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9 Ways Customer Data Platforms Offer Invaluable Insights Into Your Customers

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are pretty self-explanatory in terms of what they’re used for – storing and organizing customer information. Sounds pretty simple, right? You might be wondering what the hubbub about CDPs is and whether this is one of the technologies you should embrace.

Well, first let’s go into a more detailed definition of CDP: A Customer Data Platform is a software tool that collects and organizes customer data from across different sources. It is used by a multitude of tools, including marketing software

CDPs take real-time data and structure it into individual customer profiles. Why is this useful? The more dynamic, up-to-date, and replete the information you have on a diversity of customers, the better you can hone in on who your customers are and work towards offering more satisfying customer experiences.

Valuable Insights and Benefits Of Customer Data Platforms

1. High Level Of Detail

At the core of CDP is identity data, which allows users to identify specific customers. Examples of identity data include first and last names, age, and gender, contact details, addresses, social media handles, and job status. Instead of relying solely on cookies to track users, CDP collects more concrete identifiers that provide companies with more opportunities to reach customers.

The high level of detail allows the software to identify individuals, which is helpful in terms of offering highly targeted content to consumers. You can use tools such as Infographic Maker to present this complex data in a more easily digestible format.

2. Data Is Stored As Long As Legally Permitted

Instead of focusing on the benefits of short-term targeted ads, CDP allows sellers to develop a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with the consumer. Data is stored for long periods – often as long as is allowed under local laws, which can be subject to change. 

This allows consumer-seller relationships to be nurtured further than they were before and for more information to be added about the consumer over time, creating a more accurate picture of their interests and who they are. 

3. Processes Real-Time Data

Data is collected directly from the source in real time rather than through third parties which ensures the data is highly accurate. First-party data from social media users, subscribers, site visitors, and customers is collected by CDPs, which is the most up-to-date data available. 

So instead of playing a customer-data version of a phone tag you can just find out all about your customers directly.

4. Data From Multiple Sources

Another thing that makes Customer Data Platforms so accurate and able to avoid duplication of data is the fact that CDPs collect data from multiple sources. This allows the software with integrations such as the PySpark datatype to cross-reference the data and see which of the data belongs to the same customer, thus avoiding replication. 

5. Unified Profiles

CDPs build unified customer profiles which help team members get to know their customers. This system helps with things like behavioral analysis to understand trends in interests and consumption and find patterns in all of the noise. Unified customer profiles are easier to share and discuss meaningfully as well.

6. Easy-To-Share Data

The data is formatted in such a way as to make it very easy to share across different departments. This means that everyone in your company and all of your collaborators can have easy access to the same dataset and work more efficiently as a team toward the goals you set. 

Instead of everybody crowding around Nora’s desk and squinting at her screen in exasperation, you can do that at your own desk, or even more likely these days, possibly from the comfort of your own home!

7. Data Hygiene

Perhaps hygiene is not a word you would typically associate with data, but all it means is that data is regularly, as a matter of course, tidied up and updated. This means you don’t have excess or out-of-date information lingering on your system, threatening to slow you down and render your work less efficient. CDP offers the electronic equivalent to dental floss. A little bit regularly will save you a world of pain in months to come.

8. Not Just Quantitative Data

CDP offers qualitative as well as quantitative data. This means that as well as numbers and figures, you have contextual information which helps you to understand the customer’s personality, values, and interests.

By understanding things like what motivates your customers, you can start to understand them more fully, and not just in terms of their buying habits. You can understand them as complete people and citizens, which is very helpful knowledge to marketers. 

9. Marketing-Friendly Format

The shareability of the data, the high levels of accuracy, and the unified data profiles make it easier for marketers to collaborate and develop campaigns that are both targeted and timely across different platforms. CDP allows accurate customer-driven marketing efforts, with breadth and depth of information, like a well-formed loaf of data bread.

The Takeaway

Customer data platforms offer a depth of information which is specific to the user, as well as breadth of information about every customer, such as what motivates them and what their values are. The data can be held for a long time, which allows us to build and nurture a stronger customer-seller relationship, and get to see how the customer changes over time. 

The information is easily shared across platforms, which makes collaboration easier, and it is sourced from many places and cross-referenced, which helps to avoid duplication. This is a useful software capability for a customer-centered environment. The real-time collection of the data helps keep it accurate and up-to-date, as does the collection of data directly from the source. 

