The Rise of Algorithmic Business Thinking: An Overview

Business algorithm

These past years, a trend has been growing in the business world. It’s called algorithmic business thinking and is mainly led by technological and e-commerce companies impacting big and small businesses.  

But what exactly is algorithmic business thinking? This article will discuss what it’s about and how it’s changing how businesses look at problems and move forward in their market:  

 

What Is Algorithmic Business Thinking 

An algorithm is simply a set of steps to solve a problem. It’s usually utilized in computers where a sequence of instructions allows them to do what they’re programmed for. Through machine learning, algorithms are studied to improve with use and time. There are various machine learning models where operating systems like cnvrg.io can help their tasks faster and cheaper.   

This facet of machine learning may mean businesses can decide to do something the traditional way because the data show it still works. However, it can also mean changing to do something better or faster with updated technology.   

Rather than solving problems on a course-by-course basis, businesses take an algorithmic approach and tackle more extensive issues. The goal is to ensure that the solution to the more significant problem doesn’t create another problem or cause long-term issues. It can be used when making business automation plans to transform their enterprises into more productive ones.   

Many larger companies have already moved towards creating algorithms for their business processes to run more efficiently. That’s because they usually have access to resources that some smaller ones don’t. However, with the availability of affordable technology, there’s been a growing trend in recent years where smaller businesses are also adopting it.   

 

Why Is Algorithmic Thinking So Important Now 

Various businesses can adopt algorithmic thinking because it can be essential for them. There are many benefits to this new way of thinking about problem-solving, discussed below:  


  •  Objectivity 

In the past, some businesses had been run with an egocentric outlook. It means that business owners might feel that their product is best and not question it much. This strategy led to many businesses falling behind in the market because they didn’t realize that something was wrong until it was too late.  

Today, businesses can move past this egotistical approach to a more data-driven one. Companies can keep track of user habits through data analytics. It means that when users search for something online, companies can begin to learn what they’re interested in based on what they spend time looking at. This kind of data is what the algorithm looks at to make changes to improve their business.  


  •  Allows Content to Be Found Easier 

Whatever search engine you’re using, an algorithm helps you find the content you want faster and easier than before.   

How does this happen? When you use any search engine, they collect lots of data about you and what you like online. The algorithms can look at this information to find similarities through users using their site or app. Then, based on your preferences, it will recommend certain things for you because someone else with similar interests has already searched or liked them. This power of algorithm is utilized when creating strategies for content writing.   


  •  Change the Way Businesses Market Their Products 

In the past, businesses have been able to market their products differently. However, since algorithmic thinking can look at many data, businesses today can learn more about individual customers and then market towards that person specifically.     

For example, an online marketer may want to look at the data of their audience and see who exactly is visiting their site.   

Another way that businesses use algorithmic thinking to market is through using social media. For example, if you’re looking for a laptop computer, their algorithmic system will recommend accounts with similar interests. This algorithm will help ensure that your feed shows similar posts over unrelated ones.    



The Benefits and Drawbacks of Algorithmic Thinking 

There are many benefits to algorithmic thinking, but not everyone sees them the same way. Some people believe it takes away users’ privacy because companies use their data to target them with ads and learn more about what they like online. However, others feel safer because they’re less likely to be spammed by ads and instead see relevant things.  

Overall, algorithmic thinking is a different approach to problem-solving and enables businesses to reach their customers more accessible and faster than ever before. Not only does it help with marketing, but learning more about customers creates repeat business and builds loyalty.

C-Suite Research: Are Businesses Ready For What’s Coming Next?

Executives in a board level meeting

Most Board-level executives believe that customer relationships have grown stronger during the pandemic, despite significant supply chain disruption, according to research conducted by management consultancy, Vendigital

 

About Vendigital

An award-winning UK top-20 management consultancy, Vendigital delivers data-led accelerated cost transformation by combining multi-disciplinary consulting expertise and its proprietary digital platform to generate and embed client-specific operational insights.

It works across procurement and supply chain; operating strategy; cost and value engineering; and portfolio management to deliver tangible, quantifiable cost benefits for clients.

Vendigital’s highly-experienced consultants and data scientists serve businesses across a variety of sectors – aerospace and defence; automotive; consumer products; industrial manufacturing; private equity; technology, media and telecoms; and transportation and infrastructure.

 

The Research

54 per cent of the C-Suite executives surveyed at UK-based businesses said that their customer relationships are stronger now than they were before Brexit and the onset of the pandemic, despite the significant disruption that these events have caused. Most believe that this positive change is due to their focus on continuous improvement and their agile response in adapting their operating models to meet unexpected shifts in customer demand and behaviour.  

Jeff Kennelly, a director and industrial engineering sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: 

“When consumer and/or customer behaviours changed at the start of the pandemic, businesses had little choice but to stop what they were doing and rethink ways to adjust to meet new areas of demand. Those that responded quickly have been able to strengthen customer relationships as a result.

“Not all businesses were able to do this however, and when supply backlogs accumulated as demand levels bounced back earlier this year, some customer relationships felt the strain. Despite the positive outcome for most businesses, one in five – 21 per cent – of C-Suite executives believe their customer relationships have suffered during the pandemic due to the knock-on effect of missed deadlines and demand unpredictability.” 

Against a backdrop of rising energy costs and ongoing supply shortages, which are affecting a host of vital components and raw materials, most Board-level executives are aware that the year ahead will test their customer relationships further. 84 per cent of C-Suite executives said managing customer relationships, while keeping a close eye on costs, will be key to the survival of their business in the year ahead. To nurture their customer relationships, 71 per cent of C-Suite executives are intending to invest in customer relationship management and most see this as a long-term investment.

Balancing customers’ needs and cost constraints is going to be more difficult for some businesses than others. The research revealed that businesses that had reported a dip in revenues during the pandemic were more likely to be prioritising cost control, whereas those that reported an increase in revenues were more likely to be focused on investing in innovation to meet customers’ current and future demands. 

Jeff Kennelly said: 

“During times of uncertainty, businesses know how important it is to stay close to their customers and suppliers. This will involve staying agile and continuing to innovate to meet customers’ demands, but managing costs remains a critical part of this process.  

