In a time where margins are squeezed by customers, suppliers and currency fluctuations it makes sense to turn our attention to the operational side of our businesses to ensure that they run as productively as possible.
Workflows and alerts combine to create an integral part of a modern ERP software solution. They are one of the most important features that transforms your back-office system from simply storing data into something much more sophisticated; a computer system which is proactive in seeking your approval in the most important stages of your key business processes.
Alerts take the form of emails, text messages, reminder screen pop ups or user dashboard notifications (you set the rules and let the software do the hard work for you), monitoring your business 24/7.
Here are some practical examples;
How workflows and alerts work for your customers
Workflows can be customised to guide your employees through a process when an event matches the criteria of a rule. For example, when a customer gets within 10% of their credit limit you can set the system to flag this event and then define the sequence of actions that you want to follow. It may be that the customer is sent a polite text message informing them that they are approaching their limit, when at the same time accounts receive a notification to their user dashboard, and a senior member of sales will be alerted to serve the customer upon their next enquiry.
Alerts are there to help support your company procedures and improve your customer service. It may seem like a small thing but the ability to send your customers a text message when their order has been dispatched or is ready for collection will be received extremely well and reflects a modern and professional company image.
Workflows, alerts and your sales team
For your sales team, workflows are invaluable in keeping track of quotes and opportunities. We know that some of your customers are more adept at negotiating than others and equally some of your staff are less resilient when it comes to giving away discount. Workflows and alerts can enable you to be warned when this is happening on a real time basis.
Profit margins are often tight in order to guarantee the best prices and to help you keep up with your competition, so you need to keep track of who is giving these prices out frequently. Your system should be designed to let you know what is happening on the shop floor. If it doesn’t, then something needs to change to make sure your system is proactively updating you on important issues; rather than relying on you to conduct the analysis.
You can also send alerts to your sales team to remind them to take an action, such as when a customer is due a call back (for instance, updates on a quote that they requested). It’s a well-known fact that your customers will shop around to find the best deal, so make sure you are the one to call them back with the best offer.
Workflows and alerts should also work hand-in-hand with your system’s integral Business Intelligence (BI) software to help you identify sales opportunities. For example, you may specify a group of customers as being ‘timber customers’ and then set a dashboard alert to the sales team flagging any customer in that group which haven’t bought timber in over a month. The options are limitless.
How workflows and alerts can help you
For you, it means that the information you want to have immediate access to can be delivered straight to your dashboard, screen, inbox or even your pocket just when you need it. Change the way you operate, by getting your system to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it. Ultimately, it’s going to help you manage your business by exception and by event, not by tedious and delayed analysis.
Make sure that you are always up to date with modern practices and are making the most of all the options that are available to you. You can become swamped in alerts if you set up too many rules, but carefully chosen workflows can improve the processes you have set in place. Keep rules centred around the top issues that affect your company and you will soon see the benefit of having a system that prompts you to take action when it matters most.