With a global pandemic sending the world into a spin, flexible arrangements including working from home have become the new norm.  Initially, individuals invested in home office equipment, including desks, chairs and workstations to continue work as usual. As we slowly see the ease of restrictions and people return to offices, it is clear that flexible work options may be hear to stay.

The forced requirement to work from home has highlighted the benefits and ability of staff to maintain productivity whether they are at home or in the office.  As a result, the need for cloud-based solutions has increased to allow access to data from any location.

What are the benefits of cloud-based software?

One of the biggest challenges companies face is access to accurate data.  Research from Frost & Sullivan research reports that 75 per cent of Australia and New Zealand organisations are not confident that their data is accurate, complete and timely. This leads to an inability to respond to customer requests in real-time, along with poor workplace communication, resulting in lost customers and lack of productivity.

Over 80 per cent of organisations believe that better management of data would lead to improved customer experience, better business intelligence and better decision making. This is the benefit cloud-based software offers.

Why should you adopt cloud-based software like NetSuite?

With a global pandemic shaking up the economy and the workplace environment, the way businesses engage both with staff and their customers has taken a drastic turn. With no vaccine likely for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say social distancing and the ability to work from home has sparked a new era of agile workplaces that is here to stay.

For businesses, cloud-based software offers the following:

Integration: customers are now, more than ever, looking for a completely online experience, which requires integration from the order through to purchase and then fulfilment. An authentic Omnichannel experience is possible with cloud-based software.

Choice: with the economy taking a turn, purse strings have tightened, and people are now more discerning about what they buy. They are looking for choice, and the ability to personalise their order to their desire, all done online with fast delivery.

Experience: one of the stand out challenges businesses face is how to improve the customer experience. In light of COVID-19, the ability to connect with the customer online is now more critical than ever. By providing a positive customer experience, you can create new growth opportunities. Cloud-based software offers this with real-time integrated and well-managed data.

Efficiency: there is a need for organisations to become more efficient and effective when it comes to dealing with customers through their buying cycle. Cloud-based software offers the ability to automate the customer interaction with back-office functions, to provide a 24/7 service at a low cost.

Flexibility: with working from home the new norm, there is an increased need to offer employees the right tools to perform their jobs. Cloud-based software connects everyone in the office and enables increased communication with access to required documents, from anywhere, at any time.

Speed: cloud solutions are fast to implement, with cost models that are directly related to activity and size—thus enabling growth and controlling costs.

What are the specific advantages of NetSuite when working from home?

Easy access to data: no matter where staff are located, data is always available and accessible. This enables a fast response for both customer information and reporting purposes.

Easy to expand: as your organisation grows, you can grow with it, increasing the number of users as you go. It means you can have employees placed anywhere around the world, at home or the office, all with the same access to the platform, making full use of its functionality.

Easy to implement: by adopting the best practices, the solution can be implemented quickly and easily. You are presented with a unique opportunity to take advantage of global best practices and apply these to your organisation to see the NetSuite and running as quickly as possible.

Easy on expenditure: you can keep costs low with no infrastructure costs, no need for expensive IT specialists and no upgrade fees. Cloud-based software costs are licence based, avoiding carrying capital costs on the balance sheet and delivering fast return on investment.  This is particularly important if your businesses has been significantly impacted by Covid-19.

Easy to access: NetSuite can be accessed anywhere, anytime on most devices. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, it offers your employees to the freedom to work from home and safely self-isolate, while still having access to all the materials they need. As the world begins to reopen in time, it offers flexibility for people to travel and work offsite as required.

While Australia is slowly opening back up again and kicking the economy into gear, it is clear that the effect of lockdown will be long-lasting, changing the way organisations operate and communicate with their customers. With information comes a unique ability to adapt and pivot in line with these changes, offering flexibility to employees and the ability to perform their job from anywhere. NetSuite is the tool that will allow your organisation to create a competitive advantage and withstand any future disruptions.

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic sent our economy into free fall. Now, just three months later we are starting to come out the other side and businesses are beginning to reopen once again.

