By the end of 2015 and into the early part of 2016 three areas of business have received a fair amount of attention from SME and mid-sized business owners and managers: - EDI, document management and warehouse automation. Unsurprisingly the driving force behind these trends has been a desire to become more efficient cutting out ineffectual business processes and pushing up productivity. Further to these trends has been the emergence of what’s been coined “the Internet of things”.

EDI trade is nothing new having implemented some of ANZ’s earliest EDI systems for Sage Accpac DOS clients, with GE Integrator software, over 20 years ago, however many SME’s & mid-sized enterprises are only now discovering (Or being pushed into) EDI.  Whether due to compulsion or choice EDI trade removes laborious sales data entry and streamlines compliance via electronic advance ship notices and electronic exchange of other files required to trade electronically with primarily the majors in ANZ but more often now more and more organizations. Of course where you have a choice on EDI the volumes and sizes of orders will determine the economic value of introducing EDI. Provided as a Cloud Service SPS Commerce in conjunction with CitySoft Consulting are helping companies optimize their supply chain.

CitySoft work with SPS Commerce who recently acquired Leadtec a leading AUS based value added reseller (VAN) and utilize Map-a-doc EDI software for Sage X3, in-house developed software for Sage 300 EDI trade and ZED Suite for SAP Business One.

There has been a noticeable spike in interest in the latter part of 2015 around document and file management in particular scanning of documents including accounts payable invoices, proof of delivery files and HR related documents. Driven primarily by the finance team the introduction of OCR software and hardware devices has helped redefine the role of the accounts payable team away from data entry to matching (quick effective matching of purchases to receipts to invoices), enriching (confirming scans and adding other pertinent information) and paying creditors. The flow on effect of scanning is reduced costs of handling, storing and finding documents. As an example the use of the SAP Proof of Delivery system attaches the electronic signature obtained upon delivery to a customer, against the delivery note in turn attached to the sales invoice, an important fact should a dispute arise or worse the customer goes belly up! Sage X3 and SAP B1 and via the inclusion of an optional add on for Sage 300c manage files and document attachments against transactions in the ERP database. OCR scanning of accounts payable invoices is available in all three packages: - Version One for Sage X3, Modulo for Sage 300c and Altec for SAP Business One (And the Sage products).

Until recently specialized warehouse systems have in my opinion remained quite expensive in relation to the costs of purchasing and implementing a full ERP system however the entry of a number of quality and well-priced warehouse systems, for Sage X3 and SAP Business One in particular, has given SAP and Sage ERP system users access to best of breed warehouse management systems with deep ERP integration that has helped SME’s compete successfully against their larger rivals.

There has been a noticeable rise in distribution companies seeking help to reduce their warehouse costs, in many instances as a result of pricing pressures from competitors who have already implemented their own advanced, modern warehouse system. Having achieved savings in admin and other departments companies appear to be turning their attention to their warehouse operations.

The savings companies are achieving by implementing paperless warehouse systems are significant and aren’t limited to simply reduced labor costs albeit they can in themselves justify the investment.

Reduced stock holding costs, reduced cost of returned goods, reduced stock write off and stock loss and elimination of incorrect pick and shipment of goods can also help justify the investment in a WMS system.

Streamlined picking especially with respect to manufacturing work orders and for sales orders where traceability is important (food & pharmaceuticals for instance) is supported by advanced warehouse systems. Matters such as FEFO, Lot and batch tracking, QC and barcode driven picking and moving of stock is helping companies comply with industry standards. Use of GS-1 and SSCC labelling and integration with export systems, freight companies, and stock optimization systems such as Valogix and Sage Inventory Advisor (SIA) and advanced features such as container and shipping management combine to cut the cost of warehousing goods for production and sale.

In the last few months CitySoft have implemented BatchMaster warehouse management for a food manufacturer, RIC Group warehouse management for a wholesale meat producer, Produmex-PDMX for a plastic containers business, Datalinx for Sage X3 at a chilled prepared meals producer and LISA warehousing software for SAP Business One at a business selling cables. Shortly CitySoft will assist a USA based Sage X3 partner roll out Sage X3 globally with an interface to Accellos warehouse management. Our various teams have an extraordinary level of knowledge around RF warehouse management, devices that automate warehouses, pallet management, freight forwarders and bar-coding.

A term you’ll hear more more in 2016 is the Internet of Things. The accessibility to, and delivery of technologies, services and products via the Internet has flourished with any device with an IP address able to seamlessly interface with modern ERP systems. Production equipment can now more easily interface with a company’s ERP system providing managers with accurate instantaneous information in real time. These manufacturing execution systems (MES) systems produce real time production data, feed plant, and labor and line information for your ERP system so enterprises can better plan production, and can provide enhanced customer service.