Improving Business Performance with Technology

# Monday, January 16, 2012
BTA and DRI Join Forces

BTA with its client list that is a Who’s Who in Texas Manufacturing has merged with Decision Resources, Inc. (DRI) to create the single largest company worldwide dedicated to the Infor SyteLine ERP application.  BTA is headquartered in Austin, TX and has twice been on the Austin Business Journal’s fastest growing companies.  The merger creates a ten million dollar company with about 40 employees with plans to grow 25% this year.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to join the resources of the two best and most experienced SyteLine solution providers,” said Bill Titus, President of DRI.  Titus stresses that customers will continue to be served primarily through their local DRI or BTA office by the professionals that they already know. “It was important to us to be able to retain the existing BTA staff that has been providing world class service to their customers for decades.  By combining the skills and experience of both services groups, we are even better equipped to meet the increasingly specialized and complex needs of our global customer base.”

Sam DeBone, DRI’s V.P. of Sales and Marketing, said, “We are looking forward to building on the success that we have had as the leading provider of the SyteLine solution in North America for the past 27 years.  The combined DRI and BTA territory encompasses 18 states and we are excited to be working with the experienced BTA sales team to further grow our customer base.”

According to Steve Baker, President of BTA, “DRI is one of the most respected solution providers in the country.  Combining the BTA and DRI staff will allow us to offer a breadth and depth of SyteLine expertise and resources that is not available from any other Infor Partner in the world.”

Steve Baker

Monday, January 16, 2012 11:15:35 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine News

# Tuesday, November 01, 2011
BTA Awarded Infor Gold Partner Status

Infor has created a new program for certifying their Partners called the Infor Partner Network (IPN).  Infor decided to rank their certified Partners into three categories based on the partners dedication to the Infor products, technical capabilities of sales and support resources and customer service.  Each year the partners are reviewed for having completed their training, sales and customer service goals and are awarded Gold, Silver, or Associate status.  The higher your status the greater support and resources the partner receives from Infor.   For 2012, only a small percentage of Infor Partners were awarded Gold Status and BTA is very honored to be part of this elite group.


Steve Baker

BTA President

Tuesday, November 01, 2011 9:36:04 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine News

# Monday, January 31, 2011
SytePlan Selected for Infor Solution Partner Program

The Infor SyteLine Solution Partner Program was developed by Infor to certify the Infor preferred applications that integrate with SyteLine and expand SyteLine’s functionality. These applications are sometimes known as SyteLine Optional Applications or SyteLine Add-on Products, and are very different from “SyteLine Third Party Applications”.

When an application is selected by Infor it goes through a rigorous evaluation and approval process. Once approved, the distribution and support of the product is owned by Infor, meaning that the product must be purchased from Infor and Infor handles the billing of software maintenance and is the first line of support. Additionally, Infor consultants, channel partners, and salespeople are trained in the product and the product must meet certain technical, quality and compatibility requirements. Only then does the product go forward under the Infor brand. Solution Partner Products are the highest designation awarded by Infor (there are also Complimentary Partner Products and SyteLine integrated but non-certified products).

Many of you are familiar with SyteLine Forecasting, which was developed by BTA in 1998 and added to the Infor Solution Partner program ten years ago in 2001. Since then about 200 SyteLine customers around the world have added it to their SyteLine suite. In 2002 BTA developed SyteLEAN PullSystem. In 2010 BTA developed SytePlan Sales & Operations Planning, which was awarded Solution Partner Status in 2010.

We feel very honored that Infor has recognized the value and success of SyteLine Forecasting. Based on BTA’s twenty years of experience and technical expertise in SyteLine development Infor has now selected SytePlan to be Infor SyteLine ERP add-on products. If you are not familiar with BTA's main SyteLine products, here is a quick summary:

SyteLine Forecasting allows you to create a powerful workspace to manage and analyze your forecasts and inventory usage. Totally integrated to the SyteLine planning system, it automates the process of calculating and monitoring item Forecasts and “inventory drivers” like Safety Stock, and Order Size. Using historical data, bookings, and roll-up information from Customers and Sales, Forecasting allows you to statistically model your data and populate the SyteLine planning system with a single click.

