ABM Advisor: The ABM Blog

  • Dec 13 2017

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    The manufacturing factory of the future counts on the cloud

    The manufacturing industry develops at an extraordinary rate.Some aspects that may have been commonplace only 20 years ago could be entirely non-existent today. With a slew of new tools on the way thanks to the fourth industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 - the factory floor is set to undergo another change. This begs the question: What will the future of manufacturing in Australia look like?Future factories will rely on the Three C's to be effective.Watching the trendsIt's tough not to have noticed all the headlines surrounding the sector lately. Virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IOT), robotics, automation, 3-D printing - all of it will certainly become staples on the factory floor as prices begin to drop. The shift is already starting at larger corporations: Foxconn replaced 60,000 employees with robots in 2016, the BBC reported.With much of the discussion focused around how these tools can impact and benefit businesses, it's easy to lose track of how they're actually integrated in the first place. Many, if not all, of the solutions are functional with the help of cloud computing. It's the platform that provides the Three C's, and what the World Bank deems essential to modern manufacturing: connectivity, connectedness and capability.Setting up the right systemBefore investing in the technologies that will reside on the factory floor, it's imperative that organisations look first to create the foundation it resides on. Business management software that lives on the cloud is an excellent start as it fills three key needs:Platform to facilitate the flow of data and develop analytics.Back-office functionality through accounting software and other applications.Cloud and IT support from dedicated team.It's important to remember that it's not only the factory floor that is changing, but the business model as well. There's a greater emphasis on speed and efficiency, which inherently values programs that can automate bookkeeping or other important processes. What will the factory floor of the future look like? Mistakes are made when companies look to incorporate the technology first, without first understanding how the front- and back-office will communicate with each other. One instance of this is in IOT: Inventory transparency can be made possible through sensors and other tools, but it's useless if it can't transfer that information to specific departments. Then organisations scramble to find a way to connect the two, when basing all operations on one platform would've solved any problems to begin with.Is your company ready for Industry 4.0? Contact an Advanced Business Manager representative today to learn more about business management software on the cloud.

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  • Dec 5 2017

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    What's on the horizon for Australian manufacturing in 2018?

    When it's all said and done, 2017 will be seen as the most successful year for Australian manufacturing in over a decade.The value of goods that are created and the investments being made into the country's economy are allowing organisations of all sizes to succeed in a variety of ways. But for as much fanfare that surrounds the sector currently, it's how companies approach the future that will dictate whether this will continue or if it will revert back to stagnation. At the heart of it all lies the changes that enterprises need to make in 2018 if they want to stay competitive.Manufacturing saw 14 consecutive months of growth.A year in reviewNovember 2017 marked the 14th month in a row that the manufacturing sector held a score above 50 on the Ai Group Performance of Manufacturing Index. Any figure above 50 indicates the industry is experiencing success, while the amount above it is from 50 represents its rate of growth, according to Business Insider.The industry's activity levels haven't been this high and prosperous since 2005. Automotive manufacturing has now been closed across the country, and the final plant that was shutdown prompted an increased rate of expansion across the general sector. Major players in the space are still trying to figure out which sub-sectors will be taking lead, but improvements in new orders and exports mean success is likely on the way in 2018 regardless, Business Insider reported."The very large food and beverages sub-sector strengthened further, but non-metallic minerals weakened, following a strong period of demand for building products earlier in 2017," the Ai Group said. "Participants said demand from residential construction was tailing off in November. Other participants noted stronger demand for equipment, machinery and other inputs or Government projects and procurement, agriculture, renewable energy projects and the local leisure market."With a growing number of industries becoming increasingly competitive, it's likely that advantages won't be found solely in how companies approach the market space. The way these organisations operate and the internal productivity improvements they make will largely influence their direction. The closure of Australia's automobile manufacturing plants actually led to growth. The digital economyAustralian's manufacturing revolution is coming at a time where technology is having a vast impact on the way enterprises are run - and the country's gross domestic product (GDP) itself. Innovative solutions like business management software are making it easier than ever for organisations of all sizes to reduce waste of resources, streamline complex processes and improve margins.In fact, a report by Deloitte found that the average Australian benefits monetarily from digital disruption by A$4,663 each year, given the influence it has over product pricing, quality and employee productivity. Overall, the solutions are expected to contribute almost $140 billion per year to the country's GDP - or 7 per cent - by 2020 in a variety of ways.Technology will contribute 7 per cent of the country's GDP in 2020.While it's clear that solutions like robots, augmented reality headsets, drones, the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables will all play a role for successful organisations, some industry thought leaders may be overlooking the foundational benefits of a digital platform.Many of these devices rely on transmission of information between various points in the company. This means that the shipping department should be able to digitally communicate with accounting, for example. This was previously an issue, as many organisations leveraged legacy systems for cross-departmental collaboration - this doesn't allow data to flow freely.Now, though, enterprises are adopting business management software that comes with optional modules to keep pace with the disruption taking place.

