• Visual Business Solutions | 6225 Old Middleton Road Madison, WI 53705

Visual Business Solutions

Helping Manufacturers Solve the Unsolved Since 1993

VBS was there whenever needed, even over a holiday weekend — The Andersons Testimonial

VBS was there whenever needed, even over a holiday weekend — The Andersons Testimonial 359 140 David Sheriff

“The customer service was unprecedented.” — Wendy Miller, IT Manager at The Andersons

Wendy and her team at The Andersons  were on an older Infor VISUAL ERP version and wanted to gain the added features and functionality of the newest release, so they called VBS for help. The Andersons were impressed at the high level of customer service they received. VBS gave candid communication and was there whenever needed, even over a holiday weekend. When The Andersons had other projects that took priority, VBS understood and adapted. Both teams worked closely together to ensure everyone was confident in the path to success prior to going live with the upgrade. 

The Andersons immediately realized benefits from the upgrade. They are working more efficiently and confidently for their customers and are optimistic for their future as they continue to improve. 

About The Andersons, Inc. 

The Andersons grows enduring relationships through extraordinary service, a deep knowledge of the market and a knack for finding new ways to add value as we have done for more than 70 years. 

OUR MISSION 

We firmly believe that our Company is a powerful vehicle through which we channel our time, talent, and energy in pursuit of the fundamental goal of serving God by serving others. Through our collective action, we greatly magnify the impact of our individual efforts to: 

  • Provide extraordinary service 
  • Help each other improve 
  • Support our communities 
  • Increase the value of our Company 

About VBS 

Visual Business Solutions (VBS) enables your business to focus on what you do best by developing solutions that make perfect sense. As a leading provider of Infor business application software solutions and consulting, we pride ourselves on our three differentiators that set us apart from the competition: Providing transparent and accountable projects, solving what others can’t, and real life experience, not just theory. Learn more about The VBS Way

VBS did what others said they couldn’t — Casey Products Inc Testimonial

VBS did what others said they couldn’t — Casey Products Inc Testimonial 224 246 David Sheriff

“The response time and willingness to train our employees have been incredible.” — Ruth Wojkowski, Vice President at Casey Products Inc 

Casey Products Inc knew they needed new help with their ERP system when its current features couldn’t fully support the business, so Infor paired them with VBS. Starting at the beginning of implementation, VBS did what other companies said they couldn’t by getting at the root of the problems and providing solutions to solve inefficiencies. At each phase of the process, Casey Products was informed of what was going on and involved in the decision making. When it came time for go-live, an upgrade was released and instead of VBS pushing the go-live and then asking a year down the road if they wanted to upgrade, VBS informed Casey Products about it right away and together they decided to upgrade before the initial go-live date. Proper training was also given to Casey Products’ employees, which the company had never experienced before. The training instilled confidence to the Casey Products team and reassured them they were ready to go-live, while also knowing they would have continuous support from VBS after go-live to stay up to date. 

Before working with VBS, Casey Products had over 40,000 reports a month that needed to be individually printed and reviewed. The reports alone took an enormous amount of time away from employees. Now, with the solutions VBS provided, reports can be viewed all at once without printing and employees are able to efficiently manage their time and spend it on critical business needs.  

About Casey Products Inc 

Casey Products was founded by Robert M. Casey and incorporated in 1969. The company, which began as a sales agent for fastener manufacturers, grew quickly and in 1977, Casey Products began warehouse operations in addition to sales activities. 

Today, Casey Products concentrates our business efforts on the specialty fastener area, and importing fasteners. We provide OEM customers with small lots, specialty plating, patching and other non-standard features that are generally not available from a manufacturer, along with high volume nuts, socket product and hex fasteners. 