The market for customer data platforms is rapidly growing with the industry expected to reach a size of over 20 billion dollars by 2027. This shows the value of accurate, up-to-date and thorough customer data. 

4 Ways Data Management Software Helps Small Businesses Realize Their Potential

Today’s world is absolutely filled to the brim with data of all shapes and sizes, more and more of which is being generated each day. By the start of 2020, people had generated 44 zettabytes of information with their digital activities. That figure is only going to increase in the years ahead.

21st-century businesses need to think about how they manage and use the data they continue to rapidly accumulate. That’s where data management software comes into play. We’ll explain what data management involves and some of the benefits it brings to small businesses.

What Is Data Management Software?

Today’s businesses have a lot of data to sort through. This data is generated when customers sign up for services, when they make transactions, or even when they interact with your business more generally – through channels like social media or simply visiting your website, for example. 

The data a business accumulates can be helpful. By understanding the activities of your customers, you can make better business decisions. However, you can’t interpret this data unless it’s been organized properly—which becomes harder when we consider how widely today’s data can be distributed and simply how much of it there is.

That’s where data management comes into play. It collects and organizes data in a way that is useful to you—augmenting things like gut-based guesses—while also protecting it from theft. Data management is typically achieved using a specialized piece of software, which can consolidate data from different sources before analyzing and visualizing it.

Data management is used by a variety of industries, including retail, banking, and manufacturing. It allows businesses to perform particular tasks better, like responding to customer expectations and managing inventory.  It’s also useful for various business sizes—including small ones—and can help you better understand concepts like database ACID.

What Does Data Management Software Do for Small Businesses?

In some respects, it does the same thing as it does for large businesses. All businesses today (whether large or small) generate data, whether they aim to or not. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to do something with it.

Of course, if you’re looking for practical benefits, there are four major components for small businesses to be aware of:

1.    Increased Productivity

Data management means that all the data flowing into your business is organized. This, in turn, means that we can actually access it. Having this central, practical resource ensures that you and your employees can all use your time more effectively—as you aren’t wasting it in futile pursuit of something you need, like how much of a particular resource you have.

Data management also means you’re able to share information with one another more easily. Since even small businesses rely on teamwork, being able to work together effectively is a must.

2.    Better Security

The terminally-online, vastly interconnected nature of today’s world means a lot of the data we produce is sensitive. You need to make sure that the data your business has can be protected from theft, leakage, or simply irrecoverable loss. If you don’t, your business and customers could suffer financial or reputational harm.

A major part of data security is understanding what, exactly, you need to protect. Data management software provides a comprehensive record of what you need to think about. 

Crucially, however, it also comes with encryption and authentication functionality. This makes it much harder for bad actors to access your data. In the event that data gets lost, good data management software backs it up to avoid any unpleasant situations. 

Make sure to protect all facets of your business by improving front-end security for your websites as well.

3.    Higher Quality Decision-Making 

All business leaders have to make multiple decisions each day, which data management software makes easier. This is because this kind of software can actively improve your data’s quality by standardizing, parsing, and verifying the data you give it. Crucially, it does so automatically – meaning there’s only so much oversight you need to give.

Data management software also aids decision-making by blending different data types together. It allows the software to offer new business insights—and even answer questions you hadn’t considered before. This is another aspect of data management you can automate.

More importantly, data management software helps your employees to trust your decision-making. This is because the way you have come to such a decision is more transparent than it may have been in the past.

Indeed, better decision-making is a particular benefit of data management software for small businesses. A larger business can recover from a flawed business decision more easily than a small business can, as the former (obviously) has more resources to work with

4. Better Use Of Funds

data management software

Indeed, while it may come with some initial costs upfront, data management software can save you money. Demystifying a business’ inner workings prevents situations like data duplication, conducting the same research multiple times, or re-running expensive queries. All these cost your business money, and you could easily avoid them with the right software established.  

Naturally, the improvements to decision-making have an impact here as well. Making an informed decision means you’re more likely to see a return on any investments you make, which you can then re-invest into your business going forward.

The Takeaway

Data management software can seem like an extravagance, especially if your business is on the smaller side. However, it can be a very useful tool for day-to-day business operations. 

Managing your data ensures you can interpret and share it more effectively than before. Crucially, it also helps to keep it safe from theft or accidental loss. All small businesses should consider data management software if they want to maintain their edge.

