July 2016 Newsletter

Letter from the President - Epicor Support Update
As you would expect, the User's Group Board of Directors is keeping our commitment to place Epicor Support on the forefront of our priorities.  I have had a mixed bag of feedback ranging from members deciding to place all service requests via phone because logging them goes into a black hole to the exact opposite where all calls are logged online because getting someone on the phone just results in frustration.  The only consistent feedback I have received is there is still a long way to go to get Support back to a level we can be satisfied with.   
Hopefully this letter will be another step in moving that process forward.  In addition, I'll reveal a way you can help in a big way as well regarding the EpicCare knowledgebase (there is also a separate article in this newsletter about this.  Please read and help!).   First, the top highlights from our Monthly call with EpicCare Support:
  • 62% of all calls are logged on EpicCare, vs initiated by phone call.  This is a jump from previous rates.
  • In May, 32% of all calls logged were RESOLVED by the India Technology Center (ITC).  This is up from 12% in April.  This is obviously a big improvement.
  • The ITC staff are still engaged in intense system training and troubleshooting issues.  They are moving through this in a very methodical and detailed timeline.  Obviously, this isn't an overnight process.
  • Support is still devising the best way to handle older legacy service requests.  There is a practical limit to how many legacy calls to bring over and obviously Epicor would like to phase out the old system quickly.  More information will be coming on this as various options are evaluated.
  • EpicCare is still under significant updates.  See the screenshot below with the major changes and the updates still in the works.  Most of this is initiated by customer and User's Group feedback!  You can see major updates when they are instituted in the NEWS section of the EpicCare home page. 
  • We will be holding a SPECIAL session at Encounter in September where Ian Ashby, Epicor SVP of Support will be coming in from England to discuss Epicor Support first hand and offer time to take your constructive feedback. 

We also discussed some steps you can take right now to assist:  
1)  This may seem obvious, but ensure you provide as much information as possible, what you have done, what can be done to recreate the problem, specific records with issue (SO#s, PO#s, Manifests, etc.), and screenshots if necessary.  Vague requests are slowing the resolution and affects resolution time for all calls.
2)  Epicor is requesting priority 2-4 calls be logged on EpicCare to speed the process; Priority 1 via phone call. 
3)  Regardless of your past experience, keep an open mind as the processes and staff effectiveness you had yesterday may be totally different today.

The final area I would like to mention briefly is the EpicCare knowledgebase.   Ultimately, I personally see this as the biggest advance to support that will pay long term dividends.  I have heard of cases where, even in its infancy, customers have resolved issues quickly by using the built in responsive knowledgebase.  It will take time to build this, but here is where you can help.  In discussion with Epicor Support, the User's Group Board volunteered to offer "your" support in this endeavor by allowing you to submit knowledgebase articles, screenshots, and even videos.  Please read my next article in this newsletter for the details, but in summary, Epicor sweetened the deal by offering prizes for those of you that submit articles that ultimately get approved for general use.  In the spirit of the User's Group, this is a great way for users to help users, as well as help speed Epicor's transition to the new world of support.
In closing, I do want to mention that we have seen progress since the last newsletter!  I have heard positive feedback that the new EpicCare system, while not perfect, is a better system than the old one.  I have also heard quotes from members that had very positive experiences coming from the ITC.  I also see the statistics showing improved closures from ITC.  There is progress being made and we will continue to work on your behalf to keep the pressure on! 
Remember to complete the Epicor Support surveys when you receive them and also I welcome your feedback (cbohn@aprsupply.com).
Thanks for reading!
Christopher Bohn - Your User's Group President
In This Issue
Click on the link above - It will take you to the July Calendar on our website. You can click on each class to see the detail, make sure to click the back button in your browser to get back to this newsletter.
New and Returning Members July 2016

AllSale Electric
Canoga Park

GP Supply Company 
Mission Electric Supply
San Antonio

Not All Customers are the Same!
Learn how Customer Stratification can grow sales and profits.

