In March 2020, before the shutdown, I traveled to a few customers and had an opportunity to talk supply chain with some of their commodity managers. Given the centrality of China-based supply chain sourcing, I wondered if pending restrictions on material movement between countries and potential productivity downturns overseas would affect these clients. At the time, the impact was uncertain—many of these companies had placed forward-buys on key commodities, such that they expected to have a bit of a buffer to ride out the ensuing uncertainty. Strategic supplier relationship management proved to be the ideal way to weather 2020 supply chain challenges.
How do supply chains keep up with demands?
During the subsequent months, strange things abounded. On the home front, demand patterns changed drastically, trimming back the need for auxiliaries and tertiaries, leaving much of the stockpiled inventory pushed to a corner, waiting for needs to level off and go back to their old ways. In other markets and verticals, demand for certain products and services had gone through the roof, and companies struggled to realign their supply chains to support the fulfillment of surging demand.
This resulted in a great deal of wheeling and dealing, including searches for alternate suppliers. Local companies took on the manufacturing of components that had long been outsourced. These activities are ongoing for everyone balancing new supplier relationship management trends.
As situations continue to evolve, folks immersed in the supply chain community continue to try and understand just what can be learned from this strange turn of events. One point of interest has to do with the actual dynamics of demand. Strangely enough, it was not the downturn in supply that created the many supply chain challenges, but rather, it was the spiking nature of demand. Product and service demand did not decrease uniformly. Rather, it scraped bottom in certain product categories, markets and verticals, and sky-rocketed in specific niches.
As a supply chain manager, predicting such strange peaks and valleys would be a fool’s errand. Rather, the successes in Epicor SRM that I’ve encountered have had more to do with the ability to rapidly react to challenges than to anticipate them. This ability to react is normally due to a few key capabilities:
The ability to develop a broad supplier base. This means locating multiple potential sources of supply, in the event that one source of supply goes dark.
The ability to leverage alternate parts and methods to manufacture high-demand finished goods, in the event that primary components become unavailable.
A highly capable supplier relationship management toolset that can closely monitor and maintain incoming supply, as to ensure that incoming supply will meet the company’s needs and provide maximum reaction time, in the event that supply will not make it in on time.
SourceDay can assist in this final capability, which is the ability to organize supply in order to ensure that Epicor customers can support the shifting and shifty demand patterns of their own customer base.
Has 2020 changed your supplier relationship management strategy?
See how companies like yours respond to supply chain disruptions.
Watch a webinar to understand 2020 industry trends:
Inventory. That word can hold a lot of different meanings for manufacturing companies. Production Personnel see it as the ingredients for making their products. Supply Chain Professionals base much of their career on it. Accountants see it a major corporate cost. Executives see it as both an expense and potential sales.
All of these views are correct and each hold merit. Without inventory, parts can’t be built. Without parts to sell, companies can’t grow. As Inventory can represent a significant expense, managing these costs efficiently can increase the bottom line and offer significant competitive advantages.
The key to an optimized inventory is only buying what you need, when you need it. While simple in concept, the execution can be very, very difficult. For those manufacturing companies that manufacture products with a deep Bill of Material, managing the what and when of raw materials can become a monumental undertaking.
It is that very example that Epicor can provide a powerful tool with their Multi-Level Pegging Process. Going beyond just looking at the material demands of the top-level assembly, the multi-level pegging process will calculate the material needs of all of the indented bill-of-materials on a job. Have a part that takes a manufactured sub-assembly, and that sub-assembly takes another sub-assembly to make it? The Multi-level pegging process will capture all of those materials demands. And Epicor displays all the pertinent information regarding those materials on their built-in Multi-level Pegging Dashboard.
Strategic information such as the quantities needed, and material status is provided in an easy-to-read format. Additional details such as is the material currently available, is it on order, or has it been generated are also displayed.
For those companies wishing to optimize their inventory, having the materials at the right quantities at the right time, the Epicor Multi-Level Pegging process provides a powerful tool for manufacturing and material professionals to achieve that lofty goal.
This functionality is only part of what the Multi-Level Pegging process can do for your company.
Do you have questions about Multi-Level Pegging and Supply Chain Management? Let us know, Contact Us Today.
Epicor ERP is a complex software and at the heart of the application is Part Setup.
Is your Epicor ERP designed with Part Setup Methods and Manufacturing Best Practices in mind?
Find out by downloading the Parts Setup Best Practices PDF today.
Recession-Proof Investments: Cloud Computing and the Refrigerator of the Future
We’ve long been told that necessity is the mother of invention, but when necessity is out of a sense of privation, reactions vary. Born and raised into the world of residential and commercial construction, I’ve felt the motion sickness that results from the ups and downs of the building cycle well into my earliest memories. And I‘ve been in business long enough to have stomached enough down-cycles to observe how different companies react to these changing economic climates.
As the current bull market gets slowly walked to the slaughterhouse, managers at all levels begin to wonder what it will mean for their own place within America’s larger business landscape. There is always the search for the investments that could be considered “recession-proof”—investments that will yield value during the current crisis, but would also serve as a foundation for future success. Simple cost-cutting is rarely such an investment—it yields short-term savings, but often at the expense of long-term objectives: I’ve never seen a hiker make it to the top of a peak faster by trimming down the soles of his boots.
That is, the most reactionary of companies looks to simple knee-jerk reactions to trim costs in order to get in line with shrinking revenues: eliminating optional programs or reducing essential services to their bare minimum. More innovative companies utilize this newfound necessity as a means of transforming their current state by getting ahead of the competition.
At the consumer level, the most well-known example of this phenomenon was the advent of the refrigerator. It was the Great Depression, of all things, that led to the broad use of the refrigerator by America’s large middle class. While it was, at the time, a significant capital expenditure for any given household, the refrigerator allowed families to save time and money: the ability to extend the life of the day’s victuals allows families to reduce waste, and thus cut costs, while also allowing them to expend the physical labor that would have been spent on the next meal on other activities. This rendered the old-fashioned ice box obsolete. In this way, times of downturn often have a way of surfacing new innovations—products that outpace their competitors suddenly emerge because the competitive landscape has reduced the viability of their less-innovative competitors.
Similarly, as America hit rock bottom in the late 2000s and early 2010s, cloud computing grew rapidly at the same time, as companies looked for ways to reduce cost and risk, while scaling up for the future. In this way, cloud computing may very well serve to become the coming recession’s refrigerator—the tool that will allow individuals and companies to strategically equip themselves not only for the hard times ahead, but also for the good times thereafter.
For Epicor customers, cloud computing surfaces as an opportunity to avoid the costs of replacing outdated hardware. Also, by moving installations into hosted environments, customers are able to eliminate the cooling costs required to keep their stacks on ice. Estes Group’s Epicor Cloud Managed Hosting offering (ECHO) is ready-by-design to protect and carry your company through the down-cycles and get you back into the saddle and riding the next bull market to better times. Looking to recession-proof your business? Please reach out to our team, and we’ll help you innovate a cloud computing strategy that will keep you ahead of the storm.
Are you looking for cloud computing options, or have questions on how we can help make your systems more flexible? Contact Us today or let us know below.
Hi, I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group. Now, with summer a distant memory and autumn full upon us, the winter still ahead, it’s a fitting time if you’re the leader of a manufacturing company to ask yourself whether your legacy ERP system is dying on the vine.
Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your company first turned on its new ERP system and went live? Everything was blooming with possibilities, and your company was in its earlier season with its ERP system.
And then the years slipped away, and now your organization finds itself struggling with its legacy system’s withering limitations. And these limitations become an inhibitor to future growth. The truth is, winter is coming for manufacturing companies living on legacy ERP systems.
But you don’t have to hang your head over it, the ERP market is blossoming with different options, such as Epicor’s Version 10, with it’s Microsoft centered stack, and rest service compatibility, it offers the perfect platform for scalable growth.
As you assess your organization and its IT infrastructure, you need to ask yourself the question, have you harvested all the benefits of your legacy ERP system? Are you tired of endless patches? Are you frustrated with the narrow field of vision that your current system affords you? Is your legacy ERP system a husk of its former self? And are you ready to put it to pasture? Are you ready to leave your legacy ERP system behind.
I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group, and I’d love to talk to you, see if could help put some spring back in your business systems.
Have a question for Brad or another one of our experts? Let us know.
You’ve heard the term Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0; but what does that really mean for your manufacturing company? Can a company be “Smart” and use basic software like Quickbooksor do you need to have a realEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP)system? The short answer is: yes, your company needs an ERP system to truly adopt Smart manufacturing and be ahead (or even keep pace) with the competition.
For those still wondering what Smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are, don’t worry, the terms are newer and only recently been used in a fairly regular manner. Smart Manufacturing is, simply put, the melding of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT). Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing are really the newest phase or a new Industrial Revolution if you will hitting manufacturing on a worldwide scale.
In order to remain competitive, manufacturers must invest in inter-connectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data analytics.
Holding together various systems needed to properly track and analyze the smart manufacturing data captured, is a strong ERP system, which can marry the shop-floor data with cost breakdowns, operational information, job details, and customer information, etc. I find it interesting how many manufacturers still run homegrown systems or rely on access database, excel, etc to track production, which is clunky, prone to data corruption, and does not collect all relevant data to provide a company with true business analytics.
One of our clients used a homegrown system before deployingEpicor ERP a few years ago. They noticed immediate improvements in inventory control, accurate cost measurements for their products, and better shop floor scheduling. Now, image if the same company deployed machine learning and automation married with real-time data analytic software? The potential to outpace the competition is dramatically increased.
