Manufacturing is, in essence, a process made up of many moving parts, much like the end products fashioned from production itself. With moving parts comes the problem of missed information, ranging from pricing to invoices to discounts — all of which can impact the supply chain, especially in B2B, and cash flow.
KeyedIn Solutions, focused on Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based business solutions, said at the end of last month that it has linked with Sage, the accounting and payroll systems management technology provider, to integrate the former’s manufacturing cloud enterprise resource planning tools with the latter’s accounting offerings.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Debbie Schwake, vice president of KeyedIn’s marketing department, said that cloud-based solutions have become increasingly important to manufacturers as pertains to what she termed “an efficiency issue” with the traditional, legacy and on-premises physical systems never quite delivering on promises of returns on investment and the fact that information is largely siloed in nature — hardly effective where data needs to be shared up and down a supply chain, especially with ordering and invoicing needs.
The advantage of cloud-focused technology, she added, lies in part with the fact that there is automated transitioning to the latest technology, and for manufacturing firms in particular, the integration between the two firms, as mentioned, means that staid ways of data input, including QuickBooks and Excel, can be replaced by more robust systems.
For the payments functionality, said Schwake, institutional knowledge is no longer siloed or kept within the minds (literally) of manufacturing professionals out in the field or on their clipboards. Take, for example, the starting point of any payments continuum, which is the actual quote given, or received, for a part or service. Schwake noted that the new partnership can help populate data throughout the whole organization. For example, she said, users can instantly have access to preferred rates and discounts when giving pricing across the supply chain. That instant access to firm-wide data, she stated, means that cash flow visibility, on a day-to-day basis, can benefit.
The overall trends, she stated, include that technology can streamline the B2B flow, from order to invoicing, due in part to real-time tracking of inventory on hand and what might be needed. Checking the status of orders and shipments can be done “in the field,” with an iPad and with quotes, once accepted, being converted into sales orders and no need to re-enter data. Generally speaking, said Schwake, “if you have to enter data more than once, then something is wrong” — on principle, because continued manual re-entry of the same data wastes time and leaves room for error. Firm-wide populated data can prevent inventory double-ordering, added the executive, and can also prevent bottlenecks — if new parts need to be ordered or equipment failures need changeovers, both boons for efficiency.
Efficiency via technology remains key for smaller manufacturers, said Schwake, since “it’s no longer possible to compete on price alone.”