News and events

How ERP Software Can Help Your Business Achieve GDPR Compliance

-December 18, 2017

As we reach the end of 2017, you’ll hopefully be well aware that Brexit or not, the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will apply in the UK from 25th May 2018. The regulations represent the biggest shake-up in existing personal information protection rules for more than twenty years, and the penalties faced by businesses who fail to achieve compliance, or are found guilty of data breaches are substantial.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will have the power to impose fines of up to 2% of a business’ global turnover or up to €20 million. According to analysis by NCC Group, fines from the ICO against UK companies in 2016 would have been £69 million rather than £880,500, had the GDPR regulations had been in place at the time.

One of the key aspects of GDPR is that of “Privacy by Design” along with “Privacy by Default”. In essence, companies will now be obliged to consider data privacy during design stages of all projects, along with the lifecycle of the relevant data process.

In this article, we will be looking at a number of ways in which centralising personal data a company holds about its contacts within an ERP system like Encore from Anagram Systems can help a business as it works towards GDPR compliance. If you are new to GDPR, we recommend visiting the ICO’s website and reading their policy guidance documents about the subject.

Effective Data Security Management

First of all, it’s important to emphasise the fact that GDPR compliance is, in essence, not so much an IT or software project but something much wider – a legal business regime which demands that businesses think carefully about data management, policy and processes. No single piece of software will enable a business to become GDPR compliant, however, the way in which a system is used by operatives to access and manage data can help an organisation develop its internal policies and achieve its compliancy goals.

The importance of developing an internal data security policy before GDPR becomes law cannot be overstated. In addition to appointing a dedicated data protection officer, businesses must document what personal data it holds, where it came from, how long it has been held, and how it is shared. In order to achieve this, many companies will need to organise an information audit.

A high proportion of businesses are reliant on multiple systems and spreadsheets to manage their contacts’ personal data. The greater the number of systems in place, the harder it will be to manage an information audit. The use of multiple systems also increases the risk of data breaches.

For example, if a salesperson uses a smartphone on which customer data has been stored and the device is left on a train, this could constitute a breach. Similarly, if a memory stick used by the accounts department containing spreadsheets which includes information about suppliers is lost, this too is an infringement. If the marketing department fail to update a contact record or delete it altogether if an individual requests it is removed, this will also breach the new regulations. The ICO’s website will provide you with many more examples.

To make it easier to manage an audit – and regulate the use of data within an organisation – implementing a single ERP system like Encore to store sensitive information can help mitigate against the risks that come hand-in-hand with using multiple applications, thereby reducing the likelihood of a data infringement occurring.

It’s far easier for management personnel to see and control who in a business has access to data using a single system. Encore, for example, includes data access management functionality that ensures that data users do not have unauthorised access to information that is not relevant to their role. It’s far harder to achieve visibility of who is accessing data if it is stored in multiple repositories on different devices, some of which may well be invisible to a business’ management team.

Put simply, the smaller the number of data sources that a company has in place, the easier GDPR compliance will be.

Managing Consent and “The Right to be Forgotten”

One of the most significant aspect of the new regulations is the issue of consent, and the implications this has as far as marketing is concerned. Businesses will now be required to obtain explicit consent to contact individuals for sales and marketing purposes. Companies must also delete information about a contact as and when requested. The regulations stipulate that it must be as easy for someone to withdraw their consent as it was to grant it. This has been termed “The Right to be Forgotten”.

Consent notices need to be written in plain English and explain exactly how a contact’s details will be used. Notices that rely on contacts to uncheck boxes to agree or disagree with terms and conditions are disallowed, as are agreements which contain easily overlooked small print.

Furthermore, a business must be able to demonstrate – if challenged – that a contact has provided consent to be contacted. Many businesses will need to amend the consent notices that appear on their website and any forms they use for collecting data.

Encore includes dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality for managing contact records and histories, enabling users to maintain an audit-trail of all contact touch points, including email correspondence and details of calls and meetings. Consent notices can be downloaded into the system from a company’s website. Scanned paper forms can be uploaded into Encore and stored within contact records.

Similarly, details of all communications are stored alongside details of the Individuals to whom they have been sent, adding an additional layer of governance and traceability.

Under GDPR, all infringements need to be reported to the ICO within 72 hours of having taken place. By using Encore as the single, central repository for all contact information including consent notices, a company can very rapidly access and provide any information required by the ICO.

Safeguarding Data in a Secure Environment

Hardware is also a factor to consider in terms of working towards GDPR compliance. If a company is still using computer operating systems and server infrastructure that is approaching end of life, there is a high risk that it will become unsupported.