SytePlan Sales & Operations Planning is a set of tools and a process that helps Sales, Production, Inventory, and Financial managers work together to maximize customer fill rates, optimize inventory, and maximize profits. SytePlan provides tools to develop an annual operating plan, balance demand and supply, manage customer and product line profitability and on-time performance.

SyteLEAN PullSystem is a simple and responsive inventory management system for items that are regularly purchased or manufactured. It is an electronic Kanban system that automatically “right sizes” the selected inventory items based on “average usage”, forecasted usage, and variability in usage. It is an automated demand-pull system that "pulls" replacement orders when inventory is consumed, rather than “pushing” orders the way MRP does.

SytePlan is the newest product in the BTA family and we are rapidly adding new functionality every month. We would really appreciate you taking a look at the product and letting us know what we can build into it that will help your company balance demand and supply and improve profitability. For more information on these products, visit

Steve Baker
President, BTA

Monday, January 31, 2011 2:33:38 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0]  Sales & Operations Planning | SyteLine | SyteLine News

# Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tips for Catching Blank Records

This is a question I get asked quite often.  When running any standard Syteline report, a range of “blank” returns the value for all records.  So how do you capture only those records that are truly blank? Thanks to the Syteline filtering capabilities on forms, you could filter in the field using the “null” command which works fabulously.  Unfortunately it doesn’t help much with Standard Syteline Output Reports.

In this case, the answer is very simple.  You only need to create a unit code record of 01 with a description of “Accounting Only Do not Use”.  And then of course, never use it.


So if for example, you want to see all of the ledger entries for a given period where the account number is equal to Office Supplies and there is no department associated with it, you would select a unit code 1 range of “blank” through “01” and it will give you that answer.  This is also handy in writing financial statements.  Some users have even created financial statements named “Reclass” to capture all of the missing values for easy reclass identification.


How many of you already use this trick?


Mary Farina
BTA Senior SyteLine Accounting Consultant

Thursday, September 30, 2010 5:20:23 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine | SyteLine Technical

# Monday, July 19, 2010
Infor Partner Summit 2010

I attended the SyteLine partner summit in Atlanta for 3 days last week.  This new annual event, hosted by Denis Michalis (Senior VP over worldwide partner relationships at Infor) is held by Infor for the companies that sell the Infor ERP applications, SyteLine, Visual, XA and SXE (distribution) in North America.   Infor executives updated us on Infor’s future technology plans, marketing plans, high level product plans/strategies, competitor information, etc. and also listened to what we need to be more successful.   The highest level executives in Infor Sales, Marketing, and product development were there.   This annual meeting is the result of the meeting I organized in Vail in March 2009 for the owners of the SyteLine partners to unify our thoughts on what we needed Infor to do with the marketing and development of SyteLine. That meeting resulted in two meetings with Infor management where they listened, understood, and have been taking action to help improve SyteLine and improve the success of our businesses.    My summary observations are:


The economy has made business more challenging for many of the SyteLine partners, but business is staying somewhat regular in their customer bases and they are winning very regularly against the competition for new customers.  BTA seems to be doing at least as well as the other partners in winning against the competition and growing our revenue.


BTA received the Infor All Star Award, which was only given to two other dedicated SyteLine partners in the world (Copley, Godlan).  This is given by Mike Gadow, SVP, to the partners with the best sales performance and customer service, and consensus of Infor Regional VP’s as to who they feel has been the best partner for the year.


Infor has formed a partnership with Microsoft and will be increasing their use of Microsoft technology in the future and SyteLine will be significantly benefiting from this.  The Infor SOA will be all Microsoft (called ION), SharePoint will be used as a portal connecting all Infor products (called Companyon), their SaaS offering will use Microsoft Azure cloud technology (called Infor24), and they will be selling Microsoft CRM and integrating it into their key ERP systems.   SyteLine is their flagship product for all these new Microsoft technologies and will be the first ERP system to use them.


