Tim Yoder – President & Founding Partner
Real-life stories lend credibility to theories or ideas like nothing else can. During my 10 years as an Information Systems professor, I never considered myself an academic. Yes, I have an MBA, but I got that degree while I was writing software in the manufacturing industry. I always believed that the value I brought to the students was a set of real-life experiences that either supported or questioned what they were reading in academic text books. In this blog post, I want to share a client story that illustrates a 21st-century approach to the strategic use of technology.
Sometime during 1999, I met a local business man named Ed Bradford. He owned and operated a family business that supplied feed and medicine to both veterinarians and farms. The business, Veterinary and Poultry Supply, Inc. had multiple warehouses and a fleet of trucks providing both pick-up and delivery services to their customers. Ed was an old-school accountant who knew every aspect of his business inside and out. I immediately liked him for his matter-of-fact communication style and his business knowledge.
Over lunch, he told me that he was running the business using two different software systems — one for accounts receivable and a different one for accounts payable. He was struggling with the bottom two sections of the business technology pyramid. Trying to keep the business transactions in sync between the two systems meant lots of double-entry of the same data and lots of little side systems to fill the functional gaps. Both of these issues contributed to entry errors and conflicting information, which meant increased internal auditing of transactions and information. We worked together to identify and install a single unified business system that matched their business needs, and over the next 8 or 9 years we had a great business relationship as his company continued to thrive.
Fast forward to today, and the business is owned and operated by the next generation. In 2012, we installed a new unified business system, NetSuite, that better supports multiple geographically-dispersed warehouses and puts technology in the hands of salespeople in the field. Jim Bradford came to us with a vision of providing a way for their large farming customers to track exactly what feed and medicine they were purchasing and delivering to each flock or herd on their farms. The key business strategy here is to leverage the business data that you are already storing in the software system to provide a value-added service to your customers. This encourages them to do more business with you, because they can’t get that service anywhere else. We worked with Vet Poultry Supply using NetSuite to create a secure Internet customer portal that gives farms the ability to see exactly what they have purchased and manage the assignment of those orders to the flocks or herds under their care. This is an amazing strategic use of business technology to provide additional services, leading to customer loyalty and business growth. You can see a terrific video of this story on Veterinary & Poultry Supply’s website.
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