Mapping The Field Service Customer Communication Journey

In any relationship, communication is key and your customers are no exception. 

Before communication technology made targeted advertising easy, trying to attract and speak to customers followed a fairly straightforward strategy, albeit with inconsistent results. For instance, field service companies would bombard prospects with generic fliers, billboards, Yellow Pages ads, etc, and all in the hopes that somewhere in the midst of it all would emerge someone who, not only needed a plumber or an electrician, but who’d then take the time to engage, and hopefully transition into a customer.

There’s little need to point out why this strategy wasn’t the most efficient.

Of course, things are completely different these days. Service companies now have the option to speak to customers more directly, and send them highly personalized offers, and, as a result, many have seen an increase in sales by 10% or more. Thanks to effective digital technologies and the ability to map customer communication journeys, hundreds of thousands of companies have found success and reached their audience, even if they run a niche service business.  

There are still challenges to overcome, but to help you get a grasp of your own communication strategy, we’re going to look at it from the customer journey point of view. We’ll break it down into a few touchpoints, and explore how you can improve your own journey. Let’s get started! 

Define The New Communication Customer Journey 

Customer journeys have become more and more complex, especially in the field service industry. Buying a service isn’t simply a matter of a person walking into a store and picking up a product from a shelf. 

field service management software

Between local Google search results, 3rd-party review websites, paid ads, personalized emails, review requests, and all the other interactions now available to business owners and managers, it’s no wonder businesses can feel overwhelmed. 

The new communication journey is a reciprocal process, where the customer gets to have a say throughout, rather than simply voting with their wallet during an exchange of services for money. Nurturing a customer is an essential part of an ideal relationship, one that leads to higher-value jobs and repeat business. And like nurturing anything else, the customer wants 3 things, to be: 

  • Valued as an individual, through personalized communication 
  • Taken seriously, by using a suitable and consistent tone of voice in all your communications
  • Feel in control, which is where customer self-service comes into place

At the same time, keep in mind that communication doesn’t refer just to actual messages and emails; everything you do in order to convey information about your business to the customer is a form of contact, from your brand identity, company logo, to your website, to your invoices. 

Why Do Field Service Businesses Need To Look At Their Communication Journey? 

Have you ever tried hiring another field service business? Or, even better, have you tried hiring yourself? How did the experience compare to other services you use in your day-to-day life, like booking a vacation or ordering a meal? Is there anything they do that you don’t?

It’s tempting to think this exercise is silly because you’re not selling vacation packages or meals. But the fact of the matter is that the average customer won’t compare you to other plumbing or HVAC companies; they’ll compare the booking experience you provide to those they know:, JustEat, Amazon, and other big companies. 

If you do a deep dive into field service reviews, you’ll notice a trend with many customers saying something along the lines of:

“They did a good job installing my ventilation unit, but I never got a booking confirmation so I had no idea when they’d arrive. Then the installer wouldn’t take card payment on the spot so I had to wait for weeks to get an invoice letter. And no one asked for my feedback at the end of it all.” – 3 / 5 stars

It’s hardly what field service owners and managers want to hear, but the cold hard truth is that if you deliver 5-star work with 1-star customer service experiences, the average review score won’t be in your favor. And are you really a 3-star company? Of course not!

Understanding where your customer communication strategy is lacking is what will push you to go from good to great.

How To Map The Communication Customer Journey

Customer journey map, process of customer buying decision, a road map of customer experience

Mapping the communication journey goes back to the scenario where you try to hire yourself. List every individual touchpoint, then award yourself a rating based on how satisfied you’d be if, as a customer, a service provider treated you the same.

1. Company persona

You might be familiar with building a customer persona, but having a detailed understanding of your own company is just as important. It could be that you’re the owner and you identify the company with yourself, but even then, writing it down and turning it into a fleshed-out character will help you understand what your customer expects from you. 

For example, if your company persona was called Gary, the friendly neighborhood plumber who’s always there to fix a leak or put in a new sink, that would mean the rest of your communications have to stay consistent: a bright and cheerful website, technicians who wear short sleeve t-shirts, and budget or mid-level prices. On the other hand, you could also be a Gaspard, the artisanal plumber who’s a specialist in visible drain welding & soldering and often works with museums and installation artists. 

The expectations would be completely different, so the final question is: would your customer hire Gary or Gaspard?   

