Monday, April 30, 2012

ERP Solution Provider Relationship Key to Long Term Success

Like many companies that have been around a long time and have systems that they built for themselves, technological milestones often create obstacles and dead ends. 

For example, “Y2K”. 

You know the year 2000 when the lights will no longer work, people will be starving, apocalypse and the launch of nuclear missiles, all because of some obscure line of code missed in the billions written.  This was a milestone event most of us remember.  We knew it was coming and it was not until we starting getting closer did the impact of what we had to just “look” at hit home and reality check us.  It was not the code so much as the verification. 

How often do we head down the technology road developing solutions that create silos of information or dependence on resources that continually grow and strain our budgets and growth?

Norscot faced this situation and after evaluating new solutions and solution providers, they decided they needed an organization that would work side-by-side with its staff and understand the company’s unique operating environment.


The growth technology and constant change demand technology departments to continually evolve to meet customer demands.  This requires ever increasing resources which are hard to manage internally without an equally large staff.

Do you hire the staff or do you partner with an organization that has the staff?

In Norscot’s case the partnership that developed between them and VAI, their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider, is testimony to solid research and good-fit.  There are a great number of equally great companies providing ERP solutions.  The key to success is finding the right partner for your industry and your challenges. 

It is not hard and also not easy to find a solution provider. 

The process for finding a solution provider and a solution is the same and should come first.  For long term successful growth you will be partnering with that organization.  In the future will they be implementing new technologies that you will need for your growth?  A trusted advisor can help here too.  Invest your time in the solution provider and the solution comes along for the ride and will certainly be a good fit.

The support needs to not only be before the sale, but during the conversion and implementation, as well as afterwards.  That is why you choose a company.  Choose your company partner as opposed to doing the changes in-house.  This is not a onetime purchase.  Like raising a child, it is a maturing process that evolves over time. 

You are really buying the solution provider, not the solution.

According to Dan Hanke, IT Manager at Norscot, “We felt VAI’s S2K was by far the best package we had looked at, and would easily catapult Norscot’s technology capabilities about 25 years forward.”

This company was able to grow its business without having to build staff overload to meet the new challenges.

According to Norscot’s Dan Hanke, “I have never promoted a product before, but being in the IT profession for 25 years I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of people, and the people at VAI are top-notch and highly knowledgeable. With the two packages Norscot purchased from VAI, I believe that this was money well spent, and we certainly got everything we paid for and are happy with the results.”

This is an example of a good fit. 

There were many challenges along the way, however, since there was a true partnership, those challenges were met and a foundation for future growth created.  This is an example of the classic win-win situation.  Both organizations fulfill their roles and mutual success resulting.

Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors and Specialty Retailers to help them find the right solution to today’s challenges that also lay the foundation for the future.  Contact us today to see how we can help your business grow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I am not here to sell you anything

In a recent debrief from a sales appointment I discussed the sales call with two of my people.  As it turns out the prospect is not qualified and we might have been able to determine that beforehand.  However, the long drive and meeting was worth the time. 

For several reasons.

One, in person is always better.  Body language, voice tonality, and message are more easily communicated.  You know if you have their interest and when these three clues are in synch, you know you are communicating.

Two, the result is not as important as is the process.  Control what you can.  Which is yourself.  You do your part and the rest is a learning experience.  Next time will be better as will the time after that.  Doing is learning.  You can read all the books you want about anything, say hitting a baseball, but until you are holding the bat and swinging, it is just a theory.

Three, and this is really the point of this writing.  My meeting started with a short discussion of why I was there, the expectation that we would both have questions, an estimate of time allotted along with an agreement that at the end of the meeting we would agree to another meeting or agree that we did not have a good fit at this time.

This opening really relaxes everyone.  Takes the pressure off and allows for a better dialog. 

I traditionally do not show up with anything except a blank piece of paper, directions to the location and some quick notes and list of questions.  I do not always need the question list and sometimes the person asks what I am looking at and I give them the list.  It shows that I, like a news reporter, am only interested in learning the facts.  I do not have a hidden agenda, like selling them something they do not need.  No organization is going to invest in and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, because of one meeting.  If a sales opportunity eventually arises great, if not that is okay too.  I am going to know that a lot sooner using this method.

