Page 1

Volume 7, Summer 2016

Manufacturing Today WillowWood’s Jeffrey Tadlock Keeps the Pace Page 18

3D Printing

The Next Big Thing in Manufacturing Page 20

Are You Ready for the IIoT? Page 26

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Industry 4.0 and Big Data Make SMB Manufacturers More Agile


WillowWood Keeps Pace with ForwardLooking Technology


3D Printing: The Next Big Thing in Manufacturing


Keysocks—An Inspiring Story of Passion, Partnerships and Perseverance


Summer 2016

Letter from the Editor


Industry News


Manufacturing Tech.


Cover Story


Corporate Finance




Sales and Marketing




Human Resources



How to Handle a Terminated Employee’s Immediate Emotional Response

bell•weth•er -noun:

one who takes initiative or leadership


Is Your Company Ready for the IIoT?

Summer 2016 | Bellwether



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BELLWETHER Volume 7 Summer 2016

filled with barber! Days and weekends are We’re in the heat of summe e of Bellwether is hing drinks. Similarly, this issu cues, get-aways, and refres hot, colorful and fun. filled with articles that are ny critical proManufacturers. There are ma This quarter, our focus is on er for you to contintions to comply with in ord cesses to rethink and regula and love. Our goal your customers appreciate ue supplying the products tegies, and thought explore the latest tools, stra in this issue is to help you ble. ain competitive and profita leadership so you can rem red their facility, I on WillowWood. Having tou Check out our cover article es in making an ch pride every employee tak have seen first-hand how mu on their customer’s an almost miraculous effect excellent product that has Passion, Partnercks - An Inspiring Story of lives. You’ll also love “Keyso d-coming manupage 24. They are an up-an ships and Perseverance” on problem many duct which solves a fashion facturer of a truly unique pro women have. Summit 2016 atway into the hands of Sage This issue is also making its Sage software to rs attend because they use tendees. Many manufacture partner for over 36 . Blytheco has been a Sage run aspects of their business ducts. r 5,000 clients using Sage pro years, and we support ove ‘Hi,’ possibly win a stop by Booth #1205 to say If you are at Sage Summit, w.BellwetherMagaFirst time readers: visit ww gift card or snag our swag! e each quarter. receive our magazine for fre to subscribe and Have a wonderful summer

and happy reading!

EDITOR Apryl Hanson COPY EDITOR Denise Renee Phinn ART DIRECTORS Gary Dahl Jennifer Vo ADVERTISING SALES Denise Renee Phinn SUBSCRIPTIONS Or contact Denise Renee Phinn (949) 583-9500, Extension 2209 Bellwether Magazine is published by Blytheco with principal offices at: 23161 Mill Creek Dr., Suite 200 Laguna Hills, CA 92653 If you wish to be removed from the mailing list or to add names to the mailing list, send your request, including name, business name, and mailing address to the above address or to This is a copyrighted publication and all articles herein are covered by this copyright. Any use of the content for commercial reasons or other form or reproduction of material herein is strictly prohibited without prior, written approval of Bellwether Magazine.

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Environmental Concerns and Their Impact on the Manufacturing Industry

by Carole Murphy


ost companies, in one sense or another, have become increasingly conscious of environmental and sustainability issues. Non-renewable resources, energy, weather patterns and workplace safety are a few of the current topics creating growing trepidation. Out of necessity, the largest concern that arises from these changes in small to medium-sized businesses is cost.


leaders are asking themselves: “What does it cost to research and implement alternate materials, and are they feasible for my product?” “Can I afford to pay my workers more, or move manufacturing to a plant that has more established workers’ rights?” “Can I afford the rising costs of energy and water?” These questions are all valid in an economy that has been trying to find its footing in an uncertain environment. Unfortunately, they are not the initial questions that need to be answered for your company to withstand these shifts. Small to medium-sized businesses are typically not able to invest the capital costs associated with projects such as biogas-powered generators, fuel cell installations, or water turbines in order to create energy. They also are unlikely to be able to afford the purchase of energy credit offsets. A paradigm shift, then, is in order. Both costs and liabilities can decrease when you aim for a more sustainable operation. As you move towards these goals, a reduction in cost is often a byproduct of a more sustainable process.


Bellwether | Summer 2016

So, what are the questions you should be asking that will bring the desired results?

1. What am I risking by failing to move alongside the environmental shift? Today, companies are being held responsible for issues that surface anywhere in their supply chain. If you avoid auditing any step in the production of your product, you could be putting yourself at risk of public and government scrutiny, along with possible legal reparations. The associated costs alone could put any company out of business very quickly. Scandals in the fashion/clothing manufacturing industry are widespread. A number of companies that were considered “guilty by association” were forced to drastically alter their approach in regards to “fast fashion.”

INDUSTRYNEWS Even if you don’t own or operate the factory that is in violation of general working conditions, wage rights, safety codes, or other issues, you could still end up paying the ultimate price for this gap in compliance. What you don’t know can hurt you. Many of these apparel companies have lost millions before implementing controls into their supply chain.

2. Could I be doing more? You might be thinking that if you are using renewable sources and avoid utilizing water, harmful chemicals or outsourced production, you don’t have a responsibility or a need to discover what else you could be doing to positively impact the environment. But there are, in fact, a number of ways that you can do more for both the environment and your company. When is the last time you truly considered all aspects of your operation? Some companies have worked through their supply chain and dedicated large quantities of funds to design cutting edge technology that will not harm the environment. Others simply found a way to reduce the use of paperwork inside their business. The process or material changes depend on your company, how it operates, and the goods it produces. Have you switched out your Styrofoam disposable coffee cups in the break room? Have you added recycling bins in the office? Even the cost of solar panels is decreasing due to scalability and longevity (as the technology continues to evolve, they last longer). Government incentives are high, and maintenance is fairly low once installed. If you own a warehouse, they could sit right atop your roof and save a substantial portion of your energy bill. Any manufacturing company can do this and experience a substantial savings on their energy costs. As a manufacturing firm, simply tightening process controls and ensuring that all products made by or used in your business are accounted for accurately can save millions. By increasing the efficiency in your plant

and the materials used, you’re also creating less waste. Implementing warehousing and distribution controls alongside increased visibility into production can be resolved through integrations within your ERP.

3. Could I be saving substantial amounts of money? Many companies do not realize the positive aspects of becoming more environmentally sustainable. Not only could you avoid additional costs, you could save a substantial amount through increased efficiency alone. Most options require up-front cost, but the ROI is incredible. If an airline can save tens of thousands by reducing their garnish count on flights, how much could you save by reducing the quantity of packaging you use? Even a reduction of 2%, when scaled over millions of units, can make an enormous difference. You’ve already switched your lighting in your warehouses to LED, right? It’s understood that this small investment can reduce overhead by tens of thousands of dollars per year. One way to save time, money, physical resources such as paper, and manual error would involve a completely integrated ERP system. Efficient use of time and materials are key to reducing unnecessary waste. Robust functionality and integration with your financials ensures efficient processes. The ability to trace components and raw materials back to their origins assist you with any audit process you choose to undertake, allowing you to catch any inconsistencies or errors before the issue escalates. It is clear that visibility into your manufacturing processes can reduce risk of waste and save time and money, but you can, and should, always be looking for the variety of options that you have available to you to act in the most environmentally sustainable way you can. Acting sooner rather than later will keep you from facing concerns from the public or from authoritative entities.

About the Author Carole Murphy, MBA and Certified Sommelier, is a Solution Coordinator at Blytheco with experience in the Hospitality Management, Food & Beverage and Telecommunications industries. She currently works with both the Marketing and Sales teams at Blytheco to assist potential clients. Connect with her at

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Balancing Lean Manufacturing Practices with Market-Focused Strategies by Joe Bisaha


ave you lost your balance? In your quest for squeezing every penny and second out of your manufacturing processes, have you lost sight of the world around you? Have you produced the best product at the lowest cost just to find out that nobody wants to buy it?

