Monday, March 31, 2014

Distribution Success Essentials

Manufacturers and Distributors need to embrace, implement and utilize Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in order to grow and thrive.   ERP solutions earn their place by primarily streamlining inventory and warehouse management operations.  ERP also incorporates customer service, procurement, sales analytics and forecasting for and from all of the users in an organization.


Yes, these concepts apply to manufacturing too.  Manufacturers have challenges in their manufacturing processing which ERP solutions can help to manage, but they must also distribute their products, they have customers and the same challenges as Distributors.


Inventory handling has to be streamlined. 


Inventory is the core of any organization that distributes products regardless if they are manufactured or purchased.  ERP solutions need to integrate the entire organization, but grew out of MRP systems that were designed to optimize inventory handling.  Technologies are continuously evolving to address new integration and handling challenges. 


The challenges are basically the same as they have always been.  It is the way we interact with inventory that has changed. 


Companies need inventory to process, they need orders to create planning, and they need customers.  Companies need to maintain supplier relationships.  They need to determine the right levels of inventory to meet demand, but not just take up space.  ERP Solutions need to address these challenges and provide observability to management, customer service, sales team, procurement and production departments.


Everyone needs to know their part of the puzzle.


Other areas that today’s ERP solutions must address include compliance regulations.  Your system must have the capability to record transactions and interactions, particularly in industries like food and pharmaceutical.  Business processing must be tracked and traceable.  Who touched it, for how long, what areas processed the inventory, what was the source and where did it go and how did it get there.


Customers, suppliers, and internal representatives are all interacting in different ways with the same goal.  Efficiency drives your organization.  They need real-time information and they need it now and are turning to Social media forums and mobile platforms.  Cloud or hosted solutions should be evaluated for fit and function.  Special caution should be evaluated to ensure that they do not introduce synchronization or compliance issues.  The feature and functions sound promising, but the integration can introduce errors and compliance complications.


When tying into social, mobile and cloud platforms the need for traceability increases, not decreases.  Just because another organization manages a platform, does not resolve your responsibility to meet compliance mandates, security issues increase and do not go away.  Plus you are adding integration challenges. 


This is not to say there is not value in these technologies, it is saying that they have to be approached with caution and due diligence.


Automation is certainly the key to streamlining operations and reducing and controlling costs. 


A good-fit ERP solution will have the tools and feature needed to automate your processes.  The more the better, but critical ones like inventory must come first and foremost.  Automation reduces the labor associated with data collection and analysis, reduces errors by eliminating manual processing, and frees up time for personnel to concentrate more on core business functions.


Ultimately any changes should have the end customer in mind. 


Nothing happens that is worthwhile if it does not increase efficiency both internally and externally, especially for your customers.  The customer is the one who writes the check for you product.   It is generally easier to keep an existing customer happy than to acquire a new one.  However, both are critical and your ERP solution must provide the means to service your customers better.  Whether that is done by implementing and Ecommerce solution for self service needs or better tools for your customer service department to answer their questions and concerns or the procurement department to better use forecasting to meet production and delivery demands.


Business needs change and evolve in the way we handle information even thought the challenges of the supply chain and customer service are fundamentally the same.  The way we collect and deliver the information is constantly changing.  An effective ERP solution must address your current needs and provide the forum to grow with you and your customers.


Organizations must endorse, embrace and incorporate new technologies in order to compete effectively. 


Solutions exist, but the challenge increases in selecting a solution that meets your needs, addresses current challenges, and will enable faster growth and grow with you.  There must be buy-in at all levels of your organization from top C-Level, Board members, and to all departments that comprise your organization.


Dolvin Consulting works with you and industry experts to help you examine your operations so that you find the right solution to address your specific challenges.  Due diligence and some hard work now will pay off in the future with streamlined operations, reduced costs and greater profits.  Contact us today to see how we can help. 


Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  Tell us what you think.

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