“Balancing customer demands and cost constraints will be easier to achieve if there are strong relationships in place, allowing accurate availability and demand data to be shared openly across the supply chain. Accurate real-time customer data is now a Boardroom essential.” 

To support businesses in balancing customer needs and costs on the road to recovery, Vendigital has produced guidance for Board-level decision makers, which has been published in a report, entitled Redefining Customer Relationships in a Changing Market. The guidance covers 15 critical questions designed to help businesses review each stage of their operating model through a customer-focused lens. 

 

To download a copy of Vendigital’s report about redefining customer relationships, visit here. Vendigital’s research has been conducted with 151 C-Suite executives at UK-based businesses. 

4 Drop Shipping Tips For E-Commerce Merchants

E-commerce Merchants

Many innovative business models are rising in popularity these days, one of which is the dropshipping business approach. Due to its convenience and effectiveness, many startups and established businesses continue sticking to such a method. If you’ve been thinking of entering the drop shipping industry for your newly launched e-commerce business, read along with this guide to earn more valuable tips.

Dropshipping offers many advantages, but one primary reason it’s here to stay is because of its cost-efficiency. Small businesses that have a limited amount of money don’t need to shell out any amount for the capital cost of a product. This is because the supplier will implement product deliveries directly, which means the merchant can get payment from the customer and straightforwardly pay their vendor.

Before you start your journey to becoming a reseller, here are some excellent dropshipping tips to consider.

 

1. Select a Reliable Supplier 

You shouldn’t rush into this step if you want to ruin your business by choosing the wrong supplier. The key to a successful E-commerce business using the drop-shipping model is to partner with reliable suppliers. You can stick to one business partner or several suppliers, depending on your preference. But ultimately, you need to select those that are credible and reliable. Make thorough research and choose from a pool of candidates.

If you’re planning to open up a custom product business, you can read printful.com/us/drop-shipping-supplier or find other suppliers that have garnered trust among resellers. Due to the fact that dropshipping suppliers are usually based overseas, communication is crucial, both for response time and for understanding one another. Hence, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of building business relationships through communication.

Once you choose your supplier, study their business model and processes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn their production capabilities. When you expand your business, ensure that they can scale up along with your orders and volumes too. Study about their drop shipping model and rules, and ensure that both parties have understood every term and condition together, making it a win-win deal for both.

 

2. Add Reviews and Customer Testimonials On Your Site 

Initially, shoppers who shop on a drop shipping website tend to be skeptical about the products you’re selling. This is natural, especially if your e-commerce site is still new. To alleviate such trust issues, it’s best to add customer ratings, reviews, and product testimonials. New visitors will see what past buyers had to say about a product by reading reviews. Posting such reviews is one way to satisfy your customer needs and increase the chances of a closed sale.

Doing so can increase the chances of a buyer completing the purchase. This also increases your chances of earning impulse buys from customers who just visited your site to look and view your products. Essentially, due to your amazing reviews, they’ll feel satisfied with what they’ve read and eventually proceed to the checkout section. 

 

3. Execute Effective Marketing Strategies 

Dropshipping requires thorough marketing efforts just as much as any other business model. Online advertisements are necessary to make your business known more among your target market. Since you’re using the drop-shipping model, you’ll have more time in your hands to focus on marketing and promoting your e-commerce site. By planning your social media calendar and other content using a spreadsheet, you’ll handle your marketing easier. 

List down all your marketing plans and strategies, and mention specifically what social media marketing tips you’ll be applying. When creating a marketing plan, establish clear goals and define which market or individuals to target. It would also help to create buyer personas and study their purchasing behaviors. 

 

4. Study Your Competition 

Every business shares the market with other competitors and firms in the same industry. You shouldn’t shy away from competing alongside big and small businesses. Keep an eye on how your competitors use social media, blog articles, and websites. These strategies will allow you to understand better which works for them, and you can copy or modify the same approaches for your own marketing efforts. You’ll be able to determine what works in your niche and what drives consumer engagement if you keep an eye on the online profiles of your competitors. 

 

Conclusion 

Even though starting a drop shipping business is a fast and easy way to get a business going, it still requires effort, time, and energy to make it operate successfully for a long time. It takes active effort to grow a successful dropshipping business; therefore, implement the tips mentioned in this article. You’ll be able to expand your business soon when you’ve learned to master how to navigate and operate through a dropshipping business model. 

Why KPIs Are The Key To Your Business’ Success

KPI

As an entrepreneur, you need to understand how your enterprise is performing every day. This way, you’ll have an idea of what to change and where to focus your energy. One way to achieve this is by consistently checking your key performance indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are more than just numbers that you report daily, weekly, or monthly. They show you the health and performance level of your business. You can then make critical decisions based on the analysis of this data. This article will explain why understanding business metrics and KPIs are important for the success of your business.

 

Why are KPIs important?

Key performance indicators are common aspects of any business management. Simply put, a KPI is a quantifiable value that measures the performance of a business over a given period of time. These parameters enhance the decision-making process by providing an analytical basis. They also provide a focus for operational and strategic improvement because they give business owners an idea of what and where to make improvements.

So, why are KPIs so important in any business success?

 

1. Monitor company health

One of the reasons why KPIs are the key to your business growth is they act as your company’s health scorecard. With a set of key performance indicators, you can monitor the vital signs of your business operations.

There are many things that you can monitor in your business, but the main categories that most people focus on are customers, employees, revenue, and processes. You need to make sure that customer needs are met, as they’re among the main stakeholders. Customer satisfaction score (SCAT), net promoter score (NPS), and first response time are among the main modes of measuring customer satisfaction.

Employees also play a massive role in the growth of your business. So, you need to monitor them and see where you should improve as a company, giving them the most favorable working environment. Remember, there’s a performance indicator for just about anything. So, it’s up to you to choose the most suitable KPI that’ll give you accurate insights into your business.

If you’re offering field services, for instance, some of the main KPIs to consider are customer satisfaction, employee retention, and first-time fix rate. However, it can be overwhelming to monitor all these factors, especially if you have more than one team working at any given time, logging in to a number of different platforms to track the work they are doing. For that reason, software applications, like the one offered by Jobber, have been created specifically to consolidate all your business operations and keep you organized. You don’t need to be technical to use them either. Your entire business – quoting, scheduling, invoicing, communications and payment processes can all be done on location from your smart device and uploaded in real time.