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.�

—Albert Einstein


odern manufacturing is a bit like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving forward. Spending time to tune up your bicycle is important. It will run more smoothly and efficiently. But if you keep your eyes on the pedals, you just might lose sight of the finish line and fall off the path. During times of economic uncertainty as we had a few years ago, minimizing costs is one way to survive. However, when you only focus on internal issues (costs, quality and processes), you are in danger of losing sight of external realities (customer demand, consumer behavior, technology changes and global competition). Survival in a competitive, global market requires an even greater understanding of the world and your customers. Modern manufacturing necessitates a balance between lean manufacturing practices and market-focused strategies.

Lean manufacturing practices are more important than ever. Automated processes are necessary to set the founda-


Bellwether | Summer 2016

tion to help you move toward creating real value in the market and growing revenue. Setting your focus on the marketplace requires implementing advanced manufacturing strategies that enable you to react quickly to trending market demands.

1. Simplify manufacturing processes.

Because manufacturers need to move more quickly than ever, it is critical to minimize production and design costs. Businesses can’t afford to implement processes with high costs and a long return on investment. Instead, manufacturers need to leverage automation to cut costs and quickly deliver quality products.

2. Narrow product focus.

Increased competition may require changing your business strategy to focus on niche products and narrower markets. Instead of offering a broad product mix, become a nimble specialist who offers shorter lead times with higher and quality service.

3. Tighten controls.

In order to improve product quality as well as meet new

INDUSTRYNEWS regulations, more money may need to be spent in quality control. It is more important than ever to establish repeatable, quality production.

Manufacturing practices should create competitive advantages. Manufacturers must go beyond considering the manufacturing floor and warehouse as a cost center and should also consider how their manufacturing practices can create a competitive advantage. Yes, having the lowest production costs can be an advantage, but only for so long. Eventually competitors can, and will, catch up. However, if you establish real, sustainable advantages, you can capture and hold market share. There are a number of opportunities for establishing a competitive advantage through your manufacturing practices:

1. Learn to be flexible and agile. To enable quick response to rapid changes in the market, manufacturers need flexible skills and resources. To create agility, you need to reevaluate organizational design to improve communication and generate quick responses. Flexibility and agility will assist manufacturers in improving R&D efficiency and the pace and value of innovation. Those who fail to embrace the new reality and implement advanced manufacturing practices will be left behind.

2. Expand operations. While narrowing product focus, manufacturers cannot narrow their geographic focus. You may need to consider additional distribution channels, such as e-commerce, international sales, and global production. Partnerships may be essential in order to improve time-to-market and lower costs.

3. Improve customer relationships. In a competitive marketplace, customer relationships are more important than ever. You need to focus on what your customers need instead of on what you can give them. Businesses must deliver value through new product and

service offerings as well as improve product reliability. After-market service and maintenance have become even more important to the revenue stream and the profitability of the company.

Integrated, cloud-based technologies keep you in balance. When you need to be more agile and flexible while streamlining processes, a modern ERP integrated with advanced manufacturing and warehousing tools is your answer. A modern ERP offers specialized add-ons while maintaining central data control. With a complete integrated solution, you can streamline processes, produce a superior product and improve customer satisfaction. Advanced manufacturing and warehousing automation systems enable you to collect, store and analyze data that can be used to better manage the supply chain, enhance daily operations and improve customer relationships. Using technology like RFID, barcoding, sensors or cameras in your operations can reduce machinery downtime (as you are automatically alerted to system and machine errors), increase quality, minimize waste, and improve visibility. Today, even small to mid-sized companies can afford to implement these systems. A strategic manufacturing model doesn’t stop at operations. It requires systems that are interconnected between departments, customers, suppliers and subcontractors to ensure free-flowing information. Mobile sales and service departments should have instant access to customer and inventory information. Product tracking data should flow smoothly throughout the entire supply chain. Integrated, mobile systems make this model possible. Modern manufacturing technology offers tremendous opportunities for streamlining production, improving customer service and growing revenue. It just requires a little balance.

About the Author Joe Bisaha is the founder and creator of the solutions provided by JDB Solutions, Group, LLC, now in joint partnership with ONE Software Solution. Joe is recognized as an industry leader in understanding the unique problems facing manufacturers and providing effective and efficient solutions to these problems. ONE Software Solution can help you implement ERP, mobile warehouse and advanced manufacturing automation solutions. Visit

Summer 2016 | Bellwether



How Software Innovations Impact Manufacturing Operations by Jason Averill


ith our ever growing and digitally changing society, software has played a big role in the growth and productivity of companies, including the manufacturing industry. “[W]aves of digitization have been coursing through the manufacturing sector as well, creating new opportunities,” explains Mark Muro, Kelly Kline and Bruce Katz in The Wall Street Journal article “Software eats manufacturing (and manufacturing gains).” “Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the design, production, operation, and use of items as diverse as cars, workout clothes, and light bulbs.”


ut how do we know companies are improving as a result of better software? Where is the proof?

Tesla, one of America’s top automotive manufacturers, incorporated software and advanced technology into their manufacturing business, and has improved immensely. This technology is helping their company stay on top of the demand for high-functioning electric vehicles. “By 2040, 35 percent of all new cars sold worldwide are expected [to] have a plug and long-range electric cars will start at less than $22,000,” points out Grayson Brulte in his article “These 3 Industries Are Getting Transformed by Advanced Manufacturing” on “To keep up with the projected demand, electric vehicle manufacturers will have to openly embrace the marriage of software and hardware that is advanced manufacturing.” For a manufacturing company from Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany trying to produce burglary-resistant doors with thermal insulation, it was the help of advanced tools from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern that made it possible for this product to become a reality, according to ScienceNews. “We have demonstrated through the project that with the help of complex simulation methods and software tools,

we can optimize even our everyday objects - with direct added value for the customer,” states Dr. Matthias Kabel from the Department Flow and Material Simulation at ITWM. In the Metro Program’s second advanced industries regional workshop in Silicon Valley at the end of January and beginning of February 2016, industry executives voiced their views of what software has done for manufacturing. Helmuth Hudwig, chief manufacturing officer of Siemens PLM Software, commented, “You need to have a software culture now [to be a manufacturer] and the Valley and the U.S. have that...U.S. dominance in software is a huge advantage given where things are going.” Russ Fadel, the founder of ThingWorx, an IoT firm, added, “The cloud makes software more central, and that opens up new production opportunities for our companies.” Our world has become a digital one. Business and industries such as manufacturing have followed suit. As Brian Kennell states in his Huffington Post article “Smart Manufacturing: A Path to Profitable Growth,” “For the companies that embrace it, smart manufacturing has the potential to trigger innovation and productivity, enable and spur growth, facilitate greater worker and product safety, and improve the environmental profile of operations.”

About the Author Jason Averill is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Avercast, LLC Supply Chain Software. He is an expert in supply chain management with 20 years experience overseeing global sales, marketing initiatives, and product development. Learn more about the most comprehensive supply chain software at

10 Bellwether | Summer 2016

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Industry 4.0 and Big Data Make SMB Manufacturers More


by Joni Girardi


any small manufacturers I talk to are pleasantly surprised to know that they are well positioned to execute Manufacturing 4.0, the coming of “the smart factory.� Small and medium-sized organizations are actually quicker to make adaptations than larger manufacturers.



our great forces drive this trend, according to the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company. First, powerful computing technology, then cloud connectivity. Third is the Internet of Things (IoT) and finally, big data. Of those four, big data is most potent and the most easily used by small- and medium-sized manufacturers. Big data’s advantage over regular data has been compared to the advantage that high-definition TV has over old, grainy black and white: the finer resolution lets decision makers see what they could only guess at before.

Big data helps SMBs solve previously unidentified problems with dramatic results Some SMB manufacturers have used big data in fault prediction and finding correlations among once-ignored information points to guide their pre-emptive maintenance for reduction or elimination of catastrophic failure. There are companies who now track employee badge check-ins on factory floors to gain precise insight into where work is done and who completes it. This data has led directly to new production efficiencies. Still others have found an application in supply chain management. There, relationships between commodity prices and final product cost provide swarms of indicators that come together in coherent pictures. One pharmaceutical organization used big data to solve for unpredictable variations in production yield. They were able to identify nine influential parameters in the manufacturing of live, genetically-engineered cells which, when tweaked, improved vaccine yield by more than 50 percent, at an annual saving of more than $5 million. Finally, production at a precious-metals mine had declined because of diminished ore grade. After a cleanup and integration of big, fragmented data, a crucial variability appeared in dissolved oxygen, a key in leaching. Minor changes in leach processing produced a 3.7 percent improvement in yield within three months, for a more than $10 million annual profit.

