Sunday, February 27, 2011

What is an ERP system?

Since Sage started branding their mid-market accounting software as an ERP system some years back, Accpac business partners have been asking me these questions:

  • Is an MRP system a kind of ERP system?
  • Is an ERP system a kind of MRP system?
  • Is an ERP system an ERP system if it doesn't have an MRP component?
  • What does an MRP system need to make it an ERP system?
  • I've often wondered whether there is some universal definition of an ERP system that I would use to bolster my answer to the questions.

    According to Wikipedia, "an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an integrated computer-based system used to manage internal and external resources including tangible assets, financial resources, materials, and human resources."

    So it sounds like one of the tasks of an ERP system is to manage material assets (possibly manufacturing inventory?). This is what a Material Requirements Planning (MRP) system does, right?

    Digging further, I found the following definition in webopedia's glossary:

    "Short for enterprise resource planning, a business management system that integrates all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP in business activities such as inventory control, order tracking, customer service, finance and human resources."

    This makes it clear that an ERP system binds several business management tasks together, including manufacturing (MRP).

    The next time I'm asked "Is an ERP system a kind of MRP system?" I'll know to answer "No, but an MRP system is a component of an ERP system."

    I'll have to mull over the answer to the question "Is an ERP system an ERP system if it doesn't have an MRP component?"

    Hmmmm.... What do you think?

    Friday, February 25, 2011


    When is service rendered? …when the end user gets what he/she wants? …when the need is met? …other? Our approach at MISys is to facilitate meeting the end user’s need by ensuring that the software is functioning as it was written, in the user’s application.

    This facilitation may involve a coordination of the efforts of the Technical Support Team, the Sure Start coaches and the Training staff. We may even access the skills of one of our Partners to assist in getting resolution to an issue when the demand on internal resources is high. We understand that typically, time is of the essence for our users.

    We regard a matter as concluded when the user feels that it is. Sometimes an issue is resolved in a way that the user couldn’t anticipate. The resources at our disposal accommodate thorough exploration of matters. Service may involve several people who all recognize that the software must perform as promoted.

    Visit us online at

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Webinar Series: Essentials of Integration With Accpac version 6.0

    We have just finished a series of four 1-hour webinars focusing on the integration between MISys Manufacturing SBM and Sage ERP Accpac version 6.0. The topics were:

    Integration with Accpac General Ledger 6.0

    After creating a chart of accounts for MISys Manufacturing to use and exporting those accounts to Accpac General Ledger, we created a number of stock transfers and examined the journal entries resulting to better understand the function of the manufacturing subledger. We performed a MISys Period End and tracked the manufacturing subledger entries into a corresponding Accpac GL Batch.

    Integration with Accpac Accounts Payable 6.0

    We enabled the PO Invoicing function in MISys and received some material on a purchase order in the sample data. Pretending we had just received an invoice for this material, we invoiced the PO in MISys and followed the transaction all the way to an Invoice Batch in Accpac Accounts Payable 6.0.

    Integration with Accpac Inventory Control 6.0

    Following a discussion of the reasons why manufacturers should segregate their finished goods inventory (managed by Accpac Inventory Control) from their raw materials inventory (managed by MISys), we experimented by performing a number of Sales Transfers that moved inventory back and forth between manufacturing and sales. We finished up by completing a work order and transferring the resulting material to sales.

    Integration with Accpac Order Entry 6.0

    We wrapped up the series by exploring three different ways MISys Manufacturing responds to sales orders created in Accpac Order Entry version 6.0. Highlighting the session with a look at the Material Requirements Planning module, we created a sales order for 5,000 desk lamps due to ship next Christmas and with just a few clicks, we planned the required purchasing and production activities.

    Streaming Videos Coming…

    Because a number of Accpac users and business partners were not able to attend every session of this series, we have agreed to publish four streaming videos for the covered material. Keep an eye on the MISys website at for links to these instructive videos.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    MISys to Exhibit at TPAC in Vancouver, March 6-8

    Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting Vancouver, BC for the Simply Accounting Conference. In a couple of breaks from the conference I had the chance to explore the city a little bit, including a run through spectacular Stanley Park. Great place.
    In just two weeks we go again.
    MISys will be exhibiting the MISys Manufacturing software and networking with other software developers at the Third-Party Advantage Conference (TPAC) March 6-9, 2011 at the River Rock Casino Resort in Vancouver. This gives us a great opportunity to demonstrate the continued commitment of MISys Manufacturing to the Sage ERP Accpac accounting system. As the very first third-party developer for Accpac software, we have quite a story to tell to the resellers and developers who attend.
    And maybe, just maybe, there will be a chance to put on some running shoes and head to Stanley Park again.

