Formula and recipe based manufacturers have always required tight security to protect their hard work and laboratory secrets from getting into the competition's hands. As a value added reseller of Dynamics GP and Vicinity Manufacturing software, CIS has encountered many companies that fit this profile. Formula manufacturers have chemists and often the owners that develop on extremely proprietary formulas. Chemists are not cheap to hire either so the cost of development of formulas or recipes can be expensive.
Is Your Network and Software Secured for Formulas?
Most companies use a database to keep up with their formulas. If your business uses an ERP database then you have the inherent software security and network security from external hackers to keep prying eyes out of your formulas. If you are using a spreadsheet then security on your data is poor. Yes, you can set up a password on the spreadsheet and yes, you have network security from hackers; but spreadsheet security is easy to break. ERP software security is not easy to break. How many employees use the same user name and password repeatedly? You may think your formulas are secure, but you need to do a self-audit and check! If you have your formulas in an ERP package like Dynamics GP then you can set the passwords to expire every 30 days or so which will force your formulator, etc to reset their password whether they want to or not. To even access Dynamics GP the end user has to login to the SQL database then login to Dynamics GP which is also encrypted and can only be opened within the GP application.
Network Best Practices to Keep Formulas Secure
Use a line of business software designed for formulas and security
Ensure that password policies are in place and are enforced
Make sure your application software security is in place for your formulas module - restricted to only certain users
Set up two-deep approval process for changes made to Formulas and BOM and/or moving test formulas to production
Make sure your firewall and antivirus definitions are kept up-to-date
Have daily if not hourly backup of this data
Use a back up service that encrypts the data and send automatically off to an offsite facility recommended by your IT service provider (If you lose your database what happens to your business)
Even if you have NO Internet to your formulas then you are still at risk. If your business has a fire, flood, or other destructive event where is your data? It is in the disaster zone because your staff left the workstation and the thumb drive or backup hard drive in the office when they left.
Is the Cloud Secured for Formulas?
I often think that some formula manufacturers would be better off in the cloud to ensure quality in their security. My reasoning on this is due to years of working with prospective manufacturing clients that have terrible network equipment and no IT help. Of course CIS fixes all that when we win the client's business. If your business has poor Internet service or your company will not spring for a good connection, then there is no point in moving to the cloud. It will not work without good Internet.
When looking for a cloud or hosting partner it is important to make sure they host your software in a data facility that follows strict standards of security. Here is an example of one of our Cloud Partners' security model:
Point in time data restore, backups, and disaster recovery services
Application availability with 99.5% SLA uptime guarantee
Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliant internal processes
128 bit encryption, data that’s logically or physically separated from other companies
Intrusion-free ports on boxes
90-day password resets
To decide what software and deployment is best for your business, I would reach out to your local Dynamics GP Partner and Network Services Trusted Advisor. It is not a one size fits all solution. As a business owner you are responsible for security and disaster recovery. You must know how databases and networks are secured regardless of where they are located, on-site or in the cloud.
For more information please review the following resources:
Nancy Phillippi is the Manufacturing Software Sales Manager at Custom Information Services (CIS). CIS is a Microsoft Partner and offers Dynamics GP solutions as well as Manged IT Services. CIS is located in North Texas. Contact Nancy at 817-640-0016 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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