Three ways to use business data to boost your profits

Three ways to use data to boost your profits

Most businesses leaders are currently living with a lot of uncertainty. There’s very little clarity around the long term (or even short term) impact that the events of 2020 will have on the warehouse and distribution industry in general, and their business specifically.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve taken a hit, or have mostly continued on as normal. Nearly everyone has their mind on the same thing – how can I build better financial security in my business?

While there are many steps you can (and will) take over the next few months and years to get back on the growth track, one of the easiest ways to boost the financial security of your business right now is by using your data.

Data is a tool that you already have on hand. It can be used to help stop the unnecessary loss of profits, as well as help unlock hidden profit opportunities. When utilised well, data doesn’t just tell you what is – it tells you what you should do.

Don’t look for complex solutions when a simple one will do

In the years I’ve spent working with warehouse and distribution businesses, I’ve seen all sorts of complex strategies and new ideas brought in to try and stimulate profit growth.

But in reality, it doesn’t take complex or intricate plans to boost profits; there are simple, small process changes that can have an even greater effect (for a lot less effort).

Some businesses are hesitant to look at or optimise their current processes, others simply think they don’t have the time. But failing to look at improving internal factors is often costing more money than external factors. For example, billions of dollars of revenue are lost by inventory shrinkage every year in the warehousing, retail and distribution industries. Furthermore, millions of dollars in potential profit are lost from failing to follow up quotes.

The answer? Implementing smart data usage into your existing processes.

Three powerful & profitable uses for your data

There are lots of ways you can use data in your business to improve efficiency, forecasting and profit margins. Here are just three ways that are particularly relevant to the current environment.

Identify Market Trends

If you know what customers want to buy, how much of it and when, you’ll be in a better position to provide them with what they need – and make more sales. Customer buying data (and, if you have eCommerce going, search data) can give you an inside look at market trends and live information about demand.

Knowing exactly what customers want, what they’re buying and what they aren’t as it’s happening puts you in better stead to supply in-demand items without delay. This sort of data can prove priceless; helping you keep customers, win new ones, cross-sell, upsell, or even enter new markets entirely.

Empower Your Sales Team

Sales is a hard job, and it can be made even harder when you don’t have the tools you need to succeed. Data empowers sales teams in multiple ways – improving profit opportunities in the process. The most notable:

  • Providing them with personalised customer information and habits to allow them to start meaningful sales conversations that are highly relevant to the customer
  • Notifying them of older customers who have not purchased for a while that need to be reengaged,
  • Recognising when quotes need to be followed up so you can make the most of every prospect.

Improve Inventory Management

Inventory is likely one of the biggest costs for your business, and therefore presents one of the best opportunities to reclaim lost profits. Not only does stock tie up a lot of cash, but the processes around managing it can take a lot of hours and people-power – and extra expense. By utilising your stock data, you can improve efficiency across the entire ordering and managing process. Keep an eye on what’s moving and what’s not to minimise deadstock and keep in-demand items in stock, set up automatic re-orders for popular stock lines, and keep your staff moving with the information they need to do their jobs more quickly and more accurately.

Make your data work for you with ERP

The power to make more money already exists within your business – you just need to harness it. By now, most businesses know the difference data can make, but not all of them have got to the point where they’re utilising it effectively.

All businesses have data, but it’s the way you use it that makes a difference. To be able to make your data profitable, it needs to be:

  • Accessible –data can be accessed easily and shared across every team member if needed, in an easily interpretable and reportable mode
  • In real-time –access to live data that tells you what’s happening in your business right now, allowing for more relevant and effective decision making
  • Powerful –ability to efficiently generate reports that show you what you need to know in a consumable way, allowing you to make quick data-driven decisions.
  • Accurate Make sure your data is up to date and a single source of the truth for anyone, and track any changes or edits that have been made.

When it comes to collecting, processing and accessing meaningful business data, nothing is more effective than an ERP system. An ERP system can not only allow you access to data, but makes it meaningful – allowing you to get new visibility and control into your business, your inventory and your customers.

ERP software integrates your systems and automates your processes – and records everything along the way, for simple and easy access to business insights. By using these insights, you can make profitable decisions and changes in stock, management, sales and more.

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for any general enquiries.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss getting the most out of your business data or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

Business growth

Taken a hit? Set your business up to recover – and grow bigger

Last month, I discussed how warehouse and distribution businesses can prepare for the ‘new normal’. A large part of this was about growing customer bases and expanding into new markets.

But if we look further ahead, the goal for many isn’t just getting back to ‘normal’ – it’s continued growth.

This major disruption has (and will) affect many businesses growth plans and trajectories. The momentum they had, or the strategies that had been put in place, now won’t be as effective. Or, they’ll take much longer to come to fruition.

