Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Went Wrong and What Happens Next?

I usually write an article about an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution or challenge.  I often repeat the notion that there is far too much information available today and organizations need to start at the point of “we do not know what we do not know” and look for a trusted advisor first.  After I write the article I look for an image that captures my current mindset.  Sometimes I get lucky and find the perfect one.

This time I am starting with the picture.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and with the schedule we have in today’s world, I will take any time savings I can.  What is nice about this picture is that it is captivating and tells a story and not just saves us the trouble of reading too many words.

I keep going back and looking at the picture.

How many times in life, let alone when we are trying to find a new solution for our company’s problems do we find ourselves repeating the caption at the bottom of the picture?  Do we imagine the bear is our boss and we the wolf?  If you are the owner, do you imagine yourself as the boss and the wolf your ERP vendor? Is it how you feel commuting to work knowing what is ahead of you today?  Is it just wishful thinking?

How would you even know the best question to ask a solution provider?  They probably just want to sell you something so you already know what they will say.  Perhaps that is your gauge for a future relationship.  Sounds like it will waste a lot of time that we saved by looking at the picture. 

A trusted advisor will help you look at your own operations first.  Ask you questions so that you both will better understand what is going on in your organization.  What impact a broken piece of equipment has on your workflow.  How impactful is a customer return, because your floor people picked the wrong item or customer service keyed the wrong item or your operations manager had a bad day and mixed up the paperwork?

When your customer receives the wrong shipment or the shipment is late and you had control of it, are they the bear?  How open are your communication lines?  Do you have understanding customers? 

Any solution and I mean any, must address your customer’s satisfaction first and foremost.  It is alright to improve your profitability, but that will do little for you in the long run, if you do not have any customers.  Customers like being happy and referring others to you.  They want to share a good thing with the only possible exception being their competition. 

Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculations typically look at hard costs.  I reduce inventory by two percent, I save $50,000.00 per month in handling and overhead costs.   I ship more orders, more accurately and I save on labor costs.  I replace old servers with new and save on maintenance and energy costs. 

What about HCB or Happy Customer Benefits?  What value to your organization would more happy customers have? 

What makes customers happy?  The right product, shipped on time at the right price and, most importantly, dealing with happy people.  How does your current solution enable your people to be of benefit to your customers?  Are your employees as frustrated as you and they take it out on the customers?  Believe me, they do.  How do you empower your employees to make a difference? 

This might sound like motivational training and not ERP solutions, but the two are related.  Ever do work around the home with the wrong tool.  You end up taking too much time and end up with results that just are not right.  Your ERP solution is the tool your employees use to interact with your customers and suppliers.

What about giving away versus paying for information? 

It is not the information that is as important as the knowledge a Trusted Advisor brings to your team.  For example, say you have engine trouble in your car (your business).  I have a repair manual for the auto (ERP solution) that details every single step of the repair process.  I give you the manual (blind Internet search).  You then look at me with wide eyes open (I paid you, you fix it).  You say thank you, but you do not have the tools, you do not have time, and you do not have experience and perhaps the skills to perform the repairs yourself (I need help).  Maybe, just maybe, that is where your mechanic (Trusted advisor) has value.  

Perhaps this is where your trusted advisor adds value.  Perhaps the savings in aggravation is worth the investment.  Just maybe you are tired of being the wolf in the picture.

Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors, Specialty Retailers, and other organizations that handle inventory to streamline their operations, reduce costs and increase profitability.  No wild promises, just true effort.  We can help.  Contact us today to learn more.

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