Monday, September 30, 2013

Outstanding Customer Service and Support

“With truly automated operations and real-time access to critical data, we are now able to offer customers outstanding service and support that truly sets us apart from the competition.”  - Judith Madden, CFO Golden Light Equipment (GLE) and Heartland Auto-Chlor Systems LLC (HRT)

Benefits: Implementation Results
·         Fast, seamless integration.
·         Real-time accounts receivable control and inventory updates.
·         Reduced costs associated truck routing. 
·         Eliminated human error, manual processes and employee resources.

Goal: Streamlined Manufacturing Processes and Improved Inventory Management.

Many organizations depend on GLE for timely information and deliveries.  Business growth meant that the amount of information being collected and processed grew with the business.  Central management is critical to continued growth.  Their old system limited ability to efficiently and cost-effectively perform critical every day sales and service functions.  Service billing was a labor intensive process.

In addition, sales and service reps didn’t have a clear snapshot of what products customers were using, what they were already billed for and what they already paid.

Warning: These challenges are a recipe for unhappy customers, frustrated staff and lost profits.

The solution sought would need to automate and integrate all of its ERP processes and provide an accurate, real-time view and control of the organizations’ customer and inventory data.  Additionally ease-of-deployment and real-time data discovery became critical determining factors.

Business Results


After implementing VAI S2K remote access and service billing, the entire billing and invoicing process was completely automated, allowing GLE and HRT to significantly enhance the level of service and support they provide to customers.


Automation is the key to efficiency and profitability.  Reduction in costs and high Return on Investment (ROI) are common benefits.


Leveraging mobile technology was a key factor in upgrading its service and support functions.  By arming Auto-Chlor’s service teams in the Amarillo, Lubbock, Wichita and Kansas City divisions with tablets and handhelds, technicians are now able to gain remote access to


More and more operations are learning how to properly implement and take advantage of mobile technology.  It is not just a matter of saying “we can do that on a tablet, smart phone, etc”.  It is the ability to utilize the type of technology that enables efficient use of resources.


VAI S2K, providing real-time access to key business applications, and inventory and customer data.

Real time should be the goal of any data collection.  Business management needs quick access to information that reflects the current state of operations and not days or weeks old information.


Furthermore, all of the data generated from Auto-Chlor’s service billing is sent directly back to GLE and HRT in real-time and is automatically updated in the main system that connects back to the handhelds. Invoicing is now done directly and automatically through the handhelds to eliminate thousands of dollars a year in postage costs and an inefficient paper process.


Automation, reduction in paper work, less errors, reduced costs equals opportunities to increase profits.


“Not only was the implementation of VAI S2K seamless and quick, but its performance has been flawless as well. Since deploying, technicians are no longer burdened with customer service and billing issues, and we have been able to integrate all of our ERP systems so that we have one, accurate view of all our data,” said Madden.


Seamless – Good.  Quick – Better.  Flawless performance – Great.  The results speak for themselves. 


The deployment of VAI S2K has been so successful for Auto-Chlor and its clients, that the company is looking to expand its use of S2K by investing in VAI’s retail and warehouse management systems (WMS) offerings to extend the value of innovative, streamlined and cost-effective processes.


Leverage success in one area to justify continued growth with additional streamlined operations. 


Implementation Key Benefits

·         Rapid implementation.

·         Seamless integration of VAI S2K.

·         More efficient and up-to-the-minute inventory management.

·         Real-time accounts receivable control.

·         Transitioned from paper to electronic records/management.

·         Reduction of human error, manual processes and employee resources.

·         DOT sheets can be printed automatically based on truck loads.

·         Suggested truck loads can be obtained and altered in real-time.

·         Royalties and commissions generated automatically in the system after each sale.

Final Thoughts:

I am always happy to relate stories of companies that have taken the time to evaluate their processes and find ways to streamline their operations.  Automation is the only truly effective way to increase your businesses’ competitiveness in the marketplace.  Streamlining operations leads to lower costs and increased profits.  Those profits relate to high returns on investment. 

What is really nice to learn from this company’s experience is that they value their customers.  The results of their investment have gone to better customer service and fulfillment.  When companies get this concept and it becomes an integral part of their culture, then they are positioning themselves for the future. 

Nothing is more important than customer loyalty. 
Customer loyalty is earned by exceeding their expectations by making investments in your infrastructure to ensure accurate and available inventory, providing accurate information and feedback, and saying thank you.

What are you doing to help your customers compete effectively?
At Dolvin Consulting we believe that improvements in operational efficiencies are a worthwhile investment.  Let us help you see your business from a different vantage point.  We are here to help.  All you have to do is contact us for more information.

Thank you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Did you Forget Something?

