Lost inventory getting you down? Fight inventory shrinkage with process automation.

It’s estimated that Australian wholesalers and retailers lose an average of 1.24% of total turnover per year through various forms of inventory shrinkage.

That adds up to a huge amount of money — last year alone, it was estimated that a staggering $4.5 billion was lost due to inventory shrinkage in Australia’s retail, warehousing and distribution sector.

Most businesses attribute a large portion of these losses to theft and breakage. While these factors do play a significant part in lost capital, there’s no denying the huge losses that are caused by inefficiencies and errors.

Inventory Shrinkage

Inventory shrinkage is a massive cost for Australian businesses

By inefficiencies, I mean:

  • Unchecked stock variances, or the excessive monitoring of variances
  • Invoicing errors
  • Administrative mistakes
  • Double-handling of inventory and tasks

And the worst part?

Often these expensive drains on productivity are either passed onto our customers, or simply taken as a hit to the company’s bottom line.

So, how can businesses, like yours, minimise their costs when it comes to dealing with variances and shrinkage?

The best way is the adoption of process automation.

See how process automation can help you control costs: HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margins and Costs eBook

How manual processes are wasting your time

The following are just two of the many examples where the speed and productivity of a business is drastically affected by processes that have not yet been optimised.

Inefficient Exception Reporting

Exception reporting is the process of flagging any discrepancies between a company’s actual and expected performance. It is an essential part of controlling costs and tightening margins, but completing it manually causes all sorts of problems.

There are so many points in the reporting process that are prime opportunities for errors and inefficiencies:

  • Scrutiny of inbound stock data
  • Analysis of outbound stock data
  • Data entry across a number of different points
  • Reconciling data across different systems.

Not only is this hugely inefficient, but an error in any one of these steps means massive inaccuracies across all reporting.

Needless to say, the whole process is prone to administrative and paperwork errors that can contribute in driving your business’s inventory shrinkage.

Delayed Variance Investigations

A good example of a knock-on effect from inaccurate reporting is the way it can affect stock variance.

Adjustments and variances tend to pile-up. If you’re waiting weeks, or even months, before you sift through paperwork and complete investigations, then you’re in huge danger of chasing red herrings and failing to identify the real source of the issues.

By this time these situations will have become not only more difficult to identify and resolve, but more expensive as well.

For example, you might discover that you have been short-delivered stock far too late. Obviously, this is not ideal for a myriad of reasons, but it’s the lost capital that’s going to hurt the most.

That’s the advantage of process automation — real-time alerts of excessive variances and the easy identification of problem areas.

process automation

Administration issues contribute greatly to inventory shrinkage

How you can get a better grip on your stock — and your margins

Although it will likely always be a factor for any retailer or warehouse, inventory shrinkage can be massively reduced with greater automation.

See how process automation can help you gain visibility and increase efficiency: HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margins and Costs eBook

Automating inventory parameters

Once you have process automation integrated within your business, you can set parameters to avoid various triggers of inventory shrinkage. With these parameters you can set alerts for whenever you go above or below acceptable stock levels.

This way you can make sure that you never promise a customer a product that you don’t have, or over order stock that will pass a use-by date before it is sold.

Automated stock adjustments

Process automation can also let you know when stock adjustments have been completed. This means any issues that come up relating to invoicing or stock levels can be immediately dealt with.

With this process in place you will know in real-time if you need to chase up that supplier who forgot to deliver that one extra pallet before it becomes an issue for your customers.

The best part? Implementing process automation doesn’t have to be difficult

HARMONiQ has already helped many wholesalers, retailers and distributers reduce their inventory shrinkage, and ultimately create a much healthier turnover.

HARMONiQ can provide you with

  • Real time alerts
  • Accurate adjustments
  • Easy reporting
  • Stock investigations

To learn more about the capabilities of our system, check out our eBook.

In my next blog I’ll be talking about how process automation and cost controls can contribute to a competitive advantage.

In the meantime, book an online demo to see how process automation can benefit your business.

 

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.

3 essential considerations before you implement new margin and cost controls

In a globalised market that is fiercely competitive, your business needs to outperform its competitors wherever and whenever it can.

One huge opportunity for competitive advantage is margin and cost optimisation.

Last month, we established the importance of introducing tighter margin and cost controls. (And the risks of not doing it.)

The next step: how to implement those controls.

As much as you might want to jump straight into a new approach — knee-jerk, short-lived changes can put your staff off side, and do more harm than good.

How do you ensure your new approach lasts?

Taking an integrated, project-based approach is the best way. But it’s not without its own challenges.

HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution businesses put in place the metrics and controls they need to stay more competitive.

We even created a whole eBook about it. Download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs eBook here.

In this month’s blog, I’m discussing what you have to think through before you get down to implementing tighter controls…

3 essential considerations

1.How effective is your change management?

“Creating sustainable cost transformation is not a change in process – it is a change in thinking that requires complete organisational commitment and involvement.” – Tania Seary, The Faculty

For change to occur – a complete staff buy-in is needed

Your management’s ability to prepare and support your team in making fundamental changes will be a defining factor in your success

You will need to establish a culture of cost and margin optimisation.

This new culture must be embraced by all. It won’t happen if senior management is resistant and staff is not involved.

