using customer relationship management software. Accounting software can only do so much. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is often mistakenly categorized as a sales tool by most business owners, and while it is a fantastic sales tool, a CRM is also mighty in helping to strengthen client relationships. CRMs help businesses understand their customers better than your ERP does.

CRM & ERP – what is the difference?

CRM software ensures companies record every interaction with present and prospective clients. CRMs capture every minute detail of the company’s engagements with clients and prospects. Integrating a CRM with your ERP ensures that customer satisfaction levels are high. The ultimate goal when implementing a CRM is building trust with your customers for the company and maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with them.

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is pre-packaged business management software used to improve the enterprise’s overall performance. While not every business is an “Enterprise,” most medium to large companies require an ERP system. A prominent feature of an ERP is the shared database between accounting and operational transactions that provide an array of functions used by the organization’s various departments.

Nearly all growing businesses will need both ERP and CRM either as a single platform for both or an integrated solution. Just as we see entry-level software users having outgrown their solution and turning to ERP systems like Spire, the same can be said for businesses managing their customer relationships either within stand-alone tools like Microsoft Outlook, Excel or even areas within an ERP that weren’t necessarily designed for that.

CRMs – More Than Just a Sales Tool

Companies with relatively straightforward financials and a large customer base requiring frequent contact would need a good CRM to help manage all the customer interactions.

The benefits of having integrated CRM are high. Collaboration is one of the top reasons to have a CRM. Sales, customer service and accounting can collaborate on a customer account or have transparency throughout the departments when working on a sale or new customer. Automation within a CRM eliminates duplicate work and human error while offering consistent branding and communication throughout the organization. Improved customer experience can easily be seen in a short time as customers like it when company representatives know their account details. Ultimately, build lasting relationships by consistent contact with your clients and prospects using little effort. All of these benefits lead to increased revenue for the company.

CRM client acquisition benefits:

  • Maintain centralized database
  • Manage communications and interactions with prospects
  • Automate data entry
  • Follow-ups
  • Better organized contact data
  • Segment prospect
  • Create sales forecasts
  • Scale sales process over time
  • Monitor and maintain the acquisition process

 CRM client retention benefits:

  • Maintain detailed history of account (before they became a customer)
  • Audit trail of all communications
  • Follow-ups
  • Better internal team communication
  • Create sales reports beyond just dollars & items
  • Opportunity to improve sales cycle, onboarding of customers, customer lifetime relationship
  • Monitor and maintain retention process

Automation and Integration

Does this sound familiar to you? A prospect reaches out via your company’s website, your team receives an email notification and proceeds to enter the details manually into your lead capturing “system.” Perhaps all leads get entered as a “lead” without any identifiable metrics to see how interested someone is. Or even to identify that they may already be a customer.

Your company has four strong pillars with four different sets of data! Your marketing team has customer information, and your sales team has different information on the same customer. Yet, the customer service and accounting teams also have a completely different set of customer data. Spreadsheets or other documents on a team member’s desktop are not visible to other departments. Siloed departments with a lack of transparency contribute to customer dissatisfaction and lost sales opportunities.

An integration between your CRM and ERP will provide transparency between departments, and specific automation tools within a strong CRM will automatically place that “Contact Us” lead and nurture it according to the sales processes you have in place. Automation can extend triggers to launch particular tasks and activities throughout multiple departments, improving efficiency, response time and follow-ups, all critical ingredients to customer satisfaction.

Dashboards & Shared Data

Cost per lead and ROI on promotions are important measurable pieces of data that can help you improve your customer relationships. Not knowing where a sale came from or how much of an investment (in both time and money) you made in a particular campaign or promotion can sometimes result in inaccurate reporting. CRMs provide metrics that your accounting software won’t, particularly with email campaigns. Details such as:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Shares or forwards
  • And more

This type of data can be shared throughout the organization and allow for improved ideas on providing stellar service, knowing what customers are interested in, and helping various departments with their projections, from cash flow, purchasing and customer service.

Valuable and insightful data tends to exist in several different areas. Department heads waste time retrieving required data from multiple resources; ERP, Google Analytics, MailChimp, or others. A good CRM will allow for dashboard reporting and, when integrated, can also pull financial data from the ERP. One dashboard report with data from different departments can be a powerful and insightful tool.

