ALTSHIFT to become a Xero Platinum Partner

We're not usually driven by titles but this one means a lot to us. It’s a very proud moment to become a Xero Platinum Partner because it represents a coming of age for our business - we’ve reached a level of maturity and that’s something to celebrate for any small business.

In 2010 we brought on our very first Xero customer, today we service more than 400 customers in 4 different countries. During that time, app trends have changed, SaaS companies have come, some have gone, but one thing remains constant - our affiliation with Xero. We see Xero not as an app but the pillar of SME business, the focal point of a business software solution, we see Xero as a platform. It’s the backbone of ours and many businesses.

Today we become the first cloud integrator in the world to be a Xero Platinum Partner and possibly the only Xero Platinum Partner that isn’t an Accountant or Bookkeeper. This achievement puts us in the top 2% of Xero partners, a place usually reserved for the big accounting firms. It affirms something we already knew, that the role of an accountant is changing and so is the pecking order. Despite the perceived food chain, we know our clients come to us first for Fintech advice.

Of the 400+ customers we have on Xero, more than 130 are using one or many add-ons for a total combined eco-system of more than 70 apps. That means we have helped our customers integrate Xero with more than 70 different online applications. When others are talking about SaaS and the cloud, we are the ones actually doing it.

Despite this, there are those (Xero NZ included) that fail to recognise Cloud Integrators as an industry. So we won't be complacent and we'll continue to educate the market that what we do isn’t Accounting, Bookkeeping, nor is it I.T, what we do is business automation through app integration, and we do it in person not via Team Viewer or video.

For now it’s important to celebrate our success, to thank the team for all their hard work, to thank our clients for their ongoing support and most importantly thank Xero for providing us with the encouragement, tools, and framework to do what we do.

Without Xero we wouldn’t be ALTSHIFT.

Effective demand forecasting models

Demand forecasting is the complicated science of hypothesising expected sales demand for a given product or series of products. Typically demand forecasting consists of assessing future demand based from historical sales data, and is used to aide businesses in making decisions on what inventory should be held to make best use of cash. The absence of demand based forecasting leaves businesses vulnerable to lost opportunities through stock-outs, or could leave your business with a surplus of stock.

Pursuing demand forecasting to maintain a lean inventory has a number of benefits, one being increased sell-through. Sell-through is the number of times inventory is bought and entirely sold in a given time period, the goal here should be to purchase and entirely sell the inventory of a given product within 90 days. Achieving this will result in reduced holding costs and increased cash-flow. Being able to effectively anticipate customer demand will also allow you to make smarter staffing decisions around providing resource to facilitate spikes.

One method of demand forecasting is a time series analysis, this method is best suit for businesses that have several years of sales data to work from. When trends are clear, businesses will use their historical sales data to get an idea of the seasonal fluctuations of sales volume. This method will work best where sales trends are relatively stable.

In the absence of historical sales data, a method called qualitative forecasting can be used instead of the time series analysis. The qualitative forecasting methodology is typically used with new businesses, or where a new product line is being launched. This method will typically use market research to make a hypothesis on forecasted demand.

A factor to consider when demand forecasting is seasonality. Seasonality is a characteristic where sales experience regular cyclical changes that recur over the calendar year (such as an increase in sales during the holiday season). Trends can also occur over time that signal a shift in behaviour such as a product increasing in popularity. When it comes to demand forecasting both seasonality and sales trends should be taken into account when hypothesising the demand of a particular product. This data should then be used to prepare your inventory, marketing activities and overall operational processes. By effectively forecasting anticipated sales of a particular product, you’ll be able to increase your sell-through rate and reduce stock-out scenarios leading to increased customer satisfaction.

Your business ERP system will be the starting place demand forecasting, as this is where most of your data lives. Having worked with wholesale/distribution businesses of all shapes and sizes, ALTSHIFT has successfully executed ERP projects that serve as the backbone to effective demand forecasting. Planning to implement a new ERP system? Get in touch for a free consultation.

Flicking the switch on your new ERP

The beginning of the end of your ERP implementation project is go-live day, this is where you start to use your new system in your business. The many man hours spent on scoping, configuration, data entry, testing and training amount to the execution of this day. Most business owners fear this day, as it’s execution will make or break the entire project. There are three methods that “go-live” is typically executed with; all-in-one, parallel or phased. Each method has their own positives and caveats, however no one of these methods is the right way to tackle go-live. Your business must decide which method best fits your objectives and resource.

The all-in-one method of going live in your new ERP system is exactly as it sounds. Once all training, configuration and testing is complete, the entire ERP system is switched on and used all at once. Typically with this method, your staff will log out of the old system on Friday afternoon and log into the new ERP on the following Monday morning. This strategy is the quickest way to be fully operating in the new system, and your staff will not have the opportunity to revert to old processes. On the other hand, if there are any errors in the implementation or your staff have not been properly trained then this method carries the biggest risk of disruption.

The parallel method of going live is the act of using both the old and new systems in tandem over a defined time period. Your staff will learn the new system whilst still operating the old system leading this to be the lowest risk of the three methods. The caveat of this method being that your staff will need to twice the amount of work for the same outcome. This can lead to overworked staff and errors between the two systems if close attention isn’t paid. This method would only be recommended for businesses that have the resource capacity to execute.

The phased method of going live differs from the aforementioned methods. In essence, the phased method involves turning on certain modules on the new ERP and switching progressively. For example, you may decide to leave the core ERP functions of your old system on but move your purchasing over to the new system. This strategy averts much of the risk of the all-in-one go live as this is less of a shock to the business and staff. However by the same token running different parts of your business across two systems is inefficient and can lead to confusion among staff and departments. Connections that bring data from the old system into the new system during this phase can be very costly, and only provide the bare minimum ties. There is lower stress and risk involved with this method, however this method also drags out the timeline of your ERP implementation.

There is no one right way to execute go-live day, it is important to assess which of these three methods will provide the least disruption and can be effectively resourced. Working with an ERP implementation consultant like ALTSHIFT will take away much of the pressure of going live. With many successful implementations under our belt, we have the expertise to mitigate the risk of going live. Planning an ERP project, get in touch with us to discuss your options.