What's the best part of having a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system running your small business? For Torelli Bicycle Company's Product Design Manager Christian Feldhake, it's all about taking the guesswork out of operating the business."Probably the best benefit is the accuracy that it holds itself to," said Feldhake in a recent interview. "Everything is very 'tracked.' From the moment it's being ordered to the moment it goes out the door, there is always something you can do with that product, as far as finding out where it is, how much it cost you and where it is in the process."
Feldhake and his colleagues at Torelli in North Hollywood, Calif., are still getting used to their new ERP platform from SAP, and find themselves marveling daily at how comprehensive the system is - especially in terms of its ability to manage every detail of Torelli's inventory, sales, customer relationships and more. "It just makes it so that any one employee here can go to a certain sales order or sales quotation - or even a purchase order - and find infinite data on whether any of those products were sold, to whom it was sold, when (custom chrome, paint, etc.) it's going to get done, the time it needs to be delivered, and even how it might be shipped to the dealer," Feldhake said.
The ability for any one of Torelli's four employees to instantly access an in-progress transaction and seamlessly pick up where a co-worker left off - to complete the sale, realize the revenue and generally move the enterprise forward - represents a tremendous competitive advantage, according to Feldhake. "Everyone can be privy to the same information, which really helps everyone be on the same page - from the customer, to the dealer, to the vendor, to the manufacturer."
In fact, one of the common limitations of a small to midsize business (SMB) operation such as Torelli is that specific product, customer and financial information often is not stored in the company's business management systems. Instead, the data resides only inside the brains of particular staff members, and when the employee is absent, that business process or transaction simply grinds to a halt until that staff member returns.
It's what makes SMBs so susceptible to what Feldhake calls the "Mack Truck Syndrome."
"If you go home tonight and get hit by a Mack truck, we need someone to be able to come in here and take over your job as quickly and as easily as possible. It's not the fact that you won't be missed, but it's the fact that the business just needs to keep running," Feldhake explained.
What protects your company from the dreaded Mack Truck Syndrome? Please post a comment and share your secrets for providing business continuity in your SMB operations.