How do you ensure organisational commitment and involvement?

First, you need to make sure it’s not seen as a cost cutting exercise.

The initiative needs to be embraced as a positive, value-adding endeavour –  to identify and leverage every point where you add (or don’t add) value for your customer.

Second, senior management must commit up front to the mission – its importance – and the process to ensure staff buy-in all the way down the line.

2. Have you decided on the right metrics and controls?

To make the right decisions you need to be measuring the right metrics

With today’s modern technologies, businesses can measure almost anything — it’s choosing what to filter out that’s the real challenge.

You need to find the true primary and secondary drivers of your business’ value chain. These are the activities that provide significant value to the end-user – and consequently, competitive advantage to the business.

For example: Is your logistical ability to deliver product more quickly than competitors delivering value to your customers? Or is this unimportant to the customer, and a cheaper alternative could win the day?

A deep dive into each of your organisational activities will highlight the true value drivers. This will ultimately allow you to

  • Reduce the cost of invaluable activities
  • Spend to add value where it truly matters for your customers
  • And make your business more competitive as a result.

3. How will you embed the new controls into your business

Reporting on your new metrics must become a core part of your organisation

When you’ve decided your metrics, you’ll need to set up your business systems to track, measure, and report on them.

But that’s not just a one-time project.

It’s a continuous process that needs to be imbedded into everyday operations – kept top of mind – and used long-term as an ongoing management tool.

It’s imperative that you ensure the project isn’t forgotten just because it is a continuous project.

At the same time, your metrics need to remain flexible, adaptable to market changes and open to continuous improvement

What happens when you get it right

Once you’ve done the initial hard work, your business will benefit long term from your ability to:

  • Make informed business decisions
  • Cut costs
  • Implement consistent controls, while allowing staff room to negotiate on prices
  • Access one source of truth for all aspects of your business
  • Get accurate real time reporting
  • Encourage team collaboration
  • Get better at purchasing, selling, and negotiating

But most importantly… cost and margin control ultimately means you’ll be more profitable and competitive.

Why not learn more! Download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs e-book.

Next month, I’ll bring you more insights on how to keep up with rapid changes in the retail, warehousing and distribution industries.

And if you’d like to see how our system can help you gain control and streamline your processes, click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.

 

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.

Tightening cost and margin controls to weather uncertain times

A decade of blistering change — technology advances, economic uncertainties and rising customer expectations — has shifted the ground seismically for retail, warehousing and distribution businesses.

And there’s only more uncertainty ahead. Probably the greatest threat (or opportunity, depending on where you sit) is the growing inroads made by e-commerce.

The arrival of Amazon, in particular, has everyone on edge. According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, 52% of Australian businesses see Amazon as a threat. Yet only 25% have a plan to compete with the online shopping giant.

With uncontrollable threats to business-as-usual crashing in from all sides, the need to better control what you can control in your business is more vital than ever.

And one area where too many businesses control less than they could? Managing margin and costs.

3 common cost and margin control failings

We’ve worked with a wide range of businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand to pinpoint where they’re vulnerable, and where and how controls need to be tightened.

In fact, we’ve created a whole e-book about it: download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs here.

Meanwhile, these are three areas in particular where I see repeated underperformance — and serious risk to the business as a result.

1. Inefficiencies lurking in systems and processes

It is paramount your business technology system stays up to date in order to spot inefficiencies early on.

Technology advances keep rolling in and can make a live-or-die difference to your operations — and ultimately, your bottom line.

Those whose systems and processes fall behind can lose ground competitively, and see margins progressively eroded by cascading inefficiencies like:

  • Excess downtime;
  • Haphazard and un-optimised e-commerce sites;
  • Errors in distribution, stocktake, or inventory; and,
  • Rising customer complaints and defections.

What’s needed today: a thorough and continuous process of technology re-assessment.

Businesses that want to be nimble enough to survive the unexpected need regular forensic analysis of their operations to:

  • Map out and thoroughly understand businesses processes;
  • Break down and quantify cost components;
  • Spot inefficiencies early;
  • Identify risks and vulnerabilities; and,
  • Uncover potential improvements and their financial impact.

2. Not knowing where to invest and where to cut costs

To tighten your businesses cost and margin controls effectively, you need a system that gives you visibility of all your financial decisions.

Companies that can’t precisely understand, monitor and manage costs and margins can too easily make the wrong financial decisions — and undermine their ability to stay competitive:

  • Opting for short-term financial gains, vs investing in long-term competitiveness and growth;
  • Under-investing in ‘good costs’ — the elements that add value for customers and competitiveness for the business; and,
  • Over-spending on ‘bad costs’ — the ones that don’t add intrinsic value to your business

What’s needed today: the right metrics and controls to provide a solid business case for your spending decisions.

This requires:

  • Identification of the true drivers of cost and margin performance in your business;
  • A business system that automates their tracking, measurement and reporting; and,
  • A culture of margin and cost optimisation across the entire organisation

3. Software and systems that just aren’t up to the task

Your business needs to be supported by one cohesive system.

Having production line, inventory, pricing and other systems spread across multiple platforms might once have been manageable.

And for smaller businesses certain simple, cheap, easily accessible solutions seemed to make sense, even if they were cumbersome, error-prone and less than optimal.

