Sure Signs It’s Time Move Your Agribusiness Beyond QuickBooks and Excel

Scale your business beyond QuickBooks and Excel by implementing an ERP system that fits the needs of your org.

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    Your top retail customer calls in for pricing and availability for 500 white wedding hydrangea shrubs. The sales rep isn’t sure what’s available and asks if it’s OK to call the customer back. The customer is a little miffed as they’re under pressure to find the shrubs but says they’ll wait for the call.

    The sales rep calls the greenhouse. The manager is out at lunch, and the assistant manager isn’t sure of the count—the clipboard with the printed spreadsheet seems to be lost. 30 minutes later, the greenhouse manager calls back and says they currently have 250 white wedding shrubs. But the sales rep might be able to get the other 250 from the two greenhouses across the state.

    Two more phone messages, two return calls, and three hours later, the sales rep finally gets the answer. Between the three greenhouses, the grower can fill the 500-count order for the hydrangeas. However, the call back to the customer goes for naught. The buyer left for the day, and their assistant tells the sale rep they placed the order with another grower.

    Information Does Not Keep Up with the Pace of Business

    If this scenario rings true for how things sometimes work with your agribusiness, it’s one of the sure signs that it’s time to move beyond using spreadsheets and basic accounting solutions like QuickBooks to run your business. These tools can work well for growers when they first start out, if the staff is small, and if there’s one location spread over a small area of land.

    But once your business begins to grow, more signs begin to appear. You expand the number and types of plants you grow and start relying on multiple fields and greenhouses for cultivation. Those manual spreadsheet tracking processes and operational systems that are not connected to the financial system make it difficult to fulfill customer orders. You’re also not sure how profitable the business is running—costs are difficult to crunch so the margins are unclear.

    Systems like QuickBooks and hard-copy spreadsheets that are used within manual processes simply can’t scale. They won’t provide real-time information that keeps up with the pace of the business.

    Microsoft Dynamics 365, in partnership with SilverLeaf, provides a modern ERP solution with end-to-end functionality designed specifically for horticulture/greenhouse growers, allowing them to streamline their business management processes and eliminate outdated and manual procedures.

    Morale Also Impacted

    Another sign to watch out for is disgruntled employees as disconnected manual systems can also negatively impact morale. Today’s workforce demands tools that allow them to do their jobs efficiently so they can get more done and focus on helping customers. That means providing digital workflows and reports with real-time data they can access from their mobile devices.

    With real-time data, your sales team will know immediately—as they are on that call with the large real-time customer—if they can fulfill an order and how quickly they can deliver the hydrangeas. Just as importantly, the next salesperson who gets a call from another retail customer also asking for white wedding shrubs, will know that inventory—which physically is still sitting in stock—is not available for sale. They won’t face the embarrassment of promising a customer an order that they can’t fulfill.

    Real-Time Visibility Relies on System Integration

    Another key to real-time visibility is integration between financial and operational systems. To manage cash flow, resolve supply chain issues, and determine how to increase margins, managers need to see transaction information right away.

    Without integration that automatically shares transactions among the production, warehouse, sales, and finance teams, managers will not get the information they need until it’s too late to react. They’ll have to wait until they get a data dump at the end of the week or even the end of the month—and the data they do get will no longer be valid.

    Access to Information Is Well Worth the Effort

    If you currently rely on QuickBooks and spreadsheets, it will take some effort to migrate to a comprehensive integrated ERP solution. But turning to one like SilverLeaf powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central that encompasses all the operational areas of your business, will give you access to much more information and timely reports.

    Just as important, your team won’t have to go through daily acts of heroism to collect information. You will be better positioned to sync customer demand with inventory, and as customers place orders, you will know to best allocate your available inventory.

    To learn more, check out our e-book, Is it Time for Your Agribusiness to Evolve Beyond QuickBooks and Spreadsheets? QuickBooks and spreadsheets while also presenting the benefits of an integrated enterprise resource planning solution. And if you need help in designing and deploying an ERP solution for your growing agribusiness, We are ready to help.