Exploring new customer opportunities is an important step to getting back to where you were at the beginning of the year. But growth will require more than just new business. The road to growth starts with internal changes, ensuring your business processes and operations are set up to support an expanding business.

Businesses are facing big operational changes

This disruption is clearly not over (as our friends in Melbourne are discovering). And the impact on this industry could set to continue, or worsen, over the next 12-18 months.

It’s one thing to be able to roll with the punches for a couple of months or through one lockdown period. But this is no way to approach a long-term change to operating and selling.

I previously discussed that the way businesses sell has likely changed, and there will be a need to adapt. But on top of this, there will also be an internal change to how operations run, and how the customer promise is met. During the next little while, a lot of businesses will experience:

Less staff

Some businesses are facing returning to ‘normal’ or increased operations with fewer staff to carry out jobs. This means not all jobs can be done, and there will be a strong need to prioritise some tasks over others

Changes in stock needs

Fluctuating sales and customer numbers can create inventory management headaches. Continuous changes in ordering trends and customer numbers makes ensuring stock availability without overstocking a fine balancing act.

Interrupted trends

Growth and sales patterns have been thrown off, making it hard to identify trends and forecast business performance. As we’ve seen, things can change dramatically in as little as 24 hours, leaving everyone feeling uncertain. Even those who haven’t felt the crunch are unsure about what the next year or two means for them.

Growth takes more than increasing customers

Up until now, the main objective has been survival. But as we realise this isn’t going away, and the way business operates is likely changed for good, simply keeping a head above eliminates the capacity for bigger and better things.

Growth stems from not just managing what you have, but having the capacity to take on more without it affecting your customer promise.

Attracting more customers and expanding into more markets will definitely help with business growth. But to be successful in the long run, you need the internal processes in place to support an increase in business.

Simply put, you have to be able to do more with less. And to successfully achieve this, you’ll need:

  • Operational efficiency – Automation helps frees up staff time so they can focus on more important tasks, and allows you to function at a higher capacity with a smaller workforce. This means that as your customer base and order demand grow, your team can still deliver.
  • Sales support – Access to market and customer insights not only helps with inventory management, it helps the sales team follow up more leads, serve customers better and improve opportunities to up and cross sell.
  • Data insights – Forecasting is always key to running a business, but becomes even more vital when things are changing rapidly. You need an idea of what’s coming and where you sit to be able to effectively plan your way forward.

Your internal processes will make the difference between surviving and thriving

In terms of how businesses operate more effectively and stay ahead of the competition, change has been coming for a long time. The recent circumstances have just sped the process up.

The next step is not only setting ourselves up for surviving the disruption, but thriving in the new normal. The further you look, the faster you go. Look beyond the next step – growth might not happen straight away, but it needs to be in the plan.

Look at your processes, look at your systems and software and reassess their ability to help you in this new normal.

  • How has your business changed, and what capabilities do you now need to meet goals?
  • Can your existing systems support efficiency and productivity and deliver ROI?
  • Are you in a place to invest in improvements?

Your software and systems play a big role in supporting growth and, if you’re able, it could be time to change things up. If you’re committed to sustaining long-term growth, overhauling your processes with an ERP system could be the best answer for you.

An ERP sets you up now for future growth but also provides flexibility to work with whatever further changes and disruptions come our way. Giving you the power of not only automation, but real-time insights you need to:

  • Supply for the market
  • Prevent inventory shrinkage
  • Forecast revenue
  • Support your customers

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business?  If you’d like to discuss any of the steps I’ve mentioned further, or get some guidance around market expansion, reach out to me via our website or email me directly at drew@micronet.com.au.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss preparing your business for growth or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

Future of work warehouse & distribution

What’s next? Preparing for the ‘new normal’ and strengthening your customer base

For the last couple of months, many industries have been grappling with massive and sudden losses and changes. Yet many of the warehouse and distribution businesses I’ve spoken with have been able to adapt well.

While a lot have seen some sort of downturn, they have, for the most part, avoided any extreme shifts in sales or operations (with the exception of more Zoom calls and face masks).

However, there is a general feeling among many in the industry that the storm is yet to come – particularly for those who supply to and rely on the building industry. While the initial hit is subsiding, more change is coming. Things like the number of new building approvals and customer buying habits shifting online may mean that there will be a longer-term effect.

If the real difficulty is truly yet to come, it’s important to take some time to prepare for it, and put your business in a position to not just survive but thrive, even if some customers or markets take a hit.

The approach to buying and selling has changed

Right now, all we can do is speculate on what the new normal will look like. But while it’s hard to know when it’ll arrive or how hard it will hit, there are some obvious factors that we know are likely to occur (or already have).

  • Fewer approvals: There is evidence to believe that building approvals are dropping, meaning the real effects of our current situation won’t be felt by the industry until 2021 or 2022. Fewer building approvals will have a trickle-down effect for businesses supporting and supplying the industry.
  • Change in sales approach: Obviously, the typical nature of an in-person sales approach that many business rely on for winning customers and sales will have changed over the last couple of months. These changes could be here for good. Translating these valuable approaches into a new format could be a struggle for many.
  • Change in what customers want: What consumers want from their suppliers has changed. The lowest price is no longer the driving factor for many purchasers. The convenience of being able to purchase online, with cashless and contactless delivery is fast becoming a big priority. Continuing to focus on price as a key selling point runs the risk of trapping businesses in a hard to win race to the bottom.

Regardless of how, if, when or how severely the industry is hit in the coming months or years, it’s safe to say it’s not viable to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Going ‘back to normal’ is not the old normal, but a considerably new and different one.

Gaining new customers means connecting in new ways

Ensuring you’re able to adapt to market changes and fluctuating business performance should be a priority right now. Unfortunately, we can’t know what will happen in the future. But by paying attention to the signs and being proactive, you can adequately prepare yourself for what might come.

One of the best ways to prepare at the moment is to look at new customers and markets. To be competitive and win more business, you need to be considered in more opportunities.

However, how you go about gaining new business has likely changed because we can’t interact the same way that we did before. So, you’ve got to try to establish new markets in a different way than what we have in the past. In order to do that, you’ll need:

  1. Systems that support lean processes:

If you’ve had to lean down your processes in the last couple of months, it’s time to start to make that permanent. Simply, this means getting your people doing more effective things, more efficiently. Automation is key, allowing you to remove mundane tasks and ensure staff are more actively engaged in meaningful, productive activities.

  1. Proactive action:

With so many sudden and drastic rule changes, it’s been tempting for many businesses to sit back and wait to be told what to do – or for everything to just return to normal. A smarter way to spend your time is proactively investigating ways to improve. Surveying customers and staff on their changing needs is a smart idea, as is looking at what things in your office or warehouse are going to need to change to match the changing environment.

  1. Support for your customer promise:

Now more than ever, it’s important for business to know their customer promise and be able to articulate it. But on top of this, you will also need the systems that will support you deliver this promise. And so, I’ve seen people, for instance, who they’ll say, “If you get an order in by 4:00 PM on any given day, you’ll receive it the following day”. That’s part of their promises because they’ve got really effective or efficient warehouses, so they can get stuff out quick. And that enables them to form part of that.

Four steps you can take now to flourish in the next phase

We don’t know what the new (or next) normal is going to look like for our industry. It could come sooner, or later, or not at all. The fact is, you’re better off being prepared. If it doesn’t happen, you’ll be in a better selling position with better systems – something that never hurts.

To get started, or to determine areas where you need to invest in improvement, there are four things I’d recommend doing now:

Declutter processes

Declutter and map out your processes. Establish where you can cut unnecessary steps by seeing how long things take and how long they should take. Document each process so everyone knows how it should be done.

Measure your wins

Look at your data, report on what you’re doing and use that to support your business in the eyes of customers. New customers won’t know your value, so show them in a way they can understand – cold hard facts and data.

Articulate your customer promise

It’s a really good time to think about your customer promise and what that looks like. What do you do that the benefits the relationship that you have with the customer? What’s in it for them? It’s simple stuff, but many established distribution businesses don’t do on a regular basis

Prospect, prospect, prospect

Always be prospecting and looking for new markets to sell to, and have a clear understanding of how many new customers you’re getting per day per week, per month, per year. Acquisition statistics are particularly important right now, allowing you to know when you get a new customer, celebrate it, and really make the most of the relationship.

These small changes can set you up to be better prepared for what’s to come. It will also allow you to discover any roadblocks and holes in your processes, giving you time to address them, rather than be caught off guard when it’s too late.

If you’d like to discuss any of the steps I’ve mentioned further, or get some guidance around market expansion, reach out to me via our website or email me directly at drew@micronet.com.au.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss preparing for the future of work or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

Controlling cost margins with an ERP system

Comparing costs: Poorly controlled margins vs. ERP systems

The state of the Australian economy is worrying for many. For retailers, warehousing and distribution businesses, it’s particularly concerning. A slow-moving economy and poor sales results across the industry mean that controlling internal business costs is more important than ever.

We don’t have much control over the economy. We also don’t have too much control over the cost of goods or customer purchasing habits. But our own costs are something we can control – if we have the right tools.

Obviously, one of the best ways to better control business processes, including margins and costs, is by implementing an ERP. But they also come with a significant cost themselves.

