Recently we spoke to a financial controller of a F&B company. For years they had been relying on a combination of manual processes and standalone systems to get things done. And in recent months this led to substantial tedium and lowered productivity, so the FC was keen to improve the way his teams work.
Two rounds of requirements study later, the FC suddenly called to say they had to cancel everything.
“It’s top management,” he said, sounding morose. “They told us to put a stop to all this and focus on more important things."
"What important things?" my colleague asked.
"Making money. What else would they want?"
Were we surprised? Not really. We hear this fairly often from finance folks in SMEs. Their top management know it’s important to improve their processes, but prefer focusing on survival and growth. Boosting efficiency is a nice-to-have, not a must-have like corporate growth.
Unfortunately, at some point in time these executives will eventually find their growth hitting a wall. Their company’s infrastructure – by then a hodgepodge of legacy systems and processes – is too complex and inflexible to support growth.
Perhaps you’ve even experienced it yourself in your company. Your teams keep trying harder, but are no longer able to deliver the same quality for their goods and services the way they used to. Or perhaps your company tried expanding into new opportunities, but your teams are finding it hard to maintain the efficiency your company had in the good old days.
Surviving the One-Two Punch in Business
To complicate matters, SMEs also have to be more agile to adapt to the rise of disruptive services. B2C innovators like Uber have transformed traditional consumer expectations, while B2B companies such as Mercateo are helping organisations completely redesign their value propositions.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) neatly describes this problem in a 2016 article on the importance of simplifying IT processes:
"Corporate IT functions are being hit with a one-two punch. Digital technologies increase the need to adapt ever more quickly to disruptive new applications and services. Those technologies also create rising customer expectations… To fight back, traditional companies need to become much more agile, by shortening time to market and delivering IT services more quickly; flexible, by scaling IT volume up and down quickly, for example; and efficient, by reducing IT costs.”
Now perhaps you’re thinking: ‘Yes I know that flexibility, agility, and efficiency is important. But Alythea, you don’t know my business. It’s not a simple matter to change our processes.’
However, you don't have to change your processes straight off the bat. What you really need is something that fits into and helps simplify your existing processes to make life easier for you and your teams.
Simplify for Sustainable Growth
Personally, I think the FC’s bosses missed an opportunity to leverage on ERP for their plans. Given that the F&B industry has specific challenges – government regulations, growing food safety awareness, specialized production processes per product category etc. – a good ERP solution can greatly streamline and support their business, especially in a fast-paced changing industry like theirs.
In fact, one KMPG study showed that nearly half of F&B companies want to increase productivity by streamlining their supply chains for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
With the right flexible, scalable platform, you can pursue growth while remaining resilient. You can adapt to market changes quickly. You can even deliver above and beyond your corporate growth strategy. Think outsourcing non-core operations and supporting new business models. Or selling across multiple channels and going global – complete with all its regulatory, linguistic, currency and other challenges.
That’s the power of simplification. ERP solutions like SAP Business One are a great way to simplify processes. Not only is it easy to implement and use, it’s also built to scale and adapt to your business.
In short, keep the doors of innovation open, and you’re set for improved agility, flexibility and efficiency now and in the future.
Are you also facing the ‘one-two punch’ in your workplace? What’s worked for you so far?