Tomorrow’s ERP will be those that empower Citizen Developers

We are just a day away to start a new 2020. 2020 is going to be a year where consumers of ERP systems (users) are going to demand more opportunities for self-development. They will be less likely to continue to accept rigid systems, multi-clicks to do one simple job, non-intuitive screen movements or data picks, or non-responsive systems.

Technology is transforming year after year, and we have seen some intuitive and beautiful technology showcases in simple applications. But when it comes to ERP, it is always the case of big, long, highly validated, and continuously synchronized screen captures with multi-woven approval flows. Younger users are demanding change and severe change. They want to be citizen developers to develop themselves as situation demands. They do not wish the central IT to control what they need, but would like to define, design, and demonstrate what they need by themselves.

Their needs are genuine, as businesses need to be responsive to market dynamics. And market dynamics are very fluid and fuzzy, due to strategic and competitive forces. Hence, the time to change is minimal. But young users are willing to strategize within limited time as situation demands but want the system to be an excellent companion to be able to adapt to dynamic changes.

ERP vendors have spent millions of years, developing several screens and process flows. Will 2020 change the dynamics of these persistent efforts being questioned? Can ERP vendors provide responsive systems where citizen developers can make changes by themselves in minutes or seconds and achieve their objectives? Will just an excellent user interface provide good user experiences in the future? Will the ability to change by themselves will topple all the other goodies that ERP vendors are offering today? Will the cloud be restrictive for citizen developers without having the flexibility to make design changes that they desperately need?

My prediction is that 2020 will start the revolution for ERP users to demand very dynamics solutions that they can interpret, re-design, re-deploy, and re-energize themselves. And by 2023, we will see all the ERP vendors, who have rigid screens built-in on the great maxim of best practices being questioned, being voted unhealthy from user needs perspective, and being rejected unwieldy from user needs perspective.

The best to survive are the ones who provide responsive solutions built on no-code frameworks, where every user becomes a citizen developer to define their own needs. They will make their own ERP playlist, like how they make their music playlists.

That’s precisely the reason that we have built most of our Retail ViVA ERP modules on no-code, intending to make it fully no-code in the next year to come. We want to celebrate the making of citizen developers soon, and we are striving hard to achieve that objective. I hope that I can update more positively on this during 2020, and on the eve of 2021 as well. Till then, it is all going to be making more for the citizen developers from Sathguru!

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

Tetra: Brand identity

Tetra, our embedded collaboration tool, auto-creates groups and thus facilitates seamless collaboration. The intelligent grouping which ERP does when creating new grouped collaboration threads is one of the hallmarks of our ERP embedded collaboration tool. The collaboration is so native that it understands the whole context of transactions to crate the right grouping and unify communication for effective decision making. The Tetra logo was designed by us to portray this unique intuitive communication and collaboration invisibly created by our ERP.

Tetra fishes school together in unison and instantly changes direction without colliding is always a sight to watch in any aquarium. They move so seamlessly as if they all have one single mind. In this unison approach, they never collide with each other. What a way they perform their act of schooling and moving. This marvellous piece of their movement is the inspiration of our logo and name of our collaboration tool.

Our Tetra favours one(same) way of thinking and one(same) way of doing and one(same) way of communicating. This one way of doing, without any collision of mind, favours utmost business collaboration and paves the way for grouped people to achieve that one purpose. In the 21st century designed flat organization structure, our Tetra facilitates all of them moving in unison as if there is one commandant, but they are more controlled as self-commandants in the same tandem to achieve that one purpose.

No one has ever figured out the complexity of how Tetra fishes move in unison without colliding, leaving the impressive unison movement as a treatise to your eyes. Similarly, our ERP handles the complexity of grouping or schooling relevant people to facilitate collaboration, making it simple and awesome to use and achieve the purpose.

Our Tetra is a pleasurable experience for every user, leaving all the complexity handling within Retail ViVA ERP. Enjoy the flow of our Tetra when you use our Retail ViVA ERP

Workflows: Defining process-person relationship

Workflows in software help to define the route a process would follow and how exchanges (of data or governance or control) would happen. It primarily defines the process-person relationship and the process flow under a defined pathway. Workflows perform the most important function of sequencing, scheduling, and consummation of a transaction flow. It is generally customary for ERP software to have defined workflows.

Workflows can also be routed depending on conditional aspects, and thus, it can take multi-route depending on previous action results. Workflows help to prevent frauds, improve efficiency, and push action by people. Workflow can push things in an inbox or push an e-mail notification or push a notification in any collaboration software enterprise uses. A well-structured workflow provides visibility to know where the bottlenecks are, and who is overloaded with several workflow approvals. This analysis helps in improving process efficiency and thus improve process completion time with the aim of better customer satisfaction

Because of the dynamic business needs of modern enterprises, workflows often need to be tied to conditions that users want to impose. Workflow designs need to be flexible enough for users to add or delete conditions and point to the human resource hierarchy for escalations. Timeliness is a customer efficiency concept and workflows can monitor process time by triggering escalations for inordinate delays

In our Retail ViVA ERP, we have left workflow configuration at user levels with plain English like commands for conditional workflow definition. More intelligently, workflow understands human resource hierarchy and can point to better governance management. Workflows can be immediately triggered, scheduled in summary, or escalated push, and users will be able to configure them on their own, maintain them and achieve governance and regulatory compliances.