So, is it really a case of spending money to save money? Or are you better to hold onto your money and hope to ride out the slow economy?

You can’t control costs you can’t see

In my time working with warehouse and distribution businesses, I’ve always seen the same thing: When it comes to business costs and margins, you can only control them if you have full visibility of what they are, and why they’re occurring.

Are some staff selling below margin? Is someone giving away too much discount? Are you ordering too much stock? Can you see which customers, products or projects have the best margin business to go after and which you should consider phasing out (or even stopping altogether)?

Without visibility, costs can easily compound.

You might think these are able to be controlled independently. Some stricter rules for the sales team here, a bit more recording and research there. But a lack of visibility comes at a cost greater than just the direct cost of supplies or sales.

Companies that can’t precisely understand, monitor and manage costs and margins can too easily go on to make the wrong financial decisions. These can include:

  • Choosing small, short-term costs rather than bigger, more impactful costs
  • Using manual, slow systems that are indirectly increasing costs
  • Not reporting on performance
  • Spending too much time on things that don’t add value to your end-user

When you can’t optimise spending and minimise costs internally, the external factors – like the economy and your competition – will be felt far more.

Controlling cost margins with an ERP system

Is your lack of visibility impacting your margins?

Is the cost of control worth it?

So, lack of control can quickly become expensive. But is it as costly as an ERP system?

Implementing an ERP certainly isn’t something you go into blindly, or on a whim. You’ll want to do your research, determine your needs and be knowledgeable about the choices out there and what they can offer you. There’s no denying, ERP’s require significant investment and commitment.

But what do you get for the investment?

The big thing is visibility. You’ll be able to see all the what’s, why’s and how’s of your costs. But also, the wider picture – not just what’s costing you, but how to reduce that in a way that won’t affect how your business operates.

In the same way that low margins and high costs aren’t the only problems caused by poor visibility, an ERP system gives you more than just the ability to lower supply costs and tighten margins.

  • Report on performance and make data-driven decisions towards improvement
  • Understand costs and optimise spending
  • Invest in the right places, and remove unprofitable processes
  • Market and sell better to your customers and improve service offerings

Understanding and controlling your costs and implementing tighter margins are easy enough to understand. But to make them happen, and to make a real impact on your bottom line, you need to get relevant business controls in place and working for you in an automated fashion, via your business software.

ERP systems offer the biggest return on investment

Depending on the size of your operation, the simple act of not following up all quotes can cost a business thousands, if not millions, per year. And that’s just one business process.

Combine that with slow manual processes, low-value procedures, unregulated margins… Suddenly the cost of not putting in an ERP system can outweigh implementation costs in just a couple of months.

ERP systems can go a long way to helping you control your costs, and will continue to bring ROI as you continue to use it.

I’ve covered some of the benefits here, but for a more detailed look at controlling costs through ERP, download the free Controlling Costs and Margins eBook.

I think we’ve all experienced the swings in the economy enough to know that trying to wait it out for a better tomorrow is a risky move, that could start out cheap but end up costing you.

If you’d like to see ERP in action, click here to organise a free demo of HARMONiQ software, the ERP system built specifically for warehousing and distribution businesses.

Business alignment using an ERP System

How to align your sales team using an ERP

‘Alignment’ can be a bit of a buzzword for businesses. But what does it actually mean? And is it something you should be worried about it? At the very least, it’s something you should think about.

Misalignment can happen in multiple areas of business. But in my experience, working with warehouse and distribution companies, I see it most commonly with the Sales teams.

The lack of interaction between operations and sales can often promote a very ‘us and them’ situation. You can forget that one team can’t actually do its job without the other.

Business growth is great, but as you expand you want to make sure your team stays together, not grows apart. After all, you’re all working towards the same goal.

A good ERP system can help you connect your teams, achieve better alignment, keep your sales team in the fold and even see them performing better. Which is good for business, good for team performance and good for customer experience – a win for everyone.

You need more than a salesperson to make a sale

While Sales and Operations are obviously very different, they’re just as important as each other to the overall business. Without inventory and warehousing, you’d have nothing to sell. But without sales, you’d have no business.

While we all know Sales teams are vital, they sometimes get lost behind the huge demand of inventory. It can be tempting to leave them to ‘run things by themselves’, but this approach can lead to some big problems:

  • Sales teams won’t have access to the right customer or inventory information needed to make sales
  • They have more tasks than hours in the day
  • They’re not on board with business goals or strategies
  • They aren’t utilising available data to make better selling decisions
  • They aren’t following up quotes

Sales can’t be made without input and information from the rest of the business.

Trying to do it any other way will lead to confusion, miscommunication, a bad customer experience, and eventually, poor sales results.

Are your tools supporting your team?

