Harris Manufacturing in Topeka, Kansas, is a manufacturer and fabricator — CNC machining, welding, metal forming, and powder coating — “committed to providing you with the highest level of service, so you’ll always be happy that you chose us.” Rodney Jenkins and his partners know their skills and their market, and make the efforts necessary to know what their customers need.

But, as Jenkins confirmed, managing a small business is no less daunting than operating a major enterprise: it’s how effectively you carry out basic tasks like inventory management, scheduling, and quoting that make all of the difference to the success of each project, and each day of operation. The size of the company may not suggest a global enterprise, but even a shop with just a handful of employees can call itself a world-class manufacturer if it can manage the essential details of running a business, because for all such enterprises the details are the same.

Recently Jenkins explained how adopting a cloud-based software platform has made a difference in conducting day-to-day business more efficiently: 

How much insight do you have into your operations now?
Prior to adopting business software in the cloud, we had very little insight into our operations. We were stuck in silos, carrying out many different functions in separate systems. This didn’t provide a “full picture,” making it difficult to see the right way to run and grow our business.

Now, after implementing cloud-based software, we have unprecedented insight, access, and control into our business.

For example, as sales prepares quote, we can instantly see whether we have sufficient raw material to complete the job, and can even order those materials right within the system. We can see when machines and staff are utilized, whether there will be production lulls or lags and how much capacity remains.

These are just a few examples of the insight we now have into our operations.

When did you first realize you needed more insight?
As I mentioned, my partner and I were stuck in silos because different functions required separate systems. For example, we have QuickBooks, but that system does not have quoting functionality. This critical task was therefore done in a different system which meant that vital information associated with each quote – such as materials required, delivery dates, etc. wasn’t immediately visible to the fabricators filling the order on the shop floor.

Reconciling disconnections such as these every day took considerable time that we could more effectively have put toward sales, customer service,e and planning for growth. It was at this point that we realized we needed a single system that would tie everything together and provide us with more insight into our business, that's when we decided to implement Exact Online.

In what ways does more insight help your business?
Our company has plans to grow quickly in the coming years. Complete visibility and insight into our business helps us make calculated steps towards our growth. Every step we take toward higher profits is based on real-time information about the capacity and profitability of our existing capital, people and processes.