Configuration Gives You 2 Secret Weapons To Move Well in Changing Times

These days, few businesses  run without some sort of software.  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 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.  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 Business Intelligence tools that are configurable. Adapting to change can happen at much  lower costs, and its flexibility will give you the ability and propensity to try new things to find its best fit.

COST SAVINGS

January 2016 will ring in new standards 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.

FLEXIBILITY

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 to determine the best fit the for the change in your business processes without having to impose large costs to do so.  It allows you to create and implement a Change Management Strategy as opposed to making one plan and hoping for the best.

IT JUST MAKES SENSE

Alert Maintenance

Whether you need to measure the hours worked in a day, or the time or quantity of sales in a category or brand made after a Marketing campaign is launched, these are metrics that were not a concern as little as 24 months ago.  Now these are metrics that will save you money, time and determine performance levels that can have a real impact on your business and your bottom line  To monitor them is a no brainer.

Configuration may not save you in all aspects of change, but it can help you build better strategies to adapt for it, keeps costs to a minimum while going through it and even give you the propensity to adopt new ideas and changes that you impose on yourself, for the sake of doing better business.

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4 Ways Where Trending Will Help You Manage Your C-Store Better

Dictionary.com defines trending as the general course or prevailing tendency. This perspective is a necessary component or perspective to have when evaluating Convenience Store performance.   So if this is so great, why aren’t all companies doing it?

The reason usually points to the time it takes to gather and chart the statistics so you can clearly see how things are trending.  With limits on staffing and time, few companies have the resources to do it.  Business Intelligence tools can help you with that, and good ones will even do it for you.  When you look at the pay off of peace of mind in knowing the decisions are made and based on facts, being able to look forward, and save money based on patterns and trends,  the pay off is much larger than the cost.  There are 4 distinct benefits that trending will give you what you cannot get by looking at a standard performance report.

Tremdomg subway art

1. Proper Perspective
It will give you a proper perspective to determine if performance was actually superior or inferior because you can compare it to performance patterns over time When looking at the above graph showing weekly sale performance, you may think that sales on the last Saturday of the month were phenomenal, because it was so much better than the sales over the past few days. However, when looking at the trending in the diagram you will see that it was actually the poorest performing Saturday of the month.

2. Succinct Scheduling
It will allow you to set scheduling more succinctly. If using the same diagram above you are able to determine your busiest and slowest days to be able to determine staffing needs throughout the week given the trends.

3. Peak Months
The same can be said for inventory levels as well. If you look at sales over a year, you can easily determine your peak months and be able to set inventory levels according to your trends.

4. Patterns of Growth
Of course your biggest gain is seeing how your performance is trending and whether your business is in a pattern of growth or in decline. This allows you to know when action is needed or perhaps when further analysis is required. If things are trending upward, a bad day may not alarm you as much as it would if things were trending downward. Trend analysis removes you from managing by hunch and moves you to doing so by facts. It also can allow you to see how things will be as you go forward to help you prepare for upcoming expectations. The Queensland Industry and Business Analysis website said it best in their Trend Analysis for Business Improvement article:

“Trend analysis helps you understand how your business has performed and predict where current business operations and practices will take you. Done well, it will give you ideas about how you might change things to move your business in the right direction.”

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