We are huge fans of online inventory apps such as Unleashed Software, Trade Gecko, Cin7 and Dear Inventory. They have many features that you would find in an ERP that costs tens of thousands of dollars a year. Manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers can track complex inventory in multiple warehouses, support sales agents on the road, and handle items in various sizes, colours, kits and combinations.
One of the differences between inventory apps and a full ERP is in the depth of the reporting. If you only want a sales executive to see just their numbers it can be hard to configure. Or if you want to calculate commissions after removing freight and returns. Often if you’re using an inventory app you have to export data and create a custom report in Excel each month.
Eventually, as a business scales, this manual reporting becomes too hard. Either it takes too long to get critical information that you need to steer the business. Or the native reports in the inventory app can’t show the exact information you need.
Both situations increase the risk that you will make the wrong decision, or the right decision far too late.
Some businesses spend a fortune making the leap to ERP just to get better reporting. While a fully operational ERP can set the foundation for rapid growth, it does involve a lot of cost and pain in the transition. Apart from the annual sticker price, there’s the effort in retraining all your staff to use a new and more complex system.
Knowing when to make the leap is a personal decision left to each business. Often the better approach is to squeeze as much as you can out of your existing set-up, and decide on and monitor the factors that will trigger an investment in ERP.
In fact, there is a workaround that will keep you on your existing systems a little longer and save you a lot of money and heartache.
You know all that manual fiddling in Excel each month for your custom reports? You can automate that once by creating rules in a business intelligence dashboard. And all that data in your inventory app that doesn’t appear in the native reports? You can pull that out through a software-to-software interface (called an API) and show it in a business intelligence dashboard. And you know how you’re waiting around for your internal accountant or bookkeeper to produce that custom Excel report? You can get the data in real time in a business intelligence dashboard.
A business intelligence (BI) dashboard can pull data from your inventory app and show it in an unlimited number of custom combinations or in multiple dashboards. You can have one that shows personalised reports for employees or partners; one that combines information from multiple inventory apps for management; and one that shows KPIs from different sorts of apps (CRM, inventory, accounting) to the executive team.
We have compiled a list of scenarios below where a BI dashboard can save you hours each week or month or help you make key decisions in real time, not a week later.
- How to give your sales team or external partners a personalised dashboard showing their sales numbers and targets from Unleashed Software
- How to calculate sales commissions automatically from sales in Unleashed Software without including freight, promotional stock, samples, etc.
You can also check out
- a rough comparison of the costs of inventory app, BI dashboard and ERP
- Here’s our frequently asked questions about how we make custom dashboards for you
Sales is a numbers game, and the more motivated your sales team the higher the numbers they will hit. But if your sales team don’t know the number of sales they have made, total revenue and how it compares to target, they are going to struggle with motivation and timing.
How disappointing for your top salesperson and your business if they miss their target because they just didn’t know how close they were to hitting it?
Inventory apps such as Unleashed Software can show you how the business is performing. Lists like top selling products and categories and top customers are really useful. However, it becomes a little complicated if you want to show those lists to just one salesperson and not for the whole company.
You could give the salesperson access to Unleashed, but then they could also see the sales numbers for all other sales people, and figure out their commissions.
Problem: You can’t create a custom sales report in Unleashed that is filtered for a single person and give that person access to just that one report.
Solution: The easiest and fastest way to set this up is to add a business intelligence (BI) dashboard. Each salesperson gets a unique login to the dashboard and can only see their sales numbers and their target. The sales data is also searchable, so you can click on a chart and see the individual sales by customer and dollar value behind it.
You could customise the dashboard to show top customers, top products, quarter on quarter sales performance, year to date or year on year performance, and so on.
And a sales manager could have a dashboard that showed results for all salespeople in their division or territory.
Result: Now your salespeople can look at their targets on their mobile phone each morning and see their numbers change in real time as orders are processed. The privacy and security of Unleashed remains intact, passing only the relevant information to each salesperson.
Commissions are a tried and tested way to motivate sales teams. They are most effective when a salesperson can see how much they are going to pocket at the end of the month or quarter.
The challenge is that knowing what to pay each salesperson. This can require a little maths, which is difficult to do in some inventory apps such as Unleashed Software.
You don’t pay commission on freight, so that number has to come out from each sale. You also don’t pay commissions on any samples or promotional stock, which has a stock value in Unleashed. So that needs to come off too. And if a customer decides to return products then the commission needs to reduce (the following period) accordingly.
Problem: You can’t do complicated calculations in Unleashed to work out commissions, like removing freight, samples and returns.
Solution: The easiest and fastest way to calculate commissions is to do it in a business intelligence (BI) dashboard. We just transfer to the dashboard the same rules and logic that you apply in Excel to calculate the commissions.
Result: Now you can look at your dashboard and see instantly how much you have to pay each salesperson each month. The dashboard will show the commission after removing all samples, promotions, freight and returns. If you combine this with personalised sales dashboards (LINK), you can show each salesperson their commission in real time.
And that’s a great way to incentivise your team to close deals before the end of each month, hit their targets and maximise their commissions.