2. Visual Communication

Once you’ve decided on the kind of field service personality you want to relay, it’s time to make it visual. Visual communication includes:

  • Company logo
  • Company colors
  • Employee attire (either uniform or dress code)
  • Website graphics
  • Website videos

Once you’ve decided on the first two, the rest need to stay consistent, otherwise, you risk confusing the customer in regard to the message you’re trying to transmit.

If you’re targeting premium customers and have tailored your logo and website colors to match (e.g. by using more elegant colors like navy and silver), but your employees show up either sans uniform or in bright yellow t-shirts and muddy boots, the customer won’t feel like they’re getting the premium experience they paid for. The same goes for your website and other visuals you might want to create (or commission), the expectation you set should be met by reality.

3. Written Communication

The final step in your communication customer journey is to highlight the smaller touchpoints and ensure they also have a cohesive feel and, especially, carry the same tone of voice. Written communication includes but is not limited to:

  • Booking request confirmation
  • Service reminders (for more on these, check out this service reminder guide
  • Price book
  • Invoice emails
  • Certificate emails
  • Debt chasing emails
  • Review requests
  • Review answers
  • Website about & team page 
  • Contact page

Similar to the situation we’ve described above, your written communication style should also fit your company persona.

If we go back to the Gary/Gaspard comparison, imagine that Gary would open his emails with: “Hey, Matt! How’s your week been?”, while Gaspard would be more of a “Dear Madam Spencer, I sincerely hope you’ve been well.” Mixing them up would leave Matt scratching his head and Madam Spencer tasking her butler with firing someone. Written communication is all about delivering on your brand promise.  

The Value Of Having Everything On One Screen

field service management software

If all this sounds like a lot more than you expected, we don’t blame you. Customer communication journeys are complex relationships that require time and effort, at least, they are if you want to do them well. 

A lot of this complexity is due to communication technology advancing so rapidly and creating more and more avenues to interact with people. However, this should be seen as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. That’s because field service management technology also allows you to harness more efficient strategies that come at a lower cost than, say, traditional advertising and branding. 

Keeping track of your communications starts with recording customer information in a centralized database. The more you learn about them, the better you will be able to personalize your messaging and expand your brand. The next step is to combine your database with a message/email automation tool so that you can send out personalized communication as efficiently as possible. 

Finally, an all-in-one field service management software will keep all this, along with calendar appointments, employee shifts, quotes, and more, all on a single screen. From there your business is in a better position to grow sustainably and it’ll help you implement more and more complex customer communication strategies down the line. 

The Takeaway

All in all, customer communication journeys are all about knowing who you’re targeting and having a good grasp of the tools you have access to in order to reach this person. Technology has made things more complex, but, at the same time, it has also made amazing strategies widely available to companies of every size and budget. Make sure you’re not missing out and start investing in your communication strategy today! 

10 Benefits Of All-In-One Business Software

No business is alike. Products, customers, strategies, and everything in between all vary to certain extents depending on your industry-specific needs and business ethos. 

What all businesses have in common, however, is the environment in which they operate. The world is becoming increasingly digital, synchronized, and competitive. Enlisting the right all-in-one business management software for your business will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Here are the most crucial and consequential ways that all-in-one business management software can provide a tangible benefit to your business operations. 

1. Automated Workflows

The benefits of workflow automation are wide-reaching. Not only will the processes that you’re automating be improved, but your productivity in other areas will increase as well.

If you’re spending less time manually entering, checking, and duplicating data sets because your all-in-one business management software is capable of automating that process, you’ll be able to focus more on creative, high-level tasks that require more human attention.

2. Eliminate The Need For Internal IT Expertise

Safeguarding your business against technical malfunctions and cyber threats starts with investing in the proper technology.

No business is unique—true cybersecurity and individual business success can’t be achieved with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. This is why you’ll require software that can mold to the contour of your business’s specific needs.

business management software support

All of your employees should be operating, communicating, and sharing documents under the same umbrella of security. With a dedicated software support team ready to work toward your business’s specific goals and needs, you’ll be prepared for any technical malaise that comes your way.

3. Save Money (Not Just On Software)

One of the biggest benefits of all-in-one business software is the cost savings. The software savings are apparent—paying a predetermined monthly rate for a single software solution allows you to spend less on various other disconnected software solutions. 

Outside of the actual software savings, you’ll save money via increased financial visibility, smarter data insights, and more streamlined supply chain management.

4. Scalability

Growth arrives quickly—it pays to be prepared ahead of time. Though your business may not be bringing in billions of dollars annually, your all-in-one business management software can function the same as the solutions that those companies use.

Over time, your customers, inventory, employees, revenue, and almost all other facets of your business grow. Developing the right processes from the beginning will pay dividends down the line—playing operational catchup as growth continues upward will inhibit financial progress.

5. Enhanced Security and Threat Prevention

If your business has never been exposed to a data breach, then consider yourself lucky. According to a recent study, 37% of companies hit by ransomware had fewer than 100 employees. Of those, 60% go out of business within 6 months. 

All-in-one business management software provides SMEs with top-notch, industrial-grade security features: data redundancy, dual-factor authentication, testing environments, and cryptographic privacy. Look for a software solution that provides a 99.99% uptime guarantee.

6. Better Document Management

For businesses of all sizes, keeping paper records means something is going to get misplaced. And loss is only the tip of the iceberg: a typical office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year—it’s wasteful, time-consuming, and unnecessary.

business management software document management

Keep a centralized, unified document management system that can be accessed from anywhere. You’ll be able to find documents faster, secure them more easily, and generate custom reports about the data within your system. Not to mention, you’ll save plenty of money on ink and printer-related costs. 

7. Smarter Business Decisions

The best business decisions are made from comprehensive, data-driven metrics. Gut instincts are valuable, but data-driven decisions reign supreme. By allowing technology to guide and assist you along your decision-making process, your business will reap tangible benefits. 

You’ll be able to reduce spending costs, make faster decisions, and generate on-the-fly improvements based on real-time, accurate data. The best data comes in the form of custom dashboard reporting generated regarding up-to-date inventory levels, real-time customer/vendor transaction history, and the current job status of employees dispatched in the field.

8. Better Hiring Processes

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization—it’s crucial to establish a pipeline of qualified talent no matter the industry you service. By incorporating this process into the software that handles the rest of your business’s processes, you’ll be able to make the most profitable hiring decisions.

Within your all-in-one business management software platform, you’ll be able to have a streamlined application tracking system by creating new job postings, adding interview notes, designing personality assessments, and storing all pertinent candidate documents.

9. Continuous and Custom Software Development

No business is unique—one of the most crucial tools that all-in-one business management software offers is the ability for businesses to tailor the software to their specific needs. Not only is it important for businesses to have customizable interfaces based on specific industry needs, but it’s also just as important to incorporate a software solution that allows for custom, personalized development. 

Continuous improvement, businessman riding improvement cycle uphill on growth business graph.

The best software solutions have active development teams that are constantly improving their product. Customers should be able to influence and provide feedback as to what improvements in functionality need to occur. Software personalization is becoming more and more commonplace these days.

10. Build Better Relationships with Customers/Vendors

Getting the most out of customer (and vendor) relationships requires a comprehensive system that supports your sales team to make sure they never miss an opportunity, all while assessing productivity and profitability.

All-in-one business management software offers features that can boost the effectiveness of your sales team such as sales funnel and marketing automation, full spectrum sales pipeline visibility dashboards, and feedback-garnering tools such as surveys.

Wrapping Up

No matter the industry that your business operates in—manufacturing, field services, or any other—your business can advance from incorporating these 10 benefits of all-in-one business management software. 

all in one business management software

Every business has a different number of employees, different products, and different methods at which they go about the core principles of business. But for all of the differences that businesses share, they share much more in common.

In fact, most businesses share commonalities throughout their maturation process in terms of the warning signs that it might be time for them to adopt an all-in-one software solution. 

All-in-one business management software is developed to make your business better, in whatever way that you see fit.

ERP Vs. All-In-One: Is There A Difference?

More often than not, the terms all-in-one business management software and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software are used interchangeably. On the surface, they’re very similar. Both are used to help businesses: 

  • Increase workplace efficiency 
  • Grow profit margins
  • Facilitate employee connectivity and collaboration
  • Enhance organizational transparency

However, all-in-one and ERP software are not the same thing—and the difference really matters.

Odds are, your business has considered adopting an ERP or an all-in-one business management software. From manufacturers to field service technicians to contractors, both types of software solutions allow businesses to accomplish more.