Infor presented their new go to market strategy:

  • Business Solutions that are simple to buy, easy to deploy, and convenient to manage.
  • Industry Solutions with industry experience built in.
  • Infor Applications available in the Cloud, using Infor24.
  • User Experience where your applications work as one.
  • Mobility access to information.
  • Community connections to your customers, partners, vendors employees through your ERP system.
  • Advanced, yet simple  Integration with Infor ION.
  • Technology on a unified stack based on Microsoft technologies.

There was a special meeting one night for just the owners of the SyteLine companies and Infor’s senior VP’s  including Greg Corgan (sales), Robert Humphrey (mktg), Mike Gadow (channel), John Flavin (operations).   They told us of their planned increased focus and investments in marketing, partner employee training, and SyteLine enhancements based on what we partners needed.  They expressed what huge percent of the SyteLine product is sold and implemented by the partners and how important it is to them to help us be more successful.  They listened to what we needed to be more successful and were extremely receptive.   It was a very positive meeting.    


Last year at this time, SyteLine’s competition was closing the gap and was starting to win deals against us.   Infor responded by increasing the developers assigned to SyteLine by tenfold and they have again turned it into the most advanced ERP system on the planet… and now with Microsoft helping them take it even further… the future looks very bright for BTA and SyteLine.


Steve Baker



Monday, July 19, 2010 2:35:02 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine

# Monday, July 12, 2010
Customizing SyteLine

Should you customize or not?  Many of the barriers to customization have been broken by SyteLine’s technology… but that does not mean you should customize anymore than what makes good business sense.  Do not just do it because you don’t want to learn a new way or you have gotten used to doing it the old way, and compare the cost to the real improvement you gain in efficiency.


The SyteLine toolkit, WinStudio, is a very powerful and easy to use tool for customizing SyteLine and adding new forms, views and queries.  Additionally, most customizations can be rolled forward to new versions, unlike other systems where the customization has to be redone and you get locked into an old version.  However, even with this advanced technology, ask your SyteLine consultant to help you evaluate the benefits and costs.  Below is a quote that does a good job of explaining why many unecessary customizations are done, from an article by Kevin Cahill, Panorama Consulting Group.


When Customizing ERP Software, "Don't Pave the Cow Path"

When flying into Dallas-Fort Worth, the cities seem to shoot up out of nowhere from a giant prairie. Looking closely at the ground you will see many of the roads leading into the cities curve and bend, following no discernable logic at all. Why are they like this? Because back when Dallas was primarily a ranching town those were the paths the cattle would follow as they were driven into town. They would walk the long way around hills, cross rivers only at the low points, and follow a path of least resistance the whole way there. Over time people started following the same paths, and eventually they paved them and made them permanent. So now the town has a bunch of inefficient roads just because that was the way they had always been.

During my twelve years in the ERP software realm, eight of which have been spent customizing ERP software, I've heard many times that "All ERP installations require customization". While I believe this to be true, I also know that it is vitally important to know the difference between customizing ERP software to improve a vital business process and ERP customizations done which only entrench a poor process. So, to use an old adage, be careful with customizing and "don't pave the cow paths".


If you do decide to customize, be sure you have a clear idea of what the end solution should do and manage the project with an organized methodology that allows for many review steps along the way allowing the end users to evaluate what has been developed and make corrections and changes.   Visit our SyteLine Customization and Programming page for more info. 


Steve Baker

BTA President

Monday, July 12, 2010 10:00:11 AM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine | SyteLine Technical

# Tuesday, May 18, 2010
SyteLine Passwords

Keeping track of all the passwords you use on all the various websites you visit can be a real pain.  Especially with all the rules about how complex the password must be so someone can't guess it or a random generator can't figure it out very easily.    Some of our customers do regular audits of passwords used in SyteLine and try to make sure they are changed every 3-6 months and they are in line with company complexity rules.  SyteLine can help enforce these complexity rules, but not as complex as this situation.