Dashboard reporting has become a very trendy term, and while they mean something different to everyone, dashboard reports should offer real-time results. If you’ve wanted a dashboard report for your department, consider defining what that report would look like for you.

For example, businesses need to know what they want to see at an individual role level – dashboards for the CEO are not the same as the warehouse manager. These basic categories help define what most dashboard reports offer:

  • Operational: The most common dashboard type, with metrics updating in real-time showing data related to daily operations. An operational dashboard provides a detailed look into the business’ performance. This type of dashboard allows a large amount of data without too many drill-downs.
  • Analytical: Use data from the past to identify trends that can influence future decision-making. Usually, those who want an analytical dashboard require a level of understanding that a typical user may not have.
  • Strategic: Track performance with your key performance indicators to better align actions with strategy. If you are looking for a dashboard to share with your whole organization, consider creating a strategic dashboard.

Therefore, healthy client relationships are crucial and they are completely manageable when businesses use a CRM integration with their accounting software.

Spire Integration Partner Gemini Logic has built an integration between Spire and HubSpot, a user-friendly and powerful CRM. Together, these software solutions offer functionality that allows businesses to foster new client relationships and strengthen the ones they have. To learn more about HubSpot Connect for Spire, click here.

Cash flow tips to help your small business

At some point, most businesses will hit cash flow issues, even with the best cash flow tips at hand. Sometimes businesses will delay payment to vendors and discount invoices as an incentive to get customers to pay faster. This may seem like a good solution. However, these temporary “solutions” can set the business up for even more cash flow issues. Improving efficiency in the accounting department is a small project that will take little time and can return great results. With a well-thought-out plan and using the technology your business currently has, you can set up some best practices. Here are some cash flow tips that will help your inflow and outflow of cash – if you apply them!

Tip 1: Frequent Projections for better cash flow reporting 

Make projections frequently. By closely monitoring critical cash flow data, you’ll be able to make better, more accurate and more up-to-date projections. You’ll be more likely to keep your business out of financial trouble. Your projection reports should be easy to create, save and auto-refresh with the most current data when you launch them. A sound accounting system will allow you to easily set up an “at-a-glance” view where you can select the data fields you want to see to make these cash flow projections. Of course, the query criteria will depend on the data that exists already in your system.

Tip 2: Customization for better cash flow management 

Every accounting system can manage debits and credits. However, not all systems allow flexibility to add unique information to your business practices. For example, when managing cash inflow (Accounts Receivables), expected payments can be projected by categorizing them as “Promised Payments.”  Moreover, the ability to create a series of payment statuses along with selecting a date (calendar field) will allow for more accurate cash inflow reports beyond what the traditional age buckets offer. As a result, creating projections based on when your clients say they will pay you versus your payment terms can help avoid cash flow issues.

Tip 3: Increase Payment Methods – Both Ways

AP: Decreasing the time it takes to pay your vendors can impact relationships. The use of paper cheques has been steadily declining in Canada, shrinking by roughly five percent a year, according to the Canadian Bankers Association. Electronic payment has become ubiquitous with advancements in payment technologies that enable services like wire transfers, debit payments, PayPal and Bitcoin. Setting up EFTs and paying vendors with credit cards can help ensure your payments arrive on time or even early, which some vendors even offer discounts for!

AR: If your business doesn’t accept credit card payments, you are lowering your cash inflow and revenue opportunities. For example, taking credit cards and accepting digital forms of payment such as e-transfer and wire/bank transfers will significantly improve your cash flow. Credit card transactions are electronically processed and are likely to be settled quickly and deposited in your business bank account by the processor within days. As a result, providing both your clients and prospective clients with more options other than writing and mailing cheques will likely make them happy, as well as you!

Bonus Cash Flow Tip: Credit Card Payments are no longer an option

The benefits of accepting credit card payments extend beyond just improved cash flow. Spire is available with credit card processing throughout partner Payfirma. Accepting credit card payments with Payfima will:

  • Increase sales opportunities: Credit cards offer the freedom to move businesses anywhere the customer goes. Owners are no longer confined to store hours or a brick-and-mortar location. You can accept payments anywhere, anytime with a mobile card reader and/or online.
  • Improve productivity: Processing cash and cheques not only require more money but also takes more time. Time wasted with trips to the bank, managing accounts receivables and chasing cheques. When you accept credit cards, the process is automated.
  • Secures your responsibility as the merchant: Payfirma allows you to ensure that you are PCI DSS-compliant. Vaulting credit card information tokenizing and encrypting transactions, Payfirma makes sure that your business is not in violation of your merchant agreement. This service ensures your responsibility to your clients is intact.