It’s only practical for hardware and software vendors to support current products and support is nearly always withdrawn for older, legacy products. This means vendors cease to issue patches and updates which ensure their technology is secure.

If a software system is hosted on an unsupported server, it is vulnerable to attack. If software and data is compromised as a result, the ICO may well find a company culpable of negligence and impose a fine.

Businesses therefore need to make sure their hardware is fit for purpose and properly supported either by its own in-house IT personnel or third party support providers.
The alternative – which may be more practical and affordable for many smaller businesses – is to migrate to the cloud to ensure that software systems and data are maintained in dedicated data centre which has been professionally accredited and certified. Many software developers – like Anagram Systems – are able to provide secure hosting facilities for their software.

GDPR as a Business Opportunity

Although achieving GDPR compliance may seem onerous, it is actually an opportunity for businesses to rethink the way in which they interact with prospects and customers. As the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) recently put it:

“UK businesses should seize upon GDPR as the catalyst to transform their businesses into human-centric ones. They should use the GDPR framework as the foundation for an authentic and transparent relationship with their customers.”

In many cases, better data governance will also help businesses improve their understanding of their prospects and customers. In this respect, GDPR should be seen as a business opportunity for improving data driven marketing.

The ICO website address is: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/

Making Tax Digital – a summary

-November 1, 2017

On 13th July 2017, the Government announced Making Tax Digital will commence in April 2019 for VAT purposes for businesses with turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) and will be delayed until at least 2020 for all other businesses. Making Tax Digital

Under the proposed timetable:

• Only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold will have to keep digital records, and initially only for VAT purposes from 2019

• Businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly for other taxes until at last 2020

This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to choose when to move to the new digital system.

As HMRC already require quarterly returns, no business will need to provide information to them more regularly during this initial phase than they do now.

All businesses and landlords will have at least two years to adapt to the changes before being asked to keep digital records for other taxes.

HMRC has already begun piloting the Making Tax Digital services and will continue to do so, testing the service with a variety of businesses.

HMRC will start to pilot Making Tax Digital for Businesses (MTDfB) for VAT by the end of the year, starting with small-scale, private testing, followed by a wider, live pilot starting in Spring 2018. This will allow for well over a year of testing before any businesses are mandated to use HMRC’s new system.

Making Tax Digital and Encore

As members of the Business Application Software Developers Association (BASDA), we are monitoring all MTD developments closely to ensure that once the service has been rolled out, Encore will enable our customers to submit information to HMRC in the required format.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Timber Trades Journal article – the transformative power of technology

-August 1, 2017

Timber Trades Journal

We were recently invited to contribute an article about the transformative power of technology to the Timber Trades Journal. The piece focuses on the technologies which are enabling smaller business (in this case timber merchants) to compete against much larger competitors.

The cost of setting up a website equipped with shopping cart functionality has dropped in recent years, as had the price for integrating front and back office systems such as CRM and ERP software. Some web platforms such as the community edition of Magento are free…ecommerce is more accessible to smaller business than ever before.

The ubiquity of smartphone use is also a game changer in terms of how people research products before they make a purchase and this is also covered in the piece. Click here to read the full article.

 

New Boating Business Article

-June 30, 2017

We’re very pleased that Boating Business magazine have published an article about us which talks about the business benefits that one of our customers – Norfolk Marine – have seen by using Encore.

To read the article, please click here:

If you would like to read a more detailed case study, please email: nick.hardy@anagramsystems.co.uk

The top six signs that your business needs ERP software

-June 14, 2017

As a business grows, it’s inevitable that the administrative workload will increase. Unless proper processes for managing transactions and information are implemented early on, there’s a risk that personnel will become overwhelmed. As a result, cracks can appear and despite everyone’s best intentions, a business can suffer; it’s the old adage of a rapidly growing company becoming a victim of its own success.

These days, most companies will invest in accounting software to automate otherwise time-consuming manual financial management, using these systems alongside spreadsheets to manage other areas of operations, such as sales and customer services.

When a business is small and the number of transactions that need to be managed is relatively low, there’s no doubt that the use of both accounting systems and spreadsheets is key to effective management. It’s when a business grows, however, that using multiple applications can cause problems that become a major headache for team members throughout an organisation.

The next step up from basic accounting systems is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which centralises all aspects of business operations within a single system. ERP software includes functionality designed to automate different business areas and improve the flow of information between everyone within a company.

By enabling personnel with different job roles to access and share accurate, up to date information, the likelihood of effective collaboration is increased significantly.

