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ERP Software Best Practices

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Why We Chose Unanet: OptoKnowledge

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon

Sep 17, 2020

First in an ongoing blog series detailing the reasoning behind a firm’s selection of Unanet’s ERP solution over other options. The firm: OptoKnowledge Systems, Inc. (optoknowledge.com), a Torrance, CA, company that develops imaging systems (hyperspectral imaging, night vision, situational awareness, and spectroscopy) for defense, security and environmental/energy applications. The company is primarily an R&D contractor for the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy. As accustomed as OptoKnowledge is to operating at technology’s leading edge as a developer of advanced imaging systems and sensors for night vision, drones, and other visibility-related applications, it needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that could provide it with better visibility into its own business. Soon after purchasing the 30-year-old company in February 2020, OptoKnowledge’s new ownership realized the company could benefit from a new ERP system that could better support its strategic priorities — preferably one that’s fully integrated, proven in the government contractor space, and well-supported from a service standpoint. The effort to find a replacement for its inefficient and outmoded ERP system got off to a rocky start. The initial plan to transition from an obsolete version of that system to a newer version was abandoned, chiefly due to issues with data migration. Seeking another option, company officials reached out to their contacts in the GovCon space for recommendations. While the reports they got about one big-name ERP system were consistently less than glowing (mostly complaints about subpar support), the reviews their peers provided on another ERP software option were highly positive. Those positive reviews pertained to Unanet. Additional due diligence cemented Unanet as the right choice for OptoKnowledge, primarily for its strong data drill-down capabilities and its service and support, which got uniformly high marks from the current users with whom company officials spoke. A contract was signed soon thereafter, and OptoKnowledge is poised to implement Unanet’s purpose-built ERP software in November 2020. “We are so excited about the financial reporting,” says Ilana Gat, Chief Financial Officer at OptoKnowledge. “It’s impossible to ask staff to keep spreadsheets up to date, but with Unanet, our program managers will get real-time insights into their programs on a daily basis.” Using Unanet, she expects program managers will be able to see key information about their programs and projects in real time. She’s also looking forward to gaining a new level of granular insight into profit and loss by project/program, as well as the ability to drill into the data around individual transactions. The only drawback: waiting until these and other capabilities built into Unanet go live company-wide.

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Analytics Capabilities for Government Contractors Highlight Latest Unanet Release

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon

Jul 23, 2020

How to improve what is already the standard-bearer for project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for government contractors? By adding several features that enable GovCons to unlock new efficiencies and insight within their data. Announced in late July, the latest enhancements to Unanet’s purpose-built ERP software are analytics-focused — and designed to be simple to use and immediately impactful. They include: Analytics+, a capability we expect to quickly emerge as best in its class for its dashboard and reporting functionality. The new analysis and reporting capabilities build upon the software’s real-time data visualization features that enable GovCons to aggregate data from multiple sources across finance, accounting, and project management for automatically generated reports, including statements of cash flow. It’s included in customers’ cloud subscription. Analytics Studio, which is tailored to GovCons whose businesses demand advanced analytics and custom reporting to further mine their data for real-time insight. It provides a deeper level of interactive analysis and drill-down capabilities, with embedded, eminently customizable and feature-rich dashboards, including dashboards designed specifically for the C-Suite. Automated Invoice Attachments is a feature that gives finance teams a tool to shorten time to cash, with its ability to automatically generate required or supporting documents for invoices. Unanet’s new release is designed to equip government contractors with more tools to meet mounting business and compliance challenges, explained CEO Craig Halliday. “From the C-suite to the project management level, finance to operations, our new analytics capabilities allow for better decision-making across virtually every function.” The July software release is the first in a series of enhancements that Unanet expects to unveil over the course of 2020. You’ll be the first to know what our development team has in store to simplify life for our valued GovCon clients. In the meantime, to learn more about the latest software enhancements, click here.