Does your ERP have a flexible workflow definition linked to the HR hierarchy?

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

Do you want your Retail company to be one connected community driving towards the purpose?

Businesses run better when people are connected.  It is, even more, better when they connect to the relevant group to achieve a common purpose.  Companywide instant communication is becoming an important tool to leverage better and quicker results

Millennials today desire quick communication and feel very easy to connect with anyone to achieve their purpose.  Often, in an organization, we see silos of human hierarchy, which functions in a not so connected manner, frustrating the Millennials.  Instant communication tools have become the torchbearer to solve this important cultural issue and help businesses flourish.  After all, time lost is customer lost or profits lost.

If you are a dispersed organization by geographies, it is also important that we connect them closely to bridge the geographical distances.  The use of instant communication tools makes and feels everyone is connected, and distance gets buried.  You see an inclusive organization and inclusiveness is very important to drive that one purpose for which the organization is striving for.

There are external communication tools that organizations use to get this connected community culture in an organization.  What if it is embedded into your ERP auto triggering group communication for action and allow the community to address that instantly.  Rather than using a general instant collaboration tool, it is better to use an ERP embedded tools that senses and auto groups people to communicate, avoiding all the pollutive overload that these types of tools can create.  Get the alerts in-group community form, exchange ideas quickly by way of chat, act, and flourish is the norm these tools set, and it works, and it works to efficiency!

Social communication tools have become a habit for people in their personal lives, so will be corporate and ERP embedded communication tools as well.  Employees, who see them as one community through these tools, will want to use them, rather than seeing it as something they are forced to use.

We embedded our “Tetra” tool in our Retail ViVA ERP precisely for this reason so that the whole organization can see, feel and act as one community, driven to one purpose

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

Retailers: How much of your system stock is available to Customers?

Inventory precision is a crucial performance matrix for every retail enterprise in the world. Inventory stock-outs is an opportunity lost to sell to a prospective customer, be it an existing customer or acquisition of a new customer.  Retailers experience around 30% stock-outs to customer needs. Unless a customer need is instantly satisfied as demanded, retaining the loyalty of a customer becomes an uphill task. In today’s digital world, it takes minutes for a customer to switch allegiance and become habituated to another new experience, forgetting earlier brand experience. Retailers need to ensure stocks are available in the right quantities, smartly moving inventory at the right time.

Various decision support systems surrounding inventory movements across stores and warehouses can determine optimum stock movements between warehouses and stores, to ensure stock-outs are minimum or almost negligible.

Retailers need to get real-time visibility of their inventory as shoppers do transactions across multi-channels and replenish stocks depending on movements.  Most retailers have thousands of stock-keeping units (SKU), and hence continuous monitoring becomes a daunting task. Merchandising module in retail ERP software precisely does this function of allocating inventory transfer depending on the movement of stock at stores and based on classification of fast, normal, slow, or non-moving. That’s precisely the reason that our Retail ERP has got an advanced merchandising module that auto-suggests or triggers stock transfers between warehouses and stores or between stores in a proactive manner. Since most retailers operate on batch-integrated point of sales (POS) system, they do not get minute-to-minute inventory status, which then pushes stock transfers to the next day, after end-of-day (EOD) processing is complete. Our Retail ViVA ERP POS is online and updates stocks in real-time across all channels so that one can see stocks online and take quick actions towards replenishment. A matured merchandising module is key to avoiding stock-outs of out-of-stock (OOS) situations

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

Preparedness for moving from traditional to Omnichannel Retail

Many of our legacy retailers are exploring change to being digital and omnichannel with objective of providing unique experiences to their customers.  Any transformation of this nature can’t be accomplished unless the enterprise has got its basics in place.  The core enterprise resource planning modules must be in full stabilised shape with an integrated commerce solution as starting point. 

Blending of traditional business process with new age digital experience process requires careful planning and orchestration.  The change management needs to be handled in a positive and proactive manner.  The concept of intelligently joining the business as usual with newly sought-after channels with matching experiences needs to be supported by an agile ERP technology that can transform traditional business process quickly and on the fly.  Most legacy retailers suffer due to their current ERP being incapable of matching other channel’s modern experience base.

