While manufacturers and distributors may focus on different products in a variety of industries, they share two similarities: they all have various internal teams led by decision-makers with specific goals, and they all have enterprise data in one form or another. Often, a gap exists between those decision-makers and that enterprise data. They may not have access to it, or it might simply exist in a form that’s not usable for actual decision-making (i.e., it may be raw data not viewable in reporting or may only be one part of the overall data needed).
This gap exists for multiple teams within an organization, but for now, there are three specific teams we’d like to focus on: executives/leadership, information technology, and operations. While authority rests at the executive level, these three groups are all among the primary decision-makers for a manufacturing and distribution organization. Executives develop strategy and long-term goals, IT creates the tools needed to achieve them, and the operations team develops and executes the processes and workflows to do them.
To achieve their respective goals, all three teams need to have access to enterprise data wherever they are, right when they need it. By that, we don’t mean just having independent programs or systems that work data separately — like a business intelligence tool, ERP, CRM, and so on. We mean a centralized place for all organizational data to live and be accessed remotely for the teams that need it. Let’s take a look at some of the specific needs of these three groups and what an effective solution should include.
At the top of the list is the executive team. Manufacturer and distributor executive teams must shoulder a great deal of responsibility, particularly those operating in more than one country. Supply chains, trade laws, material shortages, and shipping issues are just a few of the many challenges executives face on a daily basis. Among them is maintaining a high-level overview of business performance, customer demand, personnel performance, and more. Much of this information lives in an ERP, but because many ERPs are on-premise or cloud-based, they’re not always secure or accessible on mobile devices — or off-site.
What executives need more than ever is a centralized data solution that not only allows them to view data wherever they are (say, traveling to a supplier or partner or when attending a trade show), but also allows them to view virtually any kind of report needed, on any device. At Bezlio for example, our applications empower leadership teams as well as their organization as a whole by providing customizable reporting views using the data that already exists within their ERP. Not only are executives able to view reports on-the-fly, but those views can be established much faster than any other solution — helping their businesses save time and money in the long run while gaining value almost immediately.
Just as much as leadership teams need valuable reporting to inform strategic decisions, IT also needs data for its decision-makers. This is especially pressing for small to midsize manufacturers and distributors who don’t quite have the resources of a global enterprise yet who have the technology and efficiency needs above those of a much smaller operation that perhaps has only one facility (though mobility is a need for organizations of all sizes).
IT is often the department all others turn to when the time comes to take a business to the next level. Technology is the solution, right? Yes, but IT can only do so much with the resources it has. Budgets are set, teams already have prioritized workloads, and enterprise systems are already in place (and are extremely costly and time-intensive to replace). Hiring development staff or partnering with an outside developer can also be time-consuming and costly, so IT needs a simple, easy-to-deploy solution that can work with what they already have. Applications like Bezlio can be layered on top of an existing ERP — eliminating the need for complex, extensive development.
Last but certainly not least is operations. This department or team is your boots on the ground — the ones who are making the company execute on leadership’s strategy and the ones putting those technology solutions to use. They’re the ones with the greatest insight into what makes the business tick, move, and succeed because they’re the ones doing it.
Their needs are immediate: shop and field teams working with materials or customers must be able to view data and information wherever they are. Data in hand keeps employees efficient and productive in that they’re able to view the information they need to make decisions and adjust productivity and schedules as needed.
For field service and sales teams specifically, the ability to quickly pull up customer orders, inventories, job statuses, and more will help them maintain strong service levels. Consider the alternative: a field service team member who visits a customer and performs a repair job, but can’t track their work or time spent except on paper. Add to that, the customer also wanted to replenish a key part of their inventory. That paper-based information is immediately at risk of being lost or forgotten. This hampers revenue, decreases customer satisfaction when they don’t get what they ordered, and reflects poorly on the field rep.
What operations decision-makers need is a mobile solution that uses existing ERP and customer data yet makes it accessible wherever their team members are working. Key features of such a solution include an offline mode, so team members can still work with data despite being out of WiFi or cellular data coverage; secure data transfer processes that only give authorized users access to data; and geotagging, so personnel, data, and more can be monitored real-time and researched later if needed.
Bezlio Provides the Data that Decision-Makers Need
We’ve discussed a lot of solutions to the problems faced by organizations in need of data for decision-makers. You might be wondering where such a solution can be found — and more importantly, what it would cost.
Thankfully, that solution already exists in Bezlio — a drop-in solution for SMB manufacturers and distributors running on-premise Epicor ERP, Infor VISUAL ERP, or Prophet 21 ERP that need mobile capabilities for field teams. To learn more about our platform and how it can help you, complete the form below.
ADAM ELLIS, CO-FOUNDER & CEO
Adam Ellis is the Chief Executive Officer of Bezlio and one of four co-founders. Adam is a lifelong entrepreneur and has extensive ERP and mobile software knowledge through his consulting and management experience. He has a passion for exploring innovative ideas and how they can change the status quo. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn to learn more about his involvement in the ERP space.