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is designed, in theory, to integrate your entire enterprise.  Which by definition means that this software category may not be a great fit for a small organization.  A company’s revenue is not necessarily related to the number of employees any more.  Of course revenue and profit are two different things.  A good fit software for a smaller company may be one of the many packaged business solutions available today, for example Quick Books or Microsoft Dynamics. 


Did you forget why you are or have chosen your ERP solution?


The lower end software typically does not lack feature or function and in many cases is very user friendly.  Rather those solutions lack the scalability to grow and depending on the resource may lack the ability to be customized.  That means your organization must alter its operations to match the software instead of the software matching the operations. 


Do you remember what happened the last time you heavily modified your solution and the remediation it required?


There are a number of benefits and risks associated with modifying software.  The benefits at the best end means that the software is tailored to the way you do business and you increase productivity, reduce costs and therefore improve profitability.  At the worst end it can hardly be considered a benefit.  Errors and manual processing take precedence, daily reporting takes a series of dependent manual processing, delays and inaccuracies in reporting become the norm instead of the exception.  Users lose confidence in the system and end up duplicating their efforts just to verify the reporting.


When was the last time you trusted a report or inquiry in your system that you utilized to make a critical financial decision?


The more operational and/or functional roles which are included in your solution, the more information is available for decision makers.  The more accurate and timely that information is available the quicker and more confident business decisions can be made.  The less chance for errors, but only if you have all the input necessary.


Did you forget to include some element in your last critical business decision and how did that effect the return on investment (ROI) of that decision?


The ability to take advantage of an ERP system really depends on an organizations ability to actually implement and utilize what they paid for.  Too many times a system is purchased without enough preparation and parts of it sit underutilized.  Many times the lack of resources dedicated to implementation hamper the utilization of the ERP solution needed to drive a reasonable investment return.


Did you forget why you are unhappy with your current solution?


Why did you start looking for a new solution?  Have you started looking?  Do you have the impression that everything is just fine?  Have you outgrown the capacity of the existing system?  Did it work well just a couple of years ago and now it is just slowing down?  Does it work well on slow days, but when you are busy it is just barely creeping by and keeping up? 


How often are you late on deliveries?  How well does the book inventory match perpetual inventory?  Do your warehouse people simply just know where to find the products or do they rely on the paperwork?  Do they move products without telling anyone?  How long does it take to train a new person?  How many times do orders come back or customer service receives complaints that orders were not correct?  How often do your customers receive exactly what they ordered?  How accurate is the pricing from your suppliers?  Are you losing discounts, because you do not have a process for dealing with payables?  Have you extended credit for customers with knowing their outstanding balance or the last time they made payments?  Did your staff update accounting notes so the credit manager knew and could report on late accounts? 


The list goes on and on, did you forget why an ERP solution made sense?


There are a lot of reasons why an organization would decide to implement, upgrade or replace an ERP solution. 


Did you forget that the only real reason to implement an ERP solution is improve Customer service?


How long would your business operate without customers?  How well do you service your customers?  Have you asked them lately if they are satisfied?  Have you thanked them?  Does everyone in your organization understand that everything they do directly or indirectly represents your organization in their eyes?  How friendly is the receptionist?  How responsive are your customer service personnel?  Do they have the information needed to answer the customer’s questions without having to forward them endlessly?  Do your purchasing people have the information they need to accurately stock inventory for customer needs without overstocking?


Did you forget something?


At Dolvin Consulting we know how important customers are to your business.  We take a consultative approach to see where your biggest challenges lie and help you map out a solution to move forward.  We are not here to tell you how to run your business.  We know that you already know how to do that.  We are here to help you implement new tools or new ways to utilize your existing tools to improve productivity and increase efficiencies.  Contact us today to see how we can help.  We promise to listen.


Monday, September 16, 2013

ERP Disposition

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution disposition.  What crosses your mind when you read this statement?  Are you thinking about the fact that you have an older system that has not had any updates or improvements?  Are you proud of the fact that you have made updates to stay current?  Are you concerned that your attitude makes a difference?


The word Disposition evokes many thoughts.  It truly is a matter of personal interpretation.  It is not a particularly dynamic or exciting word.  It is a word that often invokes concern.  Generally defined as a person’s inherent qualities of mind and character.  Temperament, nature, character, attitude, constitution or makeup mentality.  One’s usual mood, temperament a habitual inclination, tenancy.  The way in which something placed or arranged, especially in relation to other things.


Do you think from your perspective that your business has not changed and therefore you are questioning why you should make any changes at all?  There is an evolution of change in industry.  Smart people are looking at ways to leverage technology to reduce errors, speed transactions, and compete more effectively. 


Is your solution responsive to your organizations current and changing needs?  How easily can you customize it to your specific needs?  Is a hosted solution in your future?  How does your organization collaborate with each other, suppliers and customers?


How likely does your disposition affect your objectivity in evaluating the effectiveness of your solution?