About VBS 

Visual Business Solutions (VBS) enables your business to focus on what you do best by developing solutions that make perfect sense. As a leading provider of Infor business application software solutions and consulting, we pride ourselves on our three differentiators that set us apart from the competition: Providing transparent and accountable projects, solving what others can’t, and real life experience, not just theory. Learn more about The VBS Way

The relationship and working side-by-side instilled our team with confidence – Kaivac Testimonial

The relationship and working side-by-side instilled our team with confidence – Kaivac Testimonial 200 200 David Sheriff

“A true partner, not just a reseller.” Shari Nichols, Director of Systems & Process at Kaivac 

Kaivac knew their outdated, mainstream ERP system was unable to keep up with growing business demands, so Shari went searching for a new answer, which led the company to VBS. While working with VBS to update, Shari was impressed with how VBS worked side-by-side with Kaivac to bring them along in the process and make sure the system worked uniquely for their specific needs. Every step of the way, Kaivac felt fully and clearly informed. Conversations were always personable and simplified so Kaivac knew exactly how to use the system to its full potential. VBS even visited Kaivac multiple times onsite to fully relieve any pressing pain points. VBS didn’t just sell a product but put a human aspect to the relationship and truly partnered with Kaivac to deliver the best results.  

Since updating their system with VBS, Kaivac has been able to grow and strengthen. Currently, Kaivac has over 4,000 stores they work with, a number that before would have been impossible to obtain. Kaivac is confident they can continue to grow and provide a high-level of organization, which will ultimately give the best possible experience and service for their customers. 

About Kaivac 

Kaivac develops science-based hygienic cleaning systems that protect the health of building occupants while raising the value of cleaning operations. 

All of Kaivac’s cleaning technologies are designed from the start to remove the maximum amount of potentially harmful soils and bio-pollution in the most cost-efficient manner possible. Just as important, Kaivac incorporates scientific measurement into its systems to ensure hygienic outcomes for total facility wellness. Because, when it comes to potentially harmful microbial contamination, it’s important that you remove it, then prove it. 

About VBS 

Visual Business Solutions (VBS) enables your business to focus on what you do best by developing solutions that make perfect sense. As a leading provider of Infor business application software solutions and consulting, we pride ourselves on our three uniques that set us apart from the competition: Providing transparent and accountable projects, solving what others can’t, and real life experience, not just theory. Learn more about The VBS Way

prater-industries-logo

Quick communication, overnight adjustments and valued feedback set us up for success – Prater Industries Testimonial

Quick communication, overnight adjustments and valued feedback set us up for success – Prater Industries Testimonial 640 137 David Sheriff

“VBS gave immediate responses, quick updates and personal calls. The partnership with VBS and their interest in new ideas and feedback was very valuable.” — Pete Hinzy, Vice President and General Manager at Prater Industries

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prater Industries realized excessive time was being spent on repetitive tasks, so Pete signed up for the VBS COVID-19 Response Kit. Right away, he saw the benefit of the free tool, but believed it could be enhanced and even more helpful. Pete shared with VBS his new ideas and requests for how the kit should function and the different options it should provide. VBS quickly embraced the ideas and made overnight adjustments to better support Prater’s unique business needs. Whenever a new idea was brought to VBS, an update was made, Prater was notified, and feedback was requested. VBS did not just offer a standard kit across the board, but they did the right thing and truly considered Prater’s needs and worked directly with them to achieve success. 

Prater is confident that when the economy reopens, they will be stronger and more resilient than before. Working with VBS has helped streamline Prater’s processes allowing their employees to keep up with growing business demands and provide the best experience and top-notch service for their customers. 

About Prater Industries 

Prater brings people together to provide process solutions that feed, nurture and house the world. They develop and provide innovative, tailored material size reduction, separation and process solutions. Prater offers a wide range of equipment for particle size reduction, enlargement, feeding and separation such as hammer mills, fine grinders, lump breakers, classifiers, rotary airlock valve feeders and more. All Prater equipment, parts and systems are designed and built to provide years of low maintenance, reliable service. Prater also offers highly skilled and experienced technical services on-site for start-up, troubleshooting and preventative maintenance. 

About VBS

Visual Business Solutions (VBS) enables your business to focus on what you do best by developing solutions that make perfect sense. As a leading provider of Infor business application software solutions and consulting, we pride ourselves on our three uniques that set us apart from the competition: Providing transparent and accountable projects, solving what others can’t, and real life experience, not just theory. Learn more about The VBS Way.

COVID-19 Response Kit

COVID-19 Response Kit 150 150 David Sheriff

We appreciate all the trust you’ve put in us over the years, and we’re here to give back. Please look at the options below and take advantage of any of these free offerings while COVID-19 remains an issue. Your company, employees, and families are in our thoughts and our prayers during these difficult times. Together we will get through this.