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  • Nov 27 2017

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    Will your manufacturing company be pushed out of ecommerce?

    The Australian manufacturing industry isn't without unfortunate irony. For all the success that technological innovation has brought to it, some organisations are seeing those windows of opportunity shut before they can take advantage.Ecommerce is an excellent example, allowing small- and medium-sized enterprises to compete with larger businesses on an otherwise uneven playing field. But it's only a matter of time before the platforms with household names take over, and those that are lacking certain key qualities find themselves at a difficult crossroads.What the future holdsIt's difficult to predict what the next five years will hold for manufacturing companies in relation to ecommerce, but one way to gauge what's going on is by looking at the past. Consumers are slowly but surely turning towards online shopping. 

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  • Nov 18 2017

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    Competing in food manufacturing industry isn't about luck

    All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes.If you're working in the food manufacturing industry, you better hope that isn't true. The sector has experienced unrivalled success over the past few years, but increased competition and rising energy prices could signal a halt in growth. Companies will have to review their operations in their entirety to understand where they can find savings, and perhaps how business management software could position them to prevail in the future.A look at the industryThere isn't an executive in the country who hasn't heard about Amazon making a move to the Australian market. The e-commerce giant is stepping into food manufacturing and distribution, and the new competition will likely squeeze small- and medium-sized enterprises out of their comfort zones.Maintaining success in food manufacturing isn't clear-cut.The answer as to how to maintain success throughout all of this isn't so clear-cut, according to Jeff Roster, vice president of research firm IHL."Everyone's game just needs to get tighter and that battle for the customer becomes all the more apparent," Roster told CNBC. "This is brand spanking new territory we're smashing through here."The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) believes innovation in the supply chain and changes to how businesses operate, among other new ideas, will be a foundation for many companies. This includes shifting costs to accommodate more expensive wholesale energy prices.Get on the right track todayOrganisational decision makers will have to draw a fine line between saving the enterprise money, and putting it at a disadvantage. There are only so many budget cuts you can make before the ramifications begin to impact the very things that made the company great in the first place. Improving profit margins doesn't have to impact your supply chain. Because of this, one direction to look towards in terms of improving profit margins would be internal operations. This covers aspects like stock control, inventory management or even bookkeeping. If still on legacy systems like Excel spreadsheets (or even pen and paper), an organisation could find themselves vulnerable to costly mistakes and missed opportunities in terms of productivity.Moving all the day-to-day routines to a business management platform can free up valuable time for staff members to cover other pressing tasks. Accounting, for instance, can be streamlined in a bid to cut out any potential errors, while also ensuring the company's finances are always accurate and up to date.Interest in learning more about how to keep your company competitive in a tough food manufacturing industry? Contact an Advanced Business Manager representative today for more information.

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  • Nov 4 2017

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    4 industries that can benefit from business management software

    Sometimes it's the most costly digital solutions that dominate the headlines as must-have technologies for businesses.In reality, not every industry benefits greatly from robotics or augmented reality. While they can certainly be valuable, it's often the tools that aren't as trendy that can have the most visible impact on an organisation. Business management software is ideal for streamlining various tasks and making cross-departmental collaboration a breeze; two problems that small businesses can have big trouble with.Here are four industries that could benefit from a change of pace:1. ConstructionBuilding is on the rise in most parts of the world as the recent run of strong international markets has instilled confidence in both consumers and companies alike. This can lead to an increase in work for businesses in construction, but it's also having a negative side-effect. A lack of productivity is leading to slimmer profit margins for many organisations, according to Digitalist magazine.

