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January 30, 2017
Israel Ellis is an industry expert in Warehousing and 3PL and the CEO of AdvancePro Technologies.
We recently checked in with Israel to get his insight on the importance of digital transformation for inventory management. Here’s what he shared:
Can you tell us about the mission behind AdvancePro Technologies?
AdvancePro’s mission is to provide companies with opportunity and freedom with the power of clarity and simplicity. Our goal is to give our clients the information they need in order to have complete confidence in their inventory management in order to be able to focus on the big picture and grow their business. We provide a dynamic and highly functional system that eliminates the confusion of poorly managed inventory and simplifies business processes with data automation.
AdvancePro is committed to ensuring that everything we do supports our mission, including advanced training and implementation, customization services and world-class technical support, in addition to our software.
What are the major frustrations or pain points facing your customers today? How do you help them?
There are two main reasons why our customers seek out our solution. The first is a lack of control over their inventory. Not knowing what’s in stock, what needs to be purchased and what can be sold becomes a major issue, especially as companies grow and develop more complex work processes. We provide them with a solution that gives them complete control and ensures that their stock is kept at optimal levels so that, ultimately, their customers are able to trust and rely on them to fulfill their purchases quickly and consistently.
The second major pain point for our customers is the loss of time and resources due to procedural inefficiencies. We provide a single point of data entry that ensures that information is always accurate and accessible, and we serve as the procedural backbone of the business, giving the operation a structure they couldn’t achieve while operating using QuickBooks or Excel.
How can companies embrace digital transformation in order to improve efficiency and boost profitability? What are the risks of not doing so?
It’s critical for leaders to be open and willing to undertake a fundamental change in the way they run their business. They need to be ready to engage in a process of adopting a new business technology that will affect the way they look at their operations and do business. The risk of not doing so is being left in the dust of their industry and losing their competitive edge. Advanced management technology is becoming the norm in many industries, and late adopters will find themselves at a tremendous disadvantage.
In what areas do you find most organizations can improve their inventory management to become more efficient and more profitable?
The first thing companies need to do to become more efficient and profitable is to cut down on redundancies. Many small businesses process the same information for the same transaction numerous times in different ways using different systems. This inevitably leads to errors and delays because companies don’t know what inventory they have on hand to be manufactured or sold.
Companies also need to get improve their system for monitoring inventory replenishment cycles. Real-time information can allow companies to track the movement of inventory through every part of a transaction, enabling them to make accurate and informed purchasing and selling decisions. This means they’ll have the inventory they need to satisfy demand and improve the customer experience, which will, in turn, yield more business.
What do businesses need to do to prepare their teams to implement more digital solutions to their inventory management? How can leaders ensure new tools will be used?
All successful inventory management implementations need the sponsorship of leadership. Beyond that, they also need to explain the reasons for the change and illustrate how the enterprise will benefit, and how individuals’ jobs will become more productive and secure.
In any change, transparent and continued communication is key. Speak in clear terms about how the new system will be used, and how it will and will not change the way that people work on a daily basis. It’s human nature to feel a sense of loss as the status quo is changed, but by emphasizing the positive impact of the software for both the company and individuals, companies can start to overcome the natural resistance that arises in the change process. Companies shouldn’t forget that people’s lives are changing, and they need to treat their people with sensitivity and empathy.
What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see organizations making in this area?
The most common and damaging mistake that we see all the time is that people have the wrong idea about what the implementation process looks like and what their role in the process is. Many people seek out AdvancePro’s solution because they’re in pain and need a quick fix. This can be problematic because they tend to view it as a short-term cost rather than a long-term investment in their business, and they underestimate the work and participation that’s required of them in order to integrate the software into their company. This often leads to a number of issues in the course of implementation; a lack of commitment means that typical roadblocks can become serious derailers, and anxiousness to go live too soon leads to more serious problems down the road. Testing is crucial, and rushing the process is a recipe for disaster.
What are some of the most interesting ways you’ve observed companies using digital tools to improve things like inventory management and customer experience?
To me, the most interesting application of a software like AdvancePro is complete communication and shared knowledge of inventory levels throughout the supply chain and stakeholder relationships. That everyone from the delivery man to the CEO can be on the same page is an incredible benefit to the company. One way that AdvancePro users take advantage of this is with a product called AP Mobile, which has the ability to turn a delivery truck into a mobile “warehouse”. Using AdvancePro-enabled tablets, truck drivers can track the inventory going in and out of the truck, and can have the same level of control available to a warehouse.
What trends or innovations are you following in your world today? What excites you about them?
I’m really excited by the progress being made towards the connectivity of all technologies involved in transactions from beginning to end. In particular, the increasing use of RFID chips can have massive implications for inventory management. In addition to being about 25 times more efficient than scanning with barcodes, this technology can be used to provide valuable information pertaining to individual items. For example, a consumer could find out about the freshness of a cold-pressed juice, knowing exactly where and when the juice was squeezed.
In a similar way, we at AdvancePro are developing a business dashboard intelligence technology to allow the collection of data from different sources to give a picture of the enterprise and the metrics that matter. Getting data from different sources allows us to get a more holistic understanding of the big picture!
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