Optimize Your Quote-to-Cash Process and Improve Customer Service

Business isn’t that complicated. The customer wants his or her order. You want your money. The fewer complications the better. The sooner the customer gets the order, and the sooner you get the cash, the happier everyone is. Alas, things are not always so simple. More than few things can disrupt the quote-to-cash process. Software innovations, like Acumatica Cloud ERP for distribution, are making it easier to improve cash flow and customer experience, however.

The Quote-to-Cash Process

We all understand the quote-to-cash process intuitively, but it’s worth taking a closer look to see how many people, workflows and software applications it can take to execute. The process starts with a moment of customer contact where a salesperson gets information about what the customer needs. This could occur by phone, email or online quote request form. The salesperson then prepares a price quote, often using a productivity tool like Microsoft Word or a sales order processing application.

If the customer accepts the quote, the salesperson may then have to enter the resulting sales order, manually, into an order management system. From there, the warehouse or manufacturing operation has to fulfill the order. This may involve yet more manual rekeying of order data into a distribution management and logistics system. Once delivered, the order can be invoiced, which usually requires an invoicing system that may or may not be part of the company’s accounting software package. When payment comes from the customer, the cash deposit posts in the general ledger software.

Even when these separate processes and software packages are connected, the overall quote-to-cash process can still be cumbersome. A lot of people/hours get spent keeping on top of orders and their fulfilment through the final receipt of cash. There are also many opportunities for errors and confusing situations that can negatively affect customer service. For example, if one item out of ten quoted is out of stock, that will change the quote amount. This, in turn, may generate back-and-forth communications with the customer, adjustments to invoices, delays in order processing and so forth.

Improving the Quote-to-Cash Process

Modern automated systems like Acumatica Cloud ERP provide you with features, integrations and process orchestrations that streamline the quote-to-cash process. By connecting the various elements of the process and giving the different people involved a unified view of what’s going, the software helps improve cash flow while maintaining a good customer experience.

Now, with a single connected system, your people can take orders accurately, ship promptly and avoid billing errors. You get your cash faster. Reporting and data visualization tools give you insights into potential issues with slow payers, delayed deliveries and inventory control challenges.

Order automation enables order-taking over the phone, via websites and point-of-sale (POS) devices. The cloud ERP is able to display item availability and apply discounts automatically. It can be configured to show a variety of delivery options. The order then gets processed without any rekeying of information. The automation and orchestration continue through invoicing and accounting processes that complete the “to cash” step of the process.

We have worked with many companies on the implementation of cloud ERP to improve order-to-cash and the broader operations of a distribution business. Contact us to learn more or see a demo of Acumatica.

Additional Distribution Resources

Top Reasons for Installing a Warehouse Management System (WMS)

Recommendations for Selecting a Distribution ERP Solution

Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind

4 Strategies for Smarter Inventory Control

Inventory control affects a range of business outcomes, including profitability, operational efficiency, product quality and customer satisfaction. Despite its importance, inventory control is often neglected, perhaps due to the traditional difficulty of doing it well. With the advent of cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions with dedicated inventory management features, this is starting to change.

Acumatica recently published a paper on the topic, highlighting four strategies for smarter inventory control: 1) Maintain accurate records; 2) Proactively plan to avoid shortages; 3) Focus on improvement; and 4) Reduce lead times and lot sizes by reducing fixed ordering costs. This article offers an overview of these strategies.

Understanding the Financial Impact of Inventory Control

Before getting into smarter inventory controls, it’s worth taking a moment to review three prominent cost impacts of inventory management.

  • Cash flow and the cost of capital—Inventory tends to use up cash, unless it’s being sold before the vendor’s bill becomes due. Most companies do not have such a fast cash cycle. Instead, inventory is ordered and paid for weeks or even months before it gets sold or incorporated into other products. In addition to diverting cash from operations or investment, inventory carrying costs show up as interest expense on the income statement.
  • Administrative costs of inventory management—Placing an order for products to be held in inventory carries an administrative cost. Someone, or some group of people, must do the work of placing the order, arranging for the purchase order, reconciling vendor invoices with purchase orders, authorizing payments to vendors and so forth. All of this costs money.
  • Storage and transportation costs—Inventory storage and logistics come at a cost, too. The warehouse facility has a cost to operate. Freight and logistics suppliers cost money as well.

