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Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Analysing these five things in your business could improve productivity

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:10 11 September 2018

Staff at Vanilla Electronics. The company is among those being showcased at the Productivity Journey conference taking place at the University of East Anglia. Picture: Dave Guttridge

Staff at Vanilla Electronics. The company is among those being showcased at the Productivity Journey conference taking place at the University of East Anglia. Picture: Dave Guttridge

Dave Guttridge The Photographic

When it comes to business productivity, analysing performance is considered a good starting point for improvement.

A conference designed to enable East Anglian businesses to share best productivity practice is taking place next month, where manufacturing and engineering businesses – among the UK’s most productive sectors – will be showcasing their tools and tricks.

One exhibitor at the event on September 17 will be Norwich-based Cascade.bi, which will explain how analytics – from keeping track of input costs to checking the popularity of individual products – can lead to greater productivity.

Ahead of the event, Cascade.bi chief executive Mark Donaldson has shared his thoughts on the most important facets for companies, particularly manufacturers, to focus on.

1. Customers. Understand quickly and easily which customers are buying what products. Instantly identify which ones are not being purchased and quickly adapt and address the issue. Work with sales teams and marketing to ensure the proposition is correct and ensure production is aligned to the needs of the market, your customers and the sales and marketing plan.

2. Products. Being able to quickly understand which product ranges are delivering profitability and perhaps more critically, those which are not. Having this information at your fingertips will allow for near-instant identification, action and rectification of both sales activity and manufacturing outputs. Ensuring the balance between supply and demand is matched.

3. Cash. The phrase “cash is king” is often misused and business owners can be misled into believing that whilst they have cash in the bank, everything is ok. In fact, the cash balances should be viewed as part of reviewing total liquid resources and having visibility on the debtors, creditors and cash together is a more reliable metric of liquidity.

4. Pricing. Manufacturing businesses of all sizes experience fluctuating input costs and staying on top of these is critical to ensuring margins are maintained and pricing of the final product is yielding the desired profit levels. Using analytics to instantly cost raw materials and build the input cost profile of your products is essential, together with reviewing the actual margins achieved for each customer, each product range each individual product. Being able to profile these over a time period and identify large variances is essential to maintaining margins.

5. Profit. Ultimately all businesses need to track profitability. All too often the focus is on delivering monthly or annual net profit, however with carefully selected data and profiling of customers and products, the granular detail which impacts profit is easy to obtain. This is automated through the use of technology, removing the need for error-prone spreadsheets, saving hours of time.

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