In our last blog we talked about business process automation and the benefits it brings with it, but what are the challenges facing businesses when it comes to technology? There’s no question that technology is an intrinsic part of our everyday world. The government report ‘Foresight’ into the future of manufacturing predicts that manufacturing “will be virtually unrecognisable from that of thirty years ago” due to the advances of technology. This is not a new opinion and businesses will have to make technology part of their process just to keep up with the changing face of manufacturing.
There are some common obstacles that affect every business, especially those long established ones. Manual processes – from handwriting invoices to stock checking – are one of the biggest drains on resources a company has. Simple tasks that it is assumed only staff can carry out, take time and increase staffing hours. Increasing hours means an increase in money spent on wages and less time available to manage customers. Repetitive tasks are also those more likely to throw up errors as staff ‘zone out’ and stop concentrating – the kind of errors that are difficult to monitor until a mistake becomes obvious. For example, if your stock level isn’t computerised how are you to know if an item is available for a customer without going in search of it? And when something is sold does a spreadsheet have to be updated manually? How do you know how many items you’ve sold in a month? If your stock is computerised, and software is used to gather sales data, reports can be generated at the touch of a button. If you knew which types of items were selling quickly you could better prepare to meet demand. If slow selling items were highlighted, it could indicate poor promotion of the product or incomplete product data. You wouldn’t have to rely on your staff to report poor quality items that keep being returned, your sales report would make it obvious, enabling you to make improvements.
Another common challenge is getting departments to communicate with one another quickly and efficiently – manufacturing talking to sales for example. If there are a number of customers waiting for an item, do you rely on manufacturing to alert the sales department after they’ve made the item? It would be quicker and easier to generate orders direct from stock inputting, so order lists go straight to the warehouse staff. Orders are fulfilled more quickly, meaning less time between manufacture and sale and, ultimately, happier customers and increased sales. Stock spends less time on the shelf and customers spend less time waiting. Communications between departments of a business are vital to keeping that business flowing. Being able to monitor the efficiency of these communications can highlight areas that need to be improved, areas for retraining of staff or even areas that are working especially well that should be rewarded or repeated.
Companies sticking to their ‘tried and tested’ long-winded ways of doing something is undoubtedly one of the largest challenges. The other is staff who are resistant to change. Many think they are unable to learn a new way of doing something, or think it will make things harder in the long run, or not work at all! Others may think they will lose their jobs to a computer. A company looking to invest in automated software should involve it’s staff in the process, making them feel part of the change and valued as experienced employees. Having staff input on how new processes are run means they are getting to know the software from the beginning, rather than having a brand new program thrust upon them.
The third challenge, and most likely largest, is cost. Many businesses try to cut costs of investing in software by buying an ‘off the shelf’, one size fits all solution, only to find out that it doesn’t. Time and money is wasted trying to make a generic program work for a unique business, sometimes multiple times over. While it is true that good quality software designed for purpose isn’t cheap, it is ultimately worth it. The frustration generated, work hours wasted and mistakes created by ill-fitting software are just not worth the trouble in the long run. Custom software designed by developers who have taken the time to understand how you work and what is important to your business will pay dividends. With the focus on growing manufacturing industry in the UK, local and national grants are available to help business become future proof, as well as the opportunities that Brexit is generating for new trade deals – now is the time to get up to speed. As Foresight identifies “successful firms will be capable of rapidly adapting their physical and intellectual infrastructures to exploit changes in technology as manufacturing becomes faster, more responsive to changing global markets and closer to customers.”
As experienced software developers, Naked Element are experts at helping businesses stay ahead of the game. Our team have worked with local and national companies, from well-established bespoke manufacturers to young digital marketers. Software and apps from Naked Element have proven results from cutting processing time and decreasing costs to improving customer experience and return business. Paul Grenyer, CEO, says “Naked Element’s experience and techniques lend themselves well to problems that seem difficult to solve. We’ve provided numerous solutions for customers who told us they had an impossible challenge.”
Talk to us about your impossible challenge and find out how we can create the software solution. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01603 383458.