We discussed their challenges and why I was there. 

Great question to open with.  “Why am I here?”  What was important enough for you to allocate this time?  Your challenges.  What business requirements do you have?  What is working now?  What is not working?  If you could change one thing, what would that be?  I also like to end the question part of the meeting by asking “What have I not asked you that you wish I had?”

Question theme:  Have you told me what is wrong?

At the end of our meeting, the person I met with expressed some gratitude.  He said that he had been in a number of meetings previously where the “sales” people came in showed a canned presentation full of features and benefits and told him what was wrong and what he had to fix. 


This company has been in business for 75 years.  They know what works and what does not.  The goal is to find solution to areas they are struggling in, whether they know those areas or not, where efficiencies can be improved to increase their profitability.

He was happy that I took the time to listen.

As it turns out they are already implementing a new system to replace two separate systems that existed from a merger and acquisition.  Neither previous system fully addressed their needs.  This was not a waste of time.  It says volumes that a company that has invested two years researching a new solution would take the time to still learn more.  To engage with someone else.  Someone who cared enough to ask some questions and focused on them. 

What I am sure of is that in the future, if challenges come up they will not hesitate to contact me to see if there is any way we can help.  In the mean time we will keep in contact with newsletters and periodic correspondence.

Perhaps your systems seem to be running well.  Perhaps not.  Maybe you would like a fresh outside opinion.  Maybe you do not know what you do not know.  We do not know who you are.  Contact us today to see how we can help.  Dolvin Consulting is here for you.  I am sure we can help.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Determining the Need for a Trusted Advisor

Budgets are tight and the challenges continue.  You cannot avoid being involved in a technology project, particularly one the will involve reviewing, testing, and evaluating an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.  It just cannot not be done without your participation. 

Really, would you really want to rip out your existing system over a weekend and come in the next week with an entirely new system?

However, do you have the time or would you really want to attempt an organizational change that an ERP solution promises without any help?

Start with a relationship with a Trusted Advisor. 

First challenge, find the advisor.  Perhaps you already have one.  Perhaps you have one in another area of your business.  If you have an existing relationship, start the conversation with that person to see if they have the time, resources, and capability to help you with your search.  If not they may be able to refer you to someone else or at least help you to find someone else.  If they cannot do this, then what type of advisor are they?  Maybe that is why you are reading this article now.

People do business with people they like and are like themselves.

So what should a trusted advisor do? 

Start with questions to find out the exact business requirements of a new system.  What is working now?  What is not working?  Why are you looking?  Perhaps you just need to be able to utilize your existing system more effectively.  Would a new training program fill the gaps?  What is your competition doing?  Where do you foresee challenges in the next five years?  Will these be growth years?

In any case the initial facts gathered should be from the source.  Too much can be lost in translation.  Most of us remember the exercise in grade school where the teacher starts with a simple sentence on one side of the classroom and each student must relay the message to the next.  By the time you get to the other end of the class, you have a whole different story.

An advisor should qualify your budget. 

Do you have monies allocated in your current budget for a project like this?  What about money for the advisor?  A ballpark figure should be calculated so that you can determine if it is even going to be possible to address your challenges this year.  You at least want to get a number range to your Finance Department for next year’s budget review.  You may be able to break down the project into smaller pieces.  For example, advisor analysis, needs assessment, project implementation.  Will you need monies for a new purchase or lease agreement.  What are some industry averages for your type of project? 

Will the solution be hosted in the Cloud or on-premise?  This changes the amount of initial outlay and ongoing expenditures.  Capital expense or Operational expense?  Regardless, which solution addresses your operational and disaster recovery needs best?

Most ERP solutions can be broken down into pieces.  Software, Hardware, and Implementation (conversion and training).  There are typically initial license fees and purchases/leases, then annual maintenance.  Licenses can be flat fees, user based (concurrent or named users), or processor based to name a few common methods.  The annual maintenance may or may not be required, but should not be avoided.  You will need support, especially in the first year as you implement the system.

