ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

What to Look for in Government Contract Management Software

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 @ 17:10 PM

 DoD supplier using industry leading government contract management software

Although steady contract work with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies can provide a reliable income stream, the challenges and complexities of working with the government can be overwhelming for many businesses.

We find that many suppliers end up spending a disproportionate amount of time managing contracts and compliance for DoD commerce – and exposing their companies to a disproportionate amount of risk – compared to time spent dealing with their “regular” customers.

Why You Need Government Contract Management Software

Why is it so important for DoD suppliers to be using a government contract management and fulfillment solution? Because of the risk and the lack of efficiency inherent in trying to manage DoD commerce without a streamlined approach.

The government’s highly specific and stringent requirements for vendors make it all too easy to inadvertently slip up if you’re not using DoD-approved software to manage the entire process. And the results of mistakes can be significant: rejected shipments, delayed transactions, cash flow issues, even penalties from the government.

However, getting compliance right can mean more on-time and early payments, and helps you build your reputation as a vendor. As a result, it can become easier to secure renewals or open up future contract opportunities.

In addition to compliance and cash flow benefits, there are also efficiency gains to consider. Instead of managing contracts through a variety of different, disconnected government systems and internal spreadsheets, DoD commerce software allows you to use one centralized system to simplify the end-to-end contract management and fulfillment process.

6 Key Elements to Look For

When searching for government contract management software, make sure it delivers these six key attributes:

1. Comprehensive. The solution you choose should help manage every step of the process, from finding and bidding on contracts, to fulfilling orders and getting paid – even the required scanners and equipment. This is a better approach than using point solutions for different parts of the process, since that can introduce unnecessary opportunities for human error as well as risk, and does not provide a meaningful efficiency benefit compared to using the government’s various websites and systems.

2. Easy to use. Your team should be able to complete the necessary processes with just a few keystrokes. The right solution can reduce the risk of human errors by requiring you to only enter data once, and ensure you’re using the same NSNs and other nomenclature approved by the government with simple dropdown lists.

3. DoD-approved. Not all government contract management software solutions are created equal. It’s important to work with a solution that has the necessary integrations into government systems to ensure data is transferred back and forth with speed and accuracy. Read more about the benefits of using government contract management software approved by the DoD.

4. Streamlines the process. There’s no point using a tool to unify your contract management and fulfillment processes unless it saves you time. Time savings free you up to focus on the core elements of your business, and enable you to fulfill even more DoD contracts in the future to grow your business.

5. Ensures 100% compliance. We’ve already mentioned the risks of non-compliance with all the standards and requirements that come along with government commerce. Look for solutions that offer strong compliance management capabilities to protect your business – and give you peace of mind.

6. Offers support and training. Beyond the software itself, the business partner you choose should provide training, ongoing support, process and compliance advice, and updates on the latest rule changes.

Finding the Right Solution for Your Business

As a leading provider of solutions for DoD commerce, Odyssey’s software and expertise are highly specialized in this field to deliver the best possible efficiency gains and compliance for your business.

See how government suppliers heart&core and Kessler Soils Engineering ensure compliant, efficient government contract management processes and drive increased cash flow using Odyssey’s DoD-approved software.

 

Topics: dod software, business technology

Smart Devices Shifting From Consumers to Businesses

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

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Consumers are adopting smart devices at a rapid rate, welcoming them into their homes, cars and everyday lives. These devices have changed the way we think, live and interact with one another, and there are no signs of it slowing down. However, while we often correlate smart devices and technology to products we use in our personal lives, they are more relevant than ever to businesses today, especially in manufacturing, logistics, industrial, shipping and tracking industries. Companies must notice these trends and recognize the advantages in investing in smart technology. 

What is smart technology?

Smart technology connects multiple devices or networks via wireless protocols, allowing objects to operate interactively and autonomously. Any type of equipment, instrument, or machine that has its own computing capability is considered a smart or intelligent device.

Harvard Business Review explains it well:

“All smart, connected products, from home appliances to industrial equipment, share three core elements:

  • Physical components (such as mechanical and electrical parts)
  • Smart components (sensors, microprocessors, data storage, controls, software, an embedded operating system, and a digital user interface)
  • Connectivity components (ports, antennae, protocols, and networks that enable communication between the product and the product cloud, which runs on remote servers and contains the product’s external operating system).”

You may be familiar with smart, connected products like smart refrigerators that can sense what kinds of products are being stored inside them and keep a track of the stock or FitBits and other wearable tech that offer personalized data, like heart rate, step count and calories burned. However, it’s no longer just about the “smart home”. It’s also about the “smart office” and “smart warehouse.” 

How are businesses using smart technology?