Quality is an indirect, often intangible issue associated with inventory management. If a vendor ships defective inventory, that creates an administrative burden for returns and refunds. If customers receive defective merchandise, that magnifies the admin problem and adds customer relationship problems to the mix. Generally, the longer inventory sits on the shelf, the harder it becomes to locate the defective goods.

Strategy #1 – Maintain Accurate Records

Record-keeping is essential to effective inventory control. This is a well-known fact, but it’s still surprising how challenging it can be to implement good inventory records at many companies. The culprit is often systemic in nature, with manual processes and re-keying of inventory data from one system into another, e.g. from a warehouse management solution into ERP. Alternatively, record-keeping falls apart due to physical/digital handoffs. For example, if the warehouse receives a shipment of inventory and then places it on multiple shelves, the storage locations may get lost, or at least not tracked, by any central system. Accidental, unnecessary reorders or unawareness of defective goods may result.

Strategy #2 – Proactive Planning

Proactively planning for replenishment is a wise practice in inventory control. But, when is the right time to replenish? This is a simple but highly challenging question to answer. At stake are issues like the business risks of running out of an item, which can affect production and customer satisfaction. Per-unit costs, which may go up in smaller orders, can be a factor, as well as shipping lead times, shipping costs and so forth. Learn more about measuring warehouse productivity.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) software offers a solution that enables proactive planning. It calculates replenishment quantities and optimal order timing—in alignment with the master production schedule. Distributors can use comparable Distribution Requirement Planning (DRP) tools. Both types of software work from a sales forecast and work backward in time through the distribution network (DRP) and Bill of Materials (BOM).

Strategy #3 – Focus on Improvement

Innovations in inventory management software also make possible an ongoing focus on improvement. Businesses that are successful at inventory control seldom sit still. They are always looking for ways to get better at the process. Plus, the dynamics of the business are always in flux, so the inventory control approach that worked last month may longer be optimal. Software for inventory control enables users to improve their inventory accuracy. Users can also get better at forecasting replenishment quantities and reducing order lead times.

Strategy #4 – Reduce Lead Times and Lot Sizes

The ideal inventory order lead time is zero. The instant the item is needed, it shows up on the shop floor or in the distribution warehouse. Of course, zero lead time doesn’t happen, though software can get a company pretty close. “Just in time” or same-day delivery of needed inventory are now common. The challenge is to predict variability. One day, a company might need 10 units of a particular SKU. The next day, it will need 12. If it orders 12 every day, it will start to accumulate a backlog, with carrying costs and all the other problems that come with inventory.

Control Your Inventory With Cloud ERP Built for Distribution

As these four strategies suggest, software and data analytics capabilities are at the heart effective inventory control. Making fast, smart decisions about inventory—and leveraging technology to automate inventory management processes across multiple systems, is only possible with the right software tools. Acumatica Distribution Edition embodies these capabilities. We have extensive experience working with companies on the implementation of Acumatica for inventory control. To discuss how this technology could benefit your business, or to see a demonstration of Acumatica’s inventory control features, please reach out to arrange a meeting.

What Types of Software are Helpful for Growing and Large Businesses?

The role of software in business has evolved from “what’s that?” to “nice to have” to “have to have” to today’s essential truth, which is that software is the heart of the businesses. It’s hard to imagine a business of any size or substance operating without multiple types of software running across the organization. The software industry has responded, offering a wide range of options for companies of different sizes. There are small business software packages, solutions for mid-sized companies and enterprise-scale applications.

If your business is growing, and we hope it is, what types of software are helpful as you grow? Having worked with many clients whose companies were in growth cycles, we have found the answer to this question is far from simple.

First, a growing company needs software in all of its operating areas. It needs Customer Resource Management (CRM) and sales management software in its sales and marketing departments. It needs HR software in HR. Accounting needs accounting software. Most businesses also typically need Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), distribution management, field service management and warehouse management. It needs a relational database management system (RDBS) along with data visualization and reporting tools. These needs are in addition to desktop operating systems and productivity (e.g. Microsoft Windows and Office), file storage solutions and phone systems (VOiP) as well as any number of IT management solutions for running data centers, helpdesks, disaster recovery and on and on.

As you might see, a growing company needs a lot of software. The big issue, however, is management. For every piece of software, there needs to be (or should be) someone, or a team of people, responsible for supporting and maintaining it. In a large enterprise, there can dozens of people assigned to maintain a single application. There will be people tasked with keeping it running, securing it, backing it up, updating it and so forth. Software admin can be a costly, people-intensive area of a business. A poor choice of software tools can compound admin requirements.

Should you move to the cloud, with all this software? The maddening answer, as is so often the case in IT, is “it depends.” No two companies have the same cloud vs. on-premises dialogue. Sometimes, the best move is to leave an existing on-premises solution where it is. However, new cloud solution options are making the whole “should we move to the cloud?” discussion a lot clearer and simpler. With the advent of comprehensive cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica, it is now possible to run a wide spectrum of business software in a cloud/Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

Acumatica is modular, with the ability to add functions like CRM and HR as needed. As cloud software, it can scale in huge increments, on demand. Admin requirements fall precipitously as the supplier’s admin staff takes over many of the laborious processes you used to have to do yourself. Without a solution of this type, growth will cause you to go through painful upgrades to software as you inevitably outgrow your earlier generation of business software.

If your business is growing and you want to think through the best software solutions to enable the smoothest possible expansion, let’s talk.

Additional Resources

Why Growing Companies Need ERP Software

How ERP Software Can Save Your Business Money

How ERP Software Solves Your Business’s Top Financial Management Challenges

Top Reasons for Installing a Warehouse Management System (WMS)

It seems as if, for years, the warehouse was the site of rusting steel shelves and low expectations. Things have really changed. Today’s warehouse is an operational center, where customer-facing strategies come to life with services like same-day delivery and automatic stock-out notifications. These changes have not arisen out of nowhere. Competition from online businesses and customers’ demand for seamless, omnichannel experiences have transformed the warehouse. So has software. Warehouse Management Software (WMS) makes possible many of the innovations that put warehouse operations into your strategic planning toolkit.

With that in mind, here are some reasons to consider adding a WMS to your business.

  • Streamline processes—A WMS systematizes warehouse workflows like picking and label creation. The results include a reduction in errors and improvements in warehouse worker productivity.
  • Automate warehouse operations—With a WMS, you can automate operational processes and routines packaging, PO receiving, putting away, merchandise transfers and physical counts. The latter is accomplished with integrated barcode scanners. Customized workflows and forms eliminate the risk of people skipping important steps. They can also cut down on employee training costs.
  • EDI integration—Many suppliers still use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), so it’s a good idea to be compatible with this mode of company-to-company order processing. A WMS should enable full EDI compliance, including the 856 Advance Ship Notice (ASN) standard. This makes it possible to use EDI to electronically communicate order and shipment details.
  • Track lot and serial numbers—The WMS gives you the ability to stay on top of serial numbers and lot numbers. They get scanned and then printed on the pick list and packing slip. This way, there is never a mistake about what was picked and shipped.
  • Operate hands-free—A WMS like Acumatica’s provides a pre-printed smart scan sheet that lets warehouse employees interact with the system using only their scanners. This is useful for people who have to wear gloves on the job. Scan sheets might include commands like “complete shipment,” “next/previous box,” and “remove item.” In addition, the sheet may contain audible and visual indicators as well as warnings that offer instant feedback if the wrong items are picked and so forth.
  • Generate useful operational data—The WMS can create data that’s useful for managing the overall business. For example, a WMS can report on on-time shipments, stock-outs, or “shrinkage” that might reveal a problem with theft. Warehouse managers can use data visualization and reporting to stay on top of the warehouse in real time.

Acumatica WMS is a module of the software’s Distribution Edition. As a part of the Acumatica system, it can easily integrate with your company’s ERP, finance, field service management and other software applications. Such integration helps make the warehouse a core part of business operations. It can also integrate Acumatica Commerce Edition. This helps you manage advanced warehouse functions for wholesale, manufacturing, retail and other businesses.

We have worked with many companies on the implementation of Acumatica WMS. If you would like to see a demo or learn more about how Acumatica WMS can benefit your business, let’s talk.

Additional Distribution Resources

Digital Transform in the Distribution Industry and How Cloud ERP Can Help

Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind

Benefits of ERP Software for Distribution Business Management

6 Signs Your Business Has Outgrown QuickBooks

QuickBooks is useful for basic accounting and is often preferred by small businesses for its affordability and user-friendliness. However, it is not suited for managing business processes other than financials. QuickBooks isn’t a full Enterprise Resource Planning ERP solution like Acumatica. If you’re struggling to run your business using just QuickBooks, or trying to keep the business running smoothly with a combination of QuickBooks and an ERP suite, you may have outgrown the solution.