During a recent password audit, a user was to found using the following password: 


Support:  Why do you have such a long password?
User:       I was told that it had to be at least 8 characters long and include at least one capital


Jeff Wall

BTA Senior Consultant

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:34:50 AM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine

# Friday, April 16, 2010
Sales and Operations Planning with SyteLine

“Hey Nancy,” Wes said, as he raised his head from the twin monitors that dominated his desk, “did you see this order for 135 XLMs that we just received from Victor?  I’m getting tired of all the chaos these guys cause when they don't pay any attention to the supply plan we gave them in December. Often I think it’s a waste of time to try to plan anything around here. Those freakin’ sales guys will sell anything – who cares if we can’t deliver?  Sometimes I think we oughta change our name from Ukon Enterprises to U Can’t.”   Wes seemed to growl a little as he looked back to his machine with a complete sense of frustration and ultimately defeat, as he knew he didn't have any choice but to start trying to work this latest fiasco into the production schedule.

Nancy had always hated the way Wes reacted when a major order disrupted the factory.  She knew, he knew, everyone knew that the orders were good and the company had always worked hard to deliver. But there was a cost to the overtime and expediting and reshuffling of priorities. There was also the underlying resentment that Sales and Operations did not really work together.  “Ah c’mon Wes, I know it’s going to be tough to fit it in the schedule, but you know that’s what we have to do.”

Carol had been listening to their conversation while she tried to stay focused on the news that a large batch of dipoles had been rejected during final inspection, but this looked like a pretty good time to jump in. “Nancy, Wes.  Do you guys have a minute?” she asked.  “I’ve been thinking about what I heard last week up in Phoenix, and I really want to talk to you about this pitch I heard from the BTA guys about their new S&OP package.”

 Wes’s tone of voice left nothing to the imagination when he said, “Look Carol, no offense or anything, but this isn’t a software problem, and the last thing I need right now is some consultant snooping around talking about how awesome we are gonna be if we just start paying him a ton of bucks to hold meetings and put us to sleep with a bunch of power point presentations.” 

“It’s not like that at all, Wes”, Carol said. “The BTA guys admit they didn't invent the S&OP process – they were just showing us some new ERP tools we could use to run our own S&OP sessions.”  “Like what kind of tools?” Nancy asked, trying to keep Wes engaged. 

“I’ll give you fifteen minutes, Carol”, Wes said.  I could use a break. Nancy, will you come with us, and grab Paul if you can get him too?  “OK,” Carol said.  “Steve...he’s the BTA guy that did most of the talking. Anyway, this guy Steve said that everybody was trying to answer the same five questions in their S&OP process.”  “Hold on Carol,” Paul said as he and Nancy walked in the conference room and sat down, “can you give us a short definition of what you mean by S&OP?”

 “Sure Paul.  Steve, the BTA guy, said that S&OP was ‘management’s handle on the business’.  He said it was the formal process where each of the company disciplines get together on a regular basis for the sole purpose of balancing the supply and demand with the obvious goal of increased throughput and optimized profit.  Steve rattled off a list of about 100 reasons why this would be a good thing, but I don't have to tell you how awesome this’d be. Right, Wes?” 

“I think the only problem with that is that there is no way I have time to prepare for another monthly meeting where we all sit around and talk about the same problems and nothing ever...,” Wes started to say.   “Come on Wes – lighten up,” Paul interrupted. “Let’s hear her out.  Go on, Carol.”

“Ok – so what everybody wants to know is:

·         What did we say we were going to do last month (last month’s S&OP output) and

·         How did we do?  (a quick analysis of the differences)

·         What are we going to do in the immediate and near term (Current Month Forecast) and

·         How is this different from what we said last month? (Manage the differences)

·         And finally, how are we doing relative to the annual operating plan (or Budget)?” 

“Exactly,” said Wes with a sigh of exasperation. “But the problem is that data takes days to pull out of the ERP and by then we are buried right in the middle of a brand new set of old problems.  Everybody knows we want this info, and we already tried it. The problem is getting all the spreadsheets together and getting everyone to agree on what the numbers mean, and Carol, you know all this, you’ve helped me present this kind of data to sales before.”