That’s just not good enough anymore, for businesses of any size.

A lack of reliable, integrated systems and data isn’t just a headache. It can cost a fortune, hold your business back and even threaten its viability:

  • Monitoring production costs and margin controls becomes imprecise, difficult and time-consuming;
  • The flexibility you and your staff need to meet the market is hampered;
  • Problems and inefficiencies get overlooked; and,
  • Opportunities for growth or improvement are missed.

What’s needed today: up-to-date, integrated software that provides full margin and cost visibility and control

Very simply – your software and systems need to let you:

  • Monitor and interpret data across the entire operation;
  • Spot problems in real time;
  • Operate flexibly, but within strategically-defined constraints; and,
  • Act swiftly on factors affecting your bottom line

Any of these issues sound familiar?

HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution business put in place the metrics and controls they need to make an immediate impact on their bottom line.

Next month, I’ll talk more about ways to implement tighter margin and cost controls.

Meanwhile, why not learn more: download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs e-book.

And if you’d like to see how our system can help you gain control and weather the pressures ahead, click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.

 

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.

How to gain efficiency with an automated warehouse system

Many businesses find that as they grow, their warehousing becomes inefficient and drags behind them. Very few businesses have warehouses optimised for productivity, and continuing to rely on labour-intensive processes results in poor resource utilisation and ineffective inventory management.

The consequences of inefficient warehousing are numerous and affect all aspects of an organisation, especially revenue generation. It also affects customer satisfaction, particularly when their products are delayed or lost due to disorganisation.

Automated mobile warehousing is becoming an increasingly attractive option as businesses seek a dramatic improvement in their productivity and stocktake process, as well as seeking to have control over their inventory.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully implement smarter warehousing. I’ve seen the most common challenges small to medium businesses face, and have provided access to the tools they need to overcome them.

In this month’s blog, I’ve outlined the three ways that an automated warehouse system can improve previously labour-intensive tasks, and the significant increase in productivity that happens as a result.

 

3 ways that automated warehousing can simplify previously labour-intensive tasks

1. Increase pick efficiency

automated warehouse system

Increased pick efficiency allows you to better deliver your products to your customers

Knowing where products are located in your warehouse is a basic necessity—you need this knowledge for picking stock, which is the first step in delivering your product to a customer. But many organisations, due to incorrectly labelled goods or other reasons, have inaccurate picking methods. Errors in stock management lead to a negative cycle of pick inefficiency in which goods are continuously handled incorrectly and rushed out, leading to a knock-on effect into purchasing and re-stocking. This ultimately results in massive holes in the system that require extra work from warehouse employees to try and mitigate.

In an ideal warehouse, stock is correctly labelled and managed, leading to optimised pick time and making the process much easier. Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how an automated warehouse system can increase pick efficiency and save you time.

2.Accurate stocktakes 

automated warehouse system

Changing up your stocktake process saves time and improves accuracy in stock management

Most companies see stocktakes as something to be scheduled annually. This often involves shutting down the warehouse for the day, and beginning a slow, labour-intensive process that ultimately results in inaccurate stock levels.

Instead, stocktakes need to be optimised for efficiency and accuracy. We’ve found that the best way to do this is to avoid annual stocktakes, and instead utilise the downtime that happens between couriers. An automated warehouse system allows you to use spare moments to run a cyclic continuous stocktake, which increases efficiency and accuracy.

To learn how smarter warehousing can optimise the stocktake process and make it less labour-intensive, download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

3.Better warehouse layout 

automated warehouse system

Improving your warehouse layout ensures processes and tasks are actioned faster.

Warehouses usually have one layout plan developed right at the beginning of the moving-in process, and then stock stays in that arrangement forever. This means that as products change, or you get more of them based on demand, the warehouse layout stays the same and isn’t optimised for efficiency.

Ideally, the warehouse layout would be improved in much the same way as stocktakes would—using moments of downtime to re-shelve products. A better warehouse layout would lead to a better pick-rate and replenishment system. By continually adapting the warehouse layout to respond to the demands of picking, the process would drive efficiency and be less labour-intensive, leading to on-time deliveries and even more time to do other tasks.

Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how smarter warehousing can dramatically improve efficiency in your organisation.

 

How can I start leveraging automated warehousing in my business?

As well as eliminating or simplifying labour intensive tasks, organisations driven by an automated warehouse system have the edge over their competitors because they are able to:

  • Save time and money;
  • Improve stock accuracy;
  • Reduce overstocking and shrinkage;
  • Track items from ‘goods in’ to ‘goods out’;
  • Automatically update stock records in real time;
  • Minimise picking times and picking errors;
  • Assign barcodes for loose or un-barcoded items; and
  • Carry out rolling stock takes.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your next step guide on becoming an organisation driven by smarter warehousing—because your computer system should not be a barrier to implementing an effective stock management process.

If you would like to see the impact HARMONiQ’s Mobile Warehousing can have on your business, then click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.

 

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 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.

3 reasons why every business should be thinking about inventory control

There’s no doubt that gaining control of your stock and learning how to manage it is one of the most challenging things you could do for your business. The best way to think about stock is to treat it like cash – if you wouldn’t leave $100 notes lying around your warehouse, why would you leave your stock unchecked and waiting to go missing? Learning how to efficiently manage stock is critical.