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The Benefits of ERP Software Training

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices

Nov 13, 2019

Software training is a valuable endeavor, and ERP software training is no different. Many people struggle with maximizing their use of the software they have access to. My parents, who are in their 70s, have two shiny, brand new iPads. They have enough processing power to have sent an astronaut to the moon in the 60s. They have the latest in optical display. And you know what they use it for? You got it: Farmville. The same can be said for so many Office products. Did you know that you can embed an Excel graph in a PowerPoint slide? Well, maybe you’ve heard of that…and maybe you don’t even know how to graph in Excel. At Unanet we want you to maximize your software! We want you to use the tool as it was designed to help your business grow. We want your employees to be empowered to review metrics in the reports to help make valuable decisions. What’s the best way to maximize your use of Unanet? Training! Why Should You Attend ERP Software Training? Aside from becoming an expert, you may be wondering why you should consider attending ERP software training. There’s nearly an endless number of reasons! Training comes in handy to get a jump on new functionality and become comfortable with it. In addition, training will allow you to become more confident in your use of the product so you can exceed your goals. Another benefit of training is that you are forced to take the time out of your busy schedule of multi-tasking and focus on one objective: learning how to optimize your software. We don’t often get the opportunity to focus intently on one project or task at a time, and training allows you to do so in an environment where you aren’t simply searching for the quickest way you know how to do something. You slow down and find the correct way to do it and can perhaps find an even faster way to do it that you hadn’t known before. Here are even more benefits of utilizing ERP software training through Unanet University: Staying current with updates and best practices Cutting time in the learning process Seeing examples play out in front of you Spending dedicated time focused on experimenting in the Unanet environment without impacting your own system Boosting your resume by working towards or earning certificates Learning real-world situations from similar businesses Networking with other students and Unanet employees Why Would My Company Send Me to ERP Software Training? As we have detailed above, there are many benefits to training that will improve your work and use of the product, but you of course need to get your boss on board as well! In your discussion with your supervisor, remind them that ERP software training will help your company do the following: Learn and use best practices of the product Develop efficiencies in the system Ensure the most current functionalities of the product are being utilized to their best advantage Allow employees to maximize their efforts in the system without use of trial and error methods. Make the Most of Unanet with Unanet University Our instructor-led classes are structured to allow for small-group interaction with an experienced instructor. The Unanet University instructors have a combined 20 years of experience using Unanet! We are dedicated to helping you maximize your use of Unanet. Register today for an upcoming class!

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DCAA Compliant Software

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon, Government Compliance

Jun 13, 2019

Just to be clear, there is no such thing as DCAA Compliant Software! It is your organization and procedures that will be assessed for compliance. That said, software such as Unanet, that is purpose-built for government contractors can significantly help you with achieving compliance. DCAA compliance requires that your accounting and related business processes which collectively including policies, manual procedures and tools be compliant. Software alone is not audited for DCAA compliance or certified, nor approved as DCAA compliant. However, Unanet software has been reviewed by DCAA auditors at more than one thousand customer sites and, along with the customer policies and procedures, approved as supporting DCAA requirements. Unanet software makes implementation of the DCAA regulations easy and efficient. Here is a small sampling of the DCAA regulations that a compliant accounting system must include and that are directly supported by Unanet accounting software: Proper segregation of direct and indirect costs Identification and accumulation of direct costs by contract Method for allocation of indirect costs A Timekeeping System that enforces specific requirements related to charging hours Labor distribution – how costs are allocated to charged time Segregation of unallowable costs Accumulation of costs under General Ledger Control To learn more, download A GovCon’s Essential Guide to DCAA Compliance.  

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What Makes a Project Based ERP System Special?

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon

Mar 20, 2019

Every project based business requires projects to keep it running smoothly and growing, so why not choose an ERP system that is built to manage them? A project based ERP system can help a business streamline and automate its project management process to avoid delayed projects, a lack of skilled employees, and unbilled hours. In short, project based ERPs are designed to promote project success and company growth. But what about generic ERP systems? While they have a few benefits, there are a few key differences between generic and project based ERPs. Generic vs Project Based ERP Systems Generic ERPs are still prevalent in the marketplace today, but they are costly and very difficult to maintain if your business is projects. These ERPs typically do not have the project as the center of the universe. Generic ERPs focus on the account and the department/organization, and the project is accounted for with a separate tool. In a generic world, the project is an afterthought. Why Project Based ERP Systems? In a recent blog, we discussed what to look for when choosing project-based ERP software. But why are project based ERP systems the clear choice for project based organizations? We explore 8 main reasons below: Transactions are attached to a project, department/organization, and a general ledger account. This ensures that transactions do not get lost in the midst of a project and prevents team members from tracking them down while running expense reports.  A time collection system attaches charges directly to the tasks that the individual works on. This makes tracking billable hours much easier and more intuitive. Costing architecture is tailorable for each project and task. No two projects are alike, so why should there be a single costing architecture? Costs are often outlined in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which project managers and standard employees alike use to monitor the progression of the project. Visibility is provided into the financials of each project (i.e. profit, cost, billing). This visibility and transparency is crucial for all team members be aware of what the project is costing and make adjustments if needed. A resourcing tool provides project managers with information on what skills are available at what time. This prevents surprises and winding up with a lack of skilled employees to handle a project. Complete financial reporting with the project in mind. Financial reporting of a project plays a large role in the project being an efficient success or dragging on for months. Project based key performance indicators to help drive the organizational and project goals. System controls that send notifications when project restraints are met, configured to the needs of your business To Best Manage Your Organization’s Projects, Trust Unanet’s Project Based ERP System Project based companies require project based ERP systems. It’s as simple as that. Unanet’s project management software allows you to align projects to corporate strategy, lower project management costs, gain key real-time project insights, and much more. Learn how you can unlock greater productivity, operational efficiency, and profitability with project clarity and control, download our ebook, The Business of Projects for dummies.

