As small- to medium-sized enterprises the world over have discovered, the purchase of a brand spanking new accounting and business management system is one of the best investments any business owner can make. Boasting functionality that promises enhanced efficiency, improved productivity, streamlined operations and better customer service, the typical management solution has proven to be a real game-changer in the way businesses are run.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. No matter how heavily you have invested in an accounting and business management system, and no matter how proficient you and your team have become at running the software, there’s always a good chance you’ll face challenges that your technology is not equipped to meet. Performance issues and limitations inherent in the system will inevitably take a toll on your business. Possibly resulting in lost sales, unhappy customers, operational cost overruns and a host of other profit‑draining problems. So what parts of your business management system are letting your company down rather than building it up? What are the key things to look for – things which may require you to consider transitioning to another system altogether?
There are many business management systems on the market and finding the perfect fit can be incredibly difficult. Even if you find a solution that is designed for your business model, you may still come across some of the following problems.
Using a system that is unable to integrate with the other systems you need
If your system does not integrate easily with other systems, it is going to cost you time and money. Without integration capabilities, your main option is to manually transfer data from one system to another. Manually transferring data is both time consuming and prone to human error. Using a system with integration capabilities allows the systems to talk to one another and share the data. You do not need to manually transfer the data between them.
Kitting: Product or part bundles are difficult to manage
If your system doesn’t quite fit your needs, it’s likely that your product or part bundles are difficult to manage. This can be challenging for staff and time consuming to deal with. Ultimately you want a system that lets you handle and manipulate kits in the way that best suits the needs of your business, not modify the way your business works to suit the system.
Bill of Materials: Cost of goods inaccurate or difficult to calculate
Accurately working out the cost of goods can be difficult if your bill of materials doesn’t cover everything. You need a system that can:
- understand your capacity levels.
- help you account for by-product and wastage.
- factor in labour with work order timesheets.
- accurately calculating the landed cost.
- handle single or multi-step production.
- include maximum production capability based on stock levels. This should also include subassemblies.
- assist with accurate batch and serial number tracking.
- and allows you to document processes for staff to follow.
See what Jiwa’s manufacturing module can do.
Your system cannot cater for comprehensive warehousing
An inadequate system can lead to duplicates of part numbers and inaccurate inventory management. It may not be able to handle either multiple logical or physical warehouses. A good system will allow you to move stock from one warehouse to another and will allow you to see exactly what stock is where. A good system will also have comprehensive bin locations, and also allow you to create locations for damaged goods. Whether you have multiple physical or logical warehouses, your system should make warehouse and inventory management easier.
An inadequate system can make reporting time consuming and tedious
Whether you’re using a software solution or manually handling your reports, your system may be ineffective for several reasons.
- Creating new reports may be challenging and time consuming to do. You need a system where new reports are created quickly and with ease.
- Your reports should be designed to easily extract information to make business improvements. Without effective business intelligence and actionable analytics, you’re missing a golden opportunity to improve.
- You may find it hard to find data you want if your reporting is not well integrated into your system. Fully integrated reporting will allow you to make decisions from seeing the whole picture and not only part of it.
Having to over-use manual spreadsheets
Manual spreadsheet programs like Excel can be really good for business management and analytics. However, there are ways to use it to enhance your business and ways that it can adversely effect your business. Relying too heavily on manual spreadsheets can be a problem for several reasons.
- Human error – People make mistakes and identifying and rectifying those mistakes can take longer when using manual systems.
- Double handling – If you’re using manual spreadsheets it may be difficult to move that information to and from your system. You’re having to input information twice. This wastes a lot of time and can also lead to errors.
- Lack of access – If you’re using spreadsheets for inventory management (for example), accurate information will be difficult for staff to access from different locations when they need it.
- User skills – Using spreadsheets to your advantage requires a skill level that not all your employees will possess. A staff member with a lack of skills will take more time using a spreadsheet than they would if they had a more structured system to use. A more rigid system will help guide users into the pit of success.
Your system can’t scale as your business grows
This is more important than people realise. What if you need to add more users, more warehouses, or locations? Would your current system cater to these needs? Will the system be slow to run or difficult to use if you add more users? It’s important to use a system that can grow as your business grows.
Your ability to set special pricing is limited by the system
Not all pricing is equal. There are many businesses that need to price their products in a variety of ways, and for a variety of customers. What is not good for your business is using a system that can’t be adapted to your pricing needs. Being limited to how many prices you can set for a product and who those prices are available to, can greatly reduce your sales potential. You need to be able to price your items differently for specific customers, quantities, combinations of cart items, customisations, etc. Not having extensive pricing limits your ability to maximise your margins in different situations.
Difficulty factoring in labour to job costing
There are plenty of businesses out there that not only sell product, but also offer servicing to their customers. If this is you, you may be using a system that’s great in helping you work out the costing for your products, but does not allow you to add servicing or labour easily to a job. This can be frustrating and challenging so what you need is a system that can help you clearly state the labour involved in any job. Work order timesheets are an integral component to any manufacturing business.
Tracking is inadequate and things get lost
If you’re not using a comprehensive system, it’s likely that the tracking of your products is inadequate. Whether you have multiple warehouses, distribution centres, or stores, tracking where your inventory items are at any given point in time is vital to an efficiently run business. Not knowing where something is can be a costly problem to have.
Not being able to access live data from your system
If you have multiple locations for your business, you’ll understand why it’s so important to have access to live data. If you can’t access data from in the field or from the different locations, you could sell something you no longer have. You could also be giving customers inaccurate information about products. Your accessible data should also be secure, so only the right people can access what they need.
When people are looking for a business management system they typically look for a system to meet their basic needs. Instead, you should be looking for a system that can do more for your business than just one aspect. You will see great benefits from using one comprehensive system for your business operations, instead of using many for different things.
Whether you currently rely on multiple systems or on a single solution to meet your requirements, no configuration can be perfect. Markets change, customer demands shift, new technologies emerge and it can’t always be expected that your business software will adapt to new conditions.
The key is to not let technology problems become business calamities. By staying continuously alert to areas where your business management system is impeding business growth rather than supporting it, you can know when the right time is to shift gears and transition to a business solution that will fully exploit your company’s profit‑making potential.