Please contact us if you have any other needs or suggestions for help at this time and we will do our best to help.

VBS Academy Training (2 Weeks Free)

If you have staff with some downtime, please take advantage of our free online training via VBS Academy. Training may also help with employees that have suddenly found themselves responsible for other roles in the business.

FREE VBS Advanced Cash Forecasting

Cash flow is going to become an increasing problem for many of our customers. This excel based tool can show weekly cash flow, is highly configurable and flexible, and considers Current Balances, Uncleared Checks and Deposits, Future Cash Adjustments, Open AR, Open AP, Future Shipments, and Future Receipts. View summary screen, or see the detailed calculations for each bucket.

Free VBS Mass Purchase Order Expediting Tool

Ensure that you’re getting the material you need when you need it to fulfill orders and keep production running. This filterable tool lists all open PO lines with relevant information. Track and send reminder notices to all vendors regarding order confirmation and ship notices – configurable by you and all with just one push of a button!

Free VBS Excel Credit Tool

Understand the credit position of all your customers on one screen. This includes Open Receivables, Un-invoiced Shipments, Pending Shipments (date range selected by you), and credit remaining.

Free VBS Excel Advanced A/R Aging

Review aging by Customer or Customer Group.  Includes Customer Order, PO Reference, AP Contact Info, Customer and Invoice Collections Notes.  Update notes right on aging screen.

Free VBS Email Blast

Communication is especially crucial right now. Our VBS Email Blast tool allows you to filter your VISUAL or VISUAL CRM contacts and accounts then quickly send formatted emails. Filters can even work on App Builder information. You’ll have all the tools you need to communicate quickly and effectively.

Free Infor VISUAL ShopFloor Installation

Depending on where you’re located, you may not be able to get your entire team on-site. By installing ShopFloor you can view production remotely. Let us install this module for you to give you more options to manage your business during these difficult times.

Discounted Services

There are a few other areas where we can provide assistance to improve remote access to your system and data. We are offering discounted rates for these services.

  • Setup ACH payments
  • Setup Infor VISUAL in terminal server environment
  • SQL Server setup and configuration review
  • Disaster recovery planning and testing
  • Create views for dashboards
  • Report Writing
  • Staff Augmentation for Project Management

Adoption of Cloud turns unexpected business value

Adoption of Cloud turns unexpected business value 150 150 David Sheriff

Adoption of Cloud turns unexpected business value

The move to Cloud has been part of the ongoing dialogue for some time, yet adoption is slow-going.  However, the conversation IS picking-up momentum. The primary drivers for manufacturers to move to cloud models are most certainly economic. The return is realized by the transition of Capital expense to Operating expense, and the scalability and flexibility in deployment of cloud enterprise business application services, as compared to the traditional software and IT infrastructure purchase and ongoing maintenance processes.

“Cloud solutions offer an average payback period of 7.1 months and 5-year average ROI of 626%, a level that few other investments can equal.1 Randy Perry, IDC Whitepaper, “The Business Value of Amazon Web Services Accelerates Over Time,” December 2013

