xTuple's Collective Brainpower Blog

Worldwide manufacturing growth in the industrialized countries has been flat, and is forecast to remain flat for the foreseeable future. In a flat market, the fastest path to double digit growth for manufacturers is to steal share from less nimble competitors. However, in an era where the buyer can easily access product information on the Internet that was once tightly held by the seller, the traditional approaches to sales and marketing are no longer effective.

This is the first in an occasional series [hopefully, it's only occasional] on Things That Keep Me Up At Night (TTKMU@N). An image that's stayed with me since childhood is that of the Red Queen and Alice from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass" — running as fast as they can and getting nowhere. I was reminded of the story recently when someone complained that we, i.e., xTuple, refuse to use the latest and greatest version of various technologies. Let's get real here...

Full disclosure, when your company’s primary product is software, you know a little something about software development. In this post, I’ll reveal my epiphany on how the software development process can be applied to every other aspect of your business (and your life) — no matter your industry, no matter your position, no matter your department. [Spoiler alert: there’s a must-read book — "The Phoenix Project" — in your future!]

Selection criteria for your business management software is an important “hot topic” — review sites and resources abound. Selecting your next — or your first — Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is literally betting the success of their business on which software you use. Gathering functional requirements is the usual place to start. But be sure to add Vendor selection benchmarks to your list. Why?

Researching the best open source accounting software isn't as simple as one might think. There are a number of important variables you must consider before taking the leap. This is especially important for those businesses that already have an accounting/bookkeeping solution in place. Making sure you can achieve the same level of control and functionality is very important when switching to a Linux-centric accounting application.

Named to Capterra's 20 Most Popular Material Requirements Planning (MRP) Software Solutions List: It's almost time for Valentine's Day — when approximately 150 million cards are exchanged annually, the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. And we're celebrating xTuple's recognition as one of the most popular and affordable, enterprise-class MRP business software solutions for small- and mid-sized companies by sharing Customer Reviews.

FABTECH Expo Industrial Internet of Things: Used in manufacturing now for 15+ years, Internet of Things (IoT) devices monitor equipment, automate processes, and improve worker safety. Moore’s Law, a computing term around since 1970 which submits that processor speeds (overall processing power for computers) doubles every two years, applies to IoT devices, too. Their use increases over time, but what happens to all of the data they collect?

Case Study in Online Purchasing: Who’s the easiest person to sell to? A salesperson. The hardest? A marketer. Why? We’re always nitpicking our way through your entire buying process, because our job is to create the most stellar purchasing experience to improve conversion rates for our products and services, i.e., sales. And we’re constantly learning from those merchants who do it wrong as much as those who do it right.

Moving websites from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 continues to be a massive undertaking for the Drupal content management system (CMS) community: Drupal 8 was a move in the right direction but it’s created a lot of stumbling blocks in the upgrade path and some confusion amongst the non-technical users of Drupal.

Smart people work in software development: What do dual majors in physics and computer science do in their free time? Well, if you're xTuple's own software developer Christopher Cotnoir, you publish research papers in academic journals.

What do you need to know about xTuple open source ERP+CRM+Web Portal? During the winter ‘bomb cyclone’ that blasted the East Coast in early January, my husband and I (stranded indoors!) tackled our many honey-do tasks that we’re generally 'too busy' to get around to. [Snow photos from our local Virginian-Pilot.] We discovered more 'parts' to our wood stove. After perusing a few online forum topics, my husband learned the manufacturer’s recommendations and implemented them immediately.

CRM Improvements in 4.11.2: The release notes for xTuple ERP+CRM v4.11.2 indicated that we're working on enhancements to the CRM side of our product offering. The sponsor for this effort, Cordeck Building Solutions, requested a number of changes to make this part of the application easier to use for their normal sales and marketing needs. Most of these changes are useful to the rest of the xTuple community.

Business software IT questions answered: One of the questions I am asked the most has to be: "What are the minimum specs for running xTuple ERP?" Personally, I am not a minimum spec person. My wife will attest to that! I like to think I'm a 'you get what you pay for and get what you deserve' kind of guy, but, really... if you're trying to run your business on the zero-to-cheap plan, then it's all just luck. I prefer maximum specs: What has the most horsepower? Lowest 0-60 time? Lowest ET in the 1/4 mile? With my 'more is more' philosophy in mind, allow me to answer a few relevant specification questions.

Progressive Drupal developers understand the technical benefits of Drupal 8: it’s more efficient, scalability is more reliable, and (once you understand it) it’s easier/faster to work with. However, from the perspective of a business decision maker, it’s not clear why the foundation of Drupal 8 would be more cost effective for an organization. Drupal 7 works just fine, right?

xTuple introduces open source xDruple to the Drupal Development Community: At the 2018 DrupalCon North America held April 9-13 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., xTuple will introduce the community to xDruple, available under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL). xDruple is a developer-oriented, object-oriented programming (OOP) application framework for Drupal 7 which is compatible with major core and contributed Drupal modules.

Authorize.Net Security Updates roll out in February 2018: If you are an xTuple customer who uses the Authorize.Net payment gateway to process credit card transactions in xTuple ERP, then you have probably heard about the security updates Authorize.Net is rolling out at the end of February 2018. xTuple is prepared for this event, having taken steps to implement the new TLS 1.2 protocol in newer versions of xTuple ERP. Anyone running xTuple ERP versions 4.10.x or later (e.g., 4.11.x) should not be impacted by this change. However...

Inspection and Testing During Product Lifecycle: Do you need to meet standards of excellence and document regulatory and/or quality compliance? Want to easily manage and/or improve non-conformance with corrective and preventative actions? We're talking about ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and FAI (First Article Inspection) for your specific industry, important for both manufacturers and distributors.

Are you running your business with PostBooks® — the core of xTuple's open source ERP — the fully-integrated business management system featuring sales, accounting, operations and CRM in a single system? If you hold a one-user license, you may have noticed a license expiration message. Single-user keys expire at the end of this month, January 2018.

Manufacturing around the world is the backbone of a healthy economy — especially in xTuple's target markets of North America: the United States, Canada and Mexico. Manufacturing gives a country, state, region — even a locality — it's competitive advantage. Manufacturing is where business innovation lives. We can't say it enough. Here are 15 facts that you simply cannot ignore about the U.S. manufacturing industry — they bear repeating at the beginning of every new year. Thanks to Industry Week for sharing this infographic.

xTuple open source ERP+CRM 4.11.2 final release is now available for download from xTuple's GitHub repository as well as the xTuple PostBooks® project page on SourceForge. Thanks to all who contributed to make this release possible, including our CRM enhancements sponsor, Steven Buttgereit, Larry Cartee, Lee Gibson, Chris Lappe, Scott Moore, Mike Oligny, and Scott Zuke. This release includes bug fixes and features.