Use the right technology wisely. Thinking outside the box and adopting flexible payment solutions both for your AP and AR are concepts that will help you manage your cash flow. So when we apply these simple yet effective cash flow tips, we can see within 30 days the difference.  Giving us more insight into our systems beyond just the debits and credits.

Click on these links for more information about Spire and Payfirma.

 

Selecting the right accounting software for your business

Investing in the right accounting software for your business is vital to its success. Not only does your software have to be right for you today, but it also has to work for you at least 5 to 10 years from now. Good accounting software can grow with your business as it expands. With that in mind, here are three key points to remember when considering a new accounting and business management software.

1) The Right Fit

The reality is there is no software solution out there that will fit every aspect of your company’s needs. Most businesses fail to realize that specific internal processes will need to adapt to a new program. However, selecting software that can integrate most of your day-to-day business’s core operations as much as possible is achievable.

The needs of your warehouse and finance teams need to co-exist so you’ll want to have solid functionalities for both. A solution that offers complete and seamless communication between your operations and back-end accounting does exist. However, in some cases, the accounting may be more robust than the operations or vice-versa. Ensure that the solutions you’re considering offer powerful functionality across the entire solution and not just in one area.

New accounting software should also offer the opportunity to improve processes within the different user departments. Situations where the warehouse staff picks from paper orders and manually updates inventory counts, can be modernized and resolved to a smooth, digital process. A good solution allows for fewer human errors and more time saved. Another example would be where client credit card details are still being kept on a spreadsheet or within your software client list and not safely stored in a vaulted and tokenized payment processing system tied into your receivables.

Modern functionalities are essential, and so is process improvement. Understanding your current solution’s limitations while closely examining your internal day-to-day workflow will help narrow down all the new software options out there.

2) Think Ahead

If you are considering a new accounting software, then the chances are that you may be experiencing the pain of outgrowing your current solution. Over time, your business will continue to grow, evolve and change. Even if you stay at a certain size, technology evolves, forcing businesses to consider new solutions. A scalable solution will grow with your company and keep up with technology.

Business growth can look different for different businesses. In a warehouse environment, we often see more inventory added or the need to move to a multi-warehouse model, which requires software with multi-location functionality. Or perhaps where entering one order at a time no longer works because your business has grown to such high volume transitions where entering batches makes more sense.

Features like cloud technology, user-defined fields, paperless options, automation, business intelligence make a big difference when shopping for new software. A scalable software will give you options like these to use today and adapt them for when you’re bigger tomorrow.

3) Calculate the ROI

When shopping for new software, you likely will be asking what is the ROI on this purchase. Several common factors come into play, but even at a high level, the intricacies of your business play a part. At a glance, you can tell whether you are gaining or losing on your investment. An investment in software is no different—you need to be able to measure whether you are getting everything you can out of the solution.

Consider understanding TCO (The Cost of Ownership) better to understand the ROI (Return on Investment).

TCO

What is the cost of ownership for your new solution? It would be the cost of the actual software, of course. It is also likely the cost of the services provided to get your new software up and running. Data conversion, implementation, customization, training, annual maintenance, and support are all part of your cost of ownership. The cost of ownership if you stay with the software you’ve outgrown won’t just be the cost of antiquated hardware and software, but also the potential loss of revenue from being stunted and bottlenecked – which will cost you more than your current software.

Once you have a realistic approach to the cost of ownership, you can now better evaluate the ROI.

ROI

There are a few ways to calculate an ROI out there, and Google can quickly help you with simple to complex formulas. However, what most business owners fail to include in their ROI calculation is the following:

  • How much employee time is spent on repetitive and manual tasks? What does that translate to in salary or wages?
  • What are the costs of potential penalties and fines, potential costs of data damage
  • How does a decrease in cash flow affect the business– what are the potential costs we associate with that? Vendor remit payment time, how that can affect a business relationship.
  • Credit card transaction fees when it’s taken 60+ days to collect on an invoice – the cost associated with managing that late payment VS payment automation where pre-authorized payments happen on time.
  • Cost savings because they now know what their inventory counts are and no longer are ordering excess resulting in loss of product

Conclusion

The final value of the investment is where you have to be forward-thinking, and either do some math based on the numbers you know or do some estimating. Aside from the hard costs associated, what are some of the not-so-obvious costs that will decrease with a new solution? Essentially, we calculate the benefit of the investment vs. the cost of the investment, but that benefit becomes very specific based on your needs.

