Monday, March 5, 2012

Integration Increases Accuracy and Efficiency

If your organization grows and adds more locations including a mobile work force, more parts (SKU’s), more personnel, the need for tighter integration increases.  Customer service should and is the major driving force for better integration and accuracy.  This results in greater efficiency which helps to offset the investment in technology and makes your organization more competitive and profitable.

We all want more profit, but raising prices will only force your customers to look to other sources.  You can lay off employees, but at some point customer service falls.  I am sure you remember the last time you talked with someone who was not happy working where they were.  How did you feel after that call or visit?  Are you going back there, probably not if you have an alternative?  If you do, are you going to purchase just the minimum or will you shop.  Well, surprise your customers are looking at you the same way.

What can you do?

Do you have separate systems?  If your counter sells a product, does the mobile Salesrep know that fact?  More importantly, when that mobile sales person tells the customer “no problem, you will have the parts by week end”, did he just tell a lie?  How happy will your customer be when the delivery is late? 

How well does your purchasing team function with separate systems.  Analysis with spread sheets is fine as long as the information ties back to a central repository.  Do you drop ship to your customer, store location or distribution center?  If your purchasing is not centralized, how will you take advantage of discounts?

How long do your customers like to wait when checking out, either in person or online?

Do you service what you sell?  How well can you track parts and labor?  What about warranty information?  Is Service and Repair part of your system?

How efficient is your warehouse?  Are you taking advantage of barcodes and Radio Frequency (RF) devices?  What about voice picking?  Business operations today need ways to increase accuracy without overwhelming workers with complex technology.  It should look and act simply.  It is the technology behind the scenes that is supposed to take care of the complexities.  A modern Warehouse Management System (WMS) provides the infrastructure to drive efficiency and accuracy when handling inventory. 

What would happen to your bottom line if you were able to increase customer fill rates and satisfaction at the same time you reduced your inventory level by just two or three percent?

What integrated modules in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system would help drive this efficiency? 

How about a Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system that was integrated and your employees did would not have to leave the application and could enter a prospect, quote them, convert the prospect to a customer and sell them products with a few simple steps? 

How about a fully integrated Ecommerce system providing real time inventory, pricing and credit checks?  A system where the customer and inside management can get an accurate picture of their account and orders.

How about a “system” that, since all the modules were part of one system, that employees had fast learning curves, because it was one system?  How about a system where management had dash boards with drill down capabilities to inquire on details when needed?  How about a system which reduces the amount of paperwork to process an order?   How about a system that had checks and balances?  How about a system that automatically alerted your personnel of important events or thresholds?

 So far we talked a lot about “what if” and “how about”.  Now it is time to “imagine what” and “imagine how”.  For many, they just do not know what they do not know, so anything that proposes a change is scary.  Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of cost overruns, fear of job loss.  You could just pretend your business does not have the problems everyone else has or that they are not so bad.  After all you are still making money.  You have survived this recession (is it over yet?). 

You might be saying now is not the right time.  We made it this far.  Now is not the time to take any risks.  I am not suggesting you do that.  Now is the time to take a good look at what you are doing and how you are doing what you do.  Start with Dolvin Consulting as an advisor.  Define metrics and collect data so you have a baseline for a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation.  Invest time now to determine the true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) associated with a newer system.  Build you relationship with your advisor now.  Start slow and use industry expertise to learn about your operations. 

When the time is right you will be in a better position to judge the potential benefits of change.  It will be a lot less scary then.  You will have the information to make an intelligent decision.  Contact us today.  We will not sell you anything.  We provide service and advice to the faithful.  We believe we make a difference by listening to your needs and matching them with powerfulsolutions.  Solutions that drive accuracy and efficiency in your operations that make you more profitable at the same time you increase your customer’s satisfaction.


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