Here are six of the signs that indicate that it could be time for your business to invest in ERP software…

1. The software systems you already have in place don’t talk to each other

Many businesses use a number of different software systems to manage different areas of operations and this frequently expands as a company grows.

Although a single software system may be sufficient for managing the department where it is used, the information it holds may be invisible to the rest of the business.

‘Data silos’ – which appear as a result of departments using software applications that hold information related solely to their particular area of business operations – are commonplace in growing companies.

Much like grain in a silo on a farm is closed off from outside elements, ‘data silos’ remain under the control of one department and are isolated from the rest of the organisation.
For a business to operate as a single entity, it is essential that data can flow freely around all departments.

By investing in ERP software and holding all information in one place, ‘data silos’ are eliminated at a stroke, ensuring that that everyone has access to the same pool of accurate, up to date information.

2. Financial management is increasingly time-consuming and complex

As a business grows and the number of individual transactions increases, ensuring these are quickly and accurately recorded can become progressively more challenging. Effective bookkeeping and accounting is only possible if your financial management team have complete visibility of all incomings and outgoings and are not reliant on other teams to provide this information to them.

If a member of your accounts team, for instance, has to repeatedly remind sales staff to provide up to date figures, or prompt buyers for information about purchases, efficient financial management can be hindered to the extent that is grinds to a halt.

Although most businesses have dedicated accounting software these days, a lack of integration with the applications used outside of the finance department can make accurate accounting unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming.

A fully integrated ERP system makes life easier for financial management personnel by automatically drawing together information about all department’s incomings and outgoings, updating accounting ledgers without the need for additional data entry. This means financial managers have everything they need to produce reports required by third-party organisations such as HMRC or internally by senior managers.

3. Sales and customer services are suffering

In a business’ early years, when the volume of product sales may be relatively low, stock control is easily manageable. Many companies can get by with the basic stock management functionality included in accounting software or by using spreadsheets.

As sales grow, however, there is a potential risk of customer demand outweighing stock availability, resulting in disappointed customers and a damaged reputation.

A sales team may be using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to record customer enquiries and orders. Their colleagues in the warehouse may be using a separate inventory management systems to maintain details of stock levels and plan buying. The purchasing department are using a different system altogether.

If these systems are not integrated, the sales department have no idea of what stock is available for shipment. Meanwhile, the warehouse and purchasing team are unaware of orders and the dates by which goods needs to be shipped to customers.

If you implement ERP software which includes stock control and CRM functionality, your sales team can view stock levels before making promises to customers and warehouse. Purchasing staff will have complete visibility of what products, parts or components are required and by when. This is particularly important for manufacturing companies who need to manage production planning in order to fulfil orders and meet deadlines.

If customers receive orders on time, as promised, they are obviously more likely to become a source of repeat business than if shipments are received late.

4. It’s difficult to analyse information about your business

Effective business intelligence is all about analysing information to make informed decisions but if you can’t gather data in the first place, you and your team members will remain in the dark. If the information you need is located by different people in multiple applications it can be almost impossible to find. By consolidating and centralising all information within a single repository, however, ERP software makes it much easier to gather the data you need.

A sophisticated system will also include reporting functionality and data visualisation tools designed to make it easier for you and your teams to analyse information.

5. Lack of mobile access to software

These days, it’s key that your teams can access the software they need to manage and drive your business from wherever they are working from. This is especially the case for sales staff who need to be able to access and update prospect and account information when they on the move. Their ability to close new business and spot upsell opportunities is underpinned by access to data (such as stock availability) as well as electronic marketing collateral which they need in real-time when they are speaking to customers and prospects.

Your senior management team also need access to data when they are out of the office–perhaps when they’re travelling between meetings – and easy access to up to date information is key to their decision making.

Many ERP software developers – but not all – provide functionality designed specifically for field based staff which ensures they have everything they need at their fingertips. Ideally, you should look for a system that is accessible to people via a range of different devices including smartphones, laptops and tablets.

6. Managing IT systems is increasingly time consuming and expensive

Running multiple software systems is expensive and puts pressure on your IT infrastructure, including the people who manage it. Annual software license and support contract renewals are costly and you may also find yourself spending money on hardware upgrades (e.g. servers) and having to employ more IT staff.

Reducing the number of software systems you use frees up IT resources and reduces the costs related to running multiple solutions. By adopting ERP software, you can remove the need for multiple systems, hardware costs and the need to employ more IT staff than necessary.

Webinar – save time and increase productivity with Encore for jewellers

-June 1, 2017

As a business grows, it’s all too easy for administration to take over, leaving you and your team with little time to focus on customers and growing sales.