Data Collection

With more devices connected than ever before, companies have greater access to data regarding consumer behavior, patterns and interests. Companies are taking advantage of the increased amounts of data by making decisions, like product recommendations, effective advertising and sales decisions, based off their findings. Greater access to data is proving to be valuable as studies show that executives want their companies to focus more on data, and less on intuition.  We wrote about data and the Internet of Things in January.

Inventory Tracking and Management

The ability to view, track, and monitor inventory continues to improve through smart devices and technology. A smart supply chain is updated in real-time, so your company can track inventory, remain aware of shipping issues and keep track of what stock needs replenished. Additionally, RFID tags are able to hold and communicate even more information about an object, such as temperature, weather, traffic, damage to the object, etc. This will reduce the number of lost items, better identify inefficiencies and help companies make more informed decisions. Learn more about the benefits of RFID technology for businesses. 

Automating Manual Processes

One of the main complaints we hear from business owners who are considering switching to Odyssey is that they want to focus on the work that really matters. They are too distracted by the inconsistencies and headaches of multiple tools and manual processes. With smart devices, everything is connected, automated and streamlined, freeing up employees and business owners to focus on tasks that add value. This allows companies to produce more and larger projects in less time. Automatic processes also reduce the number of errors that are normally seen during manual processes. See how your company can squash errors. 

What are the benefits for companies?

Many businesses have found that smart technology improves their bottom lines through:

  • Informed decision making via data collection
  • Automating manual processes, freeing employees up to focus on value-adding tasks
  • Lower operating costs
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Reduced number of errors 

Because of the advances in smart devices and technology, everything is connected. Odyssey has adopted this growing technology to create integrated, cross-departmental work-flow processes that utilize an efficient and effective cloud-based platform. Today’s Department of Defense commerce requires an IT platform that can make sense of requirements and provide an automated environment to easily react and respond in real-time. Our DoD-approved software helps to make our partners’ work easier and more efficient by:

  • Improving resource utilization
  • Reducing errors
  • Enabling streamlined commerce and DoD compliant measures
  • Creating a more efficient process, saving companies time and money

We take pride in staying on top of the latest and most effective technology. Learn how your company can benefit here. 

Topics: DoD approved software, DoD, dod compliance, RFID, smart device, automation, business technology

The Evolution of Inventory Management

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 @ 13:04 PM

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Inventory management continues to evolve. Like many other processes, the evolution is driven by the need for greater efficiency and accuracy. Today, suppliers have the ability to use real-time, cloud-based software, like Odyssey, to track and manage inventory and shipments. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

Manual Counting

Inventory management was very primitive before the Industrial Revolution. Some of the first people to rely on inventory management were shopkeepers and merchants, who would count the number of units at the end of each day, determine how many were sold and do their best to forecast future needs. The process of manually counting the physical inventory would often take hours or even days, and as you can imagine, it wasn’t very accurate.

Punch Card System

The Industrial Revolution completely transformed the inventory management process as efficiency and mass production became the main goals of businesses. The punch card system was the “next big thing”, designed by a team at Harvard University in the early 1930’s. The tiny holes in sheets of paper allowed punch cards to correspond with catalog items that were readable by computers. The information would be passed to employees in the storeroom, who would then bring the item up front to the customer. Companies could keep track of which products were being ordered and record inventory and sales data based on the punch cards customers filled out. Unfortunately, this process was too expensive and too slow to remain widely used and to keep up with rising business challenges. 

The Modern Bar Code

The first version of the modern bar code was created in the 1940’s and 1950’s and was composed of ultraviolet light-sensitive ink and reader to track items for sale. As technology improved in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the bar code system became more efficient, affordable and widely adopted. The implantation of more advanced computers and software allowed the modern bar code to flourish for years. At this point, inventory tracking by hand was replaced by scanning products, but inputting information into computers was still done by hand.

Radio Frequency Identification

RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has become a staple in warehouses, factories, and retail stores during the 2000’s. RFID uses a microchip to transmit information about a product, such as type, manufacturer and serial number, to a data collection device. The introduction of RFID technology means that businesses no longer needed to input data by hand and barcode readers could instantly update their databases. The technology is also a game-changer for vendors because they can ensure their products are properly available, and they have constant access to real-time sales data.

The Odyssey team believes that today’s Department of Defense commerce requires an IT platform that can make sense of requirements and provide an automated environment to easily react and respond in real-time. Utilizing the most dynamic cloud- based software levels the playing field for all organizations and users. A five-person company can enjoy the same benefits as a 500-person company. We are always happy to talk to you about your business needs and help you create a more efficient and cost-saving process. You can also watch a demo here.

