Essent Webinars: Fighting The 5 Foes of Business

The 5 Foes of Business are comic book characters who represent some of the most common business efficiency problems. Putting a name and a face to the problems make them easier to spot and fix.

Watch the Essent Five Foes Webinar

Slide 1: The 5 Foes of Business
Hello and welcome to the latest webinar from Essent. Today we’re going to illustrate some of the most common business efficiency problems. We’ve characterized them as the Five Foes of Business so that they’re easier to spot and ultimately fix.

Slide 2: Moderator: Douglas B. Brill
My name is Doug Brill. I’m the Essent marketing coordinator and I specialize in the promotional products industry. I’m also your moderator today.

Slide 3: About Essent
Before we begin, a very brief overview of Essent. Essent is the leader in providing Comprehensive business management solutions since 1981 Essent has been serving Distributors, Decorators, and Suppliers in the promotional products industry since the year 2000 $3 Billion in Commerce flows through Essent’s solutions each year

Slide 4: If You Have Questions
We expect you may have some questions, but in an effort to keep the webinar concise for everyone we can only answer them off line. Feel free to use the webinar control panel to submit questions, and we’ll be happy to answer them for you after the webinar has ended.

Slide 5: Origins of the Five Foes
So who are the Five Foes of Business? As a technology solutions provider with a team of business analysts, Essent encountered a lot of companies experiencing the same efficiency problems. So we created the 5 Foes comic book characters to put a face to those common problems. The idea is that putting a face to the problems will make the problems easier to identify and fix.

Slide 6: Identifying the Business Foes
Some business foes are so common that they blend in. And they’re eventually accepted as just a normal part of doing business. But the 5 Foes don’t need to be a part of business. They represent inefficiency, redundancy, and wasted time. They can be removed from operations through automation and integration. When a business sees a part of operations that’s reminiscent of the The 5 Foes, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Think of it as an opportunity to become more efficient.

Slide 7: Solutions
The solutions to the foes are just around the corner. The first step is to understand the enemy. Recognizing the Foes for what they are is the first step toward stopping them. They represent inefficiency. The next step is to reject the status quo. The Foes shouldn’t be chalked up to just the cost of doing business. Technology will facilitate business practices that stop the Foes from growing out of control.

Slide 8: Presenter: Chimaine Shadd
And with that, here to bring you a closer look at The Five Foes is your presenter, Chimaine Shadd. Chimaine is a sales coordinator for Essent. And he’s also a specialist in the promotional products industry. Chimaine is going to tell you more about how to spot The 5 Foes and the technology solutions that stop them in their tracks.

Slide 9: Topic
Thank you, Doug. The 5 Foes represent Inefficiency, Redundancy, Wasted time, Misapplied Resources, Rework, and Mistakes. All of the Culprits that slows down business. We hope to put a Name and a Face to these problems so that they’re easier to identify and fix.

Slide 10: Paper Monster
Let’s start off with Paper Monster. Paper Monster hides in plain sight as a "harmless” stack of documents but transforms into an unmanageable, swirling pile of paperwork. It fatigues professionals and renders them ineffective. The more paper involved in business processes, the greater the chance that Paper Monster will create inefficiency.

Slide 11: Symptoms
Here are some symptoms to consider for Paper Monster… You might have a whole room or multiple rooms devoted to storing paper – or at least several filing cabinets. You’re constantly printing, filing, sorting, and searching for documents. And it’s impossible to complete the order lifecycle without these papers.

Slide 12: When paper is required for a process, it’s a sign of inefficiency.
It’s truly not necessary to use Paper unless required by law. When paper is required for a process, it’s almost always a sign of inefficiency.

Slide 13: Problems
The Paper Monster causes at least two major problems. First of all, paper documents are difficult to access. They’re hard to find, they might be stored far away, they’re impossible to access electronically, and they’re impossible to access remotely. The even bigger problem is processing paper. Paper can’t be automated and integrated. That means paper ALWAYS requires manual processes, which leads to delays and errors.

Slide 14: Paper is Difficult to Access
When you need to access information, how do you do it? Most of the time, it involves typing descriptive terms into a search bar and hitting enter. But there is no search bar on the filing cabinet, of course. Finding information on paper is always going to be a physical, and potentially lengthy, process.

