7 reasons why modern ERP can help you make better, faster decisions
By Kenneth Hedh, Senior Director of Professional Services, Asia, Epicor Software
Digital disruption has introduced more data sources, more channels, more numerous and complex business models, increased globalisation, and more reliance on external partners. Along with it has come mobile, social, analytics and many other technological innovations. In this environment opportunities are rife but old monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are ill prepared to deliver the support for the increasingly dynamic decision making processes that businesses need to succeed.
Combine this with the fact that data is getting bigger. In a recent survey by Epicor Software and Redshift financial executives were asked to list the issues that would have the biggest impact on finance and accounting in their business over the next two to three years. The top two responses were big data (28%) and investment in new or more advanced financial IT systems (27%).
This can easily become overwhelming for many organizations, as can be the process of developing effective strategies and systems to address it. The business landscape today necessitates fast action and systems to support effective decision making. The historic annual business cycle of planning, budgeting and forecasting is becoming squeezed; organizations can no longer only plan and budget on an annual basis. Responsiveness and faster decision making is key.
To support improved decision making and action taking, modern ERP platforms give organisations the ability to analyse business conditions to develop improved business plans, monitor and measure progress and provide the visibility into day-to-day operations. So if you are using an old monolithic system you might not be able to make the right decisions fast enough to grow your business. Here are seven reasons why you need to consider your options seriously.
- Single source of the truth: Decisions made from a clear common perception of how the business is performing gives any company a competitive advantage. When all data is consistently stored in one place and accessed independently, regardless of if it’s used for financial reporting, operational control or budgeting/planning, the business can provide a superior customer experience. This is a serious advantage in crowded, complex or fast-moving markets.
- Accurate and timely insight: The need for information to be delivered to the wider enterprise in order to aid decision making has never been greater. You should be able to run reports at any time and on any device so that decision-makers can gain insight into the current state of the overall business as well as specific areas for concern. Accurate and timely insights can help managers proactively make adjustments at any time. Coupled with the ability to drill into the details behind the information, this gives managers the empirical data they need in order to make the best decisions, rather than perhaps having to rely on their gut-feel.
- Real-time data: Decisions should be based on the most up to date real-time information, not traditional reports which are out of date as soon as they are created. Businesses that rely on real-time data can make immediate decisions about how to change what they’re doing leading to greater customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and business performance.
- In context analytics: Getting the right information to the right person at the right time, at the pace your business demands can make a difference between closing or losing a deal. Accessing in-context information by choosing to follow an entity or object within the ERP system or by subscribing to notification streams will enable decision-makers to not only view the data they need but also place it within the right context so that the right decision can be made. A modern ERP platform enables the flow of information and processes—to support the highest visibility and efficiency across the value chain—and put those into the right context so that the insight is transparent to users.
- Automating decisions: Smart businesses know that by automating the right decisions, staff can be freed up to use their initiative, experience and instinct to innovate and drive the business forwards. It makes little sense to have senior people making decisions that could easily be made within business systems. Setting up the right processes for automating decisions should be an easy process and with a flexible platform these processes can be adjusted and fine-tuned as the business changes and grows.
- Workflows and alerts: Creating and enforcing unique business processes through workflows and alerts supports continuous improvement and increased productivity. Waste can be eliminated without major customisations and decision makers can focus on accessing the right data. Make sure your ERP platform can deliver a blend of centrally managed data and workflow automation to support decision-making throughout the organisation.
- Knowledge base of resources: The principles of ERP are founded on the benefits of working together. Embedded within today’s ERP systems, social functionality supports the fundamental shift in the way organizations collaborate, both internally and externally. Examples might include collaborating around a project, a customer incident, a procurement challenge, or the budgeting process. Accessing such an extended knowledge base of resources will change your relationship with ERP forever, enabling everyone to securely engage within your businesses and leverage ERP to make more informed decisions and foster innovative ideas.
In the Redshift survey just under half (44%) of financial decision makers say that decisions are often made opportunistically to exploit situations as they arise. Having the right ERP system in place that delivers the right data, to the right people at the right time in the right way allows business leaders to confidently take advantage of windows of opportunity and grow their business.
 The survey was conducted by Redshift Research on behalf of Epicor Software and is based on responses from over 1,500 financial decision makers globally on the key challenges they face in decision making. For more information: www.epicor.com/global-finance-survey/