Wholesale firms need to address growing pains as optimism in the sector rises says report

With businesses returning their attention to growth as the economic climate becomes brighter, they will need the right tools in place to cope with the strains caused by expansion, according to a new report out today. Access Group’s whitepaper ‘Easing the Growing Pains: Resolving the Challenges of Expansion with Technology’ examines the problems commonly encountered and the solutions available to organisations.

Easing-the-Growing-Pains-CoverIan Roper, divisional director for supply chain solutions for Access Group comments, “The dark clouds of the credit crunch may still be fresh in the memory for some but with the economic outlook becoming brighter companies are once again turning their attention to growth.

“There is also an increased sense that there are reasons to be optimistic in the wholesale sector with the trend of consumers buying ‘little and often’ generating more demand for convenience shopping. Shifting customer preferences, such as a desire for local provenance, are also creating further opportunities to expand the product range.”

In an increasingly digitised world much of this demand is also coming from online channels – with wholesale companies reporting double digit growth from this revenue stream. A rapid increase in turnover can, however, create headaches for companies that have not put systems in place in order to cope with an expansion of business. In addition, a lack of visibility of business information can result in the organisation being slow to react to changes in the market.

“I often hear management complain they are making decisions based on retrospective data. It can take 10 to 15 days to close the books and when they are making decisions the information can be almost a month old,” said Andy Brown, KPMG lead management consultant for IT in the North of England and Scotland. “When we are talking about wholesale businesses, especially those operating online, they need to have this information on a daily basis. They need to react to changes in demand with speed.”

Dr Thanos Papadopoulos, associate professor and senior lecturer in information systems at Sussex Business School, claims that enterprise systems that provide ‘one version of the truth’ allow businesses to provide a better overall customer service – and prevent departments from operating with blinkered focus on their own functions.

Ian commented, “If companies hope to avoid potential growing pains, and drive greater profits from increased turnovers, they will need tools which allow them to take advantage of potential economies of scale. With margins tight in the wholesale sector, expanding businesses will need to be better at finding efficiencies, identifying fast moving product lines and ensuring customer service operates as smoothly as possible.” For a copy of the whitepaper contact natalie.smith@theaccessgroup.com

Brennan & Company, the Irish based supplier of highly specialised technological equipment to the scientific, medical and industrial markets, has chosen a new complete ERP solution from Access Group following a very detailed selection process. The implementation of this solution will see independent consultant defined savings for the company of €400,000 over a three year period.

The systems selected included the Access ServiceManager solution which is vital to Brennan & Company’s large equipment installed base. The solution will provide full visibility of information across finance, field service, stock control and order processing. In addition, it will be implementing the latest integrated Access aCloud platform for CRM, document management, automation of invoice processing, expense management and business intelligence.

Greg Brennan, MD for Brennan & Company, commented, “We chose Access as we wanted a system that would give us one vision of our critical business information. Currently there is no integration between our service management and ERP software and our remote staff, such as our field service engineers, our product managers and our applications personnel need to be aware of all appropriate customer needs. All necessary and relevant staff need to be able to receive, view and respond to real-time customer requirements to ensure we can give the best possible service to our customers and the Access systems will do this easily and intuitively for our people.” Greg continued, “The incumbent ERP system is 12 years old and isn’t being supported any more plus we have lots of manual processes so we needed to change. We worked with an independent consultancy company to produce a comprehensive cost benefit analysis of implementing the Access solution. This is where we defined and valued the specific work practice savings.”

The new system will enable the Brennan & Company teams to have remote access to real-time information on service calls, engineer activity, standing orders and customer sales activity through the aCloud CRM system. “There will be time and cost savings with service management in particular,” said Greg. “Reports are being created manually, along with standing orders and scheduling. The new system will enable a much more efficient way of working and we will automate work-flows wherever possible.”

“The CRM software will allow us to target new business opportunities in existing marketplaces and evaluate new potential markets, into which we will look to expand,” commented Greg, “We wanted a system that was flexible enough to grow with us, easily expanded and implemented quickly. It was important to us that the system is simple and easy to use, especially as we look to acquire other business.”

Access Group was one of three software providers to make it to the shortlist from an original tender response from eight ERP providers. “Access had a good grasp of what was required all the way through the process. We put the three finalists through a rigorous scripted evaluation phase and we were very impressed with Access Group’s commitment and detail. They were interested, keen and understood what we were looking for. They just ‘got it’ really quickly and their methodology was straightforward. Their preparation, delivery and openness were excellent,” concluded Greg.

Access Group

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