Optimizing supply chain processes is essential for managing a business in the midst of a changing industry. A dynamic industry dictates that companies must re-evaluate their processes with a focus on operational efficiencies and strategic use of technology.
This is where it is imperative for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to step in.
The packing industry in particular is characterized by constantly changing market conditions, technological advancements, relentless competitive pressure, seasonal and regional variations as well as fluctuating costs for both raw materials and business operations.
The disconnect between Sales and Operations in manufacturing companies is so common that it is almost a cliché. I’ve experienced it myself and I’ve met plenty of people at other companies going through the same struggles. Maybe you see some of this in your own company.
Sales perceives Operations as incompetent, unable to deliver the right products at the right time. Operations perceives Sales as unpredictable, overly demanding, and unreasonable. And customers are unhappy because they're being shorted.
Sales and Operations
I am a great believer in moving with the times and making sure that I use the most appropriate and up to date technology when delivering solutions to my customers. So I read with interest an article that mirrored my philosophy almost exactly.
I para phrase but in essence the article was warning against choosing ERP systems with ageing core technologies and modern flashy front ends. I couldn’t agree more. Where my views differ slightly is that I believe no single technology can cover all aspects of an ERP system and that it is essential to use a blend of technologies applying the most appropriate to the task in hand. I am also very wary of the next “latest and greatest”, our industry is littered with products written to the latest craze only to find the fashion has been dropped a year later.
Farming corn (or maize) seems simple, but it isn’t, and it is the business of farming corn that is so instructive to anyone interested in the spread of innovation.
Why should I care about the spread of innovation?
Like it or not, we live in a time where every aspect of your business is impacted by innovations. Adopting innovations ahead of your competitors gives you an advantage until they catch up. And with so many innovations available, that gives you plenty of opportunities.
I have been spending a great deal more time ‘on the road’ in recent months due to the change in my position in July at K3 Syspro. As well as crossing England’s infamous North/South divide on a weekly basis, I have also come into contact with some very high-level customizations both within and outside of the SYSPRO system - some good, some bad. This has lead me to ponder how best to connect all of these technologies to work in the most effective way. The technologies I’ve come into contact with on my travels can be summarized as follows:
One of the biggest mistakes that mining corporations, and businesses in general, can make in today's technology driven climate, is to accept blanket ERP solutions.
No two businesses are exactly the same, so how then can their IT needs be served by identical systems? How can their unique characteristics, needs and processes be effectively addressed by general solutions that only moderately suit their requirements?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Big Data and ERP lately. I wrote a post about why it is important to start nurturing data analysts. And I’ve been working with a new client who are already benefitting from Big Data tools in their operations.
What I’ve concluded might be a little controversial, so indulge me while I drop a little disclaimer on you.
Big Data is a huge buzzword right now and for good reason. There are some phenomenal success stories particularly in sales and marketing.
But despite these successes, many companies are struggling to extract value from Big Data including companies like Google. Companies that embark upon a big data project without the right expectations, resources or planning, sink a lot of money into these projects for no reasonable gain. Business leaders are justifiably weary of the risks of Big Data projects.
There is something to be said for taking your own medicine. As a SYSPRO distributor, K3 Syspro uses SYSPRO internally. 18 months ago we started on a journey to update our own internal systems. We didn’t want to be “one of those builders with their own house falling down.
Despite the best of plans, ERP implementations often go wrong because customers have unique requirements that are always evolving and vendors will haul out the sledgehammers to force their solutions to fit - even if they weren't designed to deliver what the client wanted in the first place.
It's like trying to squeeze a watermelon into a small cup. Keep forcing it in and you'll end up with nothing but a messy pulp.
Every company is different. They compete in different markets, have a different target audience, and need solutions that support the different verticals they play in. No one solution can ever fit all.