More and more businesses are thinking about how to optimise their stock management strategy – using tools and equipment to control their inventory in order to balance customer needs while minimising the cost of carrying excess items.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully gain control of stock inventory in their businesses. I’ve seen the most common challenges small to medium businesses face, and have provided access to the tools they need to overcome them.

In this month’s blog, I’ve outlined the three reasons small to medium businesses should have control of their inventory, and the ways taking control can benefit an organisation.

3 reasons effective inventory control can optimise your operational effectiveness

 

1. Mitigate risks early on

Better systems for inventory control in warehouses eliminates inaccuracies in your stock levels.

Traditionally, the recording of stock is done through a time-consuming, labour-intensive yearly stocktake — a highly inefficient process that inevitably leads to inaccuracies and loss in your stock levels.

Having doubts about the accuracy of your stock-on-hand reports costs you down the line. Ultimately these mistakes get recorded as shrinkage, resulting in lost revenue and, sometimes, the perception of theft in your warehouse.

By implementing a new system that allows you to efficiently record and track all of your inventory, you eliminate inaccurate stock records and minimise time spent on stocktake. Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how adopting inventory control through an integrated ERP system will mitigate risks in your warehouses.

2. Eliminate excess or back-orders

The inaccuracies of pen and paper processes are in the past once you adopt effective tools for stock management.

What tools are you using to optimise your ordering process?

Many warehouses rely on guesswork to order stock, and as a result stock levels don’t match what is required to meet demand. This means you either don’t order enough of what your customers require —resulting in lost sales, dissatisfied customers and reputation impacts — or you have excess inventory and dead stock, meaning money wasted and an impact on your profitability.

Most simply lack the tools to optimise their ordering, and instead rely on simple programs like Excel or pen and paper processes even when their business has far outgrown them.

A system that is fit-for-purpose and allows you to gain control over the ordering process would be a powerful tool, and our studies show that an integrated inventory system can result in a 7.5% decrease in the frequency of out-of-stock inventory. Find out more about how to gain control of your stock ordering in the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

3. Visibility over your entire stock

Gain insights into your business when you gain visibility over all of your inventory.

If you have multiple warehouses and you’re still using basic systems for inventory management, it is virtually impossible to have visibility over all of your stock. A lack of visibility ultimately causes all of your other tasks to be time-consuming and inaccurate, such as transferring or sending out stock.

By eliminating basic processes, you can gain valuable insights into your business. Our studies show that, paired with an integrated inventory system like HARMONiQ, 95.4% of your outbound orders are delivered to customers complete and on time. You are also much more likely to have online visibility into in-transit shipment status.

Maintaining accurate and visible stock levels across the organisation enables all departments who rely on accurate stock detail to work more efficiently and make smarter decisions. To learn how to implement an inventory control solution that provides access to real time, accurate data and can also simplify work processes within your organisation, download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

How can I start leveraging effective inventory control for my business?

Organisations driven by effective inventory control have the edge over their competitors because they can easily track, record, and order stock, eliminating inefficiencies and helping them to minimise excess and keep their customers happy.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your next step guide on becoming an organisation driven by optimised inventory control.

If you would like to see the impact effective stock management can have on your business, then click here to request a demo of HARMONiQ and I’ll be in touch shortly.

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 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.

Big Data solutions for businesses: Why Big Data is no longer just for big businesses

Does real-time data back your organisation’s decision-making or are you relying on a gut feel approach?

With a world of data out there, think about how much more your business could improve if it were backed by actual results and insights from past performance.

Many people think leveraging Big Data is unaffordable and too time-consuming for small to medium businesses, but is this really the case?

Today, businesses of all sizes use data to obtain greater visibility of current trends and market activity to make effective decisions, create opportunities, and control their inventory.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully utilise the power of Big Data in their businesses. I’ve seen the most common challenges small to medium businesses face, and have provided access to the tools they need to overcome them.

In this month’s blog, I’ve outlined the three most common ways a shift to Big Data can benefit an organisation.

Three ways Big Data solutions can improve your business

 

1. Effective decision making

Man standing with light bulb

Big Data solutions for businesses increase the effectiveness of decision-making.

Traditionally, most small to medium businesses rely on a gut feel approach when it comes to important decision-making. Because decision-makers are often business owners or CEOs, relying on a gut feel approach is time-consuming and can lead to delays in important decisions.

In my experience, most small to medium business owners usually only investigate the data when they need an answer to a specific question, or when something has gone wrong. A major issue with this approach, is it makes your business reactive and not pro-active. Managing a business is difficult enough, but without real-time data you won’t be aware of a problem until it’s too late, and you can’t just handover some of the pressures of decision making to your staff.

By implementing Big Data solutions in your organisation, you empower your staff with the ability to make data-driven decisions so that you can focus on the higher-level strategic initiatives in your business. Download your copy of the HARMONiQ Power of Big Data eBook to see how data-driven decision making can empower your staff and improve your organisation.

2. Opportunity creation

Pieces of a puzzle

Increase the creation of opportunities within your business when you unlock the power of Big Data.

A data-driven organisation has the ability to access insights that lead to opportunity creation and optimisation. Big Data can allow you to identify why some customers are growing faster than others, and how you can work to improve relationships with your weaker customers.

