3 signs your metals business needs a technology upgrade

Tony Barnes
3/24/2021
3 signs your metals business needs a technology upgrade

If you could rebuild your metals business from scratch, what would you change? If you could position yourself for continued sustainable growth, what technology upgrade would you need?

In the past decade, the metals industry has seen tremendous growth. With this growth, many metals businesses also have found they have outgrown their technology. How do you know if your systems are due for a technology upgrade?

1. The technology doesn’t support a new line of business

In the past few years, we’ve seen the need for metals businesses to become nimble and adjust to market changes and challenges – no more so than amid a pandemic and all the uncertainty and stress that comes with it. But so often, metals businesses struggle in capturing new opportunities and seizing increased market share. 

How nimble are your current systems to support new products? While you might see success in certain product lines today, consider how easy (or difficult) it is to plan for and launch new and more complex products, like fabricated parts, with your product offerings.  

Acquiring a new business can be an optimal way to increase market share and introduce new products to your customers, but integrating two incompatible systems can be a huge undertaking. Modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can make this step easier through efficient importing of processes and data. If you were to acquire a business next week, how ready would your technology (and people) be to integrate new data and processes into your current systems?

2. The technology doesn’t support your customers’ needs

Your customers want lightning-fast information delivered accurately and regularly. The challenge for many companies is the inability to access real-time information and communicate with customers effectively. With outdated, segregated systems, accessing basic information about an order can be a challenge.  

Here’s a scenario: The sales team attempts to track down a product update from separate systems, or it must take an extra step to request information from the production team. By the time the team has the information at hand, it already could be out of date and the customer made to wait. Outside processing can be like sending a product out into the abyss, not knowing when it will come back. Employees feel inept and lack confidence in the system, which eventually translates to poor customer satisfaction.  

With the right technology, tracking products, accessing customer data, and delivering reports can happen with one click. If your current systems require your team to take several steps or to create workarounds, you could end up with a customer satisfaction problem.  

Keeping customers is one issue, but what about attracting new business? When quoting involves unique metal processes such as cutting, bending, burning, and shearing, the ability to deliver accurate quotes and guarantee delivery times is essential. You gain customers’ trust quickly if your team has access to real-time material costs and inventory levels to build fast, accurate quotes. If this isn’t the experience of your customers, it’s possible that your technology is holding you back.  

3. The technology doesn’t attract the best employees

Your company’s success requires team members who are empowered and invested. Just like you, they’re aware of the competition and they know what your customers are looking for. With that in mind, they want you to innovate and stay ahead with the right technology. Without it, they are limited in what they can do and how well they can deliver to their customers.

It’s not only about keeping your best employees. It’s also about attracting them. Potential team members expect technology to enable them, not hinder them.

Don’t get stuck

Many metals businesses get stuck in a rut with technology. Over time, the systems become outdated, adapting for new products becomes a challenge, and customers' needs change. Fast-forward a few years, and their market share might be slowly slipping away.   

Don’t let this be your story. Imagine a future where technology allows you to be agile and adaptable to new product lines and acquisitions. Think about your increased market share as you delight both new and existing customers with speedy quotes and order fulfillment. And empower your talented team members to succeed with advanced technology.  

It’s possible. 

For many metals businesses, the answer is a modern ERP system. If you’d like to find out more about how this type of technology upgrade can help you step into a strong and sustainable future, we can help.

Contact us today

At Crowe, we’ve helped metals businesses implement innovative systems, and we’ve identified three industry-specific indicators to help you determine if it’s time for a technology upgrade.  
Tony Barnes
Tony Barnes
Managing Principal, Metals