Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#AHA - A time to help

Help me help others by donating just $2 (you can always contribute more if you like). 
A donation is the right thing to do if you or your loved ones have been impacted by Heart Disease like my family.  It is even more important if you want to prevent Heart Disease from affecting those you love.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Future of Enterprise Solutions

Clearly the Internet is the future of Enterprise Computing.  And by this I mean the Internet is and will continue to change the way solutions are delivered and accessed.  Further, by delivering software through a browser with a flexible nonproprietary web interface, developers can provide the user with a single sign on and user experience of all web applications.  This 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 access. 

Solution providers can concentrate on developing more robust solutions that solve real world business issues that drive bottom-line results.  Organizations can now compete at a very high level by leveraging the flexibly and mobility of web services.  Growth potential is unrestrained due to the scalability that web services provide.

Nearly every modern device provides some sort of web interface.  Some compatibility issues exist, but even those issues continue to fade away with more standardization.  The standardization occurs as more and more vendors require consistent tools and interfaces.  These requirements are not specific to any one solution provider. 

Standards based technologies are the modernization and automation trend for technology, just like the assembly line was to the automotive industry.

Benefits of this evolution are a more responsive design, resizable display to match the devices used, and anytime anywhere access.  The benefits facilitate the transition to Cloud or hosted solutions.  If you remove proprietary emulation and terminal emulation, you open the door to adoption.

As more and more organizations adopt in part or more fully Cloud/Hosted solutions the greater the pressure on solution providers to embrace these solutions.  It becomes a win-win situation.  More adoption, more providers, more choices. 

While not everyone is ready to completely convert today, we see the trend well underway.  Small changes lead to bigger and bigger adoption.  Many businesses are one or two generations away from complete conversion.    

The capability to scale to seasonal or continued growth without adding to internal infrastructure is a big cost benefit.  While there are still some critical business operations that need to remain in-house, hybrid solutions are helping to bridge the gap.

Consumer adoption is aiding the transition.  Younger generations are wondering what the delay is all about.  Years ago, adopting a new technology required significant education and training for internal users and external customers.  Today, both have an expectation that your organization should already be utilizing these technologies.    

New solutions are allowing customers multiple options for their infrastructure including on premise servers, platform as a service, or software as a service.  Increased productivity and automation are driving factors to better customer service.

Automation that drives customer service starts with internal collaboration and communication.  Web enable solutions allow employees to stay connected and serve customer needs whenever and wherever the occasion demands, in house or on location.

Operationally monitoring daily tasks and alerts from any module or application helps efficiency.  Assignment of user tasks and workflow alerts keep employees engaged with production and customer needs.  These capabilities help create role based responsibilities that bridge the traditional module interface. 

In the past Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions were primarily departmental based.  Today they have been transitioning more and more towards functional role based solutions.  The collaboration of hosted based solutions helps to facilitate this transition.  For example, Procurement is a combination of inventory management, customer service and buying trends, vendor purchasing, receiving, production monitoring and control.  An overall overview of Inventory processing in and out and the ability to filter the information to meet individual user needs.

Companies thrive when they empower their employees to drive results.

By providing new role based solutions employee productivity is increased allowing them to react more quickly to business demands. 

Dolvin Consulting works with industry leaders to help businesses like yours deliver comprehensive solutions to your customers by empowering your employees.  Contact us today to see how we can help your team drive greater efficiency in your operations.

Monday, July 7, 2014

More Efficient Operational Processes

More efficient warehouse operations.  If only.  Is it possible?  If it were, there would likely be less labor costs relative to increased production.  Less costs and less production is clearly a down cycle in the business as is more costs and less production.  Ideally you want less costs and more production. 

Automation is the key.  But, automate what, how?

For most manufacturers and wholesale distributors the key often revolves around inventory levels, processing and handling.  Inventory tends to have the greatest Return On Investment (ROI).  Inventory management is somewhat like upgrading your kitchen in your house remodel.  The kitchen remodel generally returns the most on investment.  Other upgrades make living more comfortable, but Kitchens have one of the better paybacks.

Increased accuracy in order and pick/pack/ship processing due to warehouse layout optimization, receiving efficiencies including barcoding and scanning, automated put-aways and cycle counting are just a few examples that can contribute to more efficient operations.

Most businesses that have survived the economic fluctuations are running fairly well and have probably automated at least some and likely much of their facilities.  Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are the key to the automation.  Unfortunately these systems are not always fully implemented.  Sometimes the implementation plan was a phased approach, but never completed.  Sometimes the organization had a loss of faith in the promised return.  The causes are many, a bad match between sales and purchasing, lack of education, or lack of funds to fully implement the solution. 

WMS systems are great, but they do have to match the business model.  Typically the greatest efficiency in WMS comes from a fully integrated solution that is part of the native Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.  However, if the ERP solution is not a good match, the WMS module will tend to exacerbate the problems.

A thorough review of business operations makes sense before purchasing or upgrading your WMS solution. 

Are there plans and budget available to outfit workers with wireless equipment, barcode scanners, printers, and other tools?  The benefits of WMS will be limited without the corresponding equipment.  Automating labor collection and reporting is another benefit of WMS systems.  A phased-in approach is a valid model as long as the implementation is completed.

How much paper is involved with the current processing of orders, receiving and counting?  How will a WMS system reduce this overhead?  Will your people be convinced?  What is the baseline and what metrics are needed to gauge the project success?  Without an electronic system how can workloads be optimized?  How much time and effort is needed to check orders? 

How much does the administrative overhead affect your profitability?

Achievable goals include year over year decreases in labor costs relative to production, order, pick and shipment rates of 99% accuracy.  To enable these accuracy levels organizations will typically need to implement bin management in their WMS system, real-time paperless receiving and put-aways, automated picking and cycle counting.  Manual systems require a significant amount of administrative overhead and paperwork which contributes to inaccuracies. These inaccuracies increase if batch, lot or serial number processing is involved. 

High accuracy rates are not the end goal, efficiency is.  High accuracy rates are what enables business to concentrate on real operational efficiency improvements. 

To get started, businesses need to conduct a business process review including evaluation of the incumbent and competitive ERP software including WMS systems, including any upgrades to their current systems.  This is only a start, but it is an important an unavoidable step in the right direction.

Buy-in at all levels in the organization is an important component to not be forgotten

Owners and/or management cannot just decide one day to push out a whole new way of doing business without proper training and education.  From the shop floor, warehouse, to the back office, management and top level personnel, everyone needs to understand that the change will help them to do what they do more efficiently and productively.  Set the expectations and gain consensus on the outcome. 

This is a real test for the leadership in the organization.  

How is your organization dealing with change, leadership and inventory challenges? 

Dolvin Consulting works with your team to identify and remediate the causes of inefficiency in your organization.  Contact us today to see how we can help.