Industries change, but the questions that you and other business owners have about software solutions stay mostly the same.

“Will I be able to virtually connect with my employees, subcontractors, customers, and vendors?”

“Will I have a system of record with access to all of the data I need?

“Will I be able to customize and automate workflows and other processes?”

“Will I have a clear and all-encompassing picture of my finances?”

questions about all in one business management software

Let’s explore the ways that both ERPs and all-in-one software can help you answer these questions, and where the differences can really impact your business.

All-In-One Business Management vs. ERP Software

Looking at the big picture of any business, the goals are almost always the same—increasing profit via increasing efficiency and reducing costs. 

Choosing the right software solution will require a more granular approach to addressing what your goals are. 

Is your business focusing on pushing a singular, uber-successful product or an abundance of moderately profitable items? Do you work with a large number of small vendors or a small number of large vendors? Does your business have multiple locations—or more importantly, is your business planning to expand? 

You may not have all of these answers yet, and that’s ok. Choosing the right software solution isn’t about knowing everything, it’s about knowing what you don’t know and charting a course to seek out these answers accordingly.

Business Size

One of the most common misconceptions about ERPs is that they are only practical—or affordable—for large enterprises. While it’s true that ERPs were first developed for large-scale organizations, the operability, usability, and affordability of these systems have since trickled down into the small business world. 

There exist ERPs that are best suited for large, multi-continental enterprises. You may not need a software service that can power 500 factories or handle 10,000 employees. What you do need, however, is the power and consistency that this type of software offers.

David vs Goliath business competition. Great difficulties for small business against big corporations

This is where all-in-one business management software comes into play. 

ERPs host and transmit all of a business’s data, but they often require additional modular integrations to reach their full potential. For a massive, Fortune 500 enterprise, adding additional software systems on top of an ERP isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. 

For an SME, however, budgets are a bit tighter. It’s important to seek out a solution that provides the same level of quality data management as an ERP while taking the entirety of your business into consideration, not just a portion of it. After all, there’s more to your business than just silos of data.

All-in-one software solutions are tailored to both the fiscal and human needs of SMEs.

Customization Capabilities

Similar to most aspects of life, “fit” is one of the most important variables to consider—the software solution that is best suited for your business needs may not be the best solution for another business.

For example, let’s say your company is a mid-sized perishable foods packager and distributor. Some of your needs are no different than most other companies—you need to make smart hires, handle complex process scheduling, and reliably track financial records.

But when it comes to finding the right ERP or all-in-one solution, the most important variables are the ones that set your business apart. 

When it comes to inventory management and transportation, you’ll need to allocate additional resources to account for the shelf life of your products. Are you able to easily create, scan, and implement barcode labels? When food packaging goes wrong, what additional health and safety protocols need to be enacted that wouldn’t be relevant to a traditional discrete manufacturer?

ERPs are often constrained to a particular niche. While a single ERP may be able to handle supply chain management or project management-related tasks, what happens when those functionalities need to be integrated with the other facets of your business? Is ERP software built for this kind of interconnectivity or will you be forced into adapting additional, time-consuming, and often expensive integrations?

All-in-one business management solutions, on the other hand, are more tractable. Offering the same transparency and data management capabilities as a larger ERP, they are equipped for customization that isn’t limited to a single business silo—they are backed by a team of professionals who see to it that their product fits all of your business’s specific needs, not just a select one or few. 


Getting your new software off the ground is always a multifaceted process. A big chunk that leads to successful implementation is simply choosing the right software solution, but an equally large portion falls in the hands of the rest of the people involved. Namely, three distinct parties are in play—your management team, your employees, and your software’s implementation team.

Implementation concept illustration. Idea of innovation and development.

Migrating to any new system takes time. Moving the entirety of your business’s data can come with varying degrees of hiccups and speed bumps. Whether you choose an ERP or an all-in-one, the support team behind your new software will play a critical role in its successful adoption.

While implementing an ERP will often cover most of your traditional business processes, it’s possible that you’d need to integrate additional software modules. Common integrations would include online banking portals, e-commerce platforms, or something within Google Workspace.

In terms of the logistics and ramifications of integration, what is the main differentiating factor between all-in-one business management software and ERP software? All-in-one business management software solutions take the entirety of your company into consideration, not just the industry specialty that the ERP focuses on.