Quality software will prove its worth in a short time. Along with a certified consultant who will guide you through the proper setup and training, you’ll be thankful that your growing business is in good hands.

Watch our demo and contact us today to learn more about how Spire can be the right software for your business.

 

Batch accounting and Real-time accounting the Spire Way

For a long time now, real-time accounting versus batch-based accounting has been a subject of debate. In this blog, we explore the benefits of each. We will also explain how Spire offers batches in some places and real-time accounting in others.

Batches

Batch-based processing has several advantages. In classifying entries to ensure accuracy, having better internal controls allowing a review before posting, and  in preserving the audit trail’s integrity. Batch-based accounting also makes sense for organizations processing large numbers of transactions. In some ways, batches are more efficient and easier to perform. Batches make sense when accumulating employee time and processing payroll altogether. This process allows for time saved in payroll. In the AR, depositing one cheque (or payment) at a time can be rather cumbersome. Unless it’s one big cheque, we are not likely to see bookkeepers making one deposit at a time, but rather a batch of many deposits at once. For organizations with no immediate need for information, it is reasonable to delay data processing by using batch-based accounting.

Realtime

While in some cases, batch-based may allow for a more efficient and audit-tight way of processing accounting data, it also presents some disadvantages.  More and more businesses need the ability to take immediate action on items that are crucial to their business. For example, purchasing managers at the mercy of a batch-based system would find it counter-productive to wait until batches post to provide inventory reports. Knowing that the need for real-time data isn’t just for the finance people, these businesses end up spending more of their budget for add-ons to increase access to their data in real-time. In this scenario, real-time accounting is better suited.

Keeping track of every transaction as they happen gives department heads an instant view of their overall financial status. Thus enabling decision makers to make more accurate projections. Being able to filter and compare using real-time data means companies can keep a close eye on margins and identify areas that need improvement. We see this in adjusting product prices like landed costs (duties, shipping, etc.). This fucntionality ensures accuracy of margins and profits per item, empowering an organization and keeping them one step ahead of the competition.

Which process is right for your business?

Accessing and understanding the data that makes up your debits and credits is critical to growing a business. Data isn’t just a way to analyze numbers; it’s a helpful way to react to growth potential when the opportunity arises. It also potentially prevent risks that have yet to happen.  Mining meaningful data contributes to the company’s success, however when data isn’t processed the best way, it can be destructive. Especially when attempting to achieve your reporting requirements.

To summarize, with batch-based processes we analyze data over time:  weeks, months, quarters, or years; for some, that process works just fine and is preferred.  Real-time data is crucial for those needing to make fast decisions in fiannce and that extend beyond the accounting department.

The Spire Way

Spire offers batches in some places where it makes sense. In Sales Orders, you can choose to batch or live post when invoicing.  With batching, the invoices are held in a closed state until a supervisor reviews, makes any needed changes and then creates a batch.  Next, they would close the batch to post to AR and the GL.  With live posting, the invoices are posted to AR and the GL right away.  If changes are needed then a credit and rebill has to be done. Batch and Live processing in Spire are also available in Accounts Payables and Accounts Receivables and Payroll Timecards.

You can easily manage batch-based vs. live posting in Spire’s company settings. Learn more about Spire’s company and user settings by watching this webinar, where we also many other cool features.

Bottom line: Spire allows you to run your business the way you want – whether that be live posting or batch accounting, we can accommodate your process.

For more information on how Spire offers your choice of batch-based accounting or real-time accounting along with business intelligence reporting, click here. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free demo and help you further discover the power of Spire.

Ransomware: The ugly truth and how you can be better prepared.

After seeing several new threats this year already, some old ones are still lingering. Surprisingly, some businesses are still caught unprepared. The truth is that different types of malware are rearing their ugly heads with new ways of taking advantage. Ransomware is a severe threat. Recently, we heard about a business that had the misfortune of dealing with just this.

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts the victim’s files. A ransom demand is made. The criminals claim they will release your data once you’ve paid. When your information is encrypted, Spire (and other programs) won’t be able to read your data files—bringing business to a grinding halt. You won’t be able to access your data or enter in new data. This putting you at the mercy of the attacker. Ransoms vary from a few thousand dollars to several hundreds of thousands, if not more.

Ransomware can make its way into your system in several ways. The most common is through scam phishing emails. These emails look like you a communication from a known source; direction from your boss, a payment from a client, or email from a vendor. Often these look like short little “chat-type” emails with an attachment or a link, enticing you to click or open. For example: “Did you write this?” or “I have a special project for you.” These files will come in masquerading as a file from a sender you would trust, making it challenging to decern if it’s a trustworthy message. Once you downlaod them, they take over your computer and your server.

The best defense against ransomware is to be ready. While there are anti-virus programs that can catch malicious programs as they arrive, being diligent is best practice. Proper data management will save you from being a victim of ransomware.

Here are four tips:

  1. Keep up with patches for your operating systems and staying up-to-date to help ensure fewer vulnerabilities.
  2. Never install software or give admin privileges unless you know exactly what it is. Better yet, leave software installation to the experts.
  3. Talk to the experts! If you have an IT department or are outsourcing IT company, stay in touch regularly to ensure that they provide you consistent service.
  4. Last and MOST importantly! BACK UP YOUR DATA! If your data is backed up, the ransom attackers can ask you for billions, and it won’t matter. You should back up your data incrementally and automatically at pre-set times. Offsite back ups are a smart way of securing your data. This way should you be a victim, you can quickly recover. Having a direct connection for your backups to your network will not help. The likelyhood is that a connected backup will also suffer from this attack.

Atticipating this type of attack is the best defense. Taking the time to have a company-wide informative session on digital threats such as email phishing scams is well worth every minute. Just sending a memo might not be enough. Educate yourself and your staff on being diligent. Inform them of the best ways to handle a suspicious email.

Consider these suspicious email subjects or topics:

  • Be wary of emails that ask for login credentials
  • Emails that threaten to suspend an account or services without a response
  • Messages informing you of a virus (not coming from your in-house anti-virus)
  • Invitations to click to solve any of the above issues.

Click here to read about how Spire manages backs ups.

The truth is that even a privately hosted solution with the best anti-virus in the world and religious backup procedures can experience a ransomware attack. Being aware, being vigilant and having a recovery plan is the best thing you can do to ensure your business can survive such an event should it occur.

For more information on how Spire handles backups and data security in our hosting and cloud products contact us today.

6 Effective Tips For Multi-Warehouse Inventory Management

Effective inventory management for your growing business is crucial. As your company transitions from a single-warehouse to a multi-warehouse model, you can encounter problems with inventory accuracy. Small problems that are easy to solve before your business growth, have now become big problems. When you have more than one warehouse, you need a multi-warehouse inventory management solution. With that in mind, we have 6 tips for you to consider: 

Tip 1: Optimize Communication Flows Across Warehouse Locations

Making sure that all warehouses are on the same page is harder than it sounds. If you are not using the right inventory management software, each warehouse is going to have its own filing system. Each warehouse will have its own order system, and its own way of maintaining inventory. Thus, the goal of any inventory management system should be smooth, cross-warehouse communications. When you have a streamlined process in place, mainting it becomes easy. There now exists consistent communication flow between and among the different warehouses.

Tip 2: Ensure That All Data Remains Synced Across the Organization

If you are not using an integrated warehouse inventory management solution, you may experience time lags as different warehouses update their systems. Thus, it’s very important that you look for ways to implement real-time data. Real-time processes allow for a flow that covers all the major facets of inventory management. This is especially true if you are regularly transferring products from one location to another. 

The real advantage of a warehouse inventory management software is that it has an integratedaccounting and sales function. This means that as soon as sales orders come in that information flows directly to your operations and logistics team. If there are changes to inventory stock, these changes immediately show within the accounting system.  This transparency is appreciated amognst company managers who regularly run reports giving them the confidence that all data is synced.

Tip 3: Re-Evaluate How You Do Warehouse Inventory Stock Counts

Since there are multiple ways counting inventory, your business needs to re-evaluate its method used in managing one warehoues. For example, what works well with just a handful of high-value items in one location will not work nearly as well for another warehouse location with thousands of lower-value products.

The problem with inaccurate, delayed, or otherwise flawed inventory counts is that it leads to problems for your inventory-centric business. Incorrect counts bring your orders to grinding to a halt. Chief among these problems is the ever-present threat of an inventory stock-out. With just a single warehouse location, it might be possible to detect a depleted stock level of a popular product. However, with multiple warehouse locations, it is easy to assume that “the other warehouse location” must have ample supply of this product. You can’t afford to assume. A multi-warehouse inventory management missing takes the guess work out of the equation, iltimately resulting in your customer’s satisfaction.

Tip 4: Change the Layout of Your Warehouse Locations

There are a few best practices for warehouse inventory management that are commonly shared across all industries. Chief among these is that high-volume and popular products should always be stocked near the loading dock (i.e. the exit). Over time, the time savings from this approach can really add up. When it comes to the overall layout, you also want to make sure that people pulling product off the shelf are not caught in a giant maze.

If you find that executing orders is taking too much time and leading to shipping delays, then it might make sense to create maps of the warehouse that can be shared with employees. And it definitely makes sense to label each shelf, each zone, and each area of the warehouse very clearly. In many ways, warehouse layout is just an optimization problem: your goal should be to reduce the overall path traveled by employees as they fulfill orders, and to make the most popular products easily accessible on the shelf.

Tip 5: Optimize Warehouse Locations For Geography

Geography always plays a role. In the best of all possible worlds, your warehouses would be located as close as possible to the end customer. Ideallt, instead of waiting for a product to travel from one end of the country to the other, your product arrives in the customers hands within 1-2 days. Saving on shipping and transport costs, and creating the best overall customer satisfaction. 

The reality is not all your warehouse locations are located within close proximity of yourcustomer bases. For one, there is the issue of higher labor and rental costs associated when a warehouse in a very densely populated metropolitan area. Moreover, there may be regulatory or tax issues involved with having a warehouse in another state, province or country. For that reason, warehouse location involves a number of factors, including the trade-off between rental costs and transport costs for a certain region. Tracking all these factors and their costs is a crucial part of your multi-warehouse inventory managment solution. You want to make sure that you have the ability and ease to account for everything – regardless of where your warehouses are located.

Tip 6: Look For Cost and Time Savings Based On Inventory Data Flows

As a responsible business manager you are constantly looking to streaml your logistical and operational flows. One way of doing this is by tapping into all the data that your business generates. Information about order transport and shipping times is helpful when you want to expedite shipping processed to move products from one location to another. Or, data entry into the system from accounting and sales teams is crucial in order to anticipate consumer demand for a particular product.

The more that your business can become proactive, and not just reactive, the more successful that it is going to be. By leveraging these top tips for multi-warehouse inventory management, you can ensure that your business stays one step ahead of the competition.

Contact us today for a free trial of Spire and expeience how we handle multi-warehouse invetory management. 

Canadian Government COVID-19 Assistance Programs

In 2020, the Canadian Government offered several assistance programs. This blog post outlines some of what was available and how to apply for them and we will take a look a look at how you can manage payroll subsidies in Spire. 

Note: This information needs to be confirmed by the company that applies to these programs. It would be best if you determine your eligibility for each program offered. We are only showing you where you can apply. 

The link below is from the Canadian Government and has several program offerings for your business to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes information for individuals as well. We don’t cover personal information in this blog post and always recommend you get in touch directly with the Canadian Government for clarification. 

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

Canadian Government 10% Wage Subsidy

Click this link to determine eligibility for the Wage Subsidy being offered by the Government of Canada,

Organizations who manage payroll can qualify for 10% back on gross payroll and up to $1,375 per employee and a maximum of $25,000 per employer.
It is available for payroll dates of March 18, 2020, to June 19, 2020, at the time of this writing (April 27, 2020).
To claim it, the employer can reduce the amount of their payroll remittance for the period. Spire 3.4 has a built-in calculator that uses all the rules that CRA put in place to ensure you get the maximum due. See instructions below on how it works.