Everything in your business fits together and impacts everything else. So, while the sales team might be physically separate from everyone else, they need to be on the same page.

It’s often not a problem with the sales team themselves; it’s the tools provided to them which dictate their ability to integrate with the rest of the business.

Ask yourself, why is sales performance as it is? Are you providing your sales team with the right tools? A good way to tell if this is a problem is to determine whether your current system enables teams to have:

Efficiency – Doing things manually takes time. Your team only has so many hours in the day. If you’re relying on them doing each task individually, they’ll struggle to achieve maximum selling capacity.

Communication – When teams are split up between offices, stores or even states, it’s important that they have an easy way of communicating with each other. This doesn’t even need to be phone calls or emails – it can simply be the sharing of information that both can access, view and edit.

Information – Sales teams rely on accurate and up-to-date stock and customer information to do their job. What’s in stock? When and what do customers usually buy? Their ability to sell (and upsell) relies on having this information at their fingertips.

Align and empower with an ERP system

In business, data is king. And this is no different for Sales teams. They can’t make the magic happen without a bit of input from the rest of the business. They need to have access to business data because it’s relevant to what and how they sell.

The first step to aligning your sales team to your business is recognising these needs and their involvement in the wider business. The second is providing them with the tools to make it happen.

This is where an ERP comes in. The right ERP – integrated in the right way for you – can empower and support Sales teams to improve both sales and customer service.

The right ERP system can offer:

Automation

Automate replies, quote follow-ups, marketing emails and more, to provide maximum efficiency without time constraints.

Customisation

Have a system that is built around the specific needs of your business and your teams to ensure that you’re only getting and paying for what you need, and that staff are fully supported and empowered in their roles.

Integration

Integrated systems and processes assist the team in understanding how their job fits into the overall business and gives them a wider view of what’s going on. Integrating CRM can also help Sales teams stay on top of – and improve – their customer service.

HARMONiQ is the first all-in-one solution that is designed to help Sales teams stay in the loop and improve their performance through access and alignment.

As a truly customisable and scalable software, HARMONiQ ensures that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to achieve business growth and alignment, please call me on 02 9542 2000 or email me at drew@micronet.com.au.

How an ERP system can improve your visibility – and your business

At any given time, a hundred different things are going on in your business that are all vital to its success. Receiving payments, closing sales, ordering, counting, delivering stock… Just thinking about it is enough to give you a headache.

Having a handle on every part of your business can feel impossible. But it’s also necessary for making the best business decision and ensuring success – which puts you in a tight spot.

I’ve worked with many businesses who struggle to make the best proactive decisions for their business, no matter how hard they work or how smart they are.  And a lot of the time, it’s been for the same reason – they have poor visibility.

Download HARMONiQ’s ERP Automation eBook here.

Are you running your business blind?

Poor visibility doesn’t mean you don’t know where your staff or stock are. It means you don’t have the data insights that can help you really see what’s going on in your business, and why.

Data – and the information it gives you – are the key to staying ahead of the competition, making smart business decisions, and growing your business. But many organisations aren’t utilising data as they should be.

This could be for many different reasons:

  • You’re relying on manual processes for some key tasks;
  • You’re using disparate systems that don’t work together;
  • Data is only examined to find an answer when something goes wrong; or
  • Running data reports is too hard and time-consuming.

Some or all of these might be true for you – either way, your systems aren’t set up in a way that supports you to make smarter business decisions.

Business data

Relying on manual processes could be holding your business back

Data is the common thread across all business processes

Data visibility doesn’t just affect one part of your business – it has the power to impact or improve across every single process and department.

That’s why you need something that will help all processes, not just some. An ERP system has the power to improve data visibility across the entire business, meaning you’ll be able to have eyes on everything.

I commonly see wholesale and distribution companies struggle with three key areas of business. Take a look at how data visibility and an integrated ERP can improve them :

Inventory

The lifeline of your business, inventory can be one of the most complex processes you deal with. Having proper visibility over every aspect of inventory – products, suppliers, pricing, quantities, orders, warehousing – will help you achieve your main business objective: to sell.

Visible inventory data can not only help you sell more through insights into buyer behaviour but can also help you save. Understanding the what, when, and who of your inventory means better strategic buying and ordering decisions. More sales and less cost are good news for you and your bottom line.

Customers and Market

While inventory control is important, it means nothing if you don’t have anyone to sell it to. With the right data visibility, you can identify all kinds of risks and opportunities within your customer market that will help you stay competitive and deliver high-level service. This includes:

  • What’s selling well;
  • How often and what each customer orders;
  • Quote follow up; and
  • Competitive pricing.

The most powerful thing data can do is show you where the problems are. Are you losing sales? If so, why? Is it because of follow up, staff or competitive offerings? With an ERP system, you’ll be able to identify issues and apply the resources to fix them.

