In the second of a two-part series, Ashley Miller looks at more of the problems caused when a business outgrows its own systems
Our first blog in this series examined two of the key challenges faced by those businesses who find that their in-house systems are no longer fit for purpose in the face of rapid business growth or expansion. Some of the challenges include an excessive need for manual intervention, and the extra time and resources wasted on inefficient business processes. The lack of visibility across the organisation and an inability to forecast accurately are two further issues, perhaps even more critical and more costly in the long term, which plague businesses who have outgrown their own systems, or don’t have a system in place at all.
The digital economy
The new digitised economy in which we all operate, a global economy that’s not without its share of volatility for a whole host of socio-political reasons, is reshaping markets and transforming the way we interact with organisations. It’s now more important than ever for businesses to have full visibility across their operations. Silos of information, disjointed reporting, disparate systems and disconnected processes have no place in 2017 and it’s these very issues that lead to poor operational visibility and ineffective decision-making based on limited, inaccurate business information. This lack of visibility can only lead to dissatisfied customers, which obviously affects reputation, reduces cash flow and ultimately, dents profitability.
A lack of visibility goes hand-in-hand with an inability to forecast accurately. Often limited by their own insistence on rigid forecasting processes, with set timeframes and specific deadlines in place, businesses do not (and cannot) adjust forecasts on a rolling basis. This leads to a lack of business agility, something which is vital for success in the ever-changing, fast-paced market of today, and limits growth by stifling the ability to quickly and effectively respond to changing customer needs. The need for full operational visibility has a direct impact on forecasting – the ability to take into account all significant factors, internal and external, from all areas of the business, is the only way to guarantee fast, accurate forecasts.
Information is key, and by investing in solutions which consolidate all business information, organisations can benefit from a 360° view of their own operations and the wider supply chain, adding real value to the business and underpinning decision-making with reliable, concrete data. The availability of the data and the ability to not only access the data but to also analyse it quickly and easily, adds a new found rigour and diligence across the business, leaving nothing to chance and providing employees with the right tools to make the best decisions for the organisation, in full possession of all the facts.
With this comprehensive view of the business in place, forecasting becomes a more value-add function too. The linking together of all business processes and departments guarantees efficiency savings. For example, by linking inventory directly to production, the right solution can provide automated replenishment functionality alongside accurate order forecasting. This optimises stock levels, reduces waste and over orders, and saves money. The ability to carry out rolling forecasts based on real time, business-wide information guarantees greater efficiency all round, optimising operations and maximising profit.
Preparing for the long term
By investing in the right systems now, growing businesses are putting down the foundations for further long term growth, establishing a platform from which to constantly monitor and review operations. Technology is as important as hiring the right people, or buying the right machinery or launching a new sales drive. Now, more than ever, technology is the primary driver of profitability, particularly for those businesses for whom recent growth has seen them enter new markets or the competition has changed considerably. For these growing business, with the right systems in place, business leaders can ensure full oversight of the business, putting them back in control and clearing the path for continued successful growth.