Spire’s Payroll Subsidy Calculator

Suppose you are claiming the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers. In that case, the source remittance will automatically reduce the payment to CRA for the eligible amount and post it to the GL account setup in company settings -> Payroll -> employer -> Temporary Wage Subsidy Revenue Account.

First, create a GL account for the subsidy income. Second, you will then want to add that GL account as indicated below.

 

When you submit the payroll deductions, Spire will calculate the subsidy and post it to this GL account.

 

Spire will post the subsidy amount to the Subsidy income account.

$40,000 Interest-Free Loan

The Canadian Government is lending businesses $40,000 for ongoing expenses, including payroll. See this link for more details.   https://ceba-cuec.ca/

You can apply for this loan through your bank.

This example shows how to apply through Royal Bank (RBC)

What is and How to Apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account?

For a business to be eligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), per the Government of Canada’s requirements, the organization must meet specific criteria, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • RBC is your primary bank for business banking.
  • The RBC business deposit account you opened was before March 1, 2020, is active and in good standing.
  • Your organization was registered and operational on or before March 1, 2020.
  • Your organization is not a holding company.
  • Has total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year between $20,000 and $1,500,000?

To enroll for CEBA, log into your RBC Online Banking for Business:

  • Those eligible will already have an email or link to apply on your My Accounts page.
  • If you do not have online banking, click here to enroll in RBC Online Banking for Business.
  • If you are an RBC Express client, don’t hesitate to contact your RBC Account Manager for separate instructions to register for CEBA.
  • Please note that the CEBA enrollment cannot be fulfilled in our branches or through our advisors and RBC Advice Centre.

Click on the ‘Learn More’ box that looks like this.

Follow the instructions for the bank, and if you are approved, a new line of credit or credit card will appear in your account with a $40,000 limit..

75% Wage Subsidy

As of April 27, you can log into your MyBusiness site to apply for a 75% wage subsidy. Use this link to log on  https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/business-account.html

This subsidy pays out to businesses that have seen a drop in revenues, as defined in the link below.
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html

The link includes a handy spreadsheet to assist with the calculation. Be sure to check back for the latest version as these are constantly updating.

https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/serv-info/tax/business/topics/cews/cews-calculation.xlsx

Once you have calculated the amounts go into your MyBusiness account and select payroll -> Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

 

You then will want to make sure you select the correct reporting period because this is a required step. See our image below:

 

Fill in the amount that you have calculated manually or with the included spreadsheet.

 

Add your contact information and click on “Submit.”

NOTE: Make sure you have a direct deposit set up with the CRA. A mailed cheque adds a considerable delay.

 

For more information about how Spire manages payroll and sign up for a free demo click here.

Business Growth with the Right ERP Solution

In the business world, rapid growth is a strategy that needs to be well thought out and fast. For some small to medium-sized businesses the dream of eventually becoming an industry giant is more than just a dream. The ultimate goal is to have significant pricing power, strong brand awareness, and a nearly unlimited supply of new orders. However, that growth comes at a cost – literally. All the extra finance and labor resources are a need to manage that kind of growth. That’s why many fast-growing SMBs are now embracing business management software to help them manage that boost.

Prepare the Foundation for Future Growth

Is your business unprepared for a rapid sales maturation? When you have a bestselling product, you might find it hard to keep that product in stock. If every time you receive a new shipment it sells out quickly the result can be devastating. Or, you might not be ready for all the extra resources you need to deal with calls, inquiries, and requests. Working overtime  might be necessary, but can your SMB afford to live in a perpetual state of overtime? Would you want your employees to work nights, weekends, and holidays to keep up with customer orders? The consequences of such a scenario would hit your payroll pretty hard. Implementing a business management software provides better processes that secure a strong foundation for the future of your bussiness.

Business management software can have an impact in several different ways. First, the process of automating much of your inventory or logistics will free up essential resources, like employee hours. Secondly, you gain the ability to change production planning and delivery schedules regularly. The results will make your company much more proactive rather than just reactive to changing market conditions.

Scalability

The very best business management software will help scale your business. What this means, in practical terms, is that you won’t “outgrow” your business software as soon as you install it. As the complexities of your business increase, features in your business software that help you manage this evolution are needed. Many software packages are  “one-size-fits-all” and don’t allow you to scale up as your business become more complex.