Who is the single person that can say no to this project even after everyone else has said yes?

Once you have a good idea of what you are trying to fix and have an idea of budget range, you need to indentify the key decision makers and secondary influencers.    What departments are affected?  What supplier relationships are affected?  How will your customers and their needs be addressed?  You remember your customers?  They are the ultimate source you should be concerned with.  No customer service improvement, then there might not be a reason to continue.

As your advisor progresses with the requirements you and he/she can start the selection process. 

There are too many choices today, they have to be narrowed down to at most five.  These five may not even end up being the finalists.  Sometimes you may need to start again, however a good advisor should be able to minimize this from happening.  Often you do not know what you do not know until you get knee deep in the selection process and realize there are other challenges.  This is where the advisor saves you time and money by finding out the real needs up front.  This is why this process is worth the investment and is budget wise.                           

Remember there are tiered solutions.  Tier-1 solutions are for “big” businesses, Tier-2 solutions are for the mid market.  Some extend to the small-mid size market (SMB).  Smaller businesses have similar challenges, but often lack the financial and manpower resources to find effective ERP solutions, but there are still a great number of comprehensive small business applications available.  The point is that the solution no matter how nice has to match your organization.  You do not want  to end up hiring a large staff just to support the system and its processes. 

You can tell a lot about a company by the type of presentation they give initially.

Too many companies come to the front door ready to give you a feature rich demo with all the bells and whistles.  You might waste a lot of time here if you get caught up in the process.  It is an early warning system that they have not done their own investigative research or invested the time with your advisor to determine your needs and if there is a good match between your challenges and their solution. 

Besides communication or equipment issues, why would you ever see a bad demo?  They already know what their system can and cannot do.

A slide show is pretty with the nice transitions and well rehearsed dissertation.  A workshop demonstration is a better way to start.  Have an initial meet and greet.  Get to know one another and the companies represented.  Gather the requirements and budget and then come back to have a functional demonstration that addresses your challenges. 

Do not get me wrong here.  A high level overview that precedes the detail look may help you get a sense of application navigation and the Look & Feel of the solution is a good idea.  It is a benchmark you can use to see if the software matches your organizations culture.  In the end though, you need to see, feel and hear how this solution addresses your challenges.  There will be time later to have additional detailed departmental reviews.  The detail review is where potential modifications are indentified.

Does your prospective solution provider have a case study or success client that you can meet with to get an objective appraisal of the solution, the challenges they faced and their general happiness.  If you are the first of you industry type to be serviced by this solution provider, then you need to make sure they have the resources to address your needs.  Who will be responsible for the customization of their system they hope to tailor for your unique needs?  Is there any other company out there that does what you are doing?  How are they addressing the same challenges you have?

Realize that you have a responsibility too.  In selecting an advisor you should not be trying to get free consulting.  Their time is as valuable as yours.  Most people with give you an initial meeting to see if there are synergies.  You just do not want to abuse that relationship.   You want and need them as an advocate, not someone resenting the relationship looking for the quickest way out.

There needs to be give and take.  Define the parameters, but be flexible.

Remember a trusted advisor is your advocate.  Dolvin Consulting is an advocate for Manufacturers, Distributors and Specialty Retailers.  We help you navigate the constant flux in technology with our industry knowledge and partnerships. 

We do not know who you are, so contact us today to see if we can help you.  There is no obligation.  It is just one phone call.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ERP Software Selection

It may sound a little off, but when selecting an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system it is important to consider solutions that actually target your company’s challenges. 

Many organizations start out looking for ways to drive efficiency in their operations.  Perhaps by reducing paperwork, minimizing shipment errors, increasing accuracy of their inventory, or tracking inventory movement.  All this in order to increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and stabilize and increase profits.  

Makes sense.  

Then how do companies get off track?  There is no shortage of buzz words in the technology field.  Cloud, SaaS, ERP, CRM, EDI, etc.  Every industry and group develops their own language so they can communicate more efficiently within the group.  This is the same goal most organizations have with an ERP solution itself. 