 

2. Helps you make adjustments

Being able to make internal systems adjustments is essential if you are going to be able to improve them. Even the most established companies are constantly looking for ways to do things better and adapt to evolving customer needs. Measurable key performance indicators help firms to identify if there are any problem areas that need addressing so they can be acted on accordingly before causing any detriment to the business.

 

3. Helps measure progress

Monitoring company health and making necessary adjustments is one thing, but measuring progress is another. After making changes to your operations, it’s important that you check whether your desired results are met. Key performance indicators play a vital role in this process.

Ensure you set regular targets every week, month, and year and use the tracked information to measure your progress. These statistics can also help you manage profits and losses along the way.

 

Conclusion

Evaluating the health and progress of your business operations is crucial to enhance your business performance and increase your chances of success. KPIs help in this regard by allowing you to measure the parameters that tell you about the health and performance of your business, and what needs to be adjusted to meet your desired objectives.

Keep in mind that KPIs come in different types. So, it’s up to you to find KPIs that work for your business. For instance, leading and result indicators can come in handy when planning to make adjustments to your current operations.

Driving the Connections of the Future

The LinkedCar team

With the ‘Most Innovative Autotech Start-up’ award for 2021 in Belgium in the pocket, LinkedCar is working hard to fuel its industry’s development so that it can change the mobility industry. Its platform seeks to give the driver back agency over their data, as well as connecting all stakeholders.

The automotive industry has seen exponential growth since its beginnings in the 19th century. However, although cars themselves have come a long way. With new makes, models, and developments being made daily, the technologies championed by the industry when dealing with behind the scenes management or communication with clients is antiquated and outdated. It seemed odd to LinkedCar that an industry where things like self-driving cars and state of the art breakthroughs are being made should suffer this problem. So, it resolved to do something about it, beginning to develop technological solutions for connecting with drivers and building a platform for effective and seamless data sharing.

LinkedCar is the company behind a platform dedicated to connecting the industry so that a person can find everything they might need, all in one place. Its intuitive and easy to use interface gives clients a space to bundle the car management process into one space. Providing an excellent application for end users and an industry leading platform for partners. Between these factors, LinkedCar has truly begun leading its sector into the future. The Mobility Platform is a highly connected piece of technology that allows companies to keep the client at the heart of its work, connecting not just to the vehicle, to the drives as well.

The Mobility Platform also serves a variety of contributors in the automotive world, from dealers and manufacturers to insurers, fleets, roadside assistance, and a wide range of other stakeholders who would benefit from access to a variety of data. All these processes are seamlessly and efficiently managed whilst the driver remains in control. In this way, LinkedCar contributes to its mission of connecting everyone in the automotive industry, forming a fully fledged ecosystem out an often fractured and divided market. This will drive it and its competitors forward towards a connected future, leaving the current paradigm in the past with the antiquated systems and processes of its early days.

This will improve the services of different stakeholders by making them able to back it up with the relevant data. Improving the experience of the driver by allowing them to effectively give feedback directly to those who can implement it best. It can connect data from cars and e-bikes, aiming one day to be able to connect all vehicles, creating a data driven mobility system that facilitates drivers’ access and control over their own data. Furthermore, it wishes to provide partners with a single platform through which they can communicate effectively and quickly, streamlining processes across the board. This benefits all parties; for instance, it allows users to get personalised insurance and gives insurers a clearer view of the market.

LinkedCar also works from a series of core values and principles that it holds close to its heart, reflected in the attitude it has towards both end users and stakeholders. These inform its dedication to both overall success, and belief in an ambitious future that it will work hard to achieve. Furthermore, all members of its staff hold to these values, creating shared goals that ensure its team work together well and are all equally informed and driven. The first of its values is openness. This principle defines its commitment to transparency and honesty in all things, something that it works hard to ensure prevails in all elements of its operation, and it wishes to foster this method of communication between stakeholders and end users. In this way, it will give all players a chance to connect on a level playing field, where everyone knows what the others can see and what their data will be used for. Its core team believes in a data system where a driver can control their own data first and foremost; be in full control of what data is shared and when.

It also believes in its own responsibility, holding itself accountable for the quality of its app and its data protection solutions. LinkedCar gives agency back to the customer regarding connectivity, as well giving partners the means of responsible and sensibly managed communication. Smart use of vehicle data by partners and smart management of their own data on the client’s end comes together to form an incredibly healthy app that will form the bedrock for the innovative new modern era of automotive work. LinkedCar’s final value is that of fun. It has funnelled significant investment into the atmosphere that it can create with this app and within its business in general, and has found that during the process, making it fun was a big motivator.

For both staff and clients alike, a service should be easy to use and infinitely helpful, just as much as it should be light-hearted and fun, it encourages productivity and creates a healthy environment that its staff can extend out to its clients. Its team are diverse and dedicated, and always go above and beyond expectations. Therefore, its attitude towards clients has been lauded as excellent. Of course, in the past year, this reputation has helped it significantly; Covid-19 taught LinkedCar that new business models and trends change rapidly, and it needed to be highly flexible to keep up. It funnelled significant effort into getting to know its partners and stakeholders, recognising the rapid growth of the online market for both the opportunity and challenge that it was, and from there was able to regroup and continue to grow. This tenacity has secured it on a path toward greater future success.

Going forward, LinkedCar will be investigating the possibilities of augmented reality offered through standard smartphones. A big step forward for its industry, it hopes that this will further show stakeholders just how much technological innovation can better the work of all businesses operating in its market segment. Its augmented reality will have the capability to place a new car in a customer’s garage before they even visit the dealership, and another improvement it is looking into is the possibility of replacing paper manuals with this AR tool. LinkedCar does more than just cars; and it will be doing so much more as it continues to grow, hoping to expand into North America and continue revolutionising its industry in the rest of 2021 and beyond.

 

For business enquiries contact Mario Schraepen at LinkedCar via  https://www.linkedcar.be/.

5 Fleet Management Safety Tips

Fleet Management

When you are managing a fleet, one of your top priorities is the safety of your drivers. Them being safe stops any issues with non-compliance, and has the obvious benefit of your drivers being safe and happy in their work. Safety is an evolving concept so ensure that you are always up to date with the latest regulations. The following are five fleet management safety tips.