In the wholesale distribution business, you constantly have to demonstrate your value and differentiate yourself from your competition. One thing that business leaders in this industry universally accept is that not all customers are the same. While this is understood instinctively, how do you go about determining your most profitable customers? And how do you make sure that your sales team is spending the right amount of time, with the right customers, doing the right things?
Customer stratification can provide the answer to these questions and help drive profitable growth by:
  • Objectively and mathematically stratifying your customers into logical groups; Deploying strategies by customer stratification type;
  •  Drilling down into the factors that make up each customer's ranking;
  • Targeting specific areas of improvement with your customers to make them more profitable
  • Improving the quality of your inventory by understanding the percentage of each inventory classification that is sold to each customer type, allowing you to make strategic stocking decisions
How It Works
Leveraging Eclipse, we work with your management team to tailor the factors in the Customer Stratification Model that are most relevant to your business.  Our solution leverages the quantifiable information within Eclipse.  The customized model is delivered to you through a series of easy-to-use, interactive dashboards that provide unique insights into your business - and your customers - all in one place.

More accurate sales force deployment
Improved negotiations with your customers and vendors
Identification of new growth opportunities
Optimizing pricing to improve profitability
Better Inventory Management
Better marketing communications and targeting
Targeted sales force compensation

If you are an owner,  executive, sales leader, purchasing manager, or anyone within your organization that is thinking about starting your own customer stratification journey, call us to learn how to leverage the successes from other distributors who have already started. Specific examples for profitability improvement strategies, best-in-class dashboards, and testimonials of actual results will be shared.

John Mansfield 
Principal Consultant 
336-210-0831 mobile

Kevin Lawson
Business Unit Manager
Earnest & Associates
410-766-6076 x 491
Epicor Eclipse Support Corner
Help us grow the Eclipse Knowledge Base!    
By Camille Alberico, Eclipse Customer Support Manager and Chris Bohn, User's Group President
In partnership between Epicor and the Eclipse User's Group, we are proud to introduce a program where you can assist the Eclipse community by offering your knowledge and experience as a means to help build up the new EpicCare Knowledge Base.  Your submissions will help other users, as well as help you by utilizing other's contributions.  The creation of a robust knowledge base ultimately will contribute to rapid self-resolution for many Eclipse support issues, and the new EpicCare support system provides a very robust infrastructure to assist you in getting that self-help...if the articles are present! 
The Knowledge Base also solves a critical flaw to the old method of support which is to rely solely on the knowledge that resides in someone's head.  While that may work for today, that does not provide long term solution to support issues that accompanies support staff turnover.  
Beginning immediately, we are introducing a contest to gather knowledge from our very experienced and knowledgeable customers; such as tips & tricks or step-by-step instructions on using the Eclipse system.  The winners will be announced at Encounter 2016 in Pittsburgh in September. 
Note however that you will have the ability to submit Knowledge Base articles anytime, regardless of this contest.  This contest is only to spur a rapid build-up of articles.  Going forward, if you ever have a troubleshooting tip, submit it as an article! 
Good luck and thank you for helping the user community!

Knowlege Base Contest Specifics
 Contest period:
  • NOW through September 4th, 2016.  
  • Winners announced September 13th at the closing session of Encounter 2016 in Pittsburgh, PA.  You DO NOT need to be present to win!
  • iPad
    • Each approved submission creates an entry in a raffle.  The more you submit, the better your chances are at winning.
  • Cash
    • The best knowledge submission(s), which most widely benefits the Eclipse customer base, wins a prize
    • This is a subjective prize as determine by Epicor Support staff.  Bribes NOT accepted. 
Contest Rules:
  • Must be a generic Eclipse knowledge article that all companies will benefit from (not company specific)
  • Must be clear and concise, "bite size", and easy to consume for any end-user
  • Must be unique - can't be a copy of an existing record in the Eclipse Knowledge Base
  • Can be existing knowledge that you have at your company and are willing to share for the benefit of all Eclipse users

Camille Alberico
Senior Manager, Eclipse Customer Support

How Sales Tax Works for Distributors 

Many distributors are looking for ways to increase market share and gain competitive advantage. But what so many don't realize is that some of the tactics they're using to do this can actually create new types of sales tax risk. Let's look at three ways distributors are seeking to grow, and sales tax risks that can come along with each.
One way distributors are looking to gain market share is by hiring more sales reps. What many businesses don't realize is that a lot of activities that reps engage in can create new sales tax obligations. Do your reps attend trade shows or make occasional sales in states where you don't currently collect?  Do any of your reps telecommute? All of these activities can, in some cases, create the obligation for you to register and deal with sales tax in those states.
Another way that distributors are currently looking to grow and gain market share is through mergers and acquisitions. Larger distributors may look to acquire or merge with a smaller company in order to get into new geographies or business segments. On the flip side, smaller companies being acquired will face due diligence process, and sales tax exposure could impede a deal from going through. Either way, mergers and acquisitions can mean inherited sales tax compliance regulations.
The third growth strategy for distributors is e-commerce. Lots of distributors are turning to the internet to be able to sell directly to their customers online. But this can expose the fact that you may not have the best exemption certificate or reseller's Certificate Management System.
Growth activities can bring with them new levels and layers of sales tax complexity. Something like sales tax automation can help you scale while not having to worry so much about sales tax risk. For example, Epicor Tax Connect, powered by Avalara, keeps track of rules and rates in all jurisdictions where you need to worry about sales tax. So as you move into new territories, it's got you covered.
Also, Avalara and Epicor put exemption certificate management in the cloud for you. So if you're doing e-commerce, you can collect certs online. It makes it easy to manage your exemption certificates wherever you're doing business.

