Ahhh the beginning of summer…longer days, warm weather, no school, sunshine and of course, summer holidays. For many companies, with the advent of summer, comes an influx of employee vacation requests. Although this is to be expected, it can still cause stress as you try to cover holidays, train employees on managing different responsibilities, or shift priorities to complete work. The role of automation and software in this situation is frequently overlooked – with proper processes and systems for tracking information across your organization, covering for employees while they are on vacation is simplified. It’s manual processes and disjointed systems that can leave your business scrambling to operate business as usual. Below we examine 4 features of accounting and inventory software (ERP) that can help cover employee vacations this summer – so you can relax and enjoy the sunshine too.
One of the most important departments in any business is accounting and financials. Without proper processes in place to track invoices, outstanding accounts and payments, money is left on the table affecting your bottom line and the relationship you have with customers. Proper accounting and inventory ERP software provides functionality for automating accounting processes to stay on top of customer accounts, easily communicate information and properly record payments. With advanced accounting features, employees can:
- Automatically calculate landed costs and allocate proportionally to track true product costs and maintain target margins
- Quickly generate financial statements for review of business health
- Automatically email customers when Accounts Receivables meet certain pre-determined criteria – such as dollar value or time frame
- Automatically email invoices to customers once an order has been marked as shipped
- Look up customer history to quickly view past orders, invoices and payments
The above functionality makes it easy for employees in the accounting department to leave on holidays without worrying about work piling up in their absence.
When it comes to managing sales within an organization, communication is key. Salespeople need to be proactive in communicating important information to leads to move them through the sales funnel. This also applies to maintaining relationships with existing customers to keep them happy. When you decide to book holidays, it may seem impossible to be able to fully disconnect, but it’s a good idea to try and do this for as long as possible and the right ERP software with CRM functionality can help.
Customer Relationship Management or CRM tools allow your salespeople to track and manage leads throughout the entire sales funnel – from prospective clients to qualified leads to customers. The right solution will include functionality that allows your team to…
- Create and manage quotes, sales orders and purchase orders
- Record customer and vendor information such as contacts, phone numbers, email addresses etc.
- Log verbal and email communication
- Automatically email invoices and other customer communication
- Track and report on specific information using User Defined Fields – such as Persona
- Schedule next action dates, appointments and follow-ups
- Set statuses
When properly utilized, CRM functionality provides a single point of entry for managing all sales leads and customers. As part of the features offered in accounting and inventory software, CRM tools work in conjunction with processes across other departments – for example, creating a log of communication when your accounting department sends the customer an invoice. This means that when salespeople take their holidays, all records of their interaction with a specific lead and/or customer is accounted for – allowing other employees to quickly get up to speed on recent interactions and any potential follow-ups. Not only does this make it easy for salespeople to cover for each other while on holiday, but it also means that anyone from your company with the right permissions can also quickly get up-to-speed on the status of customer accounts.
eCommerce Integration – B2B and B2C
It may seem obvious to integrate eCommerce sites with back-end accounting and inventory ERP software, but there are many businesses still manually entering orders from online channels into business management systems. Not only is this process time consuming and error prone, it causes issues when order entry staff leave on holidays and there is no one to cover the work. Instead, integrating all eCommerce channels – including customer and vendor portals, B2C sites and marketplaces such as Amazon – automatically creates an order in your back-end ERP solution, completely eliminating the need for manual data entry. Depending on the type of order, this process can be further automated by creating workflows that send orders matching pre-determined criteria directly to staff in the warehouse for picking, packing and shipping. Even for those orders that need human review, it’s still easier and less time consuming for an employee to cover this role, than to try and find someone who has the time to manually enter orders.
When it comes to warehouse management, having the right number of bodies is key. Although proper accounting and inventory software can help automate processes, it does not replace the need to have people available to perform the manual task of picking, packing and shipping orders. In fact, many businesses will actually hire additional warehouse staff during peak seasons to account for an increase in order volume. In this situation, and when trying to cover employee holidays, a well laid out warehouse space and automated processes for picking, packing and shipping can make all the difference. Properly labelled bin and shelf locations make it easy for new employees to quickly find the right product, especially when combined with pick lists that are organized according to the most efficient route. Mobile barcode scanning/handheld picking tools enable employees to automatically scan items during the pick process to quickly identify any picking errors at the source. Training new employees on easy-to-use barcode scanning technology is much more efficient than leaving them to decipher handwritten notes, and trying to learn and identify specific SKUs.
Summer vacations should be stress-free – for those employees actually taking them and for the employees, owners and management left behind. Don’t discount the benefits of automated inventory and accounting software when it comes to simplifying job tasks and creating a process-driven workplace. And keep in mind how these benefits are significantly increased when it comes to employees leaving for more than just vacation, such as parental leave, extended time off or when an employee leaves for good.