If you’re a manufacturing or distribution company serious about business growth, it’s vital that your company invests in gaining the visibility you need to make forward-thinking decisions. But, how exactly do you obtain the kind of valuable information that sheds light on those key decisions?
The remedy to your company’s growing pains might be investing in new or upgraded information technology (IT). Tim Riddle, President and CEO of Custom Information Services and data and IT expert says that companies should be using IT to tap into the powerful data at right at their fingertips. Read on for a deeper dive into how to make decisions based on ROI, see quantifiable business growth, and operate as a future-focused organization.
Why should I invest in IT?
Maybe you’re intimidated by the thought of new software. Or maybe you don’t see the value in updating a system you’re comfortable with. But the reality is, once you take into account security, visibility, and productivity, tech is more than worth it.
When it comes to growth, reliable tech is vital.
Cloud computing, software customization, additional information technology support —keeping your business up-to-date in the IT world can be overwhelming. The initial price and potentially exhausting process of IT implementation can be enough to push you to say, I’ll just go with the cheapest software upgrade.
But, Riddle says that’s no way to go about obtaining the maximum ROI for your company. Keeping cost reduction in mind is important when evaluating new tech, but if your company wants to make strategic decisions, you need to be armed with the right data — and that data is often hidden away in your technology and processes.
“Cost reduction can only go so far, but the potential for returns on strategic, long-term investments is almost limitless,” Riddle says.
Investing in strategic IT decisions can help you gain advantages like increased revenues, improved customer loyalty, expanded product lines, and new methods of increasing the top-line gross profit.
Now more than ever, it’s important that you keep your data secure. Compromised data means tarnished credibility, loss of time and information, and potentially loss of revenue. If you’re a B2B business, your software is the hub of sensitive information not just for your company, but the companies you do business with.
For example, it’s important that certain data is only handled by those who are qualified — if your software doesn’t allow different security clearances based on position, it’s time for an upgrade.
You might not realize it, but the strength of your IT determines much of your strength as a company. Your systems should provide the visibility you need to achieve your greatest productivity potential — from making shipments on time to cranking out order invoices, reliable data is the foundation of completing tasks successfully. Investing in IT empowers you with the information you need to fix broken operations and strengthen workflow.
I think it’s time to upgrade my IT — where do I start?
If you need to purchase new tech or upgrade your current software, a good way to start is by looking at your current operations and asking that all-important question: where could we improve if we had more functionality and better visibility?
Start by looking at your most obvious areas of opportunity, like time-consuming or error-riddled processes. You might be surprised by how many of your broken operations could be remedied with data-strengthening information technology.
Determine your needs
Every company is different, and it can be difficult to find the root of problem areas, but before making an IT investment, it’s important you identify those bottlenecks in your operations. If you’re a product-centric company, you probably prioritize order fulfilment. Riddle suggests tracking your quoted ship dates and actual ship dates and then recording a weekly average of late deliveries. Once you compare these averages to coinciding data (seasonal demand, average order processing time, etc.), you’ll be able to see correlation between broken processes and late deliveries. Over time, this information can help you gain visibility into your operations by identifying trends in late deliveries.
Generally, gathering this data won’t provide you with hard answers. Rather, this process provides insights into your shipping efficiency and helps you ask the right questions in order to gauge your company’s performance when it comes to meeting customer expectations and delivering in a timely fashion. Answering these questions gives you the ability to analyze bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your operations, allowing you to improve customer relations and measure the productivity of your processes.
Selecting a solution
After defining your company’s needs, get more specific and ask what solution will remedy your broken operations. Do you need a faster method of creating purchase orders? What about a better shipping solution or integration across platforms?
While your current software may have been adequate during your company’s early years, it’s possible it can no longer keep up with your growth. No matter the case, choosing to invest in IT might be the difference between your company’s success or failure. Between security advantages and streamlined operations, IT is well worth the initial cost in the long run, and your company is sure to reap the benefits.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Custom Information Services. Learn more about CIS at customis.com.