 

 

Topics: inventory management, RFID, Passive RFID, business technology, cloud computing

4 Benefits of RFID Technology For Business

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 13:02 PM

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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is commonly defined as the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. To put it more clearly, RFID technology serves the same purpose as the bar code on your groceries or the magnetic strip on the back of your credit card; it provides a unique identifier for an object.

While RFID is not completely new, it is being adopted by more companies each year as the technology continues to mature and evolve.  This is because the benefits of RFID technology can be seen throughout a wide variety of industries, all the way from retail to healthcare to transportation and logistics. Each industry has its own demands that RFID technology is helping to meet.  For example, retail companies often use RFID tags to track the quantity of apparel in stock at each store. Healthcare companies use RFID technology to manage medication distribution in hospitals. Logistics companies use RFID every day to create an up-to-date list of what has been put on and removed from its trucks. So, could RFID help your business?

We’ve put together a few reasons why we’re a big fan of the technology.

RFID makes your business efficient.

RFID technology requires a lot less monitoring than its predecessor- the bar code. One reason for this is that it doesn’t require line-of-sight scanning to read tags, meaning that multiple tags can be read at once. Less monitoring and a simpler process means that your employees are free to handle important tasks and focus on productive efforts. Overall, goods and information are handled much more efficiently.

RFID technology prevents errors.

Because of the automatic nature of the technology, no human intervention is necessary to read data. Not only is this more efficient, freeing up employees for other tasks, it also lessens the risk of human error that typically comes with data logging and product replenishment. By cutting out manual processes and replacing them with automated technology, companies often see more accurate results.

RFID provides real-time data.

RFID technology has the ability to track and provide real-time data about inventory and products. This capability is attractive to any industry, especially in today’s world of data-driven decision making. Whether you are tracking warehouse inventory or individual retail products, your company can benefit from the automatic, real-time data collection and analysis that RFID offers. 

RFID offers insights that lead to better decision making.

The access to real-time data and analytics that RFID technology provides allows companies to become better and more accurately informed at all times. Having hard data and insights leads to better decision making, which business owners and managers can turn into actions that improve the business. This is the power of RFID data.


Check out how our RFID technology is helping our clients here.

 

Topics: RFID, Passive RFID, business technology

5 Changes the Internet of Things Will Bring to Businesses in 2017

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 @ 10:01 AM

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is not a new term or subject matter.  In fact, according to Datafloq, the term was coined in 1999, but the prediction of a connected world through handheld devices has been around since 1926.  While IoT has been discussed for years now, the way it is used is constantly changing and evolving.

IoT is commonly defined as, “a proposed development of the Internet, in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.” In September, we wrote about how the Internet of Things is the key to DoD commerce success. Turns out, it is beginning to impact pretty much every business industry.   

In 2017, experts are predicting some big changes for businesses and the Internet of Things.

IoT’s not near, it’s here.

Gone are the days of discussing IoT as “the future”.  Many industries will be completely disrupted as companies around the world begin to use IoT technology in the every-day running of their business. 2016 was the year that a lot of groundwork was laid, but 2017 will be the year it all comes to fruition.  Read more here.

Smart business is the focus.

Over the last few years, IoT has been heavily focused on consumer products. From Amazon’s Alexa to self-driving cars, consumers are slowly but surely beginning to welcome the Internet of Things into their lives. But this year, there will be a large push for more businesses to use the technology. Sukamal Banerjee, executive vice president and global head, IoT Works and HCL Technologies says, “As per our 2016 global IoT survey, 38% of organizations have already started their IoT journey, and 57% are currently planning to, thus, making 2017 an inflection year for Industrial IoT adoption.” Read more here.

Business is getting personal.

With IoT devices, businesses will have greater access to data, ranging from consumer behavior to manufacturing inventory changes. Companies will take advantage of greater access to data by making decisions- such as product recommendations, effective advertising and sales decisions- based off their findings. This data will also prove to be convenient as studies show that executives want their companies to focus more on data, and less on intuition.  Read more here.

Inventory management continues to evolve.

The ability to view, track, and monitor inventory will continue to improve through integration with IoT.  RFID tags will be able to hold and communicate even more information about an object, such as temperature, weather, traffic, damage to the object, etc. This will reduce the number of lost items, better identify inefficiencies and help companies make more informed decisions.  Read more here.

Efficiency is King.

The Internet of Things will continue to allow employees to produce more and larger projects in less time.  They will be able to focus their efforts on the important aspects of the business, rather than inefficiencies and manual work. Not only will they complete projects faster, but they will be able to do so more accurately.  Read more here.

2017 will be a big year for the Internet of Things, and businesses in every industry will start to see changes.  We are excited to continue serving our clients with this growing technology.  

 

 

Topics: Internet of Things, IoT, business technology, DoD