 

Training

Training is vital to ensuring that your drivers are aware of safety regulations and what they need to do to be compliant. Never assume that your drivers are aware and provide them with adequate training that instils confidence and awareness of all the relevant safety guidelines. You can also use some of the latest technology to provide real time training that is based on real life situations.

 

Implement Technology

Technology is one of the easiest ways to remain compliant. It eliminates the possibility of human error, and can alert fleet managers to any issues or potential issues. In-cab cameras provide an easy solution for monitoring drivers’ habits and can also be used for training purposes. You can utilize tachograph management for live tacho status, instant analysis, and remote downloads for an all-in-one compliance solution. The benefits of technology far outweigh the costs, so don’t be put off by the investment costs.

 

Don’t Cut Corners

When it comes to keeping your drivers safe, you cannot cut corners. You must always keep up to date with the latest regulations and adhere to them. Even if some regulations may appear to not make sense, they are there for a reason and experts have put them in place. If you think you can save money by cutting corners, it will cost you far more in fines if you are non-compliant. Avoid all temptation to cut corners. Your business and driver safety will suffer and in the worst-case scenario, you could be out of business. GPS vehicle tracking can do double duty by allowing you to emphasize and monitor driver safety while improving customer service and communications.

 

Discipline and Reward

Using discipline and reward is a method to incentivize your drivers to adhere to regulations. You shouldn’t emphasize the reward aspect too much as drivers and other employees should be keeping to regulations because it is their own safety that is at risk. However, offering some rewards will produce the result of better compliance. Disciplinary action should be taken against any employees who do not keep to regulations. You must ensure any disciplinary action is fair and you use it regardless of any employee’s previous record.

 

Make Maintenance a Priority

Keeping your vehicles maintained will keep your drivers safe and in the long-term save you money. Small issues that are picked up early don’t have to escalate into larger issues. Pre-emptive maintenance is the best method of doing this. You can also use technology in this area to give you an early warning system and pick up any faults that a human would miss. Having to take a vehicle off the road may be costly, but not as costly as an accident or a vehicle being taken off the road permanently.

How Can Hauliers Cope With an Even Higher Demand This Christmas?

HGVs and other vehicles driving down the M1 in the UK

The Christmas rush is something hauliers anticipate every year. But it’s going to be felt more acutely this year with the additional pressures of a driver shortage and Brexit affecting the supply of some goods.

The haulage sector is set to experience its busiest Christmas period on record. On top of the usual increase in demands, there’s the perfect storm of the HGV driver shortage and supply chains impacted by Brexit and COVID. By focusing on increasing efficiency and reducing empty running, hauliers can meet these higher demands and ensure their customers receive the highest level of service.

This means hauliers will need to be even more efficient and prepared in order to meet the demands of businesses and consumers this Christmas.

Here, we cover how hauliers can cope with arguably the most demanding Christmas we’ve ever experienced.

 

Make planning more efficient

Efficient planning is paramount to success for all hauliers, but never has it been more important than right now. A Logistics UK survey revealed that 96% of hauliers are struggling to recruit drivers, with 13% saying their shortage is severe to very severe. To meet high demands with a potentially depleted workforce, hauliers need to get the most out of their available resources.

That’s where route planning software comes in. By feeding in all the collections and deliveries you need to make, and your vehicle and driver availability, you’ll be able to plan the most efficient routes and get the most out of your fleet.

With these solutions, you’ll have one view of your business supported by real-time information. Your planners can then make informed decisions. In the hectic traffic rush leading up to Christmas, it’s critical you can identify and manage exceptions as deliveries progress because it’s undoubtedly the busiest period on the road.

 

Eliminate empty running

When you have a larger-than-usual task on your hands to keep up with demand this Christmas, running empty seems even more wasteful than usual. Yet, for many hauliers, this is the case on their return journeys. If your drivers travel back empty from Glasgow to Plymouth on their return journey, for instance, that’s a lot of wasted mileage.

Using a freight exchange platform gives hauliers the opportunity to not only make the most of their journeys but also serve more customers in a time of increased demands. This can help optimise fleets in the short term and also enables hauliers to expand their network to connect with new shippers. Haulage companies with loyal customers but limited resources have the opportunity to subcontract their excess work on these platforms, meaning they can still take on additional haulage loads and get customers’ jobs done.

 

Allow your drivers to do more in their workday

The changes to drivers’ hours, which means drivers can work up to 11 hours a day twice a week, has been extended once again to January. But we know that making already overworked drivers work longer hours isn’t the solution, especially when many of the drivers who’ve left the sector have done so due to poor working conditions.

Giving your drivers the tools they need to achieve more in their workday is a much better solution. Not only will this allow your business to be more efficient, but you’ll also improve their satisfaction by making their jobs easier. Let’s face it, dealing with paper proof of deliveries is difficult to manage and adds time to their day.

 

It’s these inefficient processes that can frustrate drivers, cause delays, and even result in them finishing their day later than expected. It’s no wonder that drivers are leaving businesses that aren’t addressing this problem. Using digital tools like electronic proof of delivery and apps that provide real-time details of their deliveries allows them to focus on the job and get more done in their day.

How to Set Up An Optimal Inventory Management System

Inventory Management

Regardless of your company size, you need to have a system of tracking the products you’re selling. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of having excess inventory or replacing your stock faster before it runs out. It’s believed that the best way to avoid such an issue is by having an inventory management system. With this system, you also save yourself the hassle of manually trying to track your inventory because this only increases the chances of making an error when doing counting, forecasting, or tracking. 

Knowing this, it’s advisable as an entrepreneur to set up an inventory management system that ensures you don’t make these avoidable mistakes, thereby streamlining your day-to-day operations. Without further ado, here’s a guide on the steps to follow when setting up an optimal inventory management system.  

 

What’s An Inventory Management System

The inventory management system is a combination of procedures, technology, and processes that allow you to maintain and monitor your stock levels easily. This means you can use tools such as radio-frequency identification or RFID inventory tracking software and the like to monitor your products’ status across the whole supply chain with ease.