Slide 15: Paper is Difficult to Access (continued)
And the other key factor being that paper can’t be accessed remotely. Staff isn’t always in the office. They’re at the client’s office. They’re at a trade show. They’re working from home. Or they’re travelling. If the needed information is only on paper, they will not have access to the information they need that can only be found back at the office.

Slide 16: Paper creates a costly barrier to information.
Paper creates a costly barrier to information.

Slide 17: Paper Processing is Manual
But the most costly part of paper is trying to process it. Simply put, paper can not be automated. Companies have paid enormous sums of money for people to slowly, manually, and inefficiently process paper information. Let’s suppose, a sales rep speaks with a prospect and writes down order details. With paper, now it’s a manual step to turn that order detail into a quote. It’s another manual step to turn that information into a Sales Order.

Slide 18: Paper Processing is Manual (continued)
Now let’s look further down the order lifecycle. You still need to fulfill the order. Ship the order. And invoice the order. With paper documents, each of these steps in the order lifecycle will be manual. This will be time-intensive and error-prone, like all manual processes.

Slide 19: Processing paper is always slow, manual, and inefficient.
Processing paper is always Slow, Manual, and Inefficient.

Slide 20: Solutions
The first solution to the Paper Monster is to simply Stop using paper. Thankfully, there is almost always an electronic alternative. The documents required for every step of the order lifecycle can be stored in an easily accessible, electronic location. Shifting from Paper to Technology is a huge advantage. That’s because once information is electronic, it can be automated. Therefore, going paperless isn’t just eliminating paper – it’s eliminating manual processes.

Slide 21: Double Entry
The next foe is Double Entry. Double Entry forces professionals to type in the same information over and over. It wastes time and ultimately leads to manual errors that result in even more work.

Slide 22: Every time data is entered manually, it’s a sign of inefficiency.
It’s truly not necessary to enter information more than once – if it needs to be entered at all. Every time data is entered manually, it’s a sign of inefficiency.

Slide 23: Problems
Here are some of the problems with Double Entry, and Manual Data Etry in general. Manual data entry takes time. It costs man-hours to manually input data. And the same information may need to be entered multiple times – once for each step of an order. Manual Data Entry is also highly error prone. When a staff person is making literally thousands of keystrokes per day, it’s easy for some of those keystrokes to go wrong. Order information can be entered Incorrectly or Completely Missed.

Slide 24: Data Entry is Time Consuming
With manual data entry, it’s not just Double Entry… It can be Triple Entry, Quadruple Entry, and so on. Again, your going to have a Manual Activity at every step of the order lifecycle.

Slide 25: Order Entry is Error Prone
And manual data entry is always an opportunity for an error to occur. Especially in the promotional products industry where, as you know, every order has specialized information. Information can easily be missing. As a result, it’s going to take time to fill in the blanks. Or there could be a simple typo or vague information. And now it’s going to take time to find out what the initial intent truly was.

Slide 26: More order entry = More errors = More cost
If a system invites manual order entry, it invites errors.

Slide 27: The Cost of Manual Data Entry
So what is the result of those errors? One large supplier told PPB magazine that it costs the company $13,000 per day to fix flawed orders. With a typical 5-day work week, there are 261 days in a year. Do the math, and the cost of errors is $3.4 million annually for just one company.

Slide 28: Solutions
So you want to perform as little manual data entry as possible. The solution is to integrate, integrate, integrate. An integrated business management system means entering data no more than 1 time! The information can then flow automatically from quote to order to fulfillment and so on – all without manual entry. Customers can even perform the data entry for you. Meaning, the End User can configure a product on an ecommerce website. And an integrated system means the information will flow directly into your back office. Integrating with trading partners is probably the most powerful way to prevent manual data re-entry. Systems integration unites both distributors and suppliers to share important business information automatically and in real-time.
Slide 29: Black Hole
Our third Foe is Black Hole. Black Hole hides your important information in folders, file cabinets, email archives, or even just inside a colleague’s head. Making it difficult or almost impossible to access information, even at critical times.

Slide 30: Symptoms
This is how you know when the Black Hole is victimizing a business. When there isn’t a Central Repository for information, people will not always know where to go for the information. Another sign being that there are delays in getting information to the customer or even delays in getting information to other departments within your own company. And if staffers need to contact other staffers to obtain routine information, it’s a sign of the Black Hole. It’s as if the information is hidden and you need a designated team of people to find it.

