By Angie Walters
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems help manufacturers and distributors manage each parameter of the supply chain. Empower your teams through technology.
What Are Enterprise Content Management Systems?
Enterprise content management (ECM) in its simplest form is a digital filing system that provides access to team members who have a vested interest in the team’s processes. Not only are Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, .pdf files, images and newsletters organized and stored for easy access by all team members with a connection to the company’s files, but orders, receipts, contracts, and approvals can be scanned and stored as well.
By using a company server or cloud storage system you can increase your storage capacity in a secure system with ease of access for everyone concerned. In the past, company servers were the least expensive option for document storage but they were difficult to secure when employees had access through mobile devices. Today, more cost-effective cloud storage options are providing more secure options at a more reasonable price tag.
What the System Can Do for Manufacturers & Distributors
An ECM system, in general, allows manufacturers and distributors to work from mobile devices anywhere in the world. That is an advantage that cannot be discounted; it transforms any business into a 24/7 operation. Sales personnel can check orders, shipping statuses, receipts and order acknowledgments with customers from their desk or while on break from a training session in a remote location.
More specifically, an ECM system puts your business at your fingertips. Not only can your sales associates view and track orders, but you can view and track everything that pertains to your business right from your tablet or phone while enjoying dinner with your family. You no longer need to call Jones in shipping to check the status of a shipment to a concerned customer or Smith in legal about that contract.
The Impact on Supply Chain
The impact of an ECM system on your supply chain is that it completely shrinks the organizations, resources, activities, and information involved in the movement of components to your assembly area and your product to the customer, and puts it all right on your desktop or mobile device. Supply chain activities that were once only available during business hours are now trackable from any mobile device anytime.
Raw materials, components, machine parts and everything involved in maintenance orders (all the way to finished products) can now be assigned a tracking code so their status can be checked anytime anywhere. Adding bar-code scanners and Point of Sale (POS) systems can enhance your ECM system’s capabilities tremendously.
You can view and approve commitment contracts from your desk or while at the coffee shop. What’s more, orders are now visible to your production team to fill the instant you give them your approval. Automating invoice processing, purchasing and shipping orders will make your business more efficient and will most likely lead to reduced overtime costs.
Challenges Manufactures & Distributors Face in Today’s Technology Connected World
The some of the challenges that plagues most small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) is the cost of technology upgrades, being comfortable with your current way of doing things, and the fear of a cyber breach. Many SMBs feel that it is not feasible to use operating funds to upgrade to paperless systems. Keep in mind, however, that in the long run using technology will save you money and open your business to global horizons not possible with your business’ current configuration.
Committing to a systems’ upgrade is probably being overshadowed by all of the paper coming into your organization: bills, receipts, contracts, etc. from external organizations, companies and vendors. Not a problem. You can scan those documents and add those to your system for review by the right team almost instantly with an ECM system.
One of the biggest challenges in a technology connected world is the threat of system vulnerabilities. Nearly 80 percent of all organizations were victims of data breaches during the past year. Companies can mitigate the threat by beefing up system security and training employees on best practices for securing the data.
Automating everything with an ECM system could dramatically improve your operations. Even small businesses can now provide automated access to nearly every function of the company at every level through cloud storage and retrieval in a much more cost effective way than has ever been possible. Ultimately, adopting an ECM system could go a long way in making your business and employees more efficient, productive, and cost effective.
For additional information on how to make your company run more efficiently and ultimately more profitable, contact the professionals at Goldin Peiser & Peiser.