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4 ways Australian businesses are leveraging process automation for competitive advantage

In competitive industries such as manufacturing, distribution, or wholesale businesses, continuing to rely on how things have always been done can be the fastest way to being left behind. This is why many Australian businesses are leveraging process automation.

While operational change can be daunting – it can often involve a significant investment of time and finances – the benefit of updating your processes and leveraging the right technology, greatly outweigh such costs.

While working with many Australian businesses to help them take some innovative steps towards leveraging process automation, I’ve observed some impressive examples of how they are using technology for a competitive advantage by:

  • Increasing staff productivity;
  • Streamlining their reporting;
  • Better managing suppliers; and
  • Improving customer satisfaction.

I’ve compiled a few of them here, so you can find out how to spend less time on manual and administrative tasks, more time on income-generating activities, and also become more effective at driving revenue for your business.


If you’re looking for new ways to be leveraging process automation, why not join the Automate Your Business Workshop in your state. Registration is free – and in two hours we’ll cover how to:

  • Identify the key areas of your business that will most benefit from automation
  • Minimise lost sales and unnecessary costs by eliminating a few manual processes
  • Automate marketing and communications while retaining a personal touch; and
  • Improve your strategic decision making through increased visibility and accountability in your business.

Register in your state now:

  1. Brisbane – 26th July, 3PM to 5PM
  2. Melbourne – 27th July, 3PM to 5PM
  3. Sydney – 28th July, 3PM to 5PM
  4. Perth – 11th August, 3PM to 5PM

Register Now


Here are 4 clever ways businesses are leveraging process automation to their advantage:

  1. Use systems that integrate rather than isolate

While I’ve just talked about how technology is the best way to improve efficiency in your business, it’s important to remember that the wrong technology can also be your downfall.

While it may be necessary to have a variety of different systems providing point solutions, having multiple systems working in isolation can create a range of inefficiencies, such as having to:

  • Import and exporting data between systems;
  • Enter the same data multiple times;
  • Deal with errors and inconsistencies; and
  • Make decisions without whole-picture visibility of your businesses.

Businesses that use software that integrates all aspects of the business (accounting, inventory management, customer service, eMarketing, etc.) can easily identify, and eliminate instances in which staff duplicate their efforts, make errors, or repeat data entry. It also provides staff the opportunity to use a single sign on. So you can minimise time wasted on these mundane and easily automated tasks.

Ask your software vendors if they can offer you the ability to automate the integration of your key business systems. While this is not the ideal solution – managing multiple integrations between solutions can become quite tedious as a business grows – it can make a real difference in the short term.

If your software vendors can’t deliver such integration, or you want to get it right from the word go, ensure that any business management system you implement provides a single platform for all your key functions to achieve optimum efficiency, visibility, and control.

  1. Outsource your reporting – to your software!

Monitoring your KPIs through robust reporting is a great way to ensure your business stays on the right. But to do this, you often need to dedicate significant resources towards data compilation and analytics.

However, savvier businesses know that this doesn’t always have to be the case. You no longer require a full-time staffer to crunch the numbers, conduct analyses, and keep you on track. You can make your business management software do it for you!

By making full use of their reporting tools, leading businesses generate reports to ensure their financials are on track, to hold sales staff accountable for their targets, and to generate pipeline analytics. So not only do they track how they’ve done in the past, they also use data to plan intelligently for the future.

If you already have a business management system, make sure you’re fully utilising your range of reporting tools. If not, make sure that a strong reporting and analysis capability is part of what you demand in your next business management software investment.

  1. Proactively encourage better service from your suppliers

In industries such as your own, it’s quite common to deal with numerous suppliers every day. And I’m sure you’ll agree it can be quite laborious to chase them up every time you’re out of stock, or they’re overdue on their deliveries.

Best-of-breed businesses have found ways to simplify this altogether. Here are a couple of examples of how businesses have leveraged their software to manage their suppliers more proactively:

  • Whenever they are out of stock, the system will automatically trigger an email to the supplier, and can even send reminders if the shipment if not received by a certain date.
  • Another solution is to set up a DIFOT (Delivery-In-Full-On-Time) report that ranks suppliers according to their performance. The right system should not only automate the generation of the report for you, but can also send a notification to your suppliers to keep them motivated to deliver the best service to you.

These are a few examples of set-it-and-forget-it tasks that can encourage improvements in the level of service you get from your suppliers, while also saving time for your staff. And of course, while this particular example relates to supplier relationships, this is far from the only application for such automation.

  1. Keep your customers engaged with regular communication at minimal effort

Businesses frequently rely solely on staff to action follow-up tasks and respond to customer enquiries, but on occasion, a task will fall through the cracks, an opportunity will be missed, and your customer service record may be compromised as a result. In a situation where you depend heavily on referrals and return business, this can be a serious problem.

This is where I’ve seen businesses that use their CRMs (Customer Relationship Management systems) intelligently achieve significant advantage in customer satisfaction. Some examples of what they do:

  • Automatic follow-ups to quotes;
  • Targeted emails to touch base with existing customers every few months; and
  • Prompt repeat business by triggering personalised follow-up emails to customers who have deviated from their usual buying habits.

By using a CRM to automate these tasks, you could be saving time and effort for your staff, while also continuing to maintain meaningful relationships with your customers and driving increased sales!

As strong advocates for automation, we’ve helped businesses leverage technology to increase their efficiency and profitability with our HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software.