Here are six signs you’ve outgrown QuickBooks:

1) Your Company Is Increasingly Reliant on the Cloud

While you can access QuickBooks Enterprise over the Internet, even Intuit will admit the product is not optimized for full cloud functionality. A lack of access to cloud data limits mobility and is thus less convenient than having a cloud-based system. No additional equipment or software are required to use Acumatica as an on-premises or cloud solution.

2) Your ERP Requirements Extend Well Beyond Accounting

Users can’t do much with QuickBooks beyond performing basic accounting tasks. If you’re using it as a check writer and reporting using Excel, it’s time for a more robust ERP solution. It’s also time to switch if your transaction volume is going up and you can benefit from CRM functions that integrate your business processes with those serving your customers.

3) You Require Full Relational Database Export

QuickBooks uses a proprietary database, so it’s hard to import data from payroll, billing, receivables and other outside systems. This can interfere with workflows and transactions, slowing your business down. You can better serve your customers and partners by updating to an ERP system that supports databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle or SAP HANA.

4) Your Financials Are a Mess

You can tell if your business has outgrown QuickBooks if it takes too long to bill clients or it’s difficult to determine your true cash balance. If meeting the new ASC 606 requirement or consolidating financial reports from multiple companies or divisions is a concern, it’s time to switch to Acumatica. It allows reports to be formatted the way you want. The ERP system also supports multiple currencies and multi-currency transactions.

5) You’re Entering Duplicate Data into Multiple Systems

The larger a business gets, the more data it needs to handle. If you’re spending time entering data into QuickBooks and then rekeying it into other systems, you’ve outgrown QuickBooks. Acumatica updates data in all systems when changes are made, so any user can see the latest document version or financial record, wherever they log in from.

6) There Are More Users Than QuickBooks Can Support

QuickBooks Enterprise supports up to 30 users. While this might suit a growing small business, at some point your company will probably need more people connected. Acumatica can be scaled as your company grows; it can even support multiple companies. Your business can therefore continue using a familiar platform without requiring a complete reimplementation (which can be costly and time consuming).

Next Steps After Your Business Has Outgrown QuickBooks

If you need a true cloud, full-function ERP platform that scales as you grow, you’ve outgrown QuickBooks and should consider Acumatica. The cloud ERP system offers flexible subscription and perpetual licensing options. Contact us to learn more about what this full-featured business management solution can do for your business or browse the additional resources below:

Why Growing Companies Need ERP Software

Growing companies need Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Put another way, if your business is growing, you may need to upgrade your legacy ERP software. While software alone won’t make your business grow, executing a growth plan without the right software will be a bigger challenge than it needs to be.

What’s New in ERP?

ERP is not new. You could even argue that it’s middle aged. The core of ERP, which was created to help run big factories and logistical operations, came into existence in the early 1970s. ERP’s origins lead some to consider the software to be a “heavy iron” technology, suited to global giants and industrial processes. There is still some truth to this, but we are now into a new generation of agile, powerful cloud-based ERP solutions.

Cloud ERP, as exemplified by Acumatica, makes it possible to deploy sophisticated business management solutions without installing software or buying any hardware. It’s available over the Web, via a browser. Acumatica is an extensible system. It can do basic ERP workloads like accounting and financial management, orders and invoicing and so forth. However, from there, you can add a significant portfolio of modules. These include software for warehouse management, field service, Customer Resource Management (CRM), HR, industry-specific applications and on and on.

Grow Revenue with ERP

Used the right way, ERP can facilitate revenue growth. This happens when you take advantage of sales management tools and functionality like quote-to-order and product configuration. With these capabilities, you can engage more closely with customers, responding to their needs quickly and closing more deals. The order fulfillment and subsequent customer support features in cloud ERP keep the customer relationship on a solid footing—leading to more repeat business and client references. This is possible without ERP, but it will be a lot more work.

