Have you ever thought that there’s something in your business that could maybe work a bit better? Whether it’s finding out when something is about to break, not after. Or your managers and directors are captives of your own business, always putting out fires rather than focusing on business development. Maybe it is something as simple as automating mundane manual processes to free up employee time. For most businesses, the answer is “yes, definitely.” But a lot of the time, it’s not disrupting business enough to warrant doing something about it.
We’ve been pretty lucky in the warehouse and distribution sector – most of the businesses I’ve worked with over the years have seen steady growth. They’ve dealt with this growth and subsequent operational changes by adding in systems when they need them. A CRM here, Business Intelligence Reporting there.
The problem with this approach is that gaps start appearing between these systems and processes. Things get missed, and it’s your people having to pick up the pieces.
This is where an ERP can make all the difference. Throughout this article, I take a deep dive look at what your business can achieve with an industry-specific ERP system in place that is customised to suit your industry and business needs.
The problems growing businesses face
Business systems are a critical asset for any business. Set up correctly, they become a key source of innovation and capability – protecting from workplace inefficiency and operational risk.
But this is only true if you are working with a comprehensive and fit-to-purpose solution.
Those businesses who are relying on disparate systems added “as needed” – or those still relying on original legacy solutions – will find themselves being held back. As they try to achieve growth, or try to manage natural growth, managing large inventories and customer bases becomes increasingly difficult.
Some of the most common problems I see are:
- Too many systems and poor integration
Businesses often find a great system that provides a specific solution, and then another great system for a different solution, and then on and on, building their digital infrastructure in this granular way. Once a business reaches a certain size, this can be problematic, as these solutions may not integrate with one another resulting in an inefficient and risk-exposed network.
- Fighting fires, rather than fixing problems
If management teams are rushing around putting out fires — fires that happen repeatedly — this is a major red flag. Businesses need to be able to find genuine, long-lasting solutions, rather than settling for quick fixes to immediate problems.
- Overreliance on specific competencies
Having a skilled team in place is great – but what about when one (or more) of them leaves and takes with them the skills and knowledge needed to operate the business? This is a serious danger of solely relying upon the specific competencies of key team members.
A little help from automation goes a long way
A lot of these problems can be brought back to the systems you have in place, and their ability to provide you with the right data, capabilities and processes that your business requires to run in the best way, for the longest period of time.
Every business has its weaknesses and the parameters in which it can effectively operate. That’s doesn’t put you at a disadvantage though – as long as you can define those parameters and work within them.
The best way to do that? Workflow automation.
Workflow automation is all about making operations smoother, jobs easier, and stopping risks before they have the chance to turn into serious disruption.
Think about a lot of the average features in today’s cars. Many of them now have sensors that’ll tell you if you’re moving out of your lane. All of them will warn you if you’re running out of fuel. Some will even point you towards the nearest petrol station.
Workflow automation does the same thing for your business. It allows you to:
- Set rules to automate mundane tasks so people can be engaged in more important tasks. – Just because we do it that way doesn’t mean it’s right or the most efficient way.
- Mitigate risks and recurring issues by identifying them and introducing prevention measures. – Tell me when it’s about to break, not when it’s broken.
- Receive notifications and alerts for important tasks or information. – I want to see when it’s up or down, not if everything is fine.
- Stop relying so heavily on your people. – Poor processes make managers and owners captives to the business, reducing how much time can be spent on business development.
Bring it all together with ERP
The easiest way to achieve workflow automation (and all the benefits it offers) is through implementing an ERP. With the right solution in place, you will experience a shift from a reactive, ‘one-step-behind’ approach and instead, adopt a proactive ‘ahead-of-the-curve’ stance.
A fit for purpose ERP solution can deliver:
With an ERP, you’ll be able to find key opportunities and then deploy automated workflows across as many manual processes as possible.
- A unified system
A unified ERP solution puts everything in one place, with easy unified integration that minimises missed tasks, data or operational flaws.
- Optimised ROI
Return on investment underpins everything in business. Each operation needs to be costed and signed off, and then the returns need to be analysed and tracked. This is something that can be achieved thanks to the data-driven tools within ERP.
- Data-driven approach
In today’s business landscape, understanding and insight are critical in every aspect of business. Data and reports are readily accessible from ERP and intuitive interfaces and user commands make sure that everyone can benefit from the advantages this insight brings.
Selecting the Right ERP for Your Business
An efficient business is an effective business, reducing the costs that come from inefficiencies and meeting the needs of customers with flexibility and agility. With this in mind, adopting an ERP solution becomes a best practice that your business needs to succeed in the market.
Thanks to a range of different automated processes and thanks to the data and insight that the solution puts right at your fingertips, you can transform your business into a well-oiled, highly efficient machine.
Implementing an ERP solution is a positive step for your business, but you need to make sure that you find a solution that matches the unique needs of your organisation. HARMONiQ is a fully-customisable ERP system that is built to grow and learn as your business does. So, you’ll never lose oversight of your business – no matter how large or fast you grow.
Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome ineffective business systems and processes by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss ERP automation and improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.