When customer becomes the centre point, all legacy processes must stand to change to meet customer expectations.  Today’s customer loves to engage and transact with multiple devices, sometime physical, sometimes digital and sometimes in combination.  The young, affluent and digitally savvy customers are inquisitive about using the right channel that suits them at that moment.  They switch their choices according to their convenience and the difficult promise to provide the same experience to customers merits detailed attention

Most retail ERP products do not cover all business functions, forcing retailers to choose multiple software and spend time and energy on integration to have omnichannel setup. This also enlarges the time a traditional retailer’s desire to project themselves beyond their store to the customer.  With agile ERP, the technology layer can be quite easier to adapt to creating newer experience in traditional channel as well.  That’s why we built most modules of our retail ERP, Retail ViVA, in no-code platform, providing that agility to enterprises to change their traditional business model quickly to match to modern channels design.

After all, Retail is no more about customer satisfaction, it is about consistent customer experiences and omnichannel is no more a top floor offering, it is just a shop floor offering.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

Intelligent Stock-take – Every retailer’s dream

Stock-take is a process where the physical count of items in any shop or warehouse is matched with its system stock quantity. There is quite often differences between them due to reasons attributable to a) wrong barcoding; b) pilferage; c) breakage etc.,

Most retailers are unable to perform stock-take during operating hours due to the use of an off-line POS system, which updates stock of inward and outward once in the night. Hence, at the time of stock-take, the system quantity is not live and real and hence can’t be matched instantly. Further, due to time lag between count and system stock updating, a lengthy reconciliation process is attempted before a stock-take result is finally closed and count variances are posted to inventory and financial general ledger. Given this lethargic process, often stock take is delayed or neglected, leading to poor inventory control and management

Statistics indicate a 30% difference between physical and system stock in a retail environment, leading to poor customer satisfaction. Further, every stock-take count takes about two weeks to close after prolonged backward reconciliation process

Intelligent stock take is a process where you use barcode equipped mobile phones to scan items and instantly match with system stock. Intelligent stock take can be performed at any point in time, including during operating hours of a store.

Stock-take variances are reconciled instantly, and variances analyzed at the close of every stock-take count and disposed of with count adjustments or otherwise. Since it is online and real-time, intelligent stock take helps to identify actual stock items where there are variances, thereby reducing variance analysis time substantially. There is no need to do backward reconciliations and waste precious man-hours

Of our experience with clients using our Retail ViVA ERP, Intelligent stock take improves efficiency over 300% while reducing cycle time by about 90%, compared to traditional stock-take methods

Intelligent stock-take also helps to do risk analysis of items that are perpetually indifference and thus provides inputs for system and control improvisation

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

A successful 21st Century Enterprise (21CE) must be “Responsive” enterprise

Responsiveness is an organization’s ability to recognize and be ready to adapt to changes almost instantly as industry and customer preferences change. If the company can’t be responsive, it will never be able to meet constantly changing customer expectations

The centricity of success has changed from machines and logistics in 20th century to software and enterprise systems in the 21st Century, which means that enterprise systems are directly and continuously and instantly shaped by what the market wants. An enterprise that can make its enterprise systems change flexibly almost co-terminus to market change is a successful 21st-century enterprise (21CE).

Unless 21CE’s reinvent their process and business models constantly, their survival becomes difficult. It is just new normal that 21CE constantly reconfigure their resources and capabilities. Since 21CE are highly digital and offers complete digital experiences to customers, any reconfigurations invariably lead to their enterprise systems change. That’s the flexibility 21CE is looking for, to have flexible enterprise systems. However intelligent a 21CE enterprise is, if it is not responsive, its intelligence can’t be exploited.  Every 21CE will be digitized and effectively become a software company or majorly driven by software algorithms, data, and analytics.

Enterprise systems to be considered flexible must allow for new functionality to be introduced easily and quickly. The biggest challenge of enterprise systems today is their scalability for new changes in a quick and self-service manner. The dependence on multi-party service providers makes companies wait for change and thus lose critical timeframes. Prolonged interactions with service providers frustrate internal stakeholders without being able to see the change instantly.  Internal stakeholders in any enterprise expect systems that respond to their information capture and analytic needs in a manner that is the most natural or self-service manner to them.

Companies who develop this responsiveness will successfully navigate change and maintain their customer relationships and provide that unified customer experience to delight.

Then what kind of enterprise systems do 21CE adopt? They must be flexible which means it is self-configurable and fully on self-service basis. And to respond to change quickly and to re-configure business models, it must be driven by change at their end rather than waiting for an external service provider to make the change slowly. A low-code/no-code is the best choice any responsive enterprise must make which then gives them the agility to be dynamic and adapt to change instantly.

That’s precisely the reason that Sathguru built sixteen of its twenty-six modules bundled retail ERP, Retail ViVA through its own no-code platform, to provide that flexibility to customers for making change on their own.

21CE are responsive enterprises that demand self-service creations and what more than no-code be the answer to it!

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan