How Your Manufacturing Business can Survive the Pre-Christmas Chaos

manufacturing erp

Are manufacturing businesses preparing for the pre-Christmas order rush with a sense of trepidation? Anton Oosthuizen from QuickEasy Software, answers manufacturers’ questions around how to survive the silly season without dropping any balls along the way.

Q: During the build-up to Christmas my business struggles to keep track of costs and orders. How can I keep everything under control so it runs smoothly?

A: The biggest threat to control is clarity. If you lack clarity into the internal operations of your business, you have no control. Do you know what jobs are in the queue, the operational costs of each job – equipment, staff, time and material – and what deadlines are approaching?

  1. Software: Although spread sheets are the most easily accessible and affordable way to log jobs or orders, they open your business up to potential risk and vulnerability because it is, quite simply, not integrated with any other of your spread sheets or order-management systems. Plus, complex formulas used in these spread sheets expose the business to human error and duplication. Don’t forfeit accuracy and efficiency in an attempt to keep costs down. Ideally, what manufacturers need is a system that integrates all processes in the operational life cycle. You might find these packages useful:
  2. Affordable: We enjoy FNB’s Instant Accounting as an option for affordable accounting software, plus there are many spread sheet packages available for manual stock and order management.
  3. Larger Budget: There are a few well known customer-programmed enterprise software packages available that can drive your costs into hundreds of thousands per month. Surprisingly limited flexibility and functionality with the price tag.
  4. Cost Effective: QuickEasy Business Operating Software (BOS) is affordable and fully integrates the sales cycle with orders, production, stock and accounting.

Q: Orders loaded incorrectly is one of the biggest business headaches. Are there any implementable strategies I can implement to minimise human error?

A: No matter how robust or streamlined your operational systems are, if the data captured is not correct, your order is vulnerable. Here are some ideas that will help:

  1. Invest in the Team: It has been said that your team is your best product, and it is true in this case. Even if your team is seasoned and experienced, people forget or get lazy, so invest your valuable time in your team and revise procedures and order capturing policies across all your software systems, to ensure the data being captured is clean and usable.
  2. Single Point of Entry: Your best bet will be to invest in a system that requires only one point of data capture. Once again, we like QuickEasy BOS for this, as it takes the quote that is captured and translates that into an order and then into an invoice. It also saves man-hours and eliminates human error, while being so easy to use, even your receptionist can operate it.

Q: The orders are flying in but we might not have the capacity to fulfil them. How can we still deliver to our customers?

A: Now that your orders are coming through in abundance, you may need to relook your production capacity. You can only do this if you have proper foresight through software that integrates accounting, orders, deadlines and stock. To meet this inflated production need, consider doing these:

  1. Investigate outsourcing some of the work load to other manufacturers.
  2. Move to a 24hr shift cycle by adding additional shifts to meet the demand.
  3. If you need to, see if you can renegotiate deadlines to create breathing room.

Q: We get heavily penalised if we miss a deadline or are late on delivery. How can I make sure a deadline doesn’t come and go unannounced or unnoticed with sufficient warning?

A: Being unaware of approaching deadlines is quite possibly worse than not having the capacity to produce the orders in the first place. You’re literally throwing your money away – not only are you not making a profit on your missed orders but you will also probably be levied penalties from your clients. Try these easy ideas:

  1. Low tech: You can use your phone, your email, your pc – anything with a calendar functionality, to manually capture deadlines. Ensure there is sufficient warning time for you to act on the reminder efficiently.
  2. Systems: Investigate if your order or operations management software has some kind of calendar or deadline alert functionality, and use it.

Feeling the pressure now might convince you that improving your systems can wait. I beg to differ: now is the best time to do it, so that you do not lose control of your orders, and keep your customers happy.

Merry pre-Christmas!

About Anton Oosthuizen

Anton is the commercial director at QuickEasy Software, a fully integrated management system that gives manufacturers and SME’s clarity and control across the full spectrum of their business: accounts, order, stock and production. Based in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, QuickEasy is fast gaining major market share across the SME spectrum.