Users Helping Users Article
Users helping Users:  
This post came in on 06/09/16 and has had no updates to it. 
I choose this one post so we could show it some love!
Thread: RF picking procedure, step by step, with pictures
Has anyone created an RF picking procedure, with step by step and or pictures?
We are looking to help out new warehouse personnel. 

No Answers yet but we are working on it!
If anyone has some helpful documents, click this link to access this bulletin board posting:
Click Here and Login  and post them to the thread.

In the meantime:  I didn't find any screen shots in the Epicor help documentation but I did find some really handy flow charts that may help you to start building your cheat sheets.

If you hit the F11 Help from anywhere in Eclipse and click on the Companion Products folder.
Then click RF Warehouse Management > RF Picking Process > Picking and Staging Product in RF > Picking and Staging Product Workflows.
There are several flow charts on RF Picking to help train new employees:
I have found if you search Workflow in the help document there are lots helpful flow charts. 

What Can You Do On the Eclipse Users Group (UFO) Website?

Web Resources...
Don't forget the resources of your annual membership!
When was the last time you visited the Eclipse Users' Group website?  Perhaps more importantly, when was the last time others in your organization visited the website?  If you and your associates are not utilizing the resources on this (your) site to view and contribute, you're missing out.  If you're interested in finding out why, read on...

Working together as a group within the community...
Knowledge is power!
Information is more important to the success of your business than ever before.  Resources such as the bulletin boards and free classes found on the UFO website are where your company's information workers can collaborate and learn.  Using these resources transfers your internal analysis from being within a vacuum to tapping into a wealth of knowledge from a community of users who have been there, done that.  Below are just some of examples of what your company's information workers can access from the UFO website:

Training for free...
Great for onboarding!
  • New Hire 1 Solar - Basic System Navigation
  • New Hire 2 Solar - Basic System Navigation - Sales
  • New Hire 3 Solar - Basic System Navigation - Purchasing
  • New Hire 4 Solar - Basic System Navigation - Warehouse

Bulletin boards...
Covering all of the Eclipse functional areas!
  • Inventory and Purchasing
  • Order Entry
  • Accounting
  • Warehouse Logistics
  • System Administration & Utilities
And more...   Visit the website/forums You must login to see this page

You and your associates must have some ideas to improve Eclipse platform...
Submit your ideas to the Ideas Site!
Another useful link for you and your company's associates is the Ideas Site link.  Have you ever discovered that Eclipse doesn't do something you need it to do, or maybe a report or data field doesn't exist that you think should be there?  Go to the Ideas Site to see if your idea is listed. If it is, vote for it to pushed it up the list. If it's not, add it so others can vote on it.  You must login to see this page.

Find 3rd party solutions...
Need a project solution?  Look here first!
Looking to automate and outsource your billing?  Do you need an online portal for your customers to search and pay invoices?  How about an Ecommerce solution?  Looking for mobile apps to assist your sales team and customers?  Looking for a Business Intelligence solution that integrates with Eclipse?  Click on the Vendors link on the site.  With nearly thirty 3rd party solutions, there is likely a solution that can help.

Who's using that companion product we're looking into...?
Find an Eclipse member company using a solution you're looking for!
Are you looking at a 3rd party or companion product but want to talk to someone already using it?  This is the best way to get honest feedback from an end-user on implementation, maintenance and ROI.  On the UFO Users' Group website, you can search our sortable membership list by company name, state, companion product and industry to find these members. You must login to see this page.
As you can see, there are lots of benefits for you and your company that can be accessed on the Eclipse Users' Group website.  Don't wait, go there today!  Visit the website at https://www.eclipseuser.com .

Robert Hascall, Eclipse Users Group, Web Committee Chair