Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Features Software Technology
Out with the old: Updating aging infrastructure is good for business


June 14, 2016
By Mike Wingrove Sage North America

Topics

Jun. 14, 2016 – A legacy built from years of service, excellence and reliability is an asset to any company, but leveraging the long-standing relationships with partners and loyal customers built from that legacy can be the key to success in the manufacturing industry. However, when it comes to technology, an over-reliance on the past can be the quickest way to derail the future. Running a business on the stamina of an outdated, aging technology infrastructure is possible, but running a modern, successful business requires a modern IT strategy. 

For organizations looking to update aging infrastructure, it may seem like a daunting task as there was likely a considerable investment — both time and money — in the current system, and the thought of selecting, implementing and learning an entirely new business management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system probably leaves you feeling anxious. Not only will you have to devote some time to sourcing a new system, you’ll also have to make a case to the internal team as to why the company should invest in it.

The good news is that technology has advanced since your last implementation. Systems are intuitive, competitive and with the right support, updating from legacy software can be a quick and easy process that does not have to result in any downtime or business interruptions.

We live in the era of digital data where it can be mined for valuable insights to save a company time and money. If you’re relying on a legacy ERP system or error-prone spreadsheets for inventory and accounting, you might be missing out on actionable data that could help you make better informed business decisions.

Here are a few reasons to update outdated infrastructure:

Knowledge is power
You might have a lot of data stored in multiple systems that don’t communicate with one another, which means you aren’t using your data effectively. By the time you’ve consolidated that information into something useful, it’s likely outdated. Modern business management solutions provide tangible intelligence and are designed to find and analyze flaws in your data collection strategy. While modern solutions organize and analyze that data, they can also proactively solve identified problems by creating a more efficient and knowledgeable operation. Whether you need recall management, inventory forecasting, formula management, or capacity planning, there are tools available to meet your needs.

Tim Quinlan, vice president of production for Canada’s largest vinegar producer, Reinhart Foods, explains the benefits of transitioning from legacy software to a modern business management solution. “We went from dealing with yesterday’s problems to tackling today’s challenges,” he says.

Software is available that allows you to measure your operation against your closest competitors, benchmarking your process to quickly and easily spot the areas where you may be falling short.

Cash is king
Essential to the success of any business is cash flow, but the old adage still rings true — you have to spend money to make money. Having clear insight into your receivables and the resources going out is essential to managing cash flow. Look for an integrated solution that can manage both incoming and outgoing products that also provides information or improved visibility across your supply chain. This can help to optimize purchase conditions and margins, and also enable a mobile sales force. Your system could identify missing inventory or inefficiencies to help you free up capital that you can then reinvest in the business.

Be mobile
For a manufacturer, managing and servicing multiple clients, partners and locations is all in a day’s work. Expectations run high from executives and operations teams to keep processes moving forward with maximum efficiency. The need to connect remotely to a reliable business management solution and the ability to access that information on the road is mission critical, as this can determine the difference between securing a customer success story and a failure to meet demands. Look for a business management solution that allows the same control and access onsite and offsite to help create efficiencies. Ideally, your system should make it easy for your employees to access the data they need, regardless of when and what location they are accessing it from.

No more one-size-fits-all
Technology has advanced so that it can be custom tailored to the unique needs of each business, it is important to take advantage of this as having the ability to scale efficiently when you need to meet demands is essential. Options are available to suit the needs of companies, whether you want to expand into other markets, seek real-time control of production planning and insight into regulations, or strive to effectively manage the fluctuation of procurement, production and shipping while staying on top of compliance requirements. There are Cloud-based or on-premise business management solutions that require an IT professional to manage, and those that don’t. Your technology vendor can work with you to find the system best suited to your needs.

Review your current business management systems to determine whether you have an accurate snapshot of financials, inventory and other key business performance indicators at your fingertips, and ensure all systems are working together to empower you with the information you need to make informed decisions.

Technology can take the complexity out of running your business and simplify your operation, leaving you Lean and ready for whatever comes next.

Mike Wingrove is vice-president North American sales at Sage North America, a provider of business management software and services.