If McKinsey’s vision for Industry 4.0 comes true, those examples are only the beginning. What McKinsey calls ”platforms” could enable products, services, and information to be exchanged like open-source software with the manufacturer as an expert, trusted broker. Big data could make pay-by-use and subscription-based services more feasible, helping to turn manufacturing from a capital expenditure into an operational expenditure. Even know-how could be sold. Manufacturers can use big data to license intellectual property, in effect becoming consulting companies. Even new client acquisition is positively impacted. Customers used to look to sales people for pricing and product information, but now it can all be found online. Customers can easily answer questions such as: “How do prices compare?” “What do other suppliers offer?” “What features do I need?’ Now, big data can transform sales people into trusted consultants, offering expertise derived from sets of big data few others have integrated and analyzed. They can monitor trends that may influence buying decisions or products on their way up or down. The company who wins the business is the one who can profitably solve their customer’s needs by providing the right information at the right time to guide the client’s critical decisions.

Spreading big data across the board Big data calls for a wide distribution of intelligence across the organization. Business users have to get their hands on whatever piece of the big data they may need. This is where SMB has the edge over bigger organizations: they have agility. While the big manufacturers plod forward on replatforming or democratizing data for across-the-board intelligence, smaller ones spring into action. That agility is what can take big data down to size. As one of my customers put it, “In smart manufacturing these days, size counts. Smaller is smarter.”

Implications beyond manufactured products

About the Author Joni Girardi is founder and CEO of DataSelf, provider of DataSelf Analytics. He launched his venture 16 years ago to help small- and medium-sized businesses to get value from their data using data warehousing and analytics platforms such as Tableau and Power BI.

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


How Data Integration Powers Smarter Manufacturing

by Ruth Richter



e are at the start of what some are calling the “4th Industrial Revolution” and the concept “the Internet of Things” is leading the charge. The Internet of Things (IoT) is all about connectivity. Everywhere you turn, devices ranging from the simple to the complex are connected by a sophisticated network that uploads critical information via the internet and securely routes it to end users anywhere in the world.


instead of being squarely in the stream of the Internet of Things, don’t worry. We’ve all been there! Connecting the dots between your data flows is the trickiest part of converting your company into a well-oiled IoT machine. Accounting, sales, marketing, inventory and operations data must be pulled into one system so that anyone within the organization can access it.

Interconnected Manufacturing

Additional information from inventory, shipping, fulfillment and manufacturing must all seamlessly collaborate to provide an accurate “big picture” view of the whole organization, which can then be distilled into smaller data pictures for decision-making. With more companies now selling online, information from web shopping carts, ordering systems and portals are also a critical part of the data mix.

ore than ever before, our data is providing greater insights into all types of business actions and decisions. In manufacturing, the IoT promises to revolutionize supply chain management and manufacturing operations by providing timely, actionable data on nearly every task to all who need to know.

Lean manufacturing relies upon producing exactly the right quantities and SKUs that are needed now to replenish existing supplies. However, such manufacturing is often locally-based, relying upon data from one factory or warehouse to dictate stock levels. With IoT (Internet of Things) connected systems, lean manufacturing gets even smarter. Multiple factories are linked and communicating real-time data, able to request materials or items as needed. Another way in which the IoT may impact manufacturing is with the rise of thinking machines that not only follow their programming, but also respond to external stimuli and environmental feedback. Consider a manufacturing process in which raw goods arrive at the factory already marked with microchips that “tell” machines where they belong. A flatbed of steel “knows” it is needed at one end of the factory, while containers of pigment for paint mixing signal the transportation system to move them into another end of the factory. Real-time data from each piece of manufacturing equipment, feeding data back into the system via the IoT, can signal what’s needed to complete an order. The result is an efficient system undreamed of less than a decade ago.

Putting the Pieces Together: How Do You Connect the Data?

Putting all of this information together to form a costeffective, productive solution for your business doesn’t have to be confusing. A consulting firm well-versed in enterprise resource planning, web-based systems, and systems integration can derive solutions that can transform your multiple manufacturing data sources into actionable insights. These systems use the IoT concept to synchronize front-end websites with shopping carts, warehouse data, fulfillment and shipping information and more. You’ll have actionable data at your fingertips to inform the manufacturing process, thus connecting all of your systems into one feedback loop.

The IoT Makes the Future Bright The future promises to hold more opportunities for data inputs from a wide range of systems, some undreamed of, some already in existence. Taking action now to be prepared with the right system will not only yield immediate benefits for your organization, but you’ll be poised to take action on future market trends and growth opportunities.

If you feel like right now you’re at the Internet of Potential

About the Author Ruth Richter is the Customer Experience Director for ROI Consulting, Inc. Integration experts since 1997, ROI Consulting, Inc. connects your Sage 100 accounting software to your shopping cart, website, other third-party solutions and database so that you can make the best decisions for your business. Contact Ruth at (402) 934-2223 ext. 1 or visit Summer 2016 | Bellwether





Manufacturing Automation: Going Beyond the Assembly Line


veryone knows that one great way to save money and reduce time to market in the manufacturing industry is to introduce as much automation as you can into the production line. Automated processes are typically both cheaper and more accurate than processes with human intervention. But why stop there? By implementing intelligent automation software into other areas of your business, you can make just as big of an impact on your bottom line with no loss in productivity.

Get the goods you need when you need them Even the best automated production line in the industry would be worthless without the raw materials needed to produce your goods. While it’s essential to have the right raw materials on hand at all times, storing too much product means extra storage fees and heightens the risk of damage, loss or spoilage. Many leading companies have turned to Just-in-Time Inventory tracking systems to help alleviate both of these issues. A good Just-in-Time inventory tracking software package will have many useful features, such as tracking minimum/maximum inventory levels, re-order points, expiration dates, and usage trends. The best ones will go even further and provide you with tools to help you forecast need to adjust these values based on growing sales or seasonal changes, and even automatically initiate re-order of inventory when it gets low so you never have to worry about running out again.

by Peter Glenn

Track Suppliers as well as Shipments Another area where manufacturing companies can leverage software to increase savings is with vendor negotiations. Good purchase order management software plays a key role here, allowing you to automate approvals and purchasing for goods orders, as well as track multiple simultaneous shipments from across the globe. However, the best purchase order systems will go even further and provide you with ways to track performance metrics such as average processing times and full purchase history. You can then use this information in contract negotiations to get better prices for your goods or secure better shipping arrangements, both of which can provide substantial savings in the long run.

Boost your Bottom Line with Intelligent Automation As you can see, there are lots of ways to save on your total costs of production with Intelligent Automation that go well beyond the production line. With many different types of intelligent software automation solutions already on the market, we recommend working with your partner to find one that can be tailored to your specific needs. No matter what kind of business you operate or what kind of goods you manufacture, there is a software solution out there that can help you run your business smarter.

About the Author Peter Glenn is a Senior Level Manager for Paperless Business Systems, Inc. and Product Manager for eRequester Purchasing and Expense Management Software. Peter has a long and varied history in managing custom software development projects across multiple industries and over 15 years of experience in software. He has been a key player in the recent growth and direction for the eRequester platform and has been an integral part of the eRequester team since 2009.

16 Bellwether | Summer 2016

WillowWood Keeps Pace with Forward-Looking Technology by Apryl Hanson


lytheco client WillowWood is an industry leader in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of prosthetic products, including the Alpha® family of liners, the LimbLogic® elevated vacuum system, and the OMEGA® CAD system. Based in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, they are a longtime Sage software user. Blytheco recently sat down with Jeffrey Tadlock, the Director of IT, to discuss how this manufacturing company’s changing needs dictated a change in their software strategy.