Slide 31: If data is anywhere but at your fingertips, it creates inefficiency.
In short -- if information is anywhere but at your finger tips, you’re a victim of the Black Hole and it creates inefficiency.

Slide 32: Problems
The Black Hole is simply going to create delays. Operations can get backed up while waiting on information. All the while, the business is losing time, losing profits, and customer satisfaction suffers. Now in order to catch up and meet those deadlines, orders are effectively going to turn into Rush Orders with Rush Order Costs.

Slide 33: Missing Info Halts Orders
When information goes missing, someone has to dig it out of the Black Hole. And that information could be anywhere… It could be in email archives. It might be in a folder on someone else’s desk. Possibly, only existing in a co-worker’s head. And maybe that particular Co-worker no longer works for the company. All the while, keep in mind, the transaction is on hold.

Slide 34: When information is missing, the project goes on hold.
When information goes missing, the Project goes On Hold.

Slide 35: Missing Info is Costly
And now… the clock is ticking on reach deadlines. If missing information is regularly holding up orders, operations-as a result is backed up and now Everything is essentially a Rush. So … … you may have Overtime Costs to meet shortened production schedules. … and you may have Costs for Expedited Shipping in order to meet the deadlines. And all the while, the customer is waiting.

Slide 36: Missing information holds up operations, which can be costly.
Missing information holds up Operations, and that can ultimately become quite Costly.

Slide 37: Solutions
The bottom line is that… if information isn’t easy to find, it’s not easy to use. Information needs to be stored centrally and electronically. In other words, it should be stored in your business management system or ERP , where everyone knows where to find it. Even better than finding information quickly is not having to find it at all. An integrated business management system can automatically prepopulate critical information for the documents needed throughout the order lifecycle. Not to mention, Cloud-Based Software is a great way to make sure information is always available. Not only is the information backed up, but it’s accessible from anywhere.

Slide 38: Profit Taker
Up next is Profit Taker. Profit Taker exploits inefficiency. He steals little bits of time that no one notices until it all adds up.

Slide 39: Symptoms
Here are some of the signs that you are being robbed by Profit Taker. It might feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do what needs to get done. If business processes lack definition and enforcement, that’s leaving room for inefficiency that Profit Taker can exploit. And if activities and processes are manual, it’s easy for Profit Taker to slip in and steal a little bit of time on every transaction.

Slide 40: If a task takes just a few minutes longer than necessary, it’s a sign of inefficiency.
If a process or activity takes just a few minutes longer than necessary, it’s a sign of inefficiency.

Slide 41: Problems
Most of the Problems caused by Profit Taker seem Routine. But if you see activities and processes taking longer than expected, that’s a sign of Profit Taker stealing time. And the longer a process or activity takes, the less profitable they are. An order that takes a long time soaks up man-hours and decreases margins.

Slide 42: Losing Little Bits of Time
Profit Taker usually strikes when information moves from one part of the order lifecycle to the next. For example: Even though most of the information is already in the quote, someone winds up re-entering all of that information into the sales order. Information like Names, Addresses, Order Details, and Stock Keeping Units wind up being manually transferred from the Quote to Sales Order. Then it happens again when the order moves to fulfillment, shipping, invoicing, and so on – That’s Profit Taker stealing a little bit of time at every step of the way.

Slide 43: Extra time becomes built into every step of every transaction.
It winds up that Extra time becomes built into every step of every transaction.

Slide 44: Less-profitable Orders
And that can add up. Let’s just say data entry takes just 5 minutes each time. But you have 6 steps that need that data. So now all of a sudden that’s 30 extra minutes built into every order. At that rate, every two orders costs an extra hour. Every 80th order costs one weekly salary. And after about 4,000 orders, it costs an annual salary. Companies that handle thousands of orders can’t waste that kind of time.

Slide 45: Losing just a little bit of time on each step of the order quickly adds up.
Losing just a little bit of time on each step of the order quickly adds up.