Research is proving the economics tell a very compelling story, but, is just the beginning of a long list of key benefits today’s manufacturers realize by moving to the Cloud.   Here are just a few:Collaboration in the Cloud
Purposeful collaboration is one key benefit.  Companies linked to cloud based business applications connect employees, customers and suppliers, enabling faster decision making and issue resolution, fosters innovation, enhances relationships, shared learnings, and allows the creation and adoption of new approaches.Integration and Extend in the Cloud
Today’s manufacturers, in order to remain relevant and to compete, must automate, integrate and extend their business processes – speed and accuracy are key.   Cloud solutions deliver new automation, but, also offer new integration and extensions in clour ERP services as well.   Take the Infor ION middleware application, for example.   ION allows manufacturing organizations to connect disparate cloud and on-premise solutions, taking a hybrid approach to business applications.   (Watch an ION video and in the downloadable research eBook below.)Mobility – The Cloud Enables People – Your Most Valuable Resource
Enterprise business systems today are no longer tied to a data center or require expensive local infrastructure, providing tremendous flexibility for users – why should employees be tied to the local network? Secure cloud-based connectivity to mobile apps empower and enable people to work more efficiently, from where they are.   The Cloud streamlines mobile solutions delivery across an enterprise, while the Cloud provider manages all the complexity of mobile connectivity and device support.   Infor’s mobile platform provides a huge range of capability, extending ERP’s mobile solutions.Shift in attitudes, from why to why not
While the industry is still in it’s early stages of Cloud adoption, the economic and key benefits are rapidly shifting attitudes “from why, to why not” – read the Infor paper – and discussions on the potential downsides of cloud deployment are quickly moving to the forefront of manufacturers priorities to evaluate the risks of not making the move.   The Cloud is inevitable.  It becomes a matter business leaders making a shift in forward-thinking, and a commitment to an organizations readiness to embrace the change.  Many companies today have taken a hybrid-approach to the Cloud, have deployed CRM and HR functionality and are realizing the many economic and operational benefits of these early deployments.  Infor and VBS have solutions and services to support on-premise, hybrid and full cloud adoptions.VISUAL Business Solutions is an Infor Certified Gold Channel Partner, serving manufacturers since 1993.  Infor’s innovative technologies allow our clients the flexibility to build for the future.  
Contact us today to begin the discussion.

Suggested Reading – DOWNLOAD the eBook:

Think Business Process Improvement Before Tools

Think Business Process Improvement Before Tools 150 150 David Sheriff

Think Business Process Improvement Before Tools

By:  Scott Jessup
As a strategic planning methodology, business process improvement (BPI) enables manufacturers to streamline operational processes, improve access to information across departments, and eliminate waste in all its forms. Done correctly, BPI also improves decision-making as well as the management and utilization of assets and resources. It does all of this by identifying the business operations and employee skills that can be improved to make procedures smoother and workflows more efficient, driving business growth and profitability.ERP systems, despite their technology and automation, provide no intrinsic benefit without the guidance and input of business processes. In fact, ERP implementation is, in reality, business process improvement tool. Determining and defining the right business processes helps a company quantify what it wants to do and how it will go about doing it. It’s critical to know what you want to do and how to do it before installing the tools you think will implement the as-yet-undefined task or process. Establishing the necessary business processes is a three-step process that involves:

1. Dissecting and understanding the current state of business processes

2. Removing all the non-value-added processes

3. Implementing the technology tools to automate the key, core processes remaining

Business processes exist to create consistency and control over a specific set of actions designed to produce a clearly defined outcome. Understanding that and developing the processes to accomplish the defined outcome is essential before introducing tools to try to automate everything.

Fostering a culture of change

Discrete manufacturing requires a number of tasks and processes that are interrelated and sequential – one task’s output becomes another task’s input. These complex relationships make business process improvement a daunting task that most individuals are loathe to undertake unless there is an overwhelming or compelling reason to change. So instead of focusing on improving business processes, some companies will instead construct patches or add tools that treat the symptoms but don’t address the underlying illness — poorly-designed or obsolete business processes.Business process improvement is technology-independent and should not be driven by IT. In fact, a true business process isn’t even back office- or front office-dependent, it’s organizational-dependent. For example, an over-arching business process such as opportunity-to-cash touches virtually every department and function, from sales and finance to production and operations. Representatives from each department can be instrumental in helping determine “this is how we excel as a business,” “these are our processes to make us efficient and profitable,” and “how do we make all this work?” Only at this point can IT weigh in with recommendations on technology tools and solutions to make it all happen within the system.What’s needed is a culture of change. A desire within the organization to get rid of the non-value-added processes that don’t add to the bottom line but instead act as a drain on time, money, and resources. This requires a multi-functional, cross-enterprise approach that will help eliminate enterprise-wide waste and free up resources for focused, value-added activities that contribute directly to business growth and profitability.Utilizing this more strategic, cross-enterprise business process improvement strategy forces an organization to think beyond just production processes, which is where companies typically focus. After all, when thinking about process improvement, many managers look to production models because that’s how products get manufactured. However, focusing on a larger, enterprise-wide BPI effort that includes balancing and optimizing workers and resources across the entire organization can yield significant business process improvements that provide substantially more value than just adding or adjusting a machine or production task.Adjusting business processes across the enterprise – not just in production – produces results that can streamline operations, minimize waste, boost production, and improve quality to increase sales and maximize profitability. And that’s the ultimate goal of business process improvement.