Because of this, all-in-one solutions are much easier to get off the ground. The need for secondary integration is minimal. For example, the need to externally integrate accounting software or document storage protocols will not be necessary—those features are routinely included in the best all-in-one business management software.

Day-To-Day Usage

day-to-day tasks

Who will be using your software solution on a day-to-day basis? Will it be exclusively used by your C-Suite? Will your accountant be involved? Or is this software that everyone in your company can benefit from?

No matter your answers to these questions, it’s important to find a software provider that will be able to onboard all relevant employees to complete the tasks they need for their roles. 

All-in-one business management systems are ideal for handling the human processes of your business—tracking productivity, handling HR-related issues, and managing customer relationships. Visibility and transparency are key. Most, if not all of your employees, will need access to these types of functions. But don’t worry, you can set permissions for various roles.

As far as ERPs are concerned, they’ll be able to handle most of the same processes. While all-in-one business management software is excellent at managing and automating human processes, ERPs handle large amounts of data. Think inventory management, data entry, and financial reporting

Both ERPs and all-in-one solutions provide immense value for your business. Which begs the question: which type of software has more overall value? While an ERP might present value to a few specialized employees with crucial roles within your business (i.e., a plant manager or company executive) an all-in-one solution benefits every employee, regardless of job description.

Often, the best and most actionable data your business has to offer comes from the employees on the front lines. All employees work better with better tools at their disposal—not only will upgraded technology allow them to be more productive, but they’ll also feel more included in company operations and workplace culture. After all, your business functions best with happy people. 

Finding The Best Software For Your Business

What does your business need to succeed? The answer is different for every ongoing concern. Maybe your claim-to-fame as a business is your product or service, but you need a better way to find new talent. Or, perhaps, you have all the talent in the world, but you need a better way to stay organized. 

The true answer to “What is the difference between all-in-one business management and ERP software” isn’t just about the technology behind the software—it’s about what your business and your employees can do with it.

With an ERP, the solutions it offers are clear—a “manufacturing ERP” will tackle inventory needs, supply chain management, and handling custom building requirements. A “construction ERP” will handle meeting OSHA requirements, gathering project materials, and facilitating subcontractor management.

Those are great, necessary features that are a key component of success. But with an all-in-one business management solution, you’ll be able to utilize those features while connecting to the other various pillars that your business runs upon—accounting, HR, project management, remote work, and so much more. 

In essence, think of an all-in-one business management solution as an “ERP+”. 

Focus less on the final outcome, and start focusing more on the systems and solutions that will enable you to get there. Because the truth is that both all-in-one and ERP solutions can help your business reach its full potential, it’s a matter of how well they are connected and how well you utilize them. 

How Manufacturers Are Innovating in 2021

As they do every week on Twitter from 2-3pm EST, the great people behind #USAManufacturingHour (@DCSCInc, @CvtPlastics, and @SocialSMktg) lead powerful and informative discussions about the latest topics in manufacturing. This blog is sourced from discussions from the inaugural #MfgHour Virtual Networking Mixer. 

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes—this is especially true in the manufacturing industry. While the manufacturing industry contributes a whopping 11% to the overall United States GDP, 75.3% of American manufacturers have fewer than 20 employees.

In short, the small business manufacturers of America continue to carry the weight of the economy on their backs.

This is no small feat, especially considering some of the staffing challenges that have plagued manufacturers of late. Despite 8.6% of the United States workforce being employed in the manufacturing industry, 89% of manufacturers report they are having trouble finding qualified workers. 

There are many factors that have contributed to the recent growth of this issue. This is a dilemma that demands industry-wide attention—and in some cases—a fundamental rethinking of business operations.

The future of manufacturing will demand a lot from businesses both big and small. While every manufacturer is unique in terms of their product and service offerings, one theme holds true—innovation is necessary. 

Small Change, Big Result

One of the most curious elements of innovation is that change often starts small. 

Let’s take a step back from manufacturing for a second—this is a theme that holds true across society at large. For example, the average person does not contribute an alarming amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The effect, however, is cumulative—while a single person’s actions don’t dictate the fate of our environment, the aggregate sum of every individual’s actions do in fact help dictate it.

Sure, this is a relatively moribund example, but it does effectively illustrate the point that small actions often have big consequences.

lightbulb idea graphic

In manufacturing, finding innovative and creative ways to increase the frugality of your production while upholding the standard of excellence that your customers and clients have come to expect is certainly no easy task.

