Climbing-Wide

Tailored simplicity: 4 ways Enable makes importing rebate data easy

Posted by Andy James on August 29, 2019 16:53:27

When things are done well, no-one questions what happens behind the scenes. Tailored simplicity — that’s how we work, at Enable. However, the problem with simplicity is that when it’s done well, like a magic trick, people want to know how it was done. So we thought we’d raise the curtain to show you what’s really going on behind the scenes and why it’s so easy to import your rebate data with DealTrack.

1.    Tailored simplicity

Your business operations are structured uniquely; to support your strategic objectives. However, many software products require you to adapt your businesses model to fit the application. We view this as a roundabout way of solving a problem — not to mention frustrating and costly for you, the customer. Our approach is to design and build software that fits your organization.

 And, that’s why DealTrack is a configurable SaaS product.

What does this mean?

Well, DealTrack has a defined set of features and functionality but the data model that sits under the configuration and structuring of rebate deals, and the earnings against those deals, is configurable to match your data structures.

In other words: the data structure in DealTrack is ‘flexible’ — it can be tailored to your specific data structures. This means that your data is familiar to you even when it’s in DealTrack — it has been configured to match with the way you view the world — for example:

  •  If your business is split up into multiple divisions and locations, we can configure DealTrack to match.
  • If your products are grouped into category groups and rebate groups, we can configure DealTrack to match.

You can imagine: the opposite is to say it’s ‘fixed’. Some software providers do this. They would match ‘locations’ with ‘branches’, ‘products’ with ‘SKUs’, and’ business units’ with ‘divisions’ etc. In this case, classifications would have to be mapped between the classification system familiar to the client and the software product’s inbuilt classification system. While this makes the software provider’s life easier, it creates unfamiliar territory for everyone in your business.

Instead, we use the concept of ‘tailored simplicity’ to make data input and output much simpler: DealTrack is configured to dovetail with your data structures.

The simplicity is in the fact that we do the tailoring.

This is a fundamental aspect of DealTrack’s design. Right from initial concept, we have embraced the configurable data structures that are key to making imports, exports and the overall user experience of DealTrack as intuitive and familiar for our clients as it can be.

 So, once we’ve configured your data structures in DealTrack, our import routines then self-configure based on the structures we have created to match your requirements, rather than providing a fixed file format into which a client is required to map their data.

 For example, if you call products’ SKUs’ and group them into ‘Sales Categories’, there’s a file called ‘SKUs’ which has elements in it for ‘Sales Categories’. Although the imports are standard out of the box, they automatically configure to match up with your data structures too.

And to make sure everyone is on the same page, we create a data plan for our clients: the specification for the import files that a client is responsible for producing and how we import them. DealTrack manages these file formats, and we provide industry-standard transmission protocols.

From a tailored simplicity point of view, you receive a detailed specification for what you need to do. It’s written in language that’s familiar to you because the data structures marry up with your terms. So the set of instructions we send you, telling you what to do, should be completely familiar to you because it’s all based around your own data structures.

2.    Industry-standard approach

When DealTrack was created, we could have invented a lot of funky, proprietary ways of getting data in and out, but we didn’t. We went along traditional lines — and companies are relieved to hear this. They don’t need to implement a bunch of technology they’re not familiar with at their end.

We use a combination of CSV file formats and SFTP transfer protocols. Big companies expect this — they do this interface with a lot of other products.

It may sound old-fashioned and boring. While modern integration approaches such as web APIs are available, we find that typically our clients enjoy the tried-and-trusted method of frequency-based batch CSV files over SFTP. For clients who prefer API-based interfaces, such as those implementing close-to-real-time integration, this technology is available in DealTrack, of course.

3.    Progressive confidence towards true automation

With DealTrack, our philosophy of keeping it simple can make implementation really do-able. That’s our overarching ethos. For most clients, we need simple data sets: products, product groupings, locations, grouping of locations, transaction data: product code, location code, date, quantity, value, currency.

Rather than using convoluted terminology, if you think about data interfaces as simple logistics – just moving information from one place to another — it doesn’t have to be complicated. So, at Enable, we choose to think about the basic logistics of information and information transfer. And the less we are hung up on technical jargon, the more possible it seems.

What we find, however, is that a set of automated imports that run every day with little or no intervention takes a bit of testing. We find that clients benefit from importing data manually at first, inspecting the files, inspecting the effect in DealTrack, validating the process in a controlled manner using their own data — which often hasn’t been used for this type of purpose before. Then, once the interactive manual way has proven the data and the process, it makes sense to automate the interfaces.

It’s a sequential, progressive, one-step-at-a-time approach that starts up manually and ends up being automated. It means clients can learn the impact of their data before engaging their IT teams to implement automation — they only do that once the process and the data has been proven.

4.    ERP-independence

Some of our competitors are aligned with certain ERP vendors — we are not. While, at first glance, some potential customers might see this as a weakness and think it’s going to be hard work with us because we’re not automatically integrated, that’s not the case at all.

Companies have their ERP systems substantially configured over many years. At the end of the day, even though they may be using the same ERP, their integrations aren’t actually that simple.

So, if you’re a heavy ERP user you have a choice: you can leverage your substantial, heavy, ERP integration, which could be complicated if you have made a large number of changes over time. Or you can approach it with tailored simplicity: just send straightforward data files as often as it makes sense to you, and we’ll import them. That can, actually, in practice, be cleaner.

And what if you change systems at a later point in time? Then, being independent of your ERP is an even better thing.

Conclusion:

The best design is the design you don’t really notice.

 So that’s why we make it so easy to use our rebate management software. We have deliberately chosen not to make it so technical and complicated that our clients are required to involve technical consultants to work with our interface: we believe that misses the point. In essence, to make importing data into a deal management system as easy as possible, we use these four, simple principles:

  • Configurable data structures tailored to you;
  • Familiar industry-standard tech;
  • Onboarding that allows you to try out your data in manual ways first;
  • Independence from ERP for a clear division of responsibility.

Would you like to know more? Get in touch.

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Topics: Rebate Management, ERP Vendor Rebate Modules, Rebate Management System