For businesses, what started as a problem could be an opportunity—a valuable chance to reassess your strategy and operations to place yourself on the road to recovery.

To do this, businesses need to take decisive action focussing on areas such as their business model, cash flow, health and safety, forecasting, customer relationships, packaging/pricing/payments and business alignment.

Is your business model still relevant?

An essential first step is to take a look at your business and assess what has and has not changed due to the pandemic.  Due to restrictions, many companies were forced to rethink their business models to survive.  Many had to move to online sales and expand into new markets.  Businesses need to review their current business models, their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how they have changed in the aftermath of Covid-19. This will give you a good understanding of where you are now, what changes have worked, what hasn’t and what needs to happen next.

Determine how customer behaviour may have changed due to the pandemic. Which of your customer segments are still buying and still engaged? Once you know where the sales are currently coming from, focus your resources into this area. It can also help to talk to your customers and prospects, listen to their concerns and challenges and see if you can meet them.

Where does your cashflow stand right now? 

Take the time to check in on your cash flow and where it stands right now. Use past data to run multiple scenarios, assuming:

1. Your sales don’t pick up again for the rest of the year.
2. This revenue shortfall persists into 2021.
3. The decline in revenue accelerates through the end of the year.

By examining these scenarios, you can plan and manage expectations of what is to come, to get your business through to the next stage. If you are a venture-backed company, talk to your investors about raising additional funds, or investigate venture debt to keep you going in the current climate.

How has the pandemic impacted your health, safety and legal requirements?

The way your business operates will undergo some change as a result of the pandemic.  For some businesses, changes are required to maintain social distancing.  For others, it may require significant re-organisation and change to the way they do business. All businesses must be aware of all health, safety and legal issues that could arise with the return to work in terms of customers, employees and suppliers. You will need to introduce a Covid-19 safety management plan which may include changes to the working environment, the addition of sanitation products as implementing signage to reinforce the requirements for employees to return to work safely.

Technology can be a tremendous asset during this period, allowing the introduction of a contact tracing application and other such health and safety measures. Consider all scenarios and play them out. What will you do if an employee contracts Covid-19? How will you communicate with the rest of the office? It’s essential to make sure you stay up to date with changing government guidelines at all times.

Take a fresh look at your forecasts

Forecasting is hard enough, let alone during such uncertain times. Your business needs to take a fresh look at its forecast for sales, expenses and cash flow and update your assumptions based on figures from the past few months. Model the cash flow, burn rate and liquidity under multiple scenarios: if the revenue declines 20% for the rest of the year; or 30%; or 50%.

All payments and costs within the business need to be reassessed. This includes taking a look at bonuses, commission rates and salaries. Think about your supply chains and whether they have been impacted and what this means for future sales. Your forecasting needs to delve further into other risks to your business, such as new interruptions, employees getting sick and health outbreaks.

Customer relationships are critical at this point

While this may seem difficult in the current climate, customer relationships need to be a priority. Whether you are selling a product or a service, you need to maintain and build on existing customer relationships.

This doesn’t always mean trying to sell more to your current customer base.  It’s about being empathetic to the current needs of your customer base and reaching out to those who may be doing it tough. Customer relationships are built on the principles of know, like and trust. By reaching out during a time of need, and offering your help and support, you can build strong customer loyalty and ensure those customers will come back. Actions like this will be key to the growth of your business as things open up.

How can you re-package your product or service to improve your offering?

Now is the time to take a fresh look at your product or service and to reassess your offer.

Think for the long term about how you can continue to add value for your customers without losing them. Here are some things to think about:

  • Can you offer a bundling package for your products and services? This increases loyalty while still protecting your margins.
  • Can you offer a discount? This can draw demand and even bring in new customers currently on the fence.
  • Do you offer payment term flexibility? Allowing people to pay online or make use of services such as Afterpay can benefit your business.

Get everyone focused on the task at hand

Once you have gone through your business and seen where you currently stand and what actions you plan to take for the future, it is a chance to get your business aligned and focused. Adopt an open communication policy in the workplace with employees, partners and customers. Customer experience and gratification are important for your success, especially in these challenging times. In fact, with Covid-19, the customer is the only thing that matters.