Cathy Beck of Grey Sky Films has seen this play out firsthand. Videography had been disrupted by the pandemic—without the ability to have frequent site visits, it was time to think outside the box.

Cathy and her team worked hard to create custom content databases for her clients to access virtually. This not only satisfied her existing client base, but this methodology functioned so smoothly that it led to additional clients coming on board.

In the Beck household, finding innovative solutions is a family affair. Years ago, her husband helped a snack food manufacturer save a significant amount of money and resources with one, small change in product packaging:

“They realized that by minimizing waste by 1/10th of an inch would save them a ridiculous amount of money by the end of the year. Think about that, how tiny that was but how effective it was.” 

Not every innovation has to be a novel invention or a reality-shattering epiphany. Sometimes, all it takes is taking a more detailed and organized approach to the things your business already does well. And as the oft-quoted cliché goes, good things come in small packages. 

Lean Manufacturing Processes

Most of us have found ourselves in a position like this before: we are so hyper-focused—some may say “obsessed”—on the end result of a professional goal that we lose sight of what’s directly in front of us.

In other words, sometimes we put the cart before the horse.

Task management is vital in nearly every industry. In manufacturing, it takes on an elevated level of importance.

People have a tendency to keep their blinders on, especially when it comes to over-focusing on the final outcome of the product. That’s not a bad thing on its own—it’s obviously important to have a clear picture of your end-stage product.

Having only the end result in mind may cause someone to overlook various, crucial aspects of the production process—utilizing more fuel efficient machinery, finding more durable materials, and even assessing how your equipment is arranged on the production floor.

Lermit Diaz, CEO of SCTools, knows a thing or two about how important it is to focus on every detail of the lean manufacturing process. His approach: the size of the change is not as important as the consistency and dedication to every detail that serves the overarching goal:

“The small steps will encourage you to get that objective and you move to the next one and the next one.”

Gina Tabasso from Dar-Tech, Inc shares a similar perspective when it comes to keeping projects and production in scope. As we mentioned earlier, the vast majority of American manufacturers have less than 20 employees. In other words, not every company’s eyes need to be locked in on the jaw-dropping figures that companies like Apple and Volkswagen produce:

“You don’t need to be innovative on a global scale with your company or a process or project – it can be in your individual jobs.”

At the end of the day, make sure that you know what your end goal is—but don’t get lost in chasing it. Take your manufacturing process one granular step at a time. 

Adapting to Modern Manufacturing Methods

Every year brings industry wide change to manufacturing processes and the manufacturing industry as a whole. In 2020, we all experienced just how quickly change could be ushered in. 

For many in the manufacturing industry, it was time to upgrade their online presence. This meant seizing the opportunity for change in a way they hadn’t before.

When asked if anything changed in his marketing efforts, Noah from ArtusCorp summed it up succinctly:

‘”Absolutely. Yes, it changed. I would not be sitting here talking to you guys without that.” 

Sometimes the speed of change is overwhelming. In modern manufacturing—especially small business manufacturers—this is often the norm.

life cycle concept

Sometimes the speed of change is overwhelming. In modern manufacturing—especially small business manufacturers—this is often the norm.

Many who were not privy to the digital marketing landscape prior to 2020 found themselves entering 2021 much more knowledgeable on the various mediums that can be used to connect with customers and clients alike. 

One medium, Instagram, has been a boon for manufacturers as of late—some manufacturers have been able to utilize Instagram for making connections, showcasing products, and even making sales. Jen Wegman of Insight Information Solutions has seen firsthand the benefits that Instagram has to offer:

“I would target fabricators and woodworkers who needed castors for their stuff and we would get consistent leads on Instagram and you’d think, ‘why is a manufacturer on Instagram?’ You’d be surprised.”

Forming connections and fostering relationships with sales goals in mind is nothing new. But this year, many manufacturers have discovered new and creative ways to accomplish this goal.

Wrapping Up

Modern manufacturing innovation comes in many forms. More often than not, it’s new technologies that drive innovation by finding novel ways to increase efficiency. Other times, it’s repurposing existing technologies to better fit the needs of a growing business.

Beyond technological advancements, manufacturing innovation also arrives in the form of new methodologies and processes. Your end goal remains the same—the path you take to get there, however, has shifted.

No matter the size or the shape of innovation, it is always just around the corner.