Processes

Many businesses already use data, but often I see it utilised only when someone’s seeking an answer to a problem. If they’re not proactive and looking at the bigger picture, they miss the opportunity to implement procedural change and stop problems reoccurring. Without complete visibility, they don’t know what they’re doing well and what could be done better.

With easy access to the right data, you’ll have more opportunities to make strategic decisions and better plan for the future through forecasting and performance insights.

ERP System

An ERP system provides data visibility across your entire business

Put your data to use with the help of an ERP system

Data already exists in your business – it’s there, ready and willing to help you. It’s just waiting for you to implement the right tools.

When it comes to collecting, processing and accessing meaningful business data, nothing is more effective than an ERP system. ERP systems organise and interpret data so that it is:

  • Accessible – data can be accessed easily and shared across every team member if needed, in an easily interpretable and reportable mode;
  • Integrated – ERP integrates data across multiple systems, processes and departments, to give a wide and overviewed visibility of your entire business;
  • Efficient – Have clear and easy access to your data when and where you need it; and
  • Accurate Make sure your data is up to date and unchanged, and track any changes or edits that have been made.

HARMONiQ is a fully-customisable ERP system that is built to not only give you the personalised business data you need but grow and learn as your business does. So, you’ll never lose sight over your business – no matter how large or fast you grow.

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for any general enquiries.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to improve your business visibility and make data-driven decisions, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

Avoid disrupted growth with ERP systems

How an ERP system can help you avoid the heartache of disrupted growth

Growth is almost always a positive thing, especially when it comes to business.

If your business is growing, you can generally expect that will mean more customers, bigger profits and wider recognition of your brand. Overall, you’ll be more successful, right?

I’ve also seen business growth completely overwhelm businesses and cause them to miss their own expectations – and those of their customers.

This disappointment is nearly always because their systems and processes can’t keep up with the growth. As your business develops, so must the way you manage it – or your growth will suddenly come to a halt.

Download HARMONiQ’s ERP Automation eBook here.

As your business grows, so does the complexity of the everyday

Growth comes with a lot of ‘mores’. But while many people focus on the positive ‘mores’ – more sales, more customers – it’s important to consider the other ‘mores’ as well.

More inventory, more demand, more suppliers, more orders, more staff, more salaries to pay, more investment – more risk.

As the complexity of business grows, the complexity of the processes and procedures needed to carry out your day-to-day business will increase. As will the difficulty of managing them all successfully.

Your current system may have got you to a spot where further growth is possible, but will it continue to work as your business increases?

Think about your current tasks, and how they will change with growth:

  • Inventory – more stock coming in and out, across multiple warehouses and stores;
  • Management – more staff carrying out more tasks, with more room for error;
  • Pricing – increased pressure to offer competitive pricing, and the ability for reps to match customer price;
  • Quoting – increased writing and following up of hundreds of quote requests; and
  • Ordering – increased pressure to stay on top of stock depletion, know exactly how much and when you need to order, and to notify the right supplier.

If you had 10, five, even three times the amount of work you have now, would you still be able to keep up?

Avoid disrupted growth with ERP systems

Could your systems keep up with your businesses growth plans?

3 signs of a system optimised for growth

Pointing out the challenges of growth is not meant to scare you off, but it is meant to get you thinking. Before you commit to growing your business, you need to set yourself up to maintain that growth.

By making sure your systems are optimised now for future changes, you put yourself in a better position to sustain your growth. You need to effectively manage the challenges of growth if you want to enjoy the benefits.

When your system works with you and not against you, it doesn’t matter how big or small your business gets, you’ll have the power to run it well.

For this next stage of growth, your system needs to be:

Efficient

You can’t have more time in your day, so the way you manage the time you do have needs to improve. To make room for all those ‘mores’ we mentioned earlier, processes need to be streamlined and automated where they can, ensuring faster and more accurate work and lower labour costs.

Scalable

Growth is unpredictable, so you need to expect the unexpected. Having a system that can grow as you do (or shrink, if things take a downturn) will mean you never have to change or upgrade your system again. Scalability and flexibility are key so you can grow and change however you want, and know that it won’t affect how your business operates.

Integrated

You want your business to spread far and wide – but you don’t want your data to as well. Having systems that talk to each other and centralise all business data ensures easy access and visibility from anywhere. This integration makes communication much simpler and empowers staff – whether in sales, warehousing or accounts – to improve the way they do their job.

An ERP system provides an all-in-one answer

Some businesses decide to try and achieve these capabilities with quick fixes or band-aid solutions, such as system add-ons and extra staff. But if you’re committed to sustaining long-term growth, overhauling your processes with an ERP system is the best answer.