Save and Invest for Growth

Modern cloud ERP drives savings across the business, including Operating Expense (OpEx) and Capital Expense (CapEx). You can use the proceeds of these savings to invest in strategies that promote growth, e.g. marketing campaigns, new hires and so forth. In terms of OpEx, cloud ERP enables people to work more productively, using automated workflows to speed up business processes. The connected nature of the extended Acumatica system reduces manual process steps and re-keying of data into the solution.

The ERP toolset provides for improved scheduling of production operations and field service. With data analytics and visual dashboards, the ERP solution can help managers anticipate problems and react before they become expensive to solve. Advanced inventory management features give you the ability to conserve cash and cut down on costly mistakes like stocking merchandise for so long that it expires.

Protect Your Business, So It Can Grow

The last few years have demonstrated conclusively that a cyberattack is a costly distraction that then results in a huge remediation expense. A serious data breach, for instance, will probably put a damper on your growth plans for a good six months or more. ERP software does not guarantee security, however, modern cloud ERP solutions offer a number of security advantages compared to legacy systems. For instance, the system runs in a highly secure data center. The cloud architecture also makes possible a level of redundancy that protects you from outages resulting from attacks.

2020 promises to be a year of growth. ERP can be part of your success story. If you want to learn more about how cloud ERP can help your business grow in the coming year, let’s talk.

Additional ERP Resources

7 Important Qualities of Cloud ERP

Position Your Business for Growth in 2020 With Cloud ERP

7 Benefits of CRM Software (That’s Integrated with ERP)

Recommendations for Selecting a Distribution ERP Solution

What is the right ERP solution for your distribution business? Acumatica Cloud ERP has created an in-depth checklist to help you understand your options. Their hope, of course, is that you choose Acumatica, but the reality is they’ve done everyone a service by publishing the checklist. You could work through it and conclude that a different solution is right for your particular distribution business—especially as the industry undergoes a period of digital transformation.

The checklist is also a good reflection of the way we work with clients in discovering the best solution for their distribution businesses. It’s methodical and allows for the prioritization of needs. With ERP selection, it should never be a simple matter of feature-to-feature comparison. The best practice is to weight features by relevance to your business.

Overview of the Distribution ERP Selection Checklist

The checklist contains five categories of comparison for distribution ERP solutions:

  • Productivity—How a distribution ERP solution can make your employees more productive in their jobs
  • Functionality—The specific features and functions of the solution
  • Technology—The underlying technology that affects user experience, customization and administration along with integration with other systems, e.g. logistics, HR and so forth
  • Value—How the product maximizes features and functions vs. cost for the product’s lifetime
  • Risk—How the product minimizes risk and facilitates security (e.g. network and financial security)

Using the Checklist to Select a Distribution ERP Solution

Depending on your business, you may emphasize some of the five categories more than others. Productivity, for example, is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. The checklist forces you to take a hard look at issues like how intuitive the interface is for users. If it’s not easy to learn, people might find ways to work around it, defeating the whole purpose of the solution. Other productivity factors include having a single database, multi-currency capabilities, wikis and so forth.

Functionality is a critical area for evaluation. Even if you totally love a distribution ERP solution, if it doesn’t do what you want, the solution won’t work. Functional check-offs span features like support for multiple entities, financial management and quote-to-cash workflows. Sales order management and cost accounting are on the list, as are purchase order management and inventory management.

In terms of technology, the checklist encourages you to probe whether a cloud-based solution is “True Cloud,” meaning that it was designed natively for the cloud. This can make a difference in how well the solution works and how easy it is to change. Responsive design is also a significant requirement, given today’s mobile workforce and customers. Other technical issues of note include database export capabilities and the presence of a full relational database. This latter technical feature can be important for integration with other systems, audits and more. The value checklist items refer to financial aspects of the solution. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) figures prominently into the value category, but so do non-monetary but value-oriented factors like scalability.

If you’re considering getting a new distribution ERP solution, we encourage you to work with the checklist. We can help you go through it, looking at how your business runs and how it competes to arrive at an informed, wise solution choice.

Additional Distribution Resources

Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind

Benefits of ERP Software for Distribution Business Management

5 Reasons Distributors Need ERP Software

Position Your Business for Growth in 2020 With Cloud ERP

Will 2020 be a year of growth for your business? While it’s impossible to predict the future, one can still explore how new technology and practices can position your business for growth as we enter this new decade. Cloud ERP in particular, like Acumatica, can make a big difference in a company’s growth trajectory.

How Does Software Enable Growth?