Often Big Data solutions break down your customer and sales people into three categories: Average, Good, and Great.

Using this grading system, you may decide to assign your top performing resources to under-performing opportunities in order to lift their standing. Alternatively, you may decide to have your poorer performing resources shadow your top performers for training purposes.

Big Data helps your business by giving you visibility of open opportunities in your organisation so you can make the correct resourcing decisions.

Learn more about opportunity tracking for your organisation in the HARMONiQ Power of Big Data eBook.

3. Inventory control

Stock room

Effectively controlling your inventory has never been easier with HARMONiQ’s ERP software.

Inventory should be treated like cash because, at the end of the day, the money you’ve spent on inventory has an opportunity cost. Unfortunately, small to medium businesses often make the mistake of letting excess inventory lie – what else could you be doing with the funds you have tied up in excess inventory?

HARMONiQ’s ERP platform is specifically tailored to help you assess what stock isn’t selling well, or where it is selling best, and what products you should be restocking. Designed to cut manual labour, saving you both time and money, your inventory will be monitored round the clock so that you can make effective purchasing decisions.

Big Data solutions ensure your organisation’s inventory is up to date, is tracked at all times, and it’s easily comparable with market trends. To find out more about inventory control for your business, download the HARMONiQ Power of Big Data eBook.

How can I start leveraging Big Data solutions for my business?

Organisations driven by Big Data solutions have the edge over their competitors because they can easily track, record, and utilise data in their business to help them make good decisions early.

Download the HARMONiQ: Power of Big Data eBook today as your next step guide on becoming an organisation driven by the power of Big Data.

If you would like to see the impact Big Data can have on your business, then click here to request a demo of HARMONiQ and I’ll be in touch shortly.

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 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.

 

Big Data for businesses: becoming a data driven organisation

Is data driving the business decisions you make in your organisation? Are your business decisions rooted in actual results and insights from performance, or are they just based on gut feel?

Small to medium businesses have traditionally relied on gut feel alone to drive decision making. It’s not because organisations are unwilling to crunch the numbers to help decision making, but because tracking, organising, and analysing large volumes of business data has been simply unaffordable and too time-consuming to justify. So, the benefits of big data decision-making seemed only attainable by big business.

But that’s no longer the case.

Today, organisations have just as much access as big business to make smarter, more informed, data-driven decisions. When organisations embrace big data, they can replace the traditional gut-feel approach by developing an educated understanding of their business, backed with statistical evidence.

But implementing a data-driven approach in your business can seem daunting.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully utilise the power of Big Data for businesses. I’ve seen the most common challenges they face – and have helped them access the tools they need to overcome them.

In this blog, I’ve outlined the three most common challenges organisations face when trying to become more data driven – and how to overcome them.

Three common big data challenges for businesses:

 

1. Challenge One: Not knowing what to track

Big Data for businesses plan image

Being able to capture all your Big Data in one platform seamlessly, is crucial for becoming a data-driven business.

For most organisations, data is often under-utilised because most businesses simply don’t know what they can track, or what they should be tracking. Many business leaders I speak with just limit themselves to Net Profit and Gross Profit figures, and if those numbers tell a good story, they see no need to dig further.

To be a truly data-driven business you need to think beyond tracking profit value and consider the other elements of your company that offer invaluable insights to future growth and productivity.  Even if your business is seeing growth in revenue or profit, think about how much more it could be making if you were tracking and analysing your data more effectively.

With a world of data out there, ready to improve your businesses current financial state, you simply need the tools to capture it, and the guidance on what to track. We offer just that, in the HARMONiQ Power of Big Data eBook, click here to download your copy.

With more and more organisations turning to the power of Big Data to make informed decisions about elements of their business, HARMONiQ offers the perfect data software solution that is easy to manage and use. Setting a focus for your big data strategy is crucial, and with the adoption of HARMONiQ, your business can become driven by real time data.

2. Challenge Two: Lack the tools or the time to collect data 

Big Data for businesses tools image

HARMONiQ’s ERP platform is designed specifically to cut manual labour, saving you both time and money.

Often data goes uncaptured due to the lack of tools or time available to spend gathering it. Data in the form of excel spreadsheets or paper based capture is time-consuming and relies significantly on manual labour.

HARMONiQ is an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform that captures data seamlessly from all departments, such as your inventory, sales, business management, and accounting systems. Overall, this allows businesses to spend more time focusing on deciding on outcomes, rather than on data capture. With the added ability to truly personalise the system to match the way you want your business to operate, and your people to work together it’s a software solution of its own class. To see how powerful Big Data can be, download the HARMONiQ Power of Big Data eBook and become a data-driven organisation today.

3. Challenge Three: Inability to turn data into meaningful insights

Big Data for businesses insights image

Equipped with the power of Big Data for business, you can make educated decisions backed by statistical evidence.

In my experience, most small-medium enterprise business owners usually only interrogate the data when they need an answer to a specific question, or something has gone wrong. But, ad hoc reporting of this nature is often limited and reactive. As the business leader, all the pressure is on you as the decision maker, and often you’ll find yourself not knowing anything is wrong until after the fact.