    Appropriately Serve

    In my last post I used the term “appropriately serve” in reference to MISys’ objective relative to its end users. In this context, the term “appropriately” can have a variety of definitions. Each would necessarily reflect the perspective of either the end user or the software provider.

    Having much experience as an end user of integrated software, primarily in a manufacturing environment, I can relate to all approaches. Also representing the software provider makes for interesting deliberations when an end user has an extraordinary request.

    Searching for the right solution for all considered can go beyond the Customer Service team to Technical Support and Sales. Every effort is made to get sufficient input to meet the end user’s need as efficiently and satisfactorily as possible.

    We do attempt to place ourselves in the user’s shoes with each interaction. If we were calling regarding the integrated system that we use, what interchange would we appreciate?

    Visit us online at

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    It Starts With The Source

    Start your exploration of direct access reporting by creating a data source. This is the heart of the whole thing. Crystal uses the data source as a conduit to the MISys SBM database, giving you access to the tables in the database.

    To create a Data Source:
    1. Click Start, point to Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Data Sources (ODBC).
    2. Click the System DSN tab, and then click Add.
    3. Click on SQL Server and then click Finish.
    4. Type the data source name (e.g. MISYSSBM). Remember what you choose. You will need to use it in Crystal.
    5. Select the Server where MISys SBM is installed. If you are using the instance of SQL provided with MISys SBM, the you would be looking for \MISYSSBMSE, and then click Next.
    6. Select With SQL Server Authentication for verifying Authenticity. Then use the User Name and Password of the SQL Server that will have access to the database. If you are using the instance of SQL provided with MISys SBM, contact technical support for this information.
    7. Click Next through the next windows and then click Finish.

    Now you have a data source to use in Crystal Reports to access the MISys tables directly.

    Visit MISys Manufacturing Support at

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Winter in Vermont

    If you watch the evening news, you'll surely see stories about people all over the US who are experiencing what we know of winter for the very first time. I've been talking with many MISys customers recently who have asked "So, is this what it's like in Vermont?" And my answer is "Yup, pretty much - from October through May." So I had to chuckle when a friend sent me the following narrative about winter in Vermont:


    65 above zero:
    Floridians turn on the heat.
    People in VT plant gardens.

    60 above zero:
    Californians shiver uncontrollably.
    People in VT sunbathe.

    50 above zero:
    Italian & English cars won't start.
    People in VT drive with the windows down..

    40 above zero:
    Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
    People in VT throw on a flannel shirt.

    35 above zero:
    New Jersey landlords finally turn up the heat.
    People in VT have the last cookout before it gets cold.

    20 above zero
    People in Miami all die.
    VT natives close the windows.

    Californians fly away to Mexico .
    People in VT get out their winter coats.

    10 below zero:
    Hollywood disintegrates.
    The Girl Scouts in VT are selling cookies door to door.

    20 below zero:
    Washington DC runs out of hot air.
    People in VT let the dogs sleep indoors.

    30 below zero:
    Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
    VT natives start up their Snow-mobiles.

    40 below zero:
    ALL atomic motion stops .
    People in VT start saying...'Cold enough fer ya?'

    50 below zero:
    Hell freezes over.
    VT public schools will open 2 hours late.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    Is customer service an archaic concept?

    It would seem so in many situations. I’m sure that most of us get to experience some sort of “customer service” daily. Usually, we think of the term in the positive. As in, being served is a positive experience. However, in recent years, I’ve heard much discussion about the concept being dead since it’s not often that our interactions as a customer are especially positive events.

    Some companies are making an effort at providing favorable service. These transactions stand out in my memory. …which suggests a lack of frequency. I hope that the recognition that the customers pay the bills becomes widespread.

    Returns, sequels and reruns are not always appreciated. However, a return to making business transactions positive experiences for the most part would be most welcomed. At MISys, this is a return that we’re committed to help bring about.

    Being responsible for Customer Service here, I’m very sensitive to how I’m treated in all of my transactions. MISys will be one of the forerunner companies of what I hope will be a trend.