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What to Look for When Choosing Project Based ERP Software

by Kim Koster ERP Software Best Practices, GovCon

Mar 11, 2019

If you are considering using ERP software for your business or are not satisfied with your current one and are looking elsewhere, understand that not all ERP systems are created equally. As we think about what makes great ERP software, we should consider the project lifecycle and the process of project management. The ERP should have all the elements of the project lifecycle as a basic part of the system. Below are only a few of the elements your ERP system must have in order to be a good fit for your business: Customer Relationship Management Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a discipline that manages your company’s interaction with current and potential customers. CRM has become a priority to improve overall relationships with customers, specifically to focus on customer retention (stickiness) and to drive sales growth. Opportunity Management An opportunity pipeline for a project-based business is the visualization and/or measurement of contracts or projects that you will attempt to win over time.  Visibility into the pipeline gives vital information on needed resources, enterprise growth, profitability, and revenue trajectory. Resource Management Project stakeholders can visually see the availability, skills, utilization, and time phasing of the resources. Resource management’s level of visibility and control will help maximize overall performance and profitability. Budgeting A budget represents what the business believes is achievable and what it intends to accomplish. The project establishes a budget that becomes the baseline for performance management. Visibility into budget vs. actuals is important project manager information. Forecasting Throughout the execution of the project plans may change, the resources may change too, and it is the responsibility of the project manager to revise the work to best accomplish the end goal.  How much is it going to cost and when will the project finish?  The forecast will answer that question. Earned Value Earned Value Management (EVM) is a project management best practice that flows directly with your established PM policies. The basics of EVM are plan, execute, assess performance, and monitor the project.   Project managers can assess completion of the work at the task level and by doing this will get a host of metrics on current and future performance. Revenue Recognition Revenue is the amount of income the organization is making. It is one of the most important metrics/KPIs that a business/project monitors.  Project Managers are responsible for achieving revenue goals, so having the ability to track revenue real-time is a huge benefit. Time and Expense Time collection systems are used by every employee in the organization. They collect hours for tracking project effort, and are supporting systems for payroll, invoicing, project accounting, chargeback, and job cost accounting.  Expense systems track employee expenses to a project. Integration of time and expense directly to the project keeps project managers up-to-date on resources and current costs. Billing As engineering companies, it is critical to be able to automate and shorten the bid-to-bill lifecycle. Engineering organizations need revenue recognition and billing to be completely in lock step. The concept of billing and invoicing does not need much explanation as we deal with bills continually in our daily lives. Billings/Invoices typically are a form that contains information like name, address, payment terms, a unique id, elements of cost, direct costs, and indirect costs applied. Real Time KPIs and Reporting Real-time information is key to managing the day-to-day operations. Project team members need information throughout the life of the project. For instance, project status reports, EVM, time and expense, financial, and resource reports are a must.  Dashboards are eye candy for all levels within the organization. They are a real-time visual representation of the role-based business information needed to manage the business.  PMs should be able to quickly see with colors and graphs where they are against plan. Key Performance Indices (KPIs) provide actionable insights to help execute projects. Your Search is Over! Choose Unanet’s Projct Based ERP Software When it comes to an ERP system, your business needs a streamlined, efficient solution that helps you manage resources, staff, projects, and more to keep you organized, on schedule, and under budget. Unanet is here to help. To learn more about the moving parts of ERP software, download our ebook, Selecting an ERP for Professional Services, or our white paper, “Have You Outgrown Your Existing ERP?“