Tracking time in your ERP – A calendar feature as essential as your morning coffee
January 29, 2019
Some people are planners. These people are great to have around. They make our lives easier by making sure things happen when we expect them to. They take control of events, like making sure food arrives on time and is hot when it gets there. Planners have either a learned skill or an instinct that gives them an insight into the 4th dimension: time.
In a factory or a warehouse, time is measured by how long a task takes to complete. In a services organization, it’s a similar situation, with chargeable minutes being summed up in fractions of hours. But, if you try to scale up past organizing a single service person or handling more than one shipment, then just tracking the duration of a task can quickly lead to chaos.
Most of us know this in our personal lives. We are as addicted to calendar apps as we are to coffee. Many of us could not function in the morning without both of these life-savers. However, when it comes to the massive systems that manage our businesses like ERP, we rarely encounter integrated calendar systems that “schedule” our tasks rather than just track how long they take.
If I knew, for example, that it took me an average of 30 minutes to get to work but failed to take into account that my car would be in the shop next Tuesday when I am scheduling meetings for that day, I’m headed for a problem. Events need to be placed in order with dependencies and buffers. Every project manager knows this, and yet we rarely see calendar functions built-in and used as part of our product and service delivery process.
Having a production line calendar shows at a glance what is being worked on in the factory and when it will be done. Having a combined service calendar shows when the elevator technician should schedule their appointments because they will have the parts in hand and are available on a specific day.
But what if you could automate your ERP system to calculate from a required ship date? Or adjust your personal calendar to issue a PO with enough lead time to get the order to the customer on time? An integrated calendar function could also allow for service dates on tools and machines to be taken into account when planning production.
Our sales and customer service teams use a CRM and recognize the importance of calendars in raising and maintaining customer satisfaction. Why then are ERP systems so woefully under-featured in this area? Why aren’t project and time management tools basic functions of delivering through the supply chain?
Here at Jonar, we tried really hard and couldn’t think of good answers to these questions. So we started building these functions into ParagonERP. Our calendar is not just connected to people, it’s connected to the entire system.
Every transaction, like an invoice or a purchase order, contains dates. Those dates often imply actions. Why should someone working in AR need to schedule a reminder to call a customer when the invoice is due? The invoice contains the relevant information, so why not put that date on the AR calendar and if the invoice is paid before the date, the calendar knows to remove the notification. Your system should be able to build out a schedule for booking pickups with your carriers for you to approve, rather than you having to juggle all the shipments yourself.
We believe that people should be doing the thinking and the problem-solving rather than cutting and pasting spreadsheets in what has almost become an Olympic event. Relying on your ERP system to do this work is faster, less prone to human error and will leave your customers and staff happier.
The humble calendar – a simple tool that can change the world. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic. Let’s just say we really like calendars and we’ll leave it at that.