Before delving into the World of ERP for a newbie or for someone looking to replace their legacy system, you need to be aware of the best way to get the most out of your system. ERP projects are investments, not one-stop fixes. They take a lot of resources, time & money before you gain positive ROI. For this reason alone, you need to be clued up on the goals & benefits you hope to achieve with this new project. There is nothing worse than not having targets to hit, you will freefall & lose track of the aims and objectives.
There are certain things you need to ask before biting the bullet & jumping into the world of ERP. The better thing to do is ask your whole team, not just upper-level management. This can be seen as time-consuming however a quick email asking what would make their work life easier in terms of the software they use, could start a good healthy discussion and get the ball rolling. It will also prove to staff that you do care about their day jobs and when a system is chosen you are likely to have more staff on onboard with the decision because their voices were heard.
How important is flexibility? Flexibility is somewhat of a “Marmite” concept with regard to ERP. Historically Flexibility had a bad name because systems previously could not manage this concept cost-effectively. Today it’s a very different story. So you need to assess whether your company’s business procedures can be solved with an out of the box system with a few easy modifications or whether you have a complexity in your business that would need to be bespoke to you. A solution that is flexible is always better in the long run as business needs will change over time. However, you will need to really learn whether it is easy to modify or change. You need to understand if you can modify things in-house to keep ongoing costs down or if you want a button changing if you will have to outsource this to the supplier.
Fundamental to determining ROI is carrying out calculations ahead of having a new system in place. You need to know how the business is currently performing before the ERP project in order to compare results when the new system is in motion.
So we’ve spoken about what to do before an ERP system is in place, let discuss some of the benefits you want from your ERP. A key benefit from ERP would be the productivity your workforce can achieve when they have a system in place that connects all data, streamlines processes & empowers your workforce with the tools to do their job. With ERP you can make non-valued-added processes redundant and time-consuming processes automated, leaving users with more time to work on other pressing projects & tasks. If you improve productivity this will lead to costs being cut. If your workforce can process more work orders or eliminate jobs due to process automation this will improve profit.
ERP provides you with one source of accurate, real-time information driving down both administrative and operational costs. It allows manufacturers to proactively manage operations, prevents disruptions and delays, breaks up information logjams and helps users make decisions more quickly. If you’ve chosen the right solution for your business, the right vendor who meets your needs, you will see powerful ROI.
Collaboration is another important benefit as having one central & consistent place for all your data ensures that all departments have access to the information they require when they need it. This improves productivity. Businesses do not work best in a fragmented environment, where all departments function separately. It is a crucial part of a business to have collaboration. ERP touches on all aspects of a business naturally encouraging collaboration between departments.
Reporting and forecasting is more accurate with ERP. Since the information in your ERP system is as accurate as possible with fewer human errors, more realistic estimates and effective forecasts can be achieved. Customisable reports make it easier for management to see real-time business insights, getting a holistic view of where the business is at any moment of time. With better forecasting and reporting, your business management can make the changes it needs to save on warehouse space or meet the demands of your current market whilst being able to oversee the whole process and intervene at any time.
There are a lot of benefits of having a mobile workforce, but before you have people working at home or on the road, you need to have a system that allows and promotes this work environment. There is no point having staff at home if they can’t pick up where they left off the day before. So when looking at an ERP system check that the mobile functionality is up to date, easy to use & has the desired functionality needed to get your job done. You can start to send out customer service engineers with apps to compete and track jobs, salespeople can create quotes from the office of the prospect & staff members can work from home with an all connected ERP system.
It becomes easier to provide greater customer service when using an ERP system that has such functionality built in. Sales and customer service teams can work together to interact with the customers and improve relationships with customers. Having full traceability on every transaction and phone call that happens with a customer ensures accountability because with better access to customer’s details and history with the business it becomes easy to see where problems start and how to fix them. Another benefit that comes with an ERP system would be improved accuracy, consistency and security of data, all through built-in resources and firewalls. Restrictions of data can be managed through the management of the system. Having a system that is more secure is good for customer retention as they can rest easy knowing that the data you have on their business is secure.
Better functionality will lead to better ROI. If it costs less for more functionality, you are already on the road to success with your ERP project. If your ERP system can cover every department’s needs and wants, it is likely to be a project that all of your staff will get behind. Many organisations can become more successful by streamlining operations by having just one central location for data. Another segment of functionality is making sure that the upgrade path for your software is clear and easy. Over time business’s needs will change, therefore you need to ensure your software is not left behind by implementing a solution that can handle these changes.
Overall, among countless other advantages, implementing ERP software can improve productivity, increase efficiencies, decrease costs and streamline processes. Now that you have seen the benefits that ERP can bring to your organisation, it is time that you switched up from your manual methods to automated processes.
Written by: Phil Nicholls – Managing Director – Medatech UK