The more complete and efficient the communications, the better for business.  Problem is that when these groups try to connect with outsiders (i.e. prospects or customers) they forget that no one else understands what they are saying.  This leads to people nodding their heads afraid to ask what was meant, because they do not want to look stupid.  Sometimes others will forge ahead and not take the time to find out if they even need any of the talked about features and benefits.  Order too much, or not the right solution. A real disconnect happens.  A real potential for disaster.  An over budget, failed installation.

Who wants to put up their hand in a board, planning or committee meeting and say “I do not understand?”  What does that mean?  How does that solve our challenges?

Any organization needs goals.  They first need to learn what they do not know.  Figure out that the operations they thought were so wonderful and the inefficiencies they thought were just the cost of doing business could be reduced.  You need to know where you are and where you are headed.  How else will you know if you are off course?   How else would you be able to determine if that module in the ERP system will really make sense now, tomorrow or never?

Use the communication and rapport with the solution provider as an indication and starting point of their general strengths and weaknesses.  Every company does some things better or worse than the others in their industry.   That is why there are so many solutions today.  You have to find the supplier that is of like mind.  The one that is responsive to your needs and the culture of the people who work for you as well as your customers. 

Remember happy customers?  That is what you want.  That is what we all want.

Here is a test.  Wait until you get down to two or three candidates, and make a hotline call to each of them.  First one that responds in a way you like and is similar to the way you respond to your customers should get high marks.

Plan for the future.  Buy what you need today and develop a roadmap for the future.  As you hit your benchmarks you can add new modules.  ERP software is modular and typically based on departmental or functional roles.  Get the basics today, learn and implement them, then add more.  The only times it makes sense to do otherwise is if you need to define a competitive edge over your competition or you are in need to catch up to the competition.  In either case you need to be able to allocate the resources needed for training and implementing the new modules.  I have seen plenty of failures, because there simply were insufficient resources to implement the “new stuff” (training being a big part). 

Avoid the finger pointing when that happens.  It just does not help. 

By the way, determine your budget now and allowances.  Nothing is perfect, comes in on time or on budget.  There is always a fudge factor.  Now a good supplier lets you know this up front and its magnitude is often small unless there is a dramatic change in the organization, like new leadership or a merger and acquisition.  Things happen.  Life happens.  Like investing in the markets or heading to a casino for fun.  You have to know when enough is enough. 

At what percentage over budget do you pull the plug and start over?

Few suppliers have an in-house solution for every business challenge.  This might seem to be a contradiction to the all-inclusive ERP integration.  In some respects it is, but then consider that services like Payroll and Human Resources are usually better done by a dedicated organization.  The same is true with other modules or applications.  You just need to find out how well is the integration done.  Who supports the integration?  Does the ERP provider have a solid relationship with the other provider and who do you call for support if there is a problem.  Are the interfaces well defined?

Do not get swayed by the upfront costs and annual license maintenance fees. 

We all know when something sounds too good to be true.  Some companies will come in with a low-ball price upfront, but then overcharge and nickel and dime you for everything else.  Take the time to do the best you can in determining the true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  This will help when you calculate the Return on Investment (ROI).  How much time is reasonable for a total return on investment?  Some say one year, others two.  Regardless, it is better to figure that out now and budget accordingly.

At this point you should have lots of questions.  Now is the time to get answers.  A consultant or trusted advisor can help in this area.  Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors and Specialty Retailers to help them make better decisions. 

Not sure of what you know or do not know?  Afraid to look ignorant?  No need that is why we are here.  Contact us today.  In the worse case we make new friendships.  In the best, you find the best fit solution for your challenges and budget and make a new friendship.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is Increased Customer Satisfaction Worthwhile?

“VAI’s Sales Force was the perfect choice for Refrigiwear to integrate into our existing VAI S2K system.  We needed the software to be fully functional very quickly, and VAI delivered,” said Robert Scarboro, IT Director, RefrigiWear, Inc.  “Our sales force was immediately impressed with the product’s ease-of-use and mobile capabilities – our team is always on the move and it’s crucial to be able to use a web-based CRM. Our sales force is creating better follow-up with our customers, which increases our customer satisfaction.”


