Daniel Fritsch July 21 2016 4 min read What's in this article? Dilemmas facing Distributors that use ERPs:5 Ways to Improve Epicor Prophet 21’s Inventory Control:How EazyStock can help Epicor Prophet 21 Users Epicor Prophet 21, previously known as Activant, is an on premise or SaaS solution for distribution and wholesale businesses. Prophet 21 works with companies of all sizes in all industries but is most commonly designed for distribution companies of all sizes in the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, fluid power, fastener, medical and petroleum industries. Epicor has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries around the world and offers a suite of solutions including enterprise resource planning (ERP), point of sale (POS), supply chain management (SCM), and human capital management (HCM) tools designed to help companies increase overall operating efficiency and improve profitability. Let’s take a look at the features that come standard with Epicor Prophet 21 for distribution businesses: Prophet 21 ERP at a Glance (core features) Order Management: Allows users to manually process order entries, track customer relationships (CRM), and display general pricing and inventory availability. Warehouse Management: Extends real-time access to the inventory that currently is on hand at stock locations. Purchasing Management: The purchasing tool is used to execute orders to suppliers based on order requirements set forth by the purchasing agents. Financial Management: A general finance and accounting ledger for CFOs and financial planners that manage the day to day profits and losses of the business. Reporting and Analysis: P21 offers general reports and dashboards that roll up and display data related to the day-to-day operations of the business. Dilemmas facing Distributors that use ERPs: When it comes to investments into inventory management systems and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools, most distributors feel paralyzed when analyzing the costs and complexity of onboarding new technology. Many companies are scared to change older legacy systems for fear of losing functionality with a new system. Additionally, the cost implications of buying or upgrading ERP systems is staggering. The cost is high, the implementation process is long, change management within the organization is hard, and the ROI is not easily calculated. The dilemma is that older ERP systems lack a great deal of inventory management capabilities that are required to reduce labor and operating costs while increasing service levels and customer satisfaction. To realize improvements for the business, distributors are forced to suffer the agonizing hardship of changing ERP systems or figuring out an alternative solution that can support the current ERP infrastructure. Luckily for distributors, there are cloud based solutions available that easily connect to Epicor Prophet 21 to enhance inventory management and control. Let’s look at 5 ways inventory optimization software like EazyStock can help users of Prophet 21. 5 Ways to Improve Epicor Prophet 21’s Inventory Control: While Epicor Prophet 21 is a suitable tool to manage day-to-day operations of a distribution business, the system lacks core planning and forecasting capabilities to effectively deliver optimized inventory management. Below are 5 ways inventory optimization software, like EazyStock, can enhance Prophet 21’s inventory control capabilities. Increase Visibility into Overstock or Understock Situations: Users of Epicor Prophet 21 do not have access to “risk of run out” reports, or excess stock reports. Visibility into item level stock counts is critical for accurate and timely reordering management. These reports also help advise purchasing managers what to buy, when to buy and how much they need to fulfill customer demand for future forecasted sales periods. Neither of these reports exist in Prophet 21, which limits control over stock levels and supplier lead-time. Reduce Time and Labor Intensive Processes: Customers of Epicor report that the system is not the most user friendly tool compared to other inventory management systems. Common challenges include managing ordering tasks within the system even for simple daily ordering processes. For example, applying multipliers in purchase order entries and entering simple order specifications is a labor intensive and time consuming process. The calculations for order management are often times managed outside of the system in offline applications like Excel, which also increases ordering complexity, order margin of error and increased labor costs. These processes can all be automatically and streamlined with the use of inventory optimization software. Access Sales and Marketing Promotion Management: Prophet 21’s order management features help managers execute order quantities for purchase but it does not forecast and optimize the order parameters for replenishment. The process is still manual and requires a great deal of time to manage. Order quantities are typically not aligned with true sales demand which leads to overstocking and under stocking situations. Additionally, sales and marketing promotion management is not a core feature of the system. It is difficult for businesses to effectively plan safety stock levels for inventory without visibility into the business’ promotion and sales activities. Promotion management extends critical inventory insights into sales and marketing teams not offered in Prophet 21. Analyze Detailed Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Data: Prophet 21 offers dashboard reports and summaries, however deep and detailed KPI data analysis is lacking. Users of the system require more advanced item level data to more effectively manage critical planning and forecasting activities. Detailed item level reports come with historical sales data and dynamically calculate forecast recommendations for planners. KPI reports are critical to the planning and ordering processes within distribution businesses. Without advanced KPI data reports, risk of run out and overstocking situations are almost always a painful and costly result. Limited Demand Forecasting Functionality: Prophet 21’s forecasting module only shows 3 different categories of the product life cycle stage (fast moving, slow moving, obsolete item), whereas EazyStock categorizes items into 9 different demand patterns to optimize forecasting and replenishment accuracy. Stock simulation analysis is also not available in Prophet 21, which limits planning capabilities for purchasing agents. EazyStock’s inventory optimization software also eliminates the need for extensive manual ordering input, freeing up buyers, purchasing agents, ops managers and other workers to work in other areas to grow and expand the business. Integrating EazyStock’s cloud-based software with Epicor’s Prophet 21 helps boost the system to best serve you, your customer base and your business’ unique needs. How EazyStock can help Epicor Prophet 21 Users If you use Prophet 21 today, the good news is that you don’t need a new ERP or additional staff to make your business more profitable. Running your business smarter with EazyStock’s Cloud-based Inventory Optimization Software can help you cut back on excess and obsolete stock, enhance supplier lead-time management, reduce customer delivery times, and effectively adjust your orders to match market trends and changes. With centralized purchasing and planning data, you can boost your current workflows with less manual work. Add on Cloud Based Optimization with secure bi-directional integration Increase operational capacity, utilization and productivity Centralize inventory data for purchasing and planning Run stocking simulations (stop using EXCEL) Enhanced supplier lead-time management To get a deeper look into Epicor Prophet 21 – including an overview of the other most common ERPs for SMBs, market analysis, and pros and cons of ERPs – click the link below to download your free copy of our white paper and become an ERP pro! Share Daniel Fritsch July 21 2016 4 min read Sign up for the EazyStock Newsletter Stay on Top of the Latest News, Trends, Tips, and Best Practices for Supply Chain Management, Inventory Optimization, Replenishment & Purchasing, and Demand Forecasting with Our EazyStock Newsletter.