A computer screen with coding

Distributors know they must digitize to compete in today’s cut-throat market. In order to improve operations, 25 percent of distributors plan on modernizing their technology infrastructure, according to “ERP In Wholesale And Distribution,” a report by the Aberdeen Group

These savvy distributors expect to adopt or enhance their existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform. So many other digital tools can be integrated into the ERP platform: CRM, e-commerce and analytics to name a few. Unfortunately, for many distributors, even though they have these capabilities, employees may not be aware of them or are ignoring them outright because of a lack of training.

Just as distributors wouldn’t recommend someone purchase and start using a large piece of floor equipment without training, ERP software is no different. If someone doesn’t understand how to use it effectively, it won’t work as designed. 

“Think of some of the programs we use everyday like Excel or Word,” says Jenny Gotisha, senior manager of Epicor University for the Austin, Texas-based Epicor. “We typically only use approximately 10 percent of what these programs can do. But each time you learn more, you get more out of it. This not only drives results, but also helps engage your employees.”

Ongoing ERP software training will help ensure users continue looking ahead instead of looking behind to see what went wrong.

ERP Basics

Coined in 1990 by an analytics firm, the term “ERP” integrates core processes within a business. It includes everything from accounting, inventory, payroll, purchasing and human resources. The benefit to having a single system integrating all of these traditionally siloed functions is that it standardizes and streamlines the data across all areas of the business in real time. This reduces the number of errors and limits the amount of time people spend gathering information from other departments.  

In plain speak, with ERP, most paper systems go by the wayside. People no longer need to dig through old quotes or invoices to find pricing information. The software makes business data easily accessible through most devices with an internet browser and connection. 

But for distributors, deciding which ERP system is right for their businesses can be like finding the right house for a family — it’s a really big deal. Since it integrates so many aspects of the entire operation (ultimately serving as a home for all of the company’s data), distributors need to weigh several considerations. One commonly overlooked consideration is the training and implementation support offered by the software provider. Without ongoing training, distributors can be left with software that few on staff know how to properly use. 

“With many software platforms, you have to engage consultants or add additional IT staff to configure it to go live,” says Randy Lane, national sales manager of wholesale distribution with PIC Business Systems, San Antonio, Texas. “You don’t want a package that is ‘buy me and figure out how to use me.’ In order to get the most out of your product, you want a provider who directly supports the implementation and has an ongoing training program in place.”

If a distributor has already invested in an ERP system, he or she will want to make sure the people using the software conduct ongoing training so they’re able to utilize all of its features. 

If a distributor has not yet made the investment and is still researching which system is right, add “training and support” to the list of considerations in an ideal vendor. No matter how intuitive the platform, ongoing training offered in a variety of formats will help drive use — and ultimately growth and profitability. 

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ERP Training Enhances Distributor's Business