Encore has been designed to simplify every aspect of administration by centralising all information in a single place, eliminating the need for multiple software systems and spreadsheets.

Encore’s sales and marketing functionality provides you with everything you need to support your business development activities.

Already used by many of the UK’s leading jewellery businesses, Encore is designed to help you sharpen your competitive edge.

Join us online at 3 PM on Thursday 29th June to see a demonstration of Encore – we’re confident you’ll be impressed.

Key features

• Advanced stock control
• Manufacturing & repairs
• Appraisals
• Purchasing
• Sales order processing
• Point of sale
• Web sales
• Financial management & reporting

Key benefits

• Competitively priced
• Delivers a rapid return on investment
• Eliminates the need for multiple systems and spreadsheets
• Improves the accuracy of product, sales & customer information
• Improves team collaboration
• Ongoing training and support program
• Ideal for ‘brick and mortar’ and online businesses
• Used by more than 2,000 UK businesses

We don’t know of any other business management systems for jewellery business that includes so much functionality for such a competitive price!
To register for the webinar, please complete the form below. We’ll be in touch to confirm registration and to provide you with access details for the video conference.

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Newsletter – May 2017

-May 26, 2017

Click here to read our May 2017 newsletter.

This month’s highlights include:

– Our thoughts about ransomware, security and cloud computing.
– A brand new case study – how James Chambers Timber Merchants have used Encore to improve business productivity
– News about HMRC’s postponement of their Making Tax Digital (MTD) scheme
– An invitation to participate in one of our new focus groups

Adopting an omnichannel strategy can help small retailers compete effectively against their larger rivals, advises Anagram Systems

-August 30, 2016
Omnichannel marketing

Integrating online and offline sales channels is key to growing sales and
improving customer satisfaction levels

Anagram Systems, a leading developer of business management software has advised that in order to compete effectively against larger businesses, small and medium sized retailers need to adopt an omnichannel strategy which unites online and offline sales.

As increasing numbers of people combine online research for products and services with calls and visits to a shop or branch, an omnichannel approach ensures that customers can make decisions and purchases via the retail channel that is most convenient for them.

Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, Anagram Systems comments: “In the last two years, we’ve seen a leap in the number of retailers which are adopting an omnichannel approach and are growing sales and customer satisfaction levels as a direct result.”

“Businesses which cater for the fact that people now shop in different ways, moving between online and offline retail channels before making a decision, are providing the gold-standard shopping experience that consumers and business buyers now expect as standard and take for granted.”

Recent research* has revealed that eight out of ten consumers now user a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology such as a searchable electronic catalogue while shopping and researching products and services ahead of a purchase.

Business with plans to adopt an omnichannel strategy must therefore think carefully about their existing IT infrastructure and the technology required to engage with customers who access different channels using a range devices including desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Until recently business owners considering the adoption of an omnichannel strategy faced a number of obstacles. These included investment in website shopping cart functionality, front-end and back-end systems required to capture sales and customer information, and crucially, enabling personnel in different departments work more closely together.

Recent advancements in technology and the accessibility of sites such as eBay and Amazon, however, have made it easier and more affordable for small retailers to implement the systems that underpin a successful omnichannel strategy.

Business management applications like Encore from Anagram Systems centralise all business data within a single system, helping improve the flow of accurate, up to date customer data between different users. This is key to minimising the mistakes that are common in businesses which use multiple software systems and ensuring all orders and customers enquiries are recorded and managed accurately and quickly.

Encore also provides real-time integration with a businesses’ website, enabling business users to manage sales, stock and customer information. Centralising this information within a single system is key to providing joined up customer services; an essential pre-requisite of every successful omnichannel strategy deployment.

Morgan concludes: “The good news for small retailers is that they are often more agile than their larger competitors and can make changes to internal processes and introduce new technology in a short space of time.”

“This agility combined with more affordable business management systems like Encore means small businesses are able to implement an omnichannel strategy very quickly. As a result they are able to grow their market share and compete against much larger business.”

Anagram Systems is a market-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provider with more than 30 years’ experience of developing integrated front and back office systems for SMEs in the UK and USA. The company supports more than 2,000 companies worldwide.

*Mastercard Insights: The Omnishopper has arrived, 2015

Anagram Systems launches smartphone application for sales staff

-June 1, 2016
Encore Connect to improve the productivity of sales staff via browser based access to centrally held customer and stock information
Sales per customer

Encore Connect – sales per customer

31 May 2016 – Anagram Systems (Anagram) today announced the launch of Encore Connect (Connect), a software application that enables field based sales staff to access and update customer, prospect and product information via internet enabled smartphones and tablets. Connect has been designed to shorten the sales-cycle by reducing manual administration, freeing up users to focus on generating business.