Remember, everyone is feeling unsure in these times. From your employees through to suppliers, the whole world has been affected by this pandemic. By being open and honest, you are letting people know what they can expect and share a clear vision moving forward. This is both motivating and reassuring, giving your business the best step forward.

During times of uncertainty, such as those that we are experiencing now, it is more important than ever to be able to adapt quickly to any changes that take place. Being able to adapt is possible if you have the right inventory management solution in place.

Starting A New Business

While it might seem counter-intuitive to be starting a business during the Coronavirus pandemic, there are still market opportunities.  The same issues still affect new businesses now as they did before such as building market share, setting up shop (probably online), finding staff, choosing product lines and then attracting customers.

Once this period of your business settles down, you may need to look into scaling up, expanding into other markets, building customers and more.

Growing your business may involve:

  • Expanding into new locations
  • Selling more online
  • Taking on new product lines and suppliers
  • Creating more robust alignments with suppliers
  • Developing a ‘leaner’ inventory approach (i.e., reducing inventory levels while minimising stock-outs).
  • Finding new ways to drive costs out of the distribution process

It is during this phase of your business planning that you need to be investing in the right inventory management solution to meet your current needs, and adapt to any changing needs as your business grows. That technology needs to be flexible, scalable, adaptable and cloud-based.

Easing Distributor Pain Points With Technology

As a distributor, one of your goals is achieving optimal inventory levels, but this is a delicate balance. If you buy too little, you end up with stock-outs, buy too much, and your carrying costs go up.

By implementing the right technology, you can put in place a good management strategy that satisfies customer demands, while also reducing (or eliminating):

  • High inventory costs
  • Uncertainty due to fluctuations in demand
  • Risk of loss
  • Stock-outs
  • Inventory turnover rates
  • Unnecessary order duplications
  • High levels of working capital tied up in inventory
  • Excessive storage costs
  • Imbalanced shipment lead times
  • Lost customers
  • Loss of materials due to carelessness or pilferage

These problems can contribute to substantial financial losses for your business. But the good news – they can be avoided using a scalable inventory management platform that provides information in real-time.

This includes product ordering, storage and control, ensuring you have the right quantities in the right place at the right time. You can monitor the movement of every product from distributor to end-user, with detailed record-keeping provided for every product.

The History Of Good Inventory Management

If you leave your inventory management to chance, it will not only tie up cash in your business but will likely have negative financial consequences for you.

For example: when you overstock in anticipation of future demand, you take the risk that your business is left with ‘dead stock’. This consumes working capital and also uses physical space just sitting there. There is no guarantee that you will be able to move these products in the future.

On the other hand, if you don’t hold enough inventory, you risk running out when your customer’s ask for the goods. This has now left you with lost business and unhappy customers, who may choose not to buy from you again.

In the past, companies have tried to avoid either of these two scenarios by performing physical warehouse counts, which are then reconciled against paper or batch-based systems. Most businesses would perform these checks on a scheduled basis, using the results to updated inventory figures.

The Problem With Out-Dated Technology

You’re all too aware that at some point, your business will outgrow the technology you started with. Whether you are looking to upgrade as your business has grown, or are looking to integrate systems.

Here are some telltale signs that your inventory management system isn’t working:

  • Complicated, time-consuming inventory reconciliation process.
  • Overstocking to ensure that the right amount of product is on-hand when needed.
  • Always having to manually change physical counts to reflect actual in-stock positions.
  • Mismanaged inventory levels
  • High levels of human error (i.e., due to manual data entry processes).
  • Inability to handle an increased number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) as your distributorship grows.
  • No metrics to leverage to confidently optimise inventory.
  • Too much obsolete inventory in the warehouse or distribution centre (DC).
  • Poor demand forecasting.

Whatever the reason, the last thing you want is to be spending time and money manually changing all this over. You also can’t afford to work with a solution that doesn’t adjust to your current and future technology needs. For a company that is growing, the right technology can help gain better economies of scale and improve processes with less human labour.

These days, scalable software exists to do all of this for you, updating in real-time with information readily shares with all users and stakeholders across multiple business units and locations.