Inventory management programs help companies have a bird’s eye view of the whole supply chain: from production down to sales. The type of inventory you’ll handle usually depends on what you’re selling and this include:

  • Raw materials; 
  • Maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO) goods;  
  • For-sale or finished goods; 
  • Safety stock that provides cover when there’s an increase in demand or supplier shortages; and
  • Work-in-progress goods. 

But with an inventory management system, you’ll have an excellent grasp of how much inventory you have, how to manage it, and where it is. Therefore, you won’t struggle with issues like excess or too little on-hand inventory, restricted cash flow, and others. 

 

Steps to Follow When Setting Up An Inventory Management System

There are several steps you should follow when setting up an inventory management system for your business’ inventory needs. Here’s a look at these steps to follow:

 

1. Conceptualization

When creating an inventory management system, the first thing to do is to examine your company’s day-to-day activities. Doing this will help you pinpoint functional areas involved and with data that you can easily track. 

It’s highly advisable to look at what systems other businesses in your industry have to gauge how they’ve helped boost efficiency. In addition, you need to identify everything you need, as this will help you create a practical solution that solves your specific problems. 

 

2. Identify Your Business Goals 

What’s the exact reason you’re setting up an inventory management system? You must ask yourself this question right from the start when setting up an inventory management system, and common reasons include:

  • To increase revenue; 
  • To minimize inventory expenses;
  • To boost customer satisfaction; and
  • To address pricing issues.  

With a precise goal in mind, you’ll be able to ensure clear communication between you and your team during the onboarding process to ensure proper inventory management. 

 

3. Get An Inventory Management Software 

Before getting to manage all the data, you need to choose a suitable inventory management software. Ideally, you should do this before choosing the style of inventory control to use or recording items in a meaningful way. 

An inventory management software provides you with an outline to follow. When deciding which software to get and third-party company to hire, you should assess how much you’re ready to spend for one and how it handles complex tasks to know the exact features it should have. 

 

4. Organize Your Storage Location 

You need to come up with a clear organizational plan that best suits your product line. This is important to maximize every storage space available. It’s only after doing this that you should start labeling your products; that is, stating their name and location help ease tracking. 

Make sure to choose a logical organizational plan by labeling the columns, rows, shelf numbers, and aisles. This way, even persons who’re unfamiliar with your inventory management system can easily track an item. After choosing a specific labeling system, you want to create physical labels that distinguish the different spaces. This is important because what might seem straightforward to you might be confusing to others. 

 

5. Describe Your Items 

Now that your storage facility has a clear labeling system, the next step is to develop a labeling system for the products. If the products differ in color or size, they should be kept completely separate. 

For the labeling system, ensure it’s informative to ensure there’s no confusion regarding what’s contained in each pallet, box, or container. As a result, your employees can easily monitor the number of items in stock at any given point. This may help in not confusing your workers while they’re still getting used to the inventory management system. 

 

6. Number Your Items 

To ease of locating products, you should give every product a number. This is a quicker and shortened technique of telling apart quantities, sizes, colors, and product details. As your product line grows, these numbers serve as a useful reference. This helps avoid ordering the incorrect item and eradicates any errors and confusion when placing orders on products. 

Once you adopt a number system, it’s recommended to create a number system for your products. This will help anyone who inputs or looks at your inventory management system. Doing this eliminates any confusion when fulfilling shipments or filling our orders. 

 

7. Take Measurements 

Typically, the measurements differ depending on the exact item you’re handling and how it’s been packaged. And for the storage containers, it’s also recommended that they have a numbering system. 

For instance, you should state the exact number of 750ml bottles in each container when dealing with wine cases. It’s best to do this even though it might look obvious, but doing so reduces any chances of making an avoidable error by making sure everything is a lot clearer. 

 

8. Calculate Your Stock Levels 

This is the last step when setting up an inventory management system. All you need to do is enter your location, measurements, numbers, and descriptions into the inventory management spreadsheet or software. After that, start your count to determine the exact number for every product. You should pay close attention to your starting count to confirm that your inventory management system is accurate and works correctly. 

 

Takeaway 

Properly managing inventory is challenging because correctly predicting demand can be difficult. As a consequence, you can end up having excess or less inventory, and either of these causes you to lose money. This is why it’s essential to have an inventory management system to mitigate such problems from happening. And to help you implement this system, detailed in this article are the steps you should follow when setting up an inventory management system.   

8 Ways to Improve Product Quality In 2021

Product Quality

Improving product quality is essential for achieving long-term profitability and sales growth. While increasing product quality is no easy task, the rewards for doing so surpassed the challenges. 

It helps build trust with your customer and fuels recommendations and referrals. Excellent product quality also means fewer complaints and returns from your customers. All of these, impact your bottom line and encourage business growth

With that said, how do you increase the quality of your products?

 

1. Define Product Quality

Before you can start improving product quality, you first need to understand what constitutes a quality product. 

Quality is often defined in two ways:

  • Satisfying a set of pre-determined specifications
  • Satisfying the customer

In general, product quality describes the capability of that product to meet user standards. Here are the questions to evaluate a product’s quality. 

  • Is it tailored to your customers?

A product that’s tailored specifically to the needs of your customers shows that you understand its users and are willing to accept any suggestion they voice. 

  • Does it solve a problem?

No product would exist if it weren’t improving or solving something. The extent to which a product fixes and intended problems helps in determining its quality. 

  • Is it polished?

Dimensions, colors, fonts, and other elements of the design should all be in proper alignment. The product shouldn’t appear cheap or have any errors or mistakes in its construction in any way. 

  • Is it efficient?

A quality product shouldn’t just get the job done but do so efficiently. Meaning, it should deliver quickly with minimal effort from the consumer. 

  • Is it easy to use?

Quality products shouldn’t complicate the process of solving a problem. Customers should be able to learn how to assemble or use the product easily and effectively. 

 

2. Invest In Machinery

If your production primarily uses human laborers, then your products are more likely prone to errors and defects. 

With that said, you need to invest in quality machinery. Production machinery like precision CNC machining ensures accuracy for consistent product quality. Also, machines help increase the production speed and are far more cost-effective than hiring several skilled laborers. 