Q. Please share a little about your role at WillowWood. A. “I am the Director of IT. My job entails ensuring we facilitate the right dialogs across the company so that our technology supports our business goals. I help to identify gaps in our existing system, make recommendations on how we can best address them, and support our infrastructure on a daily basis.”

Q. What was the core software WillowWood was utilizing and how long did you use it? A. “We previously used Sage 500 ERP for 11 years.”

Q. What were some signs that your software needed to be updated? A. “One indicator for me was the road map of the existing ERP. It seemed like each year, less and less forward-looking features were rolled out. Technology is moving faster and it didn’t feel as though our ERP was keeping pace. I also wasn’t a fan of the programming language. By and large, I could clearly see it was going to become difficult to continue using going forward from a technology perspective.”

18 Bellwether | Summer 2016

Q. What were some triggers from your Executive team that it was time to make a change? A. “It seemed to them like the ERP system was inflexible. They want to see different reporting capabilities and other functionality and we couldn’t make those changes in the software. That was a big indicator that it was time to explore other options.”

Q. What were some other challenges your team experienced? A. “Our users found the program cumbersome to work with; many complained of simple tasks requiring a lot of clicks or steps to complete. It would be particularly frustrating if they had a customer on the phone and were trying to help them quickly. Our shipping process became quite painful as we started to grow. We couldn’t solve some fundamental issues within the current software.”

Q. How did you go about selecting a partner to help you make this important transition? A. “Honestly, it was web presence. Whenever I researched Sage 500 ERP to try and solve our issues, Blytheco’s information always came up. It was always helpful, so I began to familiarize myself with the company.

COVERSTORY Then we learned about Sage X3. Our existing partner couldn’t advise us on Sage X3 and we wanted to work with a company who was up to date with Sage’s solutions so we reached out to Blytheco.”

Q. How involved was WillowWood’s team in determining your new software requirements? A. “We have had a high-level of involvement and input from the entire team. From an IT perspective, my department knows technology but we also needed all departments to come to the table to help us build requirements from their unique perspectives. We asked the key stakeholders what shortcomings they saw in the old system and what they wanted to see in the new one. We received feedback from customer care, marketing, operations and accounting. We looked at it as a company project, not just an IT project.”

Q. What steps did you take in evaluating software? A. “Early on, we did a little process mapping of the major pieces of the organization. We clearly defined workflows from each department so we could ensure everyone’s needs were met. We began looking at some of the bigger players in the ERP market and reached out to a few. “What we liked about Blytheco’s approach was that they took an agnostic approach and didn’t try to prescribe any particular solution. They truly helped us evaluate multiple options that would truly service all our needs. We then narrowed our selection to two solutions. We then had about three to five demonstrations of various sections of the software (with all of the stakeholders in the room). To make our determination, we looked at:

• The quality of solution and if it could meet our needs. • The quality of answers Blytheco provided to our questions.

• Whether our vendor had our best interests at heart

and was not forcing their own agenda or just telling us “yes” to get our business.

We then convened and discussed everyone’s feelings and determined Sage X3 and Blytheco were the best choice.”

Q. Prior to making your final selection, you opted for a paid scoping engagement with Blytheco. Why did you feel that was a good step? A. “One of the big things we really valued was Blytheco’s in-depth approach. We wanted to get a better understanding and some guidance on how we could improve and standardize our processes as we were changing from one system to another. We wanted to get that deep dive prior to purchasing the software to ensure our implementation would be successful. “The engagement helped us understand potential ‘gotchas’ and we were able to scope the project appropriately. It revealed some areas of weakness and where we needed third party solutions well in advance of the final pricing so we were not surprised at the total cost of the solution.”

Q. How do you predict the switch to Sage X3 will change the future of WillowWood? A. “This is huge for us. We used to have a lot of custom software in place. Now, we have bridged some gaps, and have a more all-inclusive system. This will help with the entire flow of our manufacturing systems to customer service; every department can now intelligently talk to each other. “With all of our critical information under one umbrella, planning and decision making is more accurate. We have a tighter grip on materials, costs, and planning. We also look forward to the future development of the Sage X3 product. Making the switch now has given us a modern technology foundation to work from so we can be responsive and agile as we focus on growth areas in our business that really need our help instead of being encumbered with lack of basic functionality in our software.”

About the Author Apryl Hanson is Blytheco’s Senior Director of Customer and Partner Strategy. She has more than 15 years of management experience within the software industry, including serving as Director of Partner Programs and Development and Director of Sales at Sage. Connect with her on Twitter @aprylhanson.

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


3D Printing:

The Next Big Thing in Manufacturing

by Patrice Ruane and Kathy McCoy, MBA


What is 3D Printing?


ow would you like to print your new pair of shoes at home? (If you’re scratching your head and saying, “huh?” just hang in there for a moment.) What if automotive parts could be printed right in the plant where they’re needed?


‌ you’ve ever watched The Jetsons or any Star Trek series (remember the replicators?) and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if that technology really existed?” we have good news for you: today, 3D printing is making some of that “science fiction” our new, daily reality. 3D printers are being used now to make everything from edible chocolates to airplane parts. Office supply stores now even carry home 3D printer models in the $300 to $1,000 range, making it possible for anyone to design and 3D print their creations. 3D printing is much more than a novelty technology, however; it has the ability to revolutionize the way manufacturers do business in the future. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of successively layering materials to build a threedimensional object. One of the earliest uses of 3D printing was rapid prototyping, which began to be used in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Initially, the technology was only able to print in plastics and was still a costly and lengthy process, but in recent years it has progressed to the point where manufacturers can produce functional prototypes using multiple materials at once. While rapid prototyping remains a key function of 3D printing in manufacturing, companies now also use 3D printers for:

• Rapid tooling: Creating tools and molds that previously were machined from larger blocks of steel or aluminum

• Direct manufacturing: End-products that are produced entirely using CAD models and 3D printers without molds or machining

How Are Companies Using 3D Printing Technology Today? 3D Printers Enable Made-to-Order Products

3D printing will be a game-changer for companies offering made-to-order products. An incredible range of products – from fun, decorative applications like custom chocolate confections to prosthetics that are both low-cost and customized to fit the recipient’s own body – can be customized and built using a 3D printer. In 2015, a partnership between The Hershey Company and 3DS resulted in the CocoJet 3D printer, which allows users to print everything from custom cake decorations to figurines in chocolate. The CocoJet uses open-source patterns, so users can create and upload their own designs to the printer. 3D Printers Decrease the Cost to Build PlasticComposite Parts Custom prosthetics are a world away from desserts, but they benefit from the same 3D printing technology. The traditional prosthetic creation process is expensive, time-consuming and difficult to individualize, since modifications typically destroy the original molds. The design software used in 3D printers enables customization, and the technology significantly drops the price of each prosthetic. In 2013, Mick Ebeling’s charity, Not Impossible, brought a 3D prosthetic printing lab to Sudan with “Project Daniel.” Their first project was to build a prosthetic arm for a 14-year-old who had lost both arms when his village was bombed. The “Project Daniel” team trained local doctors and volunteers on the printing process, and at the height of the project, the local team was printing one arm per week. 3D Printers Allow Creation of Highly Customized Parts and Tools Just like doctors working in disaster-zone clinics, astronauts must be prepared to solve problems creatively, with limited available resources. 3D printing has already helped them expand their horizons. In 2014, NASA

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


worked with Made in Space, Inc., to send a design file for a ratchet wrench to the International Space Station, where the tool was printed along with 19 other objects from files that had been pre-loaded prior to launch. NASA’s 3D printer project manager says that the technology opens up endless applications, and may even allow them to build components that they would not otherwise be able to launch into space.

Where Will 3D Printing Go Next? 3D printing can help companies develop localized production and manufacturing capabilities, which has enormous potential implications for the global supply chain. The adoption of 3D printing technology could allow businesses to “near-source” production and reduce or eliminate overseas manufacturing, which consequently impacts shipping, air/ground cargo transportation, etc.

• More localized and customized production strategies could change the traditional, siloed manufacturer/ wholesaler/retailer relationship

• Increased ability for small businesses to produce, store and sell products directly to their customers.