So to get back to the second question, no, Quickbooks or other smaller software systems will not support manufacturers focused on growth since they lack the basic shop floor data collection and analytics needed to streamline your business. Manufacturers that wish to remain competitive, and have an optimized business require an ERP system.
Is your company looking to move away from small accounting systems and move to a manufacturing ERP system? Or do you have an ERP system and need to work on optimizing it? We would love to talk with you about how we can work together to make your business run better.
The Prospect has Objections What are the Common Ones & How Do You Handle Them?
Prospect objections arise for different reasons and have different implications on whether you selling anything or not. Some objections will be legitimate, but many times prospects will just make the statement when they’re just trying to brush you off. Below are four common prospects “delay or blow-off” statements and a few suggestions on how to handle them.
“We’re just starting to review our purchasing options”What it means is: Your prospect is in the early stages of their buying/bidding process. They tell you they’re “just looking” because they want to continue to maintain control of their buying process and it’s too early for them to engage with a salesperson right now. Most manufacturing salespeople will take that at face value and allow the prospect to end the conversation. But this is the wrong approach, because the next time you contact them, they’ll most likely provide you a similar answer.A better way to handle the objection might be: To stop selling and acknowledge that if you’re a little early in their buying/bidding process that you’re not trying to sell anything, but you’re just inquiring to what products they might need you to quote on down the road so when they do go out for bid, you’ll be prepared to be of service. A common, but the wrong response is, “I’m glad to hear you’re looking. Here are a dozen reasons I think our products, company, services, etc. would be a great fit for you.”
The correct response accomplishes three (3) things. First, you’ve shown that you listened to the prospect by acknowledging they’re not ready to buy. Many prospects use this delay phrase because they’ve gotten the hard sell too early far too many times before. If you’re polite and calm with your prospect they shouldn’t be afraid to continue the conversation and give you a little more information.
Second, you’ve let the prospect know you’re interested in getting to know them, so you can be helpful and provide a service at a later time. Third, maybe the prospect didn’t think they had other buying options. Providing a quick example of how you’ve helped your customers with a similar approach of getting a list of parts/products earlier to start thinking about Vs when it’s actually out to bid/quote might provide them a viable reason to engage with you further either on your current call or subsequent calls. If you’ve gotten a better understanding of your prospect’s problem, you might tell them, that you’ll follow up your call with some helpful information, not on your company, product or service, but with some information that can be of help to him/her, so they remember the next time you contact them that you’re not one of those salespeople that’s only interested in selling stuff.
“We’re going with the lowest bid/quote when we make our decision”What it means is: You haven’t established the value of your service, product or company.How to handle it: This objection might come at several points in the sales process but is a common sales objection manufacturing salespeople need to address when it comes up and your prospect is trying to blow you off.
Your job is to show your prospect the value of having them work with you Vs just considering the price. You need to emphasize your value over price. Remember “Value Statements” about your product/service/company need to be specific that can be tied to a dollar equivalent that represents your higher price (i.e. If you work with XYZ manufacturing, because of our cloud ERP system we can provide you an online portal that you can monitor your inventory levels of your product(s) as well as order online which saves you “X” numbers of hours/month, etc. etc. )
“We’re not ready to make a buying decision right now.”What it means is: This objection is commonly heard when a salesperson is trying to close the business. Assuming your prospect has the authority to purchase your product or service and you have thoroughly qualified the opportunity (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe (BANT)), this objection means they still might need more information or it could signify that they’re waiting to hear back from your competition.How to handle it: Take a step back. Don’t be defensive. Ask your prospect if you can review their buying process to make sure you haven’t missed any steps to cause the delay? If you’ve taken the time to understand their buying process (which oh, by the way, should resemble your selling process) and documented that process and shared it with your prospect along their buying journey, it might expose the prospect, in a nice way, to provide you information about your competition to gain an edge when it comes time for final negotiations. It might also be noted here if you’re in a competitive situation, ask what points of vendor differentiation your prospect is examining, and provide resources that show why your offering is the best option. If they simply need more information, drill down to the area of your solution they’re still uncertain about.
“Is this your best price?”What it means is: “Can I get a better deal” (i.e. your value statement, above, didn’t help and the price is probably still the primary determining factor of who they’ll buy from.How to handle it: Your prospect’s voice tone is important here. How you respond to this objection depends on your ability to read your prospect. Do they sound like they’re ready to play hardball, or are they asking, because that’s expected in your industry?
You can either give a discount or hold firm. Your product is priced the way it is for a reason, so don’t give away the store! Remember if do go down the path of offering your prospect a discount you need something in exchange for the discount (i.e. a longer-term commitment, a signed contract on the spot, a larger quantity purchase, etc., etc.). There are of course hundreds of other objections or variations of the above objections a manufacturing salesperson hears if they’re selling long enough. The bottom line here is if you take the time to get to know your prospects and thoroughly understand their buying situation (BANT), you should be able to overcome most objections like the ones above; which should result in more sales. Don’t be just another bid or quote.