3 Essential Production Planning Improvements

3 Essential Production Planning Improvements 150 150 David Sheriff

3 Essential Production Planning Improvements

By: Scott Jessup Production planning is at the core of any manufacturing process. The purpose of production planning, of course, is to organize material and human resources to efficiently manage production costs, time, materials, and personnel.Efficient, effective production planning involves the intricate choreography of all these elements so that they come together in a cohesive, timely fashion to speed the production process along to a successful, profitable conclusion. For any manufacturing operation to reach its full potential, effective production planning most be at its core.So how do you improve the production planning process? It starts with three fundamental improvements:

  1. Provide production planning education 

Unfortunately, many manufacturing operations, especially small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), relegate production planning to machine operators or process managers who have come along with the business as it has grown. While these individuals may be outstanding machine operators, they typically don’t have a broad knowledge of planning and production principles. To equip them to become skilled, qualified schedulers and planners requires education so they can successfully use tools such as Infor’s VISUAL, which is one of the preferred ERP solutions for SMBs.

  1. Utilize a “closed loop” manufacturing process 

By this we mean a process that has a defined beginning, middle, and an end that yields measurable data and results. An open-ended process does not provide output data to support analytics, making it difficult to analyze process efficiency. Without a closed loop, manufacturers can be lulled into simply inputting ERP data to run a process with no thought to improving it. A closed loop process provides measurable results that enable manufacturers to gain answers to a number of critical questions such as:

  • Are your run times accurate?
  • What is your efficiency?
  • What is your accuracy of capacity?
  • How much overtime is consumed?
  • Did you get the result you were expecting?

Having a closed loop system and an appropriate set of metrics enables you to understand why you’re getting the results that you’re getting.Most production planners who are having trouble with production scheduling simply know that their scheduling doesn’t work – and they have no idea why. The metrics and analytics that can be used with a closed loop system enable you to determine where critical breakdowns in the production operation occur.

  1. Implement root cause analysis 

Root cause analysis can help you correct deficiencies throughout the production process. By discovering and addressing the root cause of production problems you can permanently fix them instead of simply treating the symptoms. For example, if production runs are typically late, instead of approving more overtime, analyze whyproduction takes longer and fix the root problem.All production planning improvements come down to two basic tools: metrics and analytics. Without identifying and defining what needs to be measured and gathering that data, there’s nothing to analyze for ways to improve. Well-defined, reliable metrics and analytics are the key to improving production planning, streamlining operations, and supporting continuous improvement.

How to Embed Process Improvement into Your Corp. DNA

How to Embed Process Improvement into Your Corp. DNA 150 150 David Sheriff

How to Embed Process Improvement into Your Corp. DNA

By: Scott Jessup

There are a number of proven techniques for process improvement, including Lean, Total Quality Management (TQM), and Six Sigma; however, for any company to effectively and consistently drive process improvement, it must be embraced at every level within the organization. So what are the key initiatives that can help embed process improvement into your corporate DNA? Utilize top-down communications. Business process improvement cannot be dictated from the C-suite. For effective process improvement to take hold in any organization, business managers from the CEO on down must champion and communicate the need for and benefits of process improvement. It is crucial for management to lead the process improvement initiative and not simply assign it to someone further down the chain of command. Top management is uniquely positioned to communicate the strategic importance of process improvement and establish the mission and goals: 

  • These are our core values as an organization 
  • This is who we need to be to compete and be successful
  • These are the processes central to our success
  • These are the benefits of process improvement
  • This is how we can accomplish it