Introducing Scalable Software

When it comes to the software realm, the word ‘scalable’ refers to the fact that the system doesn’t need to be redesigned to maintain its high performance when its workload increases.

Whether your business is growing and you have more users on the system, or there is a need for higher storage capacity or any other event that pushes the software past the capacity it was introduced in, the software will change with your company.

There are so many benefits that come with this. If you are just starting or moving into a new market, you can choose a scalable inventory management solution that provides what you need at that point in time. This lowers your costs and means less user trainer. As you grow, the software will adapt to your business. It keeps the complexities to a minimum while leaving the door open for changing requirements – all without a high upfront investment.

Start Slow

When it comes to introducing scalable software into your business, the idea is to walk, then crawl, then run. Using a step-by-step approach, you will be building your inventory management system on a strong foundation and set yourself up for future success in the process.

Once in place, you will reap the benefits of full visibility into your inventory, affording you the ability to make fast, accurate decisions in regards to the allocation of orders and products. To find the right inventory management system for you, it’s essential to assess your current needs and plans for future growth.

Here are some key questions to ask:

1. What are we using right now, and how is it working for us?
2. What are our current solutions’ limitations?
3. What will we need one to five years from now?

Whether you are just starting, or are looking to branch out into a broader market, an automated inventory system that you can build upon along the way will make all the difference.

Armed with accurate inventory data that is recorded, tracked and optimised, enables you to reduce costs, minimise waste, meet customers’ expectations and predict future demands. You can protect yourself from fluctuations in demand, reduce the risk of loss, minimise administrative workloads and avoid ordering duplications. Most importantly, you can ensure your customers get their shipments on time, which is a must for any growing distributor.

Categories
NetSuite

Managing business uncertainty during a crisis.

Tiernan OConnor
May 7th, 2020

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Change is a constant in business. When faced with exceptional events, as we have seen with the COVID-19 global pandemic, it is up to leaders to take a hard look at their tools, systems, process and strategies to redirect and get back on the path of success.

Steering a company during these challenging and uncertain times involves focusing on three things:

Visibility: what can you see right now?
Control: what can you control right now?
Agility: how agile can you be right now?

Not all businesses are affected equally during adverse times, but this framework will benefit leaders who understand they must significantly change their approach to keep the company as healthy as possible.Visibility: What can you see right now?

While access to capital is important at all times, it is even more so during a crisis. If your supply chain has been disrupted, this will have an immediate effect on your cash flow. With no reserves on hand to access, liquidity can become a problem.

If you are going through challenging times, the first thing to do is take a stock of resources on hand, liabilities and outstanding receivables. Based on this information you can take a guess estimate of how much cash you will need to sustain operations for various time frames. Consider how long it will be before you will be back to operating as normal, and factor this into your estimates.

With up-to-date information on hand you can determine what steps need to be taken to keep the business as healthy as possible.

Here is a visibility checklist to help you out:

  • Update your balance sheet to determine total assets.
  • Determine liabilities, considering which payments can be put off.
  • Determine your short-term cash requirements.
  • Evaluate receivables in light of current businesses conditions.
  • Play out most-likely scenarios based on the figures on hand to quantify the impact to your profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheet of short, medium and long-term disruptions.

Control: What can you control right now?

While it can be all too tempting to focus on the negatives of your situation and things that are out of your hands, it is much more practical to focus on the areas you can control. There are three key areas to draw your attention to:

Process

Many businesses operate on a 12-month budget cycle, but when faced with unforeseen challenges, the focus needs to shift to immediate priorities. Make payroll, cut costs and maintain liquidity.

The key is communication; the more you establish clear goals and objectives, the more your team understands where they stand and what they need to do. Now is the time to eliminate any inefficiencies by redesigning poor processes and automating tasks. This will put your company in a better position for long-term growth.

Performance

When faced with economic uncertainty, monitoring key performance indicators is vitally important. It needs to be done in real-time, so you can see what is happening as it happens and spot any issues while there is still time adjust.

