According to an IDC report reviewing digital transformation and ERP systems within the Food & Beverage industry, only 10% of respondents stated that their ERP is used the way it was intended.

This leaves 90% of businesses with an ERP system either not being used correctly or not fit for purpose, leading to “work arounds”.

To drill into this in more detail, the top 3 ERP weaknesses mentioned were:

  1. The system is transactional and does not offer “real time” information.
  2. It does not support the company’s growth strategy.
  3. It lacks collaborative features, and this hinders productivity.

The key take-aways here are that the ERP systems being used today do not help Food & Beverages operations tackle their business challenges due to lack of “real time” intelligence, siloed activity or information, and functional misalignment.

Challenges for the Food & Beverages Industry Today

The most notable challenges for F&B operations according to this report are:

It is clear, on a superficial level, that the failures of legacy ERP systems are preventing the above objectives being achieved. We will look at how addressing these shortfalls can assist with the top five challenges.

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Solutions Offered By Modern ERP

Firstly, “real time” information means different things to different businesses. Most operations do not require to-the-second latency of data for the majority of tasks, although in some cases it is relevant.  For example, WIP (work in progress) costing doesn’t need to be accurate to the instant (2-3 times per day might be sufficient), whereas stock movements need to be immediate in order to ensure that sales are controlled and stock-outs are avoided or managed.  There are operational challenges which preclude true real-time data, most typically those processes that require human intervention, and therefore, expectations must be tempered.

There is a combination of processes and reporting mechanisms that will come into play to enable “real-time” information and by virtue of this unlock many of the benefits of modern ERP:

The autonomous processing of operational activity to reduce the points of manual intervention (e.g. intercompany back to back purchase & sales orders, stock movements etc.). Sage X3, being a natively multi-site & multi-company system, can support automation of this nature. The removal of manual (human) intervention is a key step in maximising the efficiency of the ERP system and modern ERPs, such as Sage X3, making use of full system integration to automate as much as is viable; allowing for straight-through processing of key business processes, such as from sales order to shipping, with minimal human intervention.

Enabling the smooth hand-to-hand processing of tasks that must be undertaken manually.  Workflows with email notifications can play a key role here in avoiding delays, which thereby enables closer to “real time” data and increased operational efficiency. Using the Sage X3 workflow engine, and Mysoft’s enhancements around this, can significantly accelerate activity turnarounds and increase process visibility.

In order to take advantage of this new “real-time” data, it must be accessed in “real-time” too, in an integrated and intuitive UI/UX. Interactive business intelligence (BI) and reporting solutions will assist with this at the level of reporting, and solutions such as Sage X3 have been developed (and undergo constant review and enhancement) to ensure that the end-to-end user experience is streamlined and as accessible as possible. In X3 we implement solutions such as Sage Enterprise Intelligence or Sage Data and Analytics to open up the possibilities of data management and “real-time” reporting, tailoring the ERP interface by each business role to maximize the efficiency of the system for end-users.

Aligned to the above point on access, there is a consideration for technology also. As the events of 2020 and 2021 have shown us, the working environment is no longer limited solely to the office, warehouse or factory. Being able to access business-critical systems remotely is not a “nice to have” but is now essential for ensuring business continuity – moving to a Cloud-native solution such as Sage X3 can provide business resilience to allow for seamless continuation of activity with a distributed workforce and market shocks.

For a Food and Beverage distributor or manufacturer, having “real-time” information in the system allows for more accurate FEFO (first expire first out) stock management and increased sales agility, which can contribute to resolving challenges around waste while enhancing compliance and traceability. When used in combination with integrated processes it will, as the IDC report notes, help with cost control, highlight inefficiencies and have an impact on consumer trust at a macro level.  Access to “real-time” data and having a holistic view of a business allows for increased business agility; this enables an operation to pivot to new market opportunities and maximize growth potential.

The IDC report places modern, innovative, cloud-based ERPs at the heart of the business ecosystem; while not claiming that it is a panacea for all business requirements (there is still a case for some best-of-breed applications) the IDC report highlights ERP as a focal point for business systems and processes. Leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, cloud, etc. can transform the relationships businesses have with their ERP, from a point of contention to a source of operational intelligence.

To learn more about how the future of ERP could affect your business, please read the IDC Report and contact us about our (and our customer’s) experiences.

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The food and drink industry has a turnover of more than £105bn, accounting for 20% of total UK manufacturing as the biggest manufacturing sector in the country.

