To gain an edge in today’s marketplace, distributors need to pursue every opportunity to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Improvements in cloud ERP and other distribution system tools have made it easier for distributors to develop automated workflows and business processes.
Many distributors still use outdated business processes that were originally developed to accommodate limited functionality in legacy software. Updating workflows and processes is essential to well-integrated distribution system.
These automated workflows offer five important advantages for distribution organizations.
- Efficient data flow within the organization: When information needs to move efficiently between departments, streamlining data flow is especially beneficial. For instance, an inefficient approval process often requires extensive paper flow between departments. An automated, digital process eliminates the physical paper and eliminates lags in the process by immediately notifying the next group in line to receive the information. As a result, the next person in the process is able to take action right away, instead of waiting for paper to move between departments or different geographical locations.
- Reduction in manual effort: Introducing automated workflows typically results in business processes that require less manual effort, and may offer cost savings or other financial benefits.
- Access to economies of scale: Some distributors allow individual departments the flexibility to order supplies or products on their own as they need them. By implementing a process that routes multiple purchase requests through an automated approval workflow, an organization reduces the manual effort involved in processing the requests. At the same time, such automated workflows reduce the cost of overbuying and allow economies of scale when purchasing inventory, office supplies or other products.
- Reduction in redundant data entry and data errors: One frequent benefit of introducing automated workflows is that they reduce or eliminate the need for re-entry of data. Entering the same data into different systems is inefficient, due to the duplication of efforts, but it also tends to introduce errors.
- Eliminating data silos: Bringing all of your business data together in a cloud ERP system helps to reduce or eliminate data silos. When each department stores its own data in whatever way seems most convenient, it often inadvertently limits access for the rest of the organization. Eliminating these data silos helps people and departments interact more efficiently, allowing team members to share information quickly and accurately. A central system for business data also saves a lot of time that would otherwise be taken up with manually entering data on spreadsheets and maintaining digital files.
The best way to turn these automation benefits into competitive advantages is to integrate them within a cloud ERP system. Once your business data has been entered into your cloud ERP system, all of the relevant personnel and departments (i.e., sales, marketing, finance, etc.) have access to it when necessary. This improves communication because the different departments don’t have to rely on others to pass along the information in a timely fashion, reducing the likelihood of errors and miscommunication during handoffs.
In the end, automated workflows offer several important benefits for distributors, whether your primary goal is to streamline operations, facilitate internal communication or encourage collaboration with vendors and partners.
Contact Business Solution Partners to learn how a cloud ERP implementation could help improve your company’s efficiency and optimize workflows.