  • Make sure you address any late customer payments as quickly as possible, understanding they may also be affected.
  • If you products and/or services are still in demand, ensure you can keep up supply.
  • Look at your gross profit margin, customer satisfaction and general and administrative costs as a percentage of your current revenue.

People

When critical events occur, it can throw chaos into the wind with your employees and affect their productivity. Communication is key. Let them know what is happening, even when the news isn’t good. They will appreciate knowing the truth and knowing where they stand in the crisis. Retaining your employees will put you in a much better position moving forward. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you need to cut down on labour costs, consider cutting hours or offering unpaid leave rather than layoffs. You can even look at reducing salaries based on ranges, so the lowest paid are least effected.
  • Look at any Government programs that can help, like the ones mentioned above for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you do need to lay off workers, look at what support you can offer them.

Agility: How agile can you be right now?

It’s important to remember that while crises are challenging, they don’t last forever. Eventually, you will find a new normal at the end of it, and it is a matter of positioning yourself for success for when opportunities appear.

By following the steps above, you will now have a hand on the short-term issues. Now is it time to think of the future. A slowdown in the company could be the perfect opportunity to implement new and innovative ideas. You need to time your investments with an eye toward recovery, so you are in a position to take full advantage of the growth that will inevitably return.

Here are is a checklist to help you prepare:

  • Speak to your employees. They know your business, they know your customers and may have some great ideas.
  • Think about areas you can train your employees, so they have new skills when growth returns.
  • Look at new ways to combine your products and services and how to enhance them.
  • Rethink pricing strategies. Look at how software companies are succeeding with product-led growth.
  • Analyse new markets you could break into.
  • Wring out as many supply chain inefficiencies as possible.

Where to find help

If you are after some resources to help you plan out different scenarios during COVID-19, check these out:

Struggling to make ends meet? Consider all your options, including:

  • Open conversations with credit providers about cash injections.
  • Speak to your suppliers, landlords, lenders, tax authorities and insurers who all have a vested interested in your business and ask if they may be willing to help.
  • Take a look at any Government Stimulus Packages you qualify for. During COVID-19, Federal Government Programs are helping support Australian businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees through the JobKeeper and JobSeeker Payment Program, Cash Flow Boosts for Employers, Business Investment Backing, Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses. Individual states have also set up their own programs.

Eventually, the crises will come to an end and you will have the opportunity to grow the business. Managing through these times is an art and a science. You need to keep tight control of the cash and eagle eye on the balance sheet. Listen to employees, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders and openly communicate.

You can take some of the guessing out of the equation with NetSuite. We help businesses reduce uncertainty in uncertain times by providing real-time, anywhere, visibility and control of your financials, payroll, projects, inventory and suppliers. With this information, you will be in the best position to make smart decisions with confidence.

Most companies live by the mantra “cash is king”. Cash flow is what keeps a business alive, and is the reason so many businesses fail within the first few years.

It’s also the reason that accounting software is one of the first pieces of business software companies purchase. But is this the right choice for every business? If your business manages inventory and distribution, you need to consider how you are going to manage your financials and inventory for the longer term. Ask yourself, how will you manage your financials as your business grows?  What impact will opening a new location or new warehousing facilities have on your current business management software? These issues must be considered when making these decisions when starting your business.

In this article, we take a look at different account software and how effective it is for your business, while also taking into account the changing customer needs as technology advances. It is no secret that companies have changed significantly over the last decade, and the simple truth: if you aren’t keeping up, you are losing out.

Are Accounting Packages worth it?

Standard accounting packages provide basic functionality, offering a chartering of accounts, along with a method of managing relationships with vendors and customers. This is all provided at an attractive price point, making it appear as a practical solution for many businesses in their initial years.

But the truth is, innovations are evolving faster than ever, and with it, so is customer expectations. With competition higher than ever, if you aren’t keeping up with these expectations, it will be a struggle to keep your business afloat.

Times have changed, and the internet is leading the way for the adoption of new business models. Business decisions are now driven by key performance data – rather than historical practices or guesses. Being able to see the critical information you need in real-time can make all the difference to whether your business thrives.

