Enterprise resource planning represents a bold new vision for distribution and how distribution companies operate. Let's take a look at how ERP software changes the game on one of the world's most pervasive and complex industries:
ERP: The ultimate insurance policy for supply chains
When your supply chain extends around the globe, you reach bigger audiences, better vendors and valuable untapped markets. Yet with all that reward comes substantial risk as well. According to the International Risk Management Institute, half of all businesses experience more than one supply chain disruption annually, and nearly 55 percent of disruption events cost more than $25 million. One in five cost over $500 million to remedy.
Could your business absorb a $500 million loss and bounce right back? If your answer is “no,” you’re in the same boat as 99.9% of companies around the world.
The best way to manage a potential loss, as every insurance company knows, is to be ready to prevent it long before it happens. Advanced ERP software helps distributors and manufacturers forecast disruptions before they happen by using powerful analytics capabilities. An abas ERP system also provides data-driven insight into how exactly to steer clear of trouble. In the event a disruption occurs, distributors can glean the intelligence needed to act decisively and mitigate the (potentially monstrous) financial repercussions.
Half of all businesses experience more than one supply chain disruption annually.
Visibility for everybody across all channels anywhere
As businesses break down silos and unify their workforces, they'll require a data management system that does the same. In distribution, however, businesses not only smash walls between departments - they may also be connecting different business partners, countries, cultures and currencies. Because of this, distributors must integrate with software capable of facilitating the financial and operational ramifications of cross-border commerce, like dashboards that report key metrics in various exchange rates.
Moreover, transparency benefits customers as well - ERP solutions can help businesses relay information to customers through fulfillment notifications before and after delivery. Such real-time communication keeps customers both updated and happy. And even if a distribution company's reach stays comparatively close to home, that business will still need mobile technology for communication and collaboration wherever its employees roam. It doesn't matter if you're traveling 1000 miles for new customers or 1000 feet to check on your inventory, mobile access to master data stores is essential to today's distributor. Not every employee wants to be anchored to his or her desk and desktop computer. Actually, almost nobody likes to be “stuck” at a computer when we have amazing computers in our pockets no matter where we go. And we all have places to go and, especially for successful distributors, customers and prospects to see.
Add automations for incremental efficiency gains
The right ERP software can teach its users a lot about the work they do, particularly how to simplify it. Because of how many moving parts are involved in the manufacture and safe delivery of a product, not every push forward can be a manual one, or else distributors will run themselves ragged with over-management.
Automated notifications - one feature prevalent in ERP software - prevent distributors from succumbing to the inertia a more hands-on process practically guarantees. While distributors worry about physical goods, their ERP solutions are fast at work. A new sale or return sets the ball in motion and automatically transmits data to appropriate parties for appropriate follow up action, documenting changes throughout, thereby reducing manual data entry work and also storing valuable information for later insights. No more time-wasting hunting for “lost” data or inputting information that’s already in one system (i.e., finance) but not another (your CRM system).
Being seamless with your data, and having it accessible and shareable across all your business areas, something abas ERP enables, means that your customers won’t be asking, “hey, I already gave this information to your sales rep, so why doesn’t the right hand know what the left hand is doing over there?” You need to be integrated, with your operations, across all your business units, with your supply chains and your business partners, with your regulators and compliance obligations, and (of course) with your customers and their data.
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Distribution, like manufacturing, is a tough business filled with far-flung risks that can leave you exposed financially and leave your reputation in tatters. When it comes to managing your key risks, having insurance isn’t enough, you need visibility into your operations and organization. An ERP system provides exactly that, confirming the old saying that “knowledge (we’ll call it “data” or “information”) is power.”
When things go wrong, when potential risks like lost shipments or defective products become all too real, you can’t expect much sympathy from impacted customers or supply chain partners. In fact, you should expect them to be breathing down your neck for answers (data) and fast solutions. If you’re not agile and flexible with your systems, and don’t have access to relevant data, you’ll be caught flat-footed and, yes, liable to cover the losses that ensue. If you don’t want to be “that guy” who has no answers to pressing questions, then get a great ERP system that gives you data visibility into all you do.