Connect is a modular extension to Encore, Anagram’s fully integrated business management System for SMEs that combines inventory management with financials, sales order processing and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Connect users can access Encore via any browser based device with internet connectivity.

Connect has been designed to improve the productivity and efficiency of field-based sales personnel, enabling them to manage customer information, capture sales orders, create quotations, schedule activities and manage their diaries using from wherever they are working.

Users have access to the same searchable product catalogues that are held within their company’s central Encore deployment, enabling them to provide customers with images, prices and other product information during face-to-face meetings. Product information can be added to quotes and sales orders at the click of a button, reducing the need for manual data entry.

Stock level allocation information is updated following order capture and sign-off. Real time access to inventory information reduces the likelihood of a salesperson accidentally taking orders that cannot be fulfilled. The application also eliminates the inaccuracies that are associated with paper based record keeping and sales order processing.

Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, Anagram Systems comments: “We are delighted to announce the launch of Encore Connect. We have focused on creating an application that automates time consuming sales processes, enabling staff to manage information held in Encore as easily as if they were working in the office. Reduced administration time means sales staff can spend more time talking to customers’ and identifying opportunities for generating revenue.”

“Remote users have access to exactly the same sales environment used by their office based colleagues. This improves the flow of accurate, up to date data between field and office based staff which is key to effective communication and providing joined-up customer service.”

Easy access to customer records and order histories also eliminates the need for sales staff to take hard-copy files and sales brochures to appointments. The ability to capture sales and quotations on the move means sales staff only need to enter information once in order to update Encore. Remote access also reduces the amount of time sales staff need spend in the office completing administrative tasks.

Morgan concludes: “The release of Encore Connect is a significant milestone in our ongoing development programme and we look forward to rolling the solution out to existing and new customers. We are very confident that the solution will help our customers streamline their efficiencies and improve the performance of their sales teams.”

Anagram Systems is a market-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provider with more than 30 years’ experience of developing integrated front and back office business management systems for SMEs in the UK and USA. The company supports more than 2,000 companies worldwide.

The importance of ERP software for manufacturers

-November 17, 2015
ERP Software for manufacturers

ERP Software for manufacturers

 

17 November 2015 – Business management software provider, Anagram Systems (Anagram), is advising UK manufacturing firms that investing in systems that streamline production planning, simplify supply chain management and improve customer relationship management is key to sustaining and growing output growth levels.

Anagram’s advice follows the publication of the latest Markit / CIPS UK Purchasing Manager’s Index report, an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The report suggests that UK manufacturing output grew faster during October 2015 than at any time in the past 16 months.

Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, Anagram Systems comments: “UK manufacturers have faced tough times and it’s encouraging to see the recent acceleration in output and new order growth. However, in order to maintain momentum, businesses need to think carefully about key business management processes and take steps to ensure they are working as efficiently and productively as possible. For many businesses, dedicated ERP software for manufacturers is the way forward.”

“Many manufacturing companies use a range of standalone software systems alongside spreadsheets to manage different areas of their business. Unless these systems are integrated and enable the flow of accurate, up to date information between different departments, there is a very real risk of misinformation slowing down planning, production and order delivery.”

“The alternative is to adopt Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as Encore from Anagram which consolidate works order processing, bill of materials and component inventory management alongside accounting, sales and customer services- all within a single system.”

Encore is a fully integrated ERP system designed for small and medium size manufacturing businesses, designed to simplify front and back office management. The solution is also designed to improve visibility across every aspect of a company’s operations, providing the business intelligence required to support management decision making and strategic development.

Encore’s CRM functionality enables businesses to plan and manage their marketing activities and maintain an audit-trail of all customer and prospect touch-points resulting from eshot, social media and telesales campaigning. As a result business managers are equipped with intelligence that reveals which customers are responding to marketing communications and the activities are providing the most and least return on investment.

Morgan concludes: “Encore ERP software for manufacturers helps businesses support their existing customer base and manage new business prospects. If the recent increase in manufacturing output continues, businesses will need to fulfil the needs of new clients with those of their existing customers without compromising on product quality or service levels. Adopting an ERP solution is key to helping businesses achieve this goal.”

Anagram Systems is a market-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provider with more than 30 years’ experience of developing integrated front and back office systems for SMEs in the UK and USA. The company supports more than 2,000 companies worldwide.