Monday, May 20, 2013

I am now a better Manager – ERP Solution Applied

Better Management:

Luke Wimberly from Handy Hardware believes that their implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Solution from VAI has helped him to become a better manager.

·         I can clearly see what my employees are doing.

·         I never have to wonder what they are doing.

·         I never have to wonder if they are working.

·         I know if they are on-break or off-break.

·         If they are actually picking or having an issue.

·         I can watch them from my office instead of having to come down to the floor.

·         I find out where my employees are and what they are doing at all times.


Watch the Video:


The Experience:

·         The overall experience with RF (Radio Frequency) has been a good one. 

·         It took a little getting used-to, because they were used to doing things manually. 

·         After everyone became familiar with the system, everything went off without a hitch. 

·         It probably took about a week for everybody to learn everything well. 

·         It has now overall tremendously increased time for picking, shipping or receiving.


·         For anything that we use RF, productivity has increased.

·         Productivity has gone up 47%.

·         Our ERP supplier, VAI, is responsive to our needs.   They correct issues quickly.  They are a good company to work with.


Handy Hardware Overview:

Handy Hardware is one of only six dealer-owned hardware buying groups in the U. S. As a regional wholesale hardware distributor, whose growth spans the last forty three years, Handy's basic structure and approach to the market place have remained sound and unchanged, through an ever-changing economy. Handy Currently serves over 1,300 members in twelve states out of their 560,000 sq. ft. facility in Houston, TX and their second warehouse facility covering 468,000 sq. ft. in Meridian, MS.



A week?  As a business owner I would gladly trade a week and the aggravation of new software to get a 47% increase in productivity.  Imagine what the long term ROI (Return on Investment) would  be.


Where can you start or finish, when talking about this success story about ERP, RF processing and productivity in warehouse operations.  What I notice most is a common theme in WMS (warehouse management systems), ERP in general and life as a whole. 


Change is uncomfortable. 


We live life peak-to-peak.  We are at a place now where we know we have to make changes, but the gap between where we are and where we would like to be seems great.  Too large to jump in a single step.  If it were easy for us, we would already be there contemplating the next gap. 

I cannot imagine it was an easy decision to move forward for Handy Hardware.  I also imagine that they knew they could not stay where they were.  Probably took some hand holding, some leap of faith.  VAI has done this work before, they have a proven success record and above all staying where they were on a technology stance was not going to allow them to compete and service their customer base in a manner that would enable growth.

We know it is not an easy choice to make change.  It is usually very difficult to get consensus among your team.  But, what are the alternatives?  If you do not service your customers, someone else will.  At Dolvin Consulting we work with industry experts like VAI and IBM to deliver proven solutions to your challenges.  We can only guess who you are and what your struggles include.  Today’s challenges can be tomorrow’s memories, if you start now.  Contact us to see how we can help you.  We are here to help.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Refreshing, Fresh Start ERP and Power Washing

Okay, I just finished power washing my deck in preparation of staining and although that may not sound all that terrific to you, I believe it has a lot of parallels to your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. 

First and foremost I had a lot to do and I really did not want to start something that would take some amount of time, however, tackling the biggest challenge of the day first and getting that done takes the a lot of pressure off.  Doing the little tasks are nice, because you get a lot of things done, but there is still this “big thing” to be done. 

In reality it was not that bad a job.  I had done it plenty of times before.  I just did not want to get started.  The deck is in relatively good shape.  It has been stained and receives a fresh coat each year.  Now the stain manufacturer says I can get five years usage on a deck surface.  That might be true, but it also depends on the type and amount of usage the deck receives.  Regardless, the deck is in not that bad a shape and I do what I found works.  The preventative maintenance is not nearly as much effort as replacing the entire deck due to neglect.   

Athorough cleaning is probably all it really needs and is what I could get away with, this year.  However, it just looks better and I feel more confident in the preparation with it being refreshed for a new season.  Trying to figure out what I can get away with is a lot more effort than just being proactive about taking care of what needs to get done.

In your ERP world, are you just getting by?  Are you doing simple maintenance?  Have you looked at the costs associated with replacing or upgrading your solution so that all of your people are more productive? 

Do you look at it as the costs or as the investment in your organization?

I am not suggesting that you replace your system each year.  But, what about upgrades to stay current?  How many releases behind are you?  How nimble is your organization should your customers or a potential new customer want to do business with you, but you do not have the resources available?

Does your ERP supplier have a preventative maintenance program?  Are they just fixing problems or are they looking at your industry to identify new trends and needs?  Are they asking you what you want and need or do they wait for requests?  How accessible are they and responsive to your growing needs?

Clear the clutter and streamline your operations.

Refresh your systems, invest in your enterprise which includes your employees and most of all your customers.  When was the last time you asked them what you could be doing to make things easier for them to do business with you?  I can guarantee that your competition is knocking at their door with what they can and will do for their business.

Do you let your customers know what you are doing to improve your processes? 

I believe that guests to our home appreciate that we make a welcome environment for them.  I am not sure if they know what effort goes into this environment to make them feel comfortable, however, I am sure they feel it.  Often they will say how nice and comfortable it is and I can elude to my philosophy of creating a welcome environment.  I do not do it for the thanks, it is just my way of being proactive.

In what way are you cleaning, protecting, and making a welcome environment for your guests (customers)?

