Day-to-day demands will often distract Distributors from realizing how inefficient their outdated ERP has become. Every time you are forced to create a process outside your ERP solution, you may be losing the battle to gain more customers and prospects.
The pain of operating on old technology and unconnected data systems may be hurting you more than you know. It is not only creating manual workarounds that are error-prone; it is also affecting how your customers perceive you, and getting in the way of acquiring new business.
I recently looked at a customer's ERP system that should have been retired a long time ago. The navigation was not intuitive, and multiple screens were confusing. There was no easy way to get orders into the back office accounting from the ecommerce site. If I wanted to look closer at a transaction, I had to jump to different modules instead of just clicking a button and seeing all the data behind the numbers.
Sometimes you are so used to doing things the hard way, that you don't even know there is an easier way. For example, when tracking down the shipping costs for an inventory item. With a modern system, you could just click on the total, and see all the landed costs that were incurred to get the item into your inventory. For a distributor with tight margins, knowing your true real-time costs is critical to offering a pricing strategy that makes a profit. In an older system without this capability, you lose sight of just how much your items cost - and don't even see it until after month-end, when it is too late.
A picture is worth a thousand words; we've all heard this adage. That's why graphical representations of your most important key performance indicators should alert you so you can take action. Exception-based data management in a modern ERP solutions means let's just look at what needs attention so you don't waste time on what's already working.
I toured a distributor's warehouse recently and noticed that there were big screen displays scattered throughout the building so everyone, from the warehouse pickers, to the receivers and purchasers knew what was happening in real-time. Their goals were clearly visible, and alerts were flashing if a sales order triggered an Out-of-Stock notification. Managers knew when to intervene to keep operations running smoothly.
As in any addiction, the first step to recovery from old technology is admitting you have a problem. The next step is to evaluate how you can add the technology elements that are most important and drive more business into your ecommerce carts and ultimately, your bottom line.
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Business Management International (BMI) is dedicated to bringing business technology to independent distributors to help them compete. We're not afraid to offer radically great customer service and proudly offer Microsoft Dynamics NAV to solve real-world business problems. www.bmiusa.com.