You lack in-depth insights that can help you identify trends, and be proactive. By engaging with the power of Big Data in your business, it enables you to make educated decisions and manage your risks based on previous data. HARMONiQ provides visual dashboards with a control desk which only shows you the information that you need to know to make decisions quickly, meaning you can rhythmically access meaningful data, accurately.

How can I start leveraging Big Data?

Big Data for businesses opens a world of opportunities to take your organisation to the next level by increasing efficiency, and improving operation structures. As a data-driven entity, you have the edge over your competitors because you can easily identify what inventory you’re selling the most and establish a gap in the market. Meaning data can help you make good decisions early.

Download the HARMONiQ: Power of Big Data eBook today as your next step guide on how to be a data driven organisation. The eBook  will help you identify how Big Data can be utilised in your business to leverage your ROI.

If you would like to see HARMONiQ solutions in action and witness the power of Big Data for yourself, then click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.

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 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, or get in touch.

3 crucial questions to consider when looking for a long-term ERP system

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform is a powerful piece of software that encompasses inventory, sales, business management, and accounting systems. If you’re in the market for an ERP system, you’ll know that choosing and deploying one is not a quick-fix job

All too often, I’ve seen businesses jump head-first into ERP implementation projects with no roadmap or consideration of the consequences. They’re enticed by the endless promises made by ERP vendors – instantly streamlined processes, increased profits, boosted productivity – and so they neglect to consider some crucial elements when choosing a long-term ERP platform.

Implementing an ERP system successfully is a long-term project, and one which requires extensive planning and attention to detail. Over the years, I’ve helped numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand successfully implement their own ERP platforms. And from my experience, there are three crucial questions to consider to ensure you choose a long-term ERP platform that will be worth your effort and investment.

To ensure you're choosing the right ERP for the long-term, you need to know what you actually want to fix with your current systems

To ensure you’re choosing the right ERP for the long-term, you need to know what you actually want to fix with your current systems

We all want that one solution that will magically solve every single one of our business challenges. But even the most functional ERP won’t be any use if you don’t put in the work upfront to pinpoint exactly what you need to fix.

Businesses who ended up choosing HARMONiQ as their ERP were looking to fix one or more of the following challenges:

  • Too many manual processes
    • It’s very common for businesses to outgrow their initial business management software. Or to have the platform they invested in fail to deliver against the promises that were made. Often, when this happens to businesses, instead of pausing and reviewing, they just keep adding on third party applications to make up for the functionality they don’t have but sorely need. This leads to endless manual tasks related to updating and maintaining the systems needed for the business to function – sucking up time, resources, and money.
  • Divided and isolated departments
    • Problems also arise when companies use different software platforms for their different departments – accounting, warehousing, sales, marketing and so forth. When these different platforms don’t integrate, it creates endless issues for staff who struggle to operate with differing data across all the systems.
  • Complex problems in spreadsheets
    • All too often, businesses are left trying to calculate complex problems in spreadsheets because they lacked a platform that could output the reports they needed. Not only would this consume immense amounts of resources and time, it was also prone to errors, resulting in unreliable data.

Whether your business is experiencing similar challenges or not – make sure you have a strong idea of what you’re trying to fix. This will help you avoid the ERP platforms that will clearly not get you there.

 2. Do you and the ERP vendor have a clear implementation and change management plan that you can agree on?

 

A long-term ERP should be easily buildable and shouldn’t be setting you back thousands of dollars for every additional feature or update.

A long-term ERP should be easily buildable and shouldn’t be setting you back thousands of dollars for every additional feature or update.

In their eagerness to fix the problems they face, businesses will jump head-on into an ERP deployment without a clear roadmap for implementation and change management. Another troubling factor, is that many ERP vendors, desperate to close the deal, will over-promise on timelines and outcomes to get the sale.

Both of these tactics result in a business that is completely underwhelmed by their chosen ERP, and left with a project that is severely over budget and overdue.

Without trying to do too much too fast, you and your vendor need to discuss and map out the implementation process to ensure you’re on the same page.

Make sure your chosen vendor values change management. Without effective change management, your staff can quickly become disillusioned with the new system, affecting productivity and user adoption rates.

With HARMONiQ, we have a comprehensive implementation roadmap. We also encourage our clients to identify their most business-critical processes – so we can work on streamlining them first. With a few ‘quick-wins’ under the belt to motivate the staff, we then move on to other parts of the business through phases.

As I like to tell clients, “you don’t know what you don’t know”, so the phase-by-phase implementation approach we use at HARMONiQ systematically tackles your most crucial processes, leaves you nimble, and also helps you avoid paying for too much consultation upfront.

3. Is this platform truly a long-term ERP? Can it grow with my business?

An effective implementation roadmap and change management plan are crucial to the success of a long-term ERP

Implementing an ERP platform doesn’t come cheap. So you’d want to be sure that whichever ERP platform you choose can meet both your current and future requirements. Granted, it’s difficult to know what capabilities your business might need in 5 years, 10 years, or more. But look for an ERP platform that’s easily buildable.

Many long-term ERP platforms promise to be ‘customisable’ – however their ‘customisations’ will set you back thousands of dollars in support and technical costs because they need to be custom-coded.

Instead, look for a platform that doesn’t require additional application development to grow with your business. For instance, HARMONiQ can be personalised to your business needs with no coding required – giving you savings on cost, complexity, and support.

