EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS OF: DISTRIBUTION & COMMERCE
Participant profile: Management, Logistics, Warehouse, Distribution Directors/Managers
Analysed IT solutions:
- SFA – Sales Force Automation
- DMS – Document Management System
- ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
- BI – Business Intelligence
- WMS – Warehouse Management System
- SCM – Supply Chain Management
SFA class systems facilitate company operations in the scope of commerce and distribution. They allow sales representatives to work using mobile devices such as smartphones and touch screen tablets. They are dedicated to organizations whose sales are often conducted in the field. This solution allows sellers fast access to the necessary information (i.a. multimedia files) and visual presentation of the offer or exposition. One of the basic functionalities of SFA class systems, is the possibility of connecting it with other applications installed on a mobile device. The system supports merchandisers in their everyday operations due to the option of planning and communication with individual departments in the company (including e.g. warehouse/store network). Entrepreneurs employing mobile solutions seek, first and foremost, to improve the processes of defining and delegating individual tasks to sales representatives in the field. Another key issue is entering sales offers into the system and gathering them in a database, which is integrated with the management systems (ERP, CRM). On the other hand, the management staff expects continuous reports and analyses related to sales. Sales representatives are able to efficiently manage customer relations thanks to the SFA class systems' ability to gather all data on current and potential customers.
Main benefits from the use of SFA class systems:
- Real-time access to customer and sales data (contact history, contact data, warehouse stock);
- Decisions are made on the basis of up-to-date information;
- The management staff has the ability to control their sales representatives and their sales figures;
- Possibility of effective work planning and sales target setting;
- Possibility of continuous merchandising control.
The DMS class systems enable the processing and archiving of documents generated by companies. Their main purpose is to minimize the quantity of paper documentation in favour of electronic archives. Document processing refers both to internal copies of various substantive areas, as well as those delivered outside (invoices, correspondence, orders, various kinds of official letters). The DMS class systems particularly support the area of knowledge gathering and organizing. They facilitate work for companies, national institutions and offices. In case of an inspection, the required documents may very quickly be identified and restored, along with the history of their circulation within the company.
Main benefits from using DMS class systems:
- Time savings during organization, gathering and searching through documentation functioning in paper form;
- A possibility of continuous document control in the company;
- A possibility of product project management;
- A possibility of integration with office applications;
- Streamlining work in accounting, personnel, quality control departments.
Currently, the Polish market offers a few dozen ERP class IT systems (classified), offered by a few hundred suppliers. The systems support organisation management in almost all areas of its activities, such as: accounting, finance, personnel and payroll, production, supply, warehouse management and logistics, sales planning implementation. The vast majority of the offered solutions has a modular structure. However, applications combining functionalities within one platform are becoming increasingly prevalent. The boundary between modules is becoming blurred, and solutions are optimized in terms of efficiency and operational speed.
ERP class solutions manufacturers, systematically expand applications with new functionalities, adapting them to the specific nature of a particular industry. Many suppliers create their own applications that supplement the functionality of the basic solutions, adapting them to the operating profiles of individual companies. Suppliers classify the functionalities within ERP class solutions in various ways.
Main benefits from the use of ERP class systems:
- Increased employee and entire company effectiveness;
- Improvement in company cost, employee and processes control;
- Growth in sales;
- Improvement in customer service quality;
- Reduction of warehouse inventory;
- Safe gathering of confidential data;
- Efficient exchange of information between employees.
Business Intelligence systems support making key decisions at the management level, by analyzing collected business information from different areas of the company. They support management by forecasting, forecast execution, and evaluation of the present business situation of the enterprise. Business analytics is of special importance in companies with many branches, extended partner network, or diversified product operations. A properly implemented BI class system has in its structure, a data warehouse, which in turn is integrated with other software in the company. Business analytics includes areas such as: benchmarking, statistics, business reporting, operational research, econometrics, databases, analytics, artificial intelligence, data mining.
Main benefits from the use of BI class systems:
- Improvement in customer service quality and growth in sales;
- Support in undertaking key investments based on analytical reports;
- The possibility of sales forecasting;
- Permanent access to critical information of each substantive area in the company.
WMS class systems are responsible for management storage area in high rise warehouses. Their most important feature is the correct control of stored units and their proper issuing, in accordance with adopted procedures, and placed orders. This is made possible by means of automatic identification of both goods and units, as well as places of storage. The systems consist of individual modules, which are responsible for e.g. warehouse rack visualization along with the level of space occupied, editing warehouse orders (product receipt and issuing, replacement of goods, pallets and packaging collections. The so-called the functionality of dynamic locations enables the assignment of a rotational group of goods to individual warehouse spaces, in accordance with ABC/XYZ analysis, and even assigning permanent locations for low rotation goods. Through mobile services, it is possible to generate data in real time. The management personnel has the option to continuously track warehouse statistics and perform analyses. WMS class systems generate optimal routes for warehouse staff, enabling them to perform their tasks more efficiently.
Main benefits from the use of WMS class systems:
- Flawless locating of owned goods;
- Reduction in the quantity of stored goods;
- Quantitative and qualitative control of possessed stock;
- Possibility of identifying/eliminating errors and mistakes during warehouse operations;
- Improvement in customer service quality and warehouse work efficiency – decrease in the number of complaints;
- Reduction in the quantity of printed documentation;
- Optimization of routes and reduction in "dead mileage" – faster order implementation;
- The possibility of inventorying by means of mobile devices;
- Reduction in warehousing costs.
SCM class systems enable the development of an entire delivery network along with present customers preferences and constraints resulting from individual orders. They allow for adjusting supply to demand, synchronizing physical labour, planning material flow in the whole delivery chain. Planning takes place in real time, which, in turn, allows for receipt of current information on the whole delivery chain.
SCM class systems enable establishing close cooperation of business entities taking part in manufacturing and sales. Their goal is to limit unnecessary losses and interruptions. By definition, they are to integrate individual IT tools implemented by the company, to ensure free and two-directional flow of information. Hazards, which are to be eliminated by SCM class systems are, first and foremost, incorrect information on sales levels, lack of information on customer needs, stoppages and delays.
Main benefits from the use of SCM class systems:
- The possibility to produce market simulations and forecasts;
- Support of mutual relations between individual participants in the delivery chain;
- Adjustment of production capabilities to customer needs on the basis of current data generated in the system;
- Reduction of unnecessary inventory – synchronization of production plans and delivery size (in accordance with the Just In Time concept);
- Generating reports concerning market variability and unforeseen events within the delivery chain;
- Generating a collective course of all processes - links of delivery chain (from supply, through warehousing, production and transport).