Every one of your people are in customer service whether you realize it or not.  This includes the people that push the brooms, file the documents, answer the phones, make calls, analyze the data, hold board meetings.  Everyone.  It is a team effort and nothing happens unless everyone does their part.

Cleaning the deck or refreshing and investing in new systems is part of the overhead associated with not only staying current, but making your customers feel welcome and valued.  It is generally easier to keep up with the updates than try to do everything all at once every five years.

An ERP solution has a limited lifespan without regular maintenance.

Here is your opportunity to contact us.  At Dolvin Consulting we are interested in helping you help your customers.  A rising tide lifts all ships.  Our success depends on helping you be successful.  Perhaps you have an older system that is so far behind, perhaps you need to address growing pressure from your customers, perhaps you just want to know that you are already doing everything you can.  Contact us today to see how we can help.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Belief, ERP and All

It does not seem too long ago, my wife and I purchased a live (balled) tree for Christmas.  We actually did that for our first three years together.  I was looking out in the back yard recently and was just staring.  You see we live in a neighborhood that was built a number of years ago on what was a golf course.  The houses are relatively close together.  We have nice neighbors, but we also like to feel like we have some privacy.

It is called “Green” now, but I just liked the concept of having a live tree that could be planted instead of thrown out on the curb for garbage collection a couple of weeks later.  The trees took to the yard just fine.  Taking an outdoor tree, bringing it inside to a warm environment, then back out in winter can stress the tree.  When they were planted each was four or five feet tall.  In a few years they towered over the yard. 

And that was what I was contemplating.  The trees are probably 35 feet tall now.  I might need to find a geometry book and figure out the calculation of angle-side-angle so I can calculate the actual height.  A somewhat nerdy thought, I agree.  It really is not that important to know how tall they are.  What is important is the transformation of the yard.

I did not plan on having a green fence that gave shade and privacy all year round.   The evergreens are so nice, even in the winter season, having some green around.  The snow on them looks nice too. 

A few years ago our older neighbor moved out.  She was a really nice lady and we had respect for each other’s privacy.  Knowing that new neighbors would move in, we replaced a 4 foot chain link fence with a vinyl 6 foot privacy fence.  The first thing the new neighbors did was erect a 12 foot tall play fort for their kids right next to the fence.  No zoning laws for that unfortunately.  The kids and parents like to climb up and stare and comment on our yard.  So we planted some fast growing cedar trees.  At the time they barely topped the fence. 

We believed the nursery when they told us they would grow quickly and return our privacy to us.

Now just a few years later these new trees, green all year long, are 30 feet tall.  At the time we did not know what to do.  What we thought we wanted would not have helped.  The nursery owner became our trusted advisor.  He understood the problem and had the knowledge of what would work.  It really was not that uncommon a problem and he had dealt with it before.

Looking at your situation in business sometimes takes forward looking back sight.  Are you seeing your business as it is now or as it could be?  I did not plan to plant trees for privacy, but the results were worth the effort and expense.  I am glad I made the investment when I did.

Looking back it really was not that much effort or expense.  The results are worth everything to us.  There was waiting, faith, belief and a trusted advisor.

As a business owner you need to keep current and keep up with the demands from customers whose expectations are always changing and evolving.  Your competition is doing that all the time.  A happy customer is a loyal customer.

Any update, upgrade, new, or replacement of software should have the goal of increasing customer satisfaction.  Efficiency is important and it is how you can afford to serve your customers better.  It is like your optimal weight.  You belt has another notch free, your clothes feel good and your walk is lighter, but are you any happier?  Did the weight loss enable you to do anything more or more efficiently?  If the result of the efficiency does not serve your customers, then you will not have customers.

A fresh set of eyes to look at what you are doing is a valuable investment.  It is hard to look outside of the box when you are in the box.  One of my favorite sayings is: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Many companies look to a trusted advisor when they realize that what they are doing just does not work anymore.  Sometimes this is due to an increase in business.  The business grows, sometimes rapidly, and they just do not realize right away that the software that worked really well at one business level, just cannot keep up anymore.  At the other end of the spectrum is a business that is losing ground.

The purpose of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solutions is to seamlessly integrate as much of the business operations together as possible.  The best way for management to make intelligent decisions is to know what is going on, what are the trends and financial outlook.  ERP enables the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. 

This much you already know. 

In this day and age, we know what ERP solutions are supposed to do.  What we may not know is in what way the investment, which can be significant, can produce a Return on Investment (ROI) and in what time frame. 

This is a really big point. 

If the ROI will essentially pay for the solution in one to two years, any longer and it probably is not the right choice, then you are losing money/revenue right now.  This is a fact, not a sales pitch.  Think about the fact that if you can achieve a reasonable return, then that is most likely due to inefficiency in your operations.  Inefficiency can be costly.  It is money that could be used to improve customer service, grow market share, expand capacity, save jobs, take a vacation, etc.

Sometimes it takes a leap of faith.  You have to believe. 

A trusted advisor can help bridge the gap.  Dolvin Consulting works with industry experts to help you look at what you are doing today and where you want to be in a few years.  We start by working with your people to define areas that need improvement and have potential for great ROI.  Sometimes we just do not realize how much pain there really is, because we have always done “it” this way.  Then we work with your decision makers to define your budget and find solutions that will work. 

The final decision is always yours, but would it make sense to know what your options are?  Contact us today to see how we can help.  That is why we are here.