The importance of the industry goes beyond turnover.

According to the Food and Drink Federation, Food and drink manufacturing employs 430,000 people across every region of the UK and is a key part of the food and drink supply chain, which employs 4.3m people and is worth more than £120bn to the economy.

As a food and beverage manufacturer, you must efficiently manage industry-specific criteria and legislative restrictions that have been imposed on your organisation. Excellent coordination of all activities from ordering raw ingredients, to distributing your finished product is vital.

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Focusing on operational excellence is critical as a manufacturer. When you have ERP, CRM, and supply chain processes working separately, it's impossible to streamline your operation. Production errors, such as waste, spoilage, recalls, and safety issues as well as non-compliance with regulatory requirements, will have a negative impact on your organisation.

Using a solution like Sage X3, along with the expert support from Mysoft, gives your business the ability to consolidate systems, improve business processes, and reliably and easily access real-time data to take on the challenges head on. There are a number of key features in Sage X3 that make life for a food and beverage manufacturer a breeze, we’re going to briefly cover them in this article. You can download the full E-book here.

  1. Streamline compliance to grow faster
  2. Accurately forecast supply and demand
  3. Formula and recipe management
  4. Ensure quality management
  5. Improve efficiencies and assess demand
  6. Maximise inventory usage and reduce spoilage
  7. Take control of your production process
  8. Proactively monitor your supply chain

 

1. Streamline compliance to grow faster

Food and beverage companies face more regulatory pressure every day. Sage X3 will help you comply quickly so you can focus on growing your company. The software’s robust core functionality enables companies to easily streamline compliance and eliminate inefficiency, providing a significant advantage over legacy systems and other less powerful ERPs.

 

2. Accurately forecast supply and demand

Bad weather strikes, crops fail, a new food trend pops up and all of a sudden you have far too little product – or far too much. good business intelligence can help you predict seasonal changes in supply and demand so you can stock up or sell out accordingly. Sage X3 provides that intelligence in a customisable, easy-to-use interface.

 

3. Formula and recipe management

Predict and optimise the yields of multiple outputs of a production job by comparing planned inputs to planned outputs and plugging these values into a recipe or formula specification prior to initiating a production job.

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4. Ensure quality management

Track and maintain quality specifications and test results for raw materials, intermediates and finished goods at various stages in their life cycle.

 

5. Improve efficiencies and assess demand

Compare loads on work centres imposed by existing and proposed work orders and manage the load capacity of each work centre, improving customer service and inventory levels.

 

6. Maximise inventory usage and reduce spoilage

Eliminate inefficiencies and streamline your inventory levels with end-to-end integration of your warehouse management as well as reduce inventory write-offs with expiration date, use-by-date, or re-control date management.

 

7. Take control of your production process

Based on the availability of your ingredients or resources, plan your production run and instantaneously rescale up or down to reflect constraints as well as maintain composition of each batch.

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8. Proactively monitor your supply chain

Improve food safety with robust traceability and allergen tracking to ensure that you know the sources of your ingredients and what pressures might be affecting your suppliers during fluctuations in the food supply.

Sage X3’s allergens function allows tracking of manufactured products whose components have been identified with one of the food allergens.

 

There's no doubt that Sage X3 has the power and flexibility to deal with most eventualities and scenarios that we might throw at it. But it's true that no two businesses are the same, not even competing businesses within the same industry. There will always be differences in processes, regulatory requirements, or levels of competency among staff that mean you need more than even X3 can offer.

At Mysoft we have over 250 collective years of experience working with Sage X3 and since 2005 we have been developing both bespoke solutions and more generic Sage X3 Plugins for our customers to help enhance the overall solution, including enhanced stock enquiries, and carrier and WMS integrations.

If you want to find out more about how Sage X3 and Mysoft can support, optimise, and drive forward your business then get in touch today to book a Sage X3 demo!

 

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The food and beverage industry is undergoing rapid and complicated period of change.

Consumers today are always connected, seek individuality and personalisation, and are impatient with complexity and latency.

A food and beverage industry’s worst nightmare — and greatest opportunity — is the continuously changing nature of what consumers desire. Successful food and beverage companies must be able to anticipate and accommodate these rapidly changing expectations, which include an increase in healthier, more personalised, and ecologically conscious options.

This article discusses 6 trends within the industry that consumers are driving and our Mysoft tips as to how you can create engaging new consumer experiences at scale.