I hope this blog will prove valuable on your ERP journey – whichever platform you choose. If there’s any additional guidance I can provide, please do let me know. You can reach me at drew@harmoniq.com.au.

As a fully functional ERP at a mid-market price, HARMONiQ has proved to be a worthy choice for many small-to-medium businesses across Australia and New Zealand. To see if HARMONiQ is the right choice for your business, request a free demo, and we’ll take you through the key features of the platform tailored to your business needs.

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.

4 customer relationship management (CRM) mistakes Australian businesses are making

Customer Relationship Management software (CRMs) still remain a hotly debated topic amongst Australian businesses. Should you invest now, or is it a passing trend?

But hearing statistics like ‘a CRM can increase revenue by 41% per salesperson’ and ‘on average CRMs deliver a return of $8.70 for every $1 spent’* makes you wonder why so many businesses are missing out on the benefits of a CRM.

While it’s no doubt that a CRM is vital for any business serious about growth, it’s true that most CRM implementations go wrong. While working with many SMEs in Australia and NZ, I’ve had the chance to observe many of the mistakes they’ve made first hand – and been there to help them out of some.

If you’re thinking of implementing a CRM, here are 4 CRM mistakes to avoid making.  

(1/4 CRM Mistakes)
Forgetting the end-users: your sales team

It’s called customer relationship management software, but businesses often forget the actual users of the system – their sales team. One of the key CRM mistakes businesses are guilty of is choosing a system that’s inherently hard to use, or making the entry and upkeep of data in the system difficult and frustrating for their users.

Choose a CRM that’s built for ease, with functionality that’s irresistible for your salesforce.

While a great interface and useability are necessary, user-adoption also depends on how easily it fits into your optimal processes.  Some CRMs force users to enter superfluous data they don’t need.

A CRM like HARMONiQ can be easily configured to adapt to how your staff works. So for example, if your staff prefer minimal fields and a bare dashboard with just the assigned tasks for the week – that can easily be customised for your users.

CRM Mistakes #1 Choosing a CRM that is inherently hard or frustrating to use

(2/4 CRM Mistakes)
Under-selling the functionality of your CRM

Most business owners would know that it’s not enough to just install a CRM, give staff a log-in, and expect them to start using it religiously. What’s really needed is to train staff exactly what to do with all the functionality that is now at their fingertips.

Show your sales team how to use the data to close more deals, identify an opportunity that’s slipping away, and ensure they never miss a meeting or call. Show your managers how to use the data to coach their employees more effectively.

At HARMONiQ, we run user workshops as part of our implementation process. This ensures we get an understanding of the critical processes for the business, and the staff get visibility of what the system can achieve for them. We’ll then usually start by automating all the tasks the sales-team don’t want to do, or forget to do – like quote follow-ups, or ‘getting back in touch’ emails. We can also set up custom reports, workflows and dashboards to communicate the business critical information relevant to each user.

(3/4) CRM Mistakes
Neglecting the importance of the opportunity costs

Another one of the common CRM mistakes is looking at a CRM as one big upfront cost. It’s true, implementing a custom CRM is not cheap. But what many businesses fail to do is look at the opportunity cost of not implementing a CRM. I like to call this the ‘locked-up value’ of a business, for which a CRM is the key.

One of our customers, who was then still considering HARMONiQ, shared with me that the total value of all the quotes his sales team forgot to follow-up was over $1 million a year! A dollar value that could easily be sent directly to his bottom line with the right CRM features. Isn’t this a problem you would invest to fix?

Automating quote follow-up is one of the most popular customisations we include in our HARMONiQ implementations, but everything from replenishment orders, supplier follow-up, and more can be easily automated to save you millions in ‘locked-up’ costs.

CRM Mistakes #3 Not considering the opportunity cost of not implementing a CRM

4/4 CRM Mistakes
Isolating your CRM, instead of integrating it

A lot of businesses purchase a CRM as an add-on system for their sales or marketing teams to use. What they don’t realise is that they could be doubling or tripling the work their staff have to do.

A CRM that’s isolated from other systems in the business – like accounting or inventory – eventually becomes inaccurate. Unless you employ staff to manually update every record every time they make an order, or lodge a complaint, the data stored in your CRM becomes just a list of names.

The true power of a CRM comes when it’s fully integrated with all aspects of your business software. That’s when it becomes the one source of truth for your business, and is able to perform advanced forecasting and more accurate reporting – to help support your decisions.

An all-in-one solution like HARMONiQ will cover all aspects of your business, with one integrated platform for financials, inventory, sales, and marketing.

CRM Mistakes #4 Not integrating your CRM with other systems in the business

 

As you know, HARMONiQ is a powerful new platform brought to you by Micronet Systems, with plenty of in-built automation to really revolutionise the way you do things.

With HARMONiQ you can:

  • Reduce friction and increase user-adoption with a user-friendly platform with functionality that’s invaluable to sales and marketing staff;
  • Help managers get better visibility of your sales teams’ activities through automated reporting to improve KPI monitoring and coaching opportunities;
  • Configure simple and powerful workflows to unlock ‘locked-up value’ by ensuring you automate business critical tasks that aren’t needed to be performed manually;
  • Ensure a whole-of-business overview from one platform

If you’d like to find out how Australian and New Zealand businesses are using HARMONiQ CRM to achieve additional process automation – let me know. I’ll organise a quick demo to show you some of the great things HARMONiQ can do for your business.

