By James Crowter, Microsoft MVP and Managing Director of Technology Management…
Demands on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) manufacturers and distributors are getting ever higher. Customer expectations are going through the roof – with faster turnaround times, more accurate information, ever shorter product cycles and constant innovation becoming almost a pre-requisite for survival. In dealing with both the major retailers and the independents, your operations need to be slick and efficient.
In this series of blogs and videos, I am going to look at some of the challenges facing this industry and how an integrated Microsoft Dynamics business software solution, designed specifically for the CPG sector, can help enhance your business processes to improve:
productivity – and enable growth in turnover without a corresponding increase in headcount
reliability – to improve consistency and stop costly mistakes
understanding and decision making – by getting access to reliable information in time to make a difference
risk management – by reducing vulnerability to specific people or events
customer service – by improving your customer service levels without adding significant cost
future proofing – by making sure your systems are fit for purpose today and into the future
staff engagement – to help you attract and retain scarce skills and experience.
Here, I am looking at how too many companies in the CPG sector are relying on Excel spreadsheets to manage their business processes. Most businesses have already driven up productivity on the shop floor, now it’s time to focus on continuous improvement in the order processing, sales, marketing customer service and finance teams.
With a single, integrated solution you should only have to enter information once – and then it’s instantly available to all who need it, to action correctly, for the right customer, at the right time.
Workarounds in Excel spreadsheets hold information on specific customer demands for order fulfilment, record special pricing or promotions, to track both consumer and retailer complaints or queries – which relies heavily on your staff to know what to do with that information to action it accordingly.
When working in Excel your staff need the experience of dealing with your customers and your specific ways of operating to action and process any information – making it difficult for new staff to get up and running and more importantly, to be productive. Modern integrated solutions proactively drive your business processes and prompt your staff through each step in the process. Newer/more junior staff can then deal with the everyday tasks freeing up your more seasoned and accomplished individuals to focus on the more unusual or strategically important retailer demands.
And with all your information in one place, you free up all your staff from having to double check with their colleagues that they have the most up-to-date spreadsheet and information.
Having a defined process for resolution for everything from a price query to a quality issue also means disputes get resolved quicker, the customer ends up more impressed because you handled it so well and you get paid quicker – that’s a win-win all round.
I know re-engineering your business processes and IT systems is not easy. Every day, I help our customers implement new ways of working and I am well aware of the pain and effort it requires. But what is the alternative?
Can you really continue to grow and efficiently scale your operations by working in the same way that you work right now? If you don’t have efficient business processes how can you hope to compete in an increasingly global market?
Don’t you need to start now on that strategic process of getting your internal processes fit for purpose before it’s too late?