For small-to-midsize businesses and companies specializing in custom products or smaller production runs, 3D printing can help reduce costs and reliance on outside partners (such as warehouses) while enabling greater customization in shorter production cycles. Larger businesses, like the automotive and aerospace companies that have already started using 3D printing to make car and airplane parts, could see significant changes in their business models. How do you see your company using 3D printing?

As 3D printing enables increased product customization and made-to-order offerings, we may see changes such as:

• Decreased need for warehousing facilities and on-hand inventory, as well as shortened production cycle times

• Reduced need for light assembly workers and/or warehouse workers

About the Authors Patrice Ruane is a professional writer with over 10 years of experience in business communication, including proposal writing. She is currently a Proposal Analyst with Blytheco, and holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in English Literature. Kathy McCoy, MBA, is the Demand Generation Manager at Blytheco. She has written on software and business management for more than 8 years and has more than 17 years of experience in continuing education.

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KEYSOCKS An Inspiring Story of Passion, Partnerships and Perseverance by Apryl Hanson Keysocks’ CEO Shelby McKee


ome companies you simply have to love… not just because they have a great product, but also because of the story behind them. Keysocks fits the bill as a modern American business founded on a unique idea created out of necessity and grown through sheer elbow grease. Better still, the founder’s passion for getting her unique socks in every drawer in the country is infectious!



recently had a conversation with Keysocks’ CEO Shelby McKee. I quickly learned that her drive, bolstered by the love and support of her family, is the heart-beat behind her thriving manufacturing business. Necessity was truly the mother of invention when Shelby was getting ready for a football game on a cold day in 2009. She wanted to wear a cute pair of flats with her pants, but didn’t like how her socks clashed with her shoes. An idea flashed in her head: she ran to her husband’s sock draw, grabbed a pair of his socks and some scissors. She cut away the excess material that would have disrupted her outfit’s look. Her friends thought the idea was genius and voila, a product was born! Keysocks solve a fashion challenge for women who wear pants with flats or heels. Now, there’s no need to choose between style or warmth. Armed with a strong belief in her idea, Shelby set out on a journey to find a manufacturer that would not only understand the concept, but execute it flawlessly. Shelby worked tirelessly until she found the right partner and the product that was produced had a level of quality, worthy of attaching her name to it. Shelby recalls that it was a grueling process and there were plenty of opportunities to quit. Her advice to others with a great idea: “Never stop! Never give up! Once you have a vision, go for it!”

to her team who she felt might be an asset to the brand. She quickly learned that not everyone had the same desire to deliver excellent customer experiences or shared her heart for ethical and sustainable growth. Shelby notes, “Getting the right people on your team is important. There is no success overnight, and you have to have the passion for driving through the difficult stages.” Building a successful business can sometimes take a personal toll. Shelby shared with me the difficulties she had getting encouragement from key people in her life. Thankfully, she was able to find support from her sisters and parents and pushed ahead to realize success. Today, Shelby speaks confidently and shares, “If you are a strong businesswoman and anyone says you can’t do it, stay strong and on course!” Now that her market is growing, the next stage for Shelby will be to decide how to leverage technology to continue Keysocks’ growth. I was fortunate enough to receive a package of sample Keysocks after our interview with the most pleasant and warm personal note from Shelby. I love the socks! I love the company! Most of all, I am a big Shelby McKee fan. Check out Keysocks and their story at

The road to Keysocks’ current success wasn’t a smooth path. Shelby went through a process of recruiting people

About the Author Apryl Hanson is Blytheco’s Senior Director of Customer and Partner Strategy. She has more than 15 years of management experience within the software industry, including serving as Director of Partner Programs and Development and Director of Sales at Sage. Connect with her on Twitter @aprylhanson. Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Is Your Company Ready for the


by Kathy McCoy, MBA

he phrase “Internet of Things” probably conjures up images from a science fiction movie, where your house talks to you and robots are everywhere.


s seen in Amazon Echo TV commercials, that is no longer science fiction, and neither is the Internet of Things, or IoT. The IoT is already affecting our lives, from thermostats that “learn” our schedules and are controlled with our smartphones, to cars that brake when they sense an obstacle ahead. And while the IoT is revolutionary, the biggest impact of the Internet of Things is expected to be in manufacturing, where the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, can provide more actionable data than manufacturers have ever had. The IIoT allows machines and devices to communicate and manage equipment without human intervention. It can:

• Tell a company when equipment requires maintenance • Allow manufacturers to control their machines remotely • Connect companies to their supply chain and other operations

• Measure and manage environmental factors that affect productivity and profitability

The IIoT has taken hold in multiple industries and is growing fast. Spending is projected to reach nearly $1.3 trillion by 2019. Some experts predict that by 2025, 50 billion devices and machine types will be connected to each other.

How Is IIoT Changing Industries? One of the reasons for the growth in the IIoT is the decreasing price and size of the sensors required in equipment to facilitate communication. This change is allowing

26 Bellwether | Summer 2016

companies to use sensors and the IIoT in ways not possible before. For example:

• The Michelin Group is using sensors inside tires,

combined with analytics, to help truck fleet drivers save fuel.

• Daimler AG is offering Car2Go, a flexible, convenient pay-per-use model for city dwellers needing cars. Customers use an app to find the car that is parked nearest to them, open the door with a membership card, drive to their destination, then simply leave the car for the next user.

• UPR, a leading logistics management provider in

Japan, uses IIoT technology to not only locate and track a package from origin to destination, but also to monitor its transportation conditions throughout the journey. They are able to gain full insight into if, when, where, and how damage occurs in route.

So how do you become an IIoT connected business? PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in a recent study that, “For manufacturers, the IIoT becomes a full ecosystem when software, cloud computing, and analytics tools combine to turn raw data into meaningful information or predictions— and when it’s presented on easy-to-use interfaces (such as dashboards or mobile apps).”

Is Resistance Futile? The introduction of new technology always raises issues, and the IIoT is no different. Common concerns include: Security–Social media and bank accounts get hacked regularly today and the effects range from mild annoyance


to catastrophe. When a self-driving car or an entire manufacturing plant can be hacked, data security is paramount. Interoperability–In order for the IIoT to function, devices and software must communicate effectively. With the wide variety of platforms and standards currently in place, interoperability is not an easy task. Acceptance–As seen with self-driving cars, the public has exhibited a certain amount of resistance to the concept of machines that operate without human guidance. Concern over loss of jobs is also a barrier to widespread adoption of the IIoT. But in spite of these barriers, PriceWaterhouseCoopers has reported survey results indicating acceptance is steadily increasing. Thirty-five percent of manufacturers are currently collecting and using data generated by smart sensors to enhance manufacturing/operating processes; 17% plan to do so in the next three years, with another 24% having plans but no timeline. Thirty-four percent of manufacturers believe it is “extremely critical” that US manufacturers adopt an IoT strategy in their operations; 60% believe it’s “moderately or slightly critical.” Additionally, the Senate Commerce Committee recently approved a bill that would strengthen the underlying infrastructure and regulation for the IoT, including consensus-based best practices and incentives for new developers. If you haven’t already begun to adapt IIoT practices, you can do so by simply considering the various ways your company could possibly use the IIoT for an improved bottom line. Your next step would be to examine your current technology infrastructure so you can prepare to support the collection and analysis of data. Finally, continue to learn how your industry is testing this new capability and the best practices that are developed. A variety of publications and websites are constantly monitoring IIoT innovations. You can also check in with your industry association periodically to stay on top of breaking developments. As this trend rapidly transitions from “nice to have” to “must have,” now is the time to position your company in front of the next wave of technological advancement so that you are not left behind.

About the Author Kathy McCoy, MBA, is the Demand Generation Manager at Blytheco. She has written on software and business management for more than 8 years and has more than 17 years of experience in continuing education.

IIoT Phrases to Know The Internet of Things (IoT)

is a system of computing devices, mechanical and digital machines or objects with the ability to share data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. This transforms products that were previously just physical parts into complex, interconnected systems combining hardware, software, microprocessors, sensors and data storage.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the use of computing devices and

sensors in manufacturing to collect and share data, again without human interaction. Also called the Industrial Internet, IIoT incorporates machine learning and big data technology, using sensor data, machine-tomachine (M2M) communication and automation technologies.