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  • Oct 31 2017

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    Food manufacturing technology's true value lies in operation

    Margin chasers will have their eyes glued to screens awaiting news on virtual reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics for the food manufacturing industry, but the solution that'll have the most impact is likely already available.The need for quick turnarounds within complex supply chains is making business management software and its host of applications more valuable by the minute. Intelligent organisations are beginning to revamp their internal infrastructure to create a digital ecosystem that gives them more of a competitive advantage than some of the other disruptive products hitting the warehouse floor.Future of the food manufacturing industryIt's easy to be enamoured with headlines. The value of VR, IoT and robotics is often propped up on a statistic or catchy quote. It's not to say they're worthless; VR has immense value as a collaborative design tool, according to Food and Beverage magazine. IoT is also providing more intelligent ways of accomplishing routine tasks.Business management software is just as disruptive as VR.But not all the disruptive ideas are glamorous. Let's take a common problem for accountants like data streaming. Staff members have to log in and out of multiple applications to pull data sets for legacy programmes like Excel. It's time consuming, inefficient and can often be riddled with mistakes.Solutions like business management software are improving speed and accuracy in an industry where margins are everything. While it may not carry the same name appeal as other futuristic technologies, it's proving to be just as valuable - if not more.One of many nichesPerhaps the most important feature of this type of digital platform is its adaptability. Where VR and robotics succeed in providing an answer to a problem, business management software must be all-inclusive to continue to hold weight in an industry that's seemingly always in transformation. Technology can be just as useful in the office as it is on the warehouse floor. Smaller companies, for example, may be considering labelling their products in the future. This will help to streamline inventory and, especially in a market that's trending upwards, gain better oversight over the minutiae of operation. But a simple programme that offers labelling and SKU tracking is missing out on the larger picture.Inventory management should connect with the accounting software, e-commerce platform and importing application. Without seamless transferal of information, the data can become siloed and therefore relatively useless to the business as a whole. Facilitating its delivery across the organisation can improve the speed with which nearly every department does its job.Contact an Advanced Business Manager representative today to learn more about how business management software can help your company.

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  • Oct 16 2017

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    3 statistics that define the 2017 food manufacturing industry

    The manufacturing industry has experienced unrivaled growth over the past year, but it hasn't been without an unsung hero.Food and beverage manufacturing in particular - a now $126 billion sector - is estimated to bring 30 per cent more value to the industry than it did just 10 years ago, according to research from Ernst & Young and the Australian Food and Grocery Council. Success is arriving by the truckload and businesses that find themselves in the midst of it will likely have to leverage business management software to keep up with all the demand.How well do you know the industry?Numbers tell a story, and for food manufacturing it's one of abundance. The State of the Industry report goes into great depth about the economic health of the sector, and here are three statistics that serve as the best synopsis:11.4 per cent: Growth of total value of imports ($35.2 billion) between fiscal years 2014 and 2015.5 per cent: The rate of growth for food and beverage manufacturing.2.1 per cent: The increase in the industry's value-add ($24.7 billion) to the Australian gross domestic product. Food and beverage manufacturing organisations are welcoming the extended growth of the industry. We're nearing the end of the 2017 fiscal year, but there's still time for businesses to make strategic decisions that can support growth into 2018. Given that the industry is trending upward, it's likely this period of success will sustain, and smaller organisations need the tools to handle the uptick in activity.Breaking down the insightThe most eye-popping statistic could be import growth, which was clocked at 11.4 per cent. With growth that high it's clear that the trend will continue for at least another year. Organisations can gain an upperhand by integrating import costing software, which can help them handle the high volume and any issues that may arise because of it.Import costing software can help manage the associated complexities.For example, one possible downside of the uptick in importing would be an increase in the amount of capital that is subject to volatile conversion rate swings. Many businesses simply don't have the staff to consistently monitor and calculate real-time changes. By leveraging an application that automates the process, staff can focus on other key areas of the company and conserve resources.As the industry continues to grow, business owners will have to streamline certain tasks and aspects of operation to keep up. Contact an Advanced Business Manager representative today to learn how.

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  • Oct 5 2017

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    4 digital platform features that help companies continue to succeed

    The early days of growing your company was probably easy; all of your clients' information likely could've been kept on a couple of well organised sheets of paper.But owners lucky enough to gain traction in the market are beginning to realise the hardest challenge still awaits them. Maintaining the success of a small business can sometimes be even more difficult than it was to start up. Without the right infrastructure, staff and tools in place, the increased sales and revenue streams can become bigger headaches than boons.Business management software has made strides over the past decade and is a premier tool for sustaining growth because of its ability to save time on multiple fronts - something that 83 per cent of small enterprise owners find a lack thereof to be the biggest barrier to their success, Entrepreneur reported. Here are four platform features that could help you maintain control in a period of growth that's notoriously hectic.

