Top Five Signs Your Business Is Ready For An ERP System
It’s taking longer and longer to reconcile financials at the end of the month. Your sales forecasts are based more on guesswork than solid figures. Your business is having trouble keeping up with its order volume and customer satisfaction is faltering as a result. You have no idea how much inventory you have in your warehouse, and it’s a pain to find out. If this sounds like your business—or close to it—then it may be time to consider an ERP system.
Because every company is unique, there’s no single indicator that says, “You need ERP now!” However, the companies that would benefit most from ERP software often face similar problems and frustrations. Is your business facing some of these same issues? Read on to discover the top five signs that your company is ready for ERP.
You Have Lots of Different Software for Different Processes
Spend a few minutes thinking about how employees at your company record, track and process information. Do accounting staff use one system for receivables and payables, and sales use another to enter in customer orders? Is the process of taking those orders and getting them fulfilled and into accounting a time-sucking manual process? Do employees in your warehouse use a completely different solution to track shipping and receiving?
When various front- and back-end systems run separately, it can wreak havoc on the processes that are meant to ensure your company is running smoothly. Without accurate data from sales, inventory management may suffer, while not having the latest information from accounting can trigger a ripple effect on everything from marketing budgets to payroll.
ERP software integrates these systems so that every business function relies on a single database. With one source of information that contains accurate, real-time data, an ERP solution breaks up information logjams, helps staff make better decisions more quickly and frees up their time to work on more high-value exercises like helping the business grow even faster.
You Don’t Have Easy Access to Information About Your Business
If someone asked you what your average sales margin is, how long would it take you to find out? What about other key performance metrics, like orders per day or sales to date? For companies that rely on siloed systems and spreadsheets that need to be constantly updated and reconciled manually, it could be a long wait.
The pace of business is faster than ever before, which means employees across your company need immediate access to key data. With an ERP solution, executives can get a holistic view of business operations at any time, while other staff can get the information they need to do their jobs more effectively. For example, sales representatives should be able to view a customer’s full transaction history and more proactively improve renewal rates while increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Accounting Takes Longer and Is More Difficult
Often, the first noticeable signs that your company needs ERP software will come from your accounting department. If your employees rely on paper-based invoices and sales orders—and spend hours every week manually entering them into different accounting and sales systems—you need to consider how much time is being wasted on tasks that ERP software can handle in an instant.
The same goes for financial reporting—if it takes ages to consolidate or reconcile financial information across systems and through countless spreadsheets, an ERP solution can make a significant impact. With all financials in a single database, accounting staff won’t have to spend hours cross-posting information, rekeying numbers, or reconciling data manually. Your accounting staff will be more productive, freeing them to deliver critical reports without delays and frustration.
Sales and the Customer Experience Are Suffering
As companies grow, one of their biggest challenges is often inventory management. Ensuring that the right amount of products is in the right location at the right time is a vital part of business operations.
When sales, inventory and customer data are maintained separately, it can create serious problems across your company. If you run out of a popular product, sales will be off until the next shipment arrives. Meanwhile, if a customer calls to inquire about an order and employees can’t track it to see if it’s been shipped—or if it’s even in stock—your company will start to develop a poor reputation for reliability and service.
With an ERP system, on the other hand, staff in every department will have access to the same, up-to-the-minute information. Customer-facing reps should be able to answer customers questions about order and shipping status, payment status, service issues, etc., without having to hang up the phone and check with another department. Better yet, customers should be able to simply go online to their account and view status information. Meanwhile, the warehouse manager can see that stock is getting low and can reorder.
Your IT Is Too Complex and Time-Consuming
One of the biggest downsides of having multiple systems across your business is that IT management can become a nightmare. Customizing these systems, integrating them and maintaining them with patches and upgrades can be complex, costly and sap critical time and resources.
If your patchwork of systems includes on-premise, legacy business software, system upgrades can be more trouble than they’re worth. Not only are these updates expensive and time-consuming, but they may also undo customizations implemented by IT staff. Given that, it’s no surprise that two-thirds of mid-size businesses are running outdated versions of their business software.1
Rather than adding more software—and complexity—to an already ineffective system, ERP technology can give you the agility to respond to changing business needs rapidly. That’s why selecting a cloud-based ERP provider is critical.
7 Emerging ERP Trends
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) has become an integral part of the business landscape, and ERP vendors are continuously coming up with less complex and more inexpensive options. An awareness of what’s trending could help organizations extract the maximum mileage out of their ERP solutions.
1. User Experience
One of the leading causes of ERP user resistance is bad user experience. Unsuitable user experience wields the power to slow down work process. Because of user resistance, training employees to use complex ERP systems takes longer. Slow response time is yet another aspect that affects consumer experience. Response time, however, depends on the speed of your hardware and not the ERP. Some of the user-friendly aspects to look for in your ERP software are customizability, assistive and conversational interface; how information is displayed (a simple, clear and intuitive screen); and an innate command sequence.
2. Cloud ERP
Until recently, the complexity of ERP applications has made vendors wary of adapting to rapidly evolving technologies. However, the steady advancement and reliability of cloud vendors dominating the playing field have encouraged them to cash in on the advantages of the cloud and to deliver more flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.
The chief benefits of cloud ERP are better access to real-time data, reduced costs, improved business agility and improved collaboration and business relationships. True web interface solutions offer more advantages than hosted versions of legacy ERP.