Can software drive growth? No, on its own, software cannot do very much. However, when people, strategy and processes join forces with flexible, powerful cloud ERP solutions, the potential for growth can be startling.

What is cloud ERP? Briefly, solutions like Acumatica are browser-based versions of the classic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. Yet, they go much further than legacy ERP. Acumatica, for example, offers add-on modules for manufacturing management, distribution businesses, field service, Customer Resource management (CRM) and more. It’s a complete business management solution, not just ERP. It’s cloud-based, so you don’t have to buy hardware or software licenses to use it.

Here are five ways cloud ERP, used in the right way, can facilitate revenue and earnings increases:

1. Save money and invest in your business

Cloud ERP saves you money on operating expenses (OpEx) by way of reduced IT overhead. You can cut capital expenses (CapEx) because you don’t have to tie up cash or take on debt for servers, storage and data center facilities. You can redeploy that capital, investing in new lines of business, marketing campaigns, money-making equipment and so forth.

2. Get closer to your customers and grow your accounts

With CRM and quote-to-order tools, you can grow your business by improving customer engagement. CRM gives you an overview of sales forecasts as well as the ability to dig deeply into the sales status of specific accounts. With CRM, you can also engage in meaningful marketing campaigns that turn prospects into customers and nurture existing customers so you’ll be top of mind when it’s time to buy. Learn more about integrating ERP and CRM.

3. Improve customer service

When you connect customer service, operations and sales using cloud ERP, you have the ability to deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience. Customers who are well-cared-for tend to become repeat customers. Having a lower rate of customer churn makes it easier to increase revenue. You don’t have to replace customers who defected due to sub-optimal customer care.

4. Be more agile

Cloud hosting translates into flexibility of ERP solutions. Cloud ERP can add functional modules with relative ease. That way, if you want to make a move like adding 24-hour a day live customer support, you can add the software for the capability pretty much instantly. Similarly, if you want to extend your systems and integrate with those of other companies like suppliers or partners, the cloud Application Programming Interface (API) make as this a fairly straightforward, inexpensive and fast process. It’s certainly far simpler than using custom-coded connectors in legacy ERP solutions.

5. Get smarter by running analytics on your data

Your business data contains a wealth of potential insights that can help you grow your business. Modern cloud ERP makes this data available, with rich data visualization, analysis and reporting features.

Grow in 2020 and Beyond With Cloud ERP

Cloud ERP can help you start 2020 on a growth trajectory. You can get started now, working with us to understand your ERP requirements and formulate an effective implementation plan.

7 Benefits of CRM Software (That’s Integrated with ERP)

Everyone knows that “The customer is always right.” However, in a lot of businesses, there are two big difficulties with this piece of wisdom: They don’t know quite who their customers are and they may not have a good feel for what the customer wants or thinks. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions offer a way to stay in touch with customers and keep them engaged for ongoing revenue growth.

These solutions, which started out as glorified digital rolodexes, now enable highly sophisticated sales forecasting capabilities, customer support, and marketing management. They also integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions—potentially giving everyone in the business a clear picture of the customer at any given point in time. With that in mind, here are 7 benefits of adopting CRM, especially when it’s integrated with ERP:

1. Improve customer relationships

This sounds pretty basic, but it’s one of the most important elements of a growing business. CRM gives your team the tools to be in touch with key accounts and stay engaged with them as their needs evolve. With CRM, you can instantly get a complete view of the customer, including proposals and orders in progress, new leads within accounts, customer service history and more.

2. Manage sales more effectively

CRM gives sales managers a total overview of customer accounts. Sales reps can use the CRM solution to create opportunities and build sales forecasts, one customer at a time. CRM creates accountability in the sales team, with the potential to drive revenue growth.

3. Understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns

CRM solutions usually have marketing campaign execution capabilities, though in many cases, separate marketing systems integrate into CRM. Either way, marketing and sales managers can use CRM to track which marketing initiatives are creating sales prospects. And, of these prospects, which become accounts. Thus, CRM offers a way to show Return on Investment (ROI) for marketing campaigns. It measure how well marketing money is being spent.

4. Establish and maintain customer master data

Customer data, especially for accounts with multiple locations and contacts, can easily get disaggregated. With duplicates and missing data, customer data management and communication suffers. CRM gives your company a standard master data record for each customer.