If you are like most people you blinked recently and may have missed how Cloud or hosted technologies are changing the landscape of how technology is implemented and delivered.  That is not to say everyone should be moving their solution to a hosted platform.  Many feel that this is not a change in technology, rather a maturation process and in 10 years only special and specific solutions will be based on premise. 


What is your organization’s disposition to the possibility that you may well be using a cloud based solution in the future?


Are you happy with your solution, but wished that it was easier to customize without a lot of technical effort to meet the diverse needs of your users?  Your solution may work, but how much customization does it require?  The more modifications your solution undergoes the more removed you are from the updates that keep you competitive.  Do you question why your solution provider comes out with what seems like unnecessary enhancements?  Is it possible that your view is tunneled and these enhancements could have a positive impact on your ability to compete effectively in the future?


What is your disposition to the thought that the only constant is change?


How well does your solution enable collaboration with staff, suppliers and customers?  Does your staff have the tools and information needed, at their fingertips to answer the concerns of your customers?  Does management have the dashboards with drill-down capability to hone in on critical issues as they develop? 


What is your organization’s disposition concerning the importance of customer service and support?


Everything that is done should have customer service as a key metric.  Order entry, procurement, receiving, inventory control and warehousing, pick pack and shipment, billing, receivables and collection.  ALL have a responsibility to your customers.  From the first moment that the receptionist answers the phone (you do have a person answering your phones don’t you?), to the customer service  person they communicate with, to the staff that fulfills their order and information requests.  It all matters. 


What is your disposition to providing dynamic and meaningful data analysis?


Knowledge really is the key to success.  Knowing more sooner even if it is only minutes gives you a valuable gift of time.  A minute may not sound like much, but cumulatively over the course of the year it adds up.  Who would not want extra time to contemplate critical business decisions?  The ability to make decisions that improve growth and empower an organization is a leadership quality.  Anyone can make a hasty decision, but what factors in the difference between hasty and effective? 


The purpose of this writing is to challenge you in the way you look at and evaluate your own personal as well as your organization’s disposition to making effective changes.  Change may not be easy, but growth requires that you assess where you are and where you want to be and then find out what is holding you back from moving forward towards that goal. 


Your disposition has a lot to do with your successes.


At Dolvin Consulting we take a consultative approach to helping you help your organization.  There is no single right or wrong way of conducting business.  What matters is what works and what works for you may be different than the competition down the block.  We do not try to tell you how to run your business, we work to empower your people with the proper tools so they work more productively and enable you to drive your own efficiency.  Contact us today to see how we can help, that is why we are here.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Is Your ERP Solution Smart?

While many organizations are utilizing the Internet more and more, many still hesitate on operating their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system from the Internet.  For some companies that are dispersed geographically the Internet is an ideal solution.  Single location companies have more concerns justifying this choice.  There are some clear advantages of a hosted solution, like not having to worry about infrastructure, ensuring an uninterruptible power source, cooling, environmental concerns and scalability.  On the other side chief concerns about security, access and ownership are at the top.


Many companies see the internet as the future of Enterprise Computing.  The question is not “if”, but “when”.  At some point in time the scale of risk/benefits inevitably swings to where it will make sense. 


One of the derivatives of Internet computing is the user interface, which is usually the Web Browser.  Providing a universally available application base, consistent user interface and a selection of customizations is a necessity of Internet computing.  On premise solutions benefit also from these enhancements as well, but the time pressure tends to be less critical and is a good method of transition.  Get users used to a newer interface and then it will be transparent where the actual computing takes place.   


Delivering software through a browser with a flexible web interface enables ERP users with a single sign on of all web applications which simplifies the user experience, increases productivity and minimizes training costs.  In addition, web based software provides mobile access enabling every user in the organization immediate anytime, anywhere computing. 


Utilizing new technologies enables ERP users to compete at a higher level and by leveraging the flexibly and mobility that the web provides they have unlimited growth potential.

The future of computing will certainly at one point in time or another will include a transition to the Internet.  How committed is your ERP solution provider to providing this transition for your business?  Immediate access from a single sign-on to fully integrated and accurate enterprise data, CRM, Analytics, and mobility access are immediate benefits.  Cost reductions and improved efficiency result from this type of implementation. 


Anytime, anywhere access is one of the most critical and fastest growing areas that businesses are focused.    Business intelligence dashboards provide quick top level navigation to activity that needs attention.


How well are you prepared for the future?  Are you using a smart system?  A system you tailor to your user’s needs?  A system then enables your organization to deliver superior customer service?

The future is waiting for you. 

At Dolvin Consulting we work with industry experts like VAI and IBM to deliver proven effective systems that streamline your computing operations to drive efficiency in your organization.  Contact us today to see how we can help you transition to the future.  We are here to help.