Is it really a surprise that this company chose to implement the companion Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution provided by their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider?  What was Refrigiwear’s goal?  Improve their bottom line by strengthening customer relationships and loyalty.  Is it possible that VAI had the same goal?  We should all have that goal. 

Make our customers as happy as we can and they will do more business with us.

Start by listening to our customer’s needs.  Refrigiwear needed a solution that would be easy to implement.  They did not want to invest large amounts of time to transfer the requisite information.  They needed a fully integrated system.  The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing.  Management needs information to gage the responsiveness of their team.  The customers need to know they are important to you.

The solution needed to be flexible, easy to use, web based, integrated seamlessly and implemented quickly.  Who wants to take months or years implementing a system?  Time to value is important.  Invest your time using the product, not installing and implementing it.

Not all ERP solutions have a fully integrated, fully functional CRM solution.  That might be criteria for a future system.  It is hard to imagine, but not every company may need CRM, but that may change in the future and it may give peace of mind to know it exists.

It is no doubt this company could have made another solution work.  What was working first?  The relationship that VAI had with Refrigiwear.  People do business with people then know, like and have a relationship with.  A relationship where the needs of the other comes first.

This is a major point.  We all have choices. 

Refrigiwear’s customers have choices too and they are much more likely to do business with them versus their competitors, because they invested in a solution that enables their sales force to be more responsive.  Who would not like to have the organizations we do business with to know who we are by name and understand how important the product and services we purchase are to our operations? 

The investment in an ERP, CRM or Ecommerce or Analytic solution should be considered an “Investment”, not expense.  Treat your customers like you would want to be treated.  “Do unto others” theme. 

All the facts are nice.  Easy to install.  Easily integrated.  Easy to implement.  Easy to train.  Easy to use.  What is most impressive about this story is the relationship between Refrigiwear and VAI.  That is a success story.

At Dolvin Consulting, we build long term relationships with those we work with.  Why, because that is where the value comes from.  Knowing that we have your best interest at heart, even if it means not doing business with you today and instead giving you a referral.  Contact us today to learn how we are different and can help you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Would Like to Understand How You Track Inventory

I really am beginning to really like LinkedIn.  I am finding new uses for it almost every day.  Today’s forum discussion is from Mr. A and he wants to understand how we track inventory and to know if there is a way to visually manage and monitor inventory.

This is a really good point, although I am not sure Mr. A is asking for the same reason I am answering.  That is another story, but one of the fundamental differences between a forum or written communication and verbal, in-person contact. 

So what are the contributors suggesting?

·         People are so helpful.   The first person is really proud that he “invented” graphic techniques “years-ago”.  Wow, imagine that we are getting to know someone who invented graphic techniques.  Hey we can even visit his web site.

·         The next person informs us that he has done stock analysis in different stores and recalculated reorder points based on consumption and Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) methods.  Well, there are many types of calculations based on any number of formulas.  Different locations in an operation may need different calculation methods and certainly no one way is perfect.  He is available if you want to contact him for the details.  Might be a good idea, but.

·         Next is the suggestion of a Kanban system.  Old, but reliable.  My guess is if Mr. A is asking the question the way he is, then Kanban is too much to consider implementing at this point in time.

·         Next we are told that there are a lot of software applications and different methodologies, but of course you have to be able to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI).  There are also cycle counting solutions and, on and on and on and on.  He sure seems smart.

·         Next we find out that (insert big company name (BCN)) has a great inventory management system.  Okay, I believe that, but Mr. A did not mention he had BCN and if he does not, it is not going to help him today or possibly in the future.  Oh, and a Kaizen approach is efficient.  BCN has great solutions for some organizations, but making that decision is more involved than a LinkedIn discussion will address.