With the increased use of cloud-based solutions, security breaches are a major concern. The more the volume of data stored, the more sophisticated the breaches. The ideal ERP system will have a multi-level security set up with one of the layers based on predictive analysis of user behavior. It will also have sound encryption and role-based, user-level security capabilities.
Changes in the business environment are faster than ever before. With these changes in environment, business requirements change as well. In order to maintain its competitive edge, any ERP system an organization uses should be flexible enough to quickly adapt and accommodate these changes. Some of the aspects to consider are scalability, interoperability and the effects of upgrading and updating.
5. Mobile ERP
Mobility is fast becoming a mainstream technology. Because of this, employees, especially those in sales, can access and take advantage of their organization’s ERP solutions from anywhere. ERP vendors are now building add-ons and extensions that would bring mobility to the forefront as opposed to mobility being a secondary option. To be fully functional, mobile ERP solutions should support the use of multiple devices. Also, web-based solutions are more advantageous to native, device-specific solutions.
6. Business Intelligence
ERP solutions facilitate more efficient operations based on the data they provide. But most of the data is not put to any practical use. More and more businesses are beginning to combine ERP solutions with business intelligence (BI) tools in order to make all that data work for them. A BI-enabled ERP solution with dynamic reporting tools that provide the right information at the right time will be a veritable asset to any business.
7. Social ERP
Collaboration has a positive impact on staff engagement and productivity. ERP software with add-ons that emulate the functionality of social networking tools is becoming increasingly popular. Features like chat and message boards can facilitate better collaboration. Check communication tools for asynchronous features and e-mail integration.
In conclusion, to stay ahead of the competition, both ERP vendors and customers need to adapt to these evolving trends. Vendors need to understand how they can integrate new technologies with their current ERP systems. Customers must have a clear idea of what they hope to get out of ERP solutions. Return on investment (ROI) will no longer be the only aspect businesses will have to consider in terms of ERP solutions.
5 ERP Red Flags: Is Your Enterprise System Keeping its Promises?
Got ERP red flags? Manufacturers who took advantage of enterprise resource planning systems from previous decades now face aging legacy systems nearing or at the end of their productive lifecycle. Your enterprise might have met the limits of your legacy system and surpassed them. At their deployment, these now outdated solutions promised increased productivity, reduced waste and improved output quality.
Is your ERP system still keeping its promises?
The manufacturing landscape is awash in legacy, unimproved enterprise resource systems with none of the advantages of today’s versions featuring cloud-based technology and faster, more efficient processes, greater power, and more intuitive interfaces.
How do you know if you can squeeze out one or two more years from your solution or if it is costing you scarce resources with its inefficiencies? Can you afford to migrate to a new solution? How does a new ERP fit with company priorities and demanding projects?
ERP Red Flags to Watch
To get your organization position on the right path, be aware of these red flags associated with your current ERP solution. While not an exhaustive list, these five points can signal that you need you to move in the right direction and begin the journey of ERP selection.
Your current software vendor can’t easily provide adequate support, upgrades and maintenance.
If you’ve used the same business software system for many years, chances are you’ve received notice that your software vendor is going out of business or has been acquired and no longer supports the system. If that is the case, it’s definitely time to change.
It hast been more than four years since you’ve upgraded your current ERP solution.
According to researchers at Forrester, approximately half of companies using ERP systems are currently on releases that are two versions behind the current release. We’ve seen other research that shows that more than half of the 40,000 mid-market manufacturing companies operate with outdated ERP systems. Relying on an ERP system that is outdated, or one that has only been upgraded every four or five years at best, makes it difficult to manage change and maintain competitiveness in an uncertain and volatile market.
Your current software system can’t scale to support your company’s growth plan.
Most legacy systems do not offer the functionality that allows you to scale your business. For example, you might require a system that supports multiple languages and currencies because of you international expansion. Other functionality such as multi-plant, bar coding, CRM or WMS capability can also help you meet today’s business demands. Similarly, new Business Intelligence features are critical for organizations to compete and operate efficiently. BI provides the right information, to the right people, at the right time for effective decision-making. Mobile access for a variety of devices is also now a strategic requirement. Most legacy systems fall behind in all of these areas.
Team members are forced to use “work-arounds” outside the current ERP software system.
This is a big problem. If the team performs tasks outside the ERP system, such as double entry work, cutting and pasting reports, walking blocks between plants or warehouses to record/deliver shop floor information, then it is most assuredly time for a new ERP system. These manual and redundant efforts result in major inefficiencies, waste and cost.
Only a few IT people know the current system.
Who within your organization is familiar with the legacy system? Whether it’s custom code or a heavily modified software package, there might be only one or two people who really know the “nuts and bolts.” That brain trust will be hard to replace. You’re vulnerable when those folks decide to leave or retire and there is nobody to internally support the out-of-date information system.
After assessing your situation and performing a business process review, it’s possible to come to a conclusion about your current and future needs, timing and how to take the next step.
The search for a new ERP system requires careful planning, research and discussions with management, the various ERP vendors and ERP consultants.
By addressing the ERP red flags above, performing the required research on new ERP technologies available and motivating the team for change, you can look forward to success with your ERP initiative.
An ERP selection project is a major undertaking and one that deserves serious analysis of the value and risks associated with it. Manufacturers are wise to partner with an expert ERP consultant to streamline the selection and implementation process.
Looking to get rid of your organization’s ERP red flags? Please Just Contact Us!
(Source: ULTRA CONSULTANTS)