“Exactly, Wes,” Carol smiled.  But you should see the tools the BTA guys showed us.  No custom programming, no fancy report writers, just clear Syteline forms and reports that present this data in fit for use format. Wes, it’s our data, it’s our results, all we have to do is open the forms AND show up for the sessions.  By the way, that’s what Steve said would be the biggest hurdle. He kept saying we have to get involved.  We have to load the plan.  We have to get together to review last month. We have to ask the hard questions: What could we have done better? How can we avoid these problems in the future?” We need to get synchronized with sales and try to balance the supply and demand.”

Paul interrupted again to ask, “What kind of forms and tools was this BTA guy talking about?” Carol opened her folder. “This first one is called the AOP (Annual Operating Plan) – it looks like it’s a summary of the sales plan for the whole year. Yeah, and it looks like I can see it in unit detail or summarized by product code and maybe some other ways.”  Carol passed a few of the forms out, and Wes said, “this is pretty cool – this one is labeled Previous Month Analysis. I can see the forecast and actual sales for last month, the forecast and actual supply for last month, and these two columns look like they help me understand where I was over and under – this looks interesting.”

Paul jumped in, “this is clean. On one page I can see the difference between what Sales forecast for this month vs. what they forecast last month. Highlighting these differences will really help us figure out where we need to respond with the supply.” 

“Time’s about up Carol, this is good stuff but I want to get back on that new XLM order. But before I leave do you remember them talking about any kind of demand planning tools?  I am pretty sure you are going to need some forecasting tools if you want to integrate S&OP in your Syteline system.” 

“Absolutely” replied Carol.  “BTA offers a Forecasting system for Syteline that has been part of the family of products for more than a decade.  I remember Steve saying SyteLine forecasting had a huge client base and it is built right into SyteLine and it calculates the forecasts that feed the S&OP system.”  

“It sounds to me like we should take a deeper look then, Carol,” said Wes.  “I think we have to call these BTA guys, get them to demo some of this process, and see what we’re up against for a budget and a timeline.  Can you set this up?”  “Sure,” smiled Carol. Thanks for hearing me out. I think you are gonna be as excited as I am after we see what they have. We’re all looking for a way out of this mess, and this looks like a pretty promising next step…..”


Sound familiar?  What is preventing cooperation between supply and demand management? These two silos continue to grow. Huge pressures builds from both ends – the demands of shrinking customer loyalty, higher on-time delivery requirements, shorter overall lead times, and increased global competition force the demand planners to aggressively pursue the customer’s needs.  Pressures to lower costs, increase quality, reduce inventories, and provide a seemingly infinite product mix drive the supply chain manager to lust for a “real” schedule (Please, can I have just one week that is frozen?).

Sales and Operations Planning is one tool that can be used to bridge these silos of information and help companies succeed in an increasingly complex business environment.  So why hasn’t S&OP moved from an initiative to an institution at your company?  Perhaps the reason is the lack of an integrated tool set to quickly balance Supply and Demand and the lack of a formal, ongoing S&OP review.  Let’s pick up with our friends at Ukon Enterprises and see what is going on.

“Mike says we are having an S&OP meeting today,” said Nancy.  “He says we are going to start a formal process of balancing the demand and supply on a monthly basis.  We purchased a new Syteline module that will help facilitate the process and they brought a consultant in to help us get started.”

Nancy, Wes and Randy were surprised to see that each of the functional areas were represented in the meeting – finance, engineering, and Mike (their COO) were already at the conference room table with Victor the VP of sales.  The overweight, gray-haired guy was obviously the consultant, and as they were being seated he began the session with a few introductory comments.

“Hello everyone” said Fred, the BTA consultant. “Today is the first day of an intense, three day effort to jump start an S&OP process at your company. We are going to repeat this process on a monthly basis with the overall goal of increasing profitability, increasing on time delivery, increasing inventory and initial quality yields.  We will use four simple KPIs in this process:  a time series graph depicting profitability, OTD, Turns and Yield will be the eyes of our new process.  They will help us judge the effectiveness of our decisions and provide immediate feedback to this process. We will plot the first point on the charts today and each month hereafter.” 

Fred continued, “We did not invent the S&OP process, we are just providing the tools; we are just dictating the schedule.  You are going to have to do the work.  Sound familiar?”  Wes was furiously typing away on his smart phone, so Nancy gave him a whack. “Come on Wes,” she whispered. “You said we needed this just the other day. Put up the phone and pay attention.”

