What I’ve learned about the Manufacturing Business

By Josh Coughlin, CTO


Working with- and for- manufacturers I have learned one universal truth.  It does not matter what you make (T-Shirts, Phone Cases, Pillows, etc.): every critical business function is done in Excel.  When I worked for a girl’s wear company managing production, warehousing and import functions I lived in Excel spreadsheets.  I had a team of people who were in a constant state of updating a spreadsheet that ran the business they were responsible for. I would meet with them every morning and have the same exact conversation- “tell me where we are in trouble”. A spreadsheet offered the best format yet keeping the data up to date and human errors were chronic problems.  The “Real Data” was stored in a mainframe that had been running for many years and only a few people knew how to get any usable data out of it.  This led us to needing to “pull the data” from the ERP system and transcribing it on to spreadsheets.  This wasted an enormous amount of time and created a situation where the data was already too old to use by the time it got on the sheets.  Furthermore, errors were costly in the form of air freight and rush production because they were not caught. 


Working at Enhanced Retail Solutions I have observed many examples of how we took a client’s spreadsheet and created a streamlined solution that no longer requires the brute force of people or reliance on the spreadsheet.  I know what you are thinking: “our process is so special and custom it cannot be adapted to software” or “there are so many exceptions we can never account for them all”.   I am here to tell you that your process is not as complex or special as you might think.  We have done it for many companies, boiling away all the superfluous process and getting down to the essence of the problem. Then we create a solution for that problem.  Once the data collection and report creation are automated, your people can focus on the work they should be doing- acting on the data!  They no longer are in a perpetual cycle of pulling data, cleaning data, validating data, updating data, publishing reports, and fixing errors -REPEAT.  Sales people no longer sell inventory that is not there!  It is hard enough to make a sale these days, the worst is emailing the buyer saying “My ATS report had old data.  I don’t actually have the short set you just ordered”.   


Back when I worked at the manufacturer if I would have taken a moment to create software to automate the grunt work it would have saved me and my teammates many late nights and countless dollars.  Take a moment and think about all the spreadsheets you are currently using in your company that need to be updated daily, weekly, or monthly.  Once you have that list reach out to us. Most projects cost well below $10K which is easily recouped by your team in man hours, accuracy, orders, and solving issues before they become costly errors. 


Some examples of custom projects we have done include individualized business overview dashboards, real-time inventory reporting, online searchable design catalog/database, executive reporting decks, online open to buy calculators, ecommerce drop ship tracking, lost sales tracking, promotion management and more. Click here to learn more about ERS Custom Projects and Solutions.

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