13 Dec 2018, 11:30 — 5 min read
Digital transformation is now the buzz word for both small and large organisations. Another favourite phrase is ‘disruptive innovation’ that explains why traditional brick-and-mortar companies are shrinking and even disappearing, unable to compete against innovative disruptors, and now unicorn giants like Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb etc.
Most companies that have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system pride themselves that having an ERP puts them ahead of the competition, especially when their systems are hosted through leaders in the space like SAP, Oracle, IBM. Indeed, they have every reason to be proud, especially when most companies do not have an ERP, and make do with fragmented solutions thereby missing on the advantages of a single unified ERP.
However, setting up and using an ERP for internal operations is just the beginning of the digital transformation journey. If a firm has the funds, setting up an ERP should be a no-brainer. There is no doubt that it significantly improves the information flow among the diverse and disparate departments and sections of the company, enhancing overall productivity and efficiency across several functions.
One of the key capabilities of an ERP is a seamless integration of SFA (Sales Force Automation) into it. SFA is a programmed software that streamlines collection, analysis and distribution of data in the sales pipeline, enabling the right data to reach the appropriate personnel at the right rime.
In absence of an SFA enabled ERP, most salesmen tediously enter their daily sales data using pen and paper while on the field. Some send their data via SMS or email while others physically send their paperwork at the end of the workday. Encoders who receive the text, mail and documents containing the sales data, then enter this into the ERP through their desktop computers, and it’s only after the data is submitted, that the ERP starts processing the data.
Why do most ERP-enabled sales organisations have the backend functions linked to the system, but not in sales? We can come up with one reason: there are no human headaches and additional costs when back office personnels' output is fed into the ERP.
In our five years of helping companies deploy a digital tool to monitor the daily activities of their field force, almost all companies experience resistance from their sales people. It is perfectly understandable that lone wolves will resist collars that not only monitor what they do on the field, but also track their exact locations at any given time.
Salesmen will find many reasons for not using Sales Force Automation applications (SFAs) putting its successful adoption and firm wide acceptance at risk. Here are three essential elements to be kept in mind for a seamless integration and adoption of SFA:
There are other factors that play a part in ensuring a successful SFA implementation (i.e. device used, telecom plan for data transfers, and the application itself), but these elements only make up 20% of the challenges encountered during the introduction of an SFA program and these can be easily overcome.
The most difficult factor is overcoming resistance from sales agents and ensuring daily compliance, but with strong management support and leadership, it is definitely achievable. When the SFA is integrated into a compatible ERP, the benefits surely outweigh its challenges.
Once the front-end functions such as sales and trade marketing data are seamlessly linked to the ERP, throughout analytical data will be in sync and will represent a true image of business functions. This can establish a strong foundation for a business to embark on digital transformation.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.
Posted byRaymond Romulo Rodis
Founder-GM in charge of sales, contract negotiations and client-liaison for our SaaS products. Manage special projects to get product to meet milestones and deadlines.