  1. New forms of marketing
  2. Direct to consumer
  3. Food safety and traceability
  4. Transparent supply chain
  5. Increase in private labels
  6. Environmentally friendly packaging

“A product is easy to copy, but experiences are hard to replicate.” Clayton Christensen, former Harvard Business School academic

  1. New forms of marketing

Digital marketing is evolving at a rapid pace. It’s almost as if it’s a living entity that continues to grow and evolve year after year. As a result, conventional frameworks for digital advertising like websites, social media, search engines like Google, and e-mail marketing are making way for new, more innovative frameworks such as marketing automation, omnichannel marketing and chatbots. It appears as though there is no generic formula for the success behind these frameworks, but getting stuck in and finding out what works for your business is the best place to start. With such a vast range of new tools to be trialled, there is so much to explore.

Mysoft tip:

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  1. Direct to consumer

Before the internet, manufacturers had few alternatives for reaching out to their customers, ranging from catalogues to mail-order purchases, it was frequently easier to sell products at wholesale prices to retail outlets that would do the job for you. With the rise of social media and online presence, today’s marketing landscape is so drastically different that direct-to-consumer marketing has become more of an attractive tool to manufactures. Direct-to-consumer marketing (or D2C) is a marketing technique in which businesses advertise and sell their products to a customer directly. The D2C market has been growing with double digit rates for several years already and is projected to maintain a further 19.2% growth throughout 2021 (Calafell 2020).

Mysoft tip:

  1. Food safety and traceability

In recent years, emerging technologies such as traceability, artificial intelligence, and blockchain have substantially improved food safety control, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and customers will all be affected by this development, which will improve the transparency and efficiency of the entire food chain.

You may gain control and boost responsibility at all phases of manufacturing and retail by digitising your processes. It provides the most practical and seamless means of maintaining compliance, allowing supply chain traceability to begin in the farmer’s field and continue all the way to the point of consumer purchase. Digitalisation of your processes not only ensures traceability, making your food supply chain more efficient and transparent, but it also improves customer loyalty, trust, and brand recognition by allowing your customers a greater insight into your business.

Mysoft tip:

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  1. Transparent supply chain

Pressure from the governments and consumers driving the need for more information about ingredients, animal welfare and child labour is one of the main reasons for the push for a more transparent supply chain.

It’s been proven that consumers are willing to pay 2% to 10% more for products from companies that provide greater supply chain transparency (Bateman & Bonanni, 2019). After incidents such as the Horsemeat scandal around Europe in 2013, in which a large percentage of horse DNA and horsemeat was found in supermarket beefburgers and ready meals, consumers have started to demand greater transparency from large food companies.

Today, food manufacturers realise the need to integrate their existing ERP software with a single comprehensive tech-solution that presents a dashboard of complex issues like safety, security, transparency, compliance across the siloes of field, factory, suppliers, payments to farmers, distributor network, and retail to eventually provide field-to-fork data view of each and every product in their supply chain.

Mysoft tip:

  1. Increase in private labels

It’s almost certain that at some point, even you have purchased an ‘own brand’ item from a supermarket. From Tesco’s Finest to Waitrose No 1, a private label is a standard addition to supermarkets nowadays. Private labels can offer benefits such as higher gross margin, customer loyalty and more control over cost and price management.

Consumer expectations have prompted retailers to ensure that their Private Label items are more creative, diversified, and hence more desirable than ever before. As a result of achieving a considerably better mix of quality and cost, Private Label goods have exploded in popularity, resulting in many more prospects for these products than ever before.

Due to issues such as post-Brexit uncertainty, customers in the UK are increasingly choosing Private Label items. In a recent survey done by Retail Economics, 48 percent of 2,000 customers asked, said that if their weekly food shopping prices increased, they would switch to cheaper own-label alternatives.

Mysoft tip:

  1. Environmentally friendly packaging

Companies all around the world are committing to better environmental policies as a result of a drive for increased consumer transparency and a desire to make the world a better place. Eco-friendly packaging is a hot topic on social media and within the news, and finding innovative new ways to package products that are focused on repurposed, reusable and recycled materials can generate a lot of positive noise around your brand.

Mysoft tip:

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It might be claimed that at the end of 2021, dubbed “the year of digital transformation,” there is still a great deal of ambiguity about what the sector will look like in the future. One thing is certain: the advantages of using a flexible ERP system like Sage X3, a solution which will provide you with complete control over how you customise the core system to operate your business more efficiently. From financial management to production management, and even supply chain management, Sage X3 is designed to help streamline processes and gain your business efficiencies, increasing margins and allowing you to meet the complex demands of your industry.

