VP of Marketing
SWK Technologies, Inc.
How Companies Grow Out of Their Business Management Software
It starts with an idea. Next thing you know, you’re manufacturing and distributing parts for a market you never even knew needed them.
The parts sit on a shelf. The orders come in slowly, then arrive on a steady monthly pace. You add another part to your catalog. They sit on the shelf, then start moving out the door just like your first manufactured part. You repeat this cycle.
You’re taking orders by hand. A templated form for purchase orders, one for the manufacturing floor, an invoice, and so on. It’s okay for the manufacturing floor, but the front office quickly gets heavy on paperwork. You buy an accounting software system, something like Intuit QuickBooks or Sage 50 (formerly Peachtree), both good entry-level desktop applications.
Can Your Software Handle Growth?
Within a few years, you’re manufacturing numerous parts and shipping them all over the country. You’ve grown to the point where you’re ordering raw materials in bulk, managing a supply chain, hiring additional people, buying more equipment, expanding your workshop, leasing warehouse space, and so on. Inventory levels, production, sales orders, payroll, shipping, accounts payables and receivables are all managed using different applications and services so you’re tying it all together using spreadsheets — MS Excel, the easy-to-use fallback application for all things math.
It’s a wonderful story of success and you barely look back to see how you got there. But you realize one thing: it’s taking a lot of running around to sustain your operations. A lot. And that begs the question: can you continue to grow? Especially if it’s going to cause you more running around? Or should you first find ways to make operations more efficient?
Getting the Full Picture
You’re a smart business owner, or manager, and you know it’s time to take a deeper look at your operations at this point. For months you’ve talked about inefficiencies (but you persevered and found ways to make the company grow). Upon introspection, you’ll quickly realize how much manual labor is involved in the processes, documentation, and interactions between manufacturing, accounting, sales, marketing, purchasing, customer service, shipping, and so forth. You also realize that each department has its own process and set of documents, and their interactions with other departments are just enough to keep the product line flowing.
The final blow comes when you realize it’s very difficult to tell where you company is at any given point in time. All those disconnected silos prevent you from getting a clear picture when you need it. Your conclusion is that there’s a need for departmental integration, organization-wide process flow, and definitely better reporting. Automation would be good, too.
The Good News
As you’ve heard, hindsight is 20-20, and beating yourself up over why your company doesn’t have a more integrated system or processes supported by an ERP or robust accounting software package at this junction is not productive. You’ve traveled a common business journey, the one in which your company evolved organically, and you (wisely) made investments as the company could afford them and where forecasts deemed the investments would help with profits or cost cutting.
Now it’s time to look forward – whether to make your operations more efficient, spur growth, and very likely, achieve both. Take stock. Here are some ideas on how to proceed.
Find the Right Fit
In today’s world, software is the tie that binds – it links people, processes and technologies together.
You can shop for software online where there’s plenty of information. It’s a good place to start, and you can speak to sales reps about their solutions. They will gladly demonstrate their solution’s features and functionality. The downside here is that they will naturally promote their product – that’s their job.
You may need more insights on how those applications truly fit your business. You can engage with a business management or software selection consultant. They will take a deeper dive into your operations, your budget, and your goals, and recommend one or more options. The caution here is the cost of their up-front services. If you’ve already reached a mid-market or small enterprise level, they may be affordable to you. But if you’re still in that vaguely-defined SMB range, you may find consultants expensive.
Another option is to speak to more than one ERP reseller. The good ones will provide some level of consulting and propose a solution. By comparing two or three resellers, you’ll develop a broader view of the ERP market and deeper view of your own operations and how software can help you.
What Are Your Business Software Needs?
Here’s the part where I shamelessly — but sincerely — plug my company.
At SWK, we’re happy to discuss your journey with you. We employ business management software consultants, most of which are former business owners, that delight in hearing about where you are and how you got there. Our team can perform a Business Process Review (BPR) or a condensed version of a we call a Business Direction Gap Analysis (BDGA), whereby we weigh your goals against your current systems, determine the gaps, then offer up some advice.
The good thing about SWK is we’re in the middle ground of the U.S. business ecosystem – we focus on small, mid-sized, and small enterprise companies. And we offer several different solutions that range from on-premise to hosted to the cloud. Whether it be a smaller price point entry accounting software that permits 3rd party add-ons to minimize your initial investment and let you grow over time, or a complete ERP, or industry-specific software (discrete or process manufacturing, wholesale distribution, professional services, etc.), we have a variety of solutions that fit well into our customers’ environments.
Don’t Just Take Our Word for It
You can read about or hear the outcomes of some of our engagements directly from our customers. You’ll see the range of companies we have recommended and implemented solutions for that met their requirements:
- Small discrete manufacturing and distribution company: Sage 100cloud at Gorlitz Sewer & Drain, Inc.
- Small process manufacturing company: Sage 100cloud at Specialty Silicone Products
- Mid-sized consulting firm: Acumatica Cloud ERP at Performance Validation, Inc.
- Small enterprise process manufacturing: Sage Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) at Avlon Industries
Learn more about how we can help you become more efficient and grow your company.
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