SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

October 03, 2007 12:23 ET

Customer Service as a Competitive Differentiator to Fuel Growth

Best-in-Class ERP Yields Inventory Accuracy and Complete and On-Time Shipments at Lower Costs

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 3, 2007) - Aberdeen Group's most recent survey of over 650 mid-size companies found that pressure to improve customer service and response times was the top business driver of ERP strategies in Best-in-Class companies (44%). However, expectations of growth dominated those not Best-in-Class (48%). These two pressures actually work in concert; Best-in-Class firms realize this and view customer service as a competitive differentiator to fuel growth. These results were recently published in "The 2007 ERP in the Mid-Market Benchmark Report: Serving the Needs of 1.2 Million Businesses" by Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks company (NYSE: HHS). Findings in the report concluded that implementation of ERP in Best-in-Class firms produced significant performance improvements including:

    
--  21% reduction in inventory levels
--  17% reduction in manufacturing operational costs
--  16% reduction in administrative costs
    
In addition survey results showed Best-in-Class firms take 3.6 days to close a month, less than half the time it takes Laggard companies, and achieve superior performance in metrics critical to customer service including:

--  95% manufacturing schedule compliance
--  96% on-time and complete shipments
--  97% inventory accuracy
    

"While both profitable growth and customer service are dominant factors impacting ERP strategies, as mid-size companies grow, they must learn to operate in a distributed environment and often experience a proliferation of ERP systems. This may be unavoidable if growth is through acquisition, but can be controlled when growth is organic," says Cindy Jutras, Vice President and Group Director, ERP Research, Aberdeen Group. "Even when confronted with disparate ERP implementations, companies are well-advised to adhere to standardize ERP implementations. Where multiple ERPs have been acquired, you will ultimately be faced with a decision to rationalize ERPs or not. Consolidation efforts have an enormous potential for saving time and money, but there is a price to pay in terms of software and services costs as well as business disruption in order to reach this goal. Ultimately those projects which have a dual purpose of reducing costs and standardizing business processes achieve the most success."

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part by the following underwriters: SAP, Answerthink, IDS Scheer, itelligence and Emergys. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=4208.

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

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