·         Our next respondent notes that it is what you do with the information that is equally important.  True, why else would you bother?  He even shows how smart he is by explaining that you can identify fast moving stock and you may even need to rearrange your warehouse to optimally place those fast moving items.  Rearrange my warehouse?  Did Mr. A say anything about this?  Poor guy just wants to get a handle on his inventory.  If he is asking, then he is not the person that should be making those decisions.

·         The next guy indicates there are several ways to track inventory.  Sure, there are.

·         Finally, we here from someone who indicates these are all good points and he agrees with all of them.  He notes that the product type may influence the process to use and of course there is money tied up in inventory.   Personally, I think there is little he does not agree with.

I feel so much better now and I am sure Mr A. does too.

Do we know why Mr. A is asking about tracking inventory?  Every company that handles inventory needs to find efficient ways to count and manage it. 

What benefit would visually managing and monitoring inventory have?  Visually presenting the information has value.  Look at the popularity of YouTube and Facebook.  Pictures tell a story.

An important component in any inventory system is accuracy and tracking, both being interrelated.  From an accurate inventory comes forecasting and effective management.

Here is a point nearly every on-line forum does not deal with.  It is my point.  Did anyone of the respondents directly ask why?  Did anyone ask Mr. A what he was hoping to achieve?  What system he was using now, if any?  Was this for his benefit or senior management?

There a whole host of questions that should be addressed first.  Perhaps this is a disadvantage of on-line forums.  Everyone wants to be helpful, get heard first, have the best answer (to an unasked question), and be looked upon as intelligent.  We are all stroke deprived and need someone else to think we are smarter than we actually are.  We get beat up every day.

Dolvin Consulting works directly with your team and starts with questions, not benefits and solutions.  We first start with a phone conversation to determine if we are capable of addressing your challenges.  If we both feel that it is worth an investment of our time, we meet face-to-face.  Interpersonal communication is 70% non verbal.  We potentially lose a lot of information, if we do not do this.  This does not mean we do business together, it just means it is worth our time to sit down and find out if the solutions we have to offer match your challenges. 

No match means we do our best to refer you another resource that may be able to help.

There is no harm in contacting us today.  We are not here to sell you anything.  We are a solution provider that connects challenges and resources.  Please contact us for your consultation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Organize a Daily Cycle Count?

Here we go again, someone looking for advice on how he should organize a daily cycle count of a warehouse with many parts, bulk and bin locations.

LinkedIn to the rescue! 

Several people came up with great ideas, however, few of them actually answered the question.  In fact some of the ideas were quite comprehensive given the medium.  People really do want to help. 

The problem is not one person asked how accurate the inventory is now.  There were great ideas about types of inventory processing that could be done.  Wall-to-wall, ABC analysis, even a few ideas on cycle counting.  After all that was part of the initial question.  Cycle counting. 

Is he trying to get a handle on a system that does not work?   He mentioned (insert big ERP company name here) and RF equipment.  The software should be capable, but what about the people?  Garbage-In-Garbage-Out.

There are a lot of scenarios that can be implemented.  Yearly physical, quarterly physical, etc with follow up cycle counting.  But he did not ask that.  He asked about cycle counting.  Why?  What gave him the idea that is what should be done?  I am not saying he should not, but before we build a building, we need to establish a foundation.

Do not forget the pretty Salesrep girl that suggests you check out her company web site.  Not saying anything about her qualifications.  I just get the impression she has a different agenda than you.

Then there is the guy is who is real happy with the product he is using.  Okay, great, but you already mentioned you had a system and wanted to figure out how to best utilize it, not buy something else. 

There are really good ideas in this mix unlike many of the other forum discussions.  Systematic approaches.  Proven approaches to real world challenges.  Except maybe the guy who suggests a wall-to-wall cycle count.  Maybe I am reading too quickly.  Is he really suggesting a complete physical or a cycle count that runs from one wall to another, but at what intervals, how should he divide up this large warehouse into cycle pieces?  

Wait, now I am doing it too.  See how easy it is to rescue and offer up some advice without really taking the time to understand what is going on. 