While traditionally only an option for big businesses, ERP systems are now predominately adopted by businesses with complex inventory and distribution processes that want to grow.

Implementing an ERP system is the most efficient way to achieve automation across your business. ERP’s are fully integratable, and can streamline processes throughout your entire operation, including:

  • Warehousing and distribution;
  • CRM;
  • Inventory management;
  • Sales; and
  • Reporting.

If you’re willing to invest in growth, investing in ERP should be at the top of your list.

HARMONiQ is ERP software specifically designed to provide all the benefits of ERP while remaining customisable enough to work for your specific business and grow as you do.

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for a no-obligation chat and software trial.

ERP System automation

Unlock the value in quotes and turn them into sales with automation

Running a successful and competitive business isn’t easy (or cheap), so it’s important to find value wherever you can.

There are many different ways managers try to add value and profit to their business: pricing better, buying better, cash control, speed to market… The list goes on.

In my experience though, the place that most value is locked up in is the place most likely to be overlooked: quotes.

Many inventory-based companies provide a significant number of detailed quotes. While a lot of effort goes into compiling the quotes, less emphasis is put on following them up, due to time or staffing constraints.

Your follow-up process doesn’t need to be complex or time-consuming. Something as simple as using an ERP system to automate an email could immediately multiply your revenue opportunities.

You miss 100% of the sales you don’t follow up

Maybe read that heading again, and reflect.

It doesn’t take much to be able to see the potential value in your quotes – just some simple math. Take the example of one engineering company I’ve worked with.

Their average quote size was around $3000, and they had three staff members, each processing approximately 30 quotes a day.

Now for the math:

3 salespeople x 30 quotes each x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year x $3000

If you don’t have a calculator handy, I can tell you that that’s just over $70 million worth of quotes a year.

However, their annual turnover was $10 million.

So, how does this happen?

It’s common to break quotes up based on their value:

  • Average (common, every-day quotes)
  • Good (decent sized, semi-regular quotes)
  • Great (the rare, high-value quotes)

Most businesses will put effort into following up the great, and sometimes the good, because they offer more individual value. But most of your annual revenue will be made up of the average sales – so why not put in the same level of effort to chase these?

The major issue holding businesses back from pursuing these regular every-day quotes is time. Sales staff are only human – when they’re processing a high volume of quotes each day, they don’t have the time to follow them all up individually.

But like our earlier example shows, this could be causing a huge gap between the sales you could be making, and the sales you are currently making.

automation in the warehouse

Not following up all quotes could be holding your business back from growth

Get time back on your side

The habit of only following up high-value deals is a practice that stems from building processes that centre around current or expected revenue, rather than possible revenue.

But when you break it down and see the difference between quote value and sale value, it’s pretty easy to see that simply following up more quotes – no matter their value – can easily equal more sales.

Let me cheat a bit and restate the heading I used earlier: You miss 100% of the sales you don’t follow up

But how do you achieve this without more staff working longer hours?

The answer is automation.

Workflow automation allows you to automatically follow up every quote, without any extra burden on sales staff. Do this and you multiply your chances of customer re-engagement.

By automating a quote follow up email, you’ve automatically increased your chances of making a sale for no extra effort.

An investment in an ERP system is an investment in value

This type of automation capability is possible through an ERP system. ERP captures a variety of important customer data for you that you can then use to improve your service by not just automating, but customising a follow-up response.

A customised email is proven to be more engaging than a generic one. When it comes to your customers, no one size will fit all. Using an ERP system, you’ll be able to customise your follow-ups by:

  • Time
  • Customer
  • Product or service
  • Quote size
  • Next step

After a customer gets a quote, they sometimes decide they’re no longer interested or would prefer to go elsewhere. But often, it’s simply that they have become busy and forget. Or they need more information. Or just need a little bit of a push.

If you don’t follow up, you never know what could’ve been and leave money on the table for your business. If you do follow up, you’re maximising the potential value in every single quote. Your opportunity for increased revenue has multiplied considerably, and your investment in ERP has just paid for itself.

And on top of the increased profit opportunities, you’ll ensure:

  • Your customers get a better, more customised and relevant service;
  • Your costs remain low because everything is automated;
  • Your staff will have more time to focus on high-value work.

You can’t invest in more time, but you can invest in better systems. Discover if an ERP system is the right move for you by downloading our free ERP automation eBook here.

If you’d like to learn more about the value of ERP implementation, click here to contact HARMONiQ.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the inventory management in your business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

Data-driven decision making through an ERP

Improve decision-making through data insights with ERP software

One of the biggest benefits of ERP software is the access and visibility that it gives you to your business data.