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  • Sep 29 2017

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    Good and bad: What makes great business management software

    No two companies are the same, and neither should the business management software they're using be.Every organisation has its own unique needs and a one-size-fits-all platform doesn't always make sense. But that shouldn't preclude an enterprise from developing a digital ecosystem to store and transmit data, gain better oversight and automate operational processes.Increased success in manufacturing brings competition.With digital disruption at the core of an increasingly competitive industry, manufacturing companies should evaluate all possible options and ensure the applications they incorporate don't just map to their needs, but are also forward-looking.Where are the needsAlthough the manufacturing sector's year-long boom has no end in sight, it certainly won't be getting any easier to stay successful. Amazon and its many subsidiaries are set to enter the Australian market and impact everything from the supply chain to the consumer. Companies will have to scale quickly to continue competing with the new face entering the country."Some businesses are concerned about the threat of competition while others are excited to embrace the opportunity that Amazon offers," Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, told Food Processing.Expert foresight and total control of internal operations should be a given, but for many manufacturing organisations it can remain a consistent problem. Bookkeeping, for example, can be difficult to stay on top of when nearly half of all small businesses are owed more than $20,000 in late payments, Dynamic Business reported. Business management software is becoming ingrained with the manufacturing industry. Connectivity is vitalThe key is incorporating a platform that has modules which align with the company's weaknesses; whether that be accounting, structured stock or import costing software. But, the most important aspect isn't what it can do, but how it transfers that information.The platform you use should connect multiple programmes.Many owners rush to integrate a solution without first understanding how it fits into the broader picture. Inventory levels should be visible to the accounting arm of the office, for instance. Data must be allowed to transmit seamlessly between point A and B.It seems like a simple requirement, but consider the programmes you might currently have in place. Ideally, you don't have to log in or out more than once per day - all information should be obtainable. Far too often, accounting platforms require you to input data because it can't sync with others.When searching for business management software, be sure to investigate whether it meets all of your needs. There's no use in purchasing licences for multiple solutions that only serve to silo departments and processes when there are technologies available that provide modules that can easily be added or removed.Stay preparedYou can't foresee every risk, but you can certainly try and prepare for them. Natural disasters aren't all too common but they can be devastating when they strike. Businesses that keep client and other pertinent information on legacy software like Excel spreadsheets or on platforms that store the data on-site are exposing themselves to potential dangers.This is because the data will almost surely be lost if there aren't any remote backups of the information. While you may have a dedicated staff member assigned to ensuring everything is downloaded once a week, it only takes a little bit of workplace chaos to forget. Business intelligence insights can give your organisation the advantage it needs. Did you know the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reported that nearly 40 per cent of small businesses never open their doors again after a natural disaster? The sheer financial exposure of restoring a location can be a burden to bear, but losing valuable information about clients accounts can sink a company...

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  • Sep 27 2017

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    The key to sustaining a high rate of growth in manufacturing

    Happy days are ahead for manufacturing organisations - at least, those that can keep up with all the success.It's no secret that the Australian manufacturing industry has been booming over the past few years, but the improved sector activity can actually inflict more harm than good for unprepared businesses. Developing efficient bookkeeping habits through the incorporation of accounting software has become vital to maintaining growth in a sometimes chaotic field.Signs pointing upTo understand where any potential issues could sprout up, it's important to first realise exactly how the manufacturing sector is doing so well. It recently received its highest rating on AI Group's Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) since 2002, at 59.8, Business Insider reported. This marks an 11 month stretch of continued gains, but not solely for reasons having to do with finances.Most manufacturing activity is tied to inventory, rather than sales."Production and new orders were especially strong, but they were coupled with a robust expansion in inventories rather than in sales," the AI Group said. "This suggests current activity is geared towards future orders and stockpiling rather than for immediate delivery."While it's excellent news that clients are seeing long-term relationships with manufacturing organisations as a viable strategy, it can also create bookkeeping issues. Accountants must be up-to-date on every outstanding balance in relation to the stocked inventory, some of which can be subject to volatile swings in currency conversion rates.Staying in commandWith the majority of manufacturers' inventory in constant flux, having a flexible accounting software system is key to managing it all. Whereas many provide rigid bookkeeping tools, growing companies should search for a platform that fits their specific business model.The application should, for example, automate the variance of currency fluctuations in relation to committed funds. Similarly, it should offer the ability to create custom accounting periods that can map to each client's needs. As the AI Group suggested, not every order moving forward will require immediate fulfilment. Manufacturing is booming in Australia, and organisations should use accounting software to keep up. All organisations should continue looking forward towards their future, which is why the software should integrate with a business management platform as well. While the rest of the industry is focused on robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT), innovative companies are taking advantage of intuitive software ecosystems that make it easy to link inventory management with accounting and other components of the business. If they aren't integrated, transfer of data becomes rigorous when it should be seamless. Contact an Advanced Business Manager representative today for more information.

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