 

3. Implement a Quality Management System

A quality management system (QMS) is a set of internal rules that determines how your business will create and deliver quality products. Whether you’re manufacturing your products or outsourcing them, a QMS can keep your organization compliant with the latest regulations and standards in product quality. 

Implementing a QMS can impact your business’s total performance. An effective QMS allows your organization to meet customer requirements and regulatory standards as well as prevent errors, save money, and continuously improve your product offering. Most importantly, by ensuring consistent quality products, you can improve your business’s image and credibility and enhance customer satisfaction levels. 

 

4. Spy On Competitors

Checking in on your competitors is a great way to develop and improve the quality of your products. Competitor analysis allows you to understand the weaknesses and strengths in your competitors’ products in comparison to your own and find a gap in the market. 

How are their products performing? Look for weaknesses in their products and try to come up with an innovative solution for yours. You can also gain product ideas that you can improve to become more appealing and attractive to customers. 

Conducting a competitor analysis is important not only for matching your competitors’ offerings but also for putting you in a better position to compete with similar businesses in your industry. 

 

5. Infuse Quality In Company Culture

Implementing a QMS is essential, however, it’s not enough. These quality principles need to be embedded across your entire organization to work effectively. 

Your entire team needs to be on the same page on what constituted a quality product. Encourage managers to constantly reinforce the idea so you can get everyone on board with your vision of quality and more likely become part of the culture. 

Once your employees comprehend the larger part of the quality message, managers should empower them to use their own intuition and judgment to handle individual responsibilities. This means that managers can take a hands-off approach and allow their employees to freely raise concerns if certain procedures and policies take away their ability to pursue quality. 

In order to create quality products, employees need to have a say in the developmental process. After all, your employees can provide you with essential feedback regarding quality production. Allow your employees to have a voice in the business process and organize meetings where they can suggest any improvements to the company’s products. 

 

6. Train Employees

Training your employees at all levels can help improve product quality and lessen the problems. Training can take several dimensions. You can set up a new-employee initiation program, train your workers to focus on quality problems and in operating production machinery and equipment from the first day of their job. You can assign existing employees to train new employees since they can provide a firsthand perspective of how your business’s operations work. 

Also, you must provide employees with a history of the business through the lens of quality. Show them problems you’ve had in the past and how you corrected these issues. Also, let them know where your business stands with respect to its quality goals today. 

In addition, you also need to train your employees to see a connection between their actions and work ethic and the overall performance of the business. By tying their individual behavior to the overall system of working, you can give them insight on how to ensure product quality and good stewards of your business. 

 

7. Perform Product Testing

It’s important to test your products before launching. This way, you can anticipate how buyers will react to the product and see what changes you need to do before making an official release to the public. 

Product testing allows you to see how your product performs in the real world, ensuring if your product reflects the quality, usability, and efficiency you intended. Also, it provides insight into marketing strategies as well as your positioning against your competitors. 

 

8. Listen to Customers

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your customers. Collecting customer feedback can give you insight into what improvements can be made and how to enhance product quality. 

You can use any negative feedback to learn more about your customers’ wants and needs and help you in creating products that meet these requirements. 

 

Conclusion

Standing out in the competitive business world can be extremely difficult. But, if you’re offering quality products, you’re already a step ahead of your competitors. 

By following the above tips, you can offer quality products to delight your customers and make them come back for more.  

Addressing the HGV Driver Shortage as an Urgent Priority

HGV driving along a main road with a sunset in the background

The UK’s haulage sector, having struggled for 18 months, is at breaking point. Workers have been leaving the sector at an alarming rate, and there’s now an estimated shortage of over 100,000 drivers.

Measures including offering short-term visas to non-UK nationals have been introduced as immediate solutions, but it’s clear the sector needs a future plan. As well as speeding up the process of new drivers entering the sector, bringing back experienced workers who left is important. This can by done by improving working conditions through the use of technology and HR initiatives.

Hauliers and the government must come together to address this shortage as an urgent priority. This article explores some ways we can do that.

 

The state of play

A number of factors have contributed to the HGV driver shortage, which has been growing for a while now. According to an RHA member survey, drivers reaching retirement age is the biggest contributor, very closely followed by Brexit.

By 2029, a quarter of the current workforce is expected to have retired. What’s more, the average age of haulage drivers is 57. Additionally, it’s estimated that 80,000 EU nationals left the workforce in the year leading up to the Brexit deadline. Over 40% of hauliers also cited COVID-19, pay rates, and drivers leaving for a different sector as key reasons for the increasing gap.

Getting new employees into the sector has been difficult as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The HGV driver test backlog, which was caused by multiple national lockdowns, has slowed down this progress significantly. All of these factors have led to the driver shortage almost doubling since the beginning of the pandemic, rising from a shortage of 60,000 to over 100,000 in under two years.

 

The current measures

In July, the government temporarily extended the hours HGV drivers can work – this was due to end on 3rd October but has been further extended to 31st October. This move was met with criticism from the sector. According to Richard Burnett, the RHA’s Chief Executive, this was making the job even less attractive and putting unnecessary additional pressures on an “already exhausted” driver workforce.

On 25th September, a “package of measures” was announced by the government to train new HGV drivers. Up to 4,000 drivers can take part in HGV driver training courses, with 3,000 expected to take part in a “skills bootcamp” in order to gain a category C or C&E licence, while a further 1,000 are expected to access training locally. The Ministry of Defence and the DVSA has committed to providing thousands of additional tests to allow these trainees to enter the workforce as quickly as possible.

The government has also recently announced temporary visas for foreign drivers as a short-term measure, but this has been met with criticism. Representatives from leading organisations including the British Retail Consortium and the European Road Haulers Association have warned that this is not enough to plug a growing gap.

 

The additional steps we can take

We know that this crisis won’t be solved overnight, and long-term solutions are needed. But, because it’s reaching a breaking point right now, there are more measures that can be taken to plug the gaps.

One option is to look at workers already in haulage businesses. While they may still need to pass the formal tests, they’ll have the benefit of knowing the business and its processes and systems inside out.

Looking at sectors that have workers with similar skills, such as private and public transport drivers, may be useful. But this should be approached with caution – a number of public transport providers, including Go North East, have announced driver shortages.

