December 16, 2015
These days, few businesses run without some sort of software. Software configuration gives you 2 secret weapons in changing times. It can range from just a free internet email account to a full fledged Operation Support System that does everything. Selecting software can be stressful, for it is most likely something you will live with for years to come. You will find that all do most of what you need, but few do it all where can afford it. So selecting features that are absolutely necessary are critical in this decision.
Business Intelligence (BI) tools are no different. If you are in a changing industry like convenience stores, flexibility should definitely be a feature you are not willing to sacrifice. Regulation, legislation, and market demand are ever changing. Software configuration gives you 2 secret weapons in changing times. What is critical to monitor now may be of no use to you in the future. As I read Susan Koss’s article called “5 Benefits Of An Agile, Configurable Manufacturing ERP System ”
I realized that for C-Stores, where change is the constant, configuration should be a major component of whatever you purchase. Otherwise, in order to keep up with the times, you will quickly find yourself with the high costs of customization and more reports to add to the pile that sits on the corner of your desk, that you never have time to get to.
There are two primary benefits of using BI tools that are configurable. First, adapting to change can happen at much lower costs. Second, its flexibility will give you the ability to try new things to find its best fit.
With tighter rules for over-time where monitoring overtime activities among employees making less than $50,000 will become more important. These employees will now be classified as Non-Exempt, where if they work over 40 hours week, they will need to be paid overtime. This new regulation will require a more close watch on their hours, where it had never been a concern before. If your Payroll, Timesheet or Business Intelligence software has built in alerts that can be configured to alarm you when they work more than 8 hours in a day will save C-Stores large amounts of money as soon as the law goes into effect.
If you have to wait for custom development in these programs, you could end up waiting months because of the volume of customers your vendors would have to prepare for this change all at once. This may be an exaggerated example, as ample time has been given notifying C-Stores of this change, however some situations like this are immediate and cannot be foreseen. Being able to adapt to them quickly and without the costs of customization can save a lot of money.
We all know that Social Media is quickly becoming the best way for Marketing to reach the C-Store Customer. When older systems were built, this was never a consideration. There are multiple metrics to be measured to determine true campaign success. Having the flexibility to trial different measurements for something that is new to see what will give you optimal success metrics, without the worry of cost, can be very helpful, especially in a business with such diverse offerings.
This flexibility in reporting can also help you with implementing better plans and budgeting more efficiently in all areas of the business when doing things that you have not done before. It gives you the chance to try different things. Testing a change with your technology allows you to find the best fit. It allows a trial change within a small group without having large costs. Using it allows you to create and implement a change management strategy with a few of those that like change. Having direct experience before making a mass change save bigger problems later.
IT JUST MAKES SENSE
BI has so many uses. For example, tracking labor to sales, or upticks to categories based on promotions. These are metrics that will save you money, time and determine performance levels. Tracking your key results lets you drive the impact on your business and your bottom line. Finding new ways to save time and sell more based on your data just makes sense. Having the ability to try more things with a configurable system makes tests faster and cheaper. More tests means more learning and better results. Configuration will not solve all the change management issues. It can help you build better strategies to adapt for it.