While Mysoft is better than most at fine-tuning Sage X3’s basic capabilities, we also recognise that there may be a best-of-breed solution out there that provides you exactly what you need, just the way you need it. In any case, we have a lot of experience in optimising solutions and helping clients to get even the most value out of their X3 investment, whether it’s through new capability development or seamless interfaces with other solutions.

Contact us today.

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Download the official Sage X3 brochure to discover how the solution helps businesses thrive and stay competitive in the face of growing complexity and competitive pressures.

 

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As your organisation develops and expands, so does the need to respond quickly and efficiently to higher volumes of calls for your product.

When that all-important customer order comes through the door, whether that's via email or EDI (electronic data interchange), from your website, or even just over the phone, you need to be sure that you have the resources at your disposal so that you can fulfil the order.

There are a number of strands that feed into this and in this article, we'll take a look at how, by using Sage X3, you'll be able to:

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Get Your Orders On – Fast!

Starting with the manual option, entering orders into Sage X3 from scratch is quick and easy, with order screens configured to your own specific requirements, lots of ways of looking up customer details and easy item selection.

Alternatively, you can create imports, EDI documents and/or use APIs to communicate with a website.

Buying again? For repeat customers, you can either copy whole previous orders, or cherry pick previously ordered items to save you time.

 

Complementary or Alternative Products

When you're processing your customer's order, you have a number of tools at your disposal for generating some additional margin. Whether that's, as we've mentioned above, reordering a product that they've bought before, building up a kit of complementary items (“Wireless mouse with that keyboard, sir?”), or, using a Mysoft Plugin, offering cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. You can also view current stock levels and offer alternatives if a particular item is currently out of stock.

 

What Stock You Have and Where It Is

In a previous article, we talked about how you can use Location Management in Sage X3 to define specific locations for all of your warehouse stock. Well, once you've got that organised, a number of enquiries allow you to view your products in real time. There are several prompts around the system such as while you're raising orders, allocating stock for picking and delivery, and also when you're reordering, for instance, that will provide you with snapshots of:

Your organisation has invested quite heavily in stock, so it makes sense to make the best use of it and minimise wastage. Sage X3 can help you to ensure that you're using use the oldest stock, or perhaps the stock with the closest Best Before date, first. Allocation rules allow you to define how stock is going to be automatically assigned to orders, so that you can direct your pickers to the earliest dated products, or the items with the oldest batch or serial numbers, at the right time.

Stock location

A Great Experience Through an Efficient Despatch Process

So, the customer has ordered and you have (or are getting) stock to cover the order. Now all you have to do is despatch it.

In Sage X3, Preparation Plans allow you to book in your picking slots in advance based on anticipated delivery dates. You could arrange things an order at a time, or by product, or by vehicle. Then you are picking the order lines, scanning barcodes as you go until the pick is complete before creating your Delivery Notes (automatically perhaps) for everything due to go out on any given day.

Another Mysoft Plugin allows you to book the delivery directly with your chosen carrier for the customer and then print out the carrier's label to place on the package. The carrier knows where and when to deliver; when the customer's site is closed for deliveries, for instance; and whether there are any special instructions. 

If you're organising your own deliveries then X3 can help you to optimise your delivery routes and, if the customer is overseas, print your supporting documents in the customer's domestic language. There are all kinds of documentation that you can print from X3 to support the export process, like commercial invoices and forms specific to your own particular industry, which might be triggered by an order or delivery.

 

Your Essential Next Step

The Sales process is one of the most critical operational areas to get right and it's important to remind ourselves that, in this context, no two organisations are the same. So there clearly shouldn't necessarily be a “one size fits all” approach to systematisation.

Sage X3 provides complete flexibility in terms of how you configure the core system. But at Mysoft, as well as being able to fine-tune Sage X3’s standard functionality better than most, we also appreciate that there might be a particular best of breed solution out there that gives you precisely what you need, just the way you like it. Either way, we have a wealth of experience in optimising solutions and enabling customers to derive even greater benefits from their investment in X3, whether that's through development of new functionality or through seamless integrations with external solutions.

Find out what sets Mysoft apart in this video.

Contact us today to find out more about how Sage X3 and Mysoft can help you to a more efficient sales process.

 

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Sage X3 provides all the tools that you need to efficiently control and manage your stock in real time both for now, and moving forward as your business grows.