The IIoT is made up of a variety of devices connected by communications software, which allows the collection, monitoring, exchange and analysis of data. Sensors can be implanted in tires, storage tanks, and a variety of other locations, enabling collection of data in ways never before possible.

How One Global Manufacturer Reduced Their Environmental Footprint and


DIRTT Environmental Solutions, a technology-driven manufacturer of customized prefabricated interior construction solutions, discovered a growing problem with their manual method of invoice processing. Boxes and filing cabinets of paper invoices were a stark contrast to the company’s sustainable approach to building.



e pride ourselves on being environmental,” says Brody Leitner, DIRTT Project Manager, “yet we produced and consumed loads of paper in our AP process.” Not to mention that the excess filing cabinets were an unavoidable eyesore in an office that clients often visited. “Our motive to automate was pretty simple,” says Leitner. “We wanted to become paperless and get rid of the filing cabinets.”

Manual Invoice Processing: The Obvious Bottleneck With 70% of vendors already emailing invoices, DIRTT was positioned to easily benefit from automated invoice capture and workflow. However, the company’s manual process undermined any potential improvement in efficiency that would come from receiving a majority of invoices electronically. Leitner explains, “When AP received an invoice via email, they would print it out and get it approved. Sometimes they would then scan the invoice after it had been approved in order to have an electronic copy.” The irony of his company’s processing method was not lost on Leitner. “We were essentially taking an electronic process and making it manual. There was no way to track who was not approving invoices or where a particular invoice was in the process.”

Finding and Implementing the Right Solution In the search for a scalable application, Leitner says DIRTT “considered solutions with differing levels of integration with our other software solutions. Ultimately, we wanted a solution that was natively integrated with our accounting software.” It was their provider’s philosophy as software developers that sealed the deal. Leitner explains, “They understand software and they think how we think. We could tell in the pre-sales calls how open they were to getting developers on the line to talk about integration.” Upon implementation, DIRTT gained full visibility into their AP process, giving greater control of cash management. They uncovered other bottlenecks and fine tuned their

work-flow. Leitner says, “In a paper world, it’s hard to know what’s really happening—whether you’re behind, and, if so, why? For the first time, we can see what AP is doing. As soon as we have the data, we know where things are.” In order to maximize the benefit of this instantaneous visibility, DIRTT created an “AP status board,” a monitor mounted on a wall in the AP department that displays the performance metrics of the process and volume of documents flowing through it. “The stats are updated every minute,” says Leitner. “Anyone can look up at any given time and see where the invoices are piling up and their progress trend within the last twenty-four hours.” DIRTT now also uses these performance metrics to customize their solution so that automatic emails go out daily with a list of the outstanding invoices that includes their location in the process. “We can run the metrics and poke people who don’t approve invoices in a timely manner,” says Leitner.

Reaping the Benefits While DIRTT has been able to maintain the same headcount in AP, staff have been reassigned to highervalue business tasks. “We wanted to give them more meaningful work,” Leitner says. For example, DIRTT no longer needs an employee dedicated to the task of manual invoice matching. Instead, summer interns optimize invoices. Leitner explains: “They analyze the performance statistics that provided to determine which vendors’ invoices can automatically flow through without manual intervention.” As for the greatest benefit of the new application, Leitner says, “Everyone has something he or she likes best. It’s all the little things that make up the whole solution.” As for DIRTT’s CEO, Mogens Smed, the best thing that automated invoice processing has enabled is the elimination of sixteen file cabinets. They were replaced with a foosball table, insisting that employees play every day to remind AP that filing cabinets used to take up the space. Leitner reports that they recommend peers and clients to go paperless and direct them to their software partner, ACOM Solutions. “We recommend them because of the all the success we’ve experienced at DIRTT.”

About the Author Kelly Smith is a Senior Marketing Coordinator at ACOM Solutions, a Sage Gold Development Partner. ACOM has provided AP Automation, Enterprise Content Management and Paperless Payment solutions to more than 4,000 organizations worldwide. Learn how ACOM can help your organization go paperless with Sage by visiting Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Uncomplicate Your Sales Tax Filing Process by Gail Cole

CORPORATEFINANCE Tax is not what most businesses do. But taxes still have to be done. Registrations must be obtained and returns must be filed correctly and on time—or pay the fine.


‌ he challenges of filing and remitting sales tax returns vary depending on the jurisdictions and businesses involved. For a small mom and pop store with one location, limited inventory, and no online presence, filing returns could be relatively straightforward. In certain jurisdictions, however, it could be a real headache. As a general rule, the bigger or more complex the business, the greater the tax pain. An Internet retailer with customers in multiple states or a subcontractor that sells goods and services both wholesale and retail in multiple jurisdictions will indeed have their hands full. Dealing with sales and use tax mandates plenty of elbow grease and a certain amount of discomfort, but it’s for the greater good. And frankly, it’s good when you’re not in it alone. What’s better? Getting someone else to do it for you!

Sort out your issues Every state puts its own unique imprint on rules and requirements, and every seller has to comply. Compliance triggers pain points ranging from confusion over who needs to register when, to differing filing due dates and requirements. The first step is figuring out what you need to do to improve your routine, which processes need to be kept and which can be improved. State tax authorities know filing sales and use tax is a hassle. To help beleaguered taxpayers, many state departments of revenue (including California, Connecticut and Maryland) list common tax problems and solutions on their websites. Examples include:

Problem: I do business in a state but have never registered or filed sales tax there.

Problem: I withdrew items from my resale inventory for my own use. Solution: Report and pay use tax on the purchase price of the goods. Problem: I have unsupported sales for resale. Solution: Retain old resale certificates and update resale certificates regularly Streamline your process State Departments of Revenue recognize the pain involved in sales and use tax filing. They offer solutions, which is a positive first step. But that doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter. Many small and mid-sized businesses don’t want to spend the time, energy, or resources required to properly manage sales and use tax compliance. They feel their time is better spent elsewhere. One solution, depending on your ERP system, could be Sage Sales Tax automation software. It will help you roll up your sleeves, clean house, and easily facilitate your sales and use tax filing and remittance. April may have been the cruelest month because of tax returns. But with Avalara handling sales tax calculation and filing, you can look forward to next spring—and many happy returns. To learn more about how you can be better prepared next time around, download the white paper, “5 Common Sales Tax Registration and Filing Errors” at

Solution: Register ASAP and file past-due returns.

About the Author Gail Cole is a sales tax expert with a penchant for digging through the depths of BOE sites and discovering and reporting rate changes across the country.

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Future-Proof Your eCommerce

by Jason Madison


hat could it mean for the future of your business if you could make it easier to be innovative and gain competitive advantages? This might sound like one of those “no-brainers,” but did you know you can look to your web solutions for help with these critical tasks?


t’s no secret that innovation and operational efficiency are top of mind for leaders of manufacturing organizations. Whether small, large or somewhere in between, all manufacturers today need to innovate to stay competitive. And most will tell you they are also scanning the environment for ways to do more with less, while working on optimizing customer service. One way more and more manufacturers (and distributors) are accommodating this feat is through the use of eCommerce. But we’re not talking about yesterday’s B2B or B2C approaches. There’s a new approach that’s helping sellers do more business online, and protecting their eCommerce technology investment as their needs change.

The New Wave of eCommerce Simple shopping carts have become a thing of the past. Sophisticated storefront environments and eCommerce

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websites loaded with self-service features are what’s happening today in B2B and B2C eCommerce. And the amazing part? They’re often free. Whether you consider installed software like PrestaShop, Magento, Volusion or a host of others, or an online storefront like Amazon or BigCommerce, the demand for online selling is increasing so dramatically each year that providers are scrambling to compete. As storefront providers continue to respond to the increasing demand, the result is an explosion of eCommerce choices for sellers and vendors on the web. Even more exciting is the fact that many of the free websites are of world-class quality and are continuously maintained by sizeable organizations. The array of choices is amazing, with literally hundreds to choose from. Ask yourself: Am I currently overspending on solutions that don’t pack the power or feature-strength I should expect from today’s eCommerce technology?

