Which solution is right for your business?
25 April 2022
5 Ways to wring out all the value from your software
The technology landscape has massively evolved over the past decade, and teams like accounting and finance are relying on software more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this trend by reducing resources and driving many companies into remote work environments.
“It is widely known that the quickest route to revenue growth and increased productivity across a business is through enterprise resource planning (ERP), and an important tool for controlling costs and product flows through an enterprise,” says Darren de Vries, Partner Manager, SEIDOR in Africa.
ERP systems streamline and automate processes, creating a leaner, more accurate and efficient operation. The software solution is commonly used by companies working in the supply chain to keep track of all the moving parts of manufacturing and distribution, but it is of benefit to a number of different industries, including construction, healthcare, hospitality and more.
“ERP is not new, yet many companies are still not getting it right,” De Vries says. “The trick is to have complete end-to-end visibility into core business processes coupled with the ability to manage the business in real-time. The way to achieve this is to identify all areas of potential process improvement and configure the chosen solution to the unique needs of that business.”
De Vries outlines five ways to gain maximum value from an ERP solution:
1. Integrate business processes to enable cross-department visibility
Many businesses are still hamstrung by the siloed architecture of legacy ERP solutions. In this scenario, operational departments function mostly independently from each other and have a one-to-one relationship with central finance and administration, resulting in little to no cross-departmental visibility or collaboration.
By integrating financial information in a single system, modern ERP systems unify an organisation's financial reporting and operational departments. They also integrate order management, making order taking, manufacturing, inventory, accounting, and distribution a much simpler and less error-prone process.
Live, cross-functional data can be acted upon immediately. For example, when the sales team of a wholesale and distribution business have access to inventory levels and warehouse activities, they can easily provide customers with accurate quotes and order updates.
2. Extend the user base beyond the back-office
Traditionally, ERP access was reserved for a select few back-office users and its data made available on a strictly “need-to-know” basis.
Today, customers are seeing the value in extending the ERP user base to the production line and warehouse floor, as well as to field service and traveling sales teams through the adoption of mobile technology and applications.
Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), where sensors act as virtual users, also add to the proliferation of data. Integration with IoT requires extending connectivity from the enterprise and the cloud to devices at the edge of the network to applications where quick response times are expected for processing of time-sensitive data that allows for real-time decisive action. An example would be the measuring and maintaining of a specified temperature throughout transport to ensure quality and safety controls.
3. Extend the business to external systems
Extended ERP systems incorporate a company's business customers and suppliers, allowing it to treat these business partners as part of an integrated supply chain.
Streamlining communications with suppliers and customers helps to bolster mutually beneficial relationships, cemented by strong communications and coordination across the supply chain.
B2C and B2B e-commerce platforms are using ERP extensibility to provide additional sales channels, for example. In procurement, integration with third-party logistics (3PL) systems allows for greater visibility into the supply chain process.
4. Ensure integration with BI platforms
Data and analysis have always been at the core of sound business decision-making. Like ERP, business intelligence (BI) software provides companies with a comprehensive view of their operations, enabling decisions to be based on data. BI also plays a fundamental role in high-level strategy and tactical responses to market demands, helping businesses operate more efficiently, develop their competitive advantages and increase profitability.
BI helps generate dashboards, reports, customer-facing IT systems and external sources to deliver a detailed, comprehensive view of the business’s current position. BI adds enormous value to ERP systems, and is able to produce predefined reports, allow access to self-service analytics, and simplify the consolidation of multiple entities in a group of companies or business units.
5. Take ERP to the cloud
Cloud ERP systems streamline collaboration and give users access to real-time data from anywhere at any time. With work from home (WFH) becoming ubiquitous, remote workers can continue to be productive as a result of this accessibility, and they can even improve their productivity and efficiency.
When ERP is managed in the cloud, the vendor has teams dedicated specifically to proactive monitoring, securing and backing up the data, replicating it across multiple servers and reducing downtime significantly. Extensive security measures protect data from any kind of threat, which is a key consideration as more and more employees work remotely and access that data.
The use of software solutions in business will be even more successful if the business value is used as the most important consideration. Once the business value goals have been created, the IT team and the business unit should work together to track their progress against the defined goals and make continuous adjustments as needed, “ concludes de Vries.
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