A Conversation with Bryan Hutchinson, Aethon Consulting
In this new series called “ERP Enthusiast,” we explore stories from trailblazers within the Salesforce ecosystem that are connecting front office and back office operations natively on the platform.
Bryan, what’s your role at Aethon Consulting and how did you become an ERP enthusiast within the Salesforce ecosystem?
Ten years ago, I was working at a company called Architectural Ceramics in the finance department. We were a Salesforce customer and needed an ERP solution to manage high-end products like ceramics. My background was in accounting/finance and I wasn’t very technical. However, once I started implementing Salesforce applications, I realized how much I enjoyed learning about the technology, apps, and how to extend the Salesforce platform. At the time, I was tasked with looking for ERP and financial solutions on Salesforce and was introduced to Ascent Solutions via the AppExchange.
Fast forward five years and I had started my own Salesforce consulting company, Aethon Consulting, while I continued to do Salesforce related work for a customer. I really liked the flexibility of Ascent Solutions apps — they are managed packages available on the AppExchange — but the data architecture and APIs allow you to layer on capability, in a creative and straightforward way. I’m such a big believer in the technology that I’m an Ascent Solutions Certified Implementation Partner.
What do you mean by flexibly extend Salesforce? Could you provide an example?
Sure, here’s an example of what I mean by flexibly extend Salesforce. I work with a custom flooring company based out of Canada. They have brick and mortar showroom locations and sell flooring products via the website and phone, so they are a pretty omnichannel organization for high-end, “blue collar” products. They really wanted to improve in four key areas:
- Take more payment options in the brick and mortar showrooms or via phone orders
- Provide convenience fees that could change by customer type (i.e. VIPs have lower fees)
- Monitor inventory levels more effectively and improve replenishment
- Provide better shipping and warehouse operations
Let’s drill down on each of those use cases, please. Can you describe the payment options and convenience fees more?
They wanted to provide different payment options and fees depending on the customer that was purchasing a product. For example, with really loyal customers and VIPs, they wanted to reduce or waive any fees associated with processing a payment. Historically, they were not able to provide any intelligence and automation to do this, so they were simply eating the 3% credit card transaction fees. The sales people weren’t able to manage the process as effectively as they could be.
I was able to utilize an integration on Salesforce between Kulturra for payment processing and Ascent Solutions that allowed the sales people to take credit card payments and automatically adjust the convenience fee based on the customer record. Another benefit was the sales order would adjust inventory levels too. This type of flexibility leads to an increase in revenue from fees, a better customer experience for loyal VIP customers, and the sales team loved being able to easily manage the process in Salesforce.
That’s a creative solution. You mentioned inventory management, can you talk about that a bit more?
Ascent Solutions provides the inventory control for the use case I just described. It automatically updates inventory levels based on the sales order activity and enables better replenishment — an ERP industry word for knowing when inventory stock is low — so you can launch the purchase order (PO) process or automatically order more inventory, depending on your internal business process.
As an added bonus, I was able to also integrate a purchase order process with the click of a button. You are able to create a PO without leaving the sales order. So, if a sale was made and the inventory level became low as a result, you have the ability to easily make adjustments. Also, I set up a task to be created that would notify you via email, so you can easily replenish the inventory.
You mentioned a last focus area for shipping and warehouse management. Tell us more about that functionality.
This last capability really makes this an end-to-end cloud ERP solution. I created an automated process to evaluate the inventory in a specific warehouse where the order would be shipped from. Based on inventory levels in that warehouse, and the next closest warehouses, it would create a transfer order letting each warehouse know what needed to be transferred and where it needed to go. This ensured it could get there on time for a consolidated delivery. There isn’t a dedicated logistics person at the company, so previously sales people would call warehouse staff asking for inventory counts or to move inventory between locations.This was obviously a very inefficient and costly use of time, which I helped solve for the customer using Ascent Solutions.
Thanks for sharing your story Bryan and for being an ERP enthusiast! We look forward to our next conversation about what you’re building with Ascent Solutions.