TECHNOLOGY Fund Your Customer’s Experience Sellers and vendors no longer need to invest thousands in web store software. The features and functions of even the free offerings often exceed the needs of many organizations. Instead, funds can be invested in extending an organization’s unique brand of customer service through their web presence: an idea that is coming of age as web store front-ends are increasingly integrated with back-office systems. Sellers and vendors can now expect to find many of the features that match their style of doing business, already programmed and ready to go, either in the base eCommerce system or in the many add-on modules being offered on so many of these platforms. But here’s the biggest payoff of all: you can anticipate software to become increasingly streamlined when it comes to integration. Developers are now focusing their efforts on ensuring a smoother flow of data from the ecommerce platform to common ERP systems. It will, in turn, allow you to create the more tailored customer experiences that will help you step out of your competitor’s shadows. Ask yourself: How could I be knocking my customers’ socks off by creating unique, brand-building, customerserving experiences on the web?

Future-Proofing Your eCommerce: It’s the Middle that Matters Thanks to the new breed of web-based integrations between web stores and back-office systems, storefront operators are no longer as permanently tied to their website choices as they were just a few years ago.

Web-based integrations concentrate their connectivity intelligence in “middleware,” not in the back-end ERP system or in the eCommerce website. So, when more attractive web technologies emerge, or when the ERP system is changed, it’s much easier to make a switch because the intelligence in the middleware is still there, ready to deliver the same or similar functionality to the new systems. This fundamental difference in integration architecture can deliver huge benefits in the fast changing world of eCommerce. Not only do shopping carts and storefronts benefit, but many other web-based systems can gain an advantage as well. Think retail and drop-ship services, web-based CRM and manufacturing software, customer and vendor portals, payment portals, inventory pricing services... practically any online software that can be integrated with another system. Ask yourself: What level of return on investment could we experience with a flexible eCommerce website that allows us to swap components (like our web store or ERP system) in and out with agnostic middleware? Together, the increasing availability of full-featured eCommerce and other web-based applications, and new web-based integration architectures are creating an exciting new wave of eCommerce solutions that are bringing even more innovation, efficiency and return on investment to the process of doing business on the web. For more eCommerce help, read our blog article, “5 Questions to Ask Website Integration Vendors” for ideas on how to make sure your next website project is a success.

About the Author Jason Madison is the Web-Stor™ Solutions Manager for Kissinger Associates, where he helps businesses grow their sales and increase efficiency with leading e-commerce solutions for Sage 100. Kissinger has been providing cuttingedge ERP solutions for 30+ years. |

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


Why Now is the Time for Mobile Sales in Your Manufacturing Business


by Paul Ziliak


s a manufacturing company, process improvement is your credo. It’s what you preach to your supervisors and ingrain in the minds of your new hires. It’s in your DNA. This means you are continually revising R&D, quality control, production planning, customer service, accounting, logistics and everything in between.


echnology has given shape to most of the great process improvements in the manufacturing business over the last 30 years. Personal computing has allowed for paper-based and manual processes to be identified and targeted for upgrading in order to drive relevant information and faster communication throughout your business. The goal? So you can create better products and experiences for your customers, save time and increase your profits. Today, mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) is ushering in the next wave of process improvements. Yet, perhaps ironically, there is one process inside most manufacturing companies that has received the least amount of attention in the past 30 years: the sales process. How can this be? The segment of your business most responsible for generating revenue growth has been stuck using the same tools and methodologies since Reagan was President. Many sales processes at manufacturing companies today are still built around:

• Printed product catalogs • Price books • Spec sheets • Order forms

by Paul Ziliak

• Phone calls back to the office • Email These sales reps have little or no visibility into real time customer status, product pricing or current availability. This hinders them from having the critical ability to close new deals on the spot or present cross-sell opportunities. Whether the sales rep is onsite with a customer or prospect, at a special event, staffing a tradeshow, or roaming a showroom floor, it is likely they have a smart phone in their pocket. But the chances are almost as great that the smart phone will not have intelligence to help them generate new sales or otherwise assist the customer. The mobile technology that is available now can provide sales reps with far more meaningful interactions with customers. Sales apps that are connected with your Sage ERP and CRM systems abound. The key is finding the right level of enablement for you and your sales team. As a manufacturing company, this should be easily accomplished because it’s all about making the selling process – the experience your customer has doing business with you – a faster, better informed and more complete experience. And that is exactly what you should expect your sales team to deliver.

About the Author Paul Ziliak is the co-founder of xkzero which specializes in Sage ERP integrated mobile sales, route sales, and direct store delivery automation for small and midsized manufacturers and wholesale distribution companies. Connect with Paul on Twitter @PaulZiliak.

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A 90% Increase in Productivity – Accessed Straight from Your Sage Screen Join the Move to Paperless Automation. • • (800) 699-5758 AP Automation and Enterprise Content Management for Sage


How to Have an Expert Sage X3 Administrator at Your Fingertips

by Erin Haney

Without hiring a full-time employee!


our implementation is complete. Your go-live was successful. Now, it’s time for you, as the project sponsor, to go back to your ‘normal’ job. But what’s next? You don’t have a dedicated team member whose responsibility it is to maintain the new system you so painstakingly put in place. What will happen when (inevitably) problems arise? Who will handle routine file purging, archiving and upgrading… oh my? Not to worry! As Blytheco has been there for you over the last six to nine months of your Sage X3 implementation, we won’t leave you high and dry! With our customizable Remote Admin Plan, we can give you peace of mind, knowing that your necessary monthly activities are being managed by a Sage X3 expert, as if you have an onsite admin doing the work.

What’s Included? You choose the tasks and we do the work. We offer routine services within various categories of Batch Management, Security and Auditing, Report Activity, Data Management (History Purge, General Server Maintenance), Third Party Management and System Management (Folder Refresh, Patch Management, Stock Utilities, Maintaining Connection Credentials) and troubleshooting. We can also include optimization tasks with your plan so that we can make recommendations that will enable you to get the

most out of your investment in Sage X3.

What’s Your ROI? A dedicated in-house system administrator can cost your organization a full-time employee’s salary, anywhere from $75K annually and up, depending on the size and complexity of your organization’s system. With our Remote Admin Plan, we save you significant dollars and overhead without sacrificing experience and expertise. You’ll also eliminate the up to six months of onboarding and training that would be required to get a new team member proficient in your system. Even if your system has been live for a while but you realize you don’t have time to stay on top of monthly administrative tasks, or your System Administrator has left your company, we can be your cost efficient extra pair of hands! We can tailor your plan to suit your exact needs. Let Blytheco help bridge the gaps in your organization and provide your team with the on-demand answers you need to extract the full value from your Sage X3 software. To get started, reach out to your Blytheco representative today, call 949-583-9500 or visit

About the Author Erin Haney is Blytheco’s Sage X3 Practice Leader. She has spent several years in the software solution space, including management positions with SaaS organizations. She also currently serves as Blytheco’s Sage 500 Practice Leader. Connect with Erin at or at

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Summer 2016 | Bellwether



Internet Research

by Carrie West

38 Bellwether | Summer 2016



ll businesses, but especially manufacturers, must be aware of the rapidly changing trends in their industries. Manufacturers have longer production cycles, so whether you are B2B or B2C, you must be nimble enough to strategize in a marketplace that is moving faster than ever before.