Some of the drivers who have left the haulage sector may have done so due to poor working conditions – many drivers cite poor company culture, unrealistic expectations, and bad technology as reasons for leaving their haulier businesses in Glassdoor reviews examined by Mandata in its recent whitepaper.

 

Can driver roles be positioned as more attractive?

If drivers have left the sector because of poor working conditions, it’s important to show them how this has been addressed. These workers are qualified and experienced in the role, and highlighting the positive changes made since they’ve left is important in plugging this critical skills gap.

Interestingly, the Mandata whitepaper also highlighted that bad technology is a source of frustration for drivers and haulage employees. If a job is hindered by the technology required to do it, it’s natural that this would frustrate employees. Hauliers who have invested in market-leading digital technologies like transport management systems will be more attractive to prospective drivers – especially those who have left the sector for this reason.

 

Are there ways to increase your existing workforce’s output?

The relaxation of the rules on how many hours drivers can work in a day was designed to increase output, but the sector has rightly criticised this for putting additional pressure on already overworked drivers.

There are ways, however, that you can increase your drivers’ output and efficiency without them working more. Through the use of technologies like electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and smart back-office solutions that allow you to divert drivers if they encounter traffic, you can increase your workforce’s efficiency and allow them to do more in their standard hours.

As well as increasing efficiency, this can also increase their satisfaction – en-route delays can be avoided, meaning they waste less time on the road. Not only can they potentially fit more deliveries in, but these solutions can also make sure they finish on time. The more satisfied your workers are, the more loyal they’ll be to your business.

 

The sector has been raising concerns about the HGV driver shortage for some time now, and we’re finally seeing some action taken. But due to a myriad of issues such as an ageing workforce, Brexit, and COVID-19, the gap has only widened and has now reached a critical point. While the government announcing support initiatives is welcome, we need a blend of short- and long-term strategies in order to resolve the immediate crisis and ensure the sector is never struggling for drivers again.

6 Methods to Minimize Manufacturing Errors

Manufacturing Equipment

Regardless of the industry you’re in, manufacturing errors can happen at any time. When they occur, they could sabotage the success and reputation of your business. Some manufacturing errors are caused by machines, while others are by workers themselves. But the good news is that, with the right information, some of these errors can be prevented or minimized. 

Whether you’re an operations manager or a business owner, if you’re looking to minimize manufacturing errors in your business, you can implement the following strategies.

 

1. Purchase the Right Equipment 

Machines are the major cause of errors and defective items in the manufacturing world. This is especially common when using the wrong equipment to make products. You can avoid this by utilizing the right equipment to accomplish specific tasks. Some machines might seem similar and interchangeable, but there are different types for a reason. Take industrial mixers, for example. You may think that they’re all the same; after all, they’re all essentially meant to mix substances. But the different types vary in terms of speed, power, and other factors, making them suitable for certain substances and unsuitable for others. If you want a certain end result, you need to make sure you’re using the specific machine made for that task.

That said, to ensure you’re using the right manufacturing equipment, you need to consider the technology integrated into them. It would be a good idea to choose manufacturing equipment that utilizes modern technologies. Not only does this help minimize errors, but it also helps boost your efficiency and productivity.  

Apart from that, you can ensure you’re using the best equipment by purchasing it from a reputable company. This ensures that you get high-quality equipment that can serve your purpose. You can get a good idea of a company’s reputation by reading reviews and asking other people in the industry for recommendations. Of course, it would be a good idea to go with a company with positive reviews, as they often provide high-quality machines and better services. If you’re looking for a good precision machining services company, for example, you’re more likely to trust one that customers are obviously satisfied with, rather than a company that gets mixed reviews.

 

2. Work With the Right Team 

Employees are a major part of your manufacturing processes, as they bring different talents and skills into your business. Without employees to help with daily tasks, your business may fail to move forward. However, you should ensure that the employees you’re working with are suitable workers.

When it comes to manufacturing, having the right team means working with the most skilled workforce to help minimize errors. They can employ the best skills to prevent errors from happening, thus ensuring that the process goes smoothly.

Apart from that, you will also need to train your employees on how to use the necessary tools. This is important, especially when you integrate new machines into your manufacturing processes. So, before any team member can start using your new equipment, it would be a good idea to first train them on how to use it. Not only will the training help minimize errors, but it’ll also help prevent machine-related injuries and accidents.

 

3. Provide Better Supervision 

Another good way to minimize your manufacturing errors is to monitor or supervise your employees closely. To achieve that, you may want to work with dedicated supervisors who can monitor your employees effectively.

You should encourage your supervisors to spend more time on the ground rather than being cooped up in the back office. Simply relying on the reports of others isn’t enough; they can do their job better and more thoroughly if they’re able to watch the workers themselves. Effective supervision will allow you to note whether or not your employees are following the required procedures.

Since failure to follow instructions and proper procedures is one cause of manufacturing errors, keeping a close watch on your employees and processes could help you identify the causes of errors when they happen. Consequently, this allows you to put the necessary measures in place to avoid future errors.

 

4. Boost Your Communication 

Communication plays a vital role in the manufacturing industry, especially where important instructions have to be given to the workers. In the event of miscommunication or if a worker misses relevant announcements or instructions, this could cause problems for your manufacturing processes. For that reason, you may want to consider improving your communication methods.

In addition, having a more effective means of communication will allow your employees to ask questions and provide feedback, which is important if you want your work operations to continue running smoothly. Your employees can easily ask for clarification when they’re stuck on something in the manufacturing process, and this will help them avoid wasting time on trial and error.

Although there are several ways to make for more effective communication, a good one would be the use of modern tools and technologies. For instance, you could have live chat software or other communication tools that are readily available to your employees no matter where they’re working from. This will make your employees more accessible to you, and vice versa. In addition, you can send instructions or announcements in real time, and since it will be documented on the software, your employees can go back to it in case they forget.

 

5. Post Procedures For All Tasks 

Even if some of your workers have been on the job for years, it would be safe not to assume that they’ve got the procedures memorized and that they perform it perfectly each time. Sometimes people have lapses, which is perfectly understandable. However, since these manufacturing processes are important to your business, you may want to minimize the chances of these lapses happening. You can help prevent it by posting key procedures for tasks.

