Consultant is the job title listed on many of Zerion’s business cards and in email signatures. “Consulting” is the lifeblood of our service offering, and it is the best answer to the question, “What does Zerion do?”
Yet, consulting can feel like one of those ambiguous terms that encompasses everything and nothing at the same time. The definition found on Wikipedia is, “A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field who has a wide knowledge of the subject matter … clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house…”
While this is all true, what the heck does that mean within the context of wholesale distribution? And, how in the world can we help you, an owner, operations manager, or IT professional using Epicor Eclipse software?
We find that a tangible way to explain our services is by providing examples of the most common work we do for our customers. Here is a list of the Top 11 Eclipse requests we were asked to consult on this year:
1. Can I start over with PDW? Eclipse installs the PDW and only sets up one MAP. While this configuration does work, optimum use of the PDW requires a lot of MAPS and internal adjustments. We often see a messy PDW and are consequently asked to fix it or help a customer start over.
2. We run our rebate reports manually, outside of Eclipse software. Can Eclipse automate this process? Eclipse software has the ability to handle rebates; but, many distributors don’t have it set up. We’ve helped our customers configure the rebate process, as well as the necessary reporting, to retrieve their claims. We also have further automated rebates for some by arranging direct communication with vendors via FTP.
3. We manually update pricing records. Can this be automated? Most of the matrix upload process into Eclipse can be handled via spreadsheet. However, it can be very technical, and Eclipse doesn’t always treat the uploads as expected. We’ve trained many customers on pricing uploads, and informed them of bugs, so they can avoid complications.
4. I recently purchased Solar licenses, but no one uses it. How can I get them to use it? We’ve found that the transition to Solar necessitates more handholding than others in Eclipse. It isn’t difficult to learn Solar; but, without a dedicated resource available to answer basic questions that come up, the install can quickly lose traction. Zerion provides onsite and remote training and support during Solar go-lives.
5. Our financial reports in Eclipse don’t work right. How can we utilize Eclipse to track financials? During a conversion to Eclipse, GL reports are usually set up by the trainer; and include many templates. These can be cumbersome and difficult for users to figure out. We’ve found it is best to walk customers through a new, simpler set-up, achieving the financial reports that are best suited to their individual needs.
6. How do I get my suggested PO queue to actually work? Many distributors have never utilized the automated purchasing functionality available in Eclipse. Zerion is often asked to set up the buylines, procure groups, and product maintenance to work for suggestions. In addition, we also help the customer set up the necessary control files and train users on how to follow the new procedures.
7. Can I turn on RF Receiving, Picking, and Cycle Counting all at once? Yes. Zerion uses its own, unconventional, but effective approach to installing RF. We group receiving, picking and cycle counting into one go-live, which also includes the set up of control files and RF training. At times we find that doing an inventory at go-live to allocate quantities to locations also helps.
8. How can I make sense of my authorizations? Authorizations can be very difficult to fix in Eclipse. Distributors are leery of making mass changes; as any mishaps can cause serious delays in company productivity. To create less stress, our customers feel more comfortable having us manage this process. We also start by creating our own new templates before touching the existing ones. Then, we can assign those templates to the users as needed.
9. How can I get the Return Goods Queue to work for my company? The first step is for your team to gain a foundation of understanding about the Return Goods Queue via thorough training. Then, you’ll need to update your processes. Many of our customers don’t have the Return Goods Queue running properly; and sometimes there is only one person involved who isn’t embracing all of its functionality. This queue is unique because there aren’t any control files or settings to manipulate how it works. In essence, it is what it is.
10. What are the most valuable add-on products users can buy from Eclipse? RF is by far the best and most useful add-on you can install. It allows you to automate processes across your entire organization and has a tendency to “calm down” an entire organization. Signature Capture allows you to be much more professional because signing on an electronic device is the norm today, versus signing a carbon copy piece of paper as had been done in the past. EDI has been around a long time, but still isn’t as popular as you might think. Yet, EDI can automate the sending and receiving of purchase orders, sales orders, acknowledgements, and even invoices, all of which can be automatically entered into Eclipse for you. This equates to less manual keying for you, your vendors and your customers. The only challenge with EDI is not all vendors and customers support it.
11. Can Zerion support me instead of Epicor? Yes and no. Zerion doesn’t sell Eclipse; and, therefore we cannot offer true “system support” or system updates. What Zerion offers is Eclipse services. Sometimes those services involve telephone, email or on-site support; and, sometimes it is quoted project work. We are capable of handling anything from backups and file maintenance to forms changes and pricing training. We can usually do anything you would ask Epicor to quote.
As true “business consultants,” our abilities span much further than what is included on this list. But, this is a good place to start if you’ve been wondering what your peers are using Zerion for. The bottom line when it comes to a consultant is that it’s always best to inquire rather than assume. If you’re wondering whether or not we do something, or if we CAN do something, just ask. Or, if you want to see if Eclipse is being competitive on time or cost, give us a chance to quote the job. We look forward to working with you!