5. Grow sales with quote-to-order capabilities

CRM, when connected to ERP and outfitted with quote-to-order functionality, lets all relevant stakeholders in the sales and order delivery process to know exactly how a particular customer relationship is doing with regard to orders. You can also keep customers in the loop on issues with quotes, e.g. delays in the supply chain that might affect an order.

6. Get better at upselling and cross-selling

With CRM, sales team members can be given suggestions on cross-sell and upsell, e.g. adding a service contract to sale of a product. Sales managers can also then track how well reps are doing at cross-sell and upselling.

7. Deliver better customer service

The customer support module is often activated when companies deploy CRM. Doing so provides mutual visibility between sales and support, which can be helpful in maintaining good customer relationships. For example, if customer support gets a seemingly minor issue from a customer, they can see on CRM that it’s a multi-million dollar account, so it deserves a high priority. Or, if a sales rep is calling on an account, he or she can use CRM to see existing support tickets.

We have worked with many companies on the implementation of CRM solutions, both on a standalone basis and as part of an extended ERP system. To learn more about CRM or see a demo, please visit our CRM page.

Additional CRM Resources

Which CRM solution is right for your organization?

4 ways a CRM helps you improve customer relationships

3 different approaches to CRM systems

ERP Selection Tips for Manufacturers

Chances are, if you’re in manufacturing, you already have software to manage your operations. It may be time, however, to think about updating that system. With competitive trends accelerating and customer preferences evolving relentlessly, manufacturers are under pressure to adapt and become more agile and better at what they do. New cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions like Acumatica give you capabilities that easily translate into improvements in efficiency, quality and profitability. With that in mind, here area few selection tips for selecting the right manufacturing ERP solution.

Table Stakes

Any worthwhile modern ERP solution will have certain core features. Think of them as “table stakes” to be in the manufacturing software game. These include having a cloud-hosting option and the accompanying flexibility the cloud enables. Cloud computing gets you out of the capital investment (CapEx) you’re accustomed to with on-premises solutions.

A modern manufacturing ERP should also be extensible, with the ability to integrate with other systems using standards-based APIs. Mobility is a given, as is deep data management and analytics capabilities. Security is also “table stakes,” especially considering the emerging risks facing Operational Technology (OT) SCADA systems that may be linked to operational management systems like ERP.

Manufacturing ERP Selection Factors

Assuming the system you have in mind meets the table stakes, consider the following factors when making your selection:

  • It allows you to make decisions with visibility and collaboration. You should be able to use the ERP solution for internal collaboration as well as for coordinating processes with supply chain vendors and customers.
  • A good manufacturing ERP enables you to bring complex, customized products to market in a rapid cycle; it facilitates, rather than hinders, the adoption of new manufacturing methods and technologies.
  • You can manage resources and inventory to keep costs under control and minimize the amount of cash you tie up with inventory.
  • It offers powerful but flexible master production planning and control.
  • The solution handles complexity in the lifecycles of your various products, e.g. multiple versions, revisions, updates, end-of-life, etc.
  • It can easily handle complex product structures that generate Bills of Material (BOMs) with multiple levels.
  • You can set up and implement detailed routings that include processes that occur off of your shop floor.
  • Production scheduling is flexible.
  • Configuration management is easy to use.
  • You can use market data reporting to anticipate supply and demand for materials and finished goods.
  • Cost reporting is fine-grained enough to allow for rigorous cost management and cost cutting that doesn’t negatively affect product quality.
  • BOM costing and production costing allow for roll-up to design and production planning.
  • You can allocate overhead flexibly, by product, product line or business unit.
  • It integrates with the accounting system, including for multiple entities.
  • You can create production orders that track costs for materials, labor and materials as well as overhead that’s either fixed, variable or both.
  • You can integrate with Customer Resource Management (CRM) for sales tracking.
  • It provides Quote-to-Order-to-Invoice capabilities.

This may look like a long list, but it’s really just a sampling of what you should be looking for in a manufacturing ERP solution. We have worked with many manufacturers over the years in the selection and implementation of new ERP systems that are adapted for their unique business needs. If you’re thinking about upgrading your manufacturing ERP, we should probably talk.

Additional ERP Software Resources

How ERP Software Can Save Your Business Money

ERP Software 101: History and Modules Available

7 Signs that You Need ERP Software