How to Determine if an Accounting System is Failing Your Business

Change doesn’t come easily to everyone, and if you are set in your systems and beliefs, it can be even harder. Whether you find yourself overwhelmed at the daunting task of switching software or simply don’t believe you can find an affordable solution to meet your needs, choosing to just ‘make do’ can be harmful to your business. It can be very costly in the long run.

Here are four signs that your accounting system might be failing your business:

  • It’s too hard to find out what’s happening across your organisation in real-time.
  • Limited visibility into key metrics.
  • Limited functionality that won’t keep pace with modern requirements.
  • Inability to scale as you expand your business to multiple locations.

Finding the right software can be a timely process. You need to consider your business needs and do some research into the different offerings out there. We take a look at one of the most-effective accounting suites that provide a real-time overview of your business and enables you to keep up with the inevitable changes.

Why Choose a Unified Suite?

NetSuite is a powerful cloud solution that offers a unified suite of applications. It provides many benefits, such as linking key business processes together and allowing the whole company to view operations.

By having all inventory and financial data on the same platform, companies are present with a competitive edge. This allows you to plan effectively, execute with a degree of predictability, which in turn minimises labour costs and errors that can occur.

A well-implemented cloud-based system means that financial activities appear as soon as they are triggered. You can also access your account, anywhere, anytime, so decisions can be made quickly. Whether your performance indicators are adverse or favourable, you can act. With NetSuite, you have a clear sight of all the information you need to make decisions in real-time, rather than relying on back-dated information to make guesses for the future. It is the difference between succeeding or losing out.

What is a Cloud Solution?

When you choose a cloud-based vendor for your business, you not only receive the software to use for their business but a service as well. NetSuite takes responsibility for not only the software it supplies but the underlying technical infrastructure needed to access the solution.

That includes the server hardware and database maintenance and administration, document storage, technical upgrades, and the ongoing enhancements customers need. That is an entirely different way of providing a system than what has been traditionally offered where, for all practical purposes, it is the customer’s responsibility to upkeep their systems on infrastructure they must initially purchase, but also maintain.

So, you may be asking, what does this mean for you?

Essentially, a vendor that offers Software-as-a-Service has one goal in mind: to assure their customer’s success. If they don’t, you as the customer will move on to another vendor. This means you can ensure your needs will be met, backed by meaningful service level agreements. It’s a win-win for your business and a significant change from the way things used to operate. Changing to a cloud service offers nothing but benefits.

The User Interface

One of the most daunting aspects that comes with a new program is working out how to use it effectively. It is one thing to adopt new technology for your business, but if you aren’t using it to its full extent, then it is not only a waste of money, but you will once again fall behind.

NetSuite’s dashboard is oriented around a user’s day-to-day tasks, which allows for the most efficient consumption of information throughout the organisation.

Case Study – BajaRack Australia

Take the case study of BajaRack, a DWR client who are a specialist manufacturer, distributor and retailer of 4WD accessories. BajaRack has a head office in San Diego, California with a manufacturing plant in Ensenada, Mexico.  They have a sole distributor in Australia who are based on the NSW Central Coast.

After a soft launch in Australia, BajaRack experienced significant sales growth in a short period of time.  This highlighted their need to find a single, multi-purpose business platform that would allow them to manage stock movements, sales activity, invoicing, warranty information and CRM functionality in one place.  To help with these business issues, they turned to DWR for help.

With NetSuite, Bajarack found a unified, real-time system of record for financials, inventory management, order processing, CRM and eCommerce. The implementation and configuration of NetSuite by DWR completely transformed their business, allowing them to take their business to the next level.

Download a copy of the case study here – BajaRack Case Study.

Make the Move

Take a look at your business technologies as they currently are, and think about where you are losing out. Are you using historical information to make future decisions? Your competition certainly isn’t, so if you want to stay ahead, you shouldn’t be either.

While it can seem daunting at first, once the switch is made, you won’t look back. It will give your business the boost it needs to stand out in a competitive market. It also means that you can keep up with technological innovations, rather than being left behind.

To discuss how NetSuite can help your business grow, email us at info@dwr.com.au or fill out our contact form today.