I go back to the beginning.  Did anyone tell us what is wrong with the way they are counting now?  We do not even know what problem we are trying to solve.  Perhaps my first question:  How accurate is the inventory now?  Is a good place to start.  Second question:   What do you (your company) want to achieve?  What are your expectations from doing a cycle count? 

Our questioner now makes a statement to reassert his intelligence, and then asks a rhetorical question.  Is he sure now what he should do or is he just trying to convince himself that he is in control now or justify a decision he has already made?  He mentions all kinds of benefits that were mentioned by everyone else earlier in the discussion thread.

I suspect that our questioner is either new or has some other directive from the Finance department or above to clean up the warehouse.  What are they doing now?  Why is that not working?  A place as big as this must already be doing something.   Why not continue doing what they always have done?   A new person may want to “prove” themselves, but now is not the time to disrupt what may be working, even if it is inefficient, not until you know what you are trying to fix.  Do you really want to experiment?

There are many more questions that should be asked.  Want to know what those questions are?  Contact Dolvin Consulting today and we will talk.  There is no perfect template of questions.  It depends on your challenges.  That is where a trusted advisor should start.

Dolvin Consulting works with manufacturers and distributors to help them streamline their operations, so they can operate more efficiently, reduce their operating costs, and improve profits.  Our clients typically struggle with warehouse and inventory control issues.  We leverageour industry knowledge and contacts to bring real-world solutions to your challenges.  We cannot promise you anything, but will always do our best and that is our promise to you.  We do not know who you are so contact ustoday to get started.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Using the Solution to Solve the Problem

Chris Ward, Vice President, Mailender states, “While the operational inefficiencies in our warehouse management processes never affected our customers, it was putting a huge strain on our internal resources.  To ensure future growth for our organization and continue to provide the level of world-class service our customers have come to expect, we needed a standalone warehouse management technology that would easily integrate with our current legacy system and automate the inventory process.  VAI really took the time to understand our business, and after analyzing our goals and challenges we agreed the S2K Warehouse Management software would be the best fit for our needs.”


The challenge was to employ a system that effectively streamlines inventory management processes to improve time management, productivity, and help to better achieve business goals.


In terms of effectively utilizing labor hours, Mailender’s warehouse management team can now identify a product at any point throughout the order process and have clear paths of responsibility for order accuracy for each step.  The physical inventory process has been drastically reduced, significantly cutting down on the hours spent on identifying and re-counting physical inventory prior to count completion.  Product is located within minutes, negating the issue of manual discrepancies.


In addition, purchasing is more accurate, payables mistakes are reduced and, because inventory movement is now tracked and recorded at an increased rate, sales are posted in a timely fashion, all of which result in improving cash flow to the business.  


Rick Amato, Project Manager at VAI states, “We knew Mailender didn’t need an overhaul of its entire legacy system – it wanted an effective warehouse management tool that would integrate easily with what was already in place but would have significant impact on operational efficiencies and the bottom line. Our S2K Warehouse Management Software was the obvious choice for them, and because Mailender was implementing it as a standalone solution, the impact across all departments was felt almost immediately. We are currently exploring other ways in which VAI can help Mailender grow its business and improve its operational processes.”


Mailender did not need an entire new system.  They needed a partner that would take the time to listen and fully understand their challenges.  What they needed was an effective Warehouse Management System (WMS).  What they received was an effective WMS system.  Why?  Because, their partner and trusted advisor was not looking to “sell” them something they did not need.  They truly wanted to help.

Same story that has repeated so many times.  Look at your operations.  Identify areas for improvement that streamline operations and reduce costs.  These will lead to better profits.  What it also does is improve employee and management confidence.  Increased confidence means happier people.  The “knowing” that you are operating better than ever before.  How nice does a customer feel when they are dealing with an organization that has confidence in their system?

How much better do you feel when you do business with an organization that goes above and beyond?  Do you feel their confidence?  When you hang up the phone, how nice is it knowing and believing that your order will be delivered correctly and on-time?  What does it take for you to have these feelings?  Perhaps it is in the realization that the company you are doing business with had taken the time to take an honest appraisal of their operations and made the changes needed to satisfy their customers (you).