“So let’s agree to a definition of S&OP” Fred said as he drew the following chart.  “S&OP is the formal process of balancing supply and demand to optimize resources and maximize profits.  S&OP will be our handle on the business.  Here is an overview of the tools and the timing for our S&OP process.”

Day One – Better Demand Planning – Demand Planner



Previous Month Analysis

What happened last month from a supply and demand standpoint?

What did we say we were going to do, and what did we do?

Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Current Month Demand Forecast

Rolling 12 month forecast.  Sees last month as an actual and is focused on the end of the year and the monthly detail. Typically unconstrained – Simply the best judgment of Sales and Marketing.

Variance to Last Forecast and Plan

Where has the forecast changed and why?

How will this new forecast stack up against our Frozen Annual Plan?


Day Three – Better Supply Planning - Production Planning Manager



Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Current Month Supply Forecast

Three month back, three month ahead comparison of Demand, Supply and Plan illustrates projected supply constraints and excess finished goods production.  

Consensus Forecast (supply and demand)

3 month rolling – sales and operations agree to the demand forecast and the supply forecast. Any disagreement shows up as lost sales (no supply side) or excess finished goods (assumption: demand is too low)


Day Four – Better Balance - COO



Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Revenue Forecast

3 month rolling – shows the minimum of the supply or demand for the next three months - uses actuals in prior periods, assumes forecast in future periods and to let us see our Year End Position.

Action Plan

EOL and NPI issues

Customer Stocking Programs

Specific issues requiring ongoing maintenance


I would like some feedback from the SyteLine community...  Does your company have a S&OP process?  If so, is it similar to the approach I follow?   If not, why... is it a goal or have you decided it is not worth the effort, or you just dont know how to manage it?

JD Goodrich, CPIM
BTA Senior Operations Consultant


Friday, April 16, 2010 5:56:48 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  Sales & Operations Planning | SyteLine

# Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tips and Tricks – SyteLine Financial Statements

So, you created financial statements in Syteline and they have been working fine.  All of a sudden, the net income on the income statement is different than the net income on the balance sheet.  So here are some tips that may help you resolve the problem.

First of all, the net income on the income statement is the net effect of all of the expense type account numbers and the revenue type account numbers, where as the balance sheet is a single line calculation called net income which is a cumulative value since the last time you ran your Year End Close utility.  You can verify what Syteline sees as net income by running the standard report General Ledger by Account for only types Expense and Revenue for a date range.  This will help you understand where the balance sheet got its result. 

If the balance on the General Ledger by Account report is different than your balance sheet net income calculation, then you need to either run the Year End Close utility again or reverse whatever entries were made after you closed the year.

Look at the accounts listed on the report to make sure someone didn’t set up a new account with the wrong type selected.  Then run it individually for each account type or filter your chart form by type to verify all are correct.  If an account is setup incorrectly, you will need to create a new account number to fix it.  If there are no problems, then you forgot to add an account range in the financial statement line definitions or forgot to add a line to your subtotal. 

The income statement is created by adding a single range of accounts or multiple ranges (type A) that are calculated on a specific line total (type S).  One great thing about the report writer is you can close the gaps in the ranges so if you add a new account to your chart, it will automatically be included in the total.  For example, if your Cost of Goods sold accounts all start with a 4, then make sure the range is 40000 through 49999.  This will save you from having to modify the report every time you add a new account to your chart.  When you think you are finished designing your income statement, the quickest way to validate it is to copy the statement line definitions to Excel and sort by the starting account number.  You should be able to walk down the rows to see if the ending account on the first row is one number less than the starting account number on the next row.  If your lines are also department specific (unit code one) or product code specific (unit code two), then you will have to sort those as well.

This should put you on your way to stress free financial statement reporting.  Did I miss anything?  Your comments are much appreciated.

Mary Farina
BTA Senior SyteLine Accounting Consultant


Thursday, March 18, 2010 4:57:30 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0]  SyteLine | SyteLine Accounting

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