Slide 46: Solutions
Orders need to be as efficient as possible. And that requires technology. Once again, the solution is an integrated back office. Automatic data flow from one step to the next will save time on the processes that are taking too long right now. Businesses need Well-Formed Orders. Well Formed Orders start right and stay right through the entire sales pipeline. So once orders are entered, they don’t need to be revisited or corrected. Saving just a minute on each step might not sound like much. But over the course of dozens or hundreds or thousands of orders per week, it adds up quickly.

Slide 47: Strata
Finally, we have Strata. Strata is a spreadsheet problem. Strata locks business processes into cumbersome spreadsheets. It makes the processes take hours instead of seconds.

Slide 48: Symptoms
Here are some of the symptoms of Strata. If you’ve ever felt like you have spreadsheets to manage your spreadsheets, you know you’ve been victimized by Strata. Another symptom is that your information is scattered among several spreadsheets in several different locations. You have all the information, but you need to remember where you put it. And it’s easy to create multiple versions of what’s supposed to be the same spreadsheet. So people think they’re working off the same information, but aren’t.

Slide 49: When operations are built on spreadsheets, it’s a sign of inefficiency.
When operations are built on spreadsheets, it’s a sign of inefficiency.

Slide 50: Problems
A spreadsheet is a powerful business tool. But when processes are built on layers of spread sheets, it turns into an enemy that takes on a life of its own. One big problem is that spreadsheets start to dictate processes – but only after they’re brought up to date. For example, if it’s time for inventory replenishment no one will know to do anything about it until the spreadsheet is updated. Spreadsheets also make it easy to create inaccurate information. Data is entered manually, which is always error-prone. And everyone knows how one false move with a formula can throw everything off.

Slide 51: Disconnected Information
Information is worthless if you can’t use it to take action. And it’s hard to take action on information that’s in a spreadsheet. Viewing one spreadsheet may not give you all the information you need to make the best decision. Imagine managing customer information, order detail, shipping information, and billing information through a set of spreadsheets that are not connected. The inefficiency is apparent. Counting on spreadsheets to trigger activities means counting on disconnected activities.

Slide 52: Spreadsheets hold a lot of information, but the information is hard to use.
Spreadsheets hold a lot of information, but it’s hard to use that information.

Slide 53: Inaccurate Information
Spreadsheets make it too easy to distort information. The most common way to share a spreadsheet is as an email attachment. And every time it’s attached, there’s a new version of the spreadsheet which often becomes a different version. Ultimately, there are multiple versions of what’s supposed to be the same information.

Slide 54: Spreadsheets have information, but it’s easy to turn it into the wrong information.
Spreadsheets have information, but it’s easy to turn it into the wrong information.

Slide 55: Solutions
Business processes don’t need to be built on spreadsheets. Updating a spreadsheet for every sale to track inventory, revenue, accounting, and more is very time consuming, not to mention error prone. Companies need to use the right tool for the job. Business processes should be performed using a business management system or ERP: Technology that’s designed to run a business.

Slide 56: Recap: Paper Monster
And that takes us through our Five Foes of Business representing common business efficiency problems. To recap … Paper is a sign of inefficiency because it’s difficult to access and can’t be automated.

Slide 57: Recap: Double Entry
Manual data entry is a problem because it costs time and labor. More importantly, it invites errors that cost even more time and labor.

Slide 58: Recap: Black Hole
The Black Hole is where information goes to hide, like a file cabinet, email archives, or just in someone’s head. It causes costly delays and backs up operations.

Slide 59: Recap: Profit Taker
Profit Taker takes little bits of time without anyone noticing. But an extra couple of minutes on each step of the order lifecycle adds up into some big costs.

Slide 60: Recap: Strata
And finally we saw Strata and the problems of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets usually point to disconnected information and operations, and it’s easy to create bad information in a spreadsheet.

Slide 61: Moderator: Douglas B. Brill
And with that, I’ll turn it back over to Doug who will tell you how you can learn more.

Slide 62: Fight the Five Foes
Thank you very much, Chimaine. Essent is dedicated to providing efficiency in the promotional products industry. Essent offers fully-integrated technology solutions for business management, ecommerce, and systems integration. It overcomes problems like the those we reviewed today. To learn more, you can visit There you can review the efficiency issues we discussed today. And you can also use the page to get in touch with an Essent representative for a free consultation. Again, that’s to learn more. Thanks again to everyone for attending today’s webinar. Fight the 5 Foes for a more efficient business.