Sanjay Fatania, Financial Implementation Manager at Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS), explains what to look for in a trading system so credit-related problems can be quickly identified and valuable insight provided to your team about customer trading profiles, payment history and trends.
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In this blog post, I will be discussing the cutting-edge technology of the 1870s. You may be wondering whether I’ve lost my mind— “the 1870s? That’s not relevant to me”. Before you hit that back button, hear me out; we can learn a lot more from nineteenth century manufacturing than you may think.
While employees may dread their annual stock checks, there’s no denying that stock control is crucially important to manufacturers. Without an effective stock control system in place, you’re blind to the assets you have. You’re not ignorant of how many employees are on your payroll, so why would you ignore the stock levels within your business?
With technology rapidly impacting all areas of our lives, it was naive to believe that manufacturing would be exempt from the digital revolution. We’re officially in the midst of Industry 4.0, dubbed the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ — but has it lived up to expectations?
Here, I take a look at how the current manufacturing landscape has been shaped by Industry 4.0:
Most manufacturing businesses have too much cash tied up in excess inventory—finished goods, raw materials, and work-in-progress. What’s more, most manufacturing businesses know that they have too much cash tied up in inventory.
When the only tool that you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. While there’s a lot of truth in this observation, it’s one that many of us may inwardly laugh at. We couldn’t be so stupid as to make that mistake ourselves... could we? But when it comes to spreadsheets, think again.
Mark Steggall, Head of Product Management at Kerridge Commercial Systems, explains the benefits of using a modern ERP system to manage supplier rebates.
Sterling has depreciated against the US dollar and the Euro since the referendum in June, hitting a 31 year low against the dollar in October. At time of writing, the exchange rate had climbed following hints from Theresa May that she will be looking for a transitional Brexit deal that will favour British businesses. However sterling is still comparatively weak, which presents some challenges for merchants and distributors. For example, the price of imported construction materials is predicted to increase by 3%. It also means that inflation may increase, which adds to the uncertainty we are facing.
But challenging times also present opportunities. Here are six things that merchants and distributors can do to mitigate against, and even benefit from, the economic situation:
It may seem that the Christmas period offers marketing opportunities primarily for retailers with consumer customers; people don’t tend to buy building, industrial or automotive supplies as Christmas presents. However there are seasonal opportunities for merchants, distributors and wholesalers too, and especially for those with a B2B ecommerce solution.
Growing a manufacturing business isn’t easy. And rarely is the challenge harder than it is for smaller manufacturers, where hard-pressed senior management must spread themselves thinly across multiple activities—handling finances, marketing, product development, quality control, human resources and much more.
A lot of the time, supply chain management success strategies are ‘top down’ affairs, and very—well—strategic. ‘Be a low-cost producer,’ for instance. Or ‘achieve a fast time-to-market.’ Or ‘respond quickly to changing fashions.’
Everyone knows that these days it’s crucial for field service businesses to have field service software. The days of spreadsheets and paper-based systems have gone—at least for businesses with ambitions to grow, and remain competitive.
In manufacturing, ERP workarounds are relatively commonplace. Workarounds such as spreadsheets or Microsoft Access databases, for instance, or even manual ledgers. Or supplementary systems, installed to perform tasks that the business’s manufacturing ERP system can’t perform: an EDI add-on, for instance, or an e-commerce capability.
There is growing evidence that companies that focus on improving their supply chain performance achieve much better financial and operational results than their competitors. The companies that came top for optimising their supply chain in a 2013 Price Waterhouse Coopers survey perform 70% better, on average, than the companies at the bottom. They:
It’s not difficult to see why it’s vital to have a Business Continuity Plan. Simply put, IT disruption severe enough to affect your business’s trading is surprisingly likely, with statistics suggesting that the typical small to medium business runs a one-in-five chance of experiencing such a failure over a five year period. What’s more, 40% of such businesses will then collapse, as a result.
Why do so many businesses stagger on with out-of-date ERP systems that no longer meet their needs? Because, quite simply, the cost of upgrading can sometimes be too expensive. Unable to justify staying on their ERP provider’s normal update cycle, they skip a release - only to then find that the higher price of the next release makes affordable ERP software an impossibility.
Limping along with out-of-date field service software? And field service software that (despite its cost) seems ill-matched to your business requirements? If so, it doesn’t have to be that way. It's a new year, so why not invest in a new field service software system?
What does Omni-Channel Commerce mean?
Put simply, it means engaging with your customers, for sales, marketing and customer services, across multiple channels, in such a way that they have a consistent experience of your organisation, regardless of channel or device.
Is your manufacturing ERP system perfect for your business’s needs? If you’re fortunate, then the answer will be ‘yes’. But not every business is in that happy position.
An investment in a manufacturing ERP system isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. Because, fairly obviously, manufacturing ERP systems are costly, requiring significant resource inputs in the form of cash, IT infrastructure, and training. So naturally, you’ll want to make sure that the ROI from manufacturing ERP meets your expectations.
Margins are tight in the distributive trades, so it is crucial to examine all your systems and processes to gain cost efficiencies and to sell as profitably as you can. However, in many companies, there is waste associated with back-office sales processes. So how do you know if your systems are as efficient and effective as possible? Find out how to sell profitably below.
Mention real-time information these days, and thoughts are likely to turn to the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, and the communications and data access opportunities that are opened up by networks of intelligent devices. But actually, access to real-time information is much simpler than that. Much, much simpler than that.
Service management software can make a major contribution to the profitability and efficiency of a service management operation - not to mention the level of customer satisfaction that it achieves. But only, of course, if that service management software has been successfully implemented, and actually delivers on its promise.
Failed ERP implementation in manufacturing isn’t good news. Yet time and again, we hear of manufacturing ERP systems that have delivered no measurable benefits, or indeed, which have simply failed.
Monitor Your Business’ Cash and Margin Control
Ensuring your business is working as efficiently as possible will have the greatest impact on the bottom line if you have control and visibility over your cash flow and profit margins.