o matter how you sell your products or services, making strategic decisions today requires that you go beyond the tried and true approaches of understanding business data and trends: sales, forecasts, customer feedback, surveys and consumer indexes. If your business intelligence is outdated by days or weeks, you could make faulty decisions that come with the hefty cost of lost revenue or missed opportunities. To remain relevant to your clients and prospects, establish new markets for your business and make smart predictions about your product’s continued development, it is critical that you take full advantage of the most powerful, upto-the-minute market research libraries available today; the World Wide Web. With over 47 billion web pages and over 3 billion users, the Internet provides the most current data on what your customers are saying and what they are buying. By using social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yelp and more, you can get daily insights about how your product (and others like it) is being received and know what concerns you should address in version 2.0. The question is, though, how do you access the right information and make best use of it in a timely manner? To conduct in-depth and real-time market research, you’ll need to sort through literally thousands of websites, blogs, and social media applications in order to listen in on relevant social conversations. This will enable you to hear what your customers and competitors are saying about you, and (most importantly) what they are looking for in terms of products and services going forward. If you try to do this with traditional search engines and social media tools, many of the results you will return will be irrelevant at best and the process will be tedious and frustrating, to say the least. Fortunately, there are new tools available that analyze the Internet to help you pinpoint your market and give

you the relevant information you want, plus the tools to deploy your digital marketing campaigns in specialized communities for greater effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy. These new algorithms aggregate multiple searches that would normally take thousands of hours to perform and be impossible to manually collate and analyze. They also find what you’re looking for, not what Google or Bing wants you to find. These new tools filter and crawl the Internet based on sophisticated natural language analysis and serve elegant results. Rather than returning a daunting list of web pages, they extract a coherent picture of web presences—social influencers, social media accounts, forums, bloggers, keywords, topics of conversation and sentiment—to provide a comprehensive and integrated view of your market. Some of these tools also integrate with industry standard Business Intelligence software to provide further analytical capabilities and actionable data visualizations. If you’ve ever wondered why your top products start to lag in sales, now you can find out using these natural language algorithm-based tools. They can identify competitors that you weren’t aware of, which will help you stay ahead of the game. And if you need to relaunch your product, these tools can identify new markets you haven’t considered: an excellent way to pivot and manage existing inventory. This fresh approach to Internet and market research, combined with carefully selected and proven digital marketing best-practices, can optimize the various elements in your marketing mix, including website content, social media activity, email, paid ads, remarketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and channel strategy. With this integrated approach, you will open new markets, uncover opportunities, close new clients, maximize customer spend, and build long-lasting customer relationships online with an ease you’ve never experienced before.

About the Author Carrie West is the Practice Director at Setanta leading Setanta’s RaveTek software – a high performance, superior web analytics tool for digital marketing and market research. She can be reached at

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


3 T

Ways Changing Your QA Methodology Can Boost Profits by Joe Perillo

here is a popular saying within continuous improvement circles: “The best thing about a company is that they will do whatever it takes to deliver the best product or service to their customer.” It also happens to be the worst thing about a company. In any business’ pursuit of client satisfaction, both approaches come with added costs, no matter which way you flip the coin.



uality is critical to keeping your clients happy. Quality is also is defined by customer specification. Meeting and sustaining that specification is a challenge every organization faces, whether making a product or providing a service. But for product based companies, implementing one key lean manufacturing principle can significantly reduce stress and costs while dramatically improving quality and profits. Many organizations tend to take drastic, “whatever it takes” measures to ensure quality during the inspection process. Not only does this add steps and personnel to keep rejected products out of the consumer’s hands, but there are usually additional costs, which are likely not accounted for during the product development stage. A better way to manage quality and control escalating costs (while boosting profits in the process) is by developing a corporate standard of “Quality at the Source (QatS).” QatS is one of the 14 fundamental principles of lean manufacturing. In this revised QA methodology, quality checks are built into the manufacturing procedures so that each product is reviewed at each phase of production, providing the following profit boosting results:

1. Reduced need for dedicated QA personnel. Using a QatS methodology spreads the burden of responsibility for quality to all those working all along the supply chain, rather than having it rest on a select few supervising the end results.

2. Huge time saver. Having an opportunity to catch problems and implement corrective action immediately is much better than allowing a product to index to the next station with errors. QatS saves a significant amount of time by eliminating the need for reworking inventory and keeps production on or ahead of schedule.

3. Minimize wasted materials. Along with saving tons of time, QatS reduces wasted materials because a product was allowed to proceed through production, only for defects to be identified at the end. With the cost of raw materials continually rising, finding ways to reduce waste is naturally smart (and profitable) business. All companies who chose to embrace lean manufacturing should understand that implementing QatS is a winwin for themselves and their clients. In the fine jewelry industry, my company’s customers expect exceptional craftsmanship. When we consistently deliver highquality pieces in a timely fashion, we maintain our good reputation. No matter what type of product you are providing, maintaining pride from development through delivery is important. Utilizing a QatS protocol will make it easier for you to consistently meet or exceed your customer’s expectations, and that is always a recipe for improved profits.

About the Author Joe Perillo is the Chief Operating Officer for RIVA Precision Manufacturing. Joe has over 24 years of experience in leading all aspects of manufacturing operations within a myriad of industries, including: automotive, aviation, industrial equipment and jewelry manufacturing. Joe is also an experienced Lean Manufacturing Specialist leading continuous improvement initiatives via lean principles.

Summer 2016 | Bellwether


42 Bellwether | Summer 2016

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How to Handle a Terminated Employee’s Immediate

Emotional Response by Joe Mendicino

Even after twenty-five years in Human Resources, terminating an employee is never easy. No matter the nature – whether management layoffs or due to the employee’s actions – the former employee always has a strong reaction that must be adequately handled to avoid dangerous or volatile situations.



o how can the HR or Executive team member delivering the news be prepared to deal with the former employee’s reactions? Here are the top three emotional responses you can anticipate from terminated employees and what you can do to maintain your composure during the exchange.

Self-Pity The most common reaction I have encountered is self-pity. After being told their services are no longer needed, the former employee often expresses disbelief and responds by saying, “There must be a mistake.” Other common reactions are becoming argumentative, asking many questions, requests for reconsideration of the decision, or crying. Sometimes, the former employee will try to have the messenger empathize with them by sharing personal details such as, “I just bought a house,” “I just had a new baby,” or they may flat out state that they need their job. In these situations, the decision to terminate has already been made. It is important to stick to the “script” or sanctioned message that was pre-approved and not to get side-tracked by the emotional pleas.

Overly Calm or Reserved The second most common reaction to being terminated is someone being overly calm or reserved. Some people, when caught off guard with shocking news, might listen to the messenger with a blank expression, frozen in disbelief and won’t speak or give any other sign they have comprehended what was said to them. It is easy for the company representative to communicate relevant exit information at this time (for example: medical, COBRA, unemployment, etc.) as it pertains to their situation. But be aware that you may not have their full attention in that moment. Upon being asked if there are any questions, usually the person will say “no.” As the company representative, you should leave the door for future communication open. End the

exchange by saying something such as, “Don’t hesitate to contact me directly at HR if you have any other questions.” This leaves the door open for them to have the information repeated to them at a later time when they are able to fully process what has been shared with them.

Anger Anger is the third and most challenging emotion to deal with. An angry reaction must be handled delicately, as the individual may become dangerous and unpredictable. After being advised of termination or of a layoff, an angry employee may jump up, start shouting or cursing, and could provoke a physical attack. No matter what happens, do not raise your voice. Remain calm. An old trick I learned early on in my career is to keep tapping your right foot while continuing to talk. The even pace keeps you focused, and makes it much easier to avoid raising your own voice in an already delicate situation, so as to not negatively escalate it. As a last resort, calling in a third party, such as the police, may be necessary in order to escort someone out of the building. However, this should only be considered as a last resort, so as to not cause a disruptive scene in the workplace. No matter which reaction you experience in the moment, it is important to have someone present with you in the room before the employee is called in. In case there is a disagreement amongst parties regarding what was said, it is always good practice to have a third-party witness. Also it is wise to do your best to ensure that the terminated employee is completely calm before they are escorted off the premises. Ultimately, there is no definitive “how-to” guide for proper layoff etiquette. Hopefully my experiences have given you some insight on what to expect with helpful ways to handle these three common reactions.

About the Author Joe Mendicino has worked over thirty years as a Human Resources Professional for several international union manufacturers. He is a SHRM member, and is on call as a college mentor for HR students at SUNY in Stony Brook, New York.

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Manufacturing Today | Bellwether Summer 2016  

This quarter, our focus is on Manufacturers. There are many critical processes to rethink and regulations to comply with in order for you to...

Manufacturing Today | Bellwether Summer 2016  

This quarter, our focus is on Manufacturers. There are many critical processes to rethink and regulations to comply with in order for you to...