You need a solution that you can use three months from now and three years from now. Making sure that you aren’t installing, uninstalling, and re-installing new software every time you hit a milestone is integral to your growth strategy.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Right now, would your SMB be able to adjust if a supplier suddenly could not meet its obligations? Could you manage the situation if consumer demand for a product suddenly takes off overnight? What if external market factors (such as broader changes, local or national economic changes) suddenly turn for (or against) you?

If you are still managing your business with paperwork, spreadsheets, and calculators, you would have a tough time adjusting to market-changing factors. The good news is a reliable business management software helps you to respond and adapt to these changes. A robust solution will have business intelligence reporting capabilities that can help you spot new trends in advance. For example, when a supplier gradually cuts back on the volume of product, you can spot this trend and be proactive instead of reactive. 

In another example, powerful business management software can help you develop intelligent solutions to common problems. Like, re-routing deliveries and supplies. The result is you might be able to avoid more considerable bottlenecks within your organization.

Productivity Gains

One component in business growth is the overseeing of productivity. Examining the past two decades, one of the biggest drivers of business growth throughout North America has been technology implementation. The pace of technological change is only increasing due to the demand in expanding the company’s overall production.

The first step in leveraging these gains is to extend a business software solution that allows more efficiency in your productivity. The result is more flexibility with things like departments and multi-location. Or functionalities like knitting units together or margin price adjustments on the fly. 

Finding the Right Growth Opportunities

Not all growth opportunities are created alike. Some growth opportunities – such as distributing a product via new channels and platforms – might make sense for your business. However, other growth opportunities might lead to many problems for your business if you lack the resources or the ability to allocate them appropriately. For that reason, many SMB owners are now turning to ERPs. Quickly, business owners see the ROI from a well implemented solution.

With a bit of scenario testing, you can stress-test various business strategies and find out which method is optimal. For example, is it better to sell a higher volume of a low-margin product or a lower volume of a high-margin product? With business management software, you have the data, insights, and information to answer these questions in a way that makes sense for your business.

Key Growth Considerations to Keep in Mind

If you are preparing for rapid growth and significant changes in volume, you will want an integrated business solution to help you quickly include new functions and departments; deal with sudden or fluctuating demand, and provide transparency into crucial business processes. Of course, you will need a business management software solution that provides accurate, real-time data for optimal decision-making.

Reach Your True Growth Potential

In conclusion, business management software is all about helping your SMB reach its true growth potential. Instead of giving up new opportunities, you can quickly scale into future growth. You can do so in a natural, organic manner that leaves your company plenty of ability to navigate new market twists and turns.

Try Spire FREE for 30 days and start growing your business.

 

5 Tips on Motivating Your Team

It can be difficult motivating your team, particularly in a busy office environment. Each individual plays a role in the success of an organization, but motivating a team member to tackle a new project or add additional work to an already hectic schedule can be a challenge.

Here are five tips on how to motivate your team so your business can thrive and grow.

1. Share company vision

Management should regularly share the company’s goals with their team. Set regular meetings, where you can list achievements and share the company’s vision with team members.

2. Develop your employees

Employees should be constantly learning and keeping up with technology and new procedures. Be sure to encourage professional and personal growth. Many businesses pay for a percentage of courses, particularly if they pertain to the business. Have show and tell lunch meetings where employees can chat about their hobbies and interests.

3. Recognize employee achievements

Employees perform better when they know the work that they do matters. Be sure to recognize employee achievements, even if it’s just a thank you at the end of the day. Many firms will honor excellent attendance with a cafe gift card. It doesn’t cost much, yet shows employees that they’re appreciated. If an employee goes out of their way to do a project or spends their own time on it, be sure to reward the employee’s contribution with a larger gift or a bonus.

4. Celebrate success

Celebrate business success with your employees. If a big contract is awarded or a sales achievement is made, bring in a lunch and a cake. Have a meeting and let employees know that the work they did was crucial in landing that big account or increasing sales. Be sure to mention the key players in the company’s success.

5. Create a good working environment

Creating a positive work environment is important to keeping employees engaged and productive. A company culture that encourages a healthy work/life balance will keep employees wanting to come into work each day, not dread it. Ask for input on how to improve the environment. Set company core values that resonate with each employee. Let them know that certain behaviors are frowned upon, and that a respectful, equal environment is promoted for all.

Adapt these five tips on how to motivate your team and it will contribute to the overall success of the company.

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