HARMONiQ is a unique platform that gives you:

  • Integration between various aspects of your business by incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules into one easy-to-use solution;
  • The ability to track key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing you to forecast your outcomes and make more informed decisions;
  • Visibility over inventory and supplier performance, and allows you to automate tasks such as generating alerts for out-of-stock items or late deliveries; and
  • Automation of simple selling and sales support tasks, such as sending follow up emails for quotes, or setting reminders for follow up calls.

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise your business processes. As a truly customisable and scalable software, you can leverage HARMONiQ to drive significant efficiencies, while also ensuring that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging process automation and other great technology to achieve significant efficiency improvements in your business, please call me on 02 9542 2000.

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 sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

Three of the best inventory management techniques every SME should be using

If you’re in the manufacturing, warehousing, retail or distribution industries, you understand the challenges of staying up to date with the best inventory management techniques.

Working with similar companies across Australia and New Zealand, whenever we discuss inventory, it’s always bout how much everybody just hates keeping track of stock. And due to this disdain, business owners struggle with stock losses, wastages, and dead stock – all eating away at their bottom line.

Considering the amount of investment tied up in inventory, as well as its revenue potential, there are plenty of reasons to start treating your stock with more respect. Especially considering that stock-taking and inventory management don’t have to be painful. Ever wondered how the best-of-breed businesses do it?

Here are three of the best inventory management techniques to improve how you deal with your stock.

 

1.    Start treating your stock like cash

Start treating your stock like cash

You wouldn’t tolerate mismanagement of cash – so why tolerate mismanagement of stock? Start treating your stock like cash!

Most businesses don’t treat their stock with the same importance of cash. Mismanagement of cash wouldn’t be tolerated in most businesses – so why do so many businesses continue to mismanage stock?

When staff have little respect for stock, it gets neglected – stocktakes are inaccurate, products aren’t replenished, and there’s little accountability. And many businesses just don’t have the processes in place to easily track, monitor, and understand stock movements within the company. But that’s not an excuse when it directly impacts your bottom line.

If you want to minimise risk, losses, and wastage – you have to start treating stock like cash. That includes crunching the numbers in order to understand:

  • How much stock you’ve got coming in;
  • When you can expect that stock;
  • How quickly you will move the stock;
  • When you’ll need to re-order;
  • From whom you re-order to get the best price; and
  • How much you need to order to get the best price.

Getting some process and rigor in place around understanding your stock, allows you to plan better for the future, avoid making unnecessary orders, and make smart decisions based on actual data.

2.    Improving your DIFOT performance with automation

One of the reasons staff hate dealing with stock so much is because it’s just so tediously manual. And it’s not surprising why staff dislike stocktakes, placing replenishment orders, and following up late deliveries – there’s not much to love. But it still needs to get done if you want to meet your DIFOT objectives.

So how do you kill two birds with one stone? Automate!

With automation, not only do you save your staff from manual, error-prone tasks they hate doing – you’re also very likely to improve your DIFOT ratings through sheer efficiency. And that helps you stay ahead of competitors who are late to the automation party.

With the right inventory management system, you could automate a range of stock-related tasks. For example, with automated workflows and reports you can set your system up to:

  • Detect which stock items are nearing depletion, and notify your staff;
  • Create an auto-replenishment request to your chosen suppliers for items low in stock;
  • Identify and notify suppliers when they have not delivered on time or in full.

Here’s an example of how we detect items low in stock using HARMONiQ.

Here’s a report generated by HARMONiQ that highlights exactly which items are low in stock. Allowing you prioritise replenishments.

Here’s a report generated by HARMONiQ that highlights exactly which items are low in stock. Allowing you prioritise replenishment orders.

 

HARMONiQ can even suggest replenishment orders for a particular supplier based on the min, max and reorder quantities on each stock item – all based on previous sales history.

HARMONiQ can even suggest replenishment orders for a particular supplier based on the min, max and reorder quantities on each stock item – all based on previous sales history.

 

3.    More functionality to better support your staff and customers

Accurate inventory figures makes for better-informed and more confident sales staff

Empower your staff with visibility over accurate stock information – allowing them to confidently make sales and avoid disappointing customers.

There are few things more tiresome than inaccurate stock data – this kind of misinformation results in frustrated staff, and even more frustrated customers.

So how do you,

  1. Make sure your inventory data is up-to-date and accurate?
  2. Give your staff access to it?

Firstly, you need to make sure you have an inventory system that’s capable of integrating with your POS (Point of Sale) system – so any time an order is placed, your inventory system is automatically updated, with no lag times due to data entry.

Secondly, choose an inventory system that gives all staff visibility over all inventory data, whether they’re back in operations, or customer-facing at retail stores. This arms them with the knowledge to make sales confidently, and accurately predict delivery times for out-of-stock items. By shaping your customers’ expectations accurately – you’ll be minimising the chance of disappointing them, and driving them to competitors.

So if your systems are currently not supporting you with accurate, automated and insightful inventory management, consider HARMONiQ.

HARMONiQ Business Tuning System is an all-in-one platform with advanced inventory management functionality. Including:

  • Advanced reporting to give you insights into inventory movement and performance. Create reports to show you exactly how stock is behaving, who your big buyers are, and who hasn’t ordered in a while. Make better decisions by being better informed about your inventory.
  • Customisable workflows to automate everything from stock replenishment to late delivery notifications to suppliers, allowing you to get rid of manual processes, and improve against your DIFOT objectives.
  • All-in-one platform with seamless integration to POS systems to provide all staff with visibility of accurate stock figures to better serve customers.

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise for exceptional inventory and stock management. As a truly customisable and scalable software, HARMONiQ ensures that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you’re looking for a system that supports improved inventory management techniques, let me give you an introduction to HARMONiQ in a quick, personal demo.

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

 

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 sales processes in your business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.