Posting step-by-step guides for all jobs will help remind your employees what is expected to be done, removing the need for refresher training sessions or constant reminders. It would be a good idea to post the procedures in key areas where specific tasks are carried out, so your employees can refer to it before making any irreversible changes. Make sure to highlight the specific tools and materials to be used in each step as well. This will help reduce errors and accidents at the workplace.  

 

6. Conduct Individual Assessments 

Last but not least, conducting assessments of your individual employees can also help reduce errors in manufacturing. This will require you to evaluate your employees’ performance and to identify any errors or lapses they may have committed. After the evaluation, you could come up with solutions or put measures in place to help prevent them from committing similar errors in the future.

 

Takeaway 

Preventing manufacturing errors should be one of your main priorities if you want to take your business a notch higher. Doing so will allow you to reduce wastage and overall business costs, and ensure that there are no delays or hang-ups in your work operations. With the strategies mentioned above, you can achieve this and thus improve your business’s workflow.

6 Signs Your Business Needs a New ERP System

ERP

In today’s technological era, businesses rely on software to efficiently carry out their day-to-day operations. One such system that’s often used by modern businesses is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which helps streamline business operations such as supply chain management and accounting. However, like every other technology, the ERP system does have a limited shelf-life. Because of this, the ERP system you’re using may no longer be compatible with current technologies, thereby negatively impacting your competitive edge and reducing your productivity. 

So how can you tell if it’s time to change your ERP system? Here’s a guide on the clear signs you should look out for to know if you should schedule to change your company’s ERP system soon.

 

1. No Vendor Support 

One of the most evident signs you should get a new ERP system is when the vendor doesn’t provide you with the support you need. This is crucial because, like any software, the ERP system might suddenly experience an issue you or your staff can’t resolve without help from the vendor. However, if the manufacturer is uncooperative, you’ll be left with a malfunctioning ERP system, leading to increased susceptibility to cyberattacks or breaches, greater downtime, and reduced productivity. 

The lack of vendor support can also leave you with an outdated ERP system that doesn’t meet your business needs. If you’re dealing with such downsides, it’s time to switch to a new vendor like NexInfo’s ERP consulting services. That way, you’ll be sure to get a suitable ERP system with the necessary assistance you need to go through the different stages such as discovery, user training, selection, customization, implementation, and ongoing support. 

 

2. Not Meeting Customer Needs 

Without customers, your business would cease to exist. Therefore, it should be your priority as an entrepreneur to ensure that your customer’s needs are met. However, this can be a challenge if you’re using an outdated ERP system since you won’t have direct access to inventory data, shipping, and billing. This is because the design of old ERP systems can’t offer easy access to information from different parties. They also weren’t customer-oriented, thus forcing your clients to seek professional assistance to obtain any information they need. 

On the other hand, a new ERP system does away with these shortcomings and complexities. It does this by integrating cloud services, enabling your customers to get real-time access to information from anywhere. Without an updated ERP system, your company will lose its competitive edge over other businesses. 

 

3. Functional Limitations of Your Current ERP 

The goal of every entrepreneur is to see their business grow, and this is precisely why they invest in an ERP system in the first place. But as your business expands, so do its core functions, including inventory management, finance, and accounting. In addition, other requirements emerge, including warehouse management system (WMS), mobile solutions, e-commerce, and point of sale (POS). These added requirements can’t be handled by an obsolete ERP system that starts to experience certain functional limitations the older it gets. 

Other functional limitations that strain your existing ERP system include greater technical requirements from vendors, unveiling new products or services, and acquisitions. Due to these shortcomings, you might need to invest in a new ERP system to effectively carry out new tasks associated with your growing business. 

 

4. Your Staff Choose to Work Outside the ERP System 

The primary purpose of the ERP system is to streamline company operations. It does this by ensuring your staff members are working as a team and are on the same page towards reaching the business goals you’ve set. However, this efficiency can’t be achieved if your employees use other programs to generate spreadsheets or non-integrated systems like QuickBooks instead of the ERP software because it can’t handle such tasks. As a result, you’re prone to making errors that lead to inconsistencies and inaccuracies that could lead to numerous expenses issues in the future.

With a new ERP system, these problems will be a thing of the past. After all, a new ERP system will integrate the functions of multiple departments. Therefore, you won’t need separate management tools to run your company, which further streamlines your company’s operations. With that said, you can still integrate other platforms such as QuickBooks into modern ERP systems if you specifically want to use them. 

 

5. ERP System Is Too Complex 

Your staff is vital to the success of your business, so you should always ensure their productivity is optimal. However, they can’t accomplish their tasks with a lousy and complicated EPR system. With outdated or unoptimized software, your employees will have a rough time as they try to navigate and finish their assigned duties on time. This might necessitate you to invest in additional training to help them better understand how to use the ERP software efficiently. It may also lead to high staff turnover, thereby increasing the cost of running a business and negatively affecting the company’s performance. 

A modern ERP software addresses these shortcomings, and it helps improve your employee productivity. This is because your employees won’t have to deal with repetitive processes and extremely slow loading speeds. In addition, newer ERP software has customizable and intuitive interfaces, which further simplifies ease of use and accessibility.

Just remember to take the time to choose a reputable ERP vendor. With a respectable ERP vendor, your staff will be sure to get the necessary training on ERP system implementation. This is vital to encourage adoption by your staff, thereby increasing productivity. 

 

6. It Doesn’t Offer Cloud Computing Capabilities 

Many companies have realized the immense benefits cloud computing has on their operations. Because of this, many companies have opted to use cloud-compatible ERP systems to get better access to online business solutions. But if you’re stuck using an old ERP software, you’ll need to first buy a license and load it onto servers to be able to use such a system. 

With a modern and cloud-based ERP system, you can avoid all these inconveniences as long as you’re connected to the internet. You also don’t need to buy high-performance hardware and licenses constantly, hence lowering your business operational expenses.     

 

Takeaway 

An ERP system isn’t cheap. So, given its cost, many businesses resort to using the software for an extended period without replacing it. However, this isn’t usually recommended because the cost of getting a new one will be much less than the expenses associated with using an outdated and inefficient ERP system in the long term. Keep in mind the clear signs discussed in this article so you’ll know when you should go ahead and get a new ERP system.