In this article, we’ll take a look at just some of these:

Where to Put It All – Location Set Up to Cater For Any Scenario

Whether you’re working out of one location or you have multiple sites, Sage X3 gives you the flexibility to arrange these to suit your internal requirements. Locations can be internal or external, linked to a customer or supplier, and generally set up according to how you arrange your own storage facilities (warehouses, aisles, racks, bins, etc). If you want to restrict certain locations to certain products, then you can do that too, as well as determining limits on quantities of each product that can be stored there. Allocation and picking rules can be configured based on the type of location, so that stock is always taken from the most appropriate places.

When it comes to consignment stock, we’ve seen a number of different situations amongst our own customers, some involving stock held on-site, some off-site and with myriad different reporting and processing requirements. So, it goes without saying that X3 is flexible enough to deal with most scenarios in this area.

Warehouse Stock

Products, Goods, Items, Parts, SKUs – New Products Made Easy

Whatever you call them and whatever your industry, you can create categories, or templates, to make new product set up easy.

Do you need Lot and/or Serial Number management? Expiry Dates? Version management? Allergen tracking? Barcoding? Customer and Supplier Product Numbering? The list goes on and can, on the face of it, appear a bit daunting. But the ability to define Product Categories means that the whole process can be made easy for your staff.

If you’re involved in manufacturing or simple assembly you can also define a full multi-level bill of materials. Or, if you want to offer complementary products to your customers as part of their order you can use a sales kit – all fully costed using a variety of different methodologies.

Keeping Track of Everything – Stock Movements with Full Traceability Where You Need It

Once you’ve defined the structure, X3’s comprehensive solution then allows you to manage the full range of warehouse movements, from Goods In and Put Away (if needed), through to Transfers, Stock counts, Despatch, and Adjustments. These can either be recorded on screens, including tablets, or using hand held scanners all in real time. Plus, more functionality in this area is due from Sage over the next year or two.

If you prefer the idea of integrating with a state-of-the-art warehouse management system (WMS) however, then Sage X3 is designed to make real time integrations seamless.

In industries like Food and Beverage and Pharmaceuticals, it’s also critical to be able to trace the origin of a product and its ingredients back to the source as well as going the other way, to know where else a particular batch of an ingredient may have been used, in case you need to consider a recall. With Sage X3, this comes as standard and is flexible enough to provide you with the level of detail that you need, whether that’s at batch, serial, pallet, all three or simply product level across all of your sites.

Stock Mapping

What State Is Our Stock In? – Stock Statuses and Testing

If the condition of your stock is important and you need a rules-based approach to managing movements according to that condition, then you can define any number of stock statuses in Sage X3. At the simplest level, you can start off by defining a status in terms of whether an item is Available, in Quality Control or Rejected. But you can also have multiple variations on each of these three main headings, with rules and processes linked to each.

When a stock item is returned, spoiled or defective, or simply on receipt or after manufacture, then you may need to place it in quarantine, pending the result of testing. With Sage X3 you can record the results of a quality test in as much or as little detail as you need, with supporting results and documentation attached for future reference and analysis. You can also use Non-conformances to manage issues and assign responsibilities for staff involved in corrective or preventive actions.

Stock Management

Getting The Right Balance – Managing the Reorder Process

Optimising your stock usually only means one thing: ensuring that you have enough of the right kind of stock available when you need it without burning an unnecessarily large hole in your finances. With X3 you can define or calculate minimum stock levels, reorder points, and take account of existing demand and forecasts for your products when calculating what you need to reorder. Sage X3 can then provide you with suggestions based on how you order. So for some products you might need to raise POs, manufacturing or subcontracting work orders, or simply organise a transfer of stock between warehouses to fulfil the expected demand.

If you regularly need to plan ahead, then you may also need to build your own forecasts, based on historic activity, and a tool like Sage Inventory Advisor (also known as Netstock) can be used to dynamically forecast demand for each product and recalculate stock levels accordingly – all fully integrated with Sage X3 and all designed to optimise the stock that you hold in each location.

And That’s NOT All Folks – The Mysoft Difference

There’s no doubt that Sage X3 has the power and flexibility to deal with most eventualities and scenarios that we might throw at it. But it’s true that no two businesses are the same, not even competing businesses within the same industry. There will always be subtle (or maybe even not so subtle!) differences in process, regulatory requirements, or levels of competency among staff that mean you need more than even X3 can offer.