Whether or not you use ERP software, you will have lots and lots of data floating around your business. But only with an ERP system will you be able to easily and accurately utilise that data to improve your decision-making and business outcomes.

Learning from your experiences (and mistakes) is one of the best ways to improve – but if you can’t clearly see what has and hasn’t worked for your business, you won’t be able to improve.

The more you see and the more you know, the better decisions you can make – and the faster you can grow your business.

Overlooking data is overlooking opportunities

Without being able to view, analyse and report on your data and processes, you’re running your business blind.

You’re missing out on the easiest and cheapest way to improve your business procedures and future decision making – your existing business data.

Without the proper system in place, you’ll be left in the dark about:

  • Customer buying habits
  • When to order stock, and how much
  • The performance of different locations, or productivity in relation to expenses
  • Opportunities to improve efficiency in
  • Sales performance by location or date

Not having a clear view of what is working well, what isn’t, and the opportunities that are there for the taking can cost time, money and growth opportunities. And if your competitors are doing it better, you won’t be able to keep up.

NEED:

One of the reasons it’s so difficult for businesses to utilise their existing data is because accessing and interpreting it can be incredibly hard.

Disparate systems mean data is stored all over the place – and it’s not always accurate or easy to access. This can be rectified through:

Integration

By having all your systems speak to each other (and to all your staff), data can be easily shared and communicated. This means no searching for it and wondering if it’s accurate – it’s centrally located and can’t be tampered with.

Automation

Automation capabilities mean data can be collected and collated automatically, removing human error. It also makes it easy and quick to run reports and undertake analysis of data from all over the business without having to put in any extra effort.

These two features help turn confusing data into useful information – information you can use to improve and transform your business.

Turn your data into business-changing information with ERP software

Lots of data can be overwhelming, but when you have a way to organise it into organised information you can use it to your advantage.

An ERP system can not only allow you access to data, but makes it meaningful – allowing you to get new insights into your business, your inventory and your customers.

ERP software integrates your systems and automates your processes – and records everything along the way, for simple and easy access to business insights. By using these insights, you can make clear decisions about stock, management, sales and more.

For more information about how ERP software can revolutionise your data and improve your business decision, download our free ERP Automation eBook here, or visit the HARMONiQ home page.

Automated workflow software

What is workflow automation software – and why do you need it?

Workflow automation software immediately sounds like something confusing and complex. But in reality, it is something quite the opposite.

Workflow automation software works to simplify and control complex business processes, by integrating systems, automating processes and carrying out certain rules.

One of the biggest costs to inventory and distribution businesses is lost time and stock, through inefficient and unproductive processes.

By eliminating and automating time-consuming, confusing and inaccurate tasks, you immediately save your business from these costs.

Are you losing more time than you can afford?

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Many business processes take a long time – and have to be repeated over and over again for each order, delivery, and invoice.
  • Data is inaccurate because it’s too old, or someone has manually entered it incorrectly
  • Training new staff is difficult and time-consuming, and business is slowed down during these times
  • You don’t have visibility over the entire workflow, and teams don’t have visibility over what each other are doing

These are all signs of a manual and unintegrated system. It’s inefficient and it drains productivity with repetitive, error-prone tasks, no strict process rules and confusing communication.

When it comes down to it, time is money, and overall these inefficient practices will cost your business and see you fall behind competitors.

Create time-saving rules with workflow automation software

The reason a lot of these problems happen is because of one basic idea – there are no clear process rules in place.

Sure, you might have told and trained staff on how to do things and have general business ‘best practice’. But this can be taken to a whole new level with automation.

Workflow automation software allows you to easily streamline tasks and ensure they’re uniform across the business. It allows you to set the rules – and then enforces them every single time.

So, what does this look like?

  • Every task can only be carried out one way – the way you set it up to be
  • You can schedule updates and communications to teams and customers in advance
  • Data is stored in a central system for access and accuracy
  • Thanks to point one, training becomes simple and stress-free
  • You have full visibility over all processes being carried out

When you can see the entire workflow, you can recognise and minimise errors, and people across the business can improve outcomes.

Workflow automation takes processes that usually take expertise and close management and automates them – saving time, money and mistakes.

Start embracing the benefits of automation

Workflow automation software is helpful for all businesses but essential for those with manual, multiple or confusing processes. As well as those trying to grow.

Through workflow automation software you can immediately:

  • Reduce tedious manual tasks
  • Improve communication
  • Reduce data inaccuracies
  • Remove reliance on paper and find things more easily

The beauty is, the more you use it the more uses you’ll find for it.

Workflow automation software is how many businesses, regardless of size, are improving their business management. From managing stock to sales and everything in between.

To find out more about whether workflow automation software is the right answer for your business, download our free ERP Automation eBook here, or visit the HARMONiQ home page.