 This may require creating or improving a communication infrastructure to facilitate enterprise-wide efforts to reach every employee, including email, newsletters, face-to-face meetings, visual aids and company events, to name a few. Involve all stakeholders. While communication must be from the top down, process improvement implementation must be from the bottom up. In many organizations this can be hard. Employees need to be empowered to suggest process improvements; for some managers used to telling people what to do, it may be uncomfortable to have employees telling them what needs to be done. If management is truly committed to embedding process improvement into the corporate culture and DNA, they must be prepared to make hard decisions to support it.Ask employees to set benchmarks and recommend targets for the next quarter or next year.  Challenge them to pay attention to what works well and ask how things can be better. Soliciting input on how to improve things from all levels within your organization makes workers feel valued, encourages further input, and reinforces the goal of continuous improvement. Proactive process improvement from the bottom up also provides employees with a mechanism for self-improvement, which advances not only their careers but the entire organization as well.Empowering employees to be champions of process improvement can be a significant change in corporate culture but it is vital for everyone connected to a process to help improve it. Everyone must be committed to working toward a common goal of continuous improvement, understanding that it benefits the company and them.Create incentives for process improvement. While promoting the greater common good is important for implementing process improvement, it also helps to create personal motivation for employees. By offering rewards for process improvements, such as bonuses or prizes, management can encourage workers to make recommendations. Even something as simple as public acknowledgement of a successful suggestion can be a major motivator. At the same time, it’s important to remove disincentives. Most people fear failure, but failure leads to innovation and is an important part of process improvement. It’s important to make failures opportunities to learn. One of the core tenets of entrepreneurship is “fail early and fail often” because failure eliminates ineffective and faulty courses of action and helps focus efforts on the most promising initiatives.

Forecasting Fundamentals: 4 Keys to Forecasting and Production Scheduling

Forecasting Fundamentals: 4 Keys to Forecasting and Production Scheduling 150 150 David Sheriff

Forecasting Fundamentals: 4 Keys to Forecasting and Production Scheduling

By: Scott Jessup

Forecasting and production scheduling is part art and part science. What makes forecasting and scheduling so challenging is that needs vary widely from company to company, depending on the organization’s business model, what they’re making and how they make it. Even within a single company there can be different situations and processes that can affect forecasting and production scheduling.There are a number of criteria that can affect your company’s ability to forecast accurately and reliably including: 

  • Is demand consistent?
  • What factors affect the variables being forecast?
  • What’s your supply chain visibility?
  • How reliable is your transportation and do you have access to multiple modes?

To be able to reliably forecast production requirements and manufacture products based on forecasting information requires companies to answer those questions first.Once you have answers, there are essentially four steps or keys to effective forecast management that, properly implemented, can improve forecasting accuracy and reliability as well as simplify production scheduling:   

  • Forecast 

Some manufacturing forecasters joke about the ease of forecasting: “it’s easy – all you have to do is predict the future.” In a way, this is certainly true. After all, forecasting is the process of making predictions of the future based on past and present data and the analysis of trends. Most companies start forecasting but often stop just as they get started because, depending on the product being manufactured, forecasting can get quite complex and require a lot of data input. As a result, some companies are tempted to “wing it” without putting hard-and-fast policies and procedures into place. The result is that production planning personnel don’t know whether to execute against the forecast, negating any potential forecasting benefit right from the start.

  • Execute against the forecast 

As we just learned, a forecast is useless unless production scheduling is executed against it. By utilizing forecasts and executing production against them, companies begin generating critical data that can be used to analyze and improve future forecasting in a cyclical process of constant improvement.

  • Monitor accuracy against the forecast 

Forecast accuracy is crucial for streamlining production operations, minimizing costs, and increasing profits. Most manufacturing businesses find it valuable to monitor and evaluate the forecasting process using both individual and aggregated forecast-accuracy metrics. By tracking these metrics over time, you can improve forecasting capabilities as well as drive production process improvement (a principal factor in ERP). Forecast accuracy is so important to the manufacturing process it should be a key performance indicator.
 Monitoring forecast accuracy sounds like a great idea, right? It’s surprising how many companies don’t do it for a number of reasons, including data storage issues, inability to agree on metrics, and simple inertia.  

  • Adjust the forecast 

The need and desire to improve forecasting accuracy is fundamental to utilizing an ERP system. By constantly and consistently monitoring forecast accuracy, you are generating information that can help you accomplish three major objectives:·       Determine if you’re using the right forecast models·       Identify the adjustments needed to improve them·       Project any expected deviations from the planned forecast
 Put simply, monitoring and adjusting your forecasts enables you to improve material planning, reduce forecasting and production scheduling headaches, and better “predict the future.”