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.

 

Resources:
http://nucleusresearch.com/research/single/crm-pays-back-8-71-for-every-dollar-spent/

Reactive vs. Proactive business management. Is your monitoring holding you back?

The difference between Reactive vs. Proactive business management

I’ve spoken with many business leaders across Australia and NZ who feel held back by their systems and processes, and they’re all familiar with many of the same issues…

‘I didn’t know’ / ‘Out of stock again’ / ‘System won’t let me do that’ / ‘finding new business is hard’ / ‘Forgot to follow that quote up’

You’ve probably heard them all too.

And it’s easy to think that as a business owner, it’s your direct responsibility to ensure that these issues are addressed as soon as possible to keep your customers and staff happy.

But without the right technology, you spend 90% of your time monitoring staff and processes that should already be operating smoothly, and the other 10% of the time fixing things that actually went wrong. That’s most of your time spent maintaining the status quo and supporting the system – rather than proactively making any real improvements that could take your business further.

At most businesses, this hands-on, reactive approach is just not practical if you want to scale the business up.

Shifting to a new approach doesn’t happen overnight, but here are some ways you can stop reactively managing your business, and start proactively planning for the future.

Three ways to encourage proactive business management with technology

1. Get visibility of your whole business – in one platform

Put your data in one place

With all your information in one platform, you’ll get easy access to all the business critical data you need to make informed strategic decisions for the future.

The easiest way to cut down the time you spend monitoring your business is to bring all your information into one platform, giving you a full overview of business performance in real time – as it occurs.

A platform like HARMONiQ for example, not only combines your Financials, Inventory, Sales, Marketing and Admin in one platform, it also allows you to customise your dashboards – we call them Control Desks – to display the metrics that indicate what is actually occurring. You can stop chasing up departments for status updates and reports, and get accurate information presented visually and in time.

By giving you easy and quick access to the data you need, it gives you more time to decide what to do with it, make informed decisions, and set a strategy for the future based on business performance.

2. Make it easier for Sales staff to hold themselves accountable

Stop chasing your sales team

Eliminate the need to chase your sales team for updates repeatedly – instead, encourage your sales team to proactively meet targets by making it easier to track their performance and hold themselves accountable with a CRM.

If you’re running a business, most of your time is probably spent chasing sales staff to make sure they’re talking to customers. You  know – doing their job!

Instead of getting harder on your sales team, you can make it easier for them to hold themselves accountable – have constant visibility of their progress against target, and only notifying you when you need to get involved. To achieve this, think about implementing a CRM into your business management platform that actually automates this.

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform primarily stores all your customer and prospect information – but it can also easily track activity, such as what emails were sent and engaged with, what orders they made, which staff member they spoke to last, and when. This gives your sales staff all the information they need to target the right prospects and customers.

An integrated platform like HARMONiQ also goes a few steps further and can automate activities such as follow-up reminders, and notifications for cross-sell or up-sell opportunities – so that ‘forgetting’ is no longer an option. If you really want to stay on top of things, you can even set up automated alerts if any one salesperson drops well below their target or forgets to follow up an important opportunity.

With that level of visibility over their performance, your sales staff will be motivated to up their game and proactively meet their targets without you having to play ‘bad cop’ all the time.

3. Automate ‘what good looks like’ and eliminate uncertainty

Know what good looks like

Once you’ve determined what good looks like for your routine business processes, allow all your staff to easily access and action them through in-built workflows.

The next step of ‘proactive-ness’ is mapping out your ideal sequence of actions for routine business processes – such as onboarding new customers, taking prospects through the buying journey, dealing with unhappy customers, and so on.

Having these workflows readily available gives your staff the knowledge to proceed with almost any scenario in a consistent and professional manner. It also reduces the time you spend fixing problems and answering questions so that you can dedicate more time to developing strategies for future improvements.

You should look for business management platforms that allow you to build and embed these workflow templates directly within the system, easily accessed by all staff.

Sophisticated business management platforms like HARMONiQ, also allow you to escalate problems after a certain time period automatically, or if the issue has not been resolved satisfactorily.

 

Shifting to more proactive business management processes has a definite impact on your long-term business outcomes. But it can’t be achieved in isolation. That’s why we’ve developed our platform, HARMONIQ to provide all the functionality that a business owner would need to encourage growth, automation, and efficiency.

HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software is an all-in-one ERP solution that includes financials, inventory, sales, marketing, and more.

  • With advanced reporting functionality, HARMONiQ can easily generate the data you need for forecasting, KPI generation, and give you all the metrics you need in an easy-to-digest visual dashboard.
  • HARMONiQ has built-in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality and can combine and track activity of your customer, prospect, and sales staff alike.
  • Sophisticated workflows and can be built, accessed and replicated across your whole business – eliminating uncertainty for staff and making even your most labour-intensive processes run a lot more smoothly.

If you’d like to make the shift towards a more proactive environment using technology like HARMONiQ, get in touch with me by calling 02 9542 2000 or leaving your details here.

If you’d like to go one step further and see HARMONiQ in action, you can request a demo here.

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.