Dolvin Consulting works with manufacturers, distributors and specialty realtors to help them streamline their operations, reduce their costs and become more profitable.  Really.  That is what we do.  We have a vested interest in your success.  Our success depends on you do better. 

Contact us today to see for yourself.  We want to help.  Enough so, that if we cannot help you we will do our best to find somebody else that can help you.  We are waiting for you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Solutions for the Mid-Sized Enterprise Market

Dolvin works with Manufacturers, Distributors and Specialty Retailers to help them streamline their computer operations so they reduce costs and improve profits.   

We pride ourselves on being the trusted advisor to our clients and maintaining a long term relationship with them.  Since 1998 we have represented VAI who recently received the 2012 Beacon Award from IBM, which is the highest award IBM gives every year to a software company that has the best solution and support for the mid-market.

Highlights of VAI S2K Enterprise Software:

·         Over 30 years experience in Supply Chain Software.

·         IBM Top Choice for the Mid Market.

·         Real Time Integrated Software.

·         Full Range Application for the Manufacturing, Distribution and Food industries.

·         Seamless integration with Microsoft Office.

·         World Class Hot Line Support.

·         Powerful Data Mining.

More information about our solution can be found on our website
Contact us to see how we can help your organization.

What is an IBM Beacon Award?

"Recipients of the 2012 IBM Beacon Award set the standard for business excellence, innovative solutions, ingenuity, and client transformation," said Mark Hennessy, general manager, IBM Global Business Partners and Midmarket.  "We congratulate VAI on winning the Beacon Award for Outstanding Solution for Midsize Businesses and demonstrating its ability to provide value by incorporating a truly innovative, end-to-end ERP solution for the mid-sized market.”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Updating and modernizing an application can make sense, if...

In a recent request for technical help on a LinkedIn group in which an individual asked about modernizing and updating a very old software technology not used or supported today, many people had helpful suggestions on how to accomplish the task in question. 

A couple of people actually asked why?  Most users of this technology platform upgraded or replaced their software years ago to stay competitive.  A new world market demands updating technology, not for technology's sake, but to remain competitive and responsive to their customers.

I submitted the following response:

Updating and modernizing an application can make sense, if the business needs are somewhat unique.  Custom software is just that, custom, tailored to exactly how your business operates.

The challenge as many people have noted, even when using some tools or creating your own tools to update the old software, is that it takes a lot of time to modernize your applications and to do the job right.  A budgeted plan will provide for a smooth transition.  Making your files native database files as a first priority will allow you to take advantage of the database system integrated in the Iseries platform that you are using.

In our experience, this will still take a while with programming, testing, and implementation.  This same amount of time and energy may yield a higher return on investment with a new system that has been tested and has vendor support.  Many companies are surprised when they find that the energy, maintenance and operational savings with new hardware alone will pay for a new system. 

A Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis should be done with a trusted advisor to see if a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is right for your company.  While no one is looking to add unnecessary expenses, this actually is a very good investment of time and money.  The advisor may even come back and say to continue and you will know you are heading in the right direction.

I do not know the nature of you business and what resources you may need or what your competition is doing to attract your customers.  A modern application will have the communications, web and other productivity features ready.  Every business needs to drive efficiency to remain competitive.  Few businesses are truly unique.  Someone, some place, has a solution.  Invest your time and energy in a new system.  If absolutely necessary you can make modifications to tailor the solution to your operations.

Some owners think their staff sit around and do not do anything.  The computers run themselves.  I just see my people sitting around and eating donuts.  So why not have them work on upgrading our aging system.  It works now, they just have to tweak it a little bit.  The employees who are already overworked are afraid to tell the boss what they really think, because they need their jobs.  It ends up that a lot of time, energy and effort is wasted.  If they are lucky the company ends up with updated, but out-of-date software.

Bottom line.  Invest in a trusted advisor to make sure you are on the right track.

Dolvin Consulting is honored to help organizations improve their operations.  We are trusted advisors to our clients.  We have a mutual interest in you doing well.  We care, contact us today to see how we can help.