So Canada Post employees have gone on strike. Having failed to reach a deal with the crown corporation, the postal union workers have elected to walk off the job in a revolving series of walkouts that began midnight Thursday in Winnipeg.
Without meaning to sound cavalier, the fact of the matter is that the reality of a postal strike in 2011 is a far cry from the reality of a postal strike in, say, 1991. Back then, such an event would have been cause for genuine concern, as a whole host of integral business functions would grind to an unavoidable halt.
Today, the net impact of such an event is considerably less worrisome. Indeed, the loudest buzz around this development might just be a sense of relief with the break from junk mail Canadians will enjoy for the next week or two.
In the information age, the participation of Canada Post in a company’s various fiduciary responsibilities is negligible. Sophisticated, on-the-ball corporate players long ago instituted systems whereby their invoices and statements are delivered by e-mail, their bills are paid electronically, their payroll is deposited directly. Of These business folks’ interactions with the antiquated likes of stamps, envelopes and post offices are minimal, at best.
Granted, the Canadian corporate landscape is not so advanced on this front as is Europe’s. European corporations have been treading more progressive paths for some time.
Indeed, they laugh at the very notion of a chequebook overseas, and express sincere confusion about the need to have cheque-printing as a core function in an ERP system. Everything is performed via electronic funds transfer (EFT) across the pond, and the B2B environment that has long propagated this reality is better for it.
Here in Canada, we’re getting there. At 360, a handful of our customers pay us via EFT. For the rest, who continue to wrestle with the old-fashioned burden of having to print, sign, stuff and mail cheques, progress is theirs for the taking. Because the fact is that a better, more efficient way to do things perches on their doorsteps, awaiting the corporate epiphanies that will eventually lead an entire population of managers to reach for them.
And the simple truth is that, if your ERP system doesn’t have the ability to e-mail invoices and statements? Then, well, it’s time to get yourself a new ERP system, like Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics NAV. (And if you’re currently running GP or NAV and are not e-mailing your invoices, give us a call and we’ll get you straightened away.)
At 360, we’re in the business of automating every last function of the corporate existence that we can. And if it takes a nationwide postal strike to alert our fellow citizens to the alternatives available to them, so be it. Certainly its appearance on the scene has prompted my own attention to this subject internally: I’d better instruct our accounting department to modify the company’s “electronic” invoices so that they advise customers that they can still pay via credit card or EFT.