At Mysoft we have over 250 collective years of experience working with Sage X3 and since 2005 we have been developing both bespoke solutions and more generic Sage X3 Plugins for our customers to help enhance the overall solution, including enhanced stock enquiries, carrier and WMS integrations, and industry-specific solutions such as our Pharmaceuticals Pack.

We also believe in a best of breed approach to both ERP (hence why we only work with Sage X3) and complementary solutions that exist in and around it, for example Sage Inventory Advisor which we talked about earlier in the article. As we’ve pointed out already, Sage X3 is a highly scalable solution built for companies just like yours. We’d be happy to talk to you about your own particular requirements, whether you’re looking at the short, medium or longer term.

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In the modern-day office of Finance, the focus is increasingly moving toward process automation – and Accounts Payable (AP) is no exception.

Whether your objective is to reduce the risk of fraud, automate document approvals, or simply reduce paper there are many ways that you can streamline your payables process using Sage X3.

Tasks from the initial set up of a supplier right the way through to invoice processing, payment and bank reconciliation can be made more efficient, free up your staff to be more productive in other areas, and reduce the overall time it takes for documents to be processed.

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Below we will explore some of the following areas of Sage X3:

 

Master Data Management

When setting up Business Partner records, such as Suppliers, Carriers and Staff for payables purposes, you can make use of Categories in Sage X3 which provide default settings and timesavers for various elements of a payables account: numbering sequences, currencies, payment terms, approval process, and so on. You can also decide whether setting up or amending a record should generate some form of notification email, such as if the supplier needs secondary approval before it can be used, or if you need to track changes in payment terms, bank accounts, and so on.

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Workflows and Notifications

Workflows are also a great way to streamline the approval process for purchase requisitions and orders. You can base these on any number of criteria, such as to highlight variances against a supplier price list, invoke approvals based on overall order values and even making use of budget controls. It is also possible to use them to notify the person who raised the order when their goods have been received.

 

Scheduling ‘Batch’ Tasks

Automated, scheduled despatch of approved purchase requisitions, and particularly orders, is another way to ensure that precious time isn't wasted through unnecessary admin.

 

Automated Solutions

Then, when the invoice comes in, AP automation solutions can allow for supplier emails to be processed and the invoice presented for review. Using either OCR technology or text recognition (depending on how the document was created and received), and with reference to its ever-growing global invoice library, X3CloudDocs can help you to code up your invoices quickly, accurately and efficiently, suggesting account codes to use or matching the invoice to the originating PO and receipt lines from Sage X3. After a while, you may find that invoices from certain suppliers only need a cursory glance (and maybe not even that!) before they move through to the approval or posting stage.

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Hierarchical Approvals

Approvals can be based on a number of criteria and involve different steps depending on your different lines of business and the requirements of different entities and departments around the business. Supporting documentation can be attached and comments recorded, so that your staff have all the information that they need in order to approve their invoices and send them on for processing into Sage X3. Invoices can then be viewed in a number of places, so whether you need to view the associated accounting entries, approval comments, or the original email and its attachments, your documents are securely stored electronically and available precisely where your users need to see them.

 

Traceability and Auditing

Journal traceability in Sage X3 also means that you can track your invoice back to its originating PO and forward to its payment details, so you can quickly and easily deal with supplier queries and audit requests.

Using Sage X3 you can also set up a schedule of daily, weekly and/or monthly payment runs based on the relevant supplier groupings (external, intercompany, or staff for instance), invoice due dates and whether you're paying them by BACS, SEPA, or any other payment method. Remittance advices can be automatically sent to suppliers and payment files routed securely to your banking or payment portal, from which you would also expect to be able to download payment responses and statements that you can then use to systematise your bank reconciliation process.

 

In Summary

So, from the setup of your suppliers and configuration of approvals, right the way through to the automated delivery of orders and processing of invoices and payments, Sage X3 has the Accounts Payable process covered. You'll save your company time and money, ensure that documents aren't lost as they travel around the business, ensure a high level of control and visibility, and even maintain positive supplier relationships, as they see the benefits to their business of an efficient, automated process in yours.

 

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Automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Robotics

The use of automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and digital robotics in business has been accelerated in recent years, primarily due to Covid-19 and an increase in remote working, but also due to the recent progression of the Information Age that began in the 1970s. Advanced technology available today enables businesses to easily streamline processes through these methods to: improve efficiency and delivery of good or services; save time; reduce waste; and contain costs.