    To facilitate that, I am on a continual search for best practices. Exploring my findings and the actions we’re taking to appropriately serve those who have transactions with us will be reviewed in future posts.

    Visit us online at

    Monday, February 07, 2011

    Just a little history lesson

    For twenty-five years, Manufacturing Information Systems, developed a manufacturing solution for Accpac accounting software. It sold well with more than 7000 installations in over 40 countries. MISys was recognized as the Accpac Development Partner of the Year FIVE (5) times (1996, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004). It was, and remains, a great relationship.

    Then in 2005 MISys developed another manufacturing solution, based on its existing functionality but on a .NET platform, and which integrated with other accounting packages (Peachtree, QuickBooks, Simply, Adagio). Some Accpac resellers perceived that MISys was not supporting Accpac anymore. MISys adapted its new software (MISys SBM) so that it would also fully integrate with Accpac, demonstrating that it was fully supporting Accpac customers. Still there was confusion. After more than 2 years of marketing efforts to show that MISys supports Accpac, we see signs that the messaging is working. Accpac dealers are recommending MISys SBM to their manufacturing clients at a steady and increasing rate. It took some time, but it is working.

    Marketing to existing customers to change their perceptions is more difficult than to market a new idea to potential customers. It takes persistent and consistent messaging and demonstrating the commitment through actions.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Using my iPad for business

    I purchased an iPad 3G 32GB back in May of 2010. I find myself using it more and more for business. I have purchased and tried various Apps and here are my favorites

    • Dropbox - for cloud based file storage. Free for up to 2GB of storage and can be accessed from my iPad, PC and Mac as well as any web browser. Great way to make important documents available and editable from anywhere!
    • TeamViewer - for remote access to my home PC and Mac when away from home. Free for non-commercial use. Works great on my iPad and there is a version that works on PCs and Macs as well. Allows me to view my home PC desktop screen and remotely control the mouse and keyboard. Very smooth even without fast internet connection.
    • Office2 HD and QuickOffice - both of these Apps allow me to edit Microsoft Office documents (including Office 2007 and 2010 formats) stored in Dropbox on my iPad and save them back to dropbox. Allows viewing and basic edits (with some limitations) of Word, Excel and Powerpoint (QuickOffice only).
    • NoteMaster - a bit more capable note taking App than the basic Notes App that comes with the iPad. Allows easily entering bullet lists, numbered lists, inserting pictures, and create section headlines. Only drawback, cannot open or save documents to dropbox yet but you can email them.
    • GPS Drive HD - great GPS app! Includes option for text to speech. Works as well as the Magellen GPS units I used to use.
    • Outliner for iPad - nice comprehensive App for creating outlines for more structured task lists or notes.
    • Todo for iPad and TaskPro - both of these are nice Apps for todo lists and task lists.
    • SpeedTest - an iPhone app that works on the iPad which maskes it easy to test the speed of your internet connection.
    • TripIt, FlightTrack Pro, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, Expedia for travel reservations and info.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    Ferret Day

    The MISys offices are closed today due to the severe blizzard affecting most of the eastern half of the country. We are disappointed not to be able to participate in the annual Ferret Day celebration that is being held in downtown Woodstock today. You may not have seen coverage of Ferret Day on CNN this morning, but here is the scoop:

    Each February 2nd, Woodstock dairy farmer Abner Hasbro, invites locals and visitors to join him at 7:00am when he coaxes his pet ferret Ferdinand out of his burrow for a sniff or two of the crisp Vermont air. As tradition goes, if Ferd the Ferret sees his shadow, we are due for 12 more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if Ferd doesn't see his shadow, winter will be over in just 3 months. This morning there was at least of foot of snow covering Ferd's burrow, and when he finally tunnelled up to fresh air, there was no sun to be seen. So it's official: winter in Woodstock is due to end by the first week of May.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2011

    Sage Australia and MISys Inc. Sign Distribution Agreement

    Effective immediately, Sage Business Solutions will distribute MISys Manufacturing SBM to Sage ERP Accpac Business Partners in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. This represents the first distribution agreement entered into by MISys Inc. for MISys Manufacturing SBM.

    "We recognize the importance of working with a partner who understands the business environment there, works within the same time zone and has a successful track record reselling software," said Charlie Kimbell, VP of Sales and Marketing for MISys Inc.

    To purchase MISys Manufacturing Software "downunder," contact Troy Cole ( at Sage Business Solutions.

    To learn more about MISys Manufacturing software, visit