In a November 2018 article titled ‘New technology, new rules: Reimagining the modern finance workforce’, management consultants McKinsey highlighted the role of CFOs and their teams in advising operational units on the value of innovation to the overall health of the business.

Finance is expected to use sophisticated analytics to measure and manage organisational performance in operational business units. But in a McKinsey survey only 13% of CFOs said that their own Finance organisations had automation technologies at their disposal.

We are now 3 years on since that article was published and one suspects that the figures today would probably be nearer 1 in 6, or maybe 1 in 5 at best. Optimisation of available resources is a key element in improving efficiencies, but many companies in those lower to mid-market spaces are focusing on only marginal improvements in order to protect the bottom line. However, there are recent stats that indicate that the higher the level of investment in streamlining through automation within finance, the greater the likelihood of translation into increased revenues overall.

Contemporary solutions such as X3CloudDocs combine the best digital techniques along with machine learning. Automated Invoice Processing is an excellent fit for machine learning as specific invoice layouts proliferate and, once learned, the benefits of an already learned invoice layout can be shared with all users of the system.

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What is X3CloudDocs?

Intelligent document management for Sage X3, powered by Mysoft.

Mysoft launched X3CloudDocs in 2020 with an aim to deliver immediate value to Finance departments globally through digital transformation and automation. X3CloudDocs is dedicated to saving both time and money, allowing Finance employees to focus on the things that matter most. And most importantly, let robots do robot work!

X3CloudDocs automates the accounts payable invoice process through a dedicated workflow. The financial record of the invoice is automatically created in Sage X3, with the original document being securely stored in the Cloud. Unlike a manual process, X3CloudDocs provides full control, auditability and traceability. This digital transformation for your finance department provides instant cost savings and incredibly quick ROI.

Mysoft has partnered with a world-class OCR engine to fully integrate Purchase Invoice automation into the Sage X3 workflow. Discover how your finance department can work smarter with X3CloudDocs:

 

The Benefits of Going Automated in Finance

According to research and analysis group, Gartner, the typical cost of processing an invoice in the UK averages between £4 and £25, and in some cases even up to £50, per individual invoice. Gartner also estimates that an AP clerk can enter on average around 5 invoices per hour. This represents a significant financial and opportunity cost to UK businesses.

Mysoft’s X3CloudDocs Automated Purchase Invoice Processing module can provide a range of key business benefits which extend beyond the simple reduction in manual data entry, from increased accuracy to reduced time to settlement (accessing early settlement discounts). Above all this is an efficiency solution which enables valuable finance professionals to focus on value added tasks rather than activities better suited to robots.

There are 6 key benefits to using X3CloudDocs:

  1. Cost and time savings on each invoice processed
  2. Efficient automation from processing to approvals, reducing manual entry by up to 90%
  3. The ability to receive invoices from a variety of sources
  4. Complete control over workflows and business specific rules
  5. Complete audit trails and full visibility and traceability
  6. A Cloud-based solution suitable for remote working

Don't just take our word for it, hear what our customers have to say! The UK's leading cycle part distributer, Madison, recently implemented X3CloudDocs and have already been experiencing the benefits in their finance team. Read the full story here.

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Sage X3 and X3CloudDocs Integration

Using X3CloudDocs you can receive invoices either by email or in scanned form and then process them electronically through the OCR engine. Using a Mysoft-developed integration, it takes data that you maintain in Sage X3, such as suppliers, GL accounts and purchase orders, and uses this information in the coding of the invoice. If your invoice refers to a purchase order, for instance, then you can teach X3CloudDocs where to find details such as quantities, prices and amounts on the document, to enable automatic matching for this and future invoices from your supplier.

You can then send your invoices for approval, if required, before the integration piece automatically picks up processed invoices and creates the appropriate invoice documents in Sage X3, complete with an image of the invoice saved as an attachment, ready for you to continue the posting and payment process.

 

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If you're a business owner, then profitability is probably one of the main reasons you started your business.

“Sales is King”, an old boss of mine once told me.

As a one-man over-worked software delivery team, I often wished that our Sales team would slow down a bit, so that our developers and I could keep up with an ever-increasing list of orders!  Of course, (and I appreciate this more now!) if you haven't got a constant stream of revenue coming through the door, then that does somewhat limit your options for scaling the business going forward. 

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'The Right Way'

The other side of that, naturally, is cost. But this does need to be balanced against the needs of your staff.  While you aim to streamline operations and reduce the cost of doing business, your reputation counts for a lot here – everyone would prefer to do business with a company that does things ‘the right way’, with strong ethics and a strong focus on quality, agility and treating their staff well.  This also applies internally, where employees would far rather identify with a business which is seen to be progressive and fair-minded.

 

One sure fire way of ensuring that your business progresses is via a focus on technology.  It certainly pays to keep abreast of changes and advances, and there are plenty of forums out there promoting solutions in the name of automation / robotics / AI.  It's never been truer to say that if you're standing still then you're effectively going backwards, and by investing in technology in the short term, you're protecting your bottom line in the longer term.  What you don't want, however, is to alienate your workforce in the process.

 

Your Employees

When sister company, X3CloudDocs, were researching industry statistics for the launch, they found one source that said that 25% of Finance staff were unhappy in their jobs, as they felt that they were spending too long on labour-intensive manual input.  There's frustration bubbling these days surrounding data imports and exports, OCR, spreadsheets, macros, etc. There should be a better solution than continual manual input, which may well have been acceptable practice twenty, ten or even five years ago, but is becoming an increasingly outdated concept today.

 

Finance professionals would prefer to spend more time analysing, interpreting and presenting results which, after all, is what they spent many years training to do, rather than inputting journals and invoices. 

 

And, it's not just Finance. To paraphrase a mantra from Sales, even in a B2B environment, it's true to say that “People prefer to deal with people”. Your Sales and Warehouse teams, to name but two, can be your biggest asset when it comes to dealing with third parties. They provide common sense solutions to problems and encourage compromise where needed.  Failure of a business to adapt to these types of attitudes can be costly when business partners become frustrated and key staff then go in search of more motivating opportunities elsewhere.

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The Power of Automation

Focusing for a moment on how Mysoft’s customers can leverage the power of automation, Sage X3 contains a number of tools and plugins designed to automate and speed up daily processes.  These include: batch tasks, imports and exports, barcode scanning, sending and inbound processing of documents such as orders and invoices, and interfacing with external websites and carriers.  All are designed to promote efficiency and can help to free up time for your staff. The extra time can be used to perform tasks that will, for instance, improve internal reporting and relationships, both externally with suppliers and customers, and internally between departments and sites. This makes employees feel like more valuable members of the workforce who also then feel more fulfilled and appreciative of the potential career progression that comes with increased responsibility. 

 

Empowering your employees to use their brains, not just their fingers, to make important business decisions while providing them with the technical and inter-personal tools they can use to enhance their own skillsets is a powerful way to improve motivation and, in turn, staff retention.

 

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There’s an old saying that goes: “your organisation is only as secure as its weakest password”. 

There’s also another one: “the only secure password is the one you can’t remember”.

If that’s true, then the passwords and authentication methods you use with your ERP system can determine how secure it is.  That could be bad news.  There is some good news, however.  In fact, it is very good news.  Sage X3 supports a vast plethora of authentication methods, many of which are on the cutting edge of security technology.

Sage X3 has built-in authentication where the user's password is stored (as a hash) in MongoDB.  This authentication method is known internally as ‘Basic’.  This method does not let you control your password policy (password complexity, length or expiry).  This is not recommended as an authentication method in a production environment.  If you use this method, it is highly recommended that your use HTTPS and a certificate otherwise the credentials can be exchanged unencrypted over the network.

Sage X3 can also integrate with Active Directory by making use of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).  With this authentication method your password policy is controlled by your internal AD password policy.  The authentication itself is also passed to the domain controller or a Read-Only Domain Controller in the datacentre.  Users can also then be managed from the Active Directory.

The cutting-edge stuff starts when you consider implementing OAUTH2 and SAML2 authentication methods.  With these you can integrate with AzureAD (e.g. Office 365), Google, Okta and other major platforms in the authentication security space.  With these you can implement 2FA (two factor authentication) and MFA (multi factor authentication) functionality where you login requests need to verified through an Authenticator app on a mobile device, an extra code texted to a mobile (SMS), extra security questions asked in another browser session, and various others.

Sage X3 Security 

The huge advantage with being able to integrate with these technologies means that Sage X3 can use enterprise level authentication services to grant users access to the ERP system.  Organisations can then also use these authentication methods across multiple systems, not just the ERP platform